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KNOW YOUR NET

You may know what you have saved and what you owe, but how often do you remember to put all of your accounts together to see what you're worth? This Net Worth figure is like taking your overall financial-health temperature, measuring the balanced total of all those accounts. Remember to periodically take a glance by generating a Net Worth report. In Quicken 99 you:

  1. Open Reports + Planning.
  2. Choose Net Worth.
  3. In the Create Reports dialog box simply click on Create.
  4. View your Net Worth Report, scrolling down to see details and your personal sum.

 

NET SET UP

With all those cool Internet features in the latest Quickens, you just naturally ought to make sure Quicken can get online. So, in Quicken 99:

  1. Open Online + Internet Connection + Setup.
  2. In the Internet Connection Setup dialog box, choose your type of net connection: Existing dial-up (typical), Direct connection (for local area networks at work or cable or DSL modems at home), or Need to sign up (you don't have a connection yet--which Quicken can help you get or you can stop this setup and go find the best deal elsewhere). For this example, we'll go with the typical Dial-up service. Click on Next.
  3. From the list of dial-up connections that appears, click on the one you want to use for Quicken. (Some people have several connections, such as their Internet Service Provider and, perhaps, an America Online connection too.) Click on Next.
  4. You'll be asked your browser preference. For full use of all the Quicken features you'll need to choose Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 or later. Netscape and other browsers will permit most features, however. Whichever browser you choose here only affects your Quicken work. Outside of Quicken you may continue to use any other browser software you have. Click Next, click on a browser in the list (Quicken will line up all browsers on your computer) and click Next again.
  5. If you have a proxy server (which some businesses use to speed Internet use), type its details (which you can get from your company's Internet administrator) into the dialog box and click Next. If you Quicken from home, just click Next.
  6. Now you're asked if you want to send diagnostic data to Intuit. Sending it can improve your connection. Not sending it can improve your privacy--though in a very minor way, this is a thoughtful gesture in a world full of Internet companies that sneakily send data back to headquarters. Make your choice and click on Next.
  7. Click on Finish and then, in the Options dialog box, click on OK.

(You can set your options later.)

Now you can use any of those Internet features for downloading financial information and news.

 

NET WORTH

The Net Worth report summarizes your debts and your assets. Open Reports, Planning, Net Worth to see it. Naturally there is a Customize menu where you can decide if you want to leave out any particular accounts or categories. This is an interesting end-of-the-year look at how you're doing overall.

 

GET YOUR INSTANT NET WORTH

In past tips, we've shown you how to generate a Net Worth report to see how much you're worth. But did you know you can also gain an instant sense of where you stand financially? Just do the following:

  1. Choose Lists + Account to switch to the Accounts list.
  2. Select the All Accounts tab.

In the bottom-right corner of the screen, the Balance Total figure is calculated; this is the balance of all your accounts--in other words, your net worth. Pretty simple, huh?

 

NO-NAG SHUTDOWNS

Tired of seeing that Automatic Backup dialog box (asking if you want to back up your file) every time you exit Quicken? You're perfectly capable of remembering to back up when you need to, right? Then silence that little bugger.

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Quicken Program.
  2. Click the General tab.
  3. Deselect the Prompt to Backup Files on Shutdown option.
  4. Click OK.

Now you can exit Quicken at will--no questions asked.

 

NO THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES--PART 1 OF 2

Sick and tired of having Quicken keep track of every transaction you've ever made? Why not pick your own transactions. That way, you get a say in which memories to keep and which to dispose of. (Now if you could just as easily purge the painful memory of the most embarrassing moment in your life!)

When you want to select which transactions remain, you first have to instruct Quicken not to memorize transactions:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Register.
  2. Click the QuickFill tab.
  3. Deselect Auto Memorize New Transactions.
  4. Click OK.

Poof! No more memorized transactions. Now you can manually choose the transactions you'd like to remember and ignore those you'd like to forget:

  • To memorize a transaction that you've already entered, right-click the transaction and choose Memorize Transaction from the shortcut menu. Then, in the resulting dialog box, click OK.
  • To memorize a transaction as you enter it, enter the transaction data as usual, click the Edit button, choose Memorize Transaction, and then click OK.

NO THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES--PART 2 OF 2

In the previous tip, we showed you how to turn off Quicken's capacity to remember every single transaction you've ever created. If you want to forever obliterate a memorized transaction, do the following:

  1. Choose Lists + Memorized Transaction.
  2. Select the transaction you want to delete.
  3. Click the Delete button or press the Delete key.
  4. In the resulting dialog box, click OK to confirm that you want to delete the transaction; click Cancel if you change your mind (hey, you're entitled!).

If you're wondering what happens to any transactions that were entered into your account, don't worry. Nothing happens to existing memorized transactions. The transaction just doesn't appear in the Memorized Transaction list anymore.

 

MEMORIZING A REPORT OR  GRAPH

Reports and graphs can be memorized and called to use another day. If you have gone to the trouble to create an elaborate, intricate report or graph, you owe it to yourself to memorize it so that you can use it again. To do that, click the Memorize button after you have customized your report or graph. In the Memorize Report (or Graph) dialog box, enter a description for your report and click OK.

To call on a report or graph that you have memorized, do one of the following:

  • Choose Reports, Memorized Reports and Graphs and click the name of the report or graph on the submenu.
  • Choose Reports, Reports and Graphs Center. Under "Select a Topic" in the Reports and Graphs Center, select "Memorized Reports and Graphs." Then double-click the report or graph that you want to see or select it and click the Create Now button.

Suppose that you need to alter or delete a report or graph that you memorized. To do so, choose Reports, Reports and Graphs Center, and select the "Memorized Reports and Graphs" topic. Then select a report or graph and click the Customize button to refine it, click the Edit button to change its name, or click the Delete button to delete it.

 

NOTE TO SELF--ON THIS DATE

Quicken's Financial Calendar has a "note" ability that lets you add any words you want to any particular day.

  1. Open Features + Reminders.
  2. Choose Financial Calendar.
  3. Slide the mouse to the right day and right-click.
  4. Choose Note from the pop-up window.
  5. In the small window that appears, type your note.
  6. Choose a color for the note, if you want. Colors can help you organize notes, say Red for danger or Green for time to mow the lawn. (I know, silly examples.)
  7. Click on Save.

The note will appear as a small color square in the top corner of that date on the calendar. To read it, click on it.

 

NOW HEAR. . .ER, WE MEAN SEE. . .THIS, PART 1 OF 3

Want a little warning bell to go off whenever you spend more than a budgeted amount in a particular category? Or when you've reached your credit card limit? Quicken offers ten categories of Alerts that serve this exact function: They jump onto the screen to warn you when a certain set of circumstances is met. (As far as the bell thing--well, you'll have to let your imagination take care of that.) To set the Alerts feature, follow these steps:

  1. Select Features + Reminders + Alerts to open the Set Up Alerts dialog box. Quicken divides the dialog box into two steps: In Step 1, you select the type of alert you want; in Step 2 you set the dollar amounts you don't want to exceed.
  2. One at a time, select an Alert area under Step 1 and then read its description at the bottom of Step 2. (You'll notice that each alert has a different set of options to complete under Step 2.)

See a few areas you'd like to let Quicken worry about instead of you? Keep them in mind and stay tuned for our next tips, where we'll show you how to put different alerts into effect.

NOW HEAR. . .ER, WE MEAN SEE. . .THIS, PART 2 OF 3

In our last tip, we introduced Alerts--warnings that you can set to remind you of specific circumstances, such as reaching your credit card limit. To access these options, choose Features + Reminders + Alerts. As you select each type of alert under Step 1, you'll notice that the options you need to complete in Step 2 vary. Today we take a closer look at the Account Minimum Balances alert.

The Account Minimum Balances alert notifies you when the balance of a particular account drops below a certain amount. If you have an account in which service charges kick in only after you drop below the minimum balance, you can use this alert to warn you when you get close to that minimum and then again when you actually hit the minimum. To set up an Account Minimum Balances alert, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Set Up Alerts dialog box (choose Features + Reminders + Alerts).
  2. Select the Account Min. Balances check box under Step 1.
  3. Under Step 2, select the bank account for which you'd like to use the Alert (probably your checking account).
  4. Under Min. Balance, type the account's minimum balance and then press Tab.
  5. Under Remind Me At, type a figure a bit higher than the account's minimum balance.
  6. Repeat Steps 3 through 5 for every account for which you want to set a minimum balance alert.
  7. When you're finished, click OK.

From now on, you'll never drop below your minimum--at least, not without being warned! (Tip: This feature also comes in handy when you simply want to know when a figure drops a little too low for comfort.)

NOW HEAR. . .ER, WE MEAN SEE. . .THIS, PART 3 OF 3

In the first tip in this series, we introduced Alerts, warnings that you can set to remind you of specific circumstances, such as reaching your credit card limit. To access these options, select Features + Reminders + Alerts. As you select each type of alert under Step 1, you'll notice that the options you need to complete in Step 2 vary. Today we take a closer look at the Monthly Expenses alert.

If you've set up a monthly budget, sometimes it's hard to keep track of exactly what you spend in each category compared to the amount you budgeted. Rather than create a report that compares actual versus budgeted amounts, use the Alerts feature to notify you when you've exceeded your budget in any given category. These steps show you how:

  1. Open the Set Up Alerts dialog box (choose Features + Reminders + Alerts).
  2. Select the Monthly Expenses check box under Step 1.
  3. Under Step 2, select a category for which you'd like to use the Alert, such as Living: Dining.
  4. Under Spending Limit, type that category's budgeted amount.
  5. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 for each category you'd like to monitor.
  6. Click OK.

With these reminders in place, you're sure to stick to that budget now. (Remember--a good budget usually means more savings!)

 

NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON'T

Does the number of slices Quicken creates in your pie charts often overwhelm you? If so, simply hide the items you don't need to see. Note that Quicken still calculates any hidden values in the graph; it just doesn't display them.

To hide a chart item:

  1. Create the pie chart as you normally would. For instance, choose Reports + Graphs + Income & Expense.
  2. Hold down the Shift key and then click on the item you want to hide.
  3. Quicken removes the item from the chart.

To redisplay the hidden values you'll have to recreate the graph.

 

NUM EDIT

After you enter the date of a transaction in a register, you next need to tell Quicken what type of transaction it is. The standard choices are: ATM, EFT, Transfer (abbreviated TXFR) and so on. What if you have another type of transaction, one that doesn't neatly fit these types? Add it to the list.

  1. With your cursor in the Num column, click on the Down menu arrow.
  2. From the list that appears, click on Edit.
  3. In the Edit Num List dialog box, click on New.
  4. In the Add dialog box, type a name for this type of transaction--up to six characters long--and then click on OK.
  5. Click on Done.

Now when you go to enter a transaction Num, you can simply type the first letter of your new type and see it fill that column.

 

ADJUSTING THE NUMBER OF QUICKEN NUM ENTRIES

You can expand and edit the list box of Num entries that Quicken displays. If you want to add some new Num entry to the Num drop-down list box, for example, follow these steps.

  1. Click the Edit List button, which appears at the bottom of the list.

    Quicken displays the Edit Num List dialog box.

  2. Click the New button and then complete the dialog box that Quicken displays.

    You can also remove any new Num entries you add by using the Edit Num List dialog box.

Play around with this neat little feature. You can't hurt anything as you experiment.

 

GOT A QUESTION ABOUT A NUMBER? JUST ZOOM IT

If you don't understand where a number in a report came from, point to it with the mouse. As you point to numbers, Quicken changes the mouse pointer to a magnifying glass marked with a Z. Double-click the mouse, and Quicken displays a list of all the transactions that make up that number.

This feature, called QuickZoom, is extremely handy for understanding the figures that appear on your reports. If you double-click the Gift Received number in the report, for example, Quicken displays your QuickZoom Report.

 

OUT WITH THE OLD

Just as you don't want any old memorized transactions cluttering up your Quicken world, you also don't want to have to look at a scheduled transaction you no longer use. For example, a reader recently asked how she could remove a scheduled paycheck deposit that she no longer earned and get rid of the reminders to this scheduled transaction. Well, you can do both by deleting the scheduled transaction you no longer use.

To remove an outdated scheduled transaction:

  1. Choose Lists + Scheduled Transaction.
  2. From the Scheduled Transaction List, select the transaction you want to remove.
  3. Press the Delete button.
  4. Click Yes to confirm the deletion.

Quicken removes the scheduled transaction. Note that this has no effect on your records of past transactions.

 

OLD, WORN-OUT MEMORIES

In our last tip, we showed you how to memorize a report: After creating the report, click the Memorize button, type a title (and a Description, if you wish), and click OK. From then on, you can call up this report by selecting Reports + Memorized Reports. After you repeat these steps to keep all your favorite reports within arm's reach, you may find that the list of memorized reports (on the dialog box) gets a bit cluttered. And maybe the thrill is gone for many of them, and you no longer want to see them every day. In that case, you'll want to delete reports from the list.

To delete a memorized report:

  1. Select Reports + Memorized Reports.
  2. Select the report you want to delete.
  3. Click the Delete button.
  4. Click OK to confirm.

Buh-bye!

 

ASSIGNING A PASSWORD TO A QUICKEN FILE

Follow these steps to clamp a password on a file and keep others from opening it:

  1. Choose File, Passwords, File. You see the Set Up Password dialog box.
  2. Type your password twice, first in the Password and then in the Confirm Password box. Instead of letters, you see asterisks in case anyone is looking over your shoulder (a cunning spy, however, could watch your fingers on the keyboard and get the password that way!).
  3. Click OK.

Next time you or a cat burglar starts Quicken and tries to open the data file, the Quicken Password dialog box bars the door.

Enter the password and click OK. Devious souls who try to get into your data file without knowing the password are told that they have the incorrect password and are sent packing.

To make your password apply as well to the QuickEntry window that you see when you click the QuickEntry icon on the desktop, choose Edit, Options, Register, go to the M[i]scellaneous tab, and select the check box called Use File Password to Restrict QuickEntry Access. Uncheck the box if you want to be able to enter QuickEntry transactions without a password.

 

SETTING UP A FILE PASSWORD IN QUICKEN 2001

Use the following steps to set up a password for a Quicken file:

  1. Select the file you want to protect with a password. If the file you want to password-protect is not the active file, choose [F]ile, [O]pen from the menu and then either double-click the file you want or select it and click OK.
  2. Choose [F]ile, P[a]sswords from the menu bar. Quicken displays the -- you guessed it -- Passwords submenu, which lists two commands: File and Transaction.
  3. Choose the [F]ile command. Quicken displays the Set Up Password dialog box.
  4. Enter the password into the [P]assword text box. You can use up to 16 characters. Quicken doesn't differentiate between lowercase and uppercase characters, by the way, so Washington, wASHINGTON, and WASHINGTON are all the same from its point of view. Quicken doesn't display the actual characters you type; it displays asterisks instead. If you type Dog, for example, it displays ***. (Passwords require strict secrecy, you see.)
  5. Enter the password you want to use again -- only this time into the [C]onfirm Password text box -- and click OK.

