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GO TO THE HEAD OF THE CLASSES--PART 1 OF 3

In past tips, we've stressed how important it is to use categories when you enter transactions in your Quicken Register. Doing so enables you to use all of Quicken's reporting and graphing tools to track past expenses (and plan for the future). Want to look at your transactions from yet another angle? Try your hand at classes.

Similar to categories, classes are a means of separating your transactions into groups. But classes don't replace categories; they complement them. You use classes in addition to categories. Assigning a particular class to transactions across multiple categories allows you to track those transactions as a group.

Sound confusing? As an example, suppose you have three categories--Chips & Salsa, Coffee, and Pizza--to track how much your household spends on these items. But in addition, you'd like to track the amount a certain family member spends on these items (we won't name names--okay, we will--Clayton). Set up a class called "Clayton" and assign it to each applicable transaction. From then on, you can separate all the information pertaining to this class from the rest of the data in your Quicken file.

To create a class:

  1. Choose Lists + Class (or press Ctrl + L).
  2. Click the New button.
  3. In the Set Up Class dialog box, type a name for the class (such as "Clayton") on the Name line.
  4. Type a description if you want.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Repeat Steps 2 through 5 for each class you want to create.

In our next tip, we explain how to assign a class to a transaction.

GO TO THE HEAD OF THE CLASSES--PART 2 OF 3

In our last tip, we introduced classes. Similar to categories, classes are a means of separating your transactions into groups--not to replace categories, but to complement them. (For example, if you want to track all transactions related to a particular person, regardless of the category, you can create a class under that person's name.) As a quick review, to create a class, choose Lists + Class, click the New button, type a name and description, and click OK.

After your classes are set up, the next thing you need to do is assign them to your transactions:

  1. Enter the transaction as you would normally.
  2. When you reach the Category field, select a category and then press Ctrl + L (or select Lists + Class).
  3. Double-click the class you'd like to assign to the transaction.

(Note: Feel free to go back and add classes to existing transactions using this technique.)

Back at the transaction, you see the category name followed by a forward slash (/) and then the class name--as in Pizza/Clayton. (Tip: If you prefer, you can type the forward slash and the class name manually, bypassing the class list altogether.)

For our final tip on classes, we show you how to create a report that displays information by class.

GO TO THE HEAD OF THE CLASSES--PART 3 OF 3

In the first tip in this series, we introduced classes. Similar to categories, classes are a means of separating your transactions into groups--not to replace categories, but to complement them. (For example, if you want to track all transactions related to a particular person, regardless of the category, you can create a class under that person's name.)

Here's a quick review: To create a class, select Lists + Class, click the New button, type a name and description, and click OK. To assign a class to a transaction, enter the transaction as you would normally, except that after you select a category, press Ctrl + L (or select Lists + Class) and double-click the class you'd like to assign to the transaction. (You end up with the category followed by a forward slash and then the class name.)

All this hard work is about to pay off. Finally, we can see just how much Clayton (our CLASS guinea pig--ha! Get it?) spent on Chips & Salsa, Coffee, and Pizza (the three categories we mentioned in our original example). The following steps show how to create a report that displays information by class:

  1. Select Reports + Home + Itemized Categories.
  2. Click the Customize button to open the Customize Itemized Categories Report dialog box.
  3. Select the relevant options on the Display and Accounts tabs.
  4. Click the Include tab.
  5. Under Select to Include, click the Clear All button and then select whatever categories you want (for our example, we would select the Chips & Salsa, Coffee, and Pizza categories).
  6. Under Matching, click the down arrow under Classes and select whatever class you want to analyze (in our example, we would select the Clayton class).
  7. Click the Create button.

Holy mackerel--er, we mean pizza, coffee, and chips!

 

GOOD HELP COMES IN THREES

Need help in the current Quicken windows? Don't waste your time choosing Help + Index and then typing in what you THINK is the right term for the problem you're having. With the click of a button (or two or, actually, three), Quicken can give you help with exactly what you're doing.

To invoke help for the current window, try any of these techniques:

  • Click How Do I? in the upper-right corner of the Quicken window (assuming QuickTabs are on) and select the topic that applies.
  • Press F1 and select the appropriate topic.
  • Click the Iconbar's Help button and select a topic.

 

KEEP HELP ON HAND

If you're the type who likes to keep reference books, dictionaries, and what-have-you propped open while you work, then you'll like this tip. You can configure the Help in Quicken so that it remains open and on top of your Quicken window, up where you can see it anytime. (Normally, when the Help window is active and you click the Quicken window, the Help window goes to the background.)

To keep Help active:

  1. Choose Help + Current Window.
  2. Choose Options + Keep Help on Top + On Top.

Now, whenever you access the Help system, it remains active for the length of the current Quicken session. If you want it out of the way, click the Minimize button to send it to the background. To bring it to the foreground, click the Help button in the Windows taskbar.

 

REVIEWING HISTORY

A handy tool in Quicken's help system is the Help History window, which shows you the path you've taken to arrive at a particular topic. This window also enables you to keep track of the Help screens you've viewed so that you can revisit one later if you need to.

To use the Help History window:

  1. Choose Help + Current Window.
  2. Choose Options + Display History Window.

A list of all the Help screens you've visited in the current help session appears. To return to a previously viewed page, double-click the page's title. To close the Help History window, click the Close button.

 

HOW MUCH IS THAT GRAPH IN THE WINDOW?

Have you ever noticed that when you create a graph in Quicken, a single window usually has multiple graphs? Unlike reports, which always appear in their own separate window, Quicken combines the graphs. When you want to take a closer look at the specifics of a graph, you must double-click the graph to generate what is called a "Zoom Graph"--which is essentially each graph displayed in its own window. Here's a little tip for you: You can instruct Quicken to always create graphs in their own separate windows. That way, you can get to the information you are looking for a lot quicker.

To display graphs separately:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Graphs.
  2. In the Graph Options box, select Create All Graphs In Separate Windows.
  3. Click OK.

The next time you create a graph, Quicken uses separate windows to generate each part of the graph.

 

CUSTOMIZING GRAPHS

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.

 

INSTANT PRINT ON GRAPHS

Try not to have a twitchy trigger finger when it comes time to print any graphs. Quicken doesn't have the typical Print setup dialog box that asks you about options before actually rousing the printer. When you click the Print button or open File, Print Graph, or press Ctrl+P, the graph heads right to the printer for immediate ink work.

 

SPLITTING HAIRS

Quicken assumes that any transaction amount you enter in the register should agree with the total of the individual split transaction amounts entered in the Split Transaction window.

If you're not sure what the split transaction amounts total is, your best bet is to NOT enter the amount on the Register tab. Instead, enter the individual split transaction amounts in the Split Transaction window.

When you leave the Split Transaction window, Quicken totals your individual split amounts and then prompts you to see whether the total is a payment or a deposit. Then it plugs this total into either the Payment or the Deposit field.

If you've already entered either a payment amount or a deposit amount but you're not sure that the split transaction amounts agree with what you entered, you can tell Quicken to adjust the Payment or Deposit amount on the Register tab to whatever the individual split transaction amounts total. To do so, click the Split Transaction window Adjust button. Quicken then adds up the split transaction lines and plugs the total into the register.

By the way, Quicken shows any difference between the amount shown on the Register tab and the individual split transaction amounts. It shows this difference as the last split transaction line so you can tell whether the individual splits agree with the payment or deposit amount shown in the register.

 

HARD-COPY BACKUP--PART 1 OF 2

Even though keeping track of your checking account is very easy in Quicken, there's a lot to be said for the paper-based check register you carry around with your checkbook. For one thing, it's a hard-copy backup of all the activity on your checking account. Just as you shouldn't rely on a single backup copy of your Quicken file, you definitely shouldn't rely on a purely electronic copy of your checking account. Get in the habit, at least once a month, of printing a copy of your check register for safe keeping. Note that you can also print a listing of all the transactions found in your other Quicken accounts as well.

To print your check register:

  1. Switch to your checking account by choosing Lists + Account; then double-click your checking account name.
  2. Choose File + Print Register.
  3. Enter a title for the register listing, if you like.
  4. Enter the From and To dates in the Print register dialog box for the transactions you want to print.
  5. Click Print.
  6. In the Print dialog box, click OK.

HARD-COPY BACKUP--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we showed you how to print a listing of all the transactions in your check register. If you printed a register report, you probably noticed that Quicken does not automatically list out all the items that you may have assigned to a split category level. (You create a split transaction to allocate a payment or deposit to more than one category or account.) When you generate a check register printout, each split transaction displays the total amount of the transaction and the label "--SPLIT--." If you want to see all the items included in a split transaction, you have to tell Quicken to include this info.

To include all the items in a split transaction in your printed register report, follow these steps:

  1. If necessary, switch to your checking account (choose Lists + Account and then double-click your checking account name).
  2. Choose File + Print Register.
  3. Enter a title; then enter dates in the From and To fields.
  4. In the Options section of the dialog box, select Print Split Selections.
  5. Click Print.
  6. In the Print dialog box, click the OK button to print the register.

 

HAVE IT YOUR WAY

If you've been using your ATM debit card to make your purchases, you've probably noticed that Quicken doesn't have a predefined reference category to track these transactions. To see what I mean, choose Lists + Accounts to open your check register and click in the Num field of any blank transaction line and then click the drop-down arrow. The closest option, ATM, should really be used for cash withdrawals from ATM machines. But you can easily create your own reference item:

  1. Click the drop-down arrow in the Num field.
  2. Click the Edit List button.
  3. In the Edit Num List dialog box, click the New button.
  4. Enter the name you want to use (a maximum of 6 characters is allowed). Enter "Debit" (sans quotes) or something similar.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Click Done.

 

HAVE IT YOUR WAY

Have you ever wanted to run a report that shows only your big-ticket items? Maybe one that shows all payments over $500, for example? With Quicken, you can create nearly any report and then modify the settings so that it includes only transactions that exceed an amount you specify. Similarly, you can create a report that lists transactions that are less than any specified amount.

To generate a report with specific transactions:

  1. Generate the report as usual. For example, choose Reports + Home + Itemized Categories.
  2. Click the Customize button in the Create Report dialog box.
  3. Click the Advanced tab.
  4. In the Amounts field, select Greater Than from the drop-down list.
  5. Enter the amount you want to use as the cut-off point in the appropriate field. For example, to include transactions that are greater than $500, enter 500.
  6. In the Transactions type drop-down list, select Payments to include only payments in the report.
  7. Click Create.

Quicken generates a report that lists only those payments with amounts greater than the amount specified.

 

HAVE YOU UPDATED QUICKEN LATELY?

Did you know that even though you already purchased Quicken, the folks at Intuit are busily making updates or fixes to the software? Quicken frequently releases software patches, file updates, and the like. You can access these updates via Quicken.com if you use Quicken Deluxe 98. Get in the habit of checking every so often for the updates. If you already download Online Quotes or Market Watch, you have also probably received software updates (which happens automatically whenever you download information from Quicken.com).

Even if you don't download Online Quotes or Market Watch data, you can still check for software updates. Here's how:

  1. In Quicken, choose Online + Update Quicken 98.
  2. Deselect Online Quotes, Market Watch, and Security News.
  3. Click Update Now. If there are no updates to download, Quicken tells you.
  4. Select Tell Me More to view the update information.
  5. Click Update Now to update the software.
  6. When the download has finished, select Exit Quicken from the resulting dialog box. The update program then runs to update your software.
  7. When the update is complete, click OK to restart Quicken.

 

CHANGE YOUR HEADINGS

Just as you can change the way Quicken organizes the rows of information in a report, you can also change the columns. Say, for example, that you wanted to display your transaction amounts on a weekly or monthly basis. You can easily change the column headings to accommodate this.

To change your column headings:

  1. Generate the report as you normally would. For example, choose Reports + Home + Cash Flow and then click the Create button in the Create Report dialog box.
  2. Click the Customize button.
  3. Select the Display tab (if necessary) in the Customize Cash Flow Report dialog box.
  4. Select the appropriate choice in the Column field of the Headings section. For example, if you want your cash flow report to show column totals for two-week periods, select Two Weeks from the dropdown list. You can also have the report list your totals by quarters, months, or other time periods.
  5. Click Create.

 

HIDDEN IN CLEAR VIEW

Inactive accounts are better hidden than deleted.

You'll be truly glad of that move when the time comes to peek at something in that old account.

How?

  1. Open Lists + Accounts.
  2. Click on the Options button.
  3. Click on View Hidden Accounts.
  4. Click on the re-appeared account.
  5. Click on the Hide button, which in this case is really "Unhide".

Now you can dig into that account, and then hide it again later if you want.

 

YOU GOTTA HIDE YOUR DOUGH AWAY

Quicken can help you save for a future goal by "hiding" some of the funds in your account. Quicken deducts some the money from the register balance displayed, according to a savings objective you specify. The idea here is that if you don't see the designated amount of money in your register balance, you're less likely to spend it.

To take advantage of this clever tool:

  1. Choose Planning, Savings Goals. The Savings Goals window appears.
  2. Click the New button on the button bar in the Savings Goals window. The Create New Savings Goal dialog box appears.
  3. Enter the name for your savings goal, the dollar amount for the goal, and the Finish Date for the goal.
  4. Click OK.
  5. In the Savings Goals window, click the Contribute button on the button bar. The Contribute to Goal dialog box appears.
  6. In the From Account field, select the name of the account from which you want to use funds to meet your goal.
  7. In the Date field, indicate the date on which you want to subtract the funds from the account balance.
  8. Enter the amount to be deducted in the Amount field.
  9. Click OK.

 

HIDING SECURITIES

A reader recently asked how he would go about deleting from his investment account a security he no longer owned. When he tried to delete the security outright, it affected the balances of his various investment accounts. Therein lies the problem. When you delete a security, you also delete any record of it in your Quicken accounts. The best thing to do is to hide the security. That way, you can exclude it from your day-to-day activities, but retain the important transactions for use in reports and for your records.

To hide a security:

  1. Choose Lists + Investment + Security.
  2. Select the security you want to hide.
  3. Click the Hide button. Doing so removes the security from the Security List. (If you want to display the name of your hidden securities along with your active securities, select the View Hidden Securities option at the bottom of the window.)

To unhide a security:

  1. Choose Lists + Investment + Security.
  2. In the Security List window, first make sure the View Hidden Securities option is selected.
  3. Select the name of the hidden security. (A hand icon denotes hidden securities.)
  4. Click the Hide button again to turn off the hidden option.

 

ANCIENT QUICKEN HISTORY

Spending too much time and money is easy if you buy every software upgrade that comes along. But if you wait for a couple of generations (software generations, that is), the new version will probably have enough new features to make upgrading worth your while. Here's a quick ancient (like back-in-the-80s-and-early-90s ancient) Quicken history: - Quicken for Windows: Added investments reports and graphs; an Internal Rate of Return feature; electronic bill payment; easy report selection; direct access to graphs; loan, retirement, and savings planners; Qcards; and IntelliCharge credit card tracking.

  • Quicken 2 for Windows: Added the Iconbar, investment performance, and value improvements; QuickZoom; a stock price history window; tax-deferred accounts; multiple lot handling; Investment goals; copying reports to the Clipboard; and Autocreate budgeting.
  • Quicken 3 for Windows: Added a pop-up calendar and calculator; the Button bar; auto-scheduled transactions; investment forms; memorized reports; QuickReports; the capapicty to forecast and manage variable interest rate loans; savings goals; refinance and college planners; and the Financial calendar.

 

SECURITY HISTORY

Don't delete a security from your Security List just because you've sold out your entire holding. Deleting erases all of the history of the security's performance. If and when you buy the same security again, you may want that history for analysis and comparison. In the meanwhile, just hide the security so it doesn't clutter your current list with a zero balance: Go to the Security List, select the name of your security, and click Hide.

 

HOPPING ON THE REFINANCE BANDWAGON

Want to pay off your debt once and for all? Why not refinance your mortgage for a larger amount and take advantage of the great low rates while they last? Use Quicken's Mortgage Refinance tool to get a sense of how much you can afford and see what will happen to your monthly mortgage payment if you refinance at a higher principal amount.

To find out whether refinancing is right for you:

  1. Choose Features + Planning + Financial Planners + Refinance.
  2. Enter the current payment information in the Existing Mortgage section of the Refinance Planner window.
  3. Enter the modified information in the Proposed Mortgage section.
  4. In the Break Even Analysis section, enter the Mortgage Closing Costs and any Mortgage Points that you'll have to pony up.
  5. Click Calculate.

Take note of the Monthly Principal/Int and Monthly Savings amounts and the Total Closing Costs and Months to Break Even items to see whether refinancing makes sense for you. Remember, you should also factor in a possible increase in taxes and insurance premiums if you raise the mortgage amount or do any major renovations to your house. It pays to talk to a financial advisor before you make any dramatic financial decisions.

Tip in a tip: If you're undecided about getting refinance cash in order to pay off credit card debt, factor into your decision that you'll be paying a much lower interest rate with a refinance mortgage than you would to those cutthroat credit card companies and that mortgage interest is tax deductible.

