|PRINTING 1099S IN QUICKBOOKS|
In QuickBooks, the Print 1099s command displays the Printing 1099-MISC Forms dialog box, which lets you print 1099-MISC forms for a selected calendar year. You can select the year for which you need to print 1099 forms by selecting a date range description from the drop-down list box. Initially, for example, the drop-down list box shows Last Calendar Year. Alternatively, you can use the From and To boxes to specify the starting and ending point for the year. After you identify the year for which you want to print 1099 forms, click OK. QuickBooks then creates 1099 forms for any vendors who need them, provided that your 1099 preferences are set up correctly and the vendor is marked as a 1099 recipient in the Vendor List.
You typically send 1099 forms to vendors to whom you pay more than $600 in a year. You can control the actual threshold amount -- it varies from year to year because of inflation and type of payment -- by choosing the Edit, Preferences command, clicking the Tax 1099 icon, and then clicking the Company Preferences tab.
Those who use Quicken for their small-business accounting have probably run into this problem: During the year, you enter income--often in the preset Gr Sales (Gross Sales) category. Then at the end of the year, usually in late January, you receive 1099-MISC forms. Although you may be tempted to enter this 1099 as new data, you probably don't want to. In fact, the information on this form duplicates--or it SHOULD duplicate--the information you already entered. Of course, this doesn't mean you should ignore the 1099-MISC form. Our advice is to enter the information and then check forms--such as the income tax Schedule C--for redundancies to delete.
QUICKEN 2001 AND WINDOWS 2000
Quicken 2001 doesn't run, or at least doesn't run well, under Windows 2000. Quicken gets confused, apparently, by some of the Windows 2000 security features. If you're using Windows 2000, you may want to contact Intuit, the maker of Quicken, to ask about this.
BUDGETING WITH QUICKEN 2002
A budget is a list of the ways you earn and spend your money. And if you create a good, workable categories list with Quicken, you're halfway to a good, solid budget.
To get to the window in which you enter your budget, choose Planning, Budgeting.
Quicken 2002 displays the Setup tab of the Budgeting window. Click the Automatic button if you want Quicken to create a starting budget using any existing financial data. (This existing data comes from financial records you've collected using Quicken.) Otherwise, click the Manual button. After you make this choice, click the Create Budget button. Quicken displays the Income tab of the Budgeting window
You enter your budget for income amounts by using the Income tab and your budget for expense amounts by using the Expenses tab. If you want to budget savings, you can enter these by using the Savings tab. (Budgeted savings, by the way, are just planned account transfers -- money you plan to move, for example, into a savings account.)
Initially, none of the tabs shows categories or accounts, which are what you use for your budgeting.
To display categories and accounts, therefore, follow these three simple steps:
UPGRADING TO QUICKEN 2002 MADE EASY
Can you use the existing old Quicken files you've been working on if you install the newest version of Quicken (2002)? Sure you can. In fact, if the Quicken installation program can find a version of old Quicken files on your disk, it'll skip all the New User Setup stuff and just begin using your existing files.
If Quicken doesn't find the old files, you need to specifically open the files. What has happened, if you find yourself in this boat, is that you've moved or messed around with the Quicken files with some other program, such as the Windows Explorer. If you did that, presumably you had a reason. And, more to the point, you should know where you put those files. Here's how to open them:
If the file you're opening was created in a previous version of Quicken, Quicken converts the data to the Quicken 2002 format.
BOILING QUICKEN 2003 DOWN TO ITS ESSENCE
When you boil Quicken down to its essence, it does six things:
INSTALLING AND STARTING QUICKEN 2003
You install Quicken 2003 the same way you install any program in Windows. Installing Quicken from a CD-ROM is as easy as one, two, three, four, five:
After you install Quicken, you need to start it to finish the setup process. The easiest way to start Quicken is to double-click the Quicken shortcut icon that (post-installation) appears on your Windows desktop. The Quicken program window appears, almost like magic.
401 AND 403
The performance, market value, 401(k) account in Quicken can also track the similar 403(b) investments. It reports on and investment distribution for both kinds. And if you have several 401/403 accounts, or even just separate investments for a spouse, set up separate accounts in Quicken. There's no limit.
401(k) plans have become a big part of many people's savings and retirement plans. Quicken has been growing its 401(k) abilities and can now track yours as part of its Investing savvy.
You can now see the projected growth of your 401(k) and come back over time to see the running balance.
When you set up a 401(k) retirement fund account in Quicken, be sure to mark it Tax-deferred and assign transfers for it to the line item W-2-Salary. Then each time you enter a paycheck's details into Quicken (or when you enter totals at the end of the year), your taxable wage income is reduced by the amount siphoned off to the 401(k) account. Naturally, the 401(k) account will grow, too, and happily push up your net worth. Here's how in Quicken 99:
THE LATE 90S QUICKEN: MORE VERSIONS
In the late 90s, Quicken kept adding versions, so there were Basic, Deluxe, and Home & Business flavors.
CREATE A CAR ACCOUNT
If you haven't yet created any kind of account to represent each one of your vehicles -- to keep track of their worth -- you can do it now. Make it an Asset account. Remember, though, to also create a Liability account for any car loan you have.
WHEN YOUR QUICKEN ACCOUNT DOESN'T BALANCE
Here are some suggestions for reconciling an account that's causing you problems.
A/B FOR YOU AND ME
To effectively back up any data (including your Quicken files), use an A/B system.
In an A/B system, you use two sets of backup disks (set A and set B); alternate your backups using one set and then the other. This way, if anything happens to one backup set (such as the disk becoming damaged), you still have a fairly recent backup from which to restore. Some people go so far as to maintain seven sets of backup disks -- one for each day of the week. They reuse Monday's disk on every Monday.
ON NO ACCOUNT GET CONFUSED
Investment accounts are easy to mix up hen you look at your list of accounts in Quicken 99--typically by opening Lists + Account. They have linked Cash Management accounts with similar names. When you're making changes to yourinvestments you want the main account, not the one with the -Cash suffix. Look at the second column of the Account List and make sure what you're dealing with is an Invest type account.
RECORDING YOUR ACCOUNT NUMBER
Does your lender always get mixed up when you send the check? Stick the loan account number in the check's Memo text box. Just don't use this text box to comment on the fairness of the bank's interest rate, to mock the intelligence of the loan payment processors, or to perform other emotionally gratifying, but generally unproductive, acts.
Sometimes, you just can't seem to get the balance to zero! Try these pointers to search for a transaction that's throwing everything off:
ACCOUNT FOR ALL TRANSACTIONS
If you're like most of us, you've probably received a canceled check from the bank and wondered what it was for. Instead of wracking your brain trying to remember, get into the habit of making a notation on your checks' Memo lines, no matter how mundane or obvious the check may be.
The same advice applies to the Memo field in Quicken's transactions. These fields not only remind you of the nature of the transaction, but they also can hold any descriptive information you'd like to record. Rather than creating a whole new subcategory to track specific purchases, for example, you can use the Memo field to enter in the items you purchased. For example, if you have a Category named Gifts, you can use the Memo field to enter the name of the individual for whom you purchased the gift. Or if you go to dinner with a friend, you can assign the Dining Category to the transaction and then enter your friend's name in the Memo field. In any case, as you enter transactions, get into the habit of supplying as much information as you can in the Memo fields.
SETTING UP ONLINE ACCOUNT SERVICES
The Set Up Online Account Services information initially shown at the top of the Account Register window lets you set up an account for online banking. If you want to do this, follow the onscreen instructions. To remove this stuff from the window, click the Options button (which appears in the top-right corner of the Register tab) and then choose the View Register Only command.
Even if you're interested in online banking, it helps to get to know the register first because everything you find out about how the Quicken register works makes the Quicken Online Account Access feature easier to use.
HEY QUICKEN, I WANT TO USE THAT ACCOUNT
In Quicken, you work with one account at a time. The logic is simple: You record income and expenses for a particular account - a specific checking account, savings account, and so on.
You use the Cash Flow Center window to tell Quicken which account you want to work with because Quicken provides clickable hyperlinks (technically called QuickTabs) that you can use to move to the account.
To display the Cash Flow Center window, click the Cash Flow Center button. You can also use the Cash Flow menu to get to the Cash Flow Center. To do this, choose Cash Flow, Go to Cash Flow Center from the menu bar.
After you display the Cash Flow Center window, select the account you want by clicking the account name. Quicken displays the register window for that account.
CANCELING ONLINE ACCOUNTING
It seems odd to anyone eager to get online, but there are times and occasions to cancel online service. Maybe you're concerned about privacy. Maybe you're changing your account structure.
COLD HARD CASH (ACCOUNTS), PART 1
Cash accounts are not for everybody. A cash account may better be called a "petty cash account," because it is chiefly of use to small businesses for tracking day-to-day spending. Rather than set up a cash account, home users can simply track cash spending from a checking account by withdrawing the cash and, when recording the withdrawal in Quicken, choosing a category the describes how the cash was spent. You can also split the transaction to record your cash spending in more than one category.
COLD HARD CASH (ACCOUNTS), PART 2
If you decide that a cash account is right for your home or business, here's how you create one:
What should you do in Quicken if you close a bank account? Rather than deleting the account, you should hide it. That way, if you need it, you can redisplay it.
To hide an account:
The account is hidden.
To view a hidden account again:
SHORTCUT FOR CREATING ACCOUNTS
After you've created a few accounts in Quicken, you can move through the process much more quickly by doing the following:
And that's it! So much faster than moving through the EasyStep windows one at a time.
DELETING ACCOUNTS IN QUICKEN
Before you know anything about deleting accounts, you should know that deleting them isn't recommended. Rather than delete an account that you have closed, hide it in the Account List window. When you delete an account that you have closed, you lose all its financial records. Its records do not figure into reports and graphs. You can't examine your financial history as carefully. If you disregard this advice and delete an account rather than hide it, be sure to back up your Quicken data file in case you regret losing the account records that you deleted.
Follow these steps to delete an account:
The Hide command is a toggle, which means it changes the current state of the selected account. To hide an account, select it and click Hide.
Selecting a hidden account and clicking Hide reverts the account to its regular, viewable state. When you hide an account, it does not appear in the Account List.
If you want to see the accounts you've hidden, select the View Hidden Accounts command from the Options drop-down list at the top of the window. Hidden accounts will then appear in the Account List with a hand icon next to them -- the hand signifies that the accound is hidden.
HIDE INACTIVE ACCOUNTS
Boy did I make a mistake. I closed a bank account and so deleted it from my Quicken files. This can mess up the Quicken data especially if there transfers between accounts. Now Quicken doesn't know how to label those mysterious inflows and outgoes.
The account and its information are still there, not really taking up much disk space, and not taking up any significant visual, screen or mental space.
PUT OLD ACCOUNTS OUT TO PASTURE
We've been exploring ways to clean up our Quicken files. Recently, a reader asked whether you could save old account information to a floppy disk for safekeeping. Say, for instance, that you recently paid off a car loan and want to store the account information on a separate disk. The File Export command does just the trick. With this feature, you can export transactions from individual accounts, indicate a specific range of dates, and export additional data such as memorized transactions and category lists.
To export specific account data to a floppy disk:
Quicken copies the specified range of data to the floppy. (Note: Quicken does not physically remove the transactions from your current Quicken file.)
If you're like most people, you have a primary checking account that you use for your day-to-day expenses, but you maintain other types of accounts as well. If you use Quicken to track all of your accounts, you end up with a complete picture of your total financial situation. Quicken enables you to track nine different types of accounts, including both asset accounts, reflecting positive financial worth, and liability accounts, reflecting obligations and money you owe.
If you have many different accounts in Quicken, chances are you can't display them all along the bottom of the register window. Normally, you'd have to use the scroll bars to locate the name of the account you want. But here's a faster way to switch to another account register:
TURN OFF THE ACTIVITY BAR
In the Activity Bar (at the bottom of the Quicken window) are icons you can use for quick-click access to your most common financial tasks. If you don't want to see these icons, turn off the Activity Bar this way:
In an effort to organize what had become an increasingly complicated and confusing set of features, Quicken 2001 now organizes all of its features into big bunches that it calls Activity Centers. Each Activity Center gets a QuickTab along the right edge of the Quicken program window. Many of the menus available in the menu bar are named after Activity Centers.
Can't stand to be bombarded with ads every time you use Quicken's Online Financial Services Center? You could write a nasty letter to Intuit asking someone to put an end to this atrocious waste of space, but it probably won't do much good! A simpler (and less stress-filled) solution is to instruct Quicken to hide the ads:
The next time you visit the Online Financial Services Center, you can bask in the glory of ad-less-ness!
REUSING INVOICE ADDRESSES
Every time you create a new invoice for an old customer, Quicken Home & Business will automatically fill in the Ship To and Bill To addresses. You can change the address if you like, by typing in a new one. The address is also stored in the Financial Address Book.
SYNCCHRONIZING ADDRESSES IN QUICKEN
Life is always changing. This is especially true of the people and companies with which you deal. People move, companies relocate, and it is important to keep up with those changes. Starting in Quicken 98, Quicken automatically synchronizes addresses no matter where you use them within Quicken.
Addresses you maintain for the same payee in the Memorized Transaction List, the Scheduled Transaction List, and the Financial Address Book are automatically updated in all three places when you make a change in any of the three areas. In other words, if you change the address in the Memorized Transaction List, both the Scheduled Transaction List and the Financial Address Book will reflect the address change. (The Financial Address Book is only available in the Deluxe and Home and Business editions of Quicken.)
To ensure that the synchronization works correctly, use the proper formatting when creating addresses. If you follow these rules, you should have no problem keeping your addresses synchronized:
If you include any other text in the last line, Quicken cannot synchronize your addresses.
HIDE THOSE ADS
Downloading stock quotes also downloads ads. Argh. If you're in the know, though, you don't have to see them. (Kind of odd just to subject those who don't have this tip to seeing the ads.) Here's how:
A WELL ROUNDED ADJUSTMENT
Normally, when you create reports, Quicken lists the actual amount of your spending. For example, if you paid $34.69 for last month's phone bill, Quicken lists the transaction exactly as $34.69 in any report you create. If you'd rather, you can instruct Quicken to round your transactions up to the nearest dollar when generating reports. For instance, that same payment made to the phone company would appear as an even $35 when rounded up.
To round values to the nearest dollar, follow these steps:
Quicken produces a report using nice round numbers. Perfect for you big-picture types.
ADVICE IN TOTO
Quicken has lots of advice on how you should understand and care for your money. You can generally get advice that's relevant to the window or command you're using by clicking on any Help button in that window. But you can also get at the entire spectrum of advice through the Help menu. In Quicken 98 Deluxe, for example, try this:
Now you can read about the topic. To leap to more detail, click any of the green hyperlinks.
TO ALERT OR NOT TO ALERT
You can be picky with your budget alerts -- telling Quicken to notify you when some particular spending category is about to pop past your self-imposed limit, but not to bother you about other categories where you want to be wild and free. With the budget showing, click Alerts. From the list on the right side of the dialog box, click to set only those categories you want alerted.
ORDINARY ANNUITIES - IT'S ALL IN THE TIMING
The Retirement Calculator assumes that you or your employer will add to your retirement savings at the end of the year -- what financial planners call an ordinary annuity. If you or your employer adds to your retirement savings at the beginning of the year, you earn an extra year of interest. As a result, your after-tax income will be more than Quicken shows.
EASY ANSWERS FROM AN EASY ANSWER REPORT
The surest way to find out anything is to ask, and that is the premise behind choosing Reports, EasyAnswer Reports and Graphs. Choose this command to generate a simple report or graph that answers a common question about finances.
When you choose the command, you open the Reports and Graphs Center. Scroll to read the list of questions. If one of these questions is the one you have been aching to have answered, select it. Additional options appear in the bottom of the window, depending on the question you selected. Usually, all you do is choose a time period, but Quicken needs category names and account names to answer some of the questions.
When you have chosen options, click the Show Report or Show Graph button.
A way to save a little time with entering transactions into Quicken is to have Quicken copy a previous entry by using the apostrophe (').
If you want to include the same memo in both lines of a split transaction, simply type in the first memo. When you reach the memo field on the next line, type an apostrophe, and the memo above it is automatically copied.
INDICATING ASSET CLASS
When setting up your securities list, an optional step in one of the Set Up a New Security dialog boxes is the Asset Class buttons and boxes to describe this security. If the security you're setting up is a large capitalization stock, for example, click the Single button and then select the Large Cap Stocks entry from the Single drop-down list box. Note that if the security that you're setting up is really a collection of asset classes -- say you're setting up a mutual fund that will own securities in more than one class -- you can click the Mixture button and then the Specify Mixture button to say, basically, "Oh, this security is 60% stocks and 40% bonds."
You also have the relatively unimportant option of indicating the purpose for which you're investing by selecting a goal from the Investment Goal drop-down list box. You can choose either [I]nvesting, Security [T]ype or [I]nvesting, Investment G[o]al at any time after the initial Security setup to display lists of the security types and investment goals. You can also use these commands to create new security types and investment goals -- Sure-fire, Easy money, or Unconscionable profits, for example. If you want to use it, choose [I]nvesting, Security [T]ype or [I]nvesting, Investment G[o]al and then click the [N]ew button in the dialog box that appears. Quicken displays another dialog box, in which you enter your new type or goal.
ASSET ALLOCATION CLASS 101
To keep track of your asset allocation--the way you've split your investments among different kinds of investments-make sure that you keep Asset Class Information up to date.
ASSET ALLOCATION TUTORIAL
Asset Allocation is the art and science of dividing your investments according to your needs and fears. A person who can't afford risk should have investments distributed differently than a person who can risk more for a larger potential return. Quicken can help you find out about Asset Allocation even before you use its features to monitor your own assets. Just choose Investing, Asset Allocation Guide and start reading.
Suppose you have an asset. Stop cheering and pay attention. You have this asset. You have an account for it in Quicken, so that it appears in your net worth. What happens when you get more of the asset or you sell part or all of the asset? In Quicken, that is. You need to enter a new transaction in the asset account. Generally that just means using the relevant other account for the dollar value -- such as the money you got or gave for changing the asset -- and enter the Asset account as a transfer in the category field.
ASSET CHANGES AS GIFTS
Asset Account changes are relatively simple if you sold it for some value or paid to get more of the item. Then you're dealing with a transfer between the Asset account and some cash, checking, or other value account. If, however, someone simply gave you more of the asset, or you gave away some of the asset without compensation, stick to the Asset account itself. Enter the transaction and, for the category, use Gift Given, Gift Received, or Charity.
ASSET CLASS DOWNLOAD
Smart asset allocation means investing in different things, putting the right amounts at the right risk for your income and plans. Quicken can help you sort your investments by asset classes and keep track of the changes in their relative value.
If your spread isn't ideal, the end of the year is a reasonable time to be planning improvements in your allocation.
ASSET CLASSES ARE A SMART STUDY
Quicken likes to know the "asset class" of each investment. These help it track how your money is allocated. You've probably heard that term from financial planners, who suggest that your age, situation and comfort with risk should lead to an asset allocation plan. For instance, a young person might want 50% of their investments in relatively-high-risk international investments with 25% in high-risk domestic and 25% in large cap. An older person not comfortable with so much risk might want less international exposure. These are different from the Classes used as supercategories, as a way to tie together related expense categories.
ASSET VS. INVESTMENT
There's no bright line dividing asset accounts from investment accounts. Those are just words Quicken uses to distinguish slightly different features in the two kinds of accounts. After all, most investments are assets of some kind or other. When you need to create a new account, the best way to determine which type to use is to ask yourself "Does the value of this account change often in a way that can be precisely measured?" If so, it's better as an investment account. If the value either changes slowly or isn't a precise amount at all given times, an asset account is better.
ASSET VERSUS LIABILITY ACCOUNTS
Quicken enables you to track nine different types of accounts, but you should understand the distinction between the two major types of accounts: asset accounts and liability accounts:
WATCH YOUR ASSETS, AND LIABILITIES
Setting up accounts for your savings and checking, for your petty cash (that wallet or purse), and even for your stocks is a no-brainer. Those are all assets, the stuff you own, the stuff that shows you the up-side to your financial world. And, if you're like most people, you also remember your obvious liabilities--things like credit card accounts. Unfortunately, you may forget to also set up accounts for the king-size, long-term liabilities, the major stuff you owe, such as car loans and home mortgages. Here's how in Quicken 99:
Remember that this account will only remain meaningful if enter transactions as you make payments or receive income.
