Sunday, December 22, 2013

bugs in my billfold

It appears that whatever has been biting me while I have slept lightly on my bed at night has also decided to take a bite out of my computer.  At least, the Quicken part.

I have been using Quicken since 1989.  Of all my computer programs it has long been one of the easiest to operate.  And each second devoted to entering data has been rewarded with hours of time saved. 

Especially, when it comes to filing taxes.  Usually, I push a few buttons, and I have my return ready to file.  (I wish it was that easy to come up with the money I need to electronically send off to Uncle Sam once the return is finished.)

But something very strange has happened over about the last year.  It seems as if I am spending an inordinate amount of time trying to correct mistakes that Quicken's demonic little brain tries to slip into my account records.

The first problem was more annoying than anything.  Quicken would download transactions from my credit card account correctly the first time.  Then, three or four days later, the same transaction would show up.

Now, I wasn't being charged a second time.  It was simply a duplicate.  One that could throw off my tax reporting (if it happened to be a taxable event).  But it would also throw off my budgeting -- as if I really lived by a budget.

However, I do like to track my expenses.  Whenever anyone asks me how much it costs me to live in Mexico, I can pull out figures showing real pesos passing from my hands to the hands of the smiling local vendors.  I discovered that most people who estimate their costs are often off by factors.

As I said, though, that is an easy problem to fix.  I just delete the duplicates.  But it starts eating into that time that Quicken-when-working saves me.

The larger problem has happened on the last two updates.  On each update, I lose contact with my banks.  One of the clever bits in Quicken is that I can set up connections to have all of my transactions tumble into my account without me doing anything.

That is, until the updates snip my connections.  I then spend hours trying to figure out how to resurrect the connections.

Yesterday another update arrived.  I did not need to wait long to get the bad news.  My banks connections were gone.  And so was the connection between my telephone and my computer.

After spending over an hour on a "chat" line with a Quicken representative in a call center in south Asia, my connections still are not working.  So, here I sit with the same benefits I had back in 1990.  "Just wait a month and your bank will mail you your information."

We consumers are primarily to blame, of course.  We keep asking for faster connections through an ever-growing array of digital appliances. 

I bought my telephone because it would help me keep track of my cash transactions during the day.  Here in Melaque, I deal only in cash.  But if I want to track my purchases now, I will need to revert to a pad and pen.

I suspect this is not what Quicken had in mind with its slogan: "Stop worrying about money."  Perhaps the corollary is: "And start worrying about Quicken."

Like any of these bugs, Quicken will get it worked out.  My telephone will be able to communicate with my computer, my computer will be able to communicate with my banks, and my banks will be a willing party in turning what was once my money into benefits for people I have never met.

Here endeth the lesson.


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