Congratulations! You're done.

Assigning a password to a file doesn't prevent you from doing anything with the file that you would normally do. However, the next time you try to use this file -- after you start Quicken or when you try to select the file by using the [F]ile, [O]pen command -- Quicken will ask you for the file's password. You need to supply the password to gain access to the file.

 

TRANSACTION ACTION

You always enter a transaction on the last line of the register. This line is referred to as the transaction line. Quicken sorts transactions in the register in chronological order, with the oldest transaction listed first. When you enter a transaction having a prior date, Quicken automatically posts it to the register in the correct chronological order so that your register is always an accurate and well-ordered reflection of your accounts. This a great feature, but it can be confusing if you enter a transaction out of sequence and it jumps to another page in the register.

 

SO WHAT ARE TRANSACTION PASSWORDS?

After you choose [F]ile, P[a]sswords from the menu bar, you can create a file password or a transaction password by choosing File or Transaction from the Passwords submenu. In general, you use a file password to protect the access into a Quicken file.

A transaction password works like a file password except that the user has to enter the transaction password if he or she tries to enter a transaction that is dated before a specified date. You specify the date, called the cutoff date, when you set up the transaction password.

The logic is that you use a transaction password to prevent some idiot from fouling up last year's or last month's transactions; however, you can take a couple of easier approaches than using transaction passwords.

You can create and safely store backup copies of the Quicken file for last year or last month. Or you can keep the idiots from fooling around with your Quicken files. Jeepers, if somebody can't understand an instruction such as, "Use the current date," do you really want them mucking about in your books?

 

TRANSACTION SEARCH

An advantage that your Quicken register offers over a paper register is the ability to help you instantly locate a specific transaction. You can locate a transaction by searching for a key word or number. To search for a transition within a register, follow these steps:

  1. From any account register, click the Find option on the button bar. The Find dialog box appears.
  2. In the Find field, enter the word, phrase, or amount that you want to locate.
  3. In the Search field, use the drop-down list to specify whether you want Quicken to search all the fields or only transactions meeting certain criteria.
  4. In the Match if field, broaden your search beyond exact matches if you want.

 

FINDING A SPECIFIC TRANSACTION

One definite advantage that your Quicken register offers over a paper register is the ability to help you instantly locate a specific transaction. You can locate a transaction by searching for a key word or number (such as an amount). To search for a transaction within a register:

  1. Click the Find option on the button bar. The Find dialog box appears.
  2. In the Find field, enter the word, phrase, or amount that you want to locate.
  3. In the Search field, use the drop-down list to specify whether you want Quicken to search all the fields or only transactions meeting certain criteria -- for example, checks made to a certain payee or on a certain date.
  4. In the Match If field, broaden your search beyond exact matches if you want. For example, you can direct Quicken to locate all transactions meeting the specified criteria, such as those that are less than a certain dollar amount.

 

REVIEWING A SPLIT TRANSACTION

To review a split transaction in a register, click the Split button or the check mark. Quicken opens the Split Transaction window so that you can have a look at the transaction and perhaps make changes.

If you decide that the transaction shouldn't be a split transaction after all, click the red X and then choose Yes in the Clear All Split Lines? dialog box. The category box is rendered empty so that you can choose a simple category.

 

CHANGING THE WAY CHECK TRANSACTIONS ARE DISPLAYED

By default, Quicken arranges your checks (including ATM withdrawals) by check number. ATM withdrawals don't have a number so they are listed first, and then the list of numbered checks begins after the last unnumbered transaction.

If you want to change the way the checks are sorted, select View at the top of the reconciliation window and then choose Sort by Date.

 

LOCKED TRANSACTIONS

Type a transaction into a register and the QuickFill feature memorizes it. Next time you start to type anything similar, QuickFill will leap ahead and finish the transaction. If you make any change to the amount in this particular transaction, the change will be memorized and will affect any future QuickFills. Unless, that is, you don't want this one-time change to stick. Then you should Lock the memorized transaction.

  1. Open Lists, Memorized Transaction.
  2. Click the transaction and click its Lck column.

You'll see a lock icon appear in that column.

 

SOFT-A HELPFUL TRICK FOR LOST TRANSACTIONS

Before you try out the Find commands to located lost, wrong, or missing transactions in Quicken, see whether you can find your missing data by sorting. Sorting means to rearrange the transactions in a register. Click the Options button to open the drop-down menu; then, choose a Sort By command. Scan through the organized list and try to find what you're looking for.

 

MEMORIZED TRANSACTIONS

Whenever you record a transaction, Quicken "remembers" it and puts it on the Memorized Transaction List. To see the list, choose Banking, Memorized Transaction List (or press Ctrl+T). Quicken remembers the payee name, the amount of the transaction, and the category you put it under so that you don't have to enter this information all over again when you record a transaction to the same party.

 

MEMORIZED TRANSACTIONS

Quicken provides another feature -- memorized transactions -- which is almost obsolete now that the QuickFill feature exists.

A memorized transaction is simply one that you've stored on a special list. (To store the transaction, you select it in the register, click the Edit button, and then choose the Memorize Transaction command.)

To later use or abuse one of the memorized transactions, you display a list of the previously memorized transactions by choosing Banking, Memorized Transaction List. When Quicken displays the list, just select the one you want to reuse and click Use.

A memorized transactions list is a handy tool. But if you're feeling a little overwhelmed, don't spin your wheels trying to get up to speed on the feature. QuickFill almost always does the job for you because -- get this -- it automatically grabs memorized transactions from the list for you.

 

ON THE MOVE TRANSACTIONS

Just find a VISA transaction you meant to enter in your checkbook register? It's easy to mix up those receipts. Don't waste time deleting the transaction from the VISA account and then retyping it in your checkbook. Quicken can move it for you in one easy step:

  1. Right-click the transaction you want to move to another account.
  2. From the pop-up menu, select Move Transaction.
  3. On the Move to Account line, click the down arrow and select the destination account (in this case, your checking account).
  4. Click OK.

Bada-boom, bada-bing--move complete.

 

REVERSE TRANSACTIONS

If you accidentally enter a transaction backwards -- a deposit as a withdrawal or a withdrawal as a deposit -- your account won't balance. And the error can be difficult to find. The Reconcile Bank Statement window shows all the correct transactions, but a transaction amount appears positive when it should be negative or negative when it should be positive. Try using Quicken's search feature to look for transactions that equal the amount of the difference. When a transaction is found, check that you entered it appropriately as a withdrawal or a deposit

 

SCEDULING TRANSACTIONS SO THAT YOU DON'T FORGET TO MAKE THEM

To help you record and remember to make transactions that are done repeatedly, you can schedule them. After you schedule a transaction, it appears in the Bills and Schedules Transactions list in the My Finances window, where you can plainly see it. A list of scheduled transactions also appears at the bottom of registers when scheduled transactions are due to be made. You can enter a scheduled transaction simply by clicking the Enter hyperlink on the Bills and Scheduled Transactions list.

 

ENTERING SPLIT AMOUNTS

You can enter split amounts as percentages rather than as dollars and cents. For example, if you enter 25% in the Amount box, Quicken enters a quarter of a payment or deposit in the Amount box on your behalf. Entering amounts as percentages is a fast way to estimate the figures if you don't want to tabulate them to the penny.

Remember that the Split Total and Transaction Total in the lower right screen should be equal, and the Remainder should be 0.00.

 

SPLIT TRANSACTIONS

What do you do if you supplied an amount for a check in the register before opening the Split transaction window and now the amounts in your splits aren't equal to the check amount? You'll know that you did this because you'll see a difference in the Split Transaction window. You can do two things to remedy the situation:

  • Click the Adjust button in the Split Transaction window to change the amount you typed in the check register before opening the Split Transaction window to equal the sum of the splits.
  • Change one or more of the amounts in the Split Transaction window so that the split amounts are equal to the amount you typed in the check register prior to opening the Split Transaction window.

 

RECORDING SPLIT TRANSACTIONS

Here's how to record a split transaction:

  1. Click the Split button (it appears in the Banking, Write Checks window, any account register window, the QuickEntry window, or when entering a transaction directly into a register).
  2. Use the drop-down list in the Split Transaction Window to enter each category. You can add more information in the Memo field, like on the memo line of a check.
  3. Enter the dollar amount to be assigned to each transaction category in the Amount field.
  4. Check to be sure that the Split Total is the same as the Transaction Total. This information appears in the bottom-right corner of the window.
  5. Click OK to enter and save the split transaction information.

After you enter a split transaction, the word Split appears in the Category field of the check register.

 

UNDERSTANDING SPLITS

Splits are transactions that you allocate to more than one category. This feature enables you to track expenses for multiple categories without writing more than one check to a single payee. For example, you can allocate your mortgage loan payment to such parts as

  • Outstanding loan balance
  • Escrow for real estate taxes
  • Mortgage insurance

If you want to track each of these expenses separately, you can use a split to divide them among the appropriate categories.

 

ONE CLICK MAG, TWO CLICK DRILL

Look at a graph. Go ahead. Here, choose the Reports menu, Graphs, and Income & Expense, for example. Then click on Create. Now move your mouse cursor over any part of the graph.

Click once and your cursor will pop up a little information box with numeric details about that part of the graph. Well, it looked like a little magnifying glass, didn't it? If the filled-in parts of the graph are close enough together, you can slide the info window around and see details all over.

Click twice when the mouse cursor is over some part of the graph and you'll "drill down" to the information behind that part of the graph.

 

ONE DAY AT A TIME

Time to enter a new transaction in your register. (What else is new?) Well, there you sit in the date field, with the previous transaction's date staring you in the face. Today's big decision: Do you click and drag to select the day portion of the date and type in the correct date, or do you click that little calendar icon, find the right date, and click it?

Neither. Quicken offers shortcut keys you can use to change the date one day at a time in either direction.

  1. Click once in the date field to place the cursor there, if it isn't already.
  2. Press the plus (+) key on your numeric keypad to advance the date by one day; press the minus (-) key to go back one day.

A little easier than all that mousing around, eh?

 

OPEN A SPECIFIC FILE--RIGHT FROM THE DESKTOP

In our last tip, we showed you how to start Quicken without it automatically opening the last file you worked on. The problem is, to open the file you want, you have to use the File + File Operations + Open command. In today's tip, we show you how to use one of the niftier features of Windows 95 and 98--desktop shortcuts. Shortcuts let you open a specific file and its originating application right from the desktop, without having to load the program first. By using a shortcut, all members of your household can launch their own personal finance file with a simple double-click from the desktop. Much more civilized, wouldn't you say?

To create a desktop shortcut:

  1. Right-click anywhere on the Windows desktop.
  2. Choose New + Shortcut from the shortcut menu.
  3. In the Create Shortcut dialog box, click the Browse button.
  4. In the Browse dialog box, select All Files in the Files of Type field.
  5. Locate the file you want to open from the desktop. Unless you specified otherwise, you can find all your Quicken data files in the C:\QUICKENW folder on your hard drive.
  6. Select the filename and click the Open button.
  7. Back at the Create Shortcut dialog box, make sure the command line field contains the filename you selected; then click Next.
  8. Enter a name for the shortcut, such as "Sally's Finances," and click Finish.

Windows adds the shortcut to your desktop. To launch Quicken with the specified file active, simply double-click the desktop shortcut.

 

MORE ABOUT THE OPTIONS BUTTON IN QUICKEN 2000

After you click the Options button, Quicken 2000 displays the Options menu, which provides some useful commands. Here's what these mysterious commands do.

  • Display [C]urrent Month. Tells Quicken that you want to budget for the current month. Other commands let you budget for the current quarter and the current year. (If you flip-flop between months, quarters, and years, Quicken automatically converts the budget figures for you.)
  • Display [M]onths. Tells Quicken that you want to budget by the month, so it should display columns for each month. Quicken budgets by the month unless you tell it to do otherwise, so this command is already checked unless you told Quicken to budget using some other time unit, such as by clicking Display [Q]uarters, which tells Quicken that you want to budget by the quarter year.
  • Show Category [G]roups. This command works like a toggle switch. It tells Quicken that either you do want to budget by category group or you don't want to budget by category group. You probably won't want to use category groups.
  • Other [B]udgets. Displays the Manage Budgets dialog box, which lets you create more than one budget. To do so, click the Create button, and then, when prompted, give the new budget a unique name. Whenever you want to use that budget, you display the Manage Budgets dialog box, click the budget you want to work with, and then click the Open button.
  • S[a]ve As Alerts. Displays the Save Budget Alerts Options dialog box, which lets you tell Quicken that it should alert you whenever your actual spending begins to approach the budgeted amount. The dialog box, as you would expect, provides a bunch of buttons and boxes you use to tell Quicken how it should alert you.
  • M[o]nthly Expenses. Displays the Set Up Alerts dialog box that you use to tell Quicken it should alert you whenever you've spent more than an indicated amount for a category. Note that the indicated amount for this command isn't based on the budgeted amount but on an amount you specify using the Set Up Alerts dialog box.

 

OVERVIEWS ARE ON CD

To see helpful summaries of what's new in Quicken 99--from the basics through financial services and even business features--you'll need to open the Help menu and click on Overviews. You'll also need to put the Quicken CD into the CD drive: these Overviews don't stay on your hard drive.

 

OWN & OWE

Own & Owe is the pleasant, colloquial name Quicken gives to the Net Worth reports. In the Reports menu, naturally, these summarize your debts and your assets. You can see a report -- numbers --or a graph -- with bars and a trendline. Naturally there is a Customize menu where you can decide if you want to leave out any particular accounts or categories.

 

PROOF OF OWNERSHIP

In the last tip, we talked about the Detail View form in Quicken's Home Inventory, which you use to record detailed information about each of your inventory items.

The Records and Receipts button is also located on this form. It enables you to record your Proof of Ownership of the item--something many insurance companies require. You indicate what evidence you have--for example, the original purchase receipt, the owner's manual, or even a photograph or video--of the item's existence.

To record an item's proof of ownership:

  1. Switch to the Detail View form of the item: Click in the Item Description field and choose View + Detail View.
  2. Click the Receipts & Records button.
  3. In the Receipts & Records dialog box, indicate the ownership evidence by clicking on as many of the appropriate options as necessary.
  4. In the Location of Records field, indicate the location of the evidence (a safe deposit box, for example).
  5. Click OK when you have finished.