Will Quicken make all paper receipts obsolete? Not likely. In fact, you should be even more careful about getting paper receipts for everything you do. For example, bring home that ATM receipt for a deposit or withdrawal. Enter it into your Quicken register and mark the receipt. Even then, save the receipt in a box. You may want it as proof later for tax officials, or you may simply need it to recreate your records if your computer crashes.
SHIFT OUT OF AUTOMATIC
Quicken's Planners take cues from your current accounts and historical cash flows. That's how Quicken can project and estimate what your savings will be when it's time to retire, fund college, or buy a home. You don't have to enter that data -- Quicken grabs it automatically. But you also don't have to live with your past. The Planners let you change those rates and amounts to see how things might turn out differently.
Quicken's Scheduled Transactions feature is a real time saver when it comes to automating bill payments. You simply set up the specifics of the bill payment one time and then record the payment in your check register each time the bill is due. A number of readers have asked whether they can do the same sort of automation with account transfers. For example, can you automate a monthly transfer of $100 from your checking account to your savings account? You sure can. Here's how:
On the date of the next scheduled transaction, one of two things will happen:
If you indicated that the transfer should occur automatically, then the transfer happens. No bother, no mess. - If you specified that the transfer should occur manually, the scheduled transfer appears as a reminder in your Reminders list. To make the transfer, select the transfer reminder in the Reminders list and click the Enter in Register button.
In either case, you see a transaction showing that the money has been removed from the first account and another transaction showing that the money has been accepted in the second account.
YOU AUTO TRY THIS
If you're a salaried worker and your paycheck is deposited automatically by your employer, you can schedule a deposit of your paycheck within Quicken.
Not only that, you can also record how much of your gross income is devoted to taxes, social security, IRAs or 401(k)s, health plans, and what all so that you can keep track of stuff.
Get your most recent paycheck stub and choose Banking, Banking Activities, Set Up My Paycheck As a Register Transaction. Then answer the questions in the Paycheck Setup dialog box, clicking the Next button as you go along. To schedule the paycheck deposit, be sure to click the Yes button when Quicken asks whether you want to be reminded automatically to enter your paycheck deposit.
BACK 'ER UP
With files as important as those you create in Quicken, you should always make second copies and keep them in a safe place where nothing can harm them. Usually, you back up files to a floppy disk or Zip drive.
To back up your Quicken data:
BACK IT UP, BUDDY!
Although there may be plenty of room on your hard drive, don't be tempted to use it for your Quicken backups. Chances are, if something happens to your original Quicken file, it will be the result of a problem on the hard drive -- a virus, hard disk failure, or some other form of data corruption that can affect all your files. Backing up to your hard drive may leave you with two useless files instead of one. Always store backups of your important files somewhere away from the computer on which the originals reside.
BACK OFF HACKERS
Concerned about the security of your financial data? You needn't be. You can enjoy all of Quicken's online features with little worry about the security of the info that you enter. Each bank or credit card company with which you establish an online account assigns you a personal identification number (PIN), which is a top-secret password for your account.
And speaking of hackers -- they have to do a lot more than guess your PIN number to gain access to your account. The instructions that flow form your computer to your bank or credit card company are encrypted, which means that they are transmitted using a special code that would-be interceptors can't read.
Encryption makes it virtually impossible for outsiders to read financial transactions over the Internet, let alone alter them. Encryption makes online access more secure than traditional telephone banking, which most of us have already used at some time or other.
Bottom line: Relax. Only a few known cases of online theft exist. The benefits of online account access definitely outweigh the remote and highly unlikely risks.
DECIDING WHEN TO BACK UP
Here's a basic way to back up your files. Back them up every month after you reconcile. Then stick the floppy disk in your briefcase, so if something terrible happens, you don't lose both your computer and the backup disk with the data.
This strategy has a few problems, however. For example, because you're backing up only once a month, you may have to reenter as much as a month's worth of data if the computer crashes toward the end of the month. If you have really heavy transaction volumes -- if you write hundreds of checks a month, for example
A second problem with this strategy is only remotely possible but is still worth mentioning. If something bad does happen to the Quicken files stored on your computer's hard disk and the files stored on the backup floppy disk, you're up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Remember that a floppy disk is far more likely to fail than a hard drive. If this worst-case scenario actually occurs, you'll need to start over from scratch from the beginning of the year. To prevent this scenario from happening, some people
By the way, Quicken periodically prompts you to back up when you try to exit. (You'll see a message that basically says, "Friend, backing up is a darn good idea.") You can, of course, choose to ignore this message. Or you can take Quicken's advice and do the backup thing.
You know what else? Here's a secret feature of Quicken: Quicken adds a subdirectory to the Quicken directory named Backup. And it'll stick a backup copy of your files in this directory every few days. (Sorry to be vague on this point, but it's hard to be specific and concrete when it comes to undocumented features.)
DECIDING WHEN TO BACK UP YOUR QUICKEN FILES
Some people are fine with backing up files just every month after reconciling. But if you follow this advice, you may have to reenter as much as a month's worth of data if the computer crashes toward the end of the month. If this thought bothers you, consider backing up more frequently. If you have really heavy transaction volumes -- if you write hundreds of checks a month, for example -- you may want to back up as often as twice a week.
Quicken periodically prompts you to back up when you try to exit. (You'll see a message that basically says, "Friend, backing up is a darn good idea.") You can, of course, choose to ignore this message. Or you can take Quicken's advice and do the backup thing.
You know what else? Here's a secret feature of Quicken: Quicken adds a subdirectory to the Quicken directory named Backup. And it'll stick a backup copy of your files in this directory every few days.
BACK UP AT THE END
Here it is, your last Quicken session for the millennium. There can't be a better time to back up your data (other than pretty much every week or so throughout any millennium). Here's how:
Quicken tells you how the backup progresses and lets you know when you need to insert another disk. When the backup is complete, put these disks away--preferably someplace away from your computer or even away from your home or business.
Next time you back up, use disk labeled Backup 2 and alternate them after that.
MAKE YOURSELF BACK UP
Quicken reminds you to back up your data every third time you open and use the program. Instead of being reminded every third time, you can have Quicken remind you about back-ups more frequently. To be reminded about backing up each time you finish running Quicken:
BACKING UP YOUR QUICKEN DATA
You'll never have to worry about losing your data if you follow these simple steps to back up your Quicken files:
You can also back up Quicken online. An online backup gets stored on Intuit's computers (Intuit makes Quicken) rather than on your computer's disks. Online backup works the same way, except you need to be connected to the Internet, and the online backup service costs from $6.95 to $19.95 a month, depending on the level of service you choose.
BACKING UP ISN'T SO HARD TO DO--PART 1 OF 3
Welcome to 1999. It's a brand new year, full of promise and hope. As we embark on this new adventure, those little promises we made to ourselves throughout last year come nagging to the forefront: that this would be the year we would paint the house, quit smoking, or get off our duff and finally get our financial situation under control. Although we can't help you with the first two broken resolutions, the third we can. Throughout the month of January, our tips focus on helping you to make and keep your financial resolutions.
First, one chore that you must absolutely adhere to is to regularly back up your Quicken data. What's the sense of tracking your important finances only to see them go up in smoke if something happens to your file or your hard disk? You should also maintain two different sets of backup copies so that you don't have to rely on a single backup if something were to go wrong. To back up your file:
BACKING UP ISN'T SO HARD TO DO--PART 2 OF 3
In our last tip, we showed you how to use Quicken's File + Backup command to make a safe backup copy of your data on a floppy disk. The problem is, you still have to remember to actually initiate the Backup command. Or do you?
By default, every third time you exit the program, Quicken displays a dialog box reminding you to back up your data. You can change this frequency so that the dialog box appears every time you exit the program, or you can shut it off altogether (of course, we definitely don't recommend that).
Today's tip shows you how to change the frequency of this backup reminder. Doing so requires that you make modifications to the Quicken.ini file, which contains all the settings and information regarding the program. Modifying the file is really very simple, but we don't recommend that you do it often.
Before you modify the Quicken.ini file, you must make a backup copy of the file. (Never mess with the original program file; you could wreak havoc on your program if you inadvertently change a setting that you shouldn't have.)
To make a backup copy of Quicken.ini:
A copy of the file, named Copy of Quicken.ini, is created and stored in the Windows folder.
To change the frequency of the backups:
Now, whenever you exit Quicken, the reminder dialog box appears according to the setting you assigned.
BACKING UP ISN'T SO HARD TO DO--PART 3 OF 3
Our last two tips explained how and why you should remind yourself to create backup copies of your Quicken files. Even if you never remember (or bother) to back up your data file, Quicken is determined to save that information for you anyway. Every seven days, Quicken generates its own backup copy of the data file so that, even if you never back up your files yourself, you have something to go to if something happens to your original data file. The automatic backup files that Quicken creates are stored on your hard drive within the Quicken program directory, in a folder named BACKUP. Quicken creates up to five copies of the file. The most recent copy of the file has the number 1 in the name. For instance, a file named 99DATA would be stored as 99DATA1, 99DATA2, and so on.
If you like the idea of these automatic backup files but think that keeping five successive copies is a bit much, you can change this setting so that Quicken creates only two copies, for example. To do so, you have to make a simple modification to the Quicken.ini file.
First make a backup copy of your Quicken.ini file before you make any changes to it:
To change the frequency of Quicken's automatic backups:
From now on, Quicken creates the designated number of backup copies for you.
(Tip-in-a-tip: Do not rely on Quicken's automatic backup feature alone. A hard disk failure would wipe out the automatic backups created by Quicken.)
BACKING UP THE QUICK AND DIRTY WAY
You're busy. You don't have time to fool around. You just want to do a passable job backing up files. Sound like your situation? Then follow these steps:
You see a message on-screen that says, "Aye, Cap'n, I'm working just as fast as I can" (or something to that effect). Then you see a message that says the backup is complete. Don't worry. You'll never see a message that says, "She's starting to break up, Cap'n. She can't take warp 9 much longer." You will see a warning message if the file you want to back up is too large. In this case, you need to shrink the file, use a different disk, or use multiple disks.
BACKING UP YOUR QUICKEN FILES
Backing up your Quicken files is easy. To back up the files that Quicken uses to store your financial records, follow these steps.
You will see a warning message if the file you want to back up is too large. In this case, you need to shrink the file, use a different disk, or use multiple disks.
Quicken keeps backup copies of files in a folder on the hard drive called C:\Quickenw\Backup. If you forgot to back up your data file and you need to restore it, you might try getting backup copies from that folder. However, files in the Backup folder are made sporadically, so you shouldn't count on them to be up-to-date and accurate.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BACKUP?
The answer to the age-old question of how often you should backup relates directly to the amount of work you're willing to repeat. If you back up every Monday and discover a problem on Friday, you will have to restore you Monday backup and re-enter all information from the week. If this is acceptable to you, you can back up once each week.
To avoid extra work, consider backing up each day that you use Quicken or after you reconcile an account.
There are two ways to look at this: Happiness to know how to have Quicken remind you to make a backup after every session, and relief at knowing how to stop Quicken from nagging you about backing up after every session. Either way, what you want is to:
Oh, that's for getting the reminder. To stop the nagging, type a 0 in the text box.
We're big fans of background checks. That is, we like to check the Quicken option that lets it download information in the background, watching for times when you're connected to the net but not fully using your connection speed. Quicken can then pull in information such as program updates and Quicken.com web pages for easier and faster operation later. You may not even notice this work and it can save you from having to spend time downloading later.
Now Quicken can make those background update checks. Best of all, whenever you disconnect, Quicken remembers where it was in downloading things, and automatically picks up right there the next time you connect.
TELLING QUICKEN, "HEY, MAN, I WANT TO BALANCE THIS ACCOUNT"
To tell Quicken that you want to balance, or reconcile, your account records with the bank's records, click the Reconcile button that appears at the top of the register window. Quicken displays the Statement Summary: Checking dialog box. It's that simple!
GET A RUNNING DAILY BALANCE
Are you the type who likes to see exactly how much money you have in an account at any given time? If so, just make sure that, in whatever register window you are working, the View is set to Sort by Date/Amount. To do so, click the View button in the account register and select Sort by Date/Amount. Easy, huh? You now get a running daily balance of each of your accounts.
LACK OF BALANCE?
If you can't get an account to reconcile, try looking for a transaction that's equal to half the difference.
One handy way to find the transaction that you entered backwards -- if you only have one -- is to look for a transaction that equal to half the irreconcilable difference. For example, if the difference is $200, you may have entered a $100 deposit as a withdrawal or a $100 withdrawal as a check.
The sign (that is, positive or negative) of the difference should help you find the problem. If the difference is positive -- the bank thinks you have less money that your register indicates -- you may have mistakenly entered a withdrawal as a deposit. If the difference is negative -- the bank thinks you have more money than you register says -- you may be missing a deposit transaction.
Some banks require some accounts to keep a minimum balance. If you don't, you'll end up paying a higher fee or losing some other account privileges. The Deluxe and Home & Business versions of Quicken have a trick to help you hide that minimum from yourself, so you'll be less tempted to break below it.
That minimum will now be subtracted from your account and you will not be tempted to spend it. It is still your money, naturally, just held in another area by Quicken. To hide it completely from your view, use the View menu's Hide Savings Goals option.
Assets can change in value even if you don't buy or sell. The market value just changes, as other people decide they care more or less for the asset. For an accurate net worth, you need to periodically update your asset accounts for such changes. If you know the change, you can:
If there really isn't any other account that should show such a gain or loss, use this same Asset account as the transfer, and click OK when Quicken warns you of the circular logic.
BALANCING YOUR NET WORTH
In our last tip, we showed you how to quickly get a sense of your financial net worth simply by viewing information provided in the Accounts list. The Balance Total, calculated at the bottom-right corner of the screen, displays the current balance of all your accounts.
In this tip, we show you how to exclude accounts from this Balance Total calculation. That way, you can see where you stand without a particular asset or liability affecting the end result. For example, you can remove a credit card debt balance from the Balance Total to see what effect, if any, it will have on your total net worth. To exclude an account balance from the Balance Total calculation:
When you deselect the View Hidden Accounts option, the Balance Total figure adjusts to reflect the removal of the hidden account. Select the View Hidden Accounts option box again when you want to re-include the account balance in the Balance Total amount.
Sentence 2: Suggest changing to "When you want to include the hidden account balance in the Balance Total amount, repeat these steps; this time, select View Hidden Accounts in Step 4."
When you're ready to unhide an account, simply choose Lists + Account and click the All Accounts tab; then select the "hidden" account and click the Hide button again. When the hand icon disappears, the account will no longer be hidden.
GET THE BANK ON THE LINE
Quicken provides a means of sending and receiving e-mail to and from your bank. Just click the E-mail tab of the Online Center window.
Quicken sends and receives e-mail with any transactions when you click the Update/Send button and then lists any messages that are received in the text box on the E-mail tab. In order to read a message, you just highlight it (by clicking it) and then click the Read button. Quicken displays the e-mail message window. Click Close. After you finish, Quicken returns you to the Online Center window. If you don't want to save the message, click it to highlight it and click Delete (available at the top of the Online Center window) to remove it from the list.
If you want to send your bank a message, click the Create button. If you have a general question about the bank's online services or an online account, select the E-mail about an Online Account option button and select the online account from the Account drop-down list box. If you want to send a message regarding a specific online payment, select the E-mail about an Online Payment radio button and select the online account and payment. Click OK. Quicken then opens a message dialog box.
Quicken automatically fills in the date and the To text box. Fill in the other text boxes by clicking them and then typing the necessary information. Open the Regarding Account drop-down list box by clicking the down arrow, and then choose the appropriate account.
After you complete your message, click OK. Quicken records your message and forwards it to the bank the next time that you click Update/Send.
FINDING AN ONLINE BANK
You can find out which banks support Online Account Access by using your Internet connection. To do so, choose the Finance, Online Financial Institutions List command. When you choose this command, Quicken starts your Web browser and then opens a page that lists the banks that allow you to bank online.
FINDING AN ONLINE BANK - ONLINE
You can find out which banks support Online Account Access by using your Internet connection. To do so, choose Finance, Online Financial Institutions List.
Quicken starts your Web browser and then opens a page that lists the banks that allow you to bank online. Note that you need an Internet connection to use the Online Account Access and Online Bill Payment features.)
Quicken supports online banking. If you have your credit card with a credit card company -- probably a bank -- that is set up to handle Quicken online banking, you can grab your credit card statement directly from the credit card company. If you have a checking account at the bank that issued the credit card, you can also pay your credit card bill simply by transferring money from your checking account to your credit card. (This feature is actually pretty slick.)
The big hoopla concerning this feature, at least as it relates to credit cards, is that you don't have to enter the credit card transactions into a register. Rather, you retrieve them by using a modem.
GETTING STARTED WITH ONLINE BANKING
Online, you pay bills, download banking and credit card transactions, and procure stock quotes. Although some financial institutions might not support online banking yet, many do. Here's how to check for online financial institutions:
If your institution does not appear, Intuit itself may be able to provide bill payment and credit card monitoring solutions for you.
ONLINE BANKING WITH QUICKEN: IS IT WORTH IT?
Online banking is well worth the fee you probably have to pay for the service when you consider the time savings. Shoot, if you're a heavy hitter running $20,000 or $30,000 a month in charges through your account, your time savings will be substantial. And you'll probably pay only a few dollars a month. (What you pay depends on the bank issuing the credit card.)
Something is bothersome about the whole deal, however: You really just receive an electronic version of your statement, which means that you're less likely to see when erroneous transactions have been made. And reconciling your bank statement against, well, your bank statement isn't going to make a whole heck of a lot of sense.
You also have some extra, very minor, fiddling to do. Grabbing credit card charges off another computer is not particularly complicated. Nor do you need to know any special magic tricks to use a modem. (Your computer and the bank's credit card computer do exchange a secret handshake every time they want to talk, but you'll get the scoop on this after you join the club.) Nevertheless, setting it all up does take some time.
WISE WHYS AND WHEREFORES OF ONLINE BANKING
Neither Quicken's Online Account Access nor its Online Bill Payment is difficult to use. And despite the nightmares that some people may develop about electronic banking, the service is safe, secure, and very solid. Nevertheless, before you, too, jump onto the Online Account Access and Online Bill Payment bandwagon, you should probably consider a few points:
DOWNLOAD THOSE BANK STATEMENTS
Setting up for downloaded bank statements isn't that easy yet--the industry hasn't standardized well. But it can make your life easier if you're willing to work through the setup process.
Quicken includes a list of financial institutions that will work with its online features. If yours isn't there, and you're set on banking through the net, look to this list for possible new bank accounts.
GIVING QUICKEN THE BANK'S INFORMATION
As you probably know, in a reconciliation, you compare your records of a bank account with the bank's records of the same account. You should be able to explain any difference between the two accounts -- usually by pointing to checks that you've written but that haven't cleared.
The first step, then, is to supply Quicken with the bank's account information. This information comes from your monthly statement. Supply Quicken with the figures it needs as follows:
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
Would you like to use the Iconbar as well as the Activity Bar in Quicken? In a past tip, we incorrectly stated that you couldn't use both at the same time. Well, it turns out that you can use both--but only if you are able to run Quicken in SVGA mode or are able to change your monitor's resolution.
Following is a little workaround that you can use to get Quicken to display both the Iconbar and Activity Bar at the same time for the current work session:
What you just did is trick your system for the current work session. To permanently use both the Iconbar and the Activity Bar, perform Steps 1 through 7 and skip Steps 8 through 10.
IF IT'S SUNDAY, THIS MUST BE BILL PAYING
Quicken 5 Help includes QuickTours: Eight on-screen trips through tasks such as tax planning, investment tracking, checkbook balancing, and bill paying. To join the tour group:
BILL TO SHIP TO
When making an invoice with Quicken Home & Business, you don't have to type an address twice. Just type it the first time in the Bill To address, then in the Ship To address press the quote (") key. This copies the full address right over.
SETTING BILLMINDER OPTIONS IN QUICKEN 2000
Billminder displays upcoming events every time you start your computer. Besides turning Billminder on or off, you can specify the type of reminders you want to see in the Billminder window:
BILLMINDER VS SCHEDULED PAYMENT
The BillMinder utility that comes with Quicken 99 can automatically notify you when a bill is due to be paid. In fact, it notifies you early--people often set it to tell them 7 days in advance. Quicken 99 also offers Scheduled Transactions where you can tell the program to automatically pay bills on a certain date. These too have advance warning, giving you typically another 5 to 7 days warning. Well, BillMinder isn't so bright here. It doesn't know about the advance warning of a Scheduled Transaction. Instead it simple-mindedly adds its own advance days to those of the Scheduled Transaction, so you may see notice of some bills to be paid as much as two weeks in advance.
