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Reconnect Microsoft Money

Last updated Sep-2015

Microsoft Money: Arguably the Best Personal Accounting Package Ever

Feb 2010:  If you're a long time user of Microsoft Money for personal finances, you were dumped in late 2009, when the mighty Microsoft decided to end the Money product cycle.  The reason?  Apparently, Microsoft didn't see itself competing with the new online money management sites, and didn't see financial management software as a core business.  This probably made sense, as Microsoft morphed into a large, complex, corporate beast, making strong inroads into mission-critical applications.  Back-end servers, databases, office applications, and other staples of the corporate world, are Microsoft's lifeblood.  The Money franchise had a good run, but apparently involved more risk and effort than the company was willing to accept for the income it could receive.

The Money software had matured to a stable and useful package, and there honestly wasn't much that Microsoft could do to enhance it.  If they had just stopped development, but continued offering users the ability to connect online, then all would be good for most users.  Instead, they decided to stop support entirely in 2011, and once the support window expired, automatic downloading of statements and stock quotes came to an end.  Well, sort of.  If you read the rest of this article and install the scripts being discussed, you can continue using Money to automatically get your online statements from any bank or brokerage that supports Quicken direct connect.

I've written a few pages to describe the work that's been done to allow the continued use of Money using Python scripts on the next couple of pages.  If you just want to cut to the chase and get started, you can go directly to the Install & Setup section.  You don't need to understand the scripts or how it works to use the package, with one considerable exception.  You must trust it, since you will be using it to retrieve financial data.  The scripts are completely open source, with nothing hidden, so if you want to peek inside, it's all right there for anyone to study.  That's the beauty of using a script package, since nothing is pre-compiled, and the source can be reviewed by anyone.  See the security section in the get online data section for a little more about what's happening.

The alternatives?

Money Sunset Edition

Microsoft offers Money Plus Deluxe Sunset as a free download. This is a final (free) edition of Money, but does not include any built-in online features.  This is great for Money users, as it allows installation on new computers without having to worry about whether it can be "activated".  Add the PocketSense script package, and you're all set for direct connect updates.

Note:  Existing Money users should remove online connections for their accounts in the existing Money data file before installing the Sunset Edition.  Users report that the Sunset edition does not allow online connections to be deleted.  Use of alternate means of data import (such as the software provided on this site) may be more difficult to implement when accounts are still configured for online statements within Money.
Quicken seemed to be the odds-on favorite to gain traction with many previous Money users.  Quicken isn't a bad option, but it was a step backwards for most Money users.  When the Money death bell rang at Microsoft, Intuit quickly began working on an improved import feature for Money users.  After all, it's not every day that your chief competitor calls it quits.  With the release of Quicken 2010, the full import functionality was (supposedly) implemented.  I have never tested it myself, but I would guess that it (mostly) works as advertised.  For many users, switching to Quicken seems to be a palatable option. 

We also have the option of just starting from scratch, with a different finance package (e.g, Mint.com), but we can't (as of now) import our existing data into most (all?) of these applications.  There are a few open-source and free options available as well, but (again) those do not import Money data directly, requiring instead that the user "export" the data and then "import" into the new software.  To my knowledge, the Intuit Quicken software is the only package that claims full import support for Money data files without special user interaction.  Although I have no personal experience with either, Money Dance and AceMoney have good reputations.

Perhaps it would be better to just dump Money and get it over with, going through the pain of a transition rather than implementing a fix.  My opinion today is that keeping Money alive (for as long as possible) is the better option.  Which of the new-breed software packages will thrive and grow, and which will bite the dust?  I have no idea, but I do know that I don't want to be a guinea pig, especially with my financial data.  Quicken will probably improve or be replaced to compete with the upstarts and freeware.  I'll consider giving someone my business and entrusting my data to their code wizards once it's clear they're in this for the long haul, but for now I'm going to keep MS Money going.  

Fool me once, shame on you... 

Using the Back Door

A simple work-around being employed by some users has been to simply set the date back on their computer prior to running Money.  Doing so, some copies of Money (supposedly) continued to connect and download transaction statements and stock prices pretty much as usual.  While this worked, it wasn't a good idea to run Money with the date set back.  Money uses the current date and time for internal recording functions (such as budgeting), apparently using time stamps to keep things straight.  I personally ran into an issue with the computer clock being incorrect a few years ago and, after discussing with Microsoft support, found that our computer clock was a bit off.

Even if you made it work, it only did so until Microsoft pulled the plug on the OFX web service.  Money connected to a Microsoft server to get the information it needed to perform statement downloads.  When they shut down the service in 2011, the built-in statement download capability ceased to function.  A better option was (and is) to use the built-in functionality that Money offers, importing statements directly from the financial institutions.

Another Day, Another Way

Money has a useful import feature, providing a back-door path to gathering online updates.  In its simplest implementation, the user goes to each of their financial institutions and downloads their latest transactions, subsequently importing the resulting files into Money.  If you only have a single online account, this option wouldn't be too onerous.  By no surprise, many of us have more than two or three accounts, and repeating the cycle over and over again each time we want to update would be less than satisfactory.  Fortunately, we don't have to.

Thanks to OFX transaction servers, the dirty work can be done for you. I began looking into the option in late 2009 and, during a search, ran across TheFinanceBuff web site.  His series, titled Replacing Money, presented a discussion of Python scripts that appeared to do what I wanted.  The article consisted of a series of posts describing how he got started, the changes he had made, and some alternatives he had considered.  As presented, the option required a few computer skills that many users probably weren't comfortable employing, but it looked promising to me.  More importantly, the scripts weren't exactly "robust" in the way they handled downloads, errors, etc., so there was a clear opportunity to build upon an existing idea, while enhancing function.

Next: Get Online Data using Python Scripts

Tags:  replacement replacing replace microsoft money plus deluxe online updates discontinued statement transactions OFX python scripts quicken upgrade