 

PARTIAL PAGE PRINTING

Many printable checks come on sheets -- pages that hold three checks are pretty typical. But what if you only want to print one at a time? Set up for partial printing:

  1. Open File, Printer Setup, For Printing Checks.
  2. In the Check Printer Setup dialog box, click the Page-oriented radio button.
  3. Choose Standard Checks or Wallet Checks from the Check Style menu.
  4. Now select Edge, Centered, or Portrait to show which part of the page you want to print. The graphic illustrations in the dialog box should help you choose.
  5. Click OK.

If your printer has more than one paper tray, you can also use that dialog box to set one of the trays for full-page printing and the other for partial.

 

QUICK PAPER TRAIL

Come April 15th or so, when your income taxes are filed and you're putting away your receipts, check stubs, and other financial papers, take time to print a copy of your account registers for the past year and file them away, too. That way, you leave behind a wider, deeper, more distinguishable paper trail for others to follow.

 

A QUICKEN PAPER TRAIL

After your income taxes are filed and you're putting away your receipts, check stubs, and other financial papers, take time to print a copy of your account registers for the past year and file them away, too. That way, you leave behind a wider, deeper, more distinguishable paper trail for others to follow.

 

PASSWORD CURE-ALL

Using passwords to protect your Quicken files is the greatest thing ever, right? Well, maybe.

Before you set up a password and then start relying on it to protect your information, remember that Quicken passwords only prevent someone from accessing your data within Quicken. Using a password does not prevent someone from fooling around with your computer itself. People can still erase your files entirely with Windows or scramble them with another program, such as a spreadsheet or word-processing program. And they may even be able to get in and manipulate the data with another checkbook or accounting program.

For this reason, passwords are best left to computer systems that use them on a global basis to control access to all programs and to computer systems that can track all users by name.

 

PASSWORD RECOVERY

Forget your password and you're in troubleoff-limits to others is now also . That Quicken file you smugly thought was off-limits to you. Is there anything you can do? Yes, but it takes a while. You can't call Quicken for a quick fix. They can't tell you anything over the phone that will open your password-locked file. But you can send your file to Intuit's data recovery department. They can remove the password protection, uncover your data, and send it back to you.

 

PASSWORD UPGRADE PROBLEM

A reader reports that upgrading Quicken when you have a password-protected file is tricky. "When I upgraded to Quicken 2000 it would not recognize the password from my earlier programs. The only way I could get around it was to flush the password, save the file in the open, then read it with the new program and then reset the password. A long complicated and unnecessary process if Quicken had handled the upgrade properly."

 

CHOOSING A QUICKBOOKS CONVERSION DATE

Before you start fiddling with the QuickBooks software, you need to choose the conversion date. The conversion date is the date on which you want to begin using QuickBooks for your financial record keeping. This decision is hugely important because the conversion date that you choose affects both the work you have to do to get QuickBooks running smoothly and the initial usefulness of the financial information that you collect and record by using QuickBooks.

You have three basic choices from which to select:

  • The right way: You can convert at the beginning of your accounting year (which is, in most cases, the same as the beginning of the calendar year). This way requires the least amount of work and it means that you have all the current year's financial information in one system.
  • The slightly awkward way: You can convert at the beginning of some interim accounting period (probably the beginning of some month or quarter). This approach is slightly awkward because you have to plug your year-to-date income and expenses numbers from the old system into the new system.
  • The my-way-or-the-highway way: You can convert at some time other than the right way and the slightly awkward way. Specifically, you can choose to convert whenever you jolly well feel like it. However, you create a bunch of unnecessary work for yourself if you take this approach.

 

QUICKEN.COM PASSWORD

Each time you want to send data to or receive data from Quicken.com, you have to type your registered user name and your password. Well, I lied. You don't really have to type them "each" time. You can have the computer do it for you. Choose the option "Don't show me this again" in the Quicken.com login dialog box.

The only downside to this is, naturally, that if someone else uses your computer to visit the site, they'll get in without having to know the password, and can frolic amidst your financial information.

 

QUICKEN 2001 AND WINDOWS 2000

Quicken 2001 doesn't run, or at least doesn't run well, under Windows 2000. Quicken gets confused, apparently, by some of the Windows 2000 security features. If you're using Windows 2000, you may want to contact Intuit, the maker of Quicken, to ask about this.

 

CAN QUICKEN 2001 BE USED RETROACTIVELY?

You can use Quicken 2001 retroactively, and the idea is better than it might seem at first.

It doesn't take long to enter a year's worth of transactions in Quicken (as long as you have decent records to work with). If you're a regular, ordinary person, you can get it done on a rainy Saturday afternoon. If you're, like, a millionaire, it might take you a couple of days. (Of course, in this case, you can probably hire someone to do it for you.)

After you enter all the information into a Quicken register, you can easily monitor your spending in various categories, track your income and outgo, and reconcile your bank accounts.

 

MANY INVESTORS NEED QUICKEN

Many people -- including mutual fund investors -- benefit from Quicken investment record keeping. If you routinely buy stocks and bonds, you probably want to calculate your annual returns. What's more, if you try to monitor your capital gains and losses intelligently -- and you should -- you want to know both what you originally paid for your securities and what they're worth currently.

 

WHEN DO YOU NEED MORE THAN QUICKEN?

Quicken is a darn good product. In fact, for many small businesses, it's a great product. But it doesn't work in every situation. The following is a three-part test that you can use to determine whether your business should use Quicken. If you answer yes to two or three of the questions, you should seriously consider moving up to a full-featured small-business accounting system.

  • Do you regularly need to produce a lot of business forms other than checks? If yes, you should probably move up to a small-business accounting system that produces the forms you want, such as QuickBooks for Windows or Peachtree Accounting for Windows.
  • Do you need to track assets other than cash or investments? For example, do you have a long list of customer receivables that you need to monitor? Or do you buy and resell inventory? An accounting system is usually helpful in tracking these items.
  • Are you having problems measuring your profits with cash-basis accounting (which is what Quicken uses)? If so, use an accrual-basis accounting system. Actually, to measure your profits the right way, you (or your accountant) need to use -- horror of horrors -- double-entry bookkeeping.

 

OUTGROWING QUICKEN

If you're a Quicken user but realize that your (or your business's) needs are outgrowing the "checkbook-on-a-computer" scene, check out QuickBooks, also from the folks at Intuit. Here's the deal: QuickBooks looks and feels a lot like Quicken. Plus, it uses the data that you've already collected with Quicken. So you'll find that moving from Quicken to QuickBooks is only slightly more complicated than rolling off a log.

 

POCKET QUICKEN

Pocket Quicken is an application produced by Landware Software [http://www.landware.com] that works on Palm and Workpad handheld computers. With Pocket Quicken, you can carry your account balances with you all the time (no more over-spending!). Using Pocket Quicken, you can enter transactions while you are away. When you return and synchronize your handheld with your desktop computer, Pocket Quicken transactions load into Quicken. Easy!

 

QUICKENTRY

The designers of Quicken recognized that having to launch Quicken every time you want to enter a transaction can be time consuming and tedious. So, they came up with the QuickEntry feature. You can launch the QuickEntry feature from your desktop by using the QuickEntry icon that appears below the Quicken icon. This icon automatically appears on the desktop when you install the program. When you double-click it, your checking account register instantly appears on your desktop, and you can access the registers for your other accounts by clicking on the account tabs that appear at the bottom of the register window.

 

A QUICKEN QUICKIE

Quicken can supply you with a quick-and-dirty report called, cleverly enough, a QuickReport. If you're working with the check register, you can produce a quick report that summarizes things such as the checks written to a particular payee or the transactions assigned to a specific income or expense category.

To produce a QuickReport, first move the cursor to the field you want to summarize in the report. Then click the Report button at the top of the register window. Choose the report you want from the Report menu that drops down.

 

THE DEVIL'S IN THE QUICKFILL DETAILS

You can fine-tune your QuickFill transactions this way:

  1. Open Lists, Memorized Transaction.
  2. In the Memorized Transaction List window, click a transaction and then click Edit.
  3. In the Edit dialog box, you can change the type of transaction, correct the spelling of the Payee (it's annoying when a wrong spelling just stays on the list), and add a memory.
  4. Click OK.

 

FIT YOUR QUICKFILL FANCY

The QuickFill feature works by default, but making sure you haven't inadvertently changed the settings is a good idea. You set QuickFill options by using the Check Options dialog box.

To access the Check Options dialog box, choose Edit, Options, Write Checks. Click the QuickFill tab, then use this dialog box to set the following options:

  • Use Enter Key to Move Between Fields: Enables you to use the Enter key, in addition to the Tab key, to move from field to field.
  • Complete Fields Using Previous Entries: Directs Quicken to use information from previous entries.
  • Recall Memorized Transactions: Completes entries using memorized transaction data.
  • Drop Down Lists on Field Entry: Directs Quicken to automatically display drop-down lists associated with specific fields.
  • Auto Memorize New Transactions: Directs Quicken to automatically add each new transaction entered to the Memorized Transactions List.
  • Auto Memorize to the Calendar List: Directs Quicken to automatically add memorized transactions to the Transaction List in the Financial Calendar window.

 

INCOMPLETE CAN BECOME QUICKFILL

You don't have to complete a transaction to get its details into the memorized lists. Just click the edit button on the Register line and click Memorize Transaction. The completed transaction will be stored, ready to type itself next time you start a similar transaction.

 

SORTING QUICKFILLS

The QuickFill Transactions dialog box (get there with Ctrl+T) is the place for editing your easy-to-repeat operations. In order to look through the transactions in a hurry, click the Options drop-down menu to sort them by Description, Amount, Type, Memo, or Category. Then you can use the Delete button on any line in the list.

 

QUICKLY DOES IT

The folks at Quicken recognized that having to launch Quicken every time you want to enter a transaction can be time-consuming and tedious. So they came up with the QuickEntry feature.

You can launch QuickEntry from your desktop by using the QuickEntry icon that appears below the Quicken icon. This icon automatically appears on the desktop when you install the program. When you double-click it, your checking account register instantly appears on your desktop, and you can access the registers for your other accounts by clicking on the account tabs that appear of the bottom of the register window.

The process of entering a QuickEntry transaction is the same as entering a transaction into a Quicken register.

QuickEntry works just like the account register feature within the regular Quicken program, with one caveat: The next time you launch the full Quicken program, you have the option of accepting or rejecting the QuickEntry changes.

 

QUICKTABS

Have you figured out where those QuickTab things are? They're the boldfaced words that appear along the right edge of the Quicken program window. Each of these QuickTabs, pretty much, names an Activity Center, which is just a bunch of related Quicken features. Feature tabs are those indented words underneath the QuickTab that you can click to jump to some Quicken feature, tool, whistle, or bell.

 

CUSTOM QUICKTAB SIZE

You can easily adjust the width of the QuickTabs located on the right side of the main transaction window:

  1. Move the mouse pointer to the area below the left of the QuickTabs.
  2. When the pointer changes and appears as two vertical lines, drag it to the left or right to change the width of the QuickTabs column.

 

QUICKTABS FOR QUICK WORK

As you work in Quicken, you'll open new windows to perform different tasks and view different types of information. You can leave these windows open; there's no need to close them. Each time you open a new window, a listing with the window name appears in the QuickTabs column. QuickTabs are your ticket to fast and easy navigation through every open Quicken window because you can click a listing to display the associated window.

 

QUICKTABS THAT SCREAM "YOU"

You can easily customize the QuickTabs located on the right side of the main transaction window:

  • To hide or display the QuickTabs, click the QuickTab handle at the top of the QuickTab column. (This feature isn't available in some window areas, such as the Home Page.)
  • To change the order of the QuickTabs, click the QuickTab you want to move, and drag it to where you want it while holding the mouse button down.

 

QUICKTABS STAGE LEFT

While you work in Quicken, the "QuickTabs" on the right show you the basic areas -- My Finances, Banking, Investing, and so on -- with the open registers and lists for each. You can move these QuickTabs over to the left, if that's more convenient. Right-click any QuickTab and choose QuickTabs on Left from the pop-up menu. Naturally, you can right-click on them again and choose QuickTabs on Right if you change your mind.

 

SMART PASSWORD

What's a good password?

  • A long one. Guessing 16 characters -- the maximum in Quicken -- is great deal harder than guessing 6.
  • Not a common word. Even a 16-character password is more easily broken if it's a common word. Can't you guess the final characters of "Californi_"?
  • A mixture of numbers and letters. Who's going to guess "Calif2fornia3?"

The passwords you use to protect your Quicken files are not case sensitive.

That is, "OpEn SeSame" is the same as "open sesame" is the same as "OPEN SESAME." Quicken only cares what the letters are when someone types the password to try to enter the file.

 

SPACEY PASSWORD

One clever way to make your Quicken password less guessable is to include a space in the middle. "Quicken" is easy to guess, but "Quick en" is harder and who would try "Qui ck en"? Add some numbers too and it gets astronomically harder to guess.

 

PAY BILLS ON TIME

Do you have to repeatedly pay late fees because you pay your bills late? If so, you can make sure you send out your payments in plenty of time by setting up a scheduled transaction, which alerts you when it's time to pay a bill.

To remind yourself to pay an upcoming bill:

  1. Choose Lists + Scheduled Transaction.
  2. In the Scheduled Transaction list window, click the New button.
  3. Select the Account to use for the transaction (most likely your Checking account).
  4. Select Payment in the Type of Transaction field.
  5. Enter the Payee information.
  6. Enter the due date of the bill in the Next Date field.
  7. Select a Category for the bill in the Category field.
  8. Enter the amount due in the Amount field.
  9. In the How Often field, indicate the frequency of the bill. In most cases, you enter Monthly.
  10. In the Record in Register field, select Prompt Before Enter.
  11. Leave the Number of Payments option at the current setting of 999.
  12. In the Record This Many Days in Advance field, enter the number of days before the actual due date that you want to be reminded of the bill. Twelve days is probably enough time. (Remember: Your payments must be received by their due date in order to be processed.)
  13. Click OK when you have finished.

Now, each time you start Quicken, all scheduled transactions appear in the Reminders window. When a bill comes due, write out the check and mail it. Then select the scheduled transaction from the Reminders window and click the Enter in Register button. Quicken enters the bill payment for you in your checking account.

 

PAY OFF YOUR MORTGAGE EARLY--PART 1 OF 2

Ever wonder how much you can slice off your mortgage if you send, say, $100 more per month to your mortgage company? You can use the Loan Summary screens to get an idea:

  1. Choose Features + Bills + Loans.
  2. Click the Choose Loan button (along the top of the View Loans window) and select the mortgage loan.
  3. Click the Payment Schedule tab and take note of the summary information in the lower-right corner. Specifically, view the Remaining Pmts and Final Pmt Date items.
  4. Click the Edit Payment tab and then add $100 (or whatever amount you want) in the amount in the Principal and Interest field.
  5. Click OK.