 

HOW MUCH CAN YOU AFFORD? PART 1 OF 2

Eyeballing that spiffy new SUV but wondering whether you can afford it? Let Quicken's Financial Planner help you find out. To see how much that brand new Jimmy with the leather seats and CD player would set you back each month, you can enter price of the car or the loan amount, the current interest rate, and the number of years on the loan. The Loan Planner feature of the Financial Planner then calculates the monthly payment.

To use the Financial Planner, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Features + Planning + Financial Planners + Loan.
  2. Enter the amount of the car in the Loan Amount field.
  3. In the appropriate section, enter the annual interest rate you think you can get from your loan institution.
  4. In the appropriate section, enter the number of years you want to carry the loan.
  5. In the appropriate section, enter the number of payments you'll make per year.
  6. In the Calculate For section, make sure Payment Per Period is selected.
  7. Click Calculate to determine the Payment Per Period.

Yikes . . . guess it's time to look for a cheaper car.

HOW MUCH CAN YOU AFFORD? PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we showed you how to use the Loan Planner component of Quicken's Financial Planner to determine how much a monthly payment would be on the car of your dreams. What if you want to figure out how much of a loan you can afford, based on the amount per month you think you can swing? Well, doing so is just as easy:

  1. Choose Features + Planning + Financial Planners + Loan to start the Loan Planner.
  2. In the Calculate For section, select Loan Amount.
  3. Enter all the required information. In this case, enter the Payment per Period you think you can afford and make sure all the other fields reflect the correct information.
  4. Click Calculate to determine the amount of a loan you could expect to get, based on these parameters.

Guess it's time to check out a few used car lots. Or--and here's an idea--maybe you just need to increase your savings. Quicken can help you with that!

 

HOW MUCH IS THAT MORTGAGE IN THE WINDOW?

Considering refinancing your mortgage? You have to admit, rates are looking pretty attractive these days! If you aren't sure whether refinancing would make a worthwhile difference for you--a lot depends on how long you plan to stay in your house--ask Quicken's online mortgage center to run the numbers for you. (Note: You need a modem that's configured properly to use this feature.)

  1. Hold your mouse pointer over the Home & Car item on the Activity Bar; from the pop-up menu, select Mortgage Rates. (Alternatively, select Online + Quicken on the Web + Mortgage Center.)
  2. When the Quicken Mortgage screen appears, click the Start Here button.
  3. Click the "Should you refinance now?" option.
  4. Complete the questionnaire.
  5. Click Calculate.

So what do you think? Time to refinance?

 

ABUNDANT HELP

Quicken provides a variety of forms of Help, much like the Help functions in other Windows-based programs. The Help menu contains the following options:

  • Index shows a list of all the available Help topics in alphabetical order.
  • Find locates information about a topic based on keywords that you type.
  • Contents is a detailed table of contents of available Help topics.
  • Quicken Show Me Videos offer helpful graphic examples, as well as a soundtrack. There are dozens of topics to choose from, ranging from financial and account management to the latest Internet features offered by the program.
  • Quicken Online Help includes access to the Quicken online technical support feature, as well as access to product upgrade information.

 

HYPERLINKED PLANNING HELP

While you use Quicken's Planners, note the words and phrases that are underlined. You can click any of these to get helpful information related to that particular word, phrase, or section of the Planner. Click these hyperlinks to open the Quicken Answers window, which may include further links you can click for more detail. Of course, you can always get more thorough and complete help from the Help menu.

 

I HAVE HOW MANY VACATION DAYS LEFT?--PART 1 OF 2

Now that summer is but a distant memory, it's time to start planning your next vacation. Surprise, surprise! Quicken can help you keep track of that most important asset--your vacation time. First create an asset account and then enter each vacation day you accrue as an increase in the account; you enter the time you take as a decrease. You can use this method to record sick leave, personal days, or any other time off allocated to you by your employer.

To keep a running total of your vacation time:

  1. On the toolbar, choose Features + Banking + Create New Account.
  2. Select Asset from the list and click Next.
  3. In the Asset Account Setup box, enter a name for the account, such as Vacation Accrued, and click Next.
  4. To set the initial amount for the account, select Yes in the Easy Step window and click Next.
  5. Enter the date you want to start (the current date is the default setting).
  6. Enter the initial balance of the account. (If your vacation days accrue at an hourly rate, enter the number of hours you currently have accrued; otherwise, enter the amount in days.) Click Next.
  7. Double-check the information in the Summary screen and then click Done.

You have now created a new asset account called Vacation Accrued. As you accrue hours, enter them as an increase in the asset account. Remember to use the same type of number--either hours or days--for each increase. When you take time off, enter the amount of hours or days as a decrease.

If you'd like, you can set up a scheduled transaction to automatically deposit your vacation time to the account when you accrue it. To do so:

  1. On the Toolbar, choose Lists + Scheduled Transaction. Click New in the upper left pane of the Scheduled Transaction List window.
  2. Select your Vacation account in the Account To Use box.
  3. Select Deposit in the Type of Transaction line of the same dialog box.
  4. Enter the payee information, indicate the Vacation category, and enter the accrual amount.
  5. Select the accrual rate in the How Often box. For example, if you accrue at a bimonthly rate, per paycheck, select the appropriate amount.
  6. In the Record in Register box, select Automatically Enter. Click OK when you have finished entering the information.

Who knows, if you manage to sock away enough vacation days by next summer, you could arrange to take off every Friday or--better yet--every Monday.

I HAVE HOW MANY VACATION DAYS LEFT?--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we showed you how to create a Vacation Accrual account to help keep track of vacation time: Choose Features + Banking + Create New Account. Select Asset and click Next. Enter a name for the account, such as Vacation Accrued, and click Next. To set the initial amount for the account, select Yes and click Next. Enter the start date and the initial balance of the account. Remember to record your vacation time consistently, whether in terms of hours or days. Click Done when you have finished.

After you create your vacation account, you need to exclude it from any reports you generate. To remove this account from your reports, create the report you have in mind or access a previously created report by choosing Reports from the Toolbar. Then follow these steps:

  1. Click the Customize button in the left pane of your Report window.
  2. Select the Accounts tab in the Customize Itemize Report box and deselect the account named Vacation Accrual.
  3. Click Create.
  4. You have to remember to exclude your vacation account from each and every report you create. I know, I know, it's a real pain in the keester. An alternative is to create a brand new Quicken file to keep track of this type of data (vacation days, sick days, or any other account that doesn't have any monetary value). By keeping this information separate from your financial data, you wouldn't have to worry about it affecting your bottom line.

 

HEY, WHO HUNG UP THE PHONE?

Tired of being disconnected from the Internet? All you did was get up to get a snack, and when you returned . . . nothing. Quicken hung up.

By default, after five minutes of no online activity, Quicken throws a dialog box on-screen asking if you want to be disconnected. You've got 30 seconds to click the Stay Connected button or you're offline--which means you can't leave the room or work in another application without being disconnected--that is, unless you change this five-minute warning to something a little more reasonable. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Select Edit + Options + Internet Connection.
  2. Under When Connected, change the number in the box to 20, 60, or 120 (that's the limit)--whatever you think is reasonable.
  3. Click OK.

Now, Quicken bugs you about disconnecting only if your inactivity exceeds the time specified. Five lousy minutes--what were they thinking?

 

I NEED TO SOCK AWAY HOW MUCH? PART 1 OF 3

A few weeks ago, we ran a series of tips on setting up a budget to help you stick to a savings plan. We also promised to run some savings-related tips, in case you don't already have a savings plan in place. So, without further ado, here's the first of three tips on setting some savings goals.

Quicken offers a number of financial planners that help you calculate exactly how much you need to save in order to meet a particular goal, such as retirement, college tuition, or any other big expense you may be anticipating. In today's tip, we cover the most important of all savings goals--planning for retirement. We show you how to calculate just how much you're going to need to live that life of leisure you've always dreamed about. (If you've never done an exercise like this, get ready for a big shock. You'll need to save more money than you think.)

  1. Choose Features + Planning + Financial Planners + Retirement.
  2. When the Retirement Planner dialog box appears, find the section labeled Calculate For. Select Annual Contribution. (Your goal here is to determine how much you need to save.)
  3. Complete the information under Retirement Information, making sure to fill in the Annual Income After Taxes field (in today's dollars) with the amount you think you'll need to live on after retirement.
  4. Under Inflation, leave the predicted inflation at 4.00% and make sure Annual Income in Today's $ is selected.
  5. Complete the Tax Information section, if applicable.
  6. Click Calculate (or press Tab).

Quicken does its thing, and you can check out the resulting number next to Annual Contribution in the Retirement Information box. Ouch. This means that, if you invest the specified amount annually (at the rate you filled in next to Annual Yield) from now until your retire, you'll be all set. As an example, if you have $15,000 in an investment that yields 8.00 percent annually, expect to retire in 33 years at age 65 and live until 85, and think you'll need $25,000 annually after retirement, you need to start saving $9216.16 annually.

Yikes--better start saving! (What's the old adage? "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.")

I NEED TO SOCK AWAY HOW MUCH? PART 2 OF 3

In our last tip, we showed you how to use one of Quicken's Financial Planners to figure out how much you need to save to assure a comfortable retirement. Not pretty, eh? If you think that's bad, wait until you see how much it's going to cost to send your kids to college! Another of Quicken's financial planners can help you reveal the cold, hard facts:

  1. Choose Features + Planning + Financial Planners + College to open the College Planner dialog box.
  2. Under Calculate For, select Annual Contribution (because your goal here is to determine the amount you need to save each year).
  3. Complete the College Information section. (Tip: Enter Annual College Costs in today's dollars.)
  4. Under Inflation, leave Inflate Contributions unselected.
  5. Click Calculate (or press Tab).

After you've braced yourself for the news, take a look at that Annual Contribution. (Sheesh!) As an example, if you estimate $30,000 for Annual College Costs, have a child that will attend a four-year college in 17 years, and haven't saved a penny to date, you need to invest $5,965.08 annually at 8.00 percent to meet these costs. (And THAT'S only for one child.) Otherwise, it's loan city!

(Tip: If you don't have enough to save for retirement and college, make retirement your priority. You can take loans out to send your kids through college. You can't borrow money to pay for retirement!)

I NEED TO SOCK AWAY HOW MUCH? PART 3 OF 3

In our last two tips, we showed you how to use Quicken's financial planners to determine how much money you need to save annually to meet retirement and college tuition costs. Still in shock? (Not half as shocked as you would have been if you'd reached these life events and hadn't saved anything!) For the last tip in this series, we look at some savings goals that are a little less shocking--such as a family getaway or a down payment on a new car. Quicken offers a generic Savings planner to help you turn goals such as these into reality.

  1. Choose Features + Planning + Financial Planners + Savings to open the Investment Savings Planner dialog box.
  2. Under Calculate For, select Regular Contribution.
  3. Under Savings Information, complete the opening and rate information; then type your savings goal next to Ending Savings Balance.
  4. Next to Number of Years, fill in the number of years you plan to save. (Or you can change Years to Months and fill in the number of months.)
  5. Click Calculate (or press Tab).

Next to Contribution Each Year, you'll see the amount you need to invest annually to meet your goal. For example, if you're trying to save $5,000 for a vacation in two years, you need to invest $208.83 a month (or $2600.00 a year) at 8.00 percent.

(Note: If you're wondering why you'd need to invest $2600 per year when the goal is only $5,000, remember that Quicken inflates your goal. In two years, you'll need $5,408 to equal the purchasing power of $5,000 of today.)

 

I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND--PART 1 OF 2

In our last series of tips, we showed you how to use the Security Setup screens to add securities to your Investment account. We chose this hand-holding method the first time around to give you a feel for the information that you need for each security in order to track it in Quicken. You may be wondering if you can simply enter this information yourself, directly in the Investment Register. While the answer is yes, we don't recommend that you do so. At least not until you are very familiar with the way Quicken handles the investment transactions.

But you also don't need to slog through the Security Setup screens for every transaction you create. You can use the EasyActions button located in the Investment Register. When you click the EasyActions button, a list of menu choices appears. Select the transaction type you want to record from this list. For example, select Buy/Add Shares to add shares to your account. Quicken uses the same step-by-step approach to gather the appropriate information needed for the transaction. Follow along with the required prompts and click Done when you have finished.

I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we talked about using the EasyActions button to enter investment transactions, at least until you get the hang of the Investment Register. If you need to make changes to an existing transaction, we also recommend that you do so from a single dialog box instead of typing over information directly in the transaction line.

To edit an existing transaction:

  1. Click anywhere within the transaction you need to edit and then click the Form button. The Buy/Add Shares dialog box appears and contains all the information for the current entry.
  2. Make any changes as necessary.
  3. Click Done to save your changes.

 

DON'T LEAVE QUICKEN OFF THE HOOK

If you don't set Quicken's online options right, your download sessions for new portfolio values and news could leave your phone line tied up with an Internet connection. Avoid that by following these steps:

  1. Choose Online + Internet Connection.
  2. Choose Options.
  3. In the Internet Connection Options dialog box, select Disconnect from the Internet.
  4. Click OK.

 

I WANT MY ICONBAR

By default, Quicken uses the Activity Bar located along the bottom of your screen to provide access to the most frequently used commands. But if you're the type who prefers toolbars like those found in other Windows applications, why not use the IconBar instead? (Unfortunately, in Quicken, you can't have both; you have to choose one over the other.)

To turn on the IconBar:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + IconBar.
  2. In the Customize IconBar dialog box, select Show Icons to turn on the IconBar. The IconBar appears at the top of the Quicken window.
  3. To display the text along with the icons, select Show Text. Or, to conserve space, you may decide to display just the icons or just the text; just select (or deselect) the appropriate option.
  4. Click Done to close the Customize Toolbar dialog box.

In future tips, we show you how to create your own icons. Stay tuned.

 

ICONS . . . LIGHT THE CORNER OF YOUR MEMORIES

Want to change the icon or name used to represent a memorized report? Maybe that rubber ducky isn't right for your net worth report after all! Have no fear--the Memorized tab of the Create Reports offers all the options you need to manage your saved reports.

To change the icon for, or rename, a memorized report:

  1. Select Reports + Memorized Reports.
  2. Select the report you want to delete.
  3. Click the Edit button.
  4. Change the Title, Description, or icon used to represent the report--or change all three if you want.
  5. Click OK.

Then again, that ducky wasn't so bad . . .

 

AN ICON'S WORTH A THOUSAND CLICKS

Quicken's Iconbar offers a quicker route to the commands and features than does the menubar, or even the Activity Bar for that matter. You can shave off even more time by adding the commands you use most frequently to the Iconbar. To do so, you simply create your own icons and then add them to the Iconbar.

To add an icon to the iconbar:

  1. From the menubar, choose Edit + Options + Iconbar.
  2. Click the New button.
  3. From the Icon Action list, select the action you want to add to the bar. For instance, select Budget to add the Budget tool to your icon bar.
  4. Click the Change button.
  5. Select the graphic image you want to use for the icon.
  6. Type the label to use for the icon in the Icon Label field.
  7. Assign a speed key combination if you wish and click OK.
  8. Click OK to add the icon to the iconbar.
  9. Back at the Customize Iconbar dialog box, make sure the Show Icons option is selected and click Done.

If you can't find the icon you've just added to the iconbar, don't worry, you're not going loopy. Just click the little arrows located at the far left and right of the iconbar to cycle through the available icons.

 

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY--PART 1 OF 2

Quicken can organize just about every aspect of your life. You can track expenses, keep in touch with friends and family, inventory your home, and keep track of all your important documents; you know--the ones stuffed in the strongbox under your bed. In this tip, we show you how to use the Emergency Records Organizer to keep all your important information in a single, easily accessible place. What's more, you can also generate a number of reports to make available to your family, lawyer, or caretaker, in case of an emergency.

To use the Emergency Records Organizer:

  1. From the Toolbar, choose Features + Planning + Emergency Records Organizer.
  2. Select the Create/Update Records tab in the resulting window.
  3. In the Emergency Records Organizer window, click the Select an Area drop down-list.
  4. Select a Topic.
  5. Enter the required information.
  6. Repeat these steps by entering all the required information for each subsequent topic in the Create/Update Records window.

To generate a report, select the Report tab and then select the type of report you want to create. The report appears in the Report area of the screen. Click Print to generate a hard copy.

In the next tip, we show you how to keep these records safe from snoops.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we introduced the Emergency Records Organizer, which helps you track your important documents. To get started, choose Features + Planning + Emergency Records Organizer. Select the Create/Update Records tab and select a topic from the drop-down list in the Select an Area section. Enter the required information.

Although the Emergency Records Organizer makes updating and locating your important documents easy, there's a lot to be said for that old strongbox. For one thing, the nice big lock keeps out snooping eyes. Fortunately, Quicken anticipated your security needs and allows you to assign a password to your file so that only those that know the password can view the contents of the file.

To keep out snoops:

  1. From the Toolbar, choose File + Passwords + File.
  2. Enter a password in the Password box and then reenter it in the Confirm Password text box.
  3. Click OK. Write down the password and keep it in a safe place.

The next time you attempt to open the file, Quicken prompts you for the password. Those who are unable to supply the password won't be able to open the file.

