Moving on - but where to?

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bmheck
bmheck Member ✭✭

This morning was the last straw: as a decades-long Quicken user, I'm finally ready to give up. This morning? An couple of hours spent trying to convince Quicken that an investment account that had been set up for complete transaction downloads still needed them. Somehow Quicken had decided that two different accounts were to use "simple" tracking, despite the fact that they had been functioning with complete tracking for several years. Several tries later, one of the accounts is working properly again; Quicken continues to revert the other to simple tracking!

This is just the latest in the usual continuing series of frustrations: things that inexplicably break, features that have been MIA for years, and so on. It's time to move on. But where to? Has anyone here tried Quicken alternatives and, if so, which ones worked out? My needs are mostly to track income and spending (checking, credit cards) and tracking investment basics (track transactions, calculate current balances) and keep a dashboard showing where everything is (like the Quicken list of accounts and balances on the home screen). The other VERY big deal is importing a large history of past accounts and transactions: these go back decades, although it would be sufficient to import just the past few years.

And yes, I realize that some (like Quicken management) will see this query as inappropriate for the forum. Despite various issues, Quicken has done it's most important job reliably: it can add. But the little things have finally added up — I'm too old to be spending hours (and not just once!) trying to keep things running properly.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Comments

  • Boatnmaniac
    Boatnmaniac SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
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    @bmheck - Sorry to hear that you are having issues with the investment accounts. While the Quicken Support personnel can be very helpful with many issues and use questions, there is a lot of Quicken expertise available in this Community. I would encourage to explore resolution of this issue in this Community because someone might have more knowledge and insight into this subject than did the Quicken Support person you talked with.

    A couple of comments/suggestions regarding Simple vs Complete Investing:

    • Go to Edit > Preferences > Investments > make sure the box is unchecked for Default to Simple investing for new accounts.: This probably won't address your current issue but it can help to prevent it from happening in the future if you ever open a new account.
    • Who is the investment company?
    • How are you connected to the investment company? Express Web Connect+ or Direct Connect or Web Connect? (You can get this information from Account List or from the Online Services tab of Account Details.)
    • What kind of investment accounts are they? Taxable brokerages or retirement accounts (i.e., IRA, 401K) or something else?
    • When did this issue start occurring and did it occur after you were prompted to "Reauthorize" your connection to the investment company?

    Regarding your inquiry about competitive alternatives to Quicken: Any responses you receive from others which includes this type of information will be quickly redacted/deleted by a Quicken Moderator or Administrator. Understandable since this Community forum is on their website. If you wish to find out what the alternative platforms are you might want to consider doing an Internet search for them.

    Quicken Classic Premier (US) Subscription: R57.16 on Windows 11

  • bmheck
    bmheck Member ✭✭
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    @Boatnmaniac - thanks for the detailed response. I did have to reauthorize accounts recently (Chase bank), but multiple accounts were reauthorized and only two had problems. There's no obvious relationship between these two accounts: one regular investment, the other an IRA; other IRA accounts were fine. But the far worse issue is that resetting the online services (the only way that I could change the type to "complete") worked for one and not the other; for the latter I went through the same unwieldy process twice and it's still broken. Or to quickly summarize, a process that Quicken required broke transaction downloads on two random accounts, and the (very slow) procedure that Quicken required to fix it (as described in the Account List / account window) failed repeatedly. If this were a one-off situation, I'm sure that I would be more patient — but it's not. I've spent too much time on too many occasions.

    Frankly, it's not worth my time to work further on fixing it. I'll work around it somehow until I have a new solution.

    OK, done venting. And yeah, I've done some internet searching.

  • Boatnmaniac
    Boatnmaniac SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Well, good luck. I can't offer any assistance since you did not answer most questions. If you decide to answer all of the questions asked either I or someone else might be able to provide some assistance.

    Quicken Classic Premier (US) Subscription: R57.16 on Windows 11

  • mistertheplague
    mistertheplague Member ✭✭✭
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    The overlords' practice of censoring discussion about other PFM software has never made any sense to me, especially since @bmheck there are no retail apps, software programs, etc. that rival the capabilities of Quicken Premier and above — especially on the Windows platform. The only peer QW ever had was MS Money and that program went the way of the shag rug a decade and a half ago. Even on the Mac side, QM is at present the best option available, IMO.

    I've used everything. In addition to Quicken, I use the app that rhymes with "shmersonal bapital." Its a remarkably capable application especially considering it's free (for now). Biggest downside however is it doesn't permit manually adding transactions, so if one or more of your FIs' downloads get borked you're SOL since you cannot add back the missing data. And the new owners have begun lopping off reporting at 24 months in the past, which makes yearly reports for two years prior useless.