The Payment Schedule recalculates to factor in the new higher payment. Notice the recalculated Remaining Pmts and Final Pmt Date items to see how much you can save. Just think--you'll add years to your life not having to worry about the looming mortgage.

PAY OFF YOUR MORTGAGE EARLY--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we explained how you can shave payments off your mortgage by sending in extra money each month with your mortgage payment. If you can't send extra money with every payment, you can still take a bite out of your principal balance and, over time, decrease the amount spent on interest by making an extra payment. Just make sure that you indicate on your check that the amount should be applied to the principal only.

To make an extra mortgage payment:

  1. Choose Features + Bills + Loans.
  2. Click the Choose Loan button along the top of the View Loans window and select the appropriate mortgage loan.
  3. Click the Payment Schedule tab.
  4. Click Make Payment.
  5. Select Extra from the resulting Loan Payment dialog box to indicate that you are making an extra payment.
  6. Enter the amount of the payment in the Amount field.
  7. In the Memo field, note that payment is for a Principal payment.
  8. Click OK to apply the extra payment to the loan.

The payment is also entered as a transaction in your checking account. Again, take a look at the recalculated Remaining Pmts and Final Pmt Date items and see the immediate difference the extra payment makes to the recalculated balance of the loan.

 

PAY THE SAME WAY

Be careful when you're paying bills and writing checks. Try to use the same name for the payee each time. If you don't, not all of the transactions will show up in your reports, leading to confusion like: I know I paid that, but it doesn't show here, this darn computer, this stupid program...

If you haven't, if you have Bob Jones and Robert Jones and BJ all in your payee list, it may be time to go back and do a Search and Replace operation to get them all on the same page.

 

CHANGING THE DETAILS OF A PAYCHECK--PART 1 OF 2

For the most part, you probably receive the same amount each pay period. Occasionally, however, your paycheck amount may be more or less. Maybe you have an extra deduction one month, or you worked some overtime another month. To save time recording this information, use Quicken's automated Paycheck Setup to record the details of your paycheck, including deductions, taxes, and whatnot. When you do, Quicken stores them as splits in a memorized transaction. That way, when you receive a paycheck, you just select the memorized transaction; you don't have to reenter all the information.

If the changes to the amount of your paycheck occur infrequently, simply edit the paycheck transaction after it has been recorded in your register. The following steps tell you how:

  1. In your Account register, locate the specific paycheck transaction that you want to edit; then click it once to activate the transaction.
  2. Click the Split button on the second line of the transaction record.
  3. Make any changes to the amounts as necessary.
  4. Click the Adjust button to adjust the total amount of the deposit so that it reflects your changes.
  5. Click OK.

That's all there is to changing an individual entry. Each subsequent deposit of your paycheck uses the appropriate original amounts stored with the initial memorized transaction.

CHANGING THE DETAILS OF A PAYCHECK--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we showed you how to change the details of Quicken's memorized paycheck amount when these amounts vary on an infrequent basis. If the changes are permanent--for example, if you get a raise or increased your retirement deductions--then you have to change the specifics of the actual memorized paycheck transaction. To make permanent changes to a paycheck setup:

  1. Choose Lists + Memorized Transaction.
  2. Locate your paycheck transaction in the list and select it.
  3. Click the Padlock icon in the Lck column to unlock the transaction.
  4. Click the Edit button.
  5. Click the Split button in the Edit Memorized Transaction dialog box.
  6. In the resulting Split Transaction window, make the changes as necessary to the amounts.
  7. Click the Adjust button to adjust the total amount of the deposit so that it reflects your changes.
  8. Click OK twice. Back at the Memorized Transaction List window, you can see that the amount of the transaction has been adjusted to reflect your changes.
  9. Click the Padlock icon again to relock the transaction.

The next time you want to record a paycheck deposit, Quicken uses the new amount.

 

TAKE THIS PAYCHECK AND ENTER IT

The easy way to handle income from your job is to type each check's take-home amount into your deposit account--typically, Checking. Take this easy road, though, and you won't be able to intelligently plan your taxes during the year. You won't really know what has been withheld for federal taxes, state taxes, insurance, disability, and so on, until you enter W-2 summaries at the beginning of the next year. If you enter the details from each paycheck as you receive it, your Tax Summary reports will be closer to the mark. Here's how in Quicken 99:

  1. Open Lists + Account.
  2. Double-click on the Checking account-if that's where you deposit your check-in the Accounts List display.
  3. Press Tab to move from the Date column to the Num column.
  4. Choose Deposit.
  5. Press Tab and then type a description of who is paying you this money.
  6. Press Tab and enter the total amount of the payment.
  7. Press Tab and then, from the menu that drops down, choose Split.
  8. Now in the Split Transaction Window, use each line for each portion of your check, including the various taxes and withholdings. For each you'll want a category, a note about what it is, and an amount. When you're done, click on OK.
  9. Now back in the Checking Register display, click on Enter.

 

PAYCHECK ENTRY

A reader suggested this:

"You can easily "Set Up My Paycheck" [in the Features + Banking menu] and don't have to enter all the categories. I periodically have to adjust the withholdings etc. by a few cents but often don't have to edit it at all. This is by far the easiest way to go - and even if it changes some the categories would probably be the same and more easily edited than starting from scratch each time."

Great point

 

GETTING WISE TO THE PAYCHECK WIZARD

Sure, Quicken includes a Paycheck Wizard that you can use to describe the taxes withheld from your paychecks and categorize the deductions from your paycheck. That much said, however, you probably don't need to keep track of these amounts unless, for some reason, you want precise estimates of the income taxes you pay. Keep in mind that you need to use the data from your W-2 form, and not your Quicken data, when you prepare your taxes.

If you do decide to use the Paycheck Wizard, just choose Taxes, Tax Activities, Set up my Paycheck. Quicken launches the Paycheck Wizard, which asks you a few questions about your deductions and then provides a dialog box similar to the Split Transaction window where you can enter and categorize your deductions.

 

PAYEE PATROL

After entering a name in the Payee field, Quicken remembers it and adds it to a Payee drop-down list. As you enter each subsequent payee, Quicken searches the list for a match while you type, to speed up the entry process. If Quicken finds a match, it inserts it in the Payee field. If the correct Payee name appears, you can move on; if the Payee name is incorrect, keep typing until Quicken finds the next match or until you've typed the full name of the new payee.

 

PAYEES CROSS ACCOUNTS

So you're entering a transaction into a new, sparkling, clean, unsullied account, and as you type the Payee, you stop in wonder: Quicken has offered up the rest of the Payee's name. How did it know? This payee must have been entered in some other account. What Quicken sees in one account it echoes across to other accounts. Of course, if it isn't right in this account, you can just type over it.

 

PAYING A BILL AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

It happens, right? You've come into a small monetary windfall, and you want to pay this month's bills ahead of schedule. Or maybe you're heading for vacation, and you want to pay your bills before you go. Whatever the reason, you can easily prepay a scheduled transaction without affecting future payments.

To prepay a scheduled transaction:

  1. Choose Lists + Scheduled Transaction to switch to the scheduled transaction list.
  2. Select the transaction you want to prepay. Notice the date in the Next Date column. This is the date of the next scheduled payment.
  3. Click the Pay button.
  4. In the resulting Record Scheduled Transaction dialog box, make changes to the payment as necessary. In particular, change the Date field to reflect the current date.
  5. Click Record to make the payment.

The transaction is recorded in your register. Note that the scheduled transaction's next payment date stays fixed at the originally established scheduled date.

 

CANCELING PAYMENT

If you want to cancel an online payment, remember to click the Update/Send button in the Online Center window after you enter the cancelation details. Unless you send, and as soon as possible, you may not catch that payment on its way out the cyber door.

 

MAKING AN EXTRA LOAN PAYMENT

When you have the cash on hand, you may want to make an extra payment on a loan because the extra money goes directly toward reducing the principal amount of the loan. It won't be eaten up by the interest monster.

To record an extra loan payment:

  1. Choose Features + Bills + Loans.
  2. Click Choose Loan and, from the list, select the loan you want.
  3. Click Make Payment.
  4. In the Loan Payment dialog box, click Extra.
  5. In the Amount field of the Make Extra Payment dialog box, enter the amount of the extra payment; enter the appropriate check number as well.
  6. Click OK.

Quicken records the extra loan payment in the corresponding account register (probably your checking account). To see the effect the extra payment made on your loan, click the Payment Schedule tab. As you can see, the extra funds directly reduce the principal amount of the loan. Notice that the extra payment also reduces the remaining payments due and the final payment's due date.

 

RECORDING THE PAYMENT

After you set up the loan and the loan payment, you're ready to record the payment in (drum roll, please) the register.

Complete the following steps to record a payment:

  1. Display the View Loans window by choosing Property & Loans, Loans.
  2. Display the loan you want to pay.
  3. Click the Make Payment button.

    Quicken displays a message box that asks whether the payment you're making is a regular payment (one the lender expects) or an extra payment (perhaps to more quickly amortize the loan). After you select the payment type, Quicken displays the Make Regular Payment or Make Extra Payment dialog box.

  4. Describe the loan payment and click OK.

    Quicken enters the loan payment in the Liability register and Bank Account register. You're done.

 

SKIP PAYMENT

That scheduled payment going out later this week has you concerned. Maybe there isn't enough money to cover it. Maybe you've decided to pay it in person rather than by online check.

Whatever the reason, you can skip the online payment by following these steps:

  1. Choose Features, Reminders, Reminders.
  2. In the Quicken Reminders window, select the payment on the list of scheduled transactions.
  3. Click the Skip Payment button up above.
  4. Close the Reminders window.
  5. Make yourself a peanut butter sandwich -- Skippy brand, of course!

 

STOP OR CANCEL PAYMENT

Even when the check is in the email, you can yank it back. Do it soon enough and there's no cost. Do it later, and you'll probably pay a bank's "stop payment" fee, but at least your money won't go where you've decided it shouldn't. In the Online Banking Center you can see the status of any payments--Unsent or Sent. Click on any Unsent payment and then on Delete and your worries are over. Click on any Sent payment and then on Cancel Payment and all you'll have to worry about is paying that stop fee. Of course, after you do this clicking, you'll need to connect to the net and send these new delete and cancel instructions.

 

SUGGESTED PAYMENT

The Debt Reduction Planner orders your debts to make it clear which should be paid off first. It also suggests the monthly minimum payment you should make on each to ensure the fastest, least-expensive route to a debt-free net worth. The Planner finds the best way to allocate the amount you're already spending on debt, shifting it toward the most efficient accounts.

 

TYPE OF PAYMENT

Quicken displays a message box asking whether the payment you're making is a regular payment (one the lender expects) or an extra payment (perhaps to more quickly amortize the loan). After you select the payment type, Quicken displays the Make Regular Payment or Make Extra Payment dialog box automatically.

 

KEEP TRACK OF ANNUAL PAYMENTS

In Quicken, scheduled transactions can be a lifesaver when you pay the same bills each month. But did you know that you can also schedule a payment that only occurs once a year? Say, for example, that you make an annual donation to your favorite charity in December and you want to make sure you don't forget about the donation in all the holiday excitement. Easy enough. Just create a scheduled transaction, enter the date of the payment, and then specify the interval as Yearly. It's that simple.

To schedule a yearly payment:

  1. Choose Lists + Scheduled Transaction.
  2. Click the New button.
  3. In the Create Scheduled Transaction dialog box, supply all the requested information: Specify the account to use and enter the payee information, amount, and date of the next payment.
  4. In the How Often field, select Yearly.
  5. In the Record in Register field, select Prompt Before Enter.
  6. Click OK.

Now sit back, relax, and rest assured that come December, you'll get a friendly reminder of your donation's impending due date.

 

RECORDING CUSTOMER PAYMENTS

When you work with customer payments in Quicken, you actually need to do two things. First, you record the customer's check as a deposit in your bank account and categorize it as falling into one of your income categories.

Second, you must update your accounts receivable list for the customer's payment. To update the list, display the Accounts Receivable account in the Register window and mark the existing invoice the customer has paid by putting a "c" in the Clr (or cleared) field. (You can do so simply by clicking the Clr field.)

 

FILING QUARTERLY PAYROLL TAX RETURNS

At the end of every calendar quarter, you need to file a quarterly payroll tax return.

If you're a business, you must file a Form 941 -- which is a form stating how much you paid in gross wages, how much you withheld in federal taxes, and how much you owe for employer payroll taxes.

If you're not a business but you have household employees -- such as a nanny -- you must file a Form 942 for the same information.

To get the gross wages totals and the balances in each of the payroll tax liability accounts, follow these steps:

  1. Print the Business Payroll report by choosing [R]eports, [B]usiness, Pa[y]roll. Quicken displays the Payroll Report, but the dates will probably be wrong so click the Customize button.
  2. Specify the range of dates as the start and end of the quarter for which you're preparing a quarterly report.
  3. Click Create. Quicken produces a payroll report, which you can easily use to fill out the quarterly payroll tax return.
  4. To print a version of this report, click the Print button.

 

FILING QUARTERLY PAYROLL TAX RETURNS

If you own a small business or are self employed, you must file a quarterly Form 941 -- which is a form stating how much you paid in gross wages, how much you withheld in federal taxes, and how much you owe for employer payroll taxes.

If you're not a business but you have household employees -- such as a nanny -- you must file a Form 942 for the same information.

To get the gross wages totals and the balances in each of the payroll tax liability accounts, follow these steps:

  1. Print the Business Payroll report by choosing Reports, Business, Payroll. Quicken displays the Payroll Report, but the dates will probably be wrong so click the Customize button.
  2. Specify the range of dates as the start and end of the quarter for which you're preparing a quarterly report.
  3. Click Create. Quicken produces a payroll report, which you can easily use to fill out the quarterly payroll tax return.
  4. To print a version of this report, click the Print button.

 

PEEK AT YOUR FINANCIAL NEEDS WITH BILLMINDER

You always want to keep up to date on the bills you have to pay and other financial due dates, but loading Quicken every morning to see what's on the day's financial burner can be a pain in the you-know-what. Why not set the Billminder to display at startup so that you can decide whether you want to run Quicken at that moment? Billminder gives you a list of all your upcoming financial events. Then you decide whether you want to face your finances that day.

To activate the Billminder:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Reminders.
  2. Click the Billminder tab.
  3. Select Show Billminder When Starting Windows.
  4. Click OK.

