Hooray for Free Software

by Dave

One of the minor irritations I endured when moving to my mac was what to do about our financial software. We’ve been using an old version of Microsoft Money for a number of years and it does exactly what I want. The most important feature that it offers is the debt reduction planner. You put in all the account info (balance, interest rate, etc), how much you want to pay each month, and it will tell you how much to pay each month to each account as well as the dates each will be paid off.

Back to the point; Money is, of course, a Windows-only program. I have XP installed on a Boot Camp partition on my mac, but it is a pain to restart the machine and load Windows. The other option is to run a virtual machine program, like Parallels or Fusion. However, it seemed ridiculous to spend $80 on either of them to run a 7-year-old program.

This led me to look for a mac-compatible program, but none of the available options seemed very good. Plus, I would have to drop between $40 and $80 for a new financial program (not to mention the hassle of switching over the old data). Thus, I put up with Boot Camp for awhile.

Now, however, I have a new setup, and it is working great. I found a free virtual machine program called VirtualBox. I now run XP in the virtual machine and have Money installed on it: no restarting required. There are some other benefits, including wicked-fast startup and shutdown times for XP in the virtual machine. The last time I started XP, it took only 18 seconds to load (granted, I’m running a really stripped-down version of XP, but that’s at least twice as fast as loading the same version in Boot Camp).

It seems to be working really well. Now I can patiently wait for a native mac program that has everything I need. With as well as this works, though, I don’t see myself switching any time soon.

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