Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Quicken Workaround

I have been using the 2010 Quicken Premier program since 2009 (like cars new versions of the program come out the year before) to track my personal finances. Recently the update stock prices function (which downloaded current price quotes and other information for securities in your portfolio) stopped working. According to Quicken it should have stopped working as of April 20, 2013.  This is because of a Quicken policy to discontinue online services after about 3 years to encourage upgrading to the current version of the program.  I briefly considered upgrading but according to reviews on Amazon the current versions of the program don't work unless you are on the internet and have logged into a Quicken server.  I find this utterly unacceptable.

Fortunately there is a workaround.  The program provides a way to update stock prices from a list of quotes in a comma-separated values (CSV) file.  Each line of this file should contain the ticker symbol, price (and optionally date) separated by commas.  This file could be produced in a text editor but since I have 49 prices to update this would be a lot of work.  An easier way to produce such a file is to set up a Google Finance portfolio with the securities you are interested in and then use the download to spreadsheet function.  This produces a CSV file.  It isn't quite in the format Quicken wants but I found it fairly easy to write a little Fortran program to adjust each line.

A few hints for people wishing to do something similar.  I will assume you are running under a Microsoft Windows operating system.  Quicken seems to like each line to end in a space and the file to end in a blank line.  The information you want (ticker and price) is the second and third fields of each line in the file (named "My Portfolio.csv") Google saves (in your downloads directory).  Which means you usually want to copy the information between the first and third commas.  However sometimes the first field (company name) contains a comma.  In that case the name is enclosed in quotes.  So if the line starts with a quote symbol you want to extract the portion of the line between the second and fourth commas.  For some of the index quotes Google starts the symbol with a '.' so for example the S&P 500 has symbol '.INX'.  Quicken doesn't like the initial '.' so it should be deleted.  Quicken looks for the CSV file on your desktop so if you create the file there you can avoid entering the full path name. Google won't overwrite an existing "My Portfolio" file in your downloads directory so this file should be deleted before you try to download a new set of prices.

One issue I haven't resolved is that sometimes the prices in the CSV file Google downloads seem to be stale (outdated) compared to the prices you see on your screen.

I believe Yahoo Finance has a similar portfolio function which might also work but since for some unknown reason Yahoo is currently not allowing me to create an account I can't test this.

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