The next time you start your PC and after Windows has loaded, the Billminder appears, listing all your upcoming financial events. Click the Run button to start Quicken or click Exit to shut down the Billminder.

 

TWO WEEKS IS A NATURAL PERIOD FOR MANY

Quicken's Budgeting feature generally thinks in terms of months: how much do you make a month, how much do you spend, how much do you save, and what's the dif ference. But Quicken is smart enough to know that many of us get paid every two weeks. For accurate budgeting, you can't just double that for a monthly sum. After all, only regular Februaries--non leap ones, that is--are double two-weeks, or 28 days long.

Most months are 30 or 31 days long, so you have to multiply two-week values by two-and-a-fraction. No you don't. Quicken 99 will do it for you with its 2-week calculator.

  1. Open Features + Planning + Budgets.
  2. If you already have a budget, it will appear. If not, Quicken will warn you that it will create a new one from annual data. Click on OK.
  3. Now you can find the 2-Week calculator by clicking on the Edit menu within the Budget window. Not the Edit menu that's always on top of Quicken but the new Edit menu below that, beside the Categories menu. In the Set Up Two-Week Budget dialog box--that's what this calculator looks like--you enter the amount you earn each two weeks and when you want that to start appearing in the budget. Then click on OK.

 

PHOTO AND VIDEO KNOWS

Sure, it's great to use Quicken Deluxe's Home Inventory feature to keep a neat list of everything you own. With some receipts and other background paperwork, you have a good chance of getting reliable insurance coverage. But even better than those bits and sheets are photos and video. Use your camera, use your camcorder, walk through your house and closets and record what you own. Then save that evidence in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box. And make new recordings every year -- or more often, if you buy lots of stuff.

 

A PICTURE'S WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

In a previous tip, we showed you how to create one of Quicken's Easy Answer Reports: Hold your mouse pointer over the activity bar's Reports item, select Easy Answer Reports/Graphs, answer the three questions it asks you, and click Show Report. Now take a look at using this same option to create a graph.

If you followed the example from our last tip (where, after selecting Easy Answer Reports/Graphs, you selected How Much Did I Spend On...? for Step 1), you may have noticed that the Show Graph button was grayed out. However, for some of the options under Step 1--the first, sixth, seventh, and ninth, to be exact--the Show Graph button comes to life. When might you want to see a graph instead of a report? Follow these steps for a good example.

  1. Hold your mouse pointer over the activity bar's Reports item and select Easy Answer Reports/Graphs.
  2. Select Did I Meet My Budget? under Step 1.
  3. In Step 2, select the period for which you'd like to view this information, such as Last 12 Months.
  4. Click the Show Graph button.

Neat, huh? In the top graph, Quicken shows you, by month, how far you fell below (or beat) your budget. Below that, you see the results by category (click Next 5, in the lower-right corner, to see more), making it easy to target problem areas. If you had selected Show Report, all you would have seen is a categorized list of the difference between actual and budgeted spending. For useful information at a glance, stick with the graph!

What's that? You couldn't follow along with this last tip because you don't have a budget? Shame on you! No wonder you aren't meeting your savings goals! Don't have those either? Stay tuned. We cover these topics in upcoming tips.

 

CREATE YOUR OWN PIECE OF THE PIE--PART 1 OF 2

One of the most useful reports Quicken can generate is the Income & Expense graph, which charts both your monthly income and expenses. The problem, however--particularly with the Expense chart--is that Quicken automatically uses all categories in the graph, making it difficult to understand at times. Just as you can customize all of Quicken's many reports, you can also customize the Expense graph so that you include only those categories you want to track.

To create an Income & Expense graph that tracks specific categories:

  1. Choose Reports + Graphs + Income & Expense.
  2. Click the Customize button.
  3. Select the Categories tab.
  4. Click the Clear All button.
  5. Select each individual income category that you want to track.
  6. Select each individual expense category that you want to track.
  7. Click Create.

Quicken generates the Income & Expense chart using only those categories you specified.

CREATE YOUR OWN PIECE OF THE PIE--PART 2 OF 2

In this series of tips, we're explaining how you can customize Quicken's Income & Expense chart to help you determine where your expenses fall each month. Particularly, we showed you how to select only categories you want to track. If you are tracking a particular category that also includes a number of subcategories, you must instruct Quicken to display the subcategories as well. Here's how:

  1. Choose Reports + Graphs + Income & Expense.
  2. Click the Customize button.
  3. Select the Categories tab.
  4. Select the individual category that you want to track; make sure that you also select each individual subcategory.
  5. Select the Show Subcategories in Graph option.
  6. Click Create.

Quicken generates the graph, including both categories and subcategories.

 

PIN CUSHION

Anyone storing their many online account PINs in the Quicken PIN Vault should take a moment to think about safety. What if the PIN Vault disappears with a hard drive crash? Make sure your hard drive information is adequately backed up. And beyond that, print the list of PINs and store it in a safe deposit box or other secure location.

  1. Open File, Pin Vault, Edit.
  2. Click the Print button.

 

PREFERRED PIN

The first communication with any online institution may be a time to choose your own PIN. The institution may have sent you a temporary PIN which you're supposed to type into the requesting Quicken Send dialog box. There will be two more spaces for you to enter the PIN you'd like to use. You type it twice for more surety that it is correct.

 

LEAPING OVER PIN PUZZLES

When you sign up for an online financial service, you'll get a PIN, that personal identification number vital to authorizing transactions. Sign up for many services and you will have many PINs. How to remember them all? Don't. As soon as you have two or more PINs, let Quicken 99 remember them for you in its PIN Vault. (Ideally, you should also write your PINs down, or keep the paperwork you receive from the services, and put those PINs somewhere totally safe, such as in a safe deposit box.)

  1. Open Online + PIN Vault + Setup.
  2. In the PIN Vault Setup dialog box, click on Next.
  3. From the list, choose the financial service that gave you a pin, and click on Next.
  4. Type the PIN twice (to make sure it is right) and then click on Next.
  5. Enter any more PINs the same way.
  6. Click on Next and then type a password for your PIN protection. You'll only have to remember this one password instead of all the separate PINs.
  7. Click on Done.

Now your One Step Updates will need only that password to provide the PINs to every service.

 

PIN VAULT PROMISE

The PIN Vault feature lets you store all of your PINs for all of your online banking accounts in one Quicken place. You can then get at them with just a single password -- retaining security, but not straining your memory. You type the single password, and Quicken automatically feeds all the necessary PINs to all the various accounts. You use the PIN Vault only if you have two or more online accounts or online payments set up.

 

BEFORE YOU PLAN...

Using the various financial planners within Quicken will be much easier if you first create your personal profile using the Planning Assumptions window. To open the Planning Assumptions window, choose Planning, Assumptions from the Quicken menu bar. Once you're done, head on over to any of the planners that interests you.

 

DON'T PLAN TOO TIGHTLY

When you enter or calculate a length for your life -- so the Retirement Planner can figure how much money you should save -- don't skimp. Living to 90 is great, sure, but living to 90 while only saving to live to 80 is downright annoying. Of course, adding a full ten years beyond your realistic life expectancy can make retirement saving daunting, adding up to sums you think you'll never manage to put away. Still, add at least five years so you'll have a financial safety margin.

 

DELETING A FINANCIAL PLAN

Quicken often makes it easier to create something than to delete something. That's especially true of financial plans. But there are times when you just don't need one of those plans anymore, typically because you've superceded it with new and improved plans. To perform a plan-ectomy:

  1. Choose Planning, Assumptions.
  2. Choose the type of plan you want to delete.
  3. Click the Edit command in the upper right-hand corner.
  4. Select the plan, click Delete, and then click Yes to tell Quicken you're sure.
  5. Click Done.

 

PLANNING CENTER

The Deluxe, Home & Business, and Suite versions of Quicken 2000 for Windows come with a Planning Center feature, which builds advice into active calculators. The calculators will show you whether your current savings rate will be enough to fund your retirement, college, home, or other goal. The Center can also help you dig out from negative savings -- otherwise known as "debt" -- by showing you a payment schedule that will bring you back into financial balance. Some of the planners include sounds and movies that play from the Quicken CD.

 

PLANNING FOR MISTAKES

In the Retirement Planner, you'll see the left side of the window lists the data entry steps. If you make a mistake during entry -- such as neglecting a dependent or overestimating your life expectancy -- scroll to the bottom of this list. Then click the Check for problems line. Now look to the right. You should be able to find the data section with the mistake. Click it and repair that data. You can return to the step-by-step entries by scrolling back up the left-side list.

 

QUICKEN 2001 PLANNING TOOLS

Quicken provides some interesting and useful financial planning tools.

If you open the Planning menu, you'll notice commands named Retirement Planner, College Planner, Home Purchase Planner, Debt Reduction Planner, Save More Planner, and Special Purchase Planner. These wizards walk you through the steps to planning for big, important events. Most people won't be interested in taking the time to use the wizards. (The Retirement Planner, for example, takes about 30 minutes.) But if you're really serious or worried or compulsive about one of these topics, it just might be worth your time to explore a bit.

These wizards can be run only if you have an Internet connection because the wizards actually reside on the Quicken Web site.

 

PLAY HIDE AND SEEK WITH YOUR SAVINGS--PART 1 OF 2

You've been good all year, scrimping and saving, and you've finally managed to scrape up the money you need for that long dreamed-of vacation to the Far East. Before you get a chance to spend that money on something else--ooh, we could always find a space for a big screen TV--transfer the money out of your checking account into a special savings goal account. By doing so, you set aside the money for that big ticket item and make it unavailable to be used for other things.

To create an account to sock away your savings:

  1. From the Toolbar, choose Features + Planning + Savings Goal.
  2. Click the New button in the left pane of the Savings Goal window.
  3. Enter a name for the Savings Goal account, such as My Summer Vacation.
  4. Enter the Goal Amount; in this case, enter the amount of money you have allotted yourself.
  5. Enter the Finish Date of the goal; in this case, enter the last day of your vacation.
  6. Click OK.

The next step is to transfer the cash from your checking account into the new Savings Goal account. Remember, the Savings Goal account is not a real account; you are simply shifting your money into the vacation account and out of your checking account so you don't spend it on other items.

To transfer the cash:

  1. Still in the Savings Goal window, click the Contribute button in the upper-middle pane.
  2. In the resulting box, select either Checking or Savings in the From Account field, depending on which account you plan to transfer the funds from.
  3. Change the date if necessary.
  4. Enter the amount of cash that you want to transfer.
  5. Click OK.

For now, ignore the Projected Monthly Contribution figure shown at the bottom of the Savings Goal screen. We want to focus on the Current Savings amount, which shows the balance of your account.

PLAY HIDE AND SEEK WITH YOUR SAVINGS--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we showed you how to use the Savings Goal feature to set aside money for a planned expense, such as a vacation. To recap, choose Features + Planning + Savings Goal; click the New button; enter the name, goal amount, and finish date of the goal; and then click OK. To set aside the allotted cash, click the Contribute button, specify the account you want to transfer the money from, indicate the amount of the transfer, and click OK. Quicken removes the money from the specified account and transfers it to your Savings Goal account.

After you set up the Savings Goal account for your planned expense, you can use it to track all the expenses associated with that lump sum item. For example, you can keep track of all the expenses related to your vacation. As you withdraw from the account, you see a running balance. You'll be able to tell whether you overspent or have enough left over for your next vacation.

To record an expense associated with your savings goal:

  1. Still in the Savings Goal window (choose Features + Planning + Savings Goal), click the Withdraw button.
  2. In the Put Funds Back into Account area, enter the same account name from which you transferred the initial balance. For example, if you transferred the cash from your checking account, select the Checking account.
  3. Enter the date of the transaction, followed by the amount of the expense.
  4. Click OK to transfer the funds back to the account from which it came.

Keep an eye on the Current Savings balance as well as the graph to see how much of the allotted cash remains.

The next step is to switch back to your checking account and enter the transaction for the expense. You'll notice that your checking account contains a contribution transaction from your Savings Goal account. Enter the payment transaction associated with the expense to reduce your checking account balance by the same amount.

 

WHAT'S THE POINT?

When you talk a mortgage lender into handing you money for your house, the lender talks you into paying "points": a fee that's calculated as a percentage of your mortgage. One point is 1 percent of the mortgage amount. Two-and-a-half points is 2.5 percent of the mortgage. So paying one-and-a-half points (1.5 percent) on a $250,000 mortgage means paying . . . . Well, to find out just how much your points are costing, use Quicken:

  1. Choose Edit + Use Calculator.
  2. In the Quicken Calc that appears, enter the mortgage amount ($250,000 in the example) and multiply that by the point percentage (.015 in the example, which is 1.5 percent).
  3. Press Enter or click the equal sign on the calculator.

The answer appears: $3,750. That's how much the points are costing you on the sample mortgage.

 

KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR INSURANCE POLICIES

In addition to keeping track of your home inventory, QHI also lets you store specific information regarding your insurance policies. Using the Policies feature, you can record things like policy number, insurance company, and agent and contact information, as well as the total coverage of the policy, which QHI uses to determine whether you have enough insurance to cover the items in your inventory.

To record insurance policy specific information:

  1. In QHI, Choose View + Policy List (or click the Policies icon in the icon bar).
  2. Select the policy you want to update (Homeowner/Renter, for example) and click the Edit button.
  3. In the Edit Policy dialog box, enter the specifics of your policy and click OK when you have finished.
  4. Click OK.

To create a new policy:

  1. Choose View + Policy List (or click the Policies icon in the icon bar).
  2. Click the New button.
  3. In the New Policy dialog box, enter the specifics of your policy and click OK.
  4. Click OK.

 

ASSIGNING A POLICY TO AN INVENTORY ITEM

After you add your insurance policies to QHI, the next step is to assign the items in your inventory to the policy that covers them. QHI automatically assigns the appropriate insurance policy to Quicken's own list of suggested items that has been provided for you. In some cases, you may need to change this assignment. You also have to assign a policy to an item that you added to the inventory yourself.

To assign a policy:

  1. In your inventory list, find the item you want to assign a policy to and position the cell pointer in the item.
  2. Choose View + Detail View (or click the Detail View icon).
  3. Click the Ins. Policy field arrow to display a list of current policies.
  4. Select the policy to assign to the current item.
  5. Click the Record button.

After you assign an insurance policy to an item, QHI keeps a running total of the value of all items assigned to a particular policy.

 

POP-UP MATH

Do you sometimes need a little assistance when you have to do even simple math equations in Quicken? Your 5th grade math teacher need not know, but you can rely on Quicken's handy little pop-up calculator when you need to calculate a few checks. Hey, when it comes to your personal finances, better to be safe than sorry, right?