Don't panic. Just remember to poke behind the scenes to see when that bill is really due.
BILLMINDER WITHOUT RESTART
The BillMinder utility pops up when you start Windows, telling you of any bills that are due on this date.
What if you just ignore the reminder, but then later realize you ought to pay attention to it? (You know, when the lights are turned off or your net access goes down because you haven't paid the bill?) Do you have to restart Windows to see it again?
BILLS 'R' FUN--PART 1 OF 3
Just receive your Quicken checks in the mail? (Note: In case you missed the last two tips, you can order them by selecting Features + Bills + Order Checks; or by calling 800/224-0991.) Time to pay those bills. It's not the most enjoyable task in the world, clearly, but at least doing them on your computer adds a new twist!
Now how easy was that? Repeat these steps for each check you need to write; then switch over to your checking account register. The checks you just typed are already recorded! No double-entering--once on the check, once in the register--because Quicken does the second part for you.
In our next tip, we explain how to get your printer ready to print those checks.
BILLS 'R' FUN--PART 2 OF 3
In our last tip, we showed you how to write Quicken checks (the kind you order from Intuit by selecting Features + Bills + Order Checks or by calling 800/224-0991): Click the iconbar's Check icon to display a blank check; fill in all necessary fields, using Tab to move from one field to the next; then click Record Check.
As you repeat these steps to complete checks, each check appears in the Checks to Print list. When that list includes all the checks you're planning to write for the moment, the next step is to print them. But first, you need to get your printer ready.
To prepare your page-oriented printer for Quicken checks:
(Note: This tip assumes you are NOT using a continuous-feed printer. If you are, or if you need further information for aligning your printer, see Quicken's Printing Checks, Getting Started help topic.)
Your printer is now ready, willing, and able. In our next tip, we explain how to (finally!) print those checks.
BILLS 'R' FUN--PART 3 OF 3
In a previous tip, we showed you how to write Quicken checks (the kind you order from Intuit by selecting Features + Bills + Order Checks or by calling 800/224-0991): Click the iconbar's Check icon to display a blank check; fill in all necessary fields, using Tab to move from one field to the next; then click Record Check. In our last tip, we showed you how to prepare your page-oriented printer for printing Quicken checks: Select File + Printer Setup + For Printing Checks; in the resulting dialog box, click Align, select Full Page of Checks, and click Print Sample. And now--finally--you're ready to print those checks.
As we mentioned previously, as you write checks, each one appears in the Checks to Print list (of the Write Checks window). To print the checks in this list:
And there you have it--professionally typed checks, right from your very own printer!
(Note: If you aren't sure whether your checks are lined up correctly, click Print First instead of OK in Step 6, above, to print the first check only. At $39.95 for 250 of the cheapest checks, you want to be absolutely sure that the checks will print correctly! If it prints incorrectly, you can always reprint it--we show you how in our next tip.)
MOVING EXPERIENCE WITH BILLS
Not receiving bills sounds pleasant. But it isn't pleasant if you're supposed to receive them and don't, and therefore can't pay them on time. That's just what can happen if you're using Online Billing (receiving your bills in Quicken as bits instead of in your mailbox as paper) and you move into a new house or apartment. Your real-world address is part of the Online Billing security, and a move could disrupt the online bill delivery.
When you change residences, you need to
You can do all of this on the Online Bills home page.
BLUE ON BLUE, HEARTACHE ON HEARTACHE . . .
Is that pale blue credit card account register making you blue? Change the color to something more uplifting, like a sunny yellow. You can change the background color of each type of account in your Register:
It's amazing how uplifting staring at colors you like can be!
(Tip: Click the Reset button [inside the Choose Register Colors dialog box] to switch back to the default colors.)
RECORDING BONDS...JAMES BONDS
If you invest in bonds, you know that a bond's price is actually quoted as a percentage of its face value. A bond that sells for $950 with a face value of $1,000, for example, is quoted as 95 because the $950 price is 95 percent of the $1,000 face value. Quicken, however, doesn't let you describe a bond's price as a percent. You must enter the bond price as its price in dollars and cents.
Just as you can mark a page in your favorite novel or reference book for future use, you can also bookmark a Quicken Help topic. Doing so can be extremely useful if you return to a Help topic often.
To create a bookmark:
The next time you need to refer to that Help topic, choose Bookmark and then select the name of the bookmark from the list that appears at the bottom of the Bookmark window.
HELP BOOKMARKING HELP
In some Quicken Help windows, you may find a Bookmark command available. A bookmark is to an electronic document what a paper bookmark is to a book. It's a placeholder, in the Help files, that you can create and later use when you wish to return to the marked topic.
When you're at a Help topic window you want to mark, choose Bookmark, Define from the Help window menu bar. The Bookmark Define dialog box opens, with the title of the Help topic inserted as the name of the bookmark. (You can change the name by entering your own text.)
Hereafter, whenever you're looking at any Help topic page, select Bookmark to see a list of all the bookmarks you've created. Click the bookmark representing the Help topic page you want, and save the keystrokes required to move through the Help system.
BOOKMARKING HELP TOPICS
In some Help windows, you may find a Bookmark command available. A bookmark is to an electronic document what a paper bookmark is to a book. It's a placeholder, in the help files, that you can create, and later use when you wish to return to the marked topic. When you're at the help topic window you want to mark, choose Bookmark, Define from the Help window menu bar. The Bookmark Define dialog box opens, with the title of the help topic inserted as the name of the bookmark. Hereafter, whenever you're looking at any help topic page, select Bookmark to see a list of all the bookmarks you've created. Click the bookmark representing the help topic page you want, and save the keystrokes required to move through the Help system.
Refinance a loan--get a new mortgage with a lower interest rate, for example--and you're charged both closing costs and points. Together these add up to Total Closing Costs. That amount you pay the lender leaves your accounts immediately and ends up in their bank where they start earning interest on it. And you're not earning interest on it. The result is that from the moment you sign the deal, you're out money. It isn't until you make that first lower payment that you start to save anything on this new mortgage plan.
So why would anyone refinance? Because eventually the regular drumbeat of lower monthly payments catches up with and passes the short-term loss of Total Closing Costs. That "eventually" is the break-even point. Quicken can pinpoint that for you. In Quicken 99 Home & Business:
The "Months to Break Even" calculation tells you how long it will be until you start saving money on this new plan. In other words, you have to pay on your new mortgage for this period of time before your monthly savings make up for the immediate costs you paid at closing. In other words, if you move from the house before this time is up, you're losing money on your new loan.
BRING OUT THE BLOODHOUND IN QUICKEN
Can't seem to lay your finger on a particular transaction? You'll go bug-eyed if you try to scan through all your previous transactions looking for it. Ask Quicken to search it out for you. As long as you know one solid piece of information about it--such as the date, category, or amount--Quicken can sniff it out.
There you have it!
BROKER HELP FROM QUICKEN
The Web site Quicken.com [ http://www.quicken.com ] provides a great one-page set of links that tells you what most of the issues are in deciding on a broker. It begins with the basic question of what kind of broker is right for you -- full-service (highest cost), discount (lower cost) or deep-discount (lowest cost).
Quicken.com also links you to one of retired business history professor Donald Johnson's investor sites. His Online Investment Services [ http://www.sonic.net/donaldj ] includes two different rankings of discount brokers -- by price and service performance. The names of brokers in both rankings are linked to their Web sites, so you can click the names for more information too.
TRANSFERRING CASH IN A BROKERAGE ACCOUNT
One of the differences between a brokerage account and a mutual fund account is that a cash management, or money market, account is attached to the brokerage account. When you initially set up a brokerage account, your money goes into this account. You purchase your first shares with the cash from this account. And when you sell shares, all cash proceeds go into this account. Because you work with cash in a brokerage account, you need to know how to record the cash that flows into and out of the account.
OOPS, MY BROKERAGE ACCOUNT SHARES BALANCE IS WRONG
To adjust the shares balance for a security in a brokerage account, open the brokerage account's register and choose [I]nvesting, Investing Acti[v]ities, Update My [S]hare Balance.
Quicken next displays the Update Share Balance dialog box, which lets you specify the security, the correct shares balance, and the date for which you're entering the balance. Fill in the text boxes and click OK. Quicken adjusts the shares balance for the security you specified.
TWO BROKERAGE TYPES
Quicken can create and handle two different kinds of brokerage accounts for stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and annuities:
After you've created a budget with smart monthly amounts by category, how do you stick to that budget? Quicken can help in two ways: alerts and reports. Click the Alerts menu -- just above the Budget table -- to see how alerts work. In the Set Up Alerts dialog box that appears, you want to click the Monthly Expenses box (on the Accounts tab). Then click Apply. During future months, when you reach your budgeted amount in a category, Quicken will alert you with a pop-up window that you need to rein in your spending.
ENTERING YOUR BUDGET WHEN IT'S THE SAME AS LAST YEAR'S
If you used Quicken for record keeping in the prior year, you can copy the actual amounts from the previous year and use these as part or all of the current year's budget.
To do so, choose the [P]lanning, Budgeting command and press enter to get to the Budget window. Click the Edit button and choose Autocreate. Quicken displays the Automatically Create Budget dialog box. You can then tell Quicken what it should copy from last year.
Here's how to use this dialog box:
When setting up your budget, you can use Fill Row Right to copy budget amounts forward from months besides January. For example, if your rent runs $500 a month from January through June and then $600 from July through December, enter 500 into the January Rent field and use the Fill Row Right command to fill the rest of the year. Then enter 600 into the July Rent field. If you choose Fill Row Right again, Quicken copies 600 forward to August, September, October, November, and December.
CREATING A SUCCESSFUL BUDGET
You can do four things to make your budget more likely to work:
BUDGET VARIANCE GRAPH
The two most instructive moments in budgeting come when:
The second moment is best illustrated by the Budget Variance Graph, found in the Budget window's button bar. You can see Actual vs. Budgeted Net Income or Actual vs. Budgeted Category Groups.
INTRODUCING THE QUICKEN 2000 BUDGET WINDOW
To get to the window in which you enter your budget, choose the [P]lanning, Budgeting command. Quicken displays a message box that says something about creating your first budget. Just press Enter. Don't even worry about reading the message. Quicken next displays the Budget window. (Here's a weird little point: If you've been using Quicken for a while before you tangle with this budget stuff, Quicken creates a starting budget based on transactions in your accounts for the month prior to the current month. This setup means, then, that the Budget window won't only show zeros.)
The window is not very complicated. The income and expense categories -- including any that you created earlier -- appear along the left edge of the screen. Any categories with subcategories (if you have these) contain subtotals for the total inflows and for the total outflows. Across the top of the screen is a row of command buttons that makes your budgeting job easier.
ENTERING BUDGETED AMOUNTS THE SIMPLE WAY
Here's a two-step way to enter budgeted amounts -- not to be confused with the Texas Two-Step:
You need to scroll the screen to the right to see months near the middle and end of the year. Unless you're using a really short categories list, you need to scroll down to see categories (usually expense categories) that aren't at the top of the list.
BUCKLE DOWN AND BUDGET--PART 1 OF 6
Ask any financial planner the best thing to do right now to improve your financial lot in life, and he or she will answer with one word: Lotto. Okay, so a financial counselor wouldn't say that. (Your best bud would.) A financial planner would tell you to forget all about quick picks and scratch tickets and focus instead on creating a budget. Although the stakes aren't as high and it's a lot less fun, creating a budget is really the best thing you can do for yourself.
A budget can do two things: It can help you figure out how much you spend each month on unnecessary expenses, and it can help you locate areas where you can cut back. The end result, of course, is shaving enough off of your expenses to come up with a good savings plan. Over the next series of tips, we show you how to create a realistic budget so that you can bet on yourself for a more secure financial future.
To create a budget based on actual data:
Quicken generates a budget based on last year's data--info taken directly from your check register. The benefit of using the actual monthly detail is that you can find out how much money was actually spent and then budget amounts accordingly. Note also that Quicken only includes in the budget those categories that include data.
BUCKLE DOWN AND BUDGET--PART 2 OF 6
In our last tip, we showed you how to create a budget using the actual data from your check register. By creating budgets based on actual numbers, you can see how much you spent each month and, in turn, use that amount to adjust your budget amounts. But you may be interested in exploring how much you spend on average. In this tip, we show you how to generate a budget using an average amount for the period.
To create a budget using the average amount:
Quicken generates the budget using the income, expense, and transfer items from your check register. The amount computed for each monthly item is an average of all the amounts.
BUCKLE DOWN AND BUDGET--PART 3 OF 6
When Quicken generates a budget based on existing data, it includes only those categories that have existing data. In most cases, this is probably what you want; after all, you probably don't want to budget an amount for each and every category you track in Quicken. However, you may want to specify exactly which categories to track in your current budget. If that's the case, you can create a budget using only specific categories. (Perform this step BEFORE you begin to enter or modify any data in your budget.)
To create a category-specific budget, you first have to switch to the budget you want to change:
Then, with the budget open, follow these steps:
Quicken generates the budget, including only those categories that you selected.
BUCKLE DOWN AND BUDGET--PART 4 OF 6
In this series of tips, we're explaining how to create budgets. We've already told you how to create a budget that uses the actual data amounts from your transactions, as well as one that is based on an average amount. Another option when creating a budget is to create a zero-filled budget. A zero-filled budget contains all the categories from your file, each of which currently contains zero values. This type of budget presents you with a clean slate, so to speak. You enter estimates only for those items that you want to track.
To create a zero-filled budget:
Quicken generates a budget that, at first glance, appears to consist of two folders: Income and Expenses. Before the panic sets in, try this: Click the View button and choose Zero Budget Categories. Quicken then displays all the categories for your file. (After working with your zero-filled budget for a while, you may start to go bug-eyed with so many categories and so many zeros.)
BUCKLE DOWN AND BUDGET--PART 5 OF 6
In an earlier tip, we showed you how to select specific categories to include in a budget. In this tip, we show you an easier way to get rid of categories you don't want to track. On the presumption that you don't want your budget to include categories that you don't spend money in, this method lets you zap in one fell swoop categories that don't have any data associated with them (those that contain zero values).
BUCKLE DOWN AND BUDGET--PART 6 OF 6
So far, we've shown you how to create a budget from scratch and how to create a budget based on existing data. In this tip, we show you how to create a budget based on an existing budget. Why would we want to do such a thing, you ask? Well, by copying the contents of an existing budget, you can set a baseline budget and then modify the amounts as necessary. For example, you can create a budget representing the best case scenario and another one representing the worst case.
To create a copy of a budget, first switch to the budget you want to copy:
With the budget open, follow these steps:
Quicken creates a new copy of the selected budget. You can now make changes as necessary. Remember that the original budget and its data remain intact.
BUILD A BETTER BUDGET
By now you know how important a budget can be to your financial stability: It helps you see the error of your ways and identify places where you can curb your spending appetite. Sometimes, rather than create a single budget, you may want to create a series of different budgets so that you can see which one works best for you. You could create several budgets, for example: one called "Ideal" to reflect the best case scenario (where you slash your expenses to save the most money); another called "Realistic" to reflect estimates you think you can realistically meet; and a third called "The Absolute Bottom Line" to represent the absolute bare bones minimum on which you can survive. Or you may want to create one budget for yourself, another for your partner, and still another for your kids. You get the picture. In this tip, we show you how to create and manage multiple budgets so that you can reach your goals.
To create a budget:
To switch between the multiple budgets:
Tip-in-a-tip: Before you switch budgets, click Save to save the current budget. (You can use the Restore button to undo any changes you've made to the budget since the last time you saved it.)
BUDGET BY ANY OTHER NAME
After hacking and hewing that budget, don't just let it disappear. Save it: open Options, Save Budget. Then notice that there is another option called "Other Budgets." Click this and you'll see a Manage Budgets dialog box. Here you can click Create to start another budget. This lets you experiment with different budget priorities. You save each experiment under a different name, then open them later from this dialog box.
ON TABLE BUDGET CUTS
Even after you've used the Categories menu to include and toss out various categories from your budget, you should do some on screen pruning. Scroll down through your budget table and each time you see a category that is cluttering or confusing the results, right-click it and choose Delete Category. Make sure that as you do this, you click on the folders to expand them so youcan see all of the category details.
With your budget on screen -- open Planning, Budgeting -- you can use the Edit menu (just above the budget) to change the date range. Use the AutoCreate option. Then choose the stretch of months that makes sense for the history you want to view. Avoid periods from a long time ago. These figures don't represent your current income and expenses. On the end month or "To" date, use only the latest complete month, not the month you're in the middle of now. This way, you won't average a month that hasn't yet seen all of its transactions.
After all of the options for viewing, categories, grouping and such are decided, your budget needs one more thing: decisions. You need to look at the monthly or quarterly amounts, typically from your past spending habits, and decide if those amounts are sustainable and smart. If they aren't, you need to click them and enter lower amounts that make more sense. This produces a budget to try follow, not just Quicken's estimate of what you already spend.
BUDGET DISPLAY OPTIONS
The default way to look at a budget is in monthly format, running back a year to grab the recent history of spending and earning. But you can click the Options, Budgets to change this view to display information by quarters, just the current month or current quarter. Quarters are more useful for small businesses than individual budgeting -- a practice that rarely thinks in terms of three-month time segments.
FIRST BUDGET TIME
The first time you open Planning, Budgeting, you'll see a notice that a budget doesn't yet exist. Quicken will automatically make a budget from the past-year's records ignoring any one-time, small (less than $100) transactions. Soon you'll see this budget as a table, with categories on the left and months across the top. It's kind of fun to see how much you spent on items such as cars, clothing, and dining. Scan your eyes from left to right across the table and you'll probably see that in many of the categories, you're quite consistent, spending about the same each month.
Open Finance and take a look at your Category & Transfer List. The Group column may be mostly blank, with an occasionally "Income" or "Mandatory Expense" tag. This assignment of categories to "groups" can help you in budgeting. You don't have to use groups, but by gathering related types into the larger groups, your Quicken budgets can show you the overview, or big picture, of your spending and earning.
PREPARING A HOLIDAY BUDGET
Like any budget, you can do a few things to make it more likely to work:
REFRESHING YOUR BUDGET
As you work on a budget, you may be going back periodically to change the Group assignments of your Categories (in the Finance, Category & Transfer list). Each time you make a change, you'll need to close the current budget table and open Planning, Budgeting again. That refreshes the Budget, moving those re-grouped items to their new positions.
You don't have to stick with or even customize the budget that Quicken creates for you in Planning, Budgeting. Quicken's default starts your budget from past data by considering your recorded spending history. You can click on any amount in this budget and type a new amount for the field. The amounts in black are positive; those in red are negative. Use the Edit menu (the one just above the table, not at the top of the Quicken window) for commands such as Copy, Clear, and Fill.
BUDGETING BIWEEKLY AMOUNTS IN QUICKEN 2000
Sometimes budgeting amounts on a monthly basis doesn't make much sense because you actually receive or spend on a biweekly basis. What if you're paid every two weeks? Or what if your bowling league meets every other Thursday? See the dilemma? You won't really know how many two-week periods a given month has unless you look at a calendar and start counting with your fingers.
Lucky for you, Quicken provides a handy tool for budgeting those sorts of biweekly amounts: the Two-Week Command, which appears on the Quicken Edit button's menu. To use this command, select the category that you want to budget biweekly and then choose the command. Quicken displays the Set Up Two-Week Budget dialog box. Enter the biweekly amount in the Amount text box. Enter the first date you'll receive or spend the amount in the Every Two Weeks Starting text box and then click OK.
You can enter decimal amounts -- cents along with your dollars -- in a Budgeting table. Quicken will automatically round the display values to the nearest dollar, but will keep the decimals for any detail work later. Our advice is to not bother. The decimals rarely matter anymore, and certainly don't matter in budgeting where you're trying to estimate and control your expenses. These numbers are estimates, so breaking out the cents doesn't make, um well, sense. If you like, you can make things even rounder. Use Edit, AutoCreate and choose to round to the nearest $10 instead of the nearest $1.
A CALCULATING FELLOW...
Throughout Quicken registers, you will find calculator icons that you can click to open a calculator and do math equations. So click the icon and get calculating!