 

EXTRA INCOME

Even income that starts and stops, comes for only a few months or years, or hits in a lump-sum, will affect your Retirement Planner. If you get child support money, for example, and know it will end in five years or ten, use the Add Other Income section of the Retirement Planner to enter specific dates and amounts. Do the same for any alimony, trust fund (we all wish), or inheritance (we all wish again). Do this only for sure-things -- or at least, legally-entitled things. Don't put a hoped-for windfall inheritance if-only-the-will-is-changed -- not unless you're just pipe dreaming.

 

INCOME YTD

The Tax Center window displays a pertinent number that could be wrong: The Income YTD. That's year to date, the amount you've made since January 1. The taxes you owe so far, naturally, are based on this amount. But if you live anything more complicated than a simple salary life, your YTD as shown may not include all of your income. Did you remember to make all other income categories tax-related? For example, if you have a part-time business or you receive tips for guiding rafting trips, you need to go into the Category list and make sure these are designated as tax-related for income.

 

INFLATION STATION

Investment firms often tout how a few dollars put away today can blossom into a million by retirement. And certainly few of us are saving enough. But the high rates of return those firms assume can also mean high rates of inflation, and that inflation will mean that a million by retirement might not be enough to buy a car. Here's how Quicken 98 Deluxe, for example, can show you what your savings will actually mean in purchasing power--based on today's dollars:

  1. Choose Features + Planning.
  2. Choose Financial Planners + Savings Calculator.
  3. Click the Ending Savings Balance radio button.
  4. Enter your savings information--the amount you can save each year, how many years you have before retirement, and what percent you're earning on your investments. You can estimate these numbers.
  5. Enter an inflation rate of 0% and click on Calculate to see what your savings will add up to.
  6. Change the inflation rate to 2% and select the Inflate Contributions box. (Doing so means that you expect prices and your income to climb regularly and that you plan to contribute the same percentage of your income to savings over the years.)
  7. Click Calculate. You should see a much larger number for your Ending Savings Balance. Don't get too excited yet.
  8. Click the Ending Balance in Today's $ check box; then click Calculate again to see what your savings will actually be worth at retirement.

Welcome back to Earth. You can play with that inflation number more, pushing it up to 10 percent to see what high inflation can mean to your retirement savings.

 

INFLATION RATION

Nothing eats up a retirement income like inflation. If inflation outpaces the interest you're earning on savings, and any cost-of-living adjustments to your pension and Social Security, your real retirement income will be dropping. The inflation rate will even affect the raises you get while you're still working and saving toward retirement. So what will inflation be: 1%, 3%, 10%? No one knows for sure. Quicken guesses 3% in its Retirement Planner. If you think you know better, use the Planner's Inflation section to tell Quicken so.

 

INFORMATION IS KEY

If you're connected to the Web--these days who isn't?--you can gain a wealth of financial information from Quicken.com, Quicken's official Web site. On it, you find additional tips, financial calculators, and industry-specify articles. You can also watch the stock market, read up on the latest trends, and peruse a variety of materials aimed at helping you get a better grip on your personal finances.

You can access Quicken.com from directly within a running Quicken program, or you can access it any time you are surfing the Web, simply by typing www.quicken.com. (To access the Web from Quicken, you must have first established a connection via the Internet Connection setup options found in Quicken.)

To access Quicken.com from within Quicken, just choose Online + Quicken on the Web + Quicken.com.

Quicken establishes an Internet connection through your ISP and displays the Quicken.com Web site. Browse through the many options found on the Quicken.com site. When you have finished with the session, choose Online + Disconnect. Note that if you use an Internet Service Provider such as AOL, you have to first switch over to AOL and then disconnect from within the program.

 

INFORMATION AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

Just as we recommend that you make use of the Memo field in Quicken's account registers to keep track of your purchases, we recommend that you use the little Info Button located in all account windows. When you click this button, you access a dialog box in which you can post identifying account information--a big help for those times when you can't put your hands on a piece of information itself, such as the credit card bill or bank statement. For example, if you can't find your car loan payment booklet, you can simply look up your account number in the Account Information screen and write it (where else?) in the Memo field on your check so that you can get your bill out on time.

To record Account information:

  1. Choose Lists + Account.
  2. Select the account name from the list and click the Info button located along the top of the screen.
  3. In the Additional Account Information dialog box that appears, enter as much information as desired in the required text boxes. Again, the more information, the better. Some key fields may include Account Number, Contact, and Phone Number.
  4. Click OK to complete the entry.

Whenever you need an account number or contact name for an account, simply switch to the Accounts List, select the account name, and click the Info button.

 

INFORMATION ISN'T NUMBERS

Sure, it's nice to see summarized and cross-categorized transactions and other such detail, but often your true goal in turning to personal finance software is to answer some basic question, such as "How much do I have?" or "Where did it all go?" Quicken tries to make finding these answers easy. In Quicken 5, for example, the EasyAnswers reports do the work.

  1. Choose Reports + EasyAnswers.
  2. In the Create Report window, click the question you want answered:
    • Where did I spend my money?
    • How much did I spend on?
    • How much did I save compared to?
    • What am I worth as of?
    • Did I meet my budget?
  3. From that question's drop-down list, choose a time period, such as Last Year or Last Month.
  4. Click Create.

A report that answers the question appears.

 

INSURANCE ASSURANCE

Need insurance? Not sure whether you're getting the best insurance deal you can? Let Quicken help you find the best rates for any type of insurance: home, car, life, and medical.

  1. Click the Household QuickTab under My Finances.
  2. Click Instant Insurance Quote. Quicken connects to the Internet
  3. Next to the appropriate kind of insurance, type your zip code and then click Go. You can click links for other types of insurance or click the links under "Insurance Tools and Information" for planners and auto insurance.
  4. When you're finished, click the X button in the upper-right hand corner to disconnect from the Internet.

 

UNDERINSURANCE CHECK

The Home Inventory in Quicken Deluxe asks you to relate an insurance policy to each of your inventoried items. It wants a replacement value on those items too. The result is a natural: you can create a report showing how your insurance coverage matches up against your replacement needs.

  1. Open Features, Planning, Quicken Home Inventory.
  2. In the Home Inventory window, open View, Policy List. Here you'll see the differences for each insurance policy.
  3. Open Reports, Insurance Coverage Summary Report. Here you'll see the overall amounts where you may be running short.

 

FILING AN INSURANCE CLAIM

When you have to file a claim to replace an item that was stolen or damaged, you can use QHI to help you keep track of your insurance claims. To file an insurance claim:

  1. Choose View + Claims List (or click the Claims icon).
  2. In the Insurance Claims window, click the New button; then in the New Claim Instructions dialog box, click OK.
  3. In the New Claim dialog box, enter the requested information, including the description, date of claim, and date of event.
  4. Select the appropriate policy and enter a claim number.
  5. To specify the items to include in the claim, click the Items button.
  6. From the resulting dialog box, select each of the Items for the claim and click OK.
  7. To specify the claim cost, click the Adjust Cost button.
  8. Indicate the cost you want to use-- Replace Cost or Repair Cost--and then enter the cost value and click OK.
  9. Continue adding items to the claim as necessary.
  10. Use the Notes field to enter any additional information regarding the claim.
  11. Click OK when you finish.

 

INSURANCE CLAIMS

In the sad instance that you are actually hit by a natural disaster or robbery, Quicken Deluxe's Home Inventory feature can help you track what insurance claims have been paid and which are still in limbo.

  1. Open Features, Planning, Quicken Home Inventory.
  2. Open View, Claims List.
  3. Click the New button each time you file an insurance claim, and enter the details.
  4. Click OK after each new claim item.

Come back to this window whenever you have another claim, receive an insurance check, or wonder about the status of checks.

 

SELECTING THE INSURANCE POLICY

Both the Insurance Coverage Summary report and the Insurance Coverage Detail report in QHI are based on a particular insurance policy. You can specify exactly which insurance policy to base the report on. You can also produce a report for each insurance policy that you have.

To select the insurance policy for the current report:

  1. To produce the appropriate report, if necessary, choose Reports + Insurance Coverage Summary or choose Reports + Insurance Coverage Detail.
  2. Click the Policies button.
  3. Select the appropriate policy from the drop-down list.

QHI updates the current report to include only those items that pertain to the currently selected insurance policy.

 

RECORDING MARGIN INTEREST EXPENSES

The Margin Interest Expense action records margin interest expense. To record it, click the Easy Actions button and then choose Advanced, Margin Interest Expense. When you do, Quicken displays the Margin Interest Expense dialog box, which you use to describe the cost of your financial adventure.

 

WHEN THE INTEREST RATE CHANGES--PART 1 OF 2

For many, the interest rate associated with a loan remains fixed over the life of the loan. But for those who have an adjustable rate mortgage, the interest rate can change at least once a year. In the next two tips, we show you how to use Quicken to keep track of the changes caused by fluctuating interest rates.

When the loan rate changes with the next payment:

  1. Choose Features + Bills + Loans.
  2. Click Choose Loan and select the loan whose rate you want to change.
  3. Click the Edit Payment button.
  4. Enter the new interest rate in the Current Interest Rate field and click OK.

Quicken uses the next payment date as the date the rate change takes effect. Back at the View Loans screen, click the Payment Schedule tab and make note of the changes made to both the principal and interest amounts of the loan. Note also that the interest rate change also affects the Remaining Payments and Final Payment Date values.

WHEN THE INTEREST RATE CHANGES--PART 2 OF 2

In the last tip, we showed people with adjustable rate loans how to change the interest rate of a loan when the new interest rate affects the next payment. In this tip, we show you how to change the interest rate for a date sometime in the future.

When the loan rate changes with a future payment:

  1. Choose Features + Bills + Loans.
  2. Click Choose Loan and select the loan whose rate you want to change.
  3. Click Rate Changes.
  4. In the Loan Rate Changes dialog box, click New.
  5. Enter the date the new rate change takes effect.
  6. Enter the new interest rate.
  7. Click OK.

If necessary, click the Payment Schedule tab. You see that Quicken has added the new interest rate to the appropriate point in the Payment Schedule. Again, notice the changes made to both the principal and interest amounts of the loan as well as the adjustments made to the length of the loan.

 

HAVE SOME INTEREST IN YOUR LOAN

Most home mortgages and other large loans are divided up into even monthly payments that you make for years. In the beginning, nearly all of the payment goes to interest. Near the end, almost all of each payment goes toward the loan principal. In between, the percentage devoted to interest falls as you slowly pay off the principal. Quicken can tell you how much of your current payment is interest and how much principal. You can use this information when you're calculating your taxes and when you're trying to decide whether to pay the loan off early. To have Quicken 99 break down your payment into interest and principal, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Features + Planning.
  2. Choose Financial Calculators.
  3. Choose Loan.
  4. In the Loan Calculator dialog box that appears, enter the details you know.
  5. Click on Schedule to see the monthly payments from here to eternity.

 

INSTANT INTERNET REMINDER

In the past two tips, we've shown you a couple tricks to make being connected to the Web more convenient. Here's a trick that can make things even easier: Have Quicken remind you at start-up to check for online news and quotes and to see whether there have been any Quicken updates.

To trigger a reminder:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Internet Connection.
  2. In the Update Quicken 98 section, select Remind Me to Update Quotes, News, and Check for Software Updates at Quicken Startup.
  3. Click OK.

The next time you start Quicken, the Update Quicken dialog box appears, asking whether you want to connect to the Internet and update Quicken.

 

ALPHABETIZE THAT INVENTORY

The best time to enter Quicken Deluxe Home Inventory details about your belongings is as you wander through the house and see the items. After you've entered all you see, you can impose a better organization on the full list by opening the Edit menu and then choosing Alphabetize Register.

 

RESTORE THAT INVENTORY DETAIL

When typing new values into your Quicken Deluxe Home Inventory record, there's a sort of "undo" button called Restore. If you haven't yet clicked Record to store any changes you've made to an item -- such as a new estimated replacement cost -- you can click on the Restore button to bring back the values you had stored previously.

 

INVENTORY PASSWORD

There's a password option in Quicken Deluxe's Home Inventoryon, though, consider whether . Before you turn this you really want password protection on everything. Is your list of household belongings that secret? What if there's a disaster of some kind and you forget the password? Or you're injured in that same disaster and no one else knows the password? It will be impossible to use the list to guarantee insurance returns. If you do want to keep your list secret, while in the Home Inventory program, use the File menu, choose Password, and then type your password twice.

 

SEND YOUR INVENTORY TO QUICKEN

Although Quicken Home Inventory is an entirely separate application from Quicken, you can import your inventory information into Quicken and track its value along with the rest of your finances. When you do, Quicken creates an asset account named Home Inventory, where the total value of the account is the same as the total value of your inventory. When you update Quicken with your inventory information, the total value of your home inventory appears as an asset in your Net Worth report.

To update Quicken with your inventory:

  1. Choose File + Update Quicken.
  2. In the resulting Quicken Home Inventory dialog box, click Yes to send the information to Quicken.

Note: QHI makes a few assumptions. First, it sends the information to the most recently used Quicken file. Second, it sends the information to the asset account named Home Inventory.

After QHI sends the data, switch over to Quicken and run a quick net worth report (choose Reports + Home + Net Worth and click the Create button). You see an Asset account named Home Inventory and its overall value.

 

DUPLICATING ITEMS IN QUICKEN HOME INVENTORY

If you are recording a bunch of similar items in your inventory--such as the artwork on your walls or the CDs in your music collection--you can accomplish the job a lot quicker by using the Copy button to make a quick copy of the current item. After making a copy of an item, you can switch over to Detail View and enter the specifics of each item.

To duplicate an inventory item:

  1. In the List View window of Quicken Home Inventory, position the cell pointer on the item you want to duplicate.
  2. Click the Copy button located at the bottom of the List View screen.

QHI creates a duplicate of the current item. Choose View + Detail View to switch to Detail View and record the specifics of the item.

 

HOME INVENTORY DATA

The best way to start listing your belongings is to work through each room. In Quicken Deluxe:

  1. Open Features, Planning, Quicken Home Inventory. (There's also an Inventory icon on the Iconbar.)
  2. If this is your first time with the Inventory, just click the Continue button.
  3. Now in the Inventory window, type a description for an item.
  4. Choose the appropriate Category from the drop-down Item Category menu.
  5. Enter your estimated replacement cost and resale value. (Resale will typically be less than replacement.)
  6. Click Record.
  7. Enter information on other items, one at a time.

 

HOME PAGE REMINDERS

The complete lists of reminders and alerts are found in their own windows, which you can reach through the Features, Reminders menu. The cream of those crops also appear on the Home Page, by default right up at the top. If you're tired of being bothered by those nags, or just don't want them right up in your face, you can go to the Features, Reminders window and turn them off. Or you can use the Customize button of the Home Page to change what appears and where.

 

HOME RECEIPT INVENTORY

The most convincing evidence to an insurance company is the old-fashioned receipt. They are also swayed by owner's manuals, appraisals, repair invoices and the like. So keep those things and use Quicken Deluxe's Home Inventory to where they are:

  1. Open Features, Planning, Quicken Home Inventory.
  2. Click an item in the list and then click the detail button just to the right of the description.
  3. In the Detail View, click the Receipts & Records button.
  4. In the Receipts and Records dialog box, click the box for each type of receipt you have. Then click OK.

 

HOME INVENTORY RECEIPTS

The most convincing evidence to an insurance company is the old-fashioned receipt. Insurance companies are also swayed by owner's manuals, appraisals, repair invoices, and the like. So keep those things and use Quicken Deluxe's Home Inventory to record where they are.

  1. Open Household, Quicken Home Inventory.
  2. Click an item in the list, and then click the detail button to the right of the description.
  3. In the Detail View, click the Receipts & Records button.
  4. In the Receipts and Records dialog box, click the box for each type of receipt. Then click OK.

 

HOME INVENTORY STARTUP

You won't ever have full insurance protection for your home and your belongings until you have a thorough list of those belongings. Quicken Deluxe and Quicken Home & Business computerize this task for you through the Home Inventory -- tucked into the Household menu. This sets up a typical list of belongings that you can customize. The total value of the items shows up as an asset account in Quicken.

 

LOCATING INVENTORY ITEMS

When you need to locate an item in your inventory, use the Find command. When you use the Find command, you can quickly locate every occurrence of an item that you have recorded.

To locate an inventory item:

  1. In Quicken Home Inventory, choose Edit + Find (or click the Find button on the icon bar).
  2. Enter the item you are looking for in the Search For field. For example, to find a picture, enter Picture.
  3. Indicate where you want to search. By default, both Item Description and Item Notes are selected.
  4. Click Find All to begin the search.
  5. If QHI locates any items that meet the search criteria, it displays them in the List of Found Inventory Items.
  6. To switch to the Detail View of the item, select the specific item from the list and click the View button.

 

SUGGESTED INVENTORY ITEMS

Can't get started with that Home Inventory list for Quicken Deluxe? Try the Suggested Items list for ideas on what you should note and value.

  1. Open Features, Planning, Quicken Home Inventory.
  2. In the Home Inventory program window, open View, Suggested Items.

Look to the right side of the display.

 

INVENTORY REPORTS--ARE YOU COVERED?