    Like it or lump it, Quicken Premier and above remain peerless overall especially for tax planning and investment tracking. My two cents.

    Quicken Premier Mac and Windows
  • jlowenby
    jlowenby Member ✭✭
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    I am in the same boat. long time user with tons of data going back to 2009. Having update problems with multiple accounts. one day everything was fine and the next day 75% of my accounts wouldn't/couldn't connect and download. 3rd time in as many months. Spent 3 hours on the phone with support on June 27th before somehow being disconnected. Resent the option provided which was to start a new account with Quicken and settle for only the 3-4 months of data!

  • Bob.
    Bob. Member ✭✭✭✭
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    There is no competition.
    I have not had a month where ALL Online Billers worked in well over 2 years. Maybe 3.
    I have had to sleuth my way out of corrupted Billers or non-connecting accounts much too often. Two in the last week!
    I sometimes get tempted to buy a roll of Forever Stamps and find my checkbook.

  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
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    The overlords' practice of censoring discussion about other PFM software has never made any sense to me,

    I definitely have a problem with some of Quicken Inc's (and Intuit before them) policies, but in fact I think their position is quite understandable when you look at the fact that they don't all "advertising" of any kind. It isn't just other PFM software.

    But on the side of "not really liking some of their policies" they definitely seem to believe in the carrot and the stick and have no problem with using the stick.

    @Bob. personally, I like to pick my battles for the ones I think I can win. Personally, I think the Quicken Bill Management feature battle is one that no one can win. The system is setup to fail.

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  • Bob.
    Bob. Member ✭✭✭✭
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    You've often said that , Chris. I agree, today Amex, Fidelity and Chase AXCCTS are much more significant errors than the online billers.

  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
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    @Bob. Yes, they are, and I certainly don't have a universal fix for any of this. In fact, most of the time I have no fix for it. These problems by their nature are either out of the control of the user or very complicated to find out what in their setup to actually change to get it to work.

    And for the record, I consider Express Web Connect (not Express Web Connect +) pretty much on pair with the online billers problem. The whole concept that a server will log in for you acting like you is just one big security hole/flawed idea. It was created out of desperation because of the lack of standardization for such a process.

    And should say as a person that would like to help people with this kind of thing it is very frustrating from this standpoint too, because of very limited options to help.

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  • mistertheplague
    mistertheplague Member ✭✭✭
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    They allowed discussion of ImportQIF before you made it available for free (cool you did that BTW). It's even in a Quicken for Windows FAQ right here on this site.

    IDK anyone out there in Menlo Park and I'm not in their meetings so I have to speculate about why Quicken Inc. has toed this doctrinaire line, but just off the top of my head this is the only online support space for a product that I'm aware of where the moderators are tasked with suppressing and censoring discussion of competing products.

    It's silly, IMO. Especially since any thoroughly informed discussion on the topic would have to conclude that Quicken, warts and all, is the most powerful PFM application available to ordinary consumers — and like I said, on the Windows side it's not even close.

    If I was Quicken CEO I'd love for people to talk about the entire fintech ecosystem on my site since Quicken would inevitably have to come out ahead. People who come in here and blowtorch the place because something negative happened with their Quicken experience aren't wrong. They just haven't used all the other products out there so they imagine the grass must be greener.

    It really isn't, though. The entire PFM market is fraught with problems and, frankly, a lot of those problems come from the FIs who don't want to expend resources helping their customers manage their $$$$ with third-party tools.

    Quicken Premier Mac and Windows
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
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    @mistertheplague I have wondered for years why they haven't dropped the boom on ImportQIF, but I will tell you that ImportQIF always had free features and only the "extended features" cost anything.

    One thing I'm sure of and that is if I hadn't been a very active SuperUser at the time it would have never happened.

    And another mystery for me is as you mentioned why the financial institutions support programs like Quicken at all. Back in the day when they didn't have good websites and mobile apps it made more sense, but now I think that it more likely costs them more than it gains them. And especially when you consider how small percentage wise that the Quicken users are of their customers.

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  • mistertheplague
    mistertheplague Member ✭✭✭
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    @Chris_QPW It's still cool that you made it free. I bought ImportQIF a hundred years ago; it wasn't expensive, especially for what it offered. Over the years I began using the ProperSoft converter more because they offered a bundle of different exotic converters that were handy, especially the Mint CSV and PDF converters. Regardless, ImportQIF is a great tool and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. The documentation is superb.