Quicken also offers another, larger calculator as well. To use it, click the Calc button on the toolbar or choose Finance, Calculator. The Quicken calculator works like a hand-held calculator. If you click the Paste button after you do a calculation, Quicken enters the number in the register of the dialog box where the cursor is located.
USING THE LOAN CALCULATOR TO FIGURE PAYMENTS
Suppose that one afternoon, you're wondering what the mortgage payment is on one of those monstrous houses: tens of thousands of square feet, acres of grounds, cottages for the domestic help, and so on. You get the picture -- something that's a vulgar display of wealth.
To calculate what you would pay on a 30-year, $5,000,000 mortgage if the money costs 7 percent, use the Loan Calculator:
Quicken calculates the loan payment and displays the amount in the Payment Per Period field.
To get more information on the loan payments, interest and principal portions of payments, and outstanding loan balances, click the Schedule button, which appears on the face of the Loan Calculator dialog box. Quicken whips up a quick loan amortization schedule showing all this stuff.
Quicken provides a pop-up calculator anytime you move the selection cursor to an Amount field. To get to the calculator, you just click the button that appears at the right end of the Amount field and Quicken displays a calculator that works like a regular, handheld calculator. You just type the math you want to perform. Quicken displays the calculation result in the amount field.
QUICKEN'S POP-UP CALCULATOR
Quicken provides a pop-up calculator anytime you move the selection cursor to an Amount field. To get to the calculator, click the button that appears at the right end of the Amount field. This baby works like a regular handheld calculator. You just type the math you want to perform. Quicken displays the calculation result in the amount field.
Do the calculator keys make sense? Here's how they work. Use the / (slash) key for division. Use the X for multiplication. Use the - (minus) and the + (plus) keys for subtraction and addition. Use the . (period) to indicate the decimal point. Use the % key to indicate that the number you just typed is a percentage and should be converted to a decimal value. Use the = (equal sign) to calculate the amount and remove the pop-up calculator. You can use the <- key to remove, or clear, the last digit you entered. You can use the CE key to clear the last number entered into the calculator, and you can use the C key to clear the amount text box.
GIVE YOUR CALENDAR SOME BREATHING ROOM
If you're the visual type, Quicken's Financial Calendar can be a real time-saver when it comes to managing your finances. You can view upcoming scheduled transactions, as well as transactions that have already been recorded in your check register. You can also annotate certain transactions with important information.. But your Calendar can easily become jammed with information. You can cut down on some of the clutter in the Calendar window itself and give yourself some elbow room at the same time by turning off the display of specific window elements. For example, you can remove from the display the memorized transaction list that usually appears alongside the Calendar in the window.
To give yourself some elbow room:
Quicken removes the Memorized Transaction List from the Calendar window. Note how the Calendar expands to use the available space in the window. Nice, huh?
CUT DOWN ON CALENDAR CLUTTER--PART 1 OF 2
In our last tip, we showed you how to reduce Calendar clutter by removing the Memorized Transaction List from the Calendar window. In this tip, we show you how to reduce the amount of information that is actually displayed on the Calendar itself.
Suppose that you want to see only transactions that have actually been recorded in your account register--and not a display of upcoming scheduled transactions as well. To remove scheduled transactions from the Calendar:
Quicken removes from the Calendar's display any upcoming scheduled transactions and displays only those transactions that have been recorded in your account registers.
CUT DOWN ON CALENDAR CLUTTER--PART 2 OF 2
Our last tip showed you how to reduce the amount of information in your Financial Calendar's display window by displaying only those transactions that have actually been recorded in your account registers. In this tip, we show you how you can choose exactly which recorded transactions appear. Say, for example, you want to display only those transactions that occur on a regular basis--rather than every single transaction you've ever recorded. You accomplish this task by making changes to the Memorized Transaction List:
CALENDAR DAZE--PART 1 OF 3
Want to see an overview of all the transactions you've made over the past few months? Check the calendar. As you enter transactions in your register, Quicken records them on the Financial Calendar.
You see every register transaction listed on the day it was made. (Wow--those weekends sure are busy!)
(Tip: To view the amount of a transaction, double-click it to display a list of all transactions for that day.)
CALENDAR DAZE--PART 2 OF 3
In our last tip, we introduced the Financial Calendar, a handy tool for viewing past register transactions at a glance. (Click the Iconbar's Calendar button or choose Features + Reminders + Financial Calendar.) If you have lots of activity in lots of accounts, you may find that the Financial Calendar gets a bit crowded. In that case, feel free to exclude unnecessary accounts from this transaction showcase:
Back at the calendar, transactions from deselected accounts vanish. Better luck next time
CALENDAR DAZE--PART 3 OF 3
In our last two tips, we introduced the Financial Calendar as a showcase for past register transactions. (To open it, click the Iconbar's Calendar button or choose Features + Reminders + Financial Calendar.) But this calendar does more than just dwell on the past; it also plans for your future.
To the right of the calendar is a list of memorized transactions (all the transactions you've entered in your register). You can drag and drop these items onto particular dates on the calendar to create scheduled transactions.
Repeat these steps for all recurring transactions, which let you view your future expenses at a glance. And here's an added bonus: Quicken reminds you of all scheduled transactions when that day arrives (assuming you left Prompt Before Enter selected in Step 5). You'll never forget to make that car payment again!
CHECK OUT QUICKEN'S FINANCIAL ACTIVITY CENTERS
Quicken 2004 arranges all of its features - whistles, bells, or whatever else you want to call them - into financial activity centers. For example, the Cash Flow Center and the Investing Center and the Property & Debt Center are all financial activity centers. You get the picture. Each of these centers gets its own button.
Quicken lists the features within a financial activity center underneath the financial activity center button. You can collapse and expand this list by clicking the small button that's just to the left of the big financial activity center button. (The small button shows a picture of an arrowhead.) You can also jump to a listed feature by clicking the feature - which Quicken calls a QuickTab.
CHECKING OUT THE FINANCIAL CALENDAR
The Note button lets you post a note on a calendar day to create reminder notes. You may want to post a note saying "Remember Wedding Anniversary" on the big day. After you click this button, Quicken displays a dialog box in which you type the message. Then you click Save. The Quicken Billminder utility displays your calendar notes. The program also marks the calendar day with a little yellow square -- a miniature stick-on note. Click the square to read the message.
CHECKING OUT THE FINANCIAL CALENDAR
The Quicken Financial Calendar enables you to keep track of all the transactions that you enter into your checkbook in a convenient calendar format. To open the Financial Calendar, choose Finance, Financial Calendar or press Ctrl + K.
Here's what you can do in the Financial Calendar:
Quicken provides a pop-up calendar anytime you move the selection cursor to a Date field. To get to the calendar, you just click the button that appears at the right end of the Date field. Quicken displays a calendar for the current month. All you have to do is select the day you want as the date. (If you want to see a calendar for a different month, click the << or >> button.)
Printed calendars are easy to share, easy to fold up and tuck in a pocket, and easy to tape to the cubicle wall or refrigerator door.
To print your Quicken calendar:
One caveat: Look over that calendar one last time before you post it in any kind of public place. If you share your kitchen, do you also want to share your financial details?
PRINTING THE CALENDAR--PART 1 OF 4
Just as we recommend that you produce a hard-copy printout of your account registers on a fairly regular basis, we also suggest that you occasionally print out a copy of your Calendar.
To print the Calendar:
Otherwise, click Close to return to the Calendar window.
Quicken produces a hard copy of your Calendar. All your transactions appear on the day on which they occurred. Quicken also generates a report of all the transactions.
PRINTING THE CALENDAR--PART 2 OF 4
In our last tip, we showed you how to produce a hard-copy printout of your Calendar. In this tip, we show you how to print a blank Calendar, which can be a handy reference tool for planning to pay your bills. You could even tape it to your fridge for jotting down appointments and whatnot.
To print a blank Calendar:
Estimate your Capital Gains before you run out of time to do something about them.
If you don't like what you see, perhaps you ought to hold these securities, or talk to your accountant about relief before year's end.
CAPITAL GAINS, DIVIDENDS, AND RETIRMENT
Once upon a time, many people chose stocks for their dividends -- regular, taxable, income payments. Retirees often use dividends as an additional income, along with Social Security and pension payouts. In the Internet era, there are investors who've never heard of dividend. Many of the newer stocks offer only appreciation of the stock value, not dividends. When your only investment return is this capital gain, and you don't "realize" that gain by selling, you don't immediately owe the same taxes. That affects retirement planning. Tell Quicken's Planner, in the Return section, by changing that taxable return percentage to 0%.
ESTIMATING CAPITAL GAINS
Click the Investing QuickTab and then scroll down and click the Capital Gains Estimator to have Quicken estimate your capital gains tax. You can click links to select a scenario or investment account to estimate; or to use tax rates other than the standard rates for short- and long-term gains. The Estimator lets you create up to three scenarios in which you identify sales you might make. Click a security to sell and Quicken shows you the taxes you would pay and the net proceeds you would make from the sale.
ESTIMATING CAPITAL GAINS TAXES
A short sell is an occasion when you believe that a stock will fall in price and you attempt to profit by borrowing shares from a broker, selling them at a high price, and then buying shares when the price drops and using those low-priced shares to replace the ones you borrowed.
Suppose, for example, that you think that ABC Corporation's shares will fall below their current price of $20 a share. You borrow ten shares from your broker and sell those shares for $200. When the price drops to $15 a share, you buy ten shares on your own, pay $150 for them, and give the broker back his or her ten shares. By selling the shares that didn't belong to you first (for $200) and buying them later (for $150), you earn a $50 profit. Of course, if the stock rises in price, you end up paying the broker back out of your own pocket, not from the proceeds of the sale.
To record a short sell, fill in the transaction tab as you normally would, but select Short Sell from the Activity drop-down list. Typically, brokers charge interest for the shares you borrow. The interest is reported in the Commission text box.
CAPITAL GAINS AS A PRESENT
Capital gains can perk you up; the reality of capital gains taxes can bring you down. May as well get both of those now before leaving for the holidays. You'll be glad to know your capital gains reality in case you need to make some changes before your accountant and the markets take leave, too. In Quicken 99 Home & Business, for example:
Now you're ready to discuss your capital gains with an accountant. He or she will know what Tax Rate you should enter and have ideas on attacking the gains tax before the end of the year.
RECORDING A RETURN OF CAPITAL
The old return of capital trick. Sometimes, the money you receive because you own a security isn't really income. Rather, it's a refund of part of the purchase price.
Consider this example: You buy a mortgage-backed security -- such as a Ginnie Mae bond -- for which the person who borrowed the mortgage money pays not only periodic interest but also a portion of the mortgage principal.
Obviously, you shouldn't record the principal portion of the payment you receive as income. You must record this payment as a mortgage principal reduction or -- in the parlance of investment record keeping -- as a return of capital.
As another example, suppose that you invest in a limited partnership or real estate investment trust that begins liquidating. Some of the money that the investors receive in this case is really a return of their original investment, or a return of capital.
To record a return of capital action, click the Easy Actions button and choose the Return of Capital action. When Quicken displays the Return of Capital dialog box, describe the security that's returning capital.
RECORDING A RETURN OF CAPITAL
Sometimes, the money you receive because you own a security isn't really income. Rather, it's a refund of part of the purchase price.
Consider this example: You buy a mortgage-backed security -- such as a Ginnie Mae bond -- for which the mortgagee (the person who borrowed the mortgage money) pays not only periodic interest but also a portion of the mortgage principal.
Obviously, you shouldn't record the principal portion of the payment you receive as income. You must record this payment as a mortgage principal reduction or -- in the parlance of investment record-keeping -- as a return of capital.
As another example, suppose that you invest in a limited partnership or real estate investment trust that begins liquidating. Some of the money that the investors receive in this case is really a return of their original investment, or a return of capital.
To record a return of capital action, click the Easy Actions button and choose the Return of Capital action. When Quicken displays the Return of Capital dialog box, describe the security that's returning capital.
RECORDING DIVIDENDS, CAPITAL GAINS, AND OTHER GOODIES
Any time you receive investment income, click the Easy Actions button and choose the Income (dividends/interest) command. When Quicken displays the Record Income dialog box, use the Security drop-down list box to identify the stock, bond, or mutual fund producing income and use the Distribution boxes to record the amount and type of income.
To record dividends, capital gains, and other income when you reinvest the money you receive, click the Easy Actions button and choose the Reinvest Income command. When Quicken displays the Reinvest Income dialog box, describe the amounts received and how you've reinvested.
THE CASE OF THE LITTLE YELLOW SPEAKER
See that little yellow speaker in the lower-right corner of your screen (or the left corner, if that's where your QuickTabs are)? Better not click it or--whoops, it just faded to gray. Now what? Nothing happens when you click it. Nothing happens when you double-click it. And you can search through Help all you want, and you won't find a "little yellow speaker" help item.
Here's the scoop. Double-clicking this speaker turns off QCards, the help messages--and voices, if the CD is in your CD-ROM drive--that appear on the QuickTabs side of the screen as you go about your Quicken business. The question now is, how do you reactivate QCards? To turn QCards back on (and bring that speaker back in clear view), choose Help + Show QCards. Who knew?
SETTING CASH BALANCE ALERTS IN QUICKEN
When it comes to reminders, Quicken is excellent at getting your attention. You can set notices to tell you when a payment is due, remind you of your tax deadlines (especially helpful if you file quarterly), let you know the tax implications of selling a particular stock, and much more. You can also set a reminder to let you know when the balance in your checking account has dropped to a certain level. Here's how:
If you choose to have the alert appear on your alert list instead of hammering you over the head with a pop-up box, choose Tools, Show All Alerts to display your current alerts. Make sure you check your alerts window frequently so you'll see all the information that Quicken has been ordered to tell you about.
CASH ON HAND
Curious to see how much you withdrew from the ATM machine last month? Why not create a report that lists only your cash withdrawals. This information can show you more than simply how much cash has escaped from your account; it can also reveal whether your cash spending there falls into a pattern. For example, maybe you're the weekend warrior, withdrawing funds on the weekend only. Or maybe you only withdraw cash around payday.
To create a cash-only report:
Quicken generates the report and lists only those cash transactions you specified. To memorize your Cash Only report (doing so lets you keep it on hand for future use):
ADDING, DELETING, AND MODIFYING CATEGORIES
You can edit, delete, and modify categories by accessing the Category & Transfer List. To access this list, choose Finance, Category/Transfer.
To add a new category, click New. Then enter the following required information in the Set Up Category window that appears:
To edit or delete a category, simply select the category from the list and click the Edit or Delete options from the button bar. (The Edit Category window looks a lot like the Set Up Category window.) Simply change the information that appears in this window.
ADDING BUSINESS CATEGORIES
Categories are one of the most important features in Quicken. Personal categories let you make budgets and prepare for taxes. Business categories let you watch how your business is doing. You can set Quicken up with either or both. If you didn't choose to include Business categories in your initial list, you can always add them later. Either make your own, one at a time, or you can add Quicken's suggested categories:
APPOINTING NEW CATEGORIES
In our last tip, we showed you how to rename a category that has become a little obscure. Another option is to recategorize the category--that is, switch it to another category designation. For example, you may want to combine your Golf and Tennis categories under your Recreation category.
To recategorize a category:
A budget needs to include all data that are significant and important, but nothing extraneous. Unlike tax preparation, you don't have to get all the details exactly right. Budgeting is an estimating job. So when you have your Budget on screen, note any categories on the left that aren't important because they're too small or they're just not likely to crop up regularly. Then click the Categories menu. In the Select Categories dialog box, click to remove the check marks from those categories. While you're here, look for categories that aren't yet included but should be.
CLEARING 0 CATEGORIES
There's a neat little option in the Planning, Budgeting, Categories checklist that will help you keep your budgets tidy. After you work through a checklist of categories to include, but before you click OK, click that "Clear 0 Amounts" button at the bottom of the dialog box. This will eliminate any of your "include" categories that are actually empty, with "$0" worth of transactions. Unless you want to be reminded what you're not spending your money on, there's no reason to put them in the lists if they aren't going to add to the totals.
CATEGORIES. . . NAMES OF. . .
Just decide that the term "Health and Beauty" is more in vogue than "Drug Items"? No problem. You can change the name of any category on a whim. And don't worry--you won't have to go back through your accounts replacing all occurrences of the old category name with the new one. Quicken changes all of the existing entries for you.
Past and future entries alike now reflect the change.
If Thoreau had been a Quicken user, tracking those minimal Walden cabin expenses, he might have said "Categorize, categorize." If you haven't categorized your transactions, you won't get a fraction as much out of Quicken as you could. Don't be in so much of a hurry that you assign everything to MISC or to sort-of-related categories. Make sure you pick a category that makes sense and stick to your own rules about what goes where. Then you'll be able to estimate taxes, budget prudently, and perform many other useful wonders with Quicken.
Assigning categories to your spending is important if you want to really know where all your dough is going. You can make Quicken display a message box if you try to enter a transaction without categorizing it.
Choose Edit, Options, Register, click the Miscellaneous tab, and under Notify, check the When Recording Uncategorized Transactions check box.
I've learned from many years of tax seasons and budgeting that Quicken lists such as Categories need periodic cleanup. First you're entering utility expenses under Utilities:Business. Then you enter some under Business:Utilities. Quicken doesn't know these add up to just one category. And so it doesn't neatly summarize them in reports.
You can fix this with:
Now all of those transactions are in one category and you can go to the Category list and delete the useless one.
ASSIGNING CATEGORIES TO CATEGORY GROUPS
A category group enables you to group Quicken categories together. Category groups can help you create budgets and reports. For example, you can find most of the categories where you can reduce your spending in Quicken's default Discretionary category group. Or you can pull together everything you spend on your house, such as mortgage, maintenance, and utilities, in a "House Stuff" category group.
Quicken has established some category groups for you, and you can add your own category groups to that list. To work with category groups, go to the Category & Transfer List window and open the Options menu at the top of the window. Select Assign Category Groups to display the Assign Category Groups dialog box.
After you've established category groups in Quicken, you can assign or reassign categories from the Assign Category Groups dialog box. Select the category you want to assign or reassign from the Category Name list on the left. Select the category group to which you are assigning the category, and when both items are highlighted, click the Assign Category to Group button.
You can select multiple categories and simultaneously assign them to a category group. Just select the first category you want to assign to this category group, and then hold down Ctrl while you select additional categories. When you've selected all the categories, choose Assign to assign all the selected categories at once.
Shortcut: If you want to assign multiple categories that are contiguous, you can click the first category you want and then press and hold the Shift key as you click the last category you want to select. Quicken selects all the categories between the first and last category.
If you change your mind while assigning categories to category groups, remove the assignment by highlighting the category and clicking the Clear Assignment button. When you finish assigning categories to groups, click OK to close the dialog box.
SHARE YOUR CATEGORIES, NOT YOUR DATA
Do you keep badgering some friend or colleague about the benefits of the Quicken-ized life? Maybe you should go a step further and offer to share with them those carefully crafted categories and accounts you've built--especially if this friend lives in the same area as you and works in a similar business to yours. Having the right categories is half the work of smart Quicken living. Here's how you can share your expertise without giving away your personal data, in Quicken 98 Deluxe:
Be sure to test the result before handing it over. Create a new Quicken file with a new name and then import from the file you just exported. Make sure no transactions are in it.
You followed our advice and categorized each and every transaction in your registers. But now you realize that you've been a little overzealous (a category named Food really is the same as Groceries, after all). Or maybe you changed your mind altogether and want to create a single category encompassing a number of different categories. Not to worry. You don't have to reassign each and every transaction to the new category. Instead, you can merge the different categories into a single category.
The first thing to do is to change the category you no longer need into a subcategory of the category you want to keep (for example, you would make the category named Food a subcategory of Groceries):
Next, you delete the category you no longer need:
NEXT ON OPRAH: WHEN GOOD CATEGORIES GO BAD
We've all done it. In an effort to be a good Quicken user, we categorize each and every transaction to a tee. Sometimes, though, this categorizing can get out of hand. While looking over your transactions one day, you may notice, for example, that you have a category named Entertainment and another named Pleasure.
From time to time, pause and reevaluate your category situation to determine whether the categories you've established are a help or a hindrance. You can then remove the ones you no longer use or consolidate similar ones.
If you decide that you have way too many categories, you can do a number of things: rename the existing category to something that makes more sense, recategorize the category, assign transactions to another category, or delete the category.
When you delete a category, you are essentially removing that category designation from all existing transactions. When you return to your check register, you'll see that some transactions contain an empty category setting--definitely not a good thing. So before deleting a category outright, consider your other options. After thinking it over, if you STILL want to delete a category outright:
We discuss alternatives to deleting a category in the next two tips.