Do you have enough insurance to cover the replacement cost of all your possessions in the event of a catastrophe? Fortunately, the Insurance Coverage Summary report in QHI can help you divine the answer to this question. This report summarizes all items in your home inventory and their values; it then compares these values to the amount of insurance coverage you are carrying.

To create the Insurance Coverage Summary Report, choose Reports + Insurance Coverage Summary.

At the bottom of the report, QHI compares the coverage amount of your policy with the replacement costs of your belongings.

 

INVENTORY REPORTS--DETAILS, DETAILS

Quicken Home Inventory enables you to generate the Inventory Detail Report, which provides detailed information for all or selected items in your home inventory. Information in this report includes an item's purchase price, date, location, serial number, and so on.

To create the Inventory Detail Report, choose Reports + Inventory Detail.

 

INVENTORY REPORTS--IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS

With Quicken Home Inventory's Insurance Coverage Detail report, you can produce a detailed list of your inventory as assigned to a specific insurance policy. For example, you can generate a list that shows all the items currently covered by your homeowner's insurance policy. In addition, you can also indicate which items to include in the report.

To create the Insurance Coverage Detail Report, choose Reports + Insurance Coverage Detail.

 

PRINTING YOUR INVENTORY REPORTS

The final step in managing your household inventory with Quicken Home Inventory is to produce hard copy printouts all your reports, which you can store for safekeeping. You may want to attach copies to your insurance policies, wills, or other important documents that you have.

Before you send the report to the printer, first see how the printed report will appear. To preview a report before sending it to the printer, click the Preview button.

  • To zoom in on a portion of the report, click the area.
  • To print the report, click the Print button, look over the print options, and then click OK to send the job to the printer.
  • To return to the report window, click the Close button.

Remember to produce fresh copies of your inventory reports whenever you make any changes to your household inventory.

 

INVENTORY YOUR HOME--PART 1 OF 3

Quicken can help you keep track of so many things in your life. You can monitor your personal finances, record important personal information with the Emergency Records Organizer, and keep tabs on all the important people in your life with the Quicken Address Book. Well, Quicken can also keep track of precious items in your home. With Quicken Home Inventory, you can create and store a record of your family heirlooms (handy info to have for insurance claims and wills). Over the next series of tips, we show you how to use the Quicken Home Inventory program.

To launch Quicken Home Inventory, choose Features + Planning + Quicken Home Inventory. The Quicken Home Inventory application, a separate application from Quicken itself, loads.

More next time.

INVENTORY YOUR HOME--PART 2 OF 3

Because Quicken Home Inventory is an independent application, you can launch it right from the Windows desktop. That is, you don't have to load Quicken first. To do so, click the Windows 95/98 Start menu, choose Programs + Quicken 98, and then select Quicken Home Inventory from the resulting menu.

You can also start Quicken Home Inventory from the Windows Explorer: Locate the Quicken 98 program folder, double-click it to open the folder, and then double-click the Quicken Home Inventory icon.

INVENTORY YOUR HOME--PART 3 OF 3

After you launch Quicken Home Inventory, you can switch back and forth between it and Quicken via some handy icons on the IconBars:

  • In Quicken Home Inventory, click the Goto Qkn button to switch to Quicken. (If Quicken isn't currently running in the background, this action launches Quicken.)
  • To switch to Quicken Home Inventory from Quicken, click the Inventory tool in the IconBar. (If Quicken Home Inventory isn't currently running, this action launches the program.)
  • If you're using Windows 95/98 and both applications are running, you can switch between the programs via the Windows taskbar just by clicking the appropriate button.

 

SUMMARIZE YOUR INVENTORY

After you enter all your household inventory into Quicken Home Inventory, what do you do? Create reports, of course. By generating reports, you can produce a hard copy of your inventory and then refer to this information if you ever need to file an insurance claim--or if you simply want to review your current possessions. You can also store the hard copy and a backup disk of your Quicken Household Inventory file in a safe deposit box or other safe place outside your home.

The first report you want to create is the Inventory Value Summary Report, which summarizes your entire household inventory and its value. The report also calculates subtotal and grand total amounts to give you an idea of the value of all your possessions.

To create the Inventory Value Summary Report in QHI, just choose Reports + Inventory Value Summary. The Inventory Value Summary Report window appears.

 

KEEPING YOUR INVENTORY UP TO DATE

Just as you should update your inventory whenever you purchase new items or rearrange existing ones, you should also update your inventory if you sell an item, give it away, or just plain get rid of it. In this case, you remove the item from your inventory list altogether:

  1. In the current List View, locate the item you want to remove from your inventory.
  2. Position the cell pointer over the item.
  3. Click the Delete button in the List View window.
  4. Click Yes to confirm that you want to delete the item.

Quicken Home Inventory removes the record of the item from your Home Inventory lists.

 

ONLINE INVESTING WITH QUICKEN

If you have Quicken and you have an online investment account with someone who supports Quicken's Online Investing feature -- and this should include just about everybody -- you can download your investment transactions from your online broker's Web site right into the appropriate Quicken investment account.

If you want to do this -- first check with the online broker to see whether they support this feature -- choose the Investing, Online Investing Setup command. Then follow the on-screen instructions. After you do this, you can easily download investment transactions from your online investment broker. Online investing works the same way that online banking does.

 

SELECTING AN INVESTMENT ACCOUNT FOR YOUT SECURITY

To indicate which investment account you want to use to record your current holdings of the security, activate the Account Name drop-down list box in the appropriate Set Up a New Security dialog box and select the account. Then click Next. In the dialog box that appears, give Quicken the number of shares, price per share, and commission information. Click Next again. If you've indicated that you want to use specific lot identification, Quicken asks you to repeat this step for each lot. If for some reason it fails to ask this, you need to add the second and subsequent lots by repeating the steps you used to record the initial investment.

When Quicken asks you to confirm your security description, do so by reading the summary information provided in the Set Up a New Security dialog box. If you need to make changes, click Back to return to the earlier dialog boxes you used to describe the security. If the security description is correct, click Done.

 

SETTING UP AN INVESTMENT ACCOUNT WITH QUICKEN

To track investments with Quicken, you start by setting up an investment account. Create one account for each brokerage house or mutual fund that sends you an account statement. That way, you simplify your record-keeping because you can enter data in the investment account straight from the broker's statement and even reconcile your account from the statements the broker sends you.

Quicken offers these types of investment accounts:

  • Brokerage: Tracks a variety of investments -- stock, bonds, mutual funds, annuities -- that you keep with the same brokerage house.
  • IRA or Keogh: Tracks the value of and contributions to these retirement accounts: IRA, Keogh, Roth IRA, Education IRA, Keogh Plan, or SEP IRA.
  • 401(k): Tracks the value of as well as contributions to a 401(k) or 403(b) retirement plan that your employer helped you set up.
  • Dividend Retirement Plan: Tracks the value of the securities in a company's dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP).
  • Other Investment: Tracks T-bills, U.S. Savings Bonds, and commodities that don't fall into the other investment categories.

Follow these steps to set up a Brokerage, IRA or Keogh, DRIP, or Other Investment account:

  1. Choose Finance, Account List (or press Ctrl+A) to open the Account List window.
  2. Click the New button. The Create New Account dialog box appears.
  3. Under Investments, select the kind of investment account you want to set up.

Keep clicking Next and filling in the dialog boxes, depending on which kind of account you are setting up. You may be asked about check-writing on the account, various kinds of securities in the account, starting point information, whether the account is tax-deferred or tax exempt, and some other basic questions you probably know the answers to.

When you are finished setting up an investment account, you see the Set Up Security dialog box. Quicken asks for the names of the stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs, and so on that go in that account. As you do that, you tell the program how many shares you own and what their value is. Click Cancel if you'd rather fill in those details another time.

 

INVESTMENT ACCOUNTS

Where Quicken 99 had only Regular Investment, Mutual Fund, and 401(k) account types for investments, Quicken 2000 adds IRA and Keogh, Dividend Reinvestment Plan, and that marvelous invention called Other which can handle commodities, treasury bills, REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts), variable annuities, fixed annuities (though they could also be in asset accounts), bonds, and more.

 

INVESTMENT CHANGES

Suppose that you go to all the trouble to enter a purchase or sale of shares in an investment security but then discover that you entered the transaction incorrectly. When that happens, open the investment register where you entered the transaction, select the transaction, click the Edit button, and choose Edit Transaction from the drop-down menu. Then, in the dialog box that appears, change the share price, the number of shares, or whatever needs fixing, and click the Done button.

An even faster way to edit an investment transaction is to go to the Security Detail View window, choose the security from the drop-down list in the upper-left corner of the window, and then double-click the transaction in the mini-register. You see a dialog box for editing the transaction.

 

INVESTMENT TRANSACTION GOOFS

If you make a mistake entering an investment into Quicken, don't worry -- it's not a problem. You can edit an investment transaction in the investment account register the same way that you edit check and deposit transactions in a bank account register. For example, you can click the fields with the incorrect entries, fix them, and then record the new, corrected transaction.

You also can select the transaction and click the Form button. Quicken then displays the investment dialog box that lets you change each of the pieces of the transaction. The dialog box that Quicken displays mirrors the investment dialog box you could have used originally to record the transaction.

 

INVESTMENT UPDATE STRATEGY

Did you think it was best to constantly keep up with the market and enter every investment transaction as you make it? Maybe so, maybe not. It will keep you very current, but it also makes extra work. If you can wait and not enter the transactions yourself, only download them in an online update, you don't have to worry about reconciling duplicate and even mismatched transactions.

 

COMPARING INVESTMENTS AND INDICES

Have you ever wondered how well a security you own has performed relative to another security or an index such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average or NASDAQ? You can generate a chart that shows you right away. To do so, choose Investing, Multiple Securities Charting to open the Mutliple Security Charting window. In the window, Ctrl + Click the securities and indices that you want to compare and then click the Go Online to Chart button. At Quicken.com, you see a chart that compares the one-year performance of the selected securities and indices.

 

SOME INVESTORS DON'T NEED QUICKEN

If you don't invest directly in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds and stick money into an IRA, instead, your investments don't produce taxable dividends or interest income, nor do they produce taxable or tax-saving capital gains or losses. Even if you stick with a handful of mutual funds, you don't need to calculate the annual return -- that's what mutual fund managers do.

Because you don't need to track investment income, track capital gains and losses, or calculate the progress of your investment portfolio, you don't need Quicken investment record keeping for your personal use.

But this doesn't mean you don't need Quicken at all: You can still use it to set up a budget, pay bills, or plan for future investments, such as a college fund for your kids.

 

SOME INVESTORS DON'T NEED QUICKEN

If you're running a small business and are using Quicken, you can create financial reports easily.

You have all the information you need to produce good cash flow statements and good profit-and-loss reports if you

  • Set up a bank account for the checking account you use for your business.
  • Categorize payment transactions by using appropriate business expense categories.
  • Categorize deposit transactions by using appropriate business income categories.

To produce either type of report, simply click the Reporting tab, click the Reports button, click the Business tab (which appears in the Reports window), and choose either the Cash Flow or Profit And Loss report from the list. The only thing you need to do is select a Report On Transactions range of dates that matches the period for which you want to measure profits or cash flow. That's it!

 

MEMO DITTO

Split transactions divide the full amount into different categories. When you create a split transaction, you have a special window with lines for each category. On each line is a Memo space. If you want the same memo on each line, you can save time by typing it only on the first and then typing a single apostrophe in each following Memo field. The top memo will be copied to them all.

 

MEMO FOR INVOICE NEMBER

One problem in business accounting is keeping invoices and payments linked. Keep better track by using the Memo field whenever you make a business deposit. After you enter the date, payee, category, and class, type the invoice number in the Memo field. That field doesn't directly link to anything, so you're not forcing a connection this way, but you're providing vital clues for anyone who comes along later to clear up or even audit the accounts.

 

INVOICES AND RECEIVABLES

In the special Home & Business version of Quicken 99, there's the option of setting up special accounts called Invoices/Receivables and Bills/Payables. These are special accounts you can set up for money that your business is owed and that your business owes. If you don't have H&B, you can still do sort of the same thing by setting up an Asset account for your receivables and a Liability account for your payables. The H&B way works easier, though, because they link to an Invoicing feature that lets you create and print invoices for your customers. Without H&B you'd have to use a word processor or other program to make invoices.

 

IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES? NEVER! PART 1 OF 2

Just get your bank statement in the mail? Time to balance the checkbook again (groan).

Hey, quit dragging your feet. Quicken's Reconcile feature turns what was once an arduous task into a simple exercise. Just fill in some blanks, and you'll be free to get on with the REALLY arduous things in your life.

  1. Open your Register.
  2. Select the account you want to reconcile.
  3. Click the Reconcile button.
  4. Fill in all the blanks and click OK.
  5. Now just follow Quicken's instructions--click each item that appears on your statement.
  6. If you find a transaction that's incorrect, select it, click the Edit button, make the change, and then click Return to Reconcile at the right side of the transaction.
  7. Click Finished when the amount in the Difference box equals zero.

Now how easy is that? And of course, this feature isn't just for checking accounts. Use it for credit cards, too (or any other accounts you need to balance).

IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES? NEVER! PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we showed you how to reconcile (balance) any account, using your most recent bank statement: Click the Reconcile button, fill in the blanks, click OK, click each item that appears on your statement, and click Finished when the amount in the Difference box equals zero. So what do you do if you're minding your own business, checking off transactions, when your three-year-old comes bounding into your office, threatening to decorate with a fistful of red finger paint? Stop what you're doing, that's what.

Whenever you need to stop in the middle of a reconciliation, click the Finish Later button (and exit Quicken altogether, to be completely safe). When your three-year-old is once again safely driving your spouse crazy and you're ready to go back to what you were doing, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Register of the account you were balancing.
  2. Click the Reconcile button and click OK.
  3. Continue marking transactions where you left off.
  4. Click Finished to complete the reconciliation.

 

IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES? WELL, MAYBE ...

Two tips ago, we showed you how to reconcile (balance) any account using your most recent bank statement: Click the Reconcile button, fill in the blanks, click OK, click each item that appears on your statement, and click Finished when the amount in the Difference box equals zero. Simple enough, right? But what happens if you're one of those people who's been using Quicken for quite some time but has never used the Reconcile feature? Instead, you've cleared transactions right on the Register by clicking inside the Clr column. (Guilty as charged.) Now, when you try to reconcile, you see some absurd totals at the bottom of the Payments and Checks window and the Deposits window. Quicken adds up every cleared transaction since the last time you reconciled--in this case, never!

If you find yourself in this situation, or if, on a smaller scale, you just haven't reconciled in quite a few months, you can remedy the situation (to complete the reconciliation) in one of two ways: Either go back and reconcile for every month that you missed (ick), or ask Quicken to enter an adjustment for you. We assume you want to take the easy way out and go with the adjustment:

  1. Go through the reconciliation as you normally would (as described in the first paragraph of this tip), checking off each item that appears on your current bank statement.
  2. When you're finished, click Finished (we know, the Difference box doesn't say zero, but do it anyway).
  3. In the Adjust Balance window, change the Adjustment Date to one that precedes the current statement.
  4. Click Adjust.

Like magic, the Difference box goes to zero. (Note: You can use this adjustment feature to complete a reconciliation any time that your account doesn't balance and you simply can't find--or are too lazy to look for--the problem.)

 

IS IT PAYDAY AGAIN ALREADY?

Do you enter all of your paycheck's information--income, withholdings, contributions to your 401k plan--into your Quicken file every single pay period? If so, no wonder you aren't too thrilled when payday rolls around. You must not know about Paycheck Setup, a Quicken feature designed to do all this busy work for you. Enter the information once and forget it.

Grab your most recent paycheck and do the following:

  1. Choose Features + Banking + Set Up Paycheck to open the Paycheck Setup dialog box. (Note: If you've used this feature in the past, the Manage Paychecks dialog box appears; click New.)
  2. Click Next.
  3. Select the deductions that apply to you, if any; then click Next.
  4. Enter a Paycheck Name, complete the How Often field, and click Next.
  5. Enter the most current paycheck information, click Next, and continue filling in information until you've told Quicken everything it needs.
  6. Finally, you reach a summary of the information that will be entered each payday. Click Done. (If the Manage Paychecks dialog box appears, click Done again.)

The next time payday rolls around, check your register, and you'll see that Quicken has entered all your paycheck information for you. What happened to all those withholdings and deductions? Click the Category field (where it says Splits), click the green check mark to display the splits, and there it all is.

 

IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE, IT'S...SUPERCATEGORIES

If we tell you once, we'll tell you a thousand times: Categories are the only way to accurately track your expenses. But did you know that you can also use Supercategories to further organize your transactions? No, Supercategories can't leap transactions in a single bound; their main function is to help you classify your budget expenses--separating the necessary expenses from the frivolous. But they also allow you to generate more informative reports.

For the most part, you use a Supercategory to further categorize a class of transactions. For example, you could create a Supercategory named Freelance Income to keep track of each form of income generated by your freelance work assignments. In this tip, we show you how to create Supercategories and then assign them to your transactions.

To create a Supercategory:

  1. From the Toolbar, choose Lists + Category/Transfer.
  2. Click the Super button in the center pane of the Category & Transfer List window.
  3. Click the New button, located at the bottom of the Supercategory Name list in the Manage Supercategories box.
  4. Enter a name for the Supercategory and click OK.

