When I moved to England 7 years ago I came across a time-limited Cash Organizer Premiumy of Quicken on a magazine cover CD, offering to help me organise my money. I had been using Excel, but the lure of reports for analysis was strong, and so I became one of the legions of people who use personal finance software to manage their life. I moved on to Microsoft Money a year later, and am currently using the 2004 version – and I’m still finding new uses for that software.
Cash Organiser Premium was launched 3 months ago, and expands on earlier versions from this developer. Installation is straightforward, takes no more than 5 minutes, and is in 2 parts – the main application (which uses 5MB of space) and the synchronisation module (which needs 496KB). A recent enhancement to Windows Mobile 5.0 has been application signing – a form of security to prevent unauthorised software being installed. When you try to install an unsigned application on a WM5 device, a dialog box pops up asking if you wish to install the application or to cancel. Both Cash Organizer Premium applications are unsigned so be prepared to confirm the installation.
Synchronisation with my Microsoft Money file was straightforward – an extension is placed in ActiveSync, so on every connection your PDA is synced with Money or Quicken. Mind Your Own Business (MYOB) is not supported. On first connection, you can choose which accounts to synchronise and how far back to go – I chose just my core accounts and 1 month’s data, to keep storage demand down. By default all your active accounts are selected – I would have preferred to start from nil and build upwards. You can protect the Cash Organizer Premium database with a password, in case you lose your PDA.
After synchronisation is complete, Cash Organizer Premium will spend a few minutes updating its database. I found this component was very slow on my Xda Mini, and slow on my Xda Exec – possibly affected by the different processors in those devices. The software looks great with the VGA screen on Xda Exec – clear, legible type and smooth performance. On the smaller screen Xda Mini the screen type was still legible – the type can be made larger if you find it’s uncomfortable to use.
I found Cash Organizer Premium instantly intuitive and just like using Microsoft Money on my PC; even the report generator is similar. Changes made on both PC and PDA were accurate – it really is personal finance when you’re out and about. I connected to my bank, downloaded my latest transactions in QIF format, and imported them into Cash Organizer Premium without hitch. Most NZ banking institutions support downloading your transactions in QIF format, and data can be exported in QIF, Pocket Excel and Pocket Word.
Cash Organizer Premium also has a today screen plugin that summarises your totals, forthcoming transactions and provides shortcuts to most used functions. The only hiccup I found – already reported to the developer – is that the total did not auto-update after a change.
Cash Organizer Premium has many features and is prime role is as a personal transaction manager. It doesn’t have support for tracking mutual funds or shares, but will keep track of exchange rates for you. I found too many currencies were being tracked by default, and expect most people will only want to track 4 at most. Also, for those who have used PDA’s to simply track expenses, be aware this software has no ‘expense’ module – you are literally updating your accounts as you go. Not so good if you choose to keep an expenses list for claiming costs.
Microsoft offers a Windows Mobile version of Money from their website, but it pales in comparison with Cash Organizer Premium. The Microsoft software is tied into a specified version only – so for Money 2004 you must use Pocket Money 2004. Cash Organizer Premium supports all versions of Money from 2003 onwards, and Quicken 2003 onwards.
Overall the software has great functions, is generally responsive and does what the advertising claims. It is specialised software, and you’ll get the most return from this software if you are diligent about using it and keeping it up-to-date. If you’re away from your desktop PC for more than a day it really comes into its own – personal finance management on the go.
Excellent synchronisation with Microsoft Money and Quicken