Like Justin, I’ve used Quicken for Home and Business to do the accounts for Reinvented for the past 5 or 6 years. It’s basically regular old Quicken with some businessy things like Accounts Receivable and Invoices added on for not-too-complex businesses like mine.
None of my accountants like Quicken, mostly, it seems, because it’s not a classical double entry bookkeeping system. Accountants like double entry bookkeeping systems because in Accountant World the Holy Grail is “adding up.” Everything must add up — accounts must balance — reconciliation is key. Apparently double entry bookkeeping is a system designed to prevent things from being able to not add up, which I suppose was a good idea when accounting computers were powered by steam. But I’ve never understood quite why the metaphor had to be carried into the digital accounting world where presumably, at least on some level, the “double” part of “double entry” is a conceit that could be done away with through clever programming.
To date I’ve staved off a switch from Quicken to something more traditional (like QuickBooks, or Simply Accounting) despite accountant protests.
Which is all to say that Justin’s musings about his own finances, especially his contracting with a consultant who will take Quicken files and advise clients on their setup, is fascinating, and perhaps the first financial writing I’ve ever encountered that bears any relation whatsoever to my own life.
Pick up any of the “personal finance” magazines these days, or read the weekend business section of the newspaper, and the unceasing mantra is completely retirement-centric — it’s all about RRSPs, RESPs, mutual funds, tax deductions, the stock market. None of this has anything to do with the price of celery, and although I can understand the need to set up nest eggs, the obsession with money in the future has always seemed absurd, especially when the obsession with money in the future becomes so pervasive as to interfere with the enjoyment of the present.
This means (a) that I will die penniless and (b) that Oliver will have to pay for his own college. I hope it also means that (c) we’ll have more fun, less stressfully, along the road to death. All of us.
My favourite part of Justin’s missive is his concluding paragraph:
Once I’ve got a month of better Quicken use under my belt, and I’ve combed over 2003’s transactions, I’ll consult with a CPA. My short term goal is to begin paying quarterly income taxes! And from there I want to reduce my five-figure credit card debt. So much of Quicken is designed to urge you to invest and track your investments. For now, my investment is me, and I need some investment tracking.