To assign a category to a Supercategory:

  1. Still in the Manage Supercategories box, select the category in the Category Name list.
  2. Select the Supercategory you want to assign in the Supercategory Name list.
  3. Click Assign (or click Clear to remove a Supercategory assignment).
  4. Click OK.

 

GETTING ITEM SPECIFIC

We've been showing you how to use Quicken Home Inventory to help you organize an inventory of your household possessions. To help you get the most out of QHI, for the month of October, we'll concentrate our tips on this nifty little program.

By default, QHI utilizes a simple List View format that enables you to quickly catalog your household belongings. But QHI also offers a Detail View that lets you record the specifics of each item--things like an item description, make and model, purchase date, and so on.

We recommend you use Detail View because the more detailed information you have to give your insurance company, the better your chances for recouping your lost possession's value.

To switch to the Detail View form, you first have to start up Quicken Home Inventory:

  • Click the Windows 95/98 Start menu, choose Programs + Quicken 98, and then select Quicken Home Inventory.
  • If you're already in Quicken, choose Features + Planning + Quicken Home Inventory.

Then follow these steps:

  1. In the List View window, click in the Item Description field of the item you want to record.
  2. Choose View + Detail View or click the icon at the far right corner of the Item Description field. Doing so displays the Detail View screen, which contains a number of fields you use to record specifics.
  3. Enter as much information as you like.
  4. Click the Record button to store the results.

 

ITEM TYPE VS. LOCATION

Quicken Deluxe's Home Inventory can show you two summaries of your belongings, either by Category -- such as appliance, clothing, electronics and so on -- or by Location -- which means room of the house where the items are found. These are both in the View menu. The Reports menu's Inventory Detail report shows the individual details behind those summaries, and lets you organize the report by Category, Location or Ins. Policy (insurance for that item) -- from the drop-down menu.

 

SELECTING THE ITEMS TO INCLUDE

As our previous tip explained, the Inventory Detail Report provides detailed information for all items in your home inventory. But you can also generate this report for a selected number of the items in your household inventory.

To specify the items you want to include in the report:

  1. Choose Reports + Inventory Detail to generate the report, if necessary.
  2. Click the Select Items button.
  3. In the Select Items dialog box, click Clear All.
  4. Click to select each item you want to include in the report. The current number of selected items appears below the list.
  5. Click OK.

Quicken Home Inventory immediately updates the report to include only information for the selected items.

 

JEWELS ARE AN ASSET

To be thorough, you should create Asset accounts for your jewels, your collectibles, your art, and other valuable property. You'll need some estimate of the value to create this account. It doesn't have to be exact, because this doesn't directly affect your taxes (yet). It's just for you to have a complete view of your net worth and possibly to help you estimate insurance needs. Choose File, New, Account, Household Asset. Choose the current date for a starting date, or choose the beginning of the year if you owned the items at that point and you're sure the value hasn't changed substantially since then.

 

JUMPING ON AND OFF THE INTERNET--PART 1 OF 2

By using the Update Quicken 98 command or the Get Online News and Quotes command, you can jump on the Internet for a quick download of today's stock quotes. But have you ever wanted to be able to jump off just as quickly? Well, today's your lucky day. You can set up Quicken to automatically disconnect from the Internet after it has finished its business. By doing so, you don't have to take the time to--or remember to--disconnect when you're done:

To automatically disconnect from the Internet:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Internet Connection.
  2. In the After Updating Quicken Data section, select Disconnect from the Internet.
  3. Click OK.

Now, the next time you use the Update Quicken 98 command or the Get Online News and Quotes command, Quicken connects to the Web, updates the appropriate information, and then disconnects.

JUMPING ON AND OFF THE INTERNET--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we showed you how to automatically disconnect from the Web after Quicken has finished its business. In this tip, we show you how to keep on top of an active Web connection by having Quicken alert you if a certain amount of time has passed without activity. (For example, you keep your Web connection running so that you can switch back and forth between Quicken and the Web, but then you get caught up in some Quicken calculation and completely forget that you are even connected.)

To have Quicken remind you that you are still connected after the connection is idle for a certain amount of time, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Internet Connection.
  2. In the When Connected text box, enter the number of minutes that must pass before Quicken prompts you. Enter 5, for example, if you want Quicken to alert you when you haven't accessed the Web connection in 5 minutes.
  3. Click OK.

 

CHANGING THE QUICKEN HOT KEYS

Creating your kind of environment is easy with Quicken's variety of options, which you can access by choosing Edit, Options. Settings, the third tab in the General Options window, allows you to change keyboard mappings, also called hot keys, for four basic keystroke combinations. You can choose whether to use the Quicken conventions for the hot keys or the Windows conventions, as shown in the following table:

Hot KeyWindowsQuicken
Ctrl + ZUndoQuick Zoom (Report)
Ctrl + XCutGo to Matching Transfer
Ctrl + CCopyGo to Category
Ctrl + VPasteVoid a transaction

To select the Windows conventions, click the Undo/Cut/Copy/Paste radio button.

If you plan to use the computer for more than updating your checkbook, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Windows keystrokes. Trying to learn new uses of common keys from program to program can be counterproductive, so unless you plan to use only Quicken and no other Windows software, you probably want to select the standard Windows conventions.

 

SETTING UP SECURITY LISTS

Your account contains more than one type of security, or investment. You may have shares in Boeing, General Motors, or Chase Manhattan. You name it, and someone owns it. You need to create a list of the securities -- stocks, bonds, and so on -- that your account holds.

To do so, set up the brokerage account, and then choose Investing, Security List to open the Security List window. Note that any mutual funds you've already set up appear in the list as securities. Click the New button in the Security List window to see the Set Up a New Security dialog box. Proceed from there to indicate the type of security, its name, and its stock ticker symbol. Then click Next to open a new set of boxes, and keep going. Quicken displays new sets of dialog boxes as you work through the instructions.

 

CALCULATING LOAN BALANCES

To calculate the loan principal amount, select the Loan Amount option button under Calculate For. Then enter all the other variables.

For example, those $33,265-a-month payments for the monster mansion seem a little ridiculous. So calculate how much you can borrow if you make $1,000-a-month payments over 30 years and the annual interest rate is 7.25 percent:

  1. Select the L[o]an Amount option button.
  2. Type 7.25 in the Annual [I]nterest Rate text box.
  3. Type 30 in the Number of [Y]ears text box.
  4. Type 12 in the Pe[r]iods Per Year text box.
  5. Type 1000 in the [P]ayment Per Period text box.

The Loan Calculator computes a loan amount of $146,589.

 

LOAN GOODIES

When your working with a liability account, be sure to take a further look at the View Loans window (available by choosing Household, Loans). You'll see two tabs labeled Payment Schedule and Payment Graph:

  • If you click the Payment Schedule tab, Quicken displays an amortization schedule showing the interest and principal portions of each loan payment.
  • If you click the Payment Graph tab, Quicken displays a line chart that shows how you pay off the loan balance over time.

You may want to take a minute and experiment with these two tabs. They're pretty neat.

 

SCHEDULING A LOAN PAYMENT WITH QUICKEN

If a loan payment occurs regularly, you can set it up as a scheduled payment. When you do so, Quicken automatically records the payment for you based on a schedule.

Follow these steps to set up such a scheduled transaction:

  1. Choose Cash Flow, Calendar or press Ctrl+K.
  2. Display the first month for which you want to schedule the transaction.
  3. Identify the scheduled transaction and date.

    Note: If you can't see the list of transactions along the right edge of the Calendar window, click Options, Memorized Transactions List.

  4. Identify the account from which the payment should be made.
  5. Verify that the transaction type is Payment.
  6. Verify that the Payee, Date, and Memo fields are correct.
  7. Use the Scheduled Transaction and the Register Transaction option buttons to indicate how often the scheduled transaction should occur.
  8. Tell Quicken whether you want to double-check the scheduled transaction before it actually gets entered in the register.

    Doing so is easy. Just open the Enter in Register drop-down list box and select the Prompt before Enter choice.

  9. Indicate the number of days in advance you want to be reminded of the scheduled payment.
  10. Click OK.

Quicken adds the transaction to its scheduled transaction list.

Quicken takes the Paul Masson approach to finance -- it will enter no transaction before its time. So when the time is right (meaning next month on the scheduled date) Quicken enters the transaction automatically. Furthermore, Quicken enters the transaction automatically each month until you tell it to stop.

 

KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR LOANS

Have you recently jumped on the real estate bandwagon and purchased a new home? Or maybe you just bought a new car. In any case, you can use Quicken's Loan features to help keep better track of all your existing loans. By creating a Loan account, you can record the payments you make, see how much interest you've paid, and keep a watchful eye on all your loan balances.

To create a Loan account:

  1. Choose Features + Bills + Loans.
  2. Click the New button.
  3. Click the Next button to start the Loan Setup procedure.
  4. The Loan Setup procedure takes you step by step through setting up a Loan account. Fill in all the requested information. When you're done, Quicken displays summary screens, showing your responses.
  5. Review the information in the summary screens, clicking Next to move to and review the following screen.
  6. Click Done when you have finished reviewing the loan information.
  7. In the resulting Set Up Loan Payment dialog box, enter the Payee information and select a Category to track the interest portion of the loan; then click OK.

 

LOANS DON'T LIST IN MEMORIZED TRANSACTIONS

You can't edit memorized Loan payments listed in the Banking menu's Memorized Transaction choice. You have to use the Features, Bills, Loans command.

 

ADJUSTABLE-RATE LOANS

If you took out a variable-interest loan and the interest rate changed, you need to tell Quicken what the new interest rate is and have the program adjust your payments accordingly. To do that, go to the View Loans window (press Ctrl + H), select the loan in question, and click the Rate Changes button. In the Edit Interest Rate Change dialog box, enter the new rate.

 

KEEP BETTER TRACK OF YOUR CASH

In the past, we've presented tips on how to keep the cash king in check. A keen reader came up with an additional solution to tracking the cash in your life. Johnnie D. suggests that you create a Cash account and then record all cash purchases in that account. By doing so, you not only establish a single location for tracking cash purchases, but you also gain a sense of where you spent your money. Who knows? Over time you may just learn to keep the cash in your pocket, where it belongs.

To see how it works, first create the Cash account:

  1. Choose Lists + Accounts and then click the New button in the upper left pane of the Accounts lists screen.
  2. Select Cash from the list of account types and click Next.
  3. Enter a name for the account, such as Cash Spending, and click Next.
  4. If you currently have cash on hand that you want to track, click Yes. Otherwise, click No.
  5. If you answered Yes in the preceding step, enter the starting date of the account, which is currently set to today's date, and then enter the amount of cash you have in the Amount field. Click Next.
  6. Review the information in the Summary tab. Make any changes necessary and click Done to complete the account setup.

Now, whenever you make a cash purchase, enter the transaction in the Cash Spending account. Each transaction you enter decreases the balance of cash on hand. When you make a cash withdrawal from an ATM machine or through an actual bank teller (if they still exist!), enter the transaction in your Checking account as you normally would. But transfer the cash to your Cash account by entering the name of the account in the Category field. In this instance, you would select Transfer To/From Cash Spending. Quicken then transfers the cash withdrawal to your Cash Spending account. Over time, you'll probably notice a pattern in your cash spending.

 

KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING WITH MULTIPLE CATEGORIES

If you really want to keep a close watch on where your money goes, assign multiple categories to your transactions and "split" a transaction into component charges. That is, if you have a bill that contains multiple items and you want to track certain charges--such as how many 900 calls you have on your local phone bill each month compared to how many calls you make to your mom--you can keep track of both types of charges you incur each month.

To assign multiple categories:

  1. Enter the transaction in your account register as usual.
  2. Click the Split button.
  3. In the Split Transaction Window, assign a category. (Last time, we showed you how to create Categories and Subcategories in your memorized transaction list. If you need to create a new Category name to refer to this account, click the down arrow in the Payee/Category field of the account register. Then click Add Cat and follow along to add the new category.) Repeat this procedure for each new Category you want to create.
  4. Quicken returns you to the Split Transaction Window. In each Amount column, enter the charges you want to track. Click Next to go to each subsequent line.
  5. Click OK to return to your account register.

Note: You needn't enter every charge on your bill in this Window--only those you're tracking. The remainder of the charges will appear on a line as an "uncategorized item." Do not click Adjust unless you want the sum of your recorded split amounts to replace the total payment amount back in your Account register. Simply Click OK when you get a dialog box in the Split Transaction Window warning you of the presence of uncategorized items.

 

KEEP YOUR FINANCES SEPARATE

Do you keep two checking accounts--say, one for home and another for business-related expenses? Or maybe you and your partner haven't yet "commingled" your financial life. Or maybe you exclude certain savings accounts from cash flow reports. Whatever the case, you can easily keep track of your own accounts and not have to worry about one account conflicting with another when you generate reports. You see, for every report you create in Quicken, you can indicate exactly which accounts (and their transactions) should and should not be included.

To exclude accounts from a report, follow these steps:

  1. Create the report as usual. For example, choose Reports + Home + Cash Flow.
  2. Click the Create button at the bottom of the Create Report screen to generate the report.
  3. Click the Customize button (at the top of the report screen).
  4. Select the Accounts tab. In the Selected Accounts area of the dialog box, all the accounts in the current file are listed. Green checkmarks appear to the left of accounts that will be included in the current report.
  5. Click the account name of any report you don't want to include. The green checkmark disappears, indicating that the account is deselected.
  6. When you're done deselecting accounts, click Create to update the report.

 

KEEP YOUR GOALS IN SIGHT

If you're the type who needs your goals plastered right in front of you--you're weak for Italian shoes, for example--you can use Quicken's Progress bars to give you the stamina you need to save for what you want. Using the Progress bars is almost like pasting a picture of Venice on the fridge to remind you to save for your vacation. When you turn on the Progress bars, you can display a savings goal on one side and, on the other side, show the budget category you have the most difficulty sticking to in your budget You may just find the inspiration you need to stay on track.

To turn on the Progress bars: From the Toolbar, choose Features + Planning + Progress Bars.

Two bar graphs appear at the bottom of your screen. By default, the left side shows a Savings Goal, and the right side shows a Budget Goal. Both graphs use a gas gauge type scale. If there was ever a time when you're happy to see an empty gauge, this is it. An empty gauge in the Budget Goal Progress bar means you are at or below your budget.

To program the goals you want to display in the Progress bars:

  1. Click the Cust button located to the right of the Progress bars area.
  2. To enter a savings goal to display, select Savings Goal from the Left Gauge Type list. Click the Choose Goal button, select the appropriate Savings Goal option, and click OK.
  3. To highlight the budget category you have most trouble sticking to, select Budget Goal from the Right Gauge Type, click Choose Category, select the category you want to monitor (for example, Cash), and click OK.
  4. Click OK when you have completed your settings.

Keep these items on-screen at all times to give you the motivation you need to both reach your savings goal and stick to your most contrary budget item. And start brushing up on your Italian!

 

KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY TRANSACTIONS!

Do you share Quicken with another member of your household? Are you nervous that past transactions may be altered and your finances will never be straight? Well, you can rest easy. Quicken lets you assign a password to your transactions. When you assign a password, you must supply that password before you can save any changes made to the transactions.

To assign a password:

  1. Choose File + Passwords + Transaction.
  2. Type the password in the Password text box.
  3. In the Confirm Password text box, type the password again.
  4. In the Required for Dates Through field, enter the last date of the current year. Doing so protects both past and future transactions.
  5. Click OK.

From now on, you have to supply the password each and every time you want to change an existing transaction.

To remove the password:

  1. Choose File + Passwords + Transaction.
  2. Type the password in the Old Password text box.
  3. Leave the New Password and Confirm Password fields blank.
  4. Click OK.

 

CLICK WITH YOUR KEYBOARD

Hey, toolbars and icons are great--except that they seem, at least outwardly, to require a mouse. But things aren't always what they seem: You can, if so inclined, operate any toolbar on your Excel screen without lifting a finger from the keyboard:

  1. Press Alt. Doing so selects the Excel menu (specifically, the File menu).
  2. Press Ctrl + Tab. This keystroke selects a toolbar--the Standard toolbar, if you have that one displayed. The first button on the toolbar appears "pressed." If necessary, continue to press Ctrl + Tab until the appropriate toolbar is selected.
  3. Use the arrow keys to select the button you want to use.
  4. When the button you want is selected, press Enter to "click" it.

Sure, it sounds complex, but once you get the hang of the keystrokes, you can type through those toolbars pretty quickly.

 

LABEL PRINTING

The Deluxe and Home & Business versions of Quicken come with an Address Book feature. This holds names, addresses, phone numbers and personal notes. You can use the Address Book to print labels making it easy to send one or more bills, thank-yous, or other messages. The Print + Labels option lists various choices for standard Avery label sizes.

 

LATER, GATOR

In the upper-right corner of the Quicken Home Page is the Alerts and Reminders section. To remind yourself of a transaction or due date, you can set up a new alert:

  1. Click the option Set Alerts. The Set Up Alerts dialog box appears.
  2. Click the Account tab.
  3. In the left side of the dialog box, place a check by the first type of alert that you want to set.
  4. Enter additional information required for the alert in the right side of the dialog box.
  5. Click Apply to save your settings for the current alert.
  6. Repeat Steps 2 to 5 for each additional alert you want to set.
  7. Click OK to enter the alert information.