    I mean, I have an opinion on why they shouldn't lower the boom on ImportQIF: it offers a sorely needed capability and solves a big problem for Q users who have to figure out how to import their financial data way past the reach of the latest FI download.

    I have no idea why FIs still (ostensibly) support Quicken (many of them increasingly kinda don't). As presaged by the "classic" label, desktop PFMs like Quicken Classic are slated for a museum. Maybe not tomorrow, but the writing is on the wall. Imagine if all the engineers tied up with the desktop apps could build out Quicken for the Web and offer it with a companion app. That would be something.

    Anyway, like 15 years ago I remember a bank manager down in Florida told me his FI supported Quicken — despite the $$$$ Intuit charged for direct download, and despite the fact that a lot of his Quicken users actually called or even came into the bank for tech support (LOL) — because Quicken users tended to be higher-net worth than the median customer and the FI wanted to keep them happy.

    I wonder how many of these folks moved on to their brokerage's tools once they became more sophisticated.

    Quicken Premier Mac and Windows
  • bmheck
    bmheck Member ✭✭
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    It seems that my post started a bit of discussion! I truly appreciate the responses:

    @Boatnmaniac, I seriously did appreciate your detailed response, but your subsequent reply to my response sounded as though you were frustrated with my failure to provide sufficient detail to help diagnose the (latest) issue. However, my post really was not about the particular problem that I encountered. Instead, it was about why, in such a mature product (and Quicken is the very definition of a mature product), I was so frequently wrestling with any issues on such a regular basis. I'm sure that there is some fix for the particular issue I had, but there comes a time to stop chasing down problems and just figure out a new plan. I just am too tired to care any longer.

    Or at least I would be too tired to care had it not been for many of the other comments. Many of the responders apparently have tried other products without much luck. That's discouraging, but may save me a good bit of time in fruitless research.

    For those still following , I'm rethinking my needs. At this point in my life, maybe I just don't need to track all this stuff. How much of it is just habit? What am I really trying to accomplish anyway? Beyond making sure that I don't accidentally overdraw the checking account, do I need daily / weekly updates? It's handy to see what's going on with my credit cards (I once spotted a probe that the bank identified as fraud and we stopped before it went anywhere, so there's some value in that!), but is a quick look at the bank website each week sufficient? All of my FIs have records going back for years, so do I need my own copies? I'm trying to puzzle through these kinds of questions. Suggestions / considerations / arguments cheerfully accepted!

  • Jon
    Jon SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
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    I'll admit I probably don't get a great benefit from categorizing individual transactions anymore; 99% of the time the only figure I look at is the total spending for the month. But I do still find it valuable to have one place to go to see all the activity in all my accounts.

    As for relying on financial institutions to keep records for you, IMO that's a mistake. I've personally lost records in the past because I relied on the bank to keep the statements for me and when I closed my accounts there I lost all access to those documents. So I keep my own copies of everything.

  • Jim_Harman
    Jim_Harman SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
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    I have been using Quicken since 2000 and before that I used Managing Your Money.

    In recent years I have taken steps to simplify my finances in several ways:

    • Consolidating accounts to reduce the number that I need to track
    • Choosing banks and brokerages that work well with Quicken
    • As much as possible, setting up regular bills so that they are paid automatically

    I still find Quicken very useful for managing my finances:

    • It provides an overview of my account balances
    • It shows my investing asset allocation across accounts and by account type (taxable, IRA, Roth) so I know when to rebalance
    • It shows projected balances in spending accounts so I can move money when necessary
    • It shows projected taxes reasonably accurately
    • I can promptly see any suspicious credit card transactions
    • I can track RMDs from my retirement accounts
    • In taxable investing accounts, it tracks tax lots so I can tell what to sell.

    QWin Premier subscription
  • Rocket J Squirrel
    Rocket J Squirrel SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
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    The answer to "where to?" Includes two criteria for me.

    1. Which competitor is most Quicken-like with respect to user interaction?
    2. Which competitor most easily imports Quicken data?

    So far, I have found the answer to both to be "none".

    Quicken user since version 2 for DOS, now using QWin Biz & Personal Subscription (US) on Win10 Pro.

  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
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    I have gone through "phases" with Quicken. When I started, you couldn't download anything, so manual entry. Did that for a couple of years, but back then I really only had a checking and savings account and a 401K. And still it was more "trouble than benefit" for that simple financial case. If one wants to understand why programs like Quicken are used by the young one usually just has to realize that their finances usually have not got "complicated" yet.