To do a calculation while you enter a transaction, simply click the Calculator button that appears in all numeric fields. To enter numbers, you can use the buttons on the pop-up calculator or the keys on your keyboard's numeric keypad. Click Enter to calculate the total and place it in the current field.

To perform calculations in an area of Quicken that doesn't have a pop-up calculator, choose Edit + Use Calculator. Again, you click the buttons on the calculator or use the keyboard's numeric keypad to enter numbers. To paste the results in a field, position the cursor in the appropriate location and click the Paste button at the bottom of the calculator.

 

PORTFOLIO ANALYSIS AT QUICKEN.COM

To get a detailed look at your investment portfolio's asset allocation from Quicken.com, go to the Investing home page [http://www.quicken.com/investments] and click the Portfolio link. When the display appears:

  1. Click Asset Allocation.
  2. Check off which portfolio you want to analyze, then click Go.
  3. You then see several links alongside it. Choose links like Model Allocation, Security Diversification, or Sector Diversification, to see graphs, charts, and discussions about the balance (or lack thereof) in your holdings.

 

TRYING THE PORTFOLIO VIEW

When it comes to a brokerage account, using the Portfolio View window makes sense. Sure, you need a few minutes to get used to the Portfolio View window, but once you do, you'll find it much easier to work with.

To switch to the Portfolio View window, display the investment account you want to work with and then click the Portfolio button. If you don't have any securities set up yet, Quicken will probably pop up the Set Up a New Security dialog box. Just click Cancel to move on by. Quicken then displays the Portfolio View window.

The really neat thing about a Portfolio View window -- at least as it applies to investment portfolios -- is that it lets you look at your investment portfolio as a set of securities. In contrast, a register simply lists the investment transactions for an account.

 

THE PORTFOLIO VIEW WINDOW

You can do more with the Portfolio View window than just update share prices.

The Por[t]folio As Of field lets you specify the date on which you want to see and set market prices and values. The Group By drop-down list box lets you customize the way Quicken displays your list of securities in the Portfolio View. And the Detail View button displays the Security Detail View, where you can review the details of each security.

The Customize button displays a dialog box that lets you create a customized view of the Portfolio View window. You can select what information you want Quicken to display in the Portfolio View window and which order you want the information in. The Update Prices button displays a menu of commands that let you download securities prices from the Internet and that let you see and modify a historical list of share prices.

If you're a serious investor, take the time to explore these commands. You may gain some interesting insights into your financial investments.

 

POSTDATING YOUR CHECKS

If you're one of those anal, er, we mean "ultra-organized" types who must write out checks weeks before they're due, Quicken is there to enable this behavior. When you have postdated checks in your register (checks with future pay dates on them), a horizontal blue line appears in your register to separate the upcoming payments from those past payments. You'll also notice two balances in your register: the current balance, which shows your balance as of the current date, and the ending balance, which adjusts to reconcile the postdated checks.

 

ONLINE CENTER POSTING

Q: "I would like to know if it is possible to have entries from my online center be posted to other accounts the same way that they are posted automatically to my checking account."

A. Yes. You just have to enable the online connection for each account.

  1. Open Online + Enable Online Banking.
  2. In the Select Account box, click on the account you want to enable. Pick up the phone and ask that account's bank (or other institution) for a PIN number.
  3. Click on OK.
  4. In the Enable Online Banking dialog box, click on the options you want enabled and enter your PIN. Then click on Save.

 

PRICE ALERTS

You can easily set up price alerts at Quicken.com [http://www.quicken.com] to notify you when a stock hits a certain price.

  1. From the Quicken.com Web site, click Portfolio, then Alerts. Quicken.com displays a page showing announcements for your stocks by investment account. Next to each account tile, you see a Setup button.
  2. Click the Setup button for the security for which you want to set up a price alert.
  3. In the Alerts page for that account, scroll down to the bottom of the page and specify target prices for stocks in that account.

When the stock hits the target price, an alert will appear when you visit Quicken.com.

 

PRINT A LOAN AMORTIZATION SCHEDULE

In our last tip, we showed you how to generate a loan amortization schedule. Today, we show you how to print out the amortization schedule so that you have a hard copy handy.

To print the amortization schedule:

  1. Choose Features + Bills + Loans.
  2. Click the Choose Loan button; then select the name of the loan you want to use.
  3. Click the Payment Schedule tab.
  4. Choose File + Print Loan.
  5. Make any changes you want to the print options; then click OK to get a printout of the schedule.

 

PERIODICALLY PRINT

Don't just leave important -- and laboriously-entered -- data in your computer. Drives can crash, computers can be stolen, relatives can fumble finding the data when it's most needed. Periodically print reports on your finances. Use the Reports menu to see what's important on screen, and then use the File menu's Print command to put it on paper. Then keep that paper in a safe deposit box and print other copies for your attorney, spouse and other important financial helpmates.

 

PRINT REPORTS ON A SINGLE PAGE

Annoyed when your reports are a few columns shy of fitting on a single page? Well, don't despair: You have the power to change all that. To shrink a report so that its columns always fit on one page, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Print button in any report screen.
  2. Select Fit to One Page Wide and click OK in the resulting dialog box.

From now on, all the columns in your report always appear on one page.

 

TWO PRINTER SETUP

If you print great deal of checks, but still need to print regular pages such as letterhead, and maybe envelopes too, you should consider getting more than one printer. They don't cost much any more -- a laser printer can be had for $400, a good inkjet for $300. It will eliminate the troubles of swapping paper types and changing page setups.

 

NEW GIG FOR OLD PRINTERS

If you use continuous-feed checks, you may find it cumbersome to load and unload the checks from the printer every time you print checks. You might consider using an old, slow, dot matrix printer as a dedicated check printer, thereby getting the old "doorstop" back in service and eliminating the hassle of switching the checks every time.

 

CHECK PRINTING

It's a sad fact, but you can't just roll one of your regular, personal checks into your computer printer and have Quicken print the latest transaction on it. Nor can you print checks on standard printer paper. You must buy special check forms -- available through Quicken.com or at computer-products stores. The good news is that you can grab and write on these special forms, using them in place of personal checks.

 

TAX TIP FOR CHECK PRINTING

Here's a tax tip for check printing and tax deductions. Print and send the checks that offer a tax deduction by the last day of the year, even if the due date is later. If you pay quarterly estimated taxes to the state or the IRS, pay them before December 31, even though they have a due date of January 15. If it doesn't impact your cash flow, pay real estate taxes that are due in January by the end of December. Pile up those deductible checks and mail them before the end of the year.

 

PRINTING GRAPHS WITHOUT COLOR

Oh, why bother. They'll be so boring and bland. Sorry. The color inkjet makers made us say that.

In fact, you don't really need color to print nice graphs. You just need something other than color to differentiate one slice of the pie from another.

Patterns will do.

So, in the graph window, before printing:

  1. Click on the Options button.
  2. Click on Draw In Patterns.

You'll see the results right on screen. If its OK, go ahead and click on Print.

 

PRINTING A HARD COPY BUDGET

While we're on the subject of budgets, here's a tip you can use when you want to print out your budget. When you print all 12 months of the budget, Quicken divides the printout into a number of different columns per page. In order to get the best presentation possible, switch to the landscape printing mode before you print. By doing so, you get 6 months worth of data per page on the printout, making your budget much easier to read.

  1. Choose Features + Planning + Budgets.
  2. Click View and select Other Budgets from the shortcut menu.
  3. In the Manage Budgets dialog box, select the name of the budget you want to print and click Open.
  4. Click Print.
  5. In the Orientation section of the Print dialog box, select Landscape.
  6. Click Preview to preview the budget or click Print to send the budget directly to the printer.

 

SIDEWAYS PRINTING

Are you sick and tired of printing reports that appear to be too squashed for their own good? Well, this tip's for you. You can switch the orientation of your report to give it more breathing room. By default, Quicken prints by using the Portrait orientation (with the paper taller than it is wide). By switching to Landscape mode, you can print data across the long edge of the page.

To change the print orientation:

  1. Create or display the report you want to print.
  2. Choose File + Print Report.
  3. In the Orientation section of the dialog box, select the proper orientation.
  4. Click Preview to see how the report will appear with its new orientation.
  5. If you like what you see, click Print to send the report to the printer. Otherwise, click Close.

 

SOMETHING PRIVATE ABOUT YOU

One of your first steps in using Quicken's Retirement Planner is to enter basic details about yourself: your name, age, your spouse's name and age, and some items about your dependents. Remember that the retirement calculations won't be accurate if your data isn't true. And the details will remain in your computer: they won't upload to Intuit's or anyone else's Web site. For more privacy, use the File, Password, File command to keep your Quicken data secret, even from anyone else who uses your computer.

 

STUCK ON A PROBLEM?

Having problems with Quicken? Before you reach for the phone to place a potentially costly long distance call to tech support, check out Quicken's Troubleshooting help section. This Troubleshooting section contains a list of the more common problems (and their solutions) that people run into with Quicken. To access the Troubleshooting system:

  1. Choose Help + Product Support.
  2. Click the Troubleshoot button in the Product Support dialog box.

Based on where you were or what action you were performing when you started the Troubleshooting module, Quicken displays a listing of the potential problems that you may be experiencing. For example, if you're currently working with a loan, the Troubleshooting guide displays a listing of problems related to loans.

Scroll through the help topics and then click the one related to your problem. If the solution provided solves your problem, click Yes to close the Help window. Otherwise, click No. At that point, additional help options appear. We discuss those in the next tip.

 

STILL STUCK ON A PROBLEM?

If, after using Quicken's Troubleshooting guide, you still experience problems, try these additional options before placing a call to tech support:

  • If you have access to the Web, check out Quicken's Support Network on the Quicken.com Web site. Here you find lists of frequently asked questions, as well as a number of additional resources, including questions posted by other Quicken users. To access the Quicken Product Support Network, choose Help + Product Support and click the Go to Web button.
  • If you have a fax machine, use the free Fax on Demand service, which provides information about the most frequently asked questions and their solutions, as well as offers information relating to a number of additional topics. Simply dial (800) 644-3198 and follow along with the automated system to request the information you need.

Finally, if you are still having difficulty, you can place a phone call to Technical Support. First try the toll-free Automated Product Support line at (800) 685-7369. To talk to a real, live technical support specialist, call (520) 618-7101.

 

REPORT COLUMNS

After practice with Excel worksheets and Word tables and the like, you may be accustomed to moving column boundaries by clicking on them and dragging them to a new position. Quicken's own reports offer the same flexibility, though it isn't as obvious because the columns don't have boundary lines from top to bottom. Look for the column marker at the top of the report, the little diamond with lines extending up and down. Drag that left or right to change the column's width.

 

SHARING REPORT DATA WITH SPREADSHEETS

If you use a Windows spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel, 1-2-3 for Windows, or Quattro Pro for Windows, you can copy the stuff that shows in a report window to the Clipboard. Simply click the Copy button. Then start your spreadsheet program and choose Edit, Paste to paste the stuff from the Clipboard into your spreadsheet. You may need to use this feature if you want to use a spreadsheet to analyze the report data.

 

EXPORT THAT REPORT

If you're working on a document in a word processing program and want to be able to show the data for a Quicken report, your life just got a whole lot easier.

You can export a report to a word processing (or a spreadsheet) program by generating a report and then clicking the Copy button in the Report window. The report is copied to the Windows Clipboard. From there, you can paste it just about anywhere.

 

A PROMPTER REPORT

When you create a report, do you very rarely customize the settings? If so, you can turn off the display of the Create Report screen altogether; this window appears by default whenever you create a report. To turn off the window, you must first generate a report or switch to a report you have already created.

To skip over the Create Report screen:

  1. Choose Reports + Home + Cash Flow, or any other report type and click the Create button at the bottom of the Create Report screen. Or, click on the appropriate QuickTab to switch to an existing report.
  2. Click the Options button located in the upper right corner of the report screen.
  3. In the resulting Report Options dialog box, select the Skip Create Report Prompt box.
  4. Click OK.

Now, the next time you create a report, Quicken will do just that, create a report. If you need to make any changes to the report's settings, click the Customize button located in the upper left corner of the report screen and make your changes as necessary.

 

CREATING A SUBTOTAL REPORT

Typically, grouped reports beg for subtotals, but the report wizard won't just give them to you--you'll have to work for them. Here's how.

First, create your report--make it grouped. Then open the Group Footer section and enter the appropriate subtotal function. For instance, to display a total of each region's sales, you might use a function similar to

=Sum([Sales])

You'll end up with an additional line below each group displaying the result of your function. Each result reflects only the records in that group.

 

CUSTOMIZING YOUR REPORTS

Quicken is remarkably sophisticated in its reporting. You can customize any report you see in the Reports menu. To customize these reports, click the Customize button to get to the nuts and bolts of your selected report, then just start noodling around. You can't hurt anything.

If you do play around with these items, you can save any custom report specifications that you create. To do so, click the Memorize button at the top of the report window. Quicken displays a dialog box asking you to supply a name for your customized report. (You can also provide a default report date range.) After you name the customized report, Quicken lists it whenever you choose [R]eports or [M]emorized Reports and Graphs.

 

QUICK MISTAKES

QuickFill can mean Quick Mistakes. You know how when you start typing a payee or other detail in a register, Quicken leaps ahead, guessing what you're going to type from what you've typed before? That's the "QuickFill" feature that tries to save you from having to type the same things over and over.

Well, that can make trouble if you have a couple of payees-- or whatevers--with similar names. Say you mean to type "AT&T Long Distance." If you've previously paid "AT& Cable Services," that's what QuickFill may enter on the line. You have to watch what you're typing and, if QuickFill guesses wrong, type out the entire correct entry.

 

A QUICKER, CLOSER LOOK

While perusing a report, have you ever wanted to see the details of a transaction or correct an error? No need to switch back to your check register and look up the transactions there. Simply double-click any of the entries in the report; Quicken takes you directly to the Register with the current entry selected.

 

QUICK AND DIRTY REPORT

Want to see a list of all the transactions you've made to a particular payee? Just right-click the appropriate Payee field and select the Payments Made To payee category. Quicken instantly generates a report showing all transactions regarding that single payee. Alternatively, you can click the Report button in the Register window and select the Amount Spent On category or the Payments Made To category.

 

QUICK AND EASY RECONCILIATION

Sometimes, especially when you use your ATM or Debit card, you know the transaction is immediately entered in your bank account. If you want to get a head start on the reconciliation process, you can enter the transaction as usual and then assign it as cleared ahead of time. Then, when you're ready to reconcile the register with your bank statement, you just have to double-check and make sure that the transaction has in fact cleared with your bank.