The next time you display your alerts from your Quicken Home Page or register, a notation appears if the criteria for triggering the alert has been met -- for example, the minimum balance limits are not met or a monthly expense is due.

 

TAKING A LEAD

You make a payment. The payment shows up on your account. The time in between those two events is the "lead time". In the snail mail days the lead time could stretch as long as a week or more, though four days is typical. In the e-era it can be as little as a day or two. When you create a new payee, Quicken assumes a lead time of four days. If you choose to pay online, Quicken will check to see if that payee a ccepts direct EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) of payments. If it does, Quicken will cut the lead time to the appropriate one or two days.

 

WHEN YOU'RE THE LENDER

In past tips, we've shown you how to use the Loans feature to keep track of your car loans and mortgages. In this tip, we show you how to set up a loan when you're the lender. Say, for example, that you want to track the personal loan you made to your dead-beat brother-in-law. To set up a loan:

  1. Choose Features + Bills + Loans.
  2. Click the New button at the top of the Loan screen.
  3. Click Next to begin the Loan setup process.
  4. Select the type of loan you are tracking. In this case, select Lend Money and click Next.
  5. Enter a name for the Loan Account and click Next.
  6. For the time being, select No when Quicken asks if any payments have been made on the loan, and click Next.
  7. Enter the date the loan was created and the original balance of the loan and then click Next.
  8. If the loan includes a balloon payment, select Yes. Otherwise, select No. Click Next to continue.
  9. Enter the original length of the loan and click Next.
  10. Enter the payment period of the loan and click Next.
  11. Enter the compounding period and click Next.
  12. Enter the date of the first regularly scheduled payment for the loan and click Next.
  13. If you know the amount of the first payment, select Yes; otherwise, select No to have Quicken calculate the amount for you.
  14. If you selected Yes in the Step 13, enter the payment amount and click Next. If you selected No, enter the interest rate of the loan and click Next.
  15. Review the information in the summary screens, clicking Next to review each resulting screen. Note that for those loans, Quicken calculates the loan amount based on the information you provided.
  16. Click Done when you finish reviewing the loan information.
  17. In the Set Up Loan Payment dialog box, enter the Payee information (which is probably yourself, in this case), select a Category to track the interest portion of the loan, and click OK.

Note that Quicken creates an affiliated asset account to track the balance of your loan. As each payment is recorded, Quicken updates the balance of this asset account.

 

TRACKING A LIABILITY

Set up a liability account (a credit card account, for example) in Quicken to track loans for which you pay not interest (or loans you do pay interest on but for which you don't care to track the interest and principal), income taxes, or anything else that counts against your net worth.

A liability account is exactly like the other accounts in Quicken. It has places for entering dates, categories, and amounts. The only difference is that Increase and Decrease columns appears where Payment and Deposit columns may usually be.

When something adds to your debt, enter it in the Increase column. When you pay off part of your debt, record the payment in the Decrease column.

You can also click the Update Balance button to open the Update Account Balance dialog box and record your new balance there.

 

THE LIFE UNCATEGORIZED

"The uncategorized transaction is not worth entering." So might have said Socrates, if he had used Quicken.

Without categories you lose 79 percent (just our estimate) of the value of Quicken. That's why you can use the Register Options to issue a warning whenever you try to enter a transaction without giving a category.

To add this option:

  1. Select Edit, Options, Register
  2. Click on the Miscellaneous tab.
  3. Add a check to the appropriate check box.
  4. Click OK.

 

LIGHTEN THE SECURITY

In the last two tips, we showed you how to set passwords for an entire Quicken file (open the relevant file, choose File + Passwords + File, type the desired password twice [once to create the password, again to confirm it], and then click OK) or for the data within a specific file (open the file; choose File + Passwords + Transaction, type the password twice, set the Required For Dates Through date, and click OK).

Of course, showing you how to protect a file wouldn't be fair unless we also showed you how to UNDO passwords in the event that you change your mind about security issues. (What we can't do is tell you how to get into a file or transaction data if you forget a password. If that's the case, you're just plain outta luck. Sorry.)

To remove password-protection:

  1. Select File + Passwords + File (or Transaction).
  2. Type the current password on the Old Password line.
  3. Click OK.

(NOTE: To change a password, follow Steps 1 and 2 in the preceding; then type a new password on the New Password and Confirm Password lines; and finally click OK.)

 

LIMITING DATA IN A REPORT

In the last two tips, we showed you how to locate transactions in your registers by using the choices available in the Match If fields of the Find dialog box. You can use a similar set of search parameters to limit the information found in a report. Say, for instance, that you want to generate a report that lists all transactions that include the word Bank in the payee field. Or maybe you want to generate a report that includes all categories except a certain one. To do so, you customize the report settings, using search parameters similar to those introduced in earlier tips.

  1. Choose Reports and then select the type of report you want to create.
  2. Click the Customize button in the lower portion of the Create Report dialog box.
  3. Select the Include tab in the Customize Report box.
  4. In the Matching section of the dialog box, determine which of the fields you plan to use to limit your report options. You can choose among the Payee, Category, Class, and Memo fields.
  5. Next enter the search string. You can use the following special characters to limit your entries:
    • For an exact match: Enter the equal sign (=) followed by the text in its entirety. For example, enter =American Express to include only those transactions that contain the phrase American Express.
    • For a partial match: Enter two periods (..) at the location within the text entry where characters may vary. For example, enter American .. to locate American Express or American Cancer Society. Enter .. America to locate Bank of America. Enter A..a to locate AAA or Abba.
    • To locate blank fields: Enter two periods (..) in the field box.
    • For a match with one unspecified character: Enter a question mark (?) at the appropriate location in the search string. For example, enter America? to locate both America and American.
    • To exclude the data in one field only: Enter a tilde (~) followed by the data to exclude. For example, to generate a report that includes all payees except American Express, enter ~American Express.
  6. Click the Create button at the bottom of the dialog box to generate the report.

 

JUMP TO THE HEAD OF THE LIST

As you work in Quicken, your lists can quickly become unruly. The Categories list, for example, can easily grow to contain over a hundred entries. Likewise, searching for a transaction in the lengthy Memorized Transaction list is enough to drive you batty. Here's what you can do to cut down on the clutter:

To quickly jump to any section, simply type the first letter of the transaction or category you are looking for. For example, if you are looking for a payee named Patty's Pizza Parlor, simply type the letter P to jump to the first listing that starts with the letter P.

 

MORE LISTING, LESS QUICKTABS

QuickTabs are those helpful outline items on the side that give you quick access to Banking, Planning, and other parts of Quicken. They're not necessary. You can get where you want to go through the menus, too. If you'd rather have more onscreen space, right-click the QuickTabs and choose Minimize QuickTabs. You can also click the little arrow next to the top QuickTab. That minimizes them, too. The arrow reappears, pointing the other way, and invites you to click it again at any time to restore the QuickTabs to their full glory.

 

SANTA'S LIST IS HISTORY; NOW MAKE YOURS

Quicken's Home Inventory can keep a detailed list of what you own, which can make all the difference if the time comes to divide those belongings or to replace them with insurance payments. In Quicken 2000:

  1. Choose Household + Quicken Home Inventory.
  2. In the List View window that appears, click the Item Descriptions drop-down list.
  3. In the Detail View window, enter a description, serial number, and other tidbits about an item. On the right is a suggested list of things to look for.
  4. Enter a category (there's a drop-down menu to help), replacement cost, and resale value for the item. (You may have to guess on the last two.)
  5. After entering your information, click Record.
  6. Click the Next Item button and enter the details on something else. Repeat this step until you're done
  7. When you finish entering details, click the Return to List View button to see how much your total replacement cost would be.

 

A LITTLE NOW, A LITTLE LATER

Don't put off using Quicken's Planners -- for Retirement, College, and other savings goals -- until you have plenty of time. After all, most of us never have plenty of time and Quicken knows it. So the Planners are ready to take time when you can spare it. For example, although it takes a total of about a half-hour to enter all of your situational details into the Retirement Planner, you don't have to set aside a full half-hour at one sitting. Instead you can do five minutes here and ten there until all the blanks are filled.

 

ACCEPTING LOAN PAYMENTS

In the last tip, we showed you how to set up a loan when you are the lender. In this tip, we show you how to keep track of those incoming loan payments. (Hey, we can all dream can't we?)

  1. When you receive your first loan payment, choose Features + Bills + Loans.
  2. If necessary, click the Choose Loan button and select the appropriate loan account.
  3. Click the Make Payment button.
  4. Click Regular in the Loan Payment dialog box.
  5. In the resulting Receive Regular Payment dialog box, specify the account in which to deposit the payment, adjust the date if necessary, enter a memo if you like, and then click OK to record the loan payment.

Quicken records the loan payment in two separate accounts: First, the loan payment is recorded as a deposit in the account you specified (most likely your checking account), and the loan payment is also recorded as a decrease in the associated loan asset account.

 

DELETE MISTAKEN LOAN PAYMENTS

When you use the Loans feature to record your loan payments instead of entering them as straight transactions, Quicken takes a lot of things into account. For example, it keeps track of the interest payments, the remaining number of payments due, and other administrative details. The problem is, you can't easily delete an erroneous loan payment made via the Loans feature. The Delete button at the top of the screen deletes the loan itself. Fortunately, we know the super-secret code.

To delete an erroneously recorded loan payment:

  1. Switch to the account register from which the payment was made (probably your checking account).
  2. Locate and select the offending loan payment.
  3. Click the Delete button.
  4. In the resulting dialog box, click Yes to delete the transaction.
  5. Switch back to the View Loans window and click the Edit Payment button.
  6. Reset the Next Payment Date to reflect the deletion you made. For example, if you deleted the last payment made, you have to reset the Next Payment Date to the current month.B
  7. Click OK.

 

PAYING OFF A LOAN

Although it may seem like a lifetime away, at some point, you will finally pay off an outstanding loan. After you pay off the loan, remove the loan from Quicken but save the data for your records.

To delete the paid-off loan:

  1. If necessary, choose Features + Bills + Loans to switch to the View Loans screen.
  2. Click Choose Loan and select the loan you want to delete.
  3. Click Delete.
  4. In the dialog box, click Yes to indicate that you do want to save the account for historical purposes.

Quicken then removes the loan information from the View Loans window. To view the details of the loan account:

  1. Choose Lists + Account.
  2. Select the name of the account (which, in this case, is the same name used for the loan).
  3. Click Open.

You find a record of all recorded payments made to the loan, including the final one. Feels good, doesn't it?

 

LOCKING A TRANSACTION

Sometimes you want Quicken to "memorize" a transaction that you make regularly, such as your monthly rent payments or 401(k) contributions. Then, each time you want to record that type of transaction again, all you need do is type a few letters into the payee field and Quicken will fill in the rest. This is called locking a transaction. You can always manually alter the payment amount or any other part of the transaction if you like.

To lock a transaction, follow these steps:

  1. Enter the transaction that you want to lock in your register, filling in all the appropriate fields and categories.
  2. Choose Lists + Memorized Transaction (or press Ctrl + T).
  3. In the Memorized Transactions List, scan through the list until you see the transaction you want to lock.
  4. Click the Lck column of the transaction you want to lock. Quicken places a small lock icon in the column. (To unlock the transaction, simply click the Lck column again.)

Note that you can always change the parameters of a locked memorized transaction without affecting its appearance in previous entries in the register. For example, if your rent has gone up, you want to keep the "memorized" landlord's name and other information, but you will need to enter a higher payment amount. In the same Memorized Transactions List window, select the transaction you want to edit and click the Edit button. In the resulting Edit Memorized Transaction dialog box, make any changes you want and click OK when you're finished.

 

CHECK LOGIC

E-payments are certainly cool, but most payments are still made by printed checks. If you pay a one-time fee, Intuit can arrange to turn your personal or company logo into computer art that will appear on paper checks you buy. But why not skip that fee? If you order Standard or Voucher style checks--not Wallet Checks--Quicken can add the logo for you at check printing time. Just make it up as a Windows Paint bitmap image. Keep it to a square about 1/2 inch on a side. Then be ready to click it in during the Printer Setup step.

 

LOOK BUT DON'T TOUCH

We've showed you how to password-protect an entire Quicken file: With that file open, select File + Passwords + File, type the password twice, and click OK.

But what happens if you simply want to protect your Quicken data from unwanted changes--for example, if someone else is entering data for you and you don't want any changes made to existing information? (Hey, nobody's perfect.) Ask Quicken to require a password before it accepts changes to existing transactions:

  1. Open the relevant file.
  2. Select File + Passwords + Tansaction.
  3. Type the desired password once on the Password line; then enter the password again to confirm it.
  4. Next to Required For Dates Through, type the date up to which you'd like to protect transactions (you can also select the date by clicking the calendar icon).
  5. Click OK.

From now on, when you try to change a transaction dated on or before the specified date, the Quicken Password dialog box appears. No password, no change.

 

LOOK INTO MY CRYSTAL BALL--PART 1 OF 5

Does the very thought of looking into your financial future make you weak in the knees? Well, Quicken has a Forecasting tool that can help you see your future and face it dead on. Over the next series of tips, we show you how the Forecasting tool helps you realize your financial dreams--whether to get out of debt, save enough for a new car, or plan for retirement.

Before we begin, a brief sidenote: Quicken provides two tools for financial planning. A Budget helps you determine your spending patterns and assists with ways to cut down spending to meet your goals. A Forecast is used for long-range planning and helps you see the big financial picture. For example, you can see the effect a salary raise has on your finances over time or what happens if you incur a higher car payment or mortgage.

To create a Forecast:

  1. From the Toolbar, choose Features + Planning + Forecasting.
  2. Click Create in the upper left pane of the Forecasting window.
  3. Enter the date range for the Forecast in the Automatically Create Forecast dialog box.
  4. Click OK.

Quicken generates a Forecast graph, showing your past account balances in yellow and your future account balances in blue. In the next set of tips, we show you how to fine-tune your Forecast.

LOOK INTO MY CRYSTAL BALL--PART 2 OF 5

In this series of tips, we show you how to forecast your financial future. To create a Forecast, choose Features + Planning + Forecasting. Enter the date range for the Forecast in the Automatically Create Forecast dialog box and click OK. Doing so generates a Forecast, using estimated amounts from your check register and any budgets you have created, as well as known items culled from your scheduled transactions. In this tip, we show you how to make sure your Forecast paints the proper picture by verifying that these amounts are both realistic and accurate.

To view the Income and Expense items used to generate the Forecast, click the Expense Items or the Income Items button of the Forecast screen. To change an allocated amount, select the item's Amount field in the Forecast Income Items box and then enter the new amount.

To change the frequency or date fields, select the item and click the Edit button. Make necessary changes and click OK. To remove an item outright from the Forecast, select the item and click Delete. To add a new item to the Forecast, click the New button and fill in the resulting dialog box. Click Done when you have finished.

Our next tip shows you how to finesse your Forecast to get a clearer picture.

LOOK INTO MY CRYSTAL BALL--PART 3 OF 5

In this series of tips, we show you how to forecast your financial future. To create a Forecast, choose Features + Planning + Forecasting. Click Create in the left pane, then enter the date range for the Forecast in the Automatically Create Forecast dialog box and click OK. Then make changes to the forecast by clicking the Income and Expense Items as necessary and click Done when you're finished.

In this tip, we show you how to manipulate the items in the Forecast window to determine how good (or dismal) your financial future looks.

When you first create the Forecast, Quicken automatically plots the entire year along the graph. You can easily change the date range of your Forecast:

  1. Click the drop-down list in the lower left of the Forecasting window (it should currently read One Year).
  2. Select from the list the date range you want to use to plot your Forecast. You can choose a single month, six months, one year, or two years.

The Prev and Next buttons located directly below the date range drop-down list enable you to view the next or previous series in the time period selected. For example, if you selected One Month, each time you click the Next button, the data for the next month appears.

To display all the financial events that comprise the Forecast, select Show All in the Events on Graph box in the Forecasting window. To display one-time events or annual events, select Annual, One-Time. Financial events appear as red and green triangles. To view the specifics of an event, click that event's triangle on the graph. (Tip-in-a-tip: To minimize the amount of clutter on the Events graph, you may want to make the data range One Month or Six Months.)

Our next tip shows you how to add a new event to your Forecast and watch its effect on the bottom line.

LOOK INTO MY CRYSTAL BALL--PART 4 OF 5

In the last few tips, we showed how you can use a Forecast to get a peek at your financial future. You can create a Forecast by choosing Features + Planning + Forecasting, entering the data range for the Forecast in the Automatically Create Forecast dialog box, and then clicking OK. You can also manipulate the forecast data by clicking the Income and Expense Items buttons, as necessary. Click Done when finished.

