MoneyDance: First Impressions

I did a little testing of MoneyDance and I’ll share what I saw. This is by no means a ‘review’.


When I attempted to install MD, I immediately encountered problems. The most recent version is 64bit only. The system I need to run this on is 32bit (it’s a long story but there is a good reason). A little research revealed it is run in Java and Java is no longer supporting 32bit? OK….

Honestly this is a show stopper for the moment. I really want to maintain accounting on a specific machine and I’m not ready to upgrade that machine to 64bit for at 6-12 months until I know how I’m going to deal with hardware drivers.

Also, I have not been a fan of Java programs since the early days. I know Java software is better now than the early days of Java, but having to clock in/out of work on a seriously crappy Java app required by our payroll provider left a bad test in my mouth for all things Java. Nothing will piss an employee off faster than being in the office but not being able to clock-in!

Nevertheless, I really want to play with MD as it may become an option in 6-12 months. I also like the fact that it will run on linux as my laptop is now linux-based and that would allow me to do my accounting on the road w/o a VM.

Importing Data

MD did a pretty good job of importing data though certainly not perfect. First I imported my old quicken data file that has data going back to 1994. It managed to do so w/o crashing (unlike gnuCash) though there were many oddities I wasn’t sure of. So I decided to simplify and import just the past 2 years worth of data.

For the most part transactions, accounts, and categories imported fine. My biggest ‘gotcha’ was in asset accounts where I have the bad habit of depreciating back to the same account. For example, once a year I check the blue book value of my car, then I ‘depreciate’ the car by reducing the account by the appropriate amount. But instead of recording against a depreciation account, I just used the account itself. Quicken gives a warning when you do that, but it does it.

If you record transactions back to the same account like this, MD will not like it and will create a different account to record those against. So if my account is named [CAR] and I create a transaction for -10 and record it against [CAR], MD will create an account called [CARX] and record the transaction against that new account.

Once I realized what all of these ‘X’ accounts were, cleanup wasn’t that bad. PLUS I decided I really shouldn’t be taking the easy way out and I went back and properly recorded all of my depreciation against a real category .

Most of the bank/investment accounts imported with very few issues. The investment account did have quite a few bogus transaction additions. I never figured out what triggered these, but they were pretty easy to find because all of the real transactions were reconciled and the bogus ones were not so I could just delete them.


As I worked on cleaning up data I started to get used to how the MD GUI works.

I kept finding I had to use the mouse too much. I am NOT a mouse person. I expect to be able to do normal day-to-day operations with minimal mousing. I know the shortcut keys to everything I do daily. I’ll use a mouse to get an app running, then stick to the keyboard since it is far faster to use. I could navigate to some extent in MD w/o a mouse but then there were operations I just could not find a non-mouse way to handle. As I recall, some drop-down fields I would get into and could scroll with keys but couldn’t actually select the value – I’d have to click. In windows this would never happen – this was a Java problem.

As I cleaned up data I hit the MD 100 transaction limit on the trial version. I wasn’t expecting that to happen before I got a chance to test bank downloads.

As it turns out, when you hit that limitation, not only can you not add more transactions, you cannot setup bank accounts so there was no way for me to proceed with testing w/o purchasing MD.

Given the fact I knew I wasn’t going to be using it in the near future, I decided to conclude my  testing for now.


So far I would judge MD to be NOT UNACCEPTABLE to me (which is a notch down from ACCEPTABLE 🙂 ). I’ve decided to keep going with Quicken for the near term partially because of the 32bit issue and partially because MD’s interface is about as quirky as Quicken’s. So I will stick with the devil that I know for now.


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