    Later I could start downloading transactions and also my finances got more complicated. To this day though I'm not really sure if Quicken "saved me" or "hurt me" overall. Probably the benefit was mostly positive with getting burnt a few times because I didn't understand some of the limitations of Quicken at the time.

    Circle around to today. I have a lot bigger net worth, but I have also automated almost all of my bill paying and have no concerns about "cash flow". I have also reduced the number of accounts and financial institutions. My memorized payees are almost always just payee == category (exception Amazon) so that is pretty much automatic too. And even selection of categories I'm not that picky about them anymore and have far less of them.

    Quicken still gives some nice insights, but nothing I couldn't live without. Quicken has become more a hobby for me than anything else. My wife still likes to look at the expenses from time to time, but we aren't on a "budget" (We have never been on a budget, we both are very mindful of anything we buy that is even a little bit expensive for us, and as such just don't run into that kind of problem).

    So, yes, one really has to evaluate what is important to them and decide what is needed currently, because it does change over time.

    Quicken can be a nice tool for the people that need it, but it can also be a big time sink when trying to use some of it bad features or for a purpose that it wasn't designed for.

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  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
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    And that is the cornerstone of most people asking this question come up with an unsatisfying answer.

    They are basically asking for too much from what currently exists in the world. Converting just from Quicken Windows to Quicken Mac is "not 100%". Same for converting from any other personal finances software to Quicken. So, why would people believe they can go the other way "without loss"?

    You might lose certain features, or your data might not convert correctly. Just think of this, there are only two ways to convert Quicken data, QIF and CSV/Excel. QIF syntax doesn't have the syntax to describe all the different account types/transaction types. For instance, it has no syntax for security lots. You are definitely going to be talking FIFO into the new program. For the same reason you are also going to not be able to transfer any open security options transactions.

    And CSV/Excel is basically only tells you that the fields are separated by commas, it doesn't say what any field is. So, any program trying to do that has to very dedicated to converting Quicken (not other program data) or be very complicated to tell it how to map everything. I allow for importing investment accounts through a conversion from CSV to QIF, but the way that works is that the user has to first state what columns map to what fields and then at conversion time what security action "name" maps to what QIF security action. This is very complicated, and I only do the more simple use cases for downloading of transactions from the financial institution not trying to convert a whole data file with multiple accounts.

    Something has to give if one wants to convert out of Quicken.

    Whether that is realizing that they don't need all the features. Or willing to start over, or something like that, it is going to be a very personal decision that only they can make.

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  • mistertheplague
    mistertheplague Member ✭✭✭
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    @bmheck It depends on why you want to use PFM software in the first place. I grapple with the hulking old freighter that is Quicken for Windows for tax planning and management of investments.

    I've always despised Quicken's budget functions and have never used them. It's lifetime planner and balance projector are good for literal, linear tools but don't excel at detailed alternative scenarios the way MS Money's planner functions did, nor does the LTP offer any Monte Carlo simulations to give a band of outcomes. The debt reduction module is excellent but these days all we have is a mortgage so that got mothballed for me. I've never used the Savings Goal planner.

    For investments, I use QW for detailed lot identification, estimating capital gains, reallocation (which I use a separate spreadsheet for since QW's asset allocation module is buns unless you hold your grandfather's portfolio or you can keep track of "Other" actually being REITs or whatever "alt" classes you own. Nevertheless, the spreadsheet I use imports data from QW's Portfolio Value and Cost Basis report).

    For tax planning, the native planner is good for estimates (unless there's some problem with it that Markus1957 hasn't yet gotten the engineers to fix), but I take data from it and plug it into TurboTax's What-If worksheet for granular tax estimates.

    And that's pretty much it. I don't know why anyone would depend on Quicken for Windows for any other reason (I've never used the business version). I guess maybe if your wife asks you how much more money you've spent on pet food YTY, but there are other tools that do that. Wielding QW to balance your checkbook has always seemed to me like swatting a fly with a telephone pole, but that's just my opinion. Worth the price paid for it. 😉

    I've also just come back to using Quicken after taking a break from it for a year and a half or so (that's a mistake, lemme just say).

    If you own a Mac, Quicken for Mac is superb. It's actually jarring coming over from the Windows side because using QM is like riding a rocketship compared with QW. It also syncs flawlessly with my iOS app, unlike QW. But it's far less capable than QW. However, if you don't need that capability, check it out.

    Quicken Premier Mac and Windows
  • InkPen
    InkPen Member ✭✭
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    Have been using QW since Managing Your Money ceased to exist. Quicken is nice to place monitor the big picture, examine investments accounts under one umbrella, project cash flow balances, and safeguard questionable transactions.