Quicken's Categories are one of its strongest features. They help you budget and plan and summarize for taxes. But they're also a bit of a pain, at least until they're set up and fitting well to your spending patterns.
Is Quicken worthwhile without categories? Probably so, for most people. It can still be a meticulous account register, keeping tabs on what you have. And the investment tracking can still help you figure out what you're going to have. Finally, the online bill paying could save you time. But if you can, try to get those categories set up. You'll be glad come tax time.
CATEGORIZE, CATEGORIZE, CATEGORIZE
When you enter transactions in Quicken's Register, whether for your checking, credit card, or investment account, do you categorize each and every one? If your answer is anything but an emphatic, "But of course!" we have this advice: Start TODAY. Categorizing is crucial to tracking past finances and for budgeting. Categories allow you to break down how much you spend per week, month, or year, on any given expense, such as food, housing, or even video rental (ouch). Categories are your friends.
And don't say that the reason you don't categorize is that Quicken doesn't have categories that match your spending habits. That's no excuse. Setting up a new category is a snap:
Repeat these steps to create as many new categories as you need, and you no longer have an excuse not to categorize!
In the Edit, Options dialog box for the Home Inventory feature of Quicken Deluxe, you can choose to display the values of your belongings right down to the "cents." Don't bother. Cents are generally too small now to matter when estimating your replacement and resale values.
THE QUICK CHANGE
If you want to switch between various Quicken files with lightning speed, you can select the name of another file directly from the bottom of the File menu, where Quicken lists the last four files you used.
Few things could be easier in Quicken than changing the name of a category of subcategory. All you have to do is choose Finance, Category & Transfer List, select the category or subcategory whose name you want to change, and click the Edit button. In the Edit Category dialog box, enter the new name in the Name box and click OK.
Note: Transactions in your registers that were assigned the old name are given the new one automatically.
DOING THE QUICK CHANGE
If you want to switch between various Quicken files with lightning speed, you can select the name of another file directly from the bottom of the File menu, where Quicken lists the last four files you used.
CHANGING KEYSTROKE COMBINATIONS
If you're a keyboard jockey, you're probably familiar with the keyboard-shortcut combinations for the Windows Cut, Copy, and Paste commands. And you're probably going nuts now because Quicken uses these keyboard combinations for something else. Don't worry: You can regain your sanity (at least temporarily) by making Quicken use the Windows shortcut commands:
Now you can use those familiar keystrokes to your heart's content for cutting, copying, and pasting. Just remember: You will have to use the menu or icons to perform the commands that Quicken originally meant those keystrokes to accomplish.
PUTTING ADDRESSES ON YOUR CHECKS
If you print checks by using Quicken and want to put the payee's address on the check, click the Address button in the Set Up Loan Payment dialog box. Quicken displays a dialog box that you can use to input the payee's address.
CHANGING A CHECK YOU'VE ENTERED
What if you need to change a check that you've already entered? Suppose that you make a terrible mistake, such as recording a $52.50 check as $25.20. Can you fix it? Sure. Just use the arrow keys or click the mouse to highlight the check transaction that you want to change. Use the Tab and Shift + Tab keys to move the cursor to the field you want to change. (You also can select the field by clicking the mouse.) Then make your fix. Click the Enter button when you finish or press Enter on the keyboard.
QUICKEN CHECK NUMBERING
When you choose a starting check number for checks to be printed by Quicken, be sure to give a number that doesn't conflict with the numbers on the checks you've already written by hand or intend to write by hand.
In fact, choose a starting number that is far different from the numbers on your handwritten checks so that you don't run the risk of writing two checks with the same number. It's okay to print checks and write them by hand from the same checking account, but you must be careful not to get the numbers crossed.
INCORRECT CHECK NUMBERS
Whenever you download transactions to an account using Quicken, you have the special capability of dealing with a very common error: incorrect check numbers. If you attempt to accept a transaction with the same check number but a different amount, a dialog box tells you that you have two different amounts for the same check number. The dialog box gives you the option of either accepting the transaction or canceling out of the dialog box and correcting your register entry. If you accept the transaction, your register displays two different entries for the same check number.
By the way, although you can order Quicken check forms from other sources (such as your local office supplies store), they're about the same price from Intuit (the maker of Quicken). If you want to order from Intuit, you can refer to the catalog that came in the packaging, or you can visit Intuit's Web site, Quicken.com [http://www.quicken.com].
VIEWING YOUR CHECKBOOK REGISTER
You always enter a transaction on the last line of the register. This line is referred to as the transaction line. Quicken sorts transactions in the register in chronological order, with the oldest transactions listed first. When you enter a transaction having a prior date, Quicken automatically posts it to the register in the correct chronological order so that your register is always an accurate and well-ordered reflection of your account transactions.
For example, if in May you enter a check that you wrote on April 15, Quicken displays it in your register with the other April transactions, as though you entered it at the correct time. (This makes sense for record-keeping purposes because the transaction actually did occur on April 15.) This is a wonderful feature, but it can be confusing if you enter a transaction out of sequence and it jumps to another page in the register.
PRINTING CHECK REGISTERS
You can print a check register or a register for any other account, too. First, display the register window such as by clicking the Feature tab for the account. Then choose [F]ile, [P]rint Register. Quicken then displays the Print Register dialog box. To print a register:
LEADER (OF THE PACK)
If you're using a dot matrix or ink-jet printer to print out your Quicken checks, you should consider using reusable form leaders that attach to the pages and reduce check waste.
WHEN YOU WRITE A STATE TAX CHECK, LINK IT
State taxes paid at the end of the year are deductible from your federal income tax for the year. Unlike federal taxes paid, therefore, you need to link them to a tax form so they'll show up in your calculations. To do this, you need to create a category called Taxes:State:Paid and link it to Schedule A: State and Local Taxes. In Quicken 99:
The same is true for Local income taxes you pay, so you should make sure they're linked to the Schedule A:Local income taxes line.
CHOOSING YOUR CHECK TYPES
Quicken offers three kinds of checks: standard, voucher, and wallet. Standard and wallet checks come three to a page. Voucher and wallet checks include a stub. In the case of wallet checks, information from the register -- the date, payee, amount, and so on -- is printed on a small stub on the side of the check. Voucher checks are for printing payroll or accounts receivable information. The information, which comes from the Split Transaction window, is printed on the stub that covers the lower two-thirds of the page.
PUTTING ADDRESSES ON YOUR CHECKS
If you print checks by using Quicken and want to put the payee's address on the check, click the Address button in the Set Up Loan Payment dialog box. Quicken displays a dialog box that you can use to input the payee's address.
DEALING WITH CANCELED CHECKS
Many banks offer a choice to customers for whether they even want the physical checks returned, and many customers prefer not to receive them. They're bulky, and as a result, saving bank statements requires large boxes instead of manila envelopes. The only problem that could result from this strategy is one that arises from a dispute with a payee, where you need to produce a canceled check to resolve the dispute. In this case, the bank sends you the check in question or a copy of the microfilm the bank makes of the check.
For certain kinds of expenses, you should automatically request checks from your bank. These include any checks you wrote for permanent improvements to your residence (you may need these to prove your cost basis when you sell your home, if you want to use the tax-free rollover provision.) Also, ask for any checks you wrote to pay your taxes, so if the IRS decides three years from now that you didn't write a certain check, you can prove you did. You may also want to consider receiving the checks for your real estate taxes or any other payment you made that you might have to prove later.
You can customize the checks that you print out using Quicken by adding a little logo to each check that you print. Here's how:
Your logo appears on each check that you print using this options.
LOCATING MISSING BUT CLEARED CHECKS
If you can't find a check or withdrawal -- guess what? -- you haven't entered it in the Quicken register yet. Display the Quicken register by clicking the Edit button. Then enter the check or withdrawal in the register. Be sure to enter a c (for "cleared") in the Clr column to identify this check or withdrawal as one that's already cleared at the bank. To return to the Reconcile Bank Account window, click the Reconcile button.
FIXING MISTAKES ON CHECKS
Don't worry. If you haven't yet printed the check, fixing mistakes is easy. If you press the PgUp and PgDn keys with the Write Checks window displayed, Quicken pages you through the check transactions. This way, you can display any check that you wrote -- but have not yet printed -- in the Write Check window.
When you find the incorrect check, you can fix the mistake in two ways. If you incorrectly entered some bit of check information, move the cursor to the field with the incorrect data and just type over the data.
Or, if you're really frustrated, you can delete the entire check by clicking the Delete button.
Don't use this method to delete a check that you've already printed. To void a check that you've already printed, you must go into the Register window. To display the Register window, you can click the Feature tab for the account. Then find the check in the Register window, select the check, and void it by clicking the Edit button and choosing the drop-down menu's Void Transaction command. You should also write something such as VOID in large letters across the face of the printed check.
If you write checks to be sent at a later time, looking at a calendar often helps you determine when a check must be printed. Doing so ensures your checks arrive on time.
Quicken conveniently provides a drop-down calendar for you. Just click the Calendar icon at the end of the Date field and choose your date. If you've turned on the Quicken Billminder, it makes sure you don't forget to print and mail this check.
You can use Quicken to print checks. This little trick provides a couple of benefits: It's really fast if you have several checks to print, and your printed checks look very neat and darn professional.
To print checks, you need to do just two things. First, look through the check supply information that comes with Quicken and choose a check form that suits your style. Then order the form. (The check forms that come with remittance advices -- or check stubs -- work well for businesses.)
Preprinted check forms aren't cheap. If you're using Quicken at home with personal-style checks (such as those that go in your wallet), using computer checks may not be cost-effective. Even if you're using Quicken for a business and you are used to buying those outrageously expensive business-style checks, you'll still find computer checks a bit more expensive.
Although you can order Quicken check forms from other sources (such as your local office supplies store), they're about the same price from Intuit (the maker of Quicken). If you want to order from Intuit, you can refer to the catalog that came in the packaging. You can also visit Intuit's Web site, Quicken.com [ http://www.quicken.com ].
RECORDING CHECKS YOU CASH INSTEAD OF DEPOSIT
You don't need to set up a cash account if you like to spend cash. If you just cash a check and you have a bank account set up, you can record the transaction using the Split Transaction Window to show both the income category (Salary, for example, for an individual) and how you're going to use the money.
For example, if you cash a $1,000 check and you plan to use the $1,000 for spending money, you may show a positive $1,000 in the Salary category and a minus $1,000 in the Entertainment spending category.
correct. Cashing a check that you never deposited doesn't affect your checking account balance. But by filling out the Split Transaction Window, you do end up recording both the $1,000 of income and the $1,000 of expense.
WRITE CHECKS SHOWS IT ALL
One nice feature that the Quicken 2000 Write Checks screen provides is the capability to see not only your ending balance, but also the total amount of all checks to be printed. The Ending Balance incorporates all the checks you've written, both printed and unprinted, including postdated checks. However, Quicken also shows your Current Balance, which includes all checks except postdated checks.
THE CHECK'S IN THE MAIL--PART 1 OF 2
Tired of writing out checks for those monthly bills? Why not type them instead? Just order some checks from Quicken, and you can write checks on your computer. (You need a printer to print them out, of course.) The best part is, most of the information you need is already in Quicken, so completing a check takes about as much time as entering a register transaction.
To order Quicken checks online (assuming you have a modem installed and configured properly), do the following:
THE CHECK'S IN THE MAIL--PART 2 OF 2
In our last tip, we told you how to order Quicken checks--checks that you can write on your PC--online: Select Features + Bills + Order Checks, click the Checks, Forms & Supplies link, register (if you haven't already), and then follow along as Intuit walks you through the ordering process.
But what about those of you who don't have a modem? Y'all have to pick up the phone. Just call 800/224-0991. (Tip: Have a blank check and your credit card in front of you.)
Phone shy? Check your Quicken box, where you can find a catalog for ordering checks the old-fashioned way. And there's no postage necessary (although they more than make up for it in the price of the checks)!
WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH CHECKFREE
Intuit (the maker of Quicken) used to highly tout Checkfree, which closely resembles Online Bill Payment. Although Quicken users can still use Checkfree, Intuit encourages new users to use Online Bill Payment. Translation: Quicken strongly supports Online Bill Payment, and it integrates that feature into the program more smoothly than it does Checkfree. Nevertheless, you can still use the Checkfree service. To do so, click Banking, Banking Services, Set Up Checkfree.
CHECKFREE STAYS SLOW
Choose Banking, Checkfree, Set Up Modem. In the Speed selections of this new dialog box, you may notice that the top rate is 9600. That's 9600 bps as in prehistoric. Oddly, CheckFree doesn't run at anything like the 33.6K or 56K of today's typical dial-up modems. Still, because it is only moving numeric data and not graphics, the speed probably won't be so frustrating. And a fast modem is perfectly capable of running at slower speeds when necessary.
CHECKS FROM EVERY ANGLE
In our last tip, we showed you one way to print the checks in the Checks to Print list (of the Write Checks window): Click the Print button (just above the Date field), complete the Select Checks to Print dialog box, and click OK. Does this mean you have to be inside the Write Checks window to print your checks? Nope. Does it mean that you can print only those checks in the Checks to Print list? Nope again. Quicken is completely flexible on both accounts. You can print any check--in the Checks to Print list or not--from anywhere.
To print the checks in the Checks to Print list:
To print a check that does not appear in the Checks to Print list (or really, to add a check to the Checks to Print list):
AIN'T YA GOT CLASS?
It may be helpful to think of a "class" in Quicken as an umbrella that makes it possible to track income or expenses in several different categories and subcategories simultaneously.
For example, if you're a property manager, you can create a class named for each building you manage. As well as categorizing expenses for building repairs and income from rent, you can classify them by property. Then, from time to time, you can run class reports to see precisely which properties are generating the most income or costing the most in repairs.
DO YOU HAVE CLASS?
It may be helpful to think of a class in Quicken as an umbrella that makes it possible to track income or expenses in several different categories and subcategories simultaneously.
For example, if you're a property manager, you can create a class named for each building you manage as well as categorizing expenses for building repairs and income from rent. Then, you can run class reports to see precisely which properties are generating the most income or costing the most in repairs.
YOU NEED CLASSES TO SEE MORE THAN ONE JOB, BUSINESS, OR RENTAL PROPERLY
If you work more than one job, business, or rental property, you should use a separate class for each. Using separate classes helps you keep each of these items separate come tax time. Doing so also lets you create useful reports and charts along the way.
After setting up the separate classes, remember to itemize each new transaction with the relevant category and class.
As 1998 draws to a close, it's time to start preparing for the New Year. Just as you rid your own home of unwanted objects in preparation for the year ahead, it makes sense to clean house with Quicken as well. So, before we begin a new year with Quicken, take the time now to remove any items that you no longer need, such as scheduled transactions that are associated with the current year only, or memorized transactions you no longer plan on using.
To delete a scheduled transaction:
To delete a memorized transaction:
Note that deleting these items has no effect on any existing transactions.
The Reconcile command automatically sweeps all of the un-Cleared transactions into a neat little list for you, where you can click them if they appear in your end-of-the-month statements from the bank. But if you want to see those un-Cleared transactions with a little more detail on hand -- and don't want to have to switch back and forth between Reconcile window and the main register window -- just sort.
You'll see any un-Cleared transactions sorted by date at the bottom of the register. Farther up in the register are the Cleared transactions from those and other dates.
FIGURING OUT HOW MUCH TO SAVE FOR COLLEGE
Suppose that you have a child who may attend college in 16 years, and you haven't started to save yet. If the local university costs $10,000 a year and you can earn 9 percent annually, how much should you save?
Use Quicken's College Calculator to determine your savings goal:
After you enter all the information, the Annual Contribution field shows how much you need to save each year until the child graduates from college: If Junior goes to a 5-year college that currently costs $10,000 a year, and you expect to earn 9 percent annually and anticipate 4 percent annual inflation, then you need to start saving $2,171.27 every year.
To get more information on the annual deposits, tuition, and balance, click the Schedule button, which appears on the face of the College Calculator dialog box. Quicken whips up a quick little report showing the annual deposits, tuition, and ending college savings account balances for each year you'll add to, and Junior withdraws from, the college savings money.
QUICKEN AND YOUR CORPORATION
Does Quicken work for a corporation? Not really. The problem is that corporations have special record-keeping requirements related to all their shareholder information. For example, you're supposed to keep track of how many shares each shareholder holds. Even if you ignore this record-keeping requirement (perhaps you could keep track of this stuff in an Excel spreadsheet), you're still supposed to keep track of things like par value, contributed capital, and treasury stock for a corporation.
If you're doing business as a corporation, you may want to look at moving up to a full-featured small-business accounting program, like QuickBooks.
KNOWING WHEN DEBT COLLECTORS CAN - AND CAN'T - CONTACT YOU
Debt collectors can contact you only at reasonable times. They can't contact you at any time that they have reason to believe is inconvenient and, in general, may not contact you when they know an attorney represents you. Collectors must tell you that they're calling from a collection agency, and they must identify the original creditor and the amount of the balance. They must tell you that you have 30 days to dispute the debt.
If you tell a bill collector that you're busy and she doesn't terminate the call, or if she calls back when she should realize that you're still busy, she's probably in violation of the law. Ditto if the person answering the phone tells her that you're sleeping. And for the most part, bill collectors can't contact you at all - and that means no calls, no visits, no letters, and no telegrams - if you've notified them in writing to buzz off citing the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
DEBT REDUCTION ORDER
The Debt Reduction Planner can help you get out of debt a little faster, both because you're focusing your efforts on the task, and because you're seeing which debts to pay off first. Click on the Order tab to see the costliest debts above the less-costly -- mainly determined by the interest rate you're paying. You can change the order, but you'll increase your total dollar cost. However, there are times when other considerations trump financial considerations, such as the psychological advantage of not owing a particular creditor.
USING THE DEBT REDUCTION PLANNER
The Quicken Debt Reduction Planner calculates the payments for all your debts that will cost you the least and work the fastest, enabling you to get out of debt quickly paying the least amount of interest. To create a payment plan using the Debt Reduction Planner, select Planning, then Debt Reduction Planner to start the Debt Reduction wizard.
The Debt Reduction Planner takes you through a series of steps, asking you pertinent questions about your debt situation. Be sure to have your Quicken CD in the CD-ROM drive before you start, so you can view the opening video. In addition, gather all the information about your loan and credit card accounts before you begin. When the Debt Reduction video finishes, click Next to start creating your plan.
Remember, although the Debt Reduction Planner imports some loan and credit card information, it does not import payment and interest information. Therefore, you have to enter it manually for each account.
Click Next to display the Order Tab, which explains how Quicken is going to organize your debts by interest rate. Click Next to display the ordered list of suggested payments, paying off the highest interest loan first by increasing the monthly payment and paying minimums on the remaining loans.
When you finish the steps, your Debt Reduction Plan is ready. The Plan Tab provides details about the plan, explaining how much you will save, and how long it will take to get out of debt. Click Next to proceed.
Quicken provides a couple of options for tracking your plan, which include setting up scheduled transactions for debt payment, alerts, and adding your debt to the budgeting and forecasting model. Click Next for a brief description of the graph window that appears when you're finished; then click Done.
SHOULD YOU TRACK YOUR DEBTS?
Tracking your debts is a good idea -- car loans, mortgages, student loans, and so on -- when lenders fail to tell you the amount that you're paying in annual interest or the amount you owe after each and every payment.
If your lenders are doing a good job at keeping you informed, using Quicken for this purpose doesn't make much sense. They can do the work, right? If lenders have half a clue, they send you a 1098 tax form at the end of every year. The number shown on that form equals your tax deduction if the interest stems from a mortgage, business, or investment loan. Note that personal interest expenses aren't deductible anymore, so you shouldn't track them unless you really want to be mean to yourself.
CLEARING YOUR DESKTOP
Are you the type who cleans off your desk before leaving work for the day? If so, we don't want to talk to you. For all those who can't seem to rid their physical desktop of the day's work and look to those who can with envy, this tip is for you. (Well, okay, seeing as it is the holiday season, you neat freaks can listen in too.) Unless you indicate otherwise, Quicken saves the location of each and every window you have open when you quit the program. But more often than not, you'd like to start your Quicken day with a clean slate right?
Well, even if you can't clean up your actual desktop, you can at least clear your Quicken desktop when you exit the program. To do so, you must first indicate to Quicken which windows you want to remain open when you start the program and then record that setting.
