If you have the time and the inclination to tackle all aspects of your financial life, then Microsoft’s Money 2003 Deluxe is the software for you. The hefty application (a 143MB install) is packed with features (some new) that let you do everything from set up and track budgets to pay bills electronically to manage investments. But the sheer size of the program might be overwhelming for some users.
Money 2003 Deluxe offers easy set-up with a Wizard that steps you through the process. The interface presents a sleek, customizable Web page with links, letting you quickly view your account balances, budgets, and bills due, for example. You can choose different views and even make it your home page, so you can examine your finances as soon as you log on. Software set-up was relatively pain free–until we got to banking. We were able to link directly from Money 2003 Deluxe to our online accounts, but when we attempted to download an account statement, we ran into problems that prevented us from doing so.
Still, despite this drawback, Money 2003 Deluxe is a powerful money management tool. We liked the link with MSN, which provides practical financial advice on everything from investing to retirement to taxes. And Microsoft includes one year of free online bill payment, online tax prep and filing with H&R Block, and one consultation with an AmEx financial adviser. Several features require users to sign up for a Passport account (of which we’re still leery). In spite of its bloat, MS Money 2003 Deluxe offers enough new and enhanced features that it might be a worthwhile investment for some (www.microsoft.com; $59.95 before the $20.00 rebate).