    One of the things that has been useful to me is the memo field of spending transactions. This detail has helped me on several occasions, e.g. product X no longer works, is it still under warranty? or need a part for product Y, what is the model number? Made it a point to input some of this info into the memo field, and it has been surprisingly useful.

    My financial needs have also changed over time. Is Quicken essential? probably not, but it's really nice having an all ongoing around snapshot of your personal situation.

  • bmheck
    bmheck Member ✭✭
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    Once again, thanks to all who have commented. So many of your comments reflect my own situation well: since retirement, our financial lives have become simpler, i.e., we've consolidated investments, most of our investments are in tax-sheltered vehicles (IRAs, 401s) so we don't need to worry about tax implications, etc. (Side note: I never trusted Quicken for numbers for tax returns anyway, although they were sufficient for planning.) Moreover, since large change in the standard deduction (in 2017?), we now routinely use that rather than itemizing expenses. (That could change as we age should we encounter high medical expenses, but we'll see.) And, as I have complained about elsewhere, Quicken still does not handle some common investment transactions, such as Qualified Charitable Distributions from IRAs, so there's always some "outside Quicken" work on spreadsheets.

    @Rocket J Squirrel , your pithy remarks pretty much summarize my original question and provide an answer as well!

    @InkPen , yes, being able to look up old purchases for warranty or other reasons really is handy — I've done that many times. If I do move on, some other mechanism would be very helpful. (And no, saving paper receipts in a drawer is not one of my options!)

    @mistertheplague , it's interesting that you bring up Quicken for Mac — I had the notion that QM was worse than QW. As it happens, I'm also looking at adding/switching to a Mac (long story), and what I hear you saying is that its performance is fine, it just does not have some of the capabilities of QW. For my purposes, that may be fine.

    Finally, one other thing that I may try is to switch all of my investment accounts to the simplified view, as most are now on autopilot. Or I could even just maintain them manually: all I really care about these days are the totals. That would allow me to concentrate on cash flow, meaning checking and credit card accounts as @Jim_Harman notes. Like @Chris_QPW , we aren't on budgets and indeed never have been (we're just naturally cheap), but seeing where everything stands at any given time is comforting.

    In any case, my thinking now is that I'll stay in the Quicken world for a while, if only to see if I can simplify things to the point where Quicken's shortcomings don't drive me nuts. After all, there are plenty of other things in the world that drive me nuts, and I've somehow learned to live with them….😁

  • Jim_Harman
    Jim_Harman SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 8
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    @bmheck There is a way to handle QCDs in Quicken so that everything is recorded in the Tax Planner and tax reports, but it requires some manual entries. It would certainly be nice if Quicken handled QCDs and other IRA distributions without requiring these manual entries.

    See this discussion

    QWin Premier subscription
  • bmheck
    bmheck Member ✭✭
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    @Jim_Harman , thanks, but when I try to follow the "View Post" link, I get a message saying that I don't have permission. I tried searching for the post in these forums with no luck. Even Google can't find it! :^) However, I did find other discussions on the topic.

    Not to be too hard on the Quicken team, but not having a native, simple way to deal with a very common type of transaction that's been around for years really is a miss. Not the end of the world, but frustrating.

  • Jim_Harman
    Jim_Harman SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Sorry, that post is not in a public section of the community. Here is how I handle QCDs.

    1. Set up a special Expense category for QCDs. I called mine Charity-QCD. I gave it a Tax line item of "Form 1040:IRA contrib". I used that line item because it is an IRA-related expense and it reduces my taxable income by the amount of the donation so it calculates correctly in the Tax Planner.
    2. Sell securities in the IRA if necessary to generate the cash for the QCD.
    3. In a dummy taxable banking account, enter a Deposit transaction for the net amount of the donation, with a split if necessary for a transfer from the IRA for the gross amount of the distribution and any taxes withheld as a negative number. My state (CT) requires state withholding for all IRA distributions.
    4. In the dummy account, enter a second transaction for the net amount of the donation, using the Charity-QCD Category. I use a second transaction to give the donation better visibility in the register and reports, and because Quicken tends to get confused if you enter a split transaction for a zero amount.
    5. When the QCD transaction downloads from the FI, accept the matching security sale but delete or do not accept the downloaded cash transaction(s)

    With these entries, the Tax Planner, Tax reports, and spending reports all appear to be correct and no manual adjustments are required in the Tax Planner. The only difference is that the QCD gift amounts are shown in the IRA Contribution section. of the Tax Planner.


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