To mark a transaction as cleared in your account register, just click the Clr field of the appropriate transaction. Presto! The letter "c" appears. (Wasn't that simple?) The transaction you marked as cleared will be preselected in the Reconciliation window, and all you have to do is accept it when you reconcile your register.

 

A QUICKEN QUICKIE

Quicken can supply you with a quick-and-dirty report called, cleverly enough, a QuickReport. If you're working with the check register, you can produce a quick report that summarizes things such as the checks written to a particular payee or the transactions assigned to a specific income or expense category.

To produce a QuickReport, first move the cursor to the field you want to summarize in the report. Then click the Report button at the top of the register window. Choose the report you want from the Report menu that drops down.

 

QUICKEN IN THE MID-90S GETS INVESTMENT SAVVY

After its Windows version debuted way back in ancient computing history, Quicken steadily added features and advice in the mid-90s:

  • Quicken 4 for Windows: Added Quicken Home Inventory (in the Deluxe version), Ask the Experts and Finance 101 (again, only in the Deluxe version), global Find & Replace in the register, customizable Portfolio view, downloaded stock quotes, Snapshots, Progress bar, memorized graphs, Supercategories, fiscal year budgeting, Tax Planner, forecasting, and Account Selection bar.
  • Quicken 5 for Windows was a big jump, with lots of big and small features, especially for investors (though some reserved only to the Deluxe version): Investor Insight (Deluxe), Mutual Fund Finder (Deluxe), Financial Address Book (Deluxe), shortcuts, hidden inactive accounts, deleting unused memorized transactions, sorting scheduled transactions, floating Transaction toolbar, deleting unused categories, Watch list for investments, improved investment account flexibility, check writing from investment accounts, sorting investment for analysis, online bank account access, back and credit card statement downloads, more printing options, EasyAnswer reports, multiple budgets, Tax Link assistant, QuickTabs, and better help.

 

QUICKEN NEW RESTORES QUICKEN OLD

When you install a new version of Quicken, it automatically looks for your old Quicken data files and transforms them into its own.

But if your previous version of Quicken was more than one version behind--such as updating from Quicken 6 to Quicken 99--this conversion may not work.

In that case, there is a solution: Restoration.

  1. In the new Quicken open File + Restore Backup File. (Quicken always makes a backup file for safety.)
  2. Find the backup file of your old Quicken data. It will be in a Backup folder, quite possibly in the same directory as your main Quicken data files.
  3. Click on OK.

Quicken should be able to get the information it needs from this backup.

 

HOW OFTEN TO QUICKEN

I've run the whole range with Quicken, from only entering data once a month to entering it constantly. Constant was too much trouble: a nightmare after a while.

Equipped with a handheld computer, pulling it out and entering every dollar spent here and check written there. Monthly didn't work too well either, because I always discovered a discrepancy of hundreds of dollars in the petty cash account, blurred receipts I couldn't identify, and other such memory lapses. For most people Weekly is probably the best Quicken timing. Make it a regular chore at a regular time and it is most likely you'll get it done. Perhaps during a favorite sitcom on Thursday nights for instance.

If you're using Quicken for business, though, daily is the best idea, perhaps as the first thing in each business day.

 

QUICKEN 99 ENTERED THE INTERNET AGE

With Quicken 99, the online features weren't just add-ons to Quicken. Instead, the entire look and feel of a Web browser was built into Quicken, along with direct links to Internet information and the following:

  • Customizable home page within Quicken so that you can start with the information that matters most to you
  • QuickTabs, new Windows menus, and other improved ways to get around in the program
  • Simplified budgeting
  • Average Cost support for investments
  • Asset Class information download
  • One Step Update for online information
  • Portfolio Export
  • PIN Vault to store all those Personal Identification Numbers you get with various accounts and securities
  • Multiple Currency support

The Deluxe version also had these new features:

  • Financial Activity Centers gave a new way to view your finances, such as by Home&Car, Banking, or Investing
  • What-if Scenarios for planning
  • QuickEntry and WebEntry to make it easier to keep your records current
  • Capital Gains estimator, in case you were in on the largest bull market in history

 

PREPARE FOR QUICKENTRY

Quicken 99 installs the QuickEntry icon on your desktop. When you spend or earn, double-click this icon, and a mini- and fast version of Quicken's register pops up. You can enter your transaction details and leave again without spending the extra seconds it takes to start up the entire Quicken program.

 

GETTING USED TO QUICKTABS

In a nutshell, Quicken arranges all of its features -- whistles, bells, or whatever else you want to call them -- into financial activitycenters. For example, the Cash Flow Center and the Investing Center and the Property & Debt Center are all financial activity centers. You get the picture. Each of these centers gets its own button.

Quicken lists the features within a financial activity center underneath the financial activity center button. You can collapse and expand this list by clicking the small button that's just to the left of the big financial activity center button. (The small button shows a picture of an arrowhead.) You can also jump to a listed feature by clicking the feature -- which Quicken calls a QuickTab.

If you're confused, just click the buttons and bits of text in the area of the Quicken window. You'll see how things work very clearly.

 

CUSTOMIZING YOUR REPORTS

If you want to extract some financial tidbit, you can usually get what you want from one of the reports listed on the Reports menu, especially if you use the EasyAnswer feature to find the right report!

Quicken is remarkably sophisticated in its reporting. You can customize any report you see in the Reports menu. Simply click the Customize button to get to the nuts and bolts of your selected report. To save any custom report specifications that you create, click the Memorize button at the top of the report window. Quicken displays a dialog box that asks you to supply a name for your customized report. (You can also provide a default report date range.) After you name the customized report, Quicken lists it whenever you choose Reports, Memorized Reports and Graphs.

 

QUICKEN INVESTING REPORTS

You can use these reports in Quicken to help manage your investments:

  • Capital Gains: Lists all the realized gains on individual investments you hold. (A capital gain occurs when an investment is worth more than you paid for it. When you sell the investment, you realize the gain.)
  • Investment Asset Allocation: Shows investments by asset class.
  • Investment Income: Summarizes income and expense categories for the transactions you record in your investment accounts.
  • Investment Performance: Calculates the internal rates of return delivered by each of the individual investments in your portfolio.
  • Investment Transactions: Lists recorded transactions for all your investment accounts.
  • Portfolio Value: Lists the current value of all securities in your investment accounts.
  • Portfolio Value & Cost Basis: Lists the current value and cost of all securities in your investment accounts.

 

QUICKEN REPORTS

Reports are a great way to see how you're doing, financially anyway. With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can transform your checking account entries into a professional-looking report. Here's how:

  1. From the open checkbook register window, click the Reports option on the button bar.
  2. A menu appears offtering you the option of either creating a Register Report or Expense Summary Graph.
  3. Click the Register Report option to create a report.
  4. Click the Customize button to make changes to the format of a report.
  5. Click the Sort button to choose from among several options for sorting the transactions on the report, such as date, amount, or payee.

And then, get reportin'!

 

QUICKIE REPORTS

Have you ever wanted to run a quick report to see how much you've spent on a specific category (say, dinner out) but don't want to be bothered with fussing around with the report options? Here's how to create an instant category report:

  1. Choose Lists + Category/Transfer.
  2. In the Category list window, select the category you want a report for. For example, you could select the Dining category.
  3. Click the Report button (in the upper-right pane of the window).

Quicken generates a Category report based on the selected category.

 

TAILORING REPORTS FOR CUSTOM FINANCIAL FITS

Mavericks will be glad to know that you don't have to rely on ready-made reports in Quicken because you can fashion reports of your own. After you've generated a ready-made report, you can start fooling around with it by clicking the Customize button in the report window (for that matter, you can start fooling around from the get-go by clicking the Customize button at the bottom of the Reports and Graphs window). After you click the Customize button, you see a Customize Report dialog box. Depending on the kind of report you are trying to modify, the options in the Customize Report dialog box differ a little bit.

Hint: When it comes to fashioning a report of your own, consider starting with one of these reports on the Reports menu: Account Balances (Own & Owe), Transaction (Spending), Banking Summary (Spending), or Cash Flow Comparison (Business). These four reports are the basic report types on which all of Quicken's ready-made reports are built.

Here's a brief rundown of the four tabs of the Customize Report dialog box:

  • Display: Changes the title and layout of the report.
  • Accounts: Tells Quicken from which accounts to draw data for the report.
  • Include: Tells Quicken which categories, classes, or category groups to report on.
  • Advanced: Weeds out transactions that you want to exclude from the report.

When you are done filling in the four tabs of the Customize Report dialog box, click the Create button to generate your newfangled report.

 

GETTING RETRO WITH QUICKEN

Can you use Quicken retroactively? Well, yeah. And the idea is better than it might seem at first.

It doesn't take long to enter a year's worth of transactions in Quicken (as long as you have decent records to work with). If you're a regular, ordinary person, you can probably get it all done on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

After you enter all the info into Quicken, you can easily monitor your spending in various categories, track your income and outgo, and reconcile your bank accounts. And then, keep up with entering your information into Quicken and soon you'll be able to compare several years of spending and saving.

 

RETURN IN A HURRY

How are your investments doing? In Quicken Deluxe 98, you can check right quick. You don't even need the Features menu. Just press Ctrl + U and to see the Portfolio View.

 

QUICKEN WINDOW BARES ALL

Is the Windows Taskbar covering up half of your Quicken Activity Bar (we're assuming your Taskbar is at the bottom of the screen)? This annoyance can occur when the Quicken window is not maximized. Here are three ways to uncover the entire window.

Option 1: Maximize the Quicken window

  1. Move your pointer up to the top-right corner of the Quicken window (to those three little buttons).
  2. Click the middle button to maximize the window.

Option 2: Hide the Windows Taskbar

  1. Hold your mouse pointer over the top edge of the Taskbar.
  2. When the pointer changes to a double-pointed arrow, click and drag down until the Taskbar is off the screen, and then let go. (Follow the same steps to drag the Taskbar back into view.)

Option 3: Resize the Quicken window (by far the most tedious of the three choices)

  1. Hold your mouse pointer over the top edge of the Quicken window; you know you've found the edge when the pointer changes to a double-pointed arrow.
  2. Click and drag downward to shrink the window (drag down a distance equal or greater to the height of the Taskbar); then let go.
  3. Click the Quicken window's title bar and drag the window up until you can see the entire Activity Bar.

Regardless of the method you use, your Activity Bar appears in full view.

 

QUICKER DATA ENTRY

Are you finding data entry more and more tedious as time goes by? Did you know that two simple keys on your keyboard can make a world of difference when you enter transactions? Believe it or not, the plus (+) and minus (-) keys are your quickest route to relieving transactions tedium.

Here's what happens when you press the plus or minus key in the following fields:

  • In the Num field: Increases or decreases the check number.
  • In the Date field: Increases or decreases the current date.
  • In the Payee field: Selects the next or previous memorized transaction.
  • In the Category field: Selects the next or previous category from the Category list.

There. Isn't it amazing how these two unassuming keys can make all the difference during data entry?

 

QUICKER DATA ENTRY--ENTERING DATES

If you liked our previous tip on how to speed up data entry, you'll love this one. You can use the following keystrokes anytime that you are dealing with dates--including those times when you're entering transactions or working with the financial calendar.

  • Press M to enter the first day of the month.
  • Press H to enter the last day of the month.
  • Press T to enter the current date.
  • Press Y to enter the first day of the year.
  • Press R to enter the last day of the year.

 

EVEN QUICKER REPORTS

In our last tip, we showed you how to create a quick report based on a particular category. Choose Lists + Category/Transfer, select the specific category, and click Report. In this tip, we show you how to generate a category-specific report directly from your check register. To see how much you've spent on a specific category:

  1. Choose Lists + Account and select the name of your checking account.
  2. In the register, find the specific categorized transaction that you want a report for. For example, to see how much you've spent on groceries, track down any transaction currently assigned the Groceries category.
  3. Right-click the transaction and select Amount Spent on X....where X is the category assigned to the transaction you have selected. Quicken generates an instant report based on the category you selected.

 

QUICKTOURS NOSTALGIA

Ah, multimedia from days gone by. A reader asked: "Thanks for this tip. I had Quicken 5 and fondly remember QuickTours. Then I installed Quicken 6. Is there a way to get to the tours from 6? Do I need to have both versions installed and use 5 just for the tours?" Have any of you tried this? Do you know how to make it happen?

 

READY . . . SWITCH!

In a previous tip, we showed you how to rename a category: Select Lists + Category/Transfer, select the category you want to rename, click Edit, type a new name for the category, and click OK. But what if, instead of renaming a category, you want to switch all entries under a particular category to another, already-existing category? For example, suppose you want to switch all transactions categorized under Dining Out (and let's face it, you've got lots of them!) to the more general Entertainment category. Quicken calls this operation, of all things, "recategorizing."

  1. Select Edit + Find & Replace + Recategorize.
  2. Click the down arrow on the Search Category line and select the category you want to recategorize.
  3. Click the Find All button.
  4. On the Replace With line, click the down arrow and select the category to which you'd like to switch the found transactions.
  5. Click Mark All.
  6. Click Replace.
  7. Click Yes to confirm.

A lot easier than going though and replacing those categories by hand, eh?

 

CONSTRUCT A REAL ESTATE TRACK

If you invest in real estate other than your own home, you should keep track of your investment just as you would stocks or bonds. One way to track this investment is to watch the loan you used to buy the real estate. To set up an account for it in Quicken 99:

  1. Open Lists + Account.
  2. Click on New, just above the Account List.
  3. In the Create New Account dialog box, click on Asset and then on Next.
  4. In the Asset Account Setup dialog box, type a name for this account and a description. Then click on Next.
  5. When the dialog box asks if you know how much this asset is worth, choose Yes (you may as well look this up now rather than having to enter it later) and then click on Next.
  6. Enter the date and current value and then click on Next.
  7. Click on Done.

Then you need to keep up to date by entering any new transactions for this account. If you do, you'll be able to watch your investment grow or shrink, and you'll see it included in all your reports.

 

THE REAL VALUE OF YOUR LOAN

Wanna get truly bummed out? Take a look at the balance of your loan at the end of its term. You can see how much you will have actually paid after all of those interest payments are factored into the principal amount.

To reveal your true loan amount:

  1. Choose Features + Bills + Loans.
  2. Click the Choose Loan button and select the name of the loan you want to view.
  3. Click the Payment Graph button.

A Loan Balance graph appears, using three separate lines to show you the life of your loan. In this case, you're probably most interested in the Total Interest line, which appears in green. This line shows the dreaded amount--how much you actually pay to satisfy your loan obligation. Maybe you can make extra payments on the principal to keep the interest payments down.

 

REARRANGE THE TABS

The Account tabs that appear along the bottom of your check register are sorted by account type and then by name. You can easily rearrange the order of these tabs so that they appear, for example, in alphabetical order regardless of account type. To do so, just click and drag the Account tab to a new location in the list.