After you forecast out your savings account, you can see what happens when you factor in that goal you've been dreaming of. Does your Forecast plunge or continue to coast nicely along? To see the effect of a one-time expense (like your daughter's wedding) or a big raise on your monthly income, you need to create a Future Financial Event. To create a one-time event:

  1. In the Forecasting window, click the line located just below the Forecast graph, in the Future Financial Events section.
  2. In the Create New Expense (or Income) Item dialog box, indicate the event type, either Income or Expense.
  3. Enter a description of the event, such as Wedding.
  4. Enter the amount of the event.
  5. In the Frequency field, select Only Once.
  6. Select Next Scheduled Date and then enter the date of the event. For example, enter the date of the wedding.
  7. Click OK.

To create a recurring event:

  1. Click the line located just below the Forecast graph, in the Future Financial Events section.
  2. In the Create New Expense (or Income) Item dialog box, indicate the event type, either Income or Expense.
  3. Enter a description of the event, such as Raise.
  4. Enter the amount of the event.
  5. In the Frequency field, select the frequency of the event. If you are tracking a recurring event such as a raise, select the frequency of your paycheck, such as Twice a Mo.
  6. Select Next Scheduled Date and then enter the date of the event. For example, enter the first date that the raise will appear in your paycheck.
  7. Click OK.

In the next tip, we show you how you can save your Forecast and then play what-if games to see how things will shape up.

LOOK INTO MY CRYSTAL BALL--PART 5 OF 5

The last four tips dealt with creating and managing a financial Forecast. To create a Forecast, choose Features + Planning + Forecasting. Enter the data range for the Forecast in the Automatically Create Forecast dialog box and click OK. If you've been following along in this series on Forecasts, you may have noticed that when you created your Forecast, it was assigned the name "Base Scenario." A scenario is simply a saved Forecast. In this tip, we show you how to save a Forecast as a scenario and then play some what-if games with the different scenarios.

Before you create a scenario, first create a new Forecast or manipulate the current Forecast until it contains the data you want. To create a new Forecast, click the Create button and then provide the information as prompted.

To save the Forecast as a scenario:

  1. Click the Scenario button in the upper-left pane of the Forecasting window.
  2. Click the New button in the Saved Scenarios section.
  3. Enter a name for the scenario, such as Best Case.
  4. Make sure Copy Current Scenario is selected.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Click Done to return to the Forecast screen.

To switch between scenarios:

  1. Click the Scenario button.
  2. From the Scenario Data drop-down list, select the scenario you want to switch to.
  3. Click Done to display the Forecast scenario.

To compare two scenarios:

  1. Click the Scenario button.
  2. In the Display Options section, select Compare Current Scenario With.
  3. From the drop-down list, select the scenario you want to compare to the first.
  4. Click Done.

The second scenario is added to the Forecast graph and appears in green.

 

LOOK IT UP ON THE CALENDAR

Ever need to locate a transaction but the very thought of looking through the check register makes you loopy? If you're the type of person who can do wonders with a desk calendar or day planner, you should take full advantage of the Financial Calendar to manage your accounts.

Every transaction you enter in your check register and other accounts is stored in the Financial Calendar. To view these transactions:

  1. Choose Features + Reminders + Financial Calendar.
  2. To view all the transactions made on a specific date, double-click the Calendar date. A Transactions list box appears with a list of the transactions.
  3. To view the details of a transaction, select the transaction and then click Register. Quicken takes you to the appropriate account register and to the actual transaction you selected.

Ah, the Calendar--a much more civilized way to manage your transactions, don't you think?

 

USING LOT IDENTIFICATION

If you're setting up a security that you'll hold in a taxable account, click the Lot Identification button in the appropriate Set Up a New Security dialog box. Specific identification of individual lots -- a lot is just a batch you buy at the same time and price --- gives you the opportunity to time your capital gains. And timing your capital gains often lets you minimize your taxes.

If you're setting up a security for a tax-deferred account -- like a self-directed IRA -- you can use average costing. In this case, go ahead and mark the Average Cost button.

 

MAGNIFY C

Customize buttons appear in the toolbar and at the bottom of the Reports & Graphs Center window. But you can use another way to start customizing a report or graph: Move the mouse cursor until it is over the header of the report, at the top. When that cursor changes to a magnifying glass icon with a small C within, click.

 

MAKE SURE YOU GET REIMBURSED

If you regularly travel for your job or incur business expenses, you know how difficult it can be to keep track of those expenses in order to receive reimbursement. There's nothing like a business trip to wreak havoc on your nicely balanced checking account. In this tip, we show you how to create a Quicken account that lets you keep your business expenses separate from your personal expenses and record the reimbursement checks as you receive them. Such an account tells you at a glance which expenses have been reimbursed and which are still outstanding.

To set up an expense account:

  1. Choose Features + Banking + Create New Account.
  2. Select Asset in the Create New Account box and click Next.
  3. Enter a name for the account, such as Business Expenses, and click Next.
  4. For now, select No in the Asset Account Setup box to set the initial balance at zero and then click Next.
  5. Double-check the information in the Summary screen and click Done.

Now, as you incur business expenses, enter each expense as a transaction in your checking account as you normally would, but in the Category field, select your business expense account. Doing so transfers that amount to that account. When you receive an expense reimbursement from your employer, enter the amount as a deposit in your checking account. Again, assign the transaction your business expense account category to transfer the amount to your expense account.

If your expense check is itemized (actually, even if it is not), you can use the Reconcile feature to check off each business expense that was covered by the check. That way, you always know which expenses are still outstanding and which you have been reimbursed for.

To reconcile your expense account:

  1. Switch to the Business Expense account register. If necessary, choose Lists + Account and then double-click your business expense account in the list of accounts.
  2. For every transaction for which you've received an expense check, click in the Clr column. The first time you click, "c" appears in the column to indicate that the item has cleared or, in our case, that the item has been "paid" by the expense check. Any item without a c in the Clr column is still outstanding.

 

WHAT YOU MAKE

The size of your salary you make obviously influences how much you save and when you can retire. But it isn't enough in Quicken's Retirement Planner to enter a single annual salary (or self-employment income). That's a start, but for a more-accurate retirement forecast, you also need to look at the Salary Income dialog box and its Adjustments section. Here you canclick the New button to enter any scheduled job changes, promotions, bonuses, or unpaid leaves you're planning. Do you expect to work fewer hours when you have that baby? Enter it here. Are 5-percent raises typical in your company? Enter it.

 

MAKING A LIST, CHECKING IT TWICE--PART 1 OF 4

What could be as time consuming as keeping track of your Holiday gift purchases? Managing your holiday card list, of course. Well guess what? Quicken can again come to your aid. If you already use Quicken's Financial Address Book to keep track of your friends and family, then you can also use it to manage your holiday card list.

First, from the menubar, choose Lists + Track Important Addresses to open the Financial Address Book. If you've never used the Address Book before, click the New button to create a new record, and then enter the information in each field provided in the Address Book window. Click Record to bring up a new record window after each addressee you add to the Address Book.

Next, we'll create a group named Holiday Cards and assign it to the individuals you wish to send a card. Then you can quickly generate a list of all your recipients.

To create a group name:

  1. From the Address Book menu, choose Options + Set Up Groups.
  2. In the Add Group Field at the bottom of the Groups dialog box, enter the name of the group to create. In this case, type Holiday Cards and click Record.
  3. Click OK when you have finished.

To assign a record to a group:

  1. From the list of names and addresses in the Address Book window, click on the record you wish to assign to the Holiday Cards group.
  2. Click the arrow in the Assigned to Group field at the bottom of the Address Book window.
  3. Select the group name to assign to the record, in this case select Holiday Cards.
  4. Click the Record button.

In our next tip, we'll show you how to generate a list of all the individuals to whom you need to send holiday cheer.

MAKING A LIST, CHECKING IT TWICE--PART 2 OF 4

In our last tip, we showed you how to use the Group tool in the Financial Address Book to mark the names of all the people you want on your Holiday Card list. In this tip, we'll show you how to produce a listing of all the names and addresses assigned to that group. If necessary, choose Lists + Track Important Addresses to open the Financial Address Book.

To sort the records by group:

  1. Click the drop-down arrow in the Group field located at the top of the Address Book window.
  2. Select the group name, in this case, Holiday Cards.
  3. All of the names and addresses currently assigned to the Holiday Cards group are displayed in the Address Book window.

In tomorrow's tip, we'll show you how to print the Holiday Card list.

MAKING A LIST, CHECKING IT TWICE--PART 3 OF 4

In the past two tips, we've shown you how to use the Financial Address Book to keep track of the individuals to whom you wish to send a holiday greeting. To recap, choose Lists + Track Important Addresses. Next, select Options + Set Up Group from the Address Book's menubar, to create a group named Holiday Cards; then assign that group name to the intended recipients. Finally, sort the records by choosing the Holiday Cards group from the Group dropdown list. Now that you've got your list of holiday card recipients, it's time to produce a printout of the names and addresses and keep it handy as you address your cards.

To print the names and addresses:

  1. In the financial Address Book screen, choose File + Print.
  2. In the Print field, select Address Book.
  3. Select Standard Paper in the On field.
  4. In the Print Range section, make sure All addresses currently shown is selected.
  5. Click OK to print the records listing.

MAKING A LIST, CHECKING IT TWICE--PART 4 OF 4

In our last tip, we showed you how to print out the list of names and addresses in your Holiday Card group so that you can refer to them as you address your holiday cards. To save even more time, why not print the names and addresses directly onto mailing labels? Or better yet, print addresses directly onto the envelopes themselves. In this tip, we'll show you how to do just that.

To print to mailing labels:

  1. From the menubar of the Address Book menu, choose File + Print Preview. (You should always preview a print job such as this.)
  2. In the Preview field, select Labels.
  3. In the On field, select the type of mailing labels to print to. Click OK. (You should first check with Quicken to see which types of labels are supported before you go out and purchase your labels. Generally speaking, Quicken doesn't support as many different label types, as say, a word processing or database program.)
  4. Select Print standard mailing labels in the Type of Labels to Print.
  5. If you wish to print a separate sheet of your own return address labels, select Print One Page of Return Labels and then enter the return address in the area provided.
  6. Click OK to preview the print job. Click twice to zoom in on the print preview. If all is to your satisfaction, click the Print button located at the top right of the preview screen to print the names and addresses onto the mailing labels. Otherwise click Close to return to the main address book window.

To print to envelopes:

  1. Choose File + Print Preview.
  2. In the Preview field, select Envelopes.
  3. In the On field, note that Quicken only supports a single envelope size, in this case, the standard business envelope, which is rarely the size of a holiday card envelope. If you are using an envelope of a different size you might want to consider printing your names and addresses to mailing labels.
  4. Click OK.
  5. If you'd like to include a return address, select the Print Return Address option in the Print Envelope window and enter the return address in the space provided.
  6. In the lower portion of the dialog box, indicate the type of manual feed that you will be using to feed the envelopes into the printer (horizontal or vertical feed).
  7. Click OK to preview the print job. Double-click the mouse to zoom in on the printout if necessary. Click the Next Page button to preview the next name and address.
  8. If all is to your satisfaction, click the Print button located at the top right of the preview screen. Otherwise click Close to return to the main address book window.

Now, if only we could get Quicken to lick the stamps.

 

USING THE QUICKEN LOAN CALCULATOR

The Quicken Loan Calculator can help figure out the mortgage payment on that house you've been eyeing. To calculate what you would pay on a 30-year, $5,000,000 mortgage if the money costs 7 percent, follow these step:

  1. Choose Planning, Financial Calculators, Loan to display the Loan Calculator dialog box.
  2. Move the cursor to the Loan Amount text box and enter the loan amount.
  3. Enter the annual interest rate in the Annual Interest Rate text box.
  4. Move the cursor to the Number of Years text box and enter the number of years you want to take to repay the loan.
  5. Indicate how many loan payments you plan to make a year in the Periods Per Year text box. For example, if you want to make monthly payments, type 12.

Quicken calculates the loan payment and displays the amount in the Payment Per Period field.

 

CHANGING LOAN OR LOAN PAYMENT INFORMATION IN QUICKEN

If you want to change something about the loan, click the Edit Loan button. Quicken displays the Edit Loan dialog box, which works exactly like the Loan Setup dialog box. Make your changes and click OK.

To change something about the payment, click the Edit Payment button. Quicken displays the Edit Loan Payment dialog box. Make your changes and click OK.

 

USING LOT IDENTIFICATION

If you're setting up a security that you'll hold in a taxable account, click the Lot Identification button in the appropriate Set Up a New Security dialog box. Specific identification of individual lots -- a lot is just a batch you buy at the same time and price --- gives you the opportunity to time your capital gains. And timing your capital gains often lets you minimize your taxes.

If you're setting up a security for a tax-deferred account -- like a self-directed IRA -- you can use average costing. In this case, go ahead and mark the Average Cost button.

 

MAKING A ONE-TIME PAYMENT

Have a big bill coming up and want to be sure that it doesn't slip through the cracks? You can use the Scheduled Transaction feature to plan for the upcoming payment. Once you make the payment, Quicken removes this transaction from the Scheduled Transaction list.

To assign the transaction as a one-time payment, follow these steps:

  1. In Quicken's menu bar, choose Lists + Scheduled Transaction.
  2. Click the New button.
  3. Fill in the Create Scheduled Transaction dialog box with the requested information.
  4. Select Only Once from the How Often drop-down list.
  5. Click OK.

Now this transaction will automatically be recorded into your Account register on the appropriate date, and you will be able to see the planned transaction in your Scheduled Transaction List.

 

MARKET PRICE

Most of the securities you can set up to track are things you'll actually own: bonds, CDs, stock options, mutual funds, stocks. You can also track these just for practice, without owning them, but most people track securities only they're buying and selling.

The Market Index menu you find when setting up a new security (choose Investing, Security List, click New) is for tracking official indicators or numbers about market performance, such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, or Nasdaq. Choose Market Index, click Next, and you'll see the full set of indicators.

 

ESTIMATED MARKET PRICE

If an e is floating in your Portfolio view, don't worry. That just means estimated. This is the way Quicken notes securities in your Portfolio view that haven't had their prices updated today. They can only claim an estimated market price -- Mkt Price, to be precise -- until you run an online session and get the latest downloads.

 

UPDATING MARKET VALUE BY HAND

If a security doesn't have a ticker symbol and you can't download its price from the Internet, you can always do it yourself the old-fashioned way -- by hand.

Here's how: Open the Security Detail View window by clicking the Detail View button and choosing a security or double-clicking a security in the Portfolio View window. Click the Update button and choose Edit Price History from the drop-down menu. You see the Price History For dialog box. Click the New button, enter a price in the Price text box, and click OK.

 

MASSAGING THE DATA

When you open your Register, the default setting lets you see all of your transactions sorted by date, with the most recent appearing at the bottom of the list. But of course--what other way would they be listed?

Actually, any way you want (well, almost). Quicken offers multiple sorting options for Register transactions. Just click the View button in the top-right corner of the Register window and select a sort option in the drop-down list. For example, if you want to view all of your transactions from smallest to largest, select Sort by Amount (Smallest First). If you want the Register to act just like your checkbook, leaving everything in the exact order in which it was entered, select Order Entered.

You get the idea. Play around with different options and watch all those transactions jump around. If and when you decide you liked your transactions sorted the way Quicken had it in the first place, you can always select Sort by Date/Amount (in the View menu).

 

TAKE A MEMO

The Check Register contains a Memo field for each transaction. Entering all this information now may seem like a pain, but you'll sure be glad you did later--especially for transactions that aren't entirely clear. You know, the kind you make mental notes about: "This repaid Aunt Edna's loan" or "Only half of this was actually my responsibility" and such.

 

ALTERED MEMORIES

Whether you create a memorized transaction yourself (the topic of yesterday's tip) or let Quicken record it for you, eventually a time will come when you need to change some of your memorized transactions. In that case, simply edit the specifics of the memorized transaction.

To edit a memorized transaction:

  1. Choose Lists + Memorized Transaction.
  2. Select the memorized transaction you want to edit.
  3. Click Edit.
  4. In the Edit Memorized Transaction dialog box, edit the specifics of the transaction.
  5. Click OK to record the changes.

Note that changes you make to memorized transactions do not change existing transactions that were memorized before your edits; your changes affect only new memorized transactions you enter.

 

CREATE YOUR OWN MEMORIES

Just as you can automate recording of your monthly bill payments by using the scheduled transactions function, you can ease the drudgery of your work by taking advantage of memorized transactions. By default, Quicken automatically stores every transaction you record as a memorized transaction. But you can also create a memorized transaction at any time--without necessarily having to enter it as a transaction. For example, you can record an upcoming payment as a memorized transaction; then when the time comes to pay the bill, you can simply pull the memorized transaction from the Payee list.

To create a new memorized transaction:

  1. Choose Lists + Memorized Transaction.
  2. Click the New button.
  3. In the Create Memorized Transaction dialog box, enter the specifics of the transaction. For example, fill in the Payee, Category, and Amount fields.
  4. Click OK to create the memorized transaction.

The next time you want to add that transaction to your register, simply select it from the Payee list.

 

ERASE OLD MEMORIES

Over time, you may find that your memorized transaction list has become unwieldy, holding transactions that are no longer relevant. Take, for example, last year's health food craze. You wrote a lot of checks to the Crunchy Earth store, but now you're back to eating at Taco Bell three nights a week, and Crunchy Earth is merely a guilty memory. You no longer want that memorized transaction to appear in your list. Fortunately, you can instruct Quicken to remove any memorized transactions that haven't been used recently.

