Skip to main content

Financial Record Keeping Software: A comparison of Quicken and QuickBooks

This article was written by Shannon Sand, former SDSU Extension Livestock Business Management Field Specialist.

As fall nears many producers are beginning to gather their records to prepare for taxes. From these records many important operating decisions are made. Agriculture producers often use computer software to keep financial records. While there are software packages tailored for farm and ranch businesses, many producers successfully use general commercial software such as Quicken® or QuickBooks®. Both products can be useful for an agricultural producer’s record keeping. The question which often arises from producers is, “which one do I need”?

The answer is dependent on the individual operation’s structure and record keeping needs. A producer who is looking for a way to track inventory, manage payroll, and track unpaid invoices may not need the same software as a producer interested in being able to plan for retirement and who is the sole employee. The choice between which software is right comes down to how the operation runs, number of employees, invoicing requirements, how much money and time a producer is willing to invest in learning new software, etc. (Table 1). Both Quicken® and QuickBooks® allow producers to download transactions from online bank and credit card accounts, back up data entry, import and export data to different applications, including tax preparation software, and export reports to spreadsheets for further analysis and study.

One thing to consider maybe is there help to set up and install the program and what are the requirements for the software. Both Quicken® and QuickBooks® can be used on either Mac or Windows based operating software. Most versions of Quicken® and QuickBooks® 2015 versions for windows require they have windows at least Windows Vista or above. As far as set up help goes there are help sites for both Quicken® and QuickBooks® available free of charge for help with setting up. They both also have phone service available to help with set up of the software. While there are similarities between the two programs, there are important differences that should be noted.

The amount of time required to learn the software and the financial investment in purchasing the software is different. Table 1 shows a comparison chart between Quicken® and QuickBooks®. For example, Quicken® would be more suitable to someone who has no employees, is self-employed, and is looking for a way to help plan for retirement. A producer who is looking for a way to track inventory, manage payroll, and do time tracking for employees might prefer QuickBooks®. Both programs allow producers to create categories specific to their needs, pay bills online, and note tax deductions. Both of these programs can be used to create specific farm related categories, and both have classes (such as Annie’s Project, Ag CEO, and online classes), which teach producers how to use and customize the programs to meet their needs.

There are many software programs available to producers for accounting and record keeping purposes. It is important a producer weighs all of their options, and picks the best software for their use whether that’s Quicken®, QuickBooks®, EZ Farm, Excel, or some other software.

Table 1. Comparison of QuickBooks® and Quicken®

  QuickBooks® Quicken®
Intended for Small Businesses Individuals & Small Businesses
Cost $180-480 $40-120
Create budget reports and graphs


Automatically pay bills online X X
Retirement planning X
Tax deductions X X
Creates estimates and invoices X X
Monitors unpaid invoices X X
Tracks accounts payable & reimbursable X X
Business planning X
Manage payroll and sales X
Time tracking X
Integrate with Word, Excel, and Outlook X
Multiple users X
Remote access


Checkbook accounting X
Track investments X
Household inventory X
Compatibility Windows & Mac (U.S. only) Windows, Mac, online



Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be reliable and correct. However, no guarantee or warranty is provided for its accuracy or completeness. This information is provided exclusively for educational purposes and any action or inaction or decisions made as the result of reading this material is solely the responsibility of readers. The author(s) and South Dakota State University disclaim any responsibility for loss associated with the use of this information.