To clear your Quicken desktop:
Now, the next time you start Quicken, only those windows that you indicated should remain open will be shown.
DESKTOP NEXT EXIT
There are three approaches to desktop decorating -- determining how the Quicken window looks.
SAVE THE DESKTOPS
As you work, you'll probably customize your desktop. This is especially true as you become more comfortable with Quicken. You'll be changing the QuickTabs, altering the number of lines in registers, opening some accounts, and leaving other accounts closed. As you furnish your Quicken layout the way you like, why let it disappear each time you quit? Instead, save your desktop so you can get it back automatically the next time you start Quicken. Right-click the QuickTabs and choose Save Desktop. You can also choose Edit, Options, Desktop and then choose Save Current Desktop. This look will come back the next time you start.
WHAT A DISPLAY!
In registers, Quicken displays by default the Date field before the number field, and the Category field before the Memo field. You can switch the order of appearance for these fields. You can also control whether buttons appear on fields that use QuickFill. And, you can assign different color shadings to different registers. Here's how:
THE ESSENCE OF QUICKEN
When you boil Quicken down to its essence, it does six things:
DON'T FORGET TO RIGHT-CLICK
As you work in Quicken, get in the habit of right-clicking different locations of the Quicken program. When you right-click, a shortcut menu usually appears, giving you faster access to some common features and commands. For example, when you right-click a transaction in your check register, the shortcut menu displays options for manipulating that transaction. So go ahead. Right-click away. You may be surprised at what you find.
To become a great Quicken guru, you must try right-clicking on most everything. This will generally raise a contextual menu, a pop-up list of things you can do immediately. In many cases, this will include generating a report about the item, without the bother of going to the Reports menu and trying to find the report that includes exactly what you seek.
CLONE A QUICKEN FILE
If you find that your Quicken file has just gotten too big to handle or that you'd rather not include financial data from1995 in your current reports, why not relegate past years' data to a separate file? By copying your current Quicken file, you can archive old data and make certain that your current file doesn't get too large--which could cause some problems down the road, particularly when you use the Backup command to back up your data. A large file can also affect the performance of your Quicken session, particularly when you create reports or use the Find command to locate transactions.
To create a copy of your current file:
Quicken creates a new copy of the file, leaving your current file intact. The new file contains only those transactions that you specified. After you create this copy, you may want to remove these past transactions from your current file.
Tip-in-a-tip: Before you start fiddling with your current file, make sure that the copy you just created is intact and functioning. You don't want to delete any transactions without making absolutely sure that you have a safe and permanent copy of them first.
COLOR-CODING YOUR CALENDAR NOTES
If you regularly use the Notes feature in the Financial Calendar to remind yourself of important events, you may also want to color-code the notes for quicker access. For instance, you can assign reminder notes as yellow but important financial deadlines as green. If you can live with the Easter egg color scheme, color-coding your reminders can be a great organizational tool.
To assign a color to a note:
Repeat these steps each time you want to create a new note or assign an existing note a new color.
Quicken lets you do a little interior decorating by modifying the colors of the basic Quicken windows to your own color scheme. Sorta silly, but it's still fun. Here's how:
COLOR YOUR NUMBER WORLD
Can't stand that boring beige and lime-green color scheme the Quicken designers stuck you with? (Ick.) Then change it to something a little more bearable. Crunching numbers is bad enough--you may as well have something pleasant to look at while doing it.
Now that's a screen of a different color!
COMPARE THE WEALTH--PART 1 OF 3
So you say you've been cutting back on your expenses, and now you'd like to see whether your sacrifices are making a difference. You may want to see what kind of progress you're making toward your savings goals or see how much more you spent on entertainment this month than last month. So why not create a Comparison report to get a quick look at how you're doing on the financial front:
Quicken generates a report that shows all of your inflows (income) and outflows (expenses) generated in your bank, cash, and credit card accounts for two time periods. By default, Quicken compares this year's inflows and outflows with last year's.
In the following tips, we show you how to customize the report to compare certain categories of transactions and how to alter the time period that's being compared.
COMPARE THE WEALTH --PART 2 OF 3
In our last tip, we showed you how to create a Comparison report to see how well you're performing or how far you've fallen. To create a Comparison report, choose Reports + Home + Comparison and then click Create to generate the report. In this tip, we show you how you can use the report to compare certain categories, such as Entertainment or Bonus income over a period of time.
To select individual categories to compare:
Quicken regenerates the report and includes only those categories you selected. In tomorrow's tip, we show you how to select the time period being compared.
COMPARE THE WEALTH--PART 3 OF 3
In our last two tips, we showed you how to keep an eye on your goals by creating a Comparison report and how to customize the report so that it only includes those categories of data that you want to compare. In this tip, we show you how to set the date range of the comparison so that you can compare last month to this month, for example, or last quarter to the current quarter.
To change the dates of the Comparison report:
CONVERTING INVESTMENT ACCOUNTS
A reader from Costa Mesa, CA, recently asked whether it was possible to convert a mutual fund investment account that initially tracked a single fund to a mutual fund investment account that could track multiple funds. You sure can, Ann. But note that, once you convert the account, you can't change it back. (We strongly recommend that you back up your Quicken file before you perform the conversion.)
COPY AND PASTE BETWEEN PROGRAMS
Exporting data from Quicken, then Importing it to another program, is not the only way to get your Quicken data out to a spreadsheet, word processor table, database, or presentation program. You can also use a simple Copy and Paste operation.
CLOSE THOSE COSTS
A lower interest rate is a siren song to anyone making payments on a mortgage. But mortgage lenders aren't in the business for their health. Besides points--a percentage of the mortgage--lenders charge you closing costs, which are broken down into a whole mess of fees that include the service you get, charges for that document, a South Seas vacation. . . no, strike that last one. Anyway, with closing costs, you pay some thousands of dollars above and beyond points.
Before you settle on a lender, ask about estimated closing costs. Then negotiate on the particulars, asking whether particular costs can be reduced or waived. You might be surprised by what you can get just by asking. Remember that lenders are trying to sell you something--a mortgage. For that reason, they may try to make their offer more attractive to you than some other lender's offer.
CREATE A CURRENT MONTH REPORT
For the most part, all the reports you create in Quicken include all transactions from the start of the new year to the current date (also known as Year-to-Date data). Today, we show you how to create a report that shows only the data you want. For example, you can create a report that includes only the current month's data. Creating such a report is easy. You simply create the report, change the dates, and then use the Memorize feature to save the custom settings. The result is that you always have an up-to-date report on hand.
To create a monthly report:
Now, whenever you want to run this monthly report, choose Reports + Memorized Reports, select the report from the list of reports, and click Create. Quicken generates the report, using the transactions from the current month only.
CREATE A LOAN AMORTIZATION SCHEDULE
In our last tip, we showed you how to create a Loan account to keep track of your household loans. To review, choose Features + Bills + Loans and then provide the requested information. One of the most useful features available when you track your loans in Quicken is its ability to generate an amortization schedule.
An amortization is basically a payment schedule that lists all your payments for the full term of the loan and splits up each payment to show how much of the money goes toward interest and how much goes to pay down the principal balance. The amortization schedule is handy if you're ever curious about your payments or balance information that you get from your mortgage provider.
To create an amortization schedule:
Quicken generates an amortization listing showing all your outstanding payments, right up to the final payment due. Notice that the principal amount increases and the interest amount decreases in each consecutive payment. You can scroll through the amortization schedule to view the loan balance on specific dates.
PAYING CREDIT CARD BILLS BODACIOUSLY
If you want to track credit card spending and balances with Quicken, you can set up a special credit card account. After you set up a credit card account, to tell Quicken you to work with it, use the Account List window by choosing Finance, Account List and double-clicking the account you want to use.
The most bodacious way to pay a credit card bill is actually pretty simple, so don't blink your eyes or you may miss the action.
1. Look at your credit card statement.
2. Decide how much you want to pay.
3. Select the bank account on which you'll write the check.
4. Write the check and record it in the bank register -- but as a transfer to the credit card account.
You're done. The only trick -- if you can call it that -- is that the credit card account is specified as the account to which the money is transferred. (You can see the other account by right-clicking on the transaction and selecting Go To Transfer, or you can click on the other Accounts tab, of course.)
Remember: If you use a credit card, but you don't carry a balance, you don't need anything special to track your credit card purchases. If you're not using a credit card account, you record the check you send to pay a credit card bill in the same way you record any other check. When you pay the monthly credit card bill, you can use the Split Transaction window to describe spending categories, such as $52.64 for a car repair and $217.54 for books.
GET A HANDLE ON YOUR CREDIT CARD DEBT--PART 1 OF 3
Still paying off your dream trip to the South Pacific? Although it seemed like a good idea to finance the trip with your credit card, you've probably noticed that your hard-earned money seems to be going right down the toilet, what with the hefty finance charge and all. But if you know just where the money goes (and how often), you can get a handle on your credit card debt. Let Quicken help you monitor your credit card balance by setting up a Credit Card account:
At this point, Quicken opens your new Credit Card account register. A single transaction is automatically entered for you, but brace yourself--this transaction is your Opening account balance.
Remember: While you're trying to pay down debt, leave your credit card at home or placed firmly in your wallet. There's no sense in making those monthly payments if you're charging up new ones.
GET A HANDLE ON YOUR CREDIT CARD DEBT--PART 2 OF 3
In our last tip, we showed you how to set up a Credit Card account in Quicken to help you keep track of your debt. Choose Features + Banking + Create New Account, select Credit Card, and then follow along as Quicken helps you set up the account. When you're finished, you have a new Credit Card account that contains the opening balance. After you pick yourself up off the floor, you need to transfer all the payment information you recorded in your check register to your Quicken Credit Card account. When you transfer the payment records, the debit remains in your check register to be deducted from your checking account balance, but it also appears in your Credit Card account so that you can see what you've already paid--and what remains.
To transfer a record of payment to your Credit Card account:
GET A HANDLE ON YOUR CREDIT CARD DEBT--PART 3 OF 3
In our last two tips, we concluded that the best way to get a grip on your credit card debt is to create a Credit Card account and then transfer records of all your payments from your Checking account into this new account. When you do so, Quicken deducts the payment from your credit card balance (yippee!). Unfortunately, the balance you see isn't entirely accurate because it doesn't take into account the dreaded finance charge (you know, that fee the nice credit card company charges you for using its money). To get an accurate (and less-enjoyable) balance, you either have to enter the finance charge information yourself or use the Reconcile feature when the new monthly statement arrives.
To reconcile your Credit Card account:
Tip in a tip: If you notice that your monthly payment isn't making a dent because of your high finance charge, it's a good time to find a new credit card or negotiate your APR with your credit card company. In future tips, we show you how to use Quicken's Debt Reduction planner to create a game plan for reducing your debt.
TOURING THE CREDIT CARD REGISTER
The credit card register works like the regular register window that you use for a bank account. You enter transactions into the rows of the register. After you record a charge, Quicken updates the credit card balance and the remaining credit limit (if you entered the optional credit limit info when you set up the account).
CREDIT CARD SPENDING
Most people enter their credit card transactions all at one time when they get their monthly statments. However, if your credit card spending is getting out of hand, try this: Make an effort to record your charges as you make them. As you see the amount that you owe in the credit card register get bigger and bigger, you will be discouraged from spending so much with your credit card.
MONITORING CREDIT CARD SPENDING
To help you monitor your credit card spending, you can set up a credit limit and have Quicken "alert" you when you exceed it. You can use a limit other than that established by your credit card company. Simply click Finance and then Setup Alerts. Click the check box next to Credit Card Limits and type the limit you want Quicken to use. Then click OK. Quicken only alerts you once when you exceed the limit.
Quicken can handle and convert multiple currencies right in the Register window. That feature is somewhat useful for tourists, and critical to small businesses that operate internationally.
To get currency support working:
QUICKEN AND DEBIT CARDS
Debit cards are more like bank accounts than credit cards. Rather than withdrawing money by writing a check, you withdraw money by using a debit charge.
Although a debit card looks like a credit card, you should treat it like a bank account.
In a nutshell, here's what you need to do:
If these steps sound pretty simple, they are. In fact, if you've been doing just fine with a checking account, you'll find that keeping track of a debit card is as easy as eating a bag of potato chips.
You can use the College Planner to help you estimate college costs, plan how much to save for college, and estimate your cash flow while making college payments.
Quicken displays the Results page and shows whether you can afford college expenses given your total plan.
PAYING A MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSE
Expenses sometimes arise with brokerage accounts, real estate partnership interests (which can be treated like common stock shares), or precious metal investments (which can also be treated like common stock shares).
If you need to pay a fee for account handling or for storing your stash of South African Krugerrands, for example, you can record such an expense by clicking the Easy Actions button, choosing the Miscellaneous Expense action command, and then filling out the boxes on the Miscellaneous Expense dialog box that Quicken displays.
AN INEXPENSIVE EXPENSE REPORT
To create a graph of your expenses:
MEMORIZED REPORT OPTIONS
Memorizing a report or graph in Quicken means not having to go through all the customizing steps again. You just choose your memorized version from the Reports menu and see it appear. You have some options during memorizing, namely choosing which dates to use for the report:
CREATING A REPORT OF UNNECESSARY EXPENSES
Quicken is loaded with reports that show you your expenses in just about every imaginable way. But have you ever wanted to see how much money you blow each month on stuff you really don't need--you know, things like clothing, movies, and dinner out? If so, why not create a custom report and include only those categories you can live without? With this report in hand, you just may be able to convince yourself that your money is better saved than spent.
To see how much you blow on unnecessary expenses:
CREATE A SUPER REPORT
In our last tip, we introduced you to Supercategories, which allow you to further categorize your transactions. Supercategories can help you make more informed decisions in your budgets and allow you to create some truly informative reports--which is the topic of today's tip. But first, a review: To create a Supercategory, choose Lists + Category/Transfer, click the Super button, click the New button located at the bottom of the Supercategory Name list, enter a name for the Supercategory, and click OK. To assign a category to a Supercategory, select the category in the Category Name list, select the Supercategory you want to assign in the Supercategory Name list, and click Assign.
Only certain types of Quicken reports make use of Supercategory classifications. These include Cash Flow, Summary, Budget, and Comparison reports. When you generate a report with Supercategories enabled, Quicken organizes the transactions first by their classification as an income or expense, next by their assigned category, and then by their Supercategory classification.
To generate a report with Supercategories listed:
EARN EXTRA CREDIT--PART 1 OF 2
Suppose a credit appears on your credit card statement this month (it's been known to happen). Maybe you returned a purchased item or sent in an extra payment. Maybe the credit card gods worked in your favor and reduced some monthly charge. How do you go about accounting for that credit in Quicken? The first thing you do is to create a new category that you use to keep separate track of these credited items.
To create the new credit category:
Although you created the Credits category as an expense, it shows up as a positive amount in any reports you generate. In addition, assigning it as an Expense category lets you keep track of your credits alongside the actual charges.
EARN EXTRA CREDIT--PART 2 OF 2
In our last tip, we introduced the topic of credits--you know, those positive charges that appear in your credit card statements that actually reduce the balance owed. To account for these positive charges, we instructed you to create a Category named Credits. In this tip, we show you how to account for these charges when you enter the transaction for the monthly payment. Entering credited amounts is actually no different from entering a regular charge.
Recent versions of Quicken include direct commands for updates from the Internet. For example, in Quicken 99 Home & Business's Portfolio View of your investments, you can get the latest quotes on your securities. The Update Prices button lets you get online quotes. Quicken shows you the download status as it gets the data and then displays the most quotes so that you can see the current value of your portfolio.
CURRENT REPORTING TRENDS
If you've just created the report of all reports--one you know you'll be looking at just about every time you open your Quicken file--there's another option for keeping it around than simple memorization (clicking the Memorize button, naming the report, and so on). Don't close it. You think nothing of leaving your Register window open, right?
A Quicken file's windows stay open, even after closing and reopening the file. So the next time you open that Quicken file, just click the report's QuickTab in the right margin, and there it is. (Tip: You may want to memorize that report, too, just to be on the safe side.)
But, you might argue, when I open a memorized report by selecting Reports + Memorized Reports, and so on, Quicken creates an UPDATED version of the report. Will I lose that feature if I keep the report window open? No way. Just click the Update button in the open report's upper-right corner, and Quicken updates the report with the latest data.
CUSTOMIZE A REPORT
Can we ever get TOO much information about something? We think the answer is yes. Unfortunately, Quicken can sometimes be guilty of providing more information than you ever really want to know. For instance, maybe you want to create a simple report that lists only the deposits made to your checking account. Although Quicken doesn't provide such a report, you can create your own by tweaking a predesigned report.
To create a Deposit report, for example, you simply customize the Transaction report (which shows you all the transactions in your account) so that it only shows deposits made in the account. Here's how:
Quicken generates a Transaction report listing only those transactions registered as a deposit.
IMPORTING DATA FROM AN OLD ACCOUNTING SYSTEM
Yes, you can import data from your old accounting system. To do so, export the old system's data into a file that matches the Quicken Interchange Format, or QIF, specification. Then import this file into an empty Quicken file.
Want some advice? Go to a movie. Mow your lawn. Read a trashy novel. Forget all about this importing business.
LOSING YOUR QUICKEN DATA AFTER YOU'VE BACKED UP
What happens if you lose all your Quicken data? First of all, feel smug. Get a cup of coffee. Lean back in your chair. Gloat for a couple of minutes. You, dear friend, will have no problem.
After you've sufficiently gloated, carefully do the following to reinstate your Quicken data on the computer:
LOSING YOUR QUICKEN DATA WHEN YOU HAVEN'T BACKED UP
What do you do if you haven't backed up your files in a while and you lose all the data in your Quicken files? Okay. Stay calm. All may not be lost.
First, you can try restoring the files from the Quicken backup directory. To do so, you follow the same file restoration steps covered yesterday, with one minor exception. When you get to the Select Restore Drive dialog box, you select your C drive. Then use the Look In box to indicate that you want to see the backup files in the BACKUP folder of the QUICKENW folder.
At this point, you'll probably see a list of files with names similar to the file you lost. If the file you lost had the name QDATA, for example, you may see files named QDATA1 and QDATA2. Select the newest file, which is the one with the "1" suffix, as in QDATA1; then click OK. Quicken uses the file to restore the current file. As alluded to earlier, this may just work. And if it does, you should feel very lucky. Very lucky indeed.
Okay. So suppose that you've tried this approach, and it didn't work. What next?
You have to re-enter all the transactions for the entire year. If you have copies of the registers, of course, you can use these as your information source to reenter the information in your files. If you don't have copies of the registers, you need to use your bank statements and any of the other paper financial records you have.
If, for some unfortunate reason, the only copy you have of your Quicken data seems to have become corrupted, you can have Quicken rebuild the file. To do so, choose File, File Operations, Validate and enter the name of the file you want rebuilt in the File Name text box. You typically do this, however, only when instructed by Quicken or Intuit technical support people.
MOVING QUICKEN DATA TO A NEW COMPUTER
When you get a new computer, you may well ask yourself, "How do I get my Quicken data from my old computer to my new computer?" The answer is by backing up the data on your old computer, loading Quicken on your new computer, and restoring the backed-up Quicken file on your new computer. In other words, pretend on your new computer that you just lost your Quicken data; then restore the data from a backup file.
Follow these steps to back up your Quicken data:
DATA SNAPSHOTS--PART 1 OF 3
In Quicken, when you want to see where you stand financially you can always generate a report. But if all you are looking for is a quick overview of your financial footing, then Snapshots are the way to go. Snapshot reports show you, at a glance, summaries of your finances. You can view, for instance, your net worth, monthly income or expenses and a savings goal--all on a single page.
To generate these snapshot reports, choose Reports + Snapshots. The Snapshots page appears and displays four different graphs. The first two graphs, located in the upper portion of the page, show your monthly income and expenses. The next two graphs, shown in the bottom half of the page, display your net worth and a predetermined budget goal.
To display a full-screen view of a particular graph, point at the graph and then double-click the mouse button. A new graph page opens and shows your graph in full view. You can switch back to your snapshot page by selecting the Snapshot Quicktab or by closing the full page graph window you just opened.
In the following tips, we'll show you how to get the most out of this handy feature.
DATA SNAPSHOTS--PART 2 OF 3
In our last tip, we introduced the Snapshots feature, which shows you a quick summary of your finances. In this tip, we'll show you how to customize the Snapshots page to your liking. For instance, you can choose the graph types that you want on the Snapshots page. To generate the snapshots, choose Reports + Snapshots.