To remove old memorized transactions:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Quicken Program.
  2. Click the General tab.
  3. Select Remove Memorized Transactions Not Used and then enter the number of months that should elapse. For example, to remove transactions that haven't been used in the past six months, enter 6.
  4. Click OK.

Quicken removes any memorized transaction type that has not been used in the specified time period. (Note that this will not erase any existing transactions themselves.)

 

MEMORY STUFFED TOO FULL

The Memorized Transaction List that QuickFill uses can only hold 2000 transactions. Once you've used all of those, you have to delete some to add more, newer transactions. The best ones to lose are the old ones.

  1. Open Edit, Options, Quicken Program.
  2. Click the General tab.
  3. Click the Remove Memorized Transactions Not Used in Last box.
  4. Put a Months value on that line: try 12 at first. Then any transactions you haven't used in a year will be vaporized.
  5. Click OK.

 

MEMORIZE A REPORT

In our last tip, we showed you how to tweak one of Quicken's predesigned reports to display only the information you need: Select the report you want to customize, click the Customize button, and make any changes as necessary. In this tip, we show you that you can memorize the settings and use the customized report over and over again.

To memorize the report so that you can run it again:

  1. Go to the Report window that you want to memorize.
  2. Click the Memorize button in the upper-left pane.
  3. Enter a title and optional description in the Memorize Report box.
  4. Click OK.

The next time you want to run this report, choose Reports + Memorized Reports and select the report name from the resulting dialog box.

 

CONDENSE THE MENUS

Our last two tips have explained how to make the Activity Bar a little less obtrusive. So far, we've explained how to turn off the Activity Bar altogether and how to turn off the display of the Fly-Over menus (right-click in the Activity Bar area and deselect the appropriate option). But here's another option for reducing the clutter surrounding the Activity Bar: Shorten the length of Fly-Over menus:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Quicken Program.
  2. Select Use Short Commands on Activity Bar Menus and click OK.

Now, when you click an Activity Bar icon, the options in the resulting menus are abbreviated. For example, rather than show the option "Use My Register," the shortened version simply shows "Register."

 

DISAPPEARING MENUS

In our last tip, we showed you how to turn off the Quicken Activity Bar (right-click anywhere within the Activity Bar area and deselect Show Activity Bar). If you prefer, you can keep the Activity Bar active but turn off the display of the Fly-Over menus. When your mouse pointer roams anywhere near an icon on the Activity Bar, the Fly-Over menus, from which you can choose an option, appear.

To turn off the Fly-Over menu display:

  1. Right-click anywhere within the Activity Bar area.
  2. Deselect Use Fly-Over Menus.

After you turn off the Fly-Over menus, you must specifically click an icon to access the menus in the Activity Bar.

 

STANDARD AND SHORTCUT MENUS

Quicken provides both standard and shortcut menus. As is the case with all Windows programs, the standard menus appear in the menu bar at the top of each program window. The menu bar provides you with File, Edit, and Help menus, which are typical of most Windows-based programs. Quicken 2000 also includes menus for Finance, Banking, Household, Taxes, Planning, and Reports. From these menus, you can access all the basic commands and options for Quicken.

 

SO YOU WANT TO BE A MILLIONAIRE

To learn how to realize this childhood dream, use the Calculate For option buttons, which appear on the Investment Savings Calculator dialog box. With these buttons, you click the financial variable (Opening Savings Balance, Regular Contribution, or Ending Savings Balance) you want to calculate. For example, to determine the annual amount you need to contribute to your investment so that your portfolio reaches $1,000,000, here's what you do:

  1. Select the Regular Contribution option button.
  2. Select the Inflate Contributions check box.
  3. Deselect the Ending Balance in Today's $ check box.
  4. Enter all the other input variables.

Remember to set the Ending Savings Balance text box to 1000000 (the Ending Savings Balance field becomes a text box after you select the Regular Contribution option).

The Investment Savings Calculator computes how much you need to save annually to hit your $1,000,000 target.

Starting from scratch, it'll take 35 years of roughly $2,500-a-year payments to reach $1,000,000.00, assuming a 10 percent annual yield.

Unfortunately, the calculation is a little misleading. With 4 percent inflation, your million bucks will be worth only $253,415.55 in current-day dollars. (To confirm this present value calculation, select the Ending Savings Balance option button and then the Ending Balance in Today's $ check box.)

 

MINUTE TRADING

The fastest way to get an investment register up for quick changes in Quicken 99 is to:

  1. Move the mouse down to the Activity Bar near the bottom of the Quicken display.
  2. From the pop-up menu, choose Use my investment register.

Of course you can also use the Lists menu and dig through your accounts, or use the Investment Center, but those take a little longer.

 

WHEN DOES MONEY LEAVE AN ACCOUNT?

The money leaves your account based on the lead time that your bank requires and the method that your bank uses to process online payments. Lead time is the number of business days between when you send an online payment instruction and when the payee receives the payment. Lead times appear in the Online Payee List and are determined by the payment model that your bank and the payee use. Check with your bank to determine whether the money leaves your account in one of these four ways: one to four days before the payment is delivered; the day the payment is processed for delivery; the day the payment is delivered; or the day the payment (EFT or paper check) clears your account.

Occasionally, payee lead times change. To avoid paying too late or too early, review your Online Payee List occasionally to see whether the lead time for a vendor has been altered.

 

MONEY CONVERSION

Quicken knows that Microsoft Money is the big competition. (After the shoebox technology, that is.) So Quicken is able to read Money files.

If you were using Money and have now installed Quicken, just:

  1. Open File + Open.
  2. Choose your Money file's directory on the hard drive.
  3. At the bottom of the Open File dialog box, click on the Files of Type line and choose Money files.
  4. You should now see that Money data file. Click on it and then on OK.

Quicken will automatically covert the Money data into Quicken data. You discover as you work with it that some categories, classes and other fine points need tuning later.

 

THE END OF THE MONTH BLUES

A reader recently asked if there was a quick way to see whether any money is left over at the end of the month. Sure is. You can use Quicken's EasyAnswer reports to do just that. When you want to see how much cash you have on hand at the end of the month, here's what you do:

  1. Choose Reports + EasyAnswer Reports.
  2. Select Where Did I Spend My Money? in section 1.
  3. Select Last Month in the For the Period box of section 2.
  4. Click Show Report.

Quicken generates a cash flow report that details all your cash inflows (or income) for the month and all your cash outflows (or expenses). The overall total calculated at the bottom of the report shows you how much cash you have on hand at the end of the month.

 

DON'T MISS A MONTH

There's a quick way to see if you've paid every month (or week, quarter or other period) to a particular payee.

  1. Open the register for the account you pay from.
  2. Click the Options menu.
  3. Choose Sort by Payee.
  4. Scroll through the register to find that payee (they're in alphabetical order) or use the Edit menu's Find command to jump to it.

Now you can see all payments to that payee -- organized by date.

 

IN THE MARKET FOR A MORTGAGE?

Eager to jump on the real estate bandwagon? Then you'll want to check out the Quicken Mortgage Center Web site. Similar to the InsureMarket site, with the Mortgage Center you can compare loans, see how much house you can afford, and see whether refinancing is right for you.

To access the Mortgage Center, choose Online + Quicken on the Web + Mortgage Center. To get around in the Mortgage Center, simply click the appropriate links.

 

QUICKEN MOUSE POWER

Quicken has a few special mouse moves, including the capability to open shortcut menus with a click of the right mouse button. The content of these shortcut menus changes depending on where your mouse is when you click the right button, because the choices are directly connected to the current task.

 

EASIER THAN MOVING REAL FURNITURE

If you move major belongings from one part of your home to another, you risk confusing your next Home Inventory update. When you use that feature in Quicken Deluxe -- under the Activities menu -- your belongings are categorized by their room location. You can move the listings just as you moved the real things. Use the Edit menu's Move Item command and click the item, the room to move to, and the Move button.

 

MOVING AROUND THE WINDOW

Our last two tips revealed keystrokes that can help speed up data entry. Quicken offers a number of other special keys to make moving around the various windows in Quicken easy:

  • Press Tab to move to the next field or column.
  • Press Shift + Tab to move to the previous field or column.
  • Press Home to move to the beginning of a field.
  • Press Home twice to move to the first field in a particular transaction or window, or to go the first row in a report.
  • Press Home three times to move to the first (top) transaction in a window.
  • Press Home four times to move to the first transaction in a register.
  • Press Ctrl + Home to move to the first transaction or upper-left page of a report.
  • Press End to move to the end of a field.
  • Press End twice to move to the last field in a transaction or window or to the last report row.
  • Press End three times to move to the last transaction in a window.
  • Press End four times to move to the last transaction in a register.
  • Press Ctrl + End to move to the last transaction or lower right page of a report.
  • Press PgDn to move to the next window or check.
  • Press PgUp to move to the previous window or check.

These are the coolest keystrokes:

  • Press Ctrl + PgDn to move to the last transaction of each month.
  • Press Ctrl + PgUp to move to the first transaction of each month.

 

MULTIMEDIA IS HUNGRY FOR RAM

Quicken 5 introduced more multimedia features than ever before in the program, with video clips full of advice. To use these you'll need at least 16MB of RAM and even that may not be enough. Quit other programs so Quicken is running alone before starting the videos.

 

MULTIPLE QUICKEN ACCOUNT LOCATIONS--PART 1 OF 4

If you have Quicken accounts in multiple locations--say one on your home machine and another on your PC at work--you'll occasionally need to update one of the accounts with data from the other. Fortunately, you don't have re-enter all those transactions. In the next few tips, we show you how to export data from one Quicken file and then import it into another.

Today's tip covers the first step in this process: exporting the data from the second PC onto a floppy disk.

  1. Insert a floppy disk into your PC.
  2. In Quicken, choose File + File Operations + Export.
  3. In the Export dialog box, enter a name for the export file. Be sure to indicate in the file name the drive letter of the floppy drive (usually A or B). By default, Quicken exports files to the hard drive (C) of the current PC.
  4. Select the Quicken Account to Export from.
  5. Still in the Export dialog box, enter the range of transaction dates you want to export. For example, if you want to export only those transactions that occurred in August, make sure the date fields are set to 8/1/98 and 8/31/98 respectively.
  6. Select the accounts to include in the export. For instance, select Checking to export transactions from your check register.
  7. Click OK to export the data.

Quicken exports the selected transactions to a floppy disk and saves the information in the file name you indicated with a QIF extension. In the next tip, we show you how to import the data into Quicken.

 

MULTIPLE QUICKEN ACCOUNT LOCATIONS--PART 2 OF 4

In our last tip, we introduced the concept of multiple Quicken accounts--that is, accounts located on more than one machine. For example, you may have Quicken installed on a PC in your home office and on a laptop PC that you take on business trips. In any case, you can use the Import and Export commands to reconcile these two accounts so that the files stay up to date. As explained in the last tip, you need to first export the data: Insert a floppy into your computer, choose File + File Operations + Export, and then specify the data you want to export. Today's tip covers importing that data into your other machine.

Follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the floppy disk containing the export file is in the disk drive.
  2. Choose File + File Operations + Import.
  3. In the QIF dialog box, indicate the name of the file, including the drive letter. You can also click the Find File button to locate the file through Windows Explorer.
  4. Select the account in which you want to import the data.
  5. Select the items you want to import.
  6. Click OK.

Quicken imports all the specified data into the current Quicken file.

Now you should have two Quicken files that contain the same information--until the next time you use one computer to enter a transaction.

MULTIPLE QUICKEN ACCOUNT LOCATIONS--PART 3 OF 4

In the last two tips, we showed you how to export transactions from one Quicken file and import them into another: First, open the Quicken file on the first machine; place a floppy into the computer you want to move data out of, open that computer's Quicken file, and choose File + File Operations + Export; and then follow the instructions to specify the data you want to export. Next, switch to the file on the second machine (the one that will receive the data), choose File + File Operations + Import, and indicate the data you want to import.

In this tip, we show you how to import only the lists--categories, classes, accounts, and items in the memorized transactions--without the actual transactions. By doing so, you can set up a brand new file that contains all the relevant information, except for the actual transactions themselves. Is that cool or what?

To export the lists:

  1. Choose File + File Operations + Export.
  2. In the Include in Export section of the dialog box, choose Accounts List, Category List, and Memorized Transactions. Deselect Transactions, if necessary.
  3. Click OK to export the information.

Next, use the Import command to import the lists back into a blank file:

  1. Choose File + New to create a new, blank Quicken file. Give it a name and click OK to save it.
  2. Choose File + File Operations + Import.
  3. In the Include in Import section, deselect Transactions and select Accounts List, Category List, and Memorized Transactions.
  4. Click OK to import the data.

You now have a ready-made Quicken file with all the pertinent account parameters, ready for you to move the actual transactions into it.

MULTIPLE QUICKEN ACCOUNT LOCATIONS--PART 4 OF 4

In our last three tips, we showed you how to move data between multiple Quicken files. In the midst of all this importing and exporting, you want to make sure that you don't create duplicate transactions in any of your accounts. Unfortunately, Quicken doesn't do such a great job of alerting you when duplicate transactions exist.

To prevent the occurrence of duplicate transactions in your accounts when you import data:

  1. In Quicken, choose File + File Operations + Import.
  2. In the Include in Import section of the Import dialog box, specify the data you want to import and make sure that Special Handling for Transfers is selected.
  3. Click OK to import the data.

 

USE MULTIPLE REGISTERS AT THE SAME TIME

Normally, when you switch to another account, Quicken closes the currently active account in the register and replaces it with the new account--which can be a real pain, especially when you do a lot of work in multiple accounts. Well, guess what? You don't have to live under Quicken's rule. You can stop it from closing one account when you open another account, enabling you to have multiple account registers open at the same time.

To work with multiple accounts:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Register.
  2. In the Register Options dialog box, select the Display tab.
  3. Deselect the Use One Check Register Window option.
  4. Click OK.

Now, to open multiple registers, choose Lists + Accounts and then double-click the account you want to open. Each account you open has its own tab name in the QuickTabs area to the right of the screen.

 

MUTUAL FUND VS. INVESTMENT ACCOUNT

Set your security accounts up with some care. It isn't always easy to change them later. For example, while you can convert single mutual fund investment account to a regular investment account, you can't covert the other way, turning a regular investment account into a single mutual fund account.

 

REMOVING SHARES FROM A QUICKEN MUTUAL FUND ACCOUNT

You can tell Quicken to remove shares from an account -- without moving the money represented by the shares -- to some other account. Why would you want to remove a shares-out transaction?

  • You erroneously added shares to the account with the shares in (ShrsIn) action and now you need to remove them.
  • You are using an investment account to record old investment activity, such as activity from last year.

The first instance is self-explanatory because you are simply correcting an error that you made. In the second case, however, you don't want to transfer the proceeds of a mutual fund sale to a checking account because the money from the sale is already recorded as a deposit at some point in the past.

You can record a shares-out transaction directly into the register by moving the cursor to the next empty row of the register and specifying the action as ShrsOut. Then fill in the rest of the fields in the investment account register the same way that you would for a regular ol' sell transaction. The only difference is that you won't give an Xfer Account.

You also can record a shares-out transaction with a dialog box. Click the Easy Actions button, choose the Sell/Remove Shares action, and fill in the Date and Transaction text boxes in the dialog box, leaving the Record Proceeds? button set to No.

 

MUTUAL FUND TRACKING IS LIKE STOCK TRACKING

Quicken can keep track of your mutual funds just as it does any other security. Here's how in Quickey 99:

  1. Open Lists _ Account.
  2. Click on New, just above the Account List.
  3. In the Create New Account dialog box, click on Investment and then on Next.
  4. In the Investment Account Setup dialog box, type a name for this account and a description. Then click on Next.
  5. When asked if you've set up online services for this account, choose No and click on Next. (You can set them up later.)
  6. Still in the Investment Account Setup dialog box, tell Quicken Yes if you can write checks or use a debit card against this account, No if not. Then click on Next. If you did say Yes, you'll have a chance to tell Quicken about that account.
  7. Tell Quicken whether there will be one mutual fund or several in this account, and click Next.
  8. Specify if it is Tax-deferred or not, and click Next.
  9. Now view all the setup details and, if they're correct, click on Done.

Quicken will then step you through entering the names of the securities in this investment account.

 

MANAGING A MUTUAL FUND STOCK SPLIT IN QUICKEN

Stock splits don't occur very often with mutual funds; however, when they do occur, the mutual fund manager, in effect, gives you a certain number of new shares (such as two) for each old share you own.

To record a stock split in Quicken, you use the StkSplit action. Then you indicate the ratio of new shares to old shares. For a two-for-one split, for example, you indicate that you get two new split shares for each old unsplit share. The whole process is really pretty easy.

You can record a stock split by moving the cursor to the next empty row of the register and using the StkSplit action. You can also click the Easy Actions button, select the Stock Split action from the menu, and fill out the dialog box that asks about the split date, the new shares, the old shares, and, optionally, the share price after the split.

 
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Last modified: May 30, 2017