I find accounting tedious so I frequently look out my window at the wonder of winter in Chicagoland.
Quickbooks released a free version called Simple Start 2008. I wanted accounting software for my 1 employee S Corporation that would retrieve/import my Paypal and Bank transactions automatically. Well, the short story is: it’s not possible to automatically download transactions without out extra work and extra cost.
Long story on automated downloads: I installed Simple Start 2008 but it would not download transactions. You have to buy QuickBooks Pro for automated downloads so I called Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks.
I asked, “Can I download transactions from Paypal and JP Morgan Chase Bank?” Answered “Yes”.
And “Do you have a refund policy?” Answered “Yes, 60 days”.
Great, “I would like to purchase it please.” They, “That will be $179.99.”
But wait, “Your website says it is $169.99!” They, “To get that price you would have to re-download the software. For $10 more, I can give you a code to unlock your already installed software.”
Me, “Click.” They just lost a customer.
The free version of Microsoft Office Accounting 2008 allows you to import online transactions for free. They advertise that they are perfect for eBay sellers and are integrated with Paypal. Now I was ready to import my JP Morgan Chase transactions into my newly installed MS Accounting. The Chase bank site offers an online interface but they charge $10 per month to enable it. No way. I hate paying bank fees. I instead download my transactions in an Excel spreadsheet.
Importing the transactions into MS Accounting is not easy. You import the data and then match each item to an account. Soon a problem arises. When you enter a transaction, the default date is today’s date. I didn’t notice this at first so a lot of transactions show today’s date. I want to delete these transactions or edit the date. But both are impossible, you must “void” the transaction. I didn’t believe it a first but a few forums confirmed that you have to void errors.
This is a deal breaker. No one wants to look at a bunch of voided transactions. MS should know the difference between a data entry mistake and an accounting transaction that needs to be voided.
Back to QuickBooks. I manually enter transactions and finally get to the accounting. Simple Start 2008 features are pretty good. You can edit or delete any errored transaction.
SS 2008 made it easy to keep track of transfers between Paypal and Chase. It’s clear now that it’s not really possible to automatically import transactions from a bank and PayPal without manual intervention. Paypal records the funds transfer date as the date it was initiated while a bank records the date that is is completed. This must be manually adjusted.
Bottom line: Go with QuickBooks Simple Start 2008! It’s free!
The whole point of accounting is to control your money. Go with free software as long as you can. SS 2008 has a painful learning curve but don’t waste a day evaluating MS Office Accounting. You can get help from local QuickBooks instructors or ask for help on forums. Paying an Accountant to do your books without understanding what they are doing is risky and costly. Once again, there are no shortcuts for us small business owners.