To customize a Snapshot:
DATA SNAPSHOTS--PART 3 OF 3
The past two tips have discussed the Snapshots feature, which shows you at a glance the current state of your finances. Our last tip demonstrated how you can change the graphs used on the Snapshots page. In this tip we'll show you how to create additional pages on which you can add your own financial snapshots.
Back at the Snapshots screen, click the drop-down arrow in the Choose the Snapshot page field. Select the name of the page you just created to display that page.
HOW TO GET A DATE
So you're in Quicken's Register, looking at transactions, and you're suddenly seized by an overwhelming desire to inspect what happened on a particular date. Just press Ctrl + G. Then specify what you're seeking. You'll be there in no time.
When you enter a transaction in a register, Quicken wants a date, right? That's when Quicken will officially say the transaction occurred. But no matter what you type for that date -- which won't always be today's date, as you enter old or future transactions -- Quicken also notes the real date and time, today's date, and time from the computer clock. You rarely need this information, but it's there in case you want to backtrack, to audit your entries. Just click the Options menu and then choose Sort by Order Entered. If you instead choose Sort by Date/Order Entered, the transactions will sort by their official date, and then all the transactions that fall on a single official date will in turn sort by the true time you entered them.
How do you get Quicken to recognize the right date? A reader asked: "I have a new problem: when I started Quicken (after the new year) I got a dialog box asking about the date. Changing the date to the correct day my finger tapped the 3 instead of the 4. I am now perpetually one day off. Yes, I can enter the correct day. But that registers the transaction as a "tomorrow" action (under the 'blue line'). Is there a fix for this one?"
Quicken takes its date marching-orders from Windows, so the fix should be in Windows.
Your Quicken should now be on the right date. Enter a register to see if today's date shows.
THAT IS SO DATED...
When you're entering a deposit transaction into Quicken, try to enter the date on which the deposit actually posted to your account, and not the date on which you physically make the deposit. Chances are, they're the same date; however, most banks post transactions received after a certain hour to the next business day. Using the same transaction date the bank uses helps make reconciling your bank statement easier.
DATES IN DRAG
In Quicken 2000, you can use drag-and-drop technology to easily sprinkle your scheduled payments into an on-screen calendar. Here' show:
DATING AND LOCATING
To go to a Quicken transaction that you recorded on a particular date, simply click the Edit button (it's beside the Enter button) and choose Go to A Specific Date on the drop-down menu. Then enter the date in the Go To Date dialog box and click OK.
DATING IN QUICKEN 2000
Being rather helpful, Quicken automatically fills in the Date field with today's date when you're writing checks. If you want a different date, type the correct date (you don't have to enter the slash marks), or click the Calendar icon to the right of the Date field and choose the correct date from the pop-up calendar. You can also use a number of shortcut keystrokes for entering dates:
FEDERAL TAX ISN'T, SIGH, DEDUCTIBLE
The federal income taxes you pay should be categorized by themselves. Whatever you call this category, don't confuse it with federal taxes owed or withheld, and don't link it to any tax form. That is, don't check the Tax-Related box. Sure, it is tax-related, but that box means "please put this on a tax form" and you don't want that. In Quicken 99:
DIRECT DEPOSIT OF A PAYCHECK
In the past, we've told you about Quicken's Paycheck feature, which automatically deposits your paycheck in the register. But what do you do if the amount of your paycheck varies from pay period to pay period? Think of those rare occasions when you are actually rewarded for all your hard work with a bonus or when you've racked up some serious overtime. Well, you can still set up an automatic deposit of your paycheck, but you have to indicate that you want to be notified before Quicken deposits the pay in your account.
Quicken displays the paycheck as a scheduled transaction in the Reminders window. When your next paycheck is issued and you see Quicken's reminder, follow these steps:
DEPOSITING SEVERAL CHECKS AT ONCE
When you deposit several checks simultaneously, you can use the Split Transaction window to total the checks in the deposit. To do so, do not enter a deposit amount before you click the Split button. Then, in the Split Transaction window, record the check amounts. When you're done, the Transaction Total shows the amount of the deposit.
SORT FOR DEPOSITS
When you want to see all of the deposits in a register lined up, use the Options menu's Sort By Amount (Smallest First). You'll see the largest deposits listed last, with smaller ones stacked above that up. Above all of them will be the expense transactions.
ALERT TO DETAILS
You can set your Alerts with great precision as create your Budget. This way, Quicken will tell you when you're about to hit a planned spending limit. With your budget showing, click Options, then choose Save As Alerts. In the Save Budget Alerts Options dialog box, you can set range amounts: how close can you come to the limits before the Alert pops up. If you get tangled in setting these, try clicking the Defaults button to see Quicken's suggested amounts.
THE DIFFERENCE IS IN THE DETAILS
If something on a Quicken report arouses your curiosity, move the mouse pointer over it. With any luck, the mouse pointer changes into a magnifying glass with a little "Z" (for "zoom," of course) in it.
Double-click at that point and you either go to the transaction in the register or you see what Quicken calls a QuickZoom report -- sort of a "report within a report" that clarifies the thing you click, whatever it happened to be.
If you like to know everything that your Internet connection is doing, if you worry about these new Internet features taking you to sites without your express permission, you might want to adjust a few of Quicken 99's online options:
Probably the best path is to check both of these and see how your Internet connections feel. After a while--or maybe not so long--you may tire of the warnings and want to return to the Options to turn them off.
Disconnecting feels good, if you're working with a single phone line. Why stay on after you've done your Quicken Internet work? Open Online, Disconnect, and continue your Quickenizing offline. A dialog box will ask if you want to hang up on your modem call. Actually there's another step for folks who connect through AOL, Compuserve, or Prodigy. They may have to switch to that program and use its Disconnect command too.
DIVVY UP A TRANSACTION BY PERCENTAGES
If you have a recurring transaction that you repeatedly split between two categories or accounts but the individual amounts often change, you can allocate the amounts based on a percentage of the total. For instance, say that every time you get a bonus check from work, you want to split the proceeds between two different accounts: You transfer 60 percent of the total amount to your savings account and 40 percent to your money market fund.
You can easily split a transaction among categories by setting up a memorized transaction with Split percentages. Then, every time you enter this transaction into your check register, Quicken automatically divvies up the proceeds to the two accounts.
To set up a memorized transaction with Split percentages, follow these steps:
The next time you enter a memorized split transaction, Quicken prompts you to enter the amount and then proceeds to divide up the total based on the percentages you've assigned.
The Internet setup for Quicken allows for "background" downloading. This sets up a Quicken Download Manager program that runs every time you start Windows. It can grab new Quicken upgrades and patches even when you're not using Quicken itself, and it does the downloading without interrupting your other work.
As a background download progresses, you'll see a Q on the far right side of the task bar. If you don't want this, perhaps because it saps system or Internet performance, you can either set up the Internet connection again -- in Edit, Options, Internet Options -- or you can right-click the Q when it appears.
DOWNLOADING PRICE UPDATES--PART 1 OF 3
If you're connected to the Web, you can update the price history of a security by downloading the information with Quicken. Not only that, but you can download several different security prices all at the same time instead of having to do each security individually. Updating prices from the Web ensures that the price updates are accurate (although Quicken does tell you that the security prices are on a 20-minute time delay). Furthermore, Quicken downloads prices for the past five days, so you don't need to perform this action on a daily basis.
To download security prices (or any information, for that matter) from the Web, you need to set up Quicken to communicate with the Web:
To get connected to the Web:
After you complete the Internet Connection Setup process, you're ready to communicate with the Web. Stay tuned.
DOWNLOADING PRICE UPDATES--PART 2 OF 3
After you configure Quicken to connect with the Web, you still need to do a little prep work before you can begin downloading security prices. The next step is to select the securities whose prices you plan to download.
To set up your securities for downloading:
DOWNLOADING PRICE UPDATES--PART 3 OF 3
The last two tips explained how to set up Quicken to work with your Internet connection and how to select the securities you want to update. In today's tip, the fun begins: here, we tell you how to update your security prices.
To update security prices:
The new, updated security prices appear in your Portfolio View. You may see a lowercase "e" next to some securities. This "e" indicates that the security price is only an estimate or that the security's price has not been updated today.
DROP-KICK A TRANSACTION
By now you know that one of the great features of Quicken is its capacity to schedule a transaction so that you don't have to enter that transaction each and every time it comes up. What do you do, though, if you have a recurring expense that doesn't occur on a regular basis? (For example, you occasionally--but not regularly--charge a purchase to a department store credit card and then want to make a payment.) You can use the memorized transaction list in the Financial Calendar to add new transactions to your register without having to schedule them:
READ THE E
If you click the E-mail tab of the Online Center, and the list shows new e-mail waiting for you, then for goodness' sake get reading. Select the message and click the Read button. A Message window will open where you can see the contents. And there's a Print button in case you want a copy on paper.
Click the E-mail tab in the Online Center and you'll see a list of messages. Give it a try.
Now the message is in the list, waiting to go out when you click Update/Send.
IS GOING ELECTRIC WORTH IT?
The practice of using Quicken's automatic bill paying feature in conjunction with your bank has received a lot of hype. Is it worth it?
For this type of service, you usually pay $7 to $10 per month -- unless you choose a bank that doesn't charge at all. In return, you gain a remarkable feature: When you enter a check in your Quicken registry, it becomes a reality. At the end of your session, Quicken dials a phone number, transmits your check info, and instructs the bank to issue a check to the payee without any further effort on your part.
No envelopes, no stamps, and much less record-keeping. But, the real point here is that e-banking can save you money (and not just in postage) if you keep a few things in mind:
For example, you can input the payment the day your bill arrives, but the check doesn't actually get sent (by your bank) until the date you specify. Suppose that your credit-card, mortgage, utilities, phone bill, cable TV, car payments, and Internet account bills total about $3,500 a month. If that money earns 5 percent interest in the bank, in the three weeks between a bill's arrival and the due date, it could have racked up $10.02 in interest. In a sense, $120.24 a year is what you give away to folks you have to pay when you pay promptly. Do it electronically, and that's $120 a year in cold, hard cash you save.
Setting up the electronic check-paying feature in Quicken takes a bit of effort, but electronic banking is like a gift of several hours (and $10) per month with no strings attached.
The Emergency Records Organizer that comes with Quicken Deluxe 99 is a handy place to store your medical details, legal document locations, funeral arrangements and such. This has two benefits:
We're all in agreement that the QuickFill feature in Quicken is a godsend, right? Hey, who wants to type the same information over and over again when you don't have to? At the same time--and on the other hand--having those QuickFill boxes pop up on every occasion can get pretty annoying. Wouldn't it be nice to have a say in just when and how these lists appear? Well, guess what? We do.
To disable the QuickFill drop-down lists but retain the option of selecting from the list:
Now when your cursor moves to an entry that makes use of QuickFill, either type the entry yourself or click the drop-down button to display the full list as you need it. You can also press the plus (+) and minus (-) keys to move through the selections in the list.
ENOUGH REMINDERS ALREADY!
When Quicken 98 starts, the first thing you see is the Quicken Reminders window, listing alerts and reminders. If you're tired of being nudged (who are you, my mother?), instruct Quicken to keep that information to itself until you ask for it.
And the next time you open Quicken ... Look, Ma! No reminders!
(NOTE: If you test this setting change right away--exiting Quicken with the reminders window still on screen--those reminders will still be there when you reopen Quicken. Why? Because Quicken always opens to the last open window. Close the Quicken Reminders window before closing and reopening Quicken, and those reminders stay out of sight.)
If you still want those alerts and reminders within easy reach, stay tuned for our next tip.
READY FOR REMINDERS
In our last tip, we showed you how to start Quicken without reminders staring you in the face: Click the Options button in the Quicken Reminders window, deselect the Show Reminders when starting Quicken option, and then click OK. Of course, you're not banishing those reminders forever.
You can view them at any time by selecting Features + Reminders + Reminders and then closing the window when you're done. If you don't want to have to keep opening and closing the Reminders window every time you need a slight nudge in the memory department, you can leave the window open in the background and access it with one click.
To keep Reminder window open in the background, simply don't close it. Instead, click the QuickTab of the window you want to work in. When you want a reminder, click the Reminders QuickTab (in the row of tabs along the left side of the screen); the Reminder window pops to the front. To continue working, click the QuickTab of the window you were working in to go back there.
As long as you don't close the Reminders window, it remains open in the background for instant QuickTab access--for whenever you FEEL like being reminded!
As you're entering a transaction in your register (or any account, for that matter), what's your first instinct after completing a field? To press the Enter key to enter that information, right? Well, try it and Quicken thinks you've completed that transaction and bumps you right down to the next empty line on the page.
By default, Quicken expects you to use the Tab key to move from one field to the next, but if you can't seem to get used to pressing Tab instead of Enter, say so. Tell Quicken you'd rather use the Enter key.
From now on, when you press Enter, you move the cursor to the next field, not to the next transaction.
Keep the following in mind:
ENTERING MULTIPLE TRANSACTIONS ACROSS ACCOUNT TYPES
In Quicken, you can create as many different accounts as you need, enabling you to easily keep track all your financial transactions. But all these accounts make entering transactions harder than it has to be because you first have to open the Register and then switch to the appropriate account to record a transaction. Wouldn't it be nice if you could record all your transactions from a single point, regardless of the account type? Well, Quicken's Financial Calendar enables you to do just that.
The Financial Calendar lets you enter brand new transactions and view transactions that you've already made. Even better, you can enter multiple transactions, each of which may be assigned to a different account. No more switching back and forth between the accounts.
To enter data for every account from a single point:
DON'T FORGET QUICK ENTRY
Over the years, Quicken has become more powerful. Every year the folks at Intuit think of more cool new features to add to the product. In most every situation, all these extra features are really neat. But if you just want to quickly jump into the program and enter a handful of transactions -- say it's a sunny Saturday morning and you'd rather be playing golf -- all those extra whistles and bells can seem like nothing more than clutter. So, to deal with this situation, Quicken includes a separate program called QuickEntry, which lets you quickly enter transactions into Quicken registers. To start QuickEntry, double-click its shortcut icon on the Windows desktop.
There is Windows itself, there are windows in your programs, and there are windowed envelopes (the kind with the clear plastic above the address area). If you enter an address while writing a check on the Quicken screen, the printed check is ready for a windowed envelope: that address is positioned to appear in the window. The address you enter automatically gets added to the Address Book.
You can adjust the cash balance and the shares balance in a brokerage account if for some reason the figures are incorrect.
Quicken next displays an Update Cash Balance dialog box, which lets you specify the correct cash balance and the date as of which the figure you enter is correct. Fill in the text boxes and click OK. Quicken adjusts the cash balance.
Quicken next displays the Update Share Balance dialog box, which lets you specify the security, the correct shares balance, and the date for which you're entering the balance. Fill in the text boxes and click OK. Quicken adjusts the shares balance for the security you specified.
FORGET FORM 942
Thanks to an eagle-eyed and tax-savvy reader for pointing out that you don't need to file Tax Form 942 if you have household employees, as erroneously tipped on Aug. 2. In fact, the IRS has done away with Form 942, so you couldn't file it if you tried. Schedule H will do just fine to put you in compliance with the law regarding payroll taxes for your household employees.
If you operate a business, you still need to file Form 941 quarterly as stated in that same tip. Form 941 states how much you paid in gross wages, how much you withheld in federal taxes, and how much you owe for employer payroll taxes. Here's a repeat of the steps for getting Quicken to help with that form.
To get the gross wages totals and the balances in each of the payroll tax liability accounts, follow these steps:
HOME AS ASSET AND LIABILITY
For most of us, our house is the single biggest piece of our net worth. But what's that house worth? You knew when you bought it, sure. But what about now? There's that tax assessment, but maybe you don't agree with the taxman's estimate. Open Edit, Account, New to create a new Asset account for the current value of your home. Then open Edit, Account, New to create a new Liability account for any mortgage you have on the house.
CALCULATE YOUR HOME EQUITY--PART 1 OF 2
In the previous series of tips, we showed you how to track the value of your home. After you set up an asset account, you can do things like calculate the equity you own in your home (basically, the current value of the property minus the amount you still owe on your mortgage).
Before you can calculate the equity, though, you must first make sure that you have two separate accounts set up:
Quicken creates a liability account associated with this loan for recording and tracking payments and the current balance. In tomorrow's tip, we show you how to determine the equity in your home.
CALCULATE YOUR HOME EQUITY--PART 2 OF 2
After you create both the asset and liability accounts associated with your home and mortgage, you're ready to calculate the balance of your equity. (Note that a bank may appraise the value of your home, including the equity, differently than we do here.)
To create a home equity report:
Quicken generates the Account Balances report, including only those accounts that you have chosen. You can see that the report includes the total value of your asset account and the total value of your liability or mortgage account. The difference between these two amounts, or the Overall Total amount balance at the end of the report, represents your current equity in your home.
THE ESSENCE OF QUICKEN
When you boil Quicken down to its essence, it does six things:
ESTATE PLANNING: WHOM DO I WANT TO TAKE CARE OF?
You can use your will, trusts, will substitutes, and other estate planning tools to take care of everyone you are even remotely related to, including your 19th cousin, twice-removed who lives in Latvia (and whom you have never met in person). As a practical matter, however, you probably want to concentrate your efforts on your closest relatives: your children, grandchildren, siblings, and (if they're still alive) parents and grandparents.
However, you still need to make some key decisions about your closest relatives regarding your estate plan. For example, you may want to simply leave all your estate to your children, who in turn will someday leave that property (or, more accurately, whatever is left) to their own children. Conversely, if your children are particularly well off, you may want to leave the majority of your estate directly to your grandchildren (perhaps in trust). Or you may have a favorite cousin who has always been like a sister to you, and you want to help her out, perhaps even ahead of your own children and grandchildren.
REMOVE EXCESS BAGGAGE
In our last tip, we showed you one method for limiting the amount of data generated in your reports. Today, we show you another way to customize your report settings to remove excess baggage. Although you can't remove individual transactions from your reports, you can exclude specific categories. By doing so, you remove categories you don't need to track.
To remove a specific category from a report:
Quicken regenerates the report. This time, the report shows only those categories that you elected to include.
Okay, so you've followed our advice and diligently assigned categories and even subcategories to your transactions. But have you ever noticed how bogged down some of your reports can get, particularly when you've become ultraorganized with subcategories? In this tip, we show you how to turn off the display of those subcategories altogether in your reports. I know, I know, we tell you to do one thing and then here we are, months later, telling you to do something else. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.
To turn off the display of subcategories in your reports:
Your report now lists transactions for each assigned category and rolls all the items assigned a subcategory--including the amounts--into that one category.
The About You section of the Retirement Planner wants to know how old you are. It also asks how long you expect to live, though you're probably better off letting it estimate. Click the Calculate button beside the Life Expectancy blank, and you'll be told to give up smoking. No, not really, but that would give you a longer expectancy. Of course, giving up cigarettes will also complicate your retirement planning because all of those extra years will mean extra expenses.
IRON-CLAD EXPENSES--PART 1 OF 2
In the past, we've shown you numerous ways to use Quicken to help you restructure your spending habits--by creating budgets, tracking specific items, and so on. But if you're the type who needs to be hit over the head with a hammer to keep you from overspending, this tip may be just what the doctor ordered.
You can use Quicken's Alerts feature to keep a close eye on expenses related to a particular category. When that category exceeds a predetermined amount, Quicken alerts you to the fact. To set up an Expense Alert:
As you record your finances, Quicken keeps a close eye on the selected categories. When a category exceeds the limit, Quicken displays a dialog box that alerts you. Click OK to close the dialog box.
IRON-CLAD EXPENSES--PART 2 OF 2
In the last tip, we showed you how to set up Alerts to notify you when your expenditures exceed the budget. For this tip--well, it's more of a trick really--we suggest that you make the Spending Limit a little lower than you really need it to be, say by $25. That way, you can get more bang for your buck. For starters, you can be assured that you won't exceed your planned expenses, AND--and here's the beauty part--you'll actually be saving money in the process. It's almost like setting your alarm clock 10 minutes ahead to give yourself that little extra breathing room in the morning rush.
EXPORTS CAN BE PROFITABLE
After you register with the Quicken.com website--which is free--your Quicken 99 can upload your investment portfolio data to the site. Then you'll be able to check on your investments from any Web connection, not just from a computer with all of your Quicken data. Here's how to set that up.
The next time you perform a One-Step Update to Quicken.com, your investment portfolio will find a home on the site.
CREATING A FAIL-SAFE SYSTEM
Duplicating items in Quicken is a fairly common mistake. You can, however, create systems and procedures that protect you against this.
If you print checks with Quicken, you're less likely to have a duplicated expenditure; however, if you carry a checkbook with you (for spur-of-the-moment spending), you need a system to make sure that you enter all transactions, and enter them only once. You also need a system if you write all your checks manually and then enter them in Quicken.
Mark each actual check as soon as you enter it in your Quicken register. Use the stub of the manual register. In fact, use the column in your checkbook reserved for marking a cleared check. (You won't be marking your physical checkbook with cleared checks because you can use the cleared check column in Quicken for that.) Or, mark each check with a Q (for Quicken, of course) when you enter it into your Quicken register. This system ensures that you enter each check only once.
MORE IDEAS FOR CREATING A FAIL-SAFE SYSTEM
Duplicating items in Quicken is a fairly common mistake. Duplicating a deposit is especially dangerous because if you're at all like most folks, and are led to think you have all that money in the bank, you spend it. You can, however, create systems and procedures that protect you against this.
When recording deposits, find an envelope, a shoe box, or another container for your copy of the deposit slips. Make it a habit to put every deposit slip into the container as soon as possible after returning from the bank. (You may need to search your pocketbooks, coat pockets, and car every once in a while, too.)
When you enter the deposit in Quicken, mark the deposit slip with a Q or a large check mark. Keep the deposit slip in the container. When the bank statement comes, you can throw away the slip for each deposit noted on the statement.
After ATM transactions, don't throw the printed record into the trash container next to the ATM machine. Bring it home and treat it the same way as you would a deposit slip.
FILE BEGONE--PART 1 OF 3
At some point, you'll need to delete a Quicken file you no longer use. No problem. Just use the Delete command to remove the file from your PC:
Remember that once you delete a file, IT'S GONE FOR GOOD. No getting it back. No mercy from the Quicken gods. No last minute reprieves. In other words, make sure the file you want to delete is one that you REALLY won't need again.
FILE BEGONE--PART 2 OF 3
In our last tip, we showed you how to delete a Quicken file you no longer use: Choose File + File Operations + Delete, select the file, confirm that you want to delete the file, and click OK. Easy enough, wouldn't you say? But here's the annoying part. The deleted file still appears in the Recently Opened Files list at the bottom of the File menu. If you select this filename from the menu, you get an error message saying that Quicken can't open the file. So is Quicken just a hopeless tease, or is there a reason it includes deleted files in the Recently Opened Files list?
By default, Quicken automatically displays the names of the last four files you've used, regardless whether you've deleted any of those files. The filename disappears eventually (when the names of more recently opened files replace it). In any case, you can get rid of the filename, but you must mess around with the Quicken.ini file.
Instead of messing with the Quicken.ini file, we recommend patience. Just let the other open files replace the deleted file in the list. (And if it makes you feel better, curse up a blue streak if you accidentally try to open a deleted file.) But, if you have the patience of a four-year-old who's been told to wait for dessert, catch tomorrow's tip.
FILE BEGONE--PART 3 OF 3
Yesterday, we told you that you can remove the names of deleted files from the Recently Opened Files list, but that doing so requires that you fiddle with the Quicken.ini file.
Before you make changes to the Quicken.ini file, first make a backup copy of the file (this is just a safety precaution, and one that you should exercise before you modify any program file on your PC):
After you make a backup, you're ready to modify the Quicken.ini file.
To remove a filename from the Recently Opened Files list:
The next time you start Quicken, your deleted file no longer appears in the Recently Opened Files list.
FILE FORMATS ARE A ONE-WAY STREET
Some software upgrades to a newer version--like moving from an older version of Quicken to Quicken 2000--also organize your stored information on disk in a new way. Typically, this means that you can no longer read the new file with an older version of Quicken. Once you upgrade to Quicken 2000 and its file format, you won't be able to use someone else's computer with an older Quicken to read and work on your latest financial data. There is a safety margin built in, however. When Quicken 2000 makes the upgrade, it incorporates all the information from your older Quicken files and then saves your older Quicken files as they are (they won't change any more) into a file in the folder Q99FILES.
SETTING UP A FILE PASSWORD IN QUICKEN 2001
Use the following steps to set up a password for a Quicken file:
Congratulations! You're done.
Assigning a password to a file doesn't prevent you from doing anything with the file that you would normally do. However, the next time you try to use this file -- after you start Quicken or when you try to select the file by using the File, Open command -- Quicken will ask you for the file's password. You need to supply the password to gain access to the file.
Well, actually File Operations, but doesn't that make you think of surgery? In Quicken 5's File menu, you can find the File Operations choice, which leads to the following:
Of course, you can copy, delete, and rename within Windows itself, using Windows Explorer or My Computer. But having these commands in Quicken's menus makes them easier to get at. And Windows can't validate the way Quicken can; it doesn't know about corrupted Quicken data.
RESTORING FROM BACKED-UP FILES
If something evil this way comes and you lose your Quicken financial data, you can always restore it from the backup copy you made (and you have been making backups, right?). Do the following to restore:
WHEN FILES GET TOO BIG
You can enter a large number of transactions in a Quicken file; in fact, you can record tens of thousands of transactions in a single account or file. Wowsers!
In spite of these huge numbers, there are some good reasons to work with smaller files, if you can. For example, you can fit only about 5,000 transactions on a double-density 3.5-inch disk. So working with files of a manageable size means that you can more easily back them up on a floppy disk. Also, fewer transactions means Quicken runs faster because more memory is available for Windows. (Windows likes lots of memory -- the same way that some people like lots of ice cream.)
Quicken doesn't actually save all of your information in "a file." In fact, it uses many files, with a variety of names. If you muck around in the Quicken data folder and move or change the names of any of these files, you're liable to lose some or all of your Quicken history. And when you back up Quicken data, you must copy all of these files. That's why it's best to just use Quicken's own Backup facility, which handles them all.
Graphs can be customized to meet your own specifications, based on the information you want to manipulate. Click Customize at the top of the graph window to display the Customize dialog box. Then change the source of information or the date range to see a different set of figures reflected in your graphs.
FILL 'ER UP QUICK
The QuickFill function fills in all the information for a memorized transaction when you type the first few keystrokes of the payee's name for a subsequent transaction. You can access the QuickFill database in two ways:
QuickFill stores transaction info about amounts, categories, and memos. For example, the first time that you enter your mortgage payment, the bank name, amount, categories, and memo are all recorded
Use the Quicken Find command to locate an amount, payee, or other element in a previous transaction, and you'll see the account leap to the first matching transaction. Click the Find All button instead of the mere Find button and you won't leap anywhere. Instead you'll see a new window open with a list of all matching transactions. If you want more detail on any of these, double-click it.
A FAR FASTER FIND--PART 1 OF 2
To quickly locate a transaction in your check register, click and drag the scroll box in the Register's scroll bar. As you move up and down the scroll bar, the date and check number of the current transaction appears. When you release the mouse button, the active transaction appears at the top of your register.
A FAR FASTER FIND--PART 2 OF 2
If you're looking for something in your register and in a particular field, you can find the information quickly by doing the following:
IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T FIND
Need to know how much you spent, on what, and when? Open the account and then choose Edit, Find & Replace, Find. In the Quicken Find dialog box, type the thing you're looking for, specify the field to search, and leave Matching on "Contains." Then click the Find button and ... it doesn't show. Don't give up! Generally your cursor will be near the end of the account, so you'll want to search back through transactions rather than forward. Go back and look at the Quicken Find dialog box and make sure the Backward searching option is selected.
Quicken Find is the official name of the Find command. Why add the "Quicken"? Well, it lets us know what program we're using. Who knows? But you'll be glad to know the command, tucked into the Edit menu, under Find & Replace. It lets you specify:
REPEAT THAT FIND
The Quicken Find command has several options: what to find, which field to look in, how precisely to match the search term, whether to search backwards. If you've chosen your options carefully and searched for something, you can do it again without working the dialog box. Quicken remembers the options you chose and will execute them again if you choose Edit, Find & Replace, Find Next, or if you just press Shift+Ctrl+F.
FIND A TRANSACTION QUICKLY AND EASILY
Here's the dilemma: You know you made a payment to a certain establishment, but you can't remember exactly when. Sure, you can use the Find command to locate the transaction, but why futz around with that when you don't have to? A much quicker way is to use the Memorized Transaction list to locate a transaction in a flash.
To locate a transaction:
Quicken automatically switches to the register with that transaction activated. Note that Quicken also automatically displays the most recently dated transaction. For example, if you have multiple transactions recorded to the same payee, Quicken displays the most recent transaction.
FIND YOUR VERSION OF QUICKEN
In the past, we've talked about how Intuit regularly releases updates to its Quicken 98 product. The current version of Quicken 98 is Release 3. To find out which version of Quicken you have, follow these two, easy steps:
The current version number appears at the top of the Quicken 98 for Windows dialog box that appears. Note that this dialog box also provides additional information, such as the size of the file and the number of transactions.
FINDING TAX DEDUCTIONS
One of the biggest incentives for using an accountant or paid tax preparation service is that people in these fields are required to be experts in taxes--including being intimately familiar with tax deductions, those nice little line items that you can deduct from your tax bill. Well, Quicken 98 has its very own built-in Tax Deduction Finder, borrowed from its companion product, TurboTax. Armed with this tool, you can determine whether you have any tax deductions that you may not be aware of and whether you are eligible to take the deduction. Of course, double-check with your accountant or tax advisor to verify your tax forms before you send them in.
To use the Tax Deduction Finder:
Remember to double-check with your tax advisor to ensure that you do qualify for any tax deductions. When it comes to the IRS, you'd probably rather be safe than sorry.
FINDING THE NEEDLE IN THE HAYSTACK--PART 1 OF 2
When you need to locate a transaction in one of your account registers, Quicken's Find command is just the tool you need. But what's a gal to do when she needs to find a text entry that doesn't match exactly? Say, for example, that you want to locate all transactions that contain a particular word, such as "American" in American Express, American Cancer Society, and American Automobile. You can use the Match If options in the Find dialog box to indicate what you are looking for.
To locate an entry:
Here's the lowdown on what each parameter does:
FINDING THE NEEDLE IN THE HAYSTACK--PART 2 OF 2
In our last tip, we showed you how to use the Find command to locate text entries that share a particular word but don't exactly match. In this tip, we show you how to locate ranges of numbers and dates in your registers.
To find a range of numeric data (numbers):
FISCAL YEAR CHANGES
If you take a new job that has a fiscal year different from the calendar year, and you've been filing taxes on calendar years, you need to apply to the IRS to change your financial year.
SWITCHING TO A FISCAL YEAR
Want to track your finances by fiscal, rather than calendar, year just as they do in the business world? You can easily set up Quicken to do so. What's more, you can also specify the starting month of the new fiscal year.
To use a fiscal year calendar:
Now, when Quicken generates reports and performs year-end calculations, it bases its reports on the new fiscal year you specified.
FLAT LINE OR HOCKEY STICK
Quicken 99's Forecast feature has these fun Previous and Next buttons. Clicking on them can quickly show you the heartbeat of your financial health.
The future line will be smooth--because it assumes an average income and expense budget--but the past line may show bumps if you had extraordinary expenses or earnings.
FOOTLOOSE AND QUICKTAB-FREE--PART 1 OF 2
If you're a windows person (literally) and prefer to switch among windows instead of selecting tabs on a notebook, turn Quicken's QuickTabs off. You can perform this task in one of two ways: by the Menu Method or the Button Method. Today, we explain the Menu Method; tomorrow, the Button Method.
The Menu Method:
Quicken now arranges open windows in a cascading formation, with all title bars visible. (A window waterfall, if you will.) In addition, you get a new Window menu. Select it to display a list of open windows.
NOTE: To display QuickTabs again, follow the preceding steps but select the Show QuickTabs options this time.
FOOTLOOSE AND QUICKTAB-FREE--PART 2 OF 2
In our last tip, we suggested that if you're a windows person (literally), you might prefer to work without QuickTabs, and we shared the Menu Method for turning QuickTabs off: Select Edit + Options + Quicken Program; deselect Show QuickTabs; and then click OK. With QuickTabs off, open windows appear in a cascade formation (with all title bars visible), and a Window item appears on the menu bar. As promised, the following explains the Button Method, which is the second way to accomplish the same thing:
The Button Method for turning off QuickTabs:
FORECAST BUDGET, FORECAST REGISTER
For peering into the future of your finances there are two main lodes of data to feed to Quicken's forecast machine:
In either case you'll also need to enter Estimated Events, those significant expenses on the way. This will be especially important if the budget period you chose left them out.
FORGET THE PAST
As you enter transactions in your Register, Quicken memorizes them. Whenever you're entering a new transaction, just click the up arrow in the box to the right of the Payee field, select the "memorized" transaction you want, and you've spared yourself some data entry. (Note: You may have to change a field or two, but even that is better than entering the whole transaction again.) As time goes by, however, this memorized transactions list can grow quite large. To avoid cumbersome scrolling, clean up the list by deleting transactions you haven't used in a while:
Way to forget the past!
Some inkjet and dot-matrix printers can't print the first check on a page (blank checks typically come three to a standard page). If that's the case with your printer, don't waste a check every time you print. Instead, get a "form leader" that attaches to the pages. This handy helper lets you keep the checks neatly lined up so you can print just one at a time and not waste any. Ask your blank check company about them.
FROM ZERO TO 60 IN A MATTER OF SECONDS
Need to transfer some money from savings to checking? (Uh-oh . . . someone didn't plan ahead!) No matter what the amount--even a mere $60 to cover that check to the phone company--just fill out a Transfer, and Quicken enters the transaction in your Register for you.
Quicken completes the transfer in your Register. (Just don't forget to make the real transfer at the bank!)
FUN WITH FIND AND REPLACE--PART 1 OF 2
Just realize that you've been misspelling Boots R Us for the past six months? Don't worry, you won't have to reenter or reassign the name. You can use the Find & Replace command to do it for you. (Alternatively, you can go into the Memorized Transaction List and change it there.)
To use Find & Replace, follow these steps:
FUN WITH FIND AND REPLACE--PART 2 OF 2
Want to create a quick and dirty report without having to go through all the trouble of Quicken's Reports feature? You can use the Find & Replace feature to generate a report of all transactions that meet a certain criteria. Here's how:
GET A FRESH START--PART 1 OF 2
It's a brand new year--time to get rid of the old and ring in the new, right? Well, not exactly--at least not when it comes to Quicken. By all means, you should definitely close out obsolete accounts in Quicken, be they savings accounts you no longer use or credit cards whose balances you've finally paid down. But deleting these accounts not only removes the accounts, but it also deletes all transactions associated with the accounts--making it impossible for you to create historical reports.
A better solution is to simply hide the account. A hidden account doesn't appear in your Accounts List or register, but you can still include it in any reports you create.
To hide an account:
Quicken no longer displays the names of hidden accounts in the Accounts list. The next time you start Quicken, the hidden accounts are also removed from the Register window.
To unhide an account:
GET A FRESH START--PART 2 OF 2
In our last tip, we showed you how to hide an obsolete account so that it no longer appears with your active accounts but can still be used for reporting purposes. But, if you really have no other use for an account, delete it. (We recommend, however, that you back up your data file first, just so that you have a record.)
To delete an account:
WHEN YOU REARRANGE FURNITURE, RELOCATE THE ITEMS IN QHI
Just move your favorite comfy chair from the family room to the den? Whenever you make any changes to your household, whether you're adding new items or rearranging existing ones, you want to make sure your inventory list is up to date.
To move an item from one location to another:
GET A PRICE HISTORY
In the past few tips, we've discussed the two ways you can update the security prices of your investments: manually (simply type in the new security price directly into the Portfolio View window) or electronically (download updated security prices from the Web). Whichever method you choose, you also want to see how those prices have changed over time. Well, guess what? Quicken indulges you there, too. You can easily view the price history of any security at any time.
GET THE NUMBERS BEHIND A GRAPH
Quicken can produce a visual summary of any aspect of your finances by incorporating your data into a pie chart or graph. Wondering what the figures are that produce a bar or pie chart? Let's make a pie:
Now for another neat trick, create a Quick Zoom Graph and view the individual amounts that make up each expense category: Double-click any pie wedge to display a one-bar bar chart for that category. When you double-click the bar, you'll see a listing of payments made in that category. Press Esc twice to return to the graph.
To view a pie chart of your Monthly Income or Expenses, double-click the appropriate bar on the graph. You'll be able to see the items that make up your income or expense category.
The quickest way to see how you stand financially is to generate a graph. As with reports, you can tinker with graphs to make them display the financial data you are curious about. To create one of Quicken's six ready-to-wear graphs:
If you want to change the graph's default data, you can customize it. All categories and all classes of data from all the accounts go into the making of an off-the-shelf Quicken graph; however, you can change these settings to exclude certain accounts, categories, and classes. Also, Quicken graphs cover the year to date, but you can tell Quicken to plot data from past years or from just last month.
You may recall being asked certain personal information when you first installed Quicken. No, Quicken's purpose isn't to be like your nosy neighbor next door. Instead, it uses the answers you provide to set up the software to suit your personal situation. For example, if you indicate that you own a home, Quicken installs homeowner categories; if you indicate that you are married, it sets up categories for your spouse.
If your personal situation changes--say you get married, become a parent, or buy your first home--you can still add these categories into your file. Quicken also has an entire set of categories to be used with business expenses; if your business life changes, you may need to add these predefined business categories to your file.
To add Quicken categories:
These categories are now available to you as you enter transactions in your Register.
Unfortunately, removing an entire class of categories isn't as easy as adding one. You have to manually remove each category you no longer need. To remove categories you no longer use:
Category groups, which were known as supercategories in a previous version of Quicken, combine categories into sets that you can use in reports and in your budgeting. Here are a few tips on categorization:
CATEGORY OR GROUP
There are two ways to view budget categories -- in the order they appear in the Category & Transfer list, or arranged by the Groups they're assigned. Generally the Category Groups view makes more sense. It sorts your discretionary -- and therefore, presumably "cuttable" spending -- away from all the mandatory expenses of life.
GIVING A CATEGORY A NEW NAME
As we pointed out in our previous tip, deleting categories outright is not such a good thing. When you delete a category, you remove that category designation from existing transactions. Another option is to assign a more meaningful name to the category.
To rename a category:
Quicken modifies all existing transactions to reflect the category's name change.
GOING FOR THE GOLD
You can use Quicken to record precious metal investments. Suppose, for example, that you're hoarding Krugerrands (one-ounce gold coins minted in South Africa). For this investment, the price is the price per Krugerrand, and the shares figure is actually the number of ounces (equal to the number of Krugerrands). Because Quicken doesn't supply price-per-ounce and number-of-ounces fields, you insert the information into the Price and Shares fields on the investment register.
The quickest way to see how you stand financially is to generate a graph. As with reports, you can tinker with graphs to make them display the financial data you are curious about. To create one of Quicken's six ready-to-wear graph, just follow these steps:
If you want to change the graph's default data, you can customize it. All categories and all classes of data from all the accounts go into the making of an off-the-shelf Quicken graph; however, you can change these settings to exclude certain accounts, categories, and classes. Also, Quicken graphs cover the year to date, but you can tell Quicken to plot data from past years or from just last month.
SUPERCATEGORIES BECOME CATEGORY GROUPS
When you create a budget in Quicken, you see your expenses in categories. That's helpful, of course, and the essence of budgeting: to see what you spend on this and that compared to what you want to spend. If you gathered groups of related expenses into "category groups"--which Quicken used to call Supercategories--you make make more sense of expense. Then, for example, you won't just know what you spent on dinners, special clothing, movies, drinks and flowers, but what you spent total on dates. To do this:
To see budget totals by groups, open Planning, Budgeting. This screen displays the Budget table. Look to the group names on the left -- such as Income, Discretionary, and Mandatory Expenses. You can click each of these folder icons to either expand it or collapse it. When expanded, they show detail, listing the included categories beneath. When collapsed they show only the summary amount for all of those categories in the columns on the right.
Quicken comes with three or five built-in budgeting Groups:
You don't have to stick with these categories. You have the freedom to add and create your own groups.
Before you create a budget, go into your Finance, Category & Transfer List. There you should try to assign most every Category to a Group.
At this point you probably have only three, so you can pretty easily guess if a category is income, mandatory, or discretionary. You can also set these groups when you create categories, which would save you this Edit work later.