You can also rearrange the QuickTabs that appear along the right of the Register window in the same way: Simply click and drag a QuickTab to a new location.

Quicken retains the placement of the tabs the next time you start the program.

 

RECONCILABLE TRANSACTIONS

A reader recently wrote in asking whether it was possible to generate a report that only included those transactions that have been reconciled with a bank statement. You sure can.

To create a report of reconciled transactions:

  1. Create the report as usual. For example, choose Reports + Home + Itemized Categories and click Create.
  2. Click the Customize button in the top-left pane.
  3. Select the Advanced Tab in the Customize Itemized Categories Report box.
  4. In the Status section of the dialog box, make sure Reconciled is selected.
  5. Click Create.

Quicken creates a report that lists only those transactions that have been reconciled. (If you want to create a report that lists transactions that haven't yet been reconciled, deselect the Reconciled option. Doing so can be useful when you want to create a report to determine whether you have any outstanding deposits or payments in your current account.)

 

RECONCILIATION CHECK

If you're having trouble reconciling a Quicken account, try taking a look for transactions that your bank has recorded but you haven't in Quicken. This may sound too simple, but you'd be surprised by how many times this is the source of your discrepancy.

Go through your bank statement and make sure that you have recorded every transaction that your bank has recorded. Cash machine withdrawals, special fees or service charges, automatic withdrawals, direct deposits, and so on are easily overlooked.

If the difference is positive -- that is, the bank thinks you have less money the you think you should -- you may be missing a withdrawal transaction. If the difference is negative, you may be missing a deposit transaction.

 

RECONCILIATION FIXES

If you're reconciling a Quicken account and you discover that you forgot to record a transaction, here's what you should do:

In the Reconcile Bank Statement window, click New. Quicken displays your register with a blank line selected. Simply fill in the transaction and click Return to Reconcile to finish the reconciliation process.

If you find a transaction in the Reconciliation window that you need to delete, click it and then click Delete. Quicken asks whether you want to delete the current transaction. When you click Yes, Quicken deletes the transaction from the reconciliation window and the register.

 

RECONCILE THAT NUMBER

The first thing to do with a reconciliation that doesn't balance is to compare the number of transactions -- not their values, but the actual number of times you believe something was deposited or expended and the number of times the bank says these things happened. If you find a difference, you're well on the way to a solution. You probably forgot to record something, or possibly the bank picked up some fraudulent activity on your account. Either way, you'll know you can walk through the transactions one by one, ignoring values, until you find one that isn't on both lists.

 

STILL CAN'T REACH RECONCILIATION

You've been trying to reconcile a Quicken account for what seems like days, but you're still not getting the correct balance. Well, here are some things you should check before throwing in the towel:

  • Check the statement ending balance. You may have recorded the Ending Balance from the bank statement incorrectly.
  • Check for amounts that do not match. The bank may have recorded a transaction for a different amount than you recorded in Quicken.
  • Check for transposed figures. Add the digits of the Difference and see if they equal 9 or a multiple of 9. If so, you may have transposed the digits for one or more checks or deposits.
  • Check for errors while clearing. You may have cleared a transaction that did not clear the bank. Or, you might not have cleared a transaction that did clear.

 

RECONCILING PAPER VERSUS ONLINE BANK STATEMENTS

You reconcile a standard Quicken checking account to your paper bank statement. If you have an online account, you can still reconcile to the paper bank statement, or you can reconcile to your latest online balance, but the reconciliation process is different. For online accounts, keep in mind that, while you can switch to reconciling to your online balance, you should not switch back to the paper statement method. Reconciling online accounts involves procedures that match the statement against online account transactions, which are downloaded, not entered by you. You don't have to go through the chores involved in making sure you entered every transaction, and the basic approach to the reconciliation process is quite different.

 

REINVESTMENT TRANSACTIONS

That mutual fund you own may offer a reinvestment of income, buying more of the fund for your account. If so, don't enter this in your Quicken's Mutual Fund account as a new purchase. Turn instead to the Easy Actions button and choose Reinvest Income to record the fact.

 

ADDING TRANSACTIONS DURING RECONCILIATION

If you find a transaction on your bank statement during reconciliation that you haven't entered into your Quicken program, you don't need to shut down the reconciliation process to enter the transaction in your Quicken account register. You can enter it from the reconciliation window.

To do this, click New at the top of the reconciliation window. This brings up the register for the account on which you're working.

Go through the normal steps of entering a transaction. When you finish, notice the button at the bottom of the register that says Return to Reconcile. Click that button to go back to work on your reconciliation.

When the reconciliation window appears again, the new transaction is listed. Of course, you can click it off immediately to clear it -- it was, after all, on the statement.

 

EMERGENCY RECORDS ORGANIZER

The Emergency Records Organizer in Quicken Deluxe is the card catalog to your belongings and your health. It's a one-stop mini-storage site for the numbers, addresses, amounts that a clone would need to recreate your financial life. And a little of your emotional life. In the long run, it can mean more to your future to keep the ERO up to date than to keep your check register all neatly reconciled. If you haven't tried ERO yet, give it a whirl. You don't have to do it all at once. Just click the Household menu and then on Emergency Records Organizer to get started.

 

THE QUICKEN EMERGENCY RECORDS ORGANIZER

The Quicken Emergency Records Organizer gives you a place to store all the important information that you or your family may need in the event of an emergency. Just remember that collecting and storing all your important information has both an upside and a downside. You will be able to respond quickly in an emergency, but you also make the information available to thieves. Remember to safeguard your Quicken Emergency Records Organizer information. You can password-protect your Quicken data, or, if you want, store your emergency information in a separate Quicken file that you password-protect.

 

ERO: REPORT OR PWD

The Emergency Records you've organized in Quicken Deluxe -- under the Household menu -- won't do you much good when you're incapacitated. Not if no one else can find them or open them. And what a pity that would be! With your insurance policy details, your medical history and so on, wouldn't it be nice for the right person to have that data?

If it doesn't change often, consider printing it. In the ERO there's a Report tab, and you can follow onscreen instructions to print. If your ERO changes a great deal -- if you make changes to it, that is -- leave instructions for your trusted friend on how to find it on your hard drive and --- don't skip this -- what your password is.

 

NOT USING THE MORTGAGE REFINANCE CALCULATOR

The Refinance Calculator merely calculates the difference in mortgage payments if you make lower payments; then it tells you how long it would take with these lower payments to pay back the refinancing costs you incur.

For example, if you save $50 a month because you refinance and it costs $500 to refinance, the Refinance Calculator tells you that it would take ten months of $50-a-month savings to recoup your $500.

You know what? Although you may want to know how long it would take to recoup the refinance costs, that information doesn't tell you whether refinancing is a good idea. Deciding whether to refinance is very, very complicated. You can't just look at your next few payments, like the Refinance Calculator does. You also need to look at the total interest you would pay with the old mortgage and the new mortgage.

So the Refinance Calculator just doesn't do what it purports to do.

To help you make smarter refinancing decisions (without the Refinance Calculator), here are two general rules:

  • First, if you want to save interest costs, don't use refinancing as a way to stretch out your borrowing; make sure that you make payments large enough to pay off the new mortgage by the same time you would have paid off the old mortgage. In other words, if you have 23 years left on your old mortgage, don't go out and get a 30-year mortgage. Find a lender who will let you pay off the new mortgage in 23 years.
  • Here's a second trick, if you can find a willing lender. Ask the lender to calculate the annual percentage rate (APR) on the new mortgage, assuming that you'll pay off the mortgage by the same time you would have paid off the old mortgage. (An APR includes all the loan's costs -- interest, points, miscellaneous fees, and so on -- and calculates an implicit interest rate.) If the APR on the new loan is lower than the current loan's interest rate, refinancing would probably save you money.

Remember, when you base your refinancing decision on the comparison between the new loan's APR and the current loan's interest rate, you assume that you'll live in your current house until the mortgage is paid.

 

IS HOME REFINANCE WORTHWHILE?

As interest rates for homes go down and up, a lot of people are busy refinancing. In fact, refinancing has almost become a game, seeing whether you can rush into the loan office at just the right moment to secure a few dollars less in monthly payments. How can you know what interest rate makes the hassle and expense of refinancing worth your while? Ask Quicken. In the Home & Business 99 version, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Features + Planning.
  2. Choose Financial Calculators + Refinance.
  3. In the Refinance Calculator, enter your current payment amount and any escrow amount (you may need to check your payment booklet to see just how much of your money goes to each).
  4. In the Proposed Mortgage area, enter the principal you have yet to pay and your current interest rate.

Quicken does an immediate calculation of what your monthly payment would be and how much less that would be than your current payment.

 

MOVING THROUGH A BIG REGISTER IN QUICKEN

You can use the PgUp and PgDn keys to scroll up and down through your Quicken checkbook register, a screenful of transactions at a time. Some people call this scrolling. You can call it whatever you want.

You can press Ctrl+Home to move to the first transaction in a register and Ctrl+End to move to the last transaction in a register.

Of course, you can use the vertical scrollbar along the right edge of the Register tab, too. Click either above or below the square scrollbar marker to page back and forth through the register. Or, if you've no qualms about dragging the mouse around, you can drag the scrollbar marker up and down the scrollbar. If you drag the scrollbar marker to scroll through the register, Quicken displays a popup box that shows the transaction date you've scrolled to.

 

PACKING MORE CHECKS INTO THE REGISTER

Normally, Quicken displays several rows of information about each check that you enter. It also displays several rows of information about each of the other types of transactions you enter, too. If you want to pack more checks into a visible portion of the register, click the Options button (which appears in the top-right corner of the Register tab) and then choose the One-Line Display command from the menu that Quicken displays. After you do, Quicken displays all the register information -- except the Memo field -- in a single-line format. To return to the double-line format, click the Options button and choose One-Line Display again.

 

REGISTER COLORS

If you're one of those lucky types with lots of money in lots of accounts--and especially if you have multiple accounts at a single institution--it's easy to get confused in Quicken. Which register are you really in? Are you putting BigBank Checking transactions into BigBank Savings?

One way to make things more obvious is to use the Register option colors.

  1. In the account you use most, open Options and choose Register Options.
  2. Make sure the Use Color Shading box is checked.
  3. Click on the Colors button.
  4. Choose Register Colors that are pleasing--such as Light Green. Then click on OK and then on OK again.
  5. Move to the Register you often make the mistake in--the one where you enter transactions that ought to go elsewhere. Here use the Options to set the color to something of a warning shade--perhaps a Red? Then OK your way out.

 

SETTING UP AN ELECTRONIC FUNDS TRANSFER IN THE REGISTER IN QUICKEN 2001

You can transfer funds between Quicken 2001 accounts and simultaneously notify your bank of the transfer. Think of online transfers as online payments. When you transfer funds between accounts using your register, start in the account that contains the money you want to move. Type a date for the transfer and, in the Num field, select Online Transfer from the pull-down menu. Pressing Tab to move between fields, type information in the Payee and Payment amount. In the Category field, select the account receiving the funds and press or click Enter. To complete the transfer, click the Online Center tab and click Update/Send. After you send a transfer, you can't delete it; you must transfer money back to "undo" your action.

 

SEEING MORE REGISTER

There's an easier way to see more of a register. Easier, that is, than changing your display resolution or even switching to a larger display. Just -- in the Register, you know -- click the Options menu and then choose One-Line Display. Suddenly you'll see twice as many transactions, because each is one-line tall instead of two. What's missing? Basically just the memo field, and it's still there hidden for you to get to if you need it.

 

REGISTER REGISTRY

If you're not in the habit of registering your software, you definitely want to take the time to register your version of Quicken, because some features of the program won't work unless you do.

  • You must register in order to have access to current financial information, such as stock quotes and interest rates via the Quicken Web site.
  • You also receive free program updates and discounts available only to registered Quicken users.

 

REMIND ME

Although the Quicken Reminders exist primarily to remind you to pay bills, print checks, and so on, you can use them to remind you of anything. What if you have a dental appointment on March 16? You can add the information to your calendar and then have it display in the Reminders.

  1. Open the Registry (Ctrl + R).
  2. Choose Features + Paying Bills.
  3. When the submenu opens, choose Financial Calendar.
  4. Right-click the date of your appointment.
  5. When the menu opens, choose Note.
  6. Type in the information and click Save.
  7. Choose Features + Paying Bills.
  8. When the submenu opens, choose Reminders.
  9. When the Quicken Reminders window opens, click Options (in the upper-right corner of the window).
  10. Make sure Show Calendar Notes is selected.
  11. Click OK to close the dialog box

Now your dental appointment (or whatever) is included in the Reminders.

 

QUICKEN, WILL YOU REMIND ME?

A reminder transaction is the electronic equivalent of a yellow stick-on note. If you put a reminder transaction in the investment account register, the Quicken Billminder utility gives you a reminder message on the reminder date. You can't goof up anything by trying out reminders, so if you're curious, enter a reminder transaction for tomorrow and see what happens.

You can post a reminder note by moving the cursor to the next empty row of the register and using the Reminder action. Or you can click the Easy Actions button and choose Advanced, Reminder Transaction from the menu. Then fill out the dialog box that asks you for information about the reminder.

 

RECONCILING YOUR CHECKBOOK WITH QUICKEN

You're likely among the many who have occasionally failed to compare your checkbook against the bank statement each month. But trusting the bank's computers can be dangerous; they do make mistakes.

Anyway, here's how this Quicken feature (called reconciling) works. With your bank statement in front of you, choose Reconcile from the Activities menu. Fill in the closing balance from the bank statement; fill in any interest your money earned, too, as well as any finance charges those filthy usurers charged you.

Click OK. Now the fun begins. Read down the transactions listed on your bank statement. Each time that you find one that matches a listing in Quicken's Reconcile window, click it in the Reconcile window so that a check mark appears next to it. Keep going until you've accounted for everything on the statement.

Almost always, Quicken will show transactions that your bank statement doesn't. That's normal. It means that your life didn't stop on the 15th of the month (or whenever the bank's cutoff date for your statement was). The items you're seeing are transactions you've made since the day the statement was printed and mailed.

 

JUST A LITTLE REMINDER

The Quicken Reminder window displays a list of all scheduled transactions that you've entered into the system and any alerts that apply to the current dates. To open the Reminders window, choose Finance, Reminders.

  • The top half of the Quicken Reminders window lists all scheduled transactions to be recorded by date.
  • The bottom half of the window displays any alerts that are activated by conditions in your account as of today's date.

For example, an alert may tell you that you have exceeded your account balance or that a scheduled transaction is due today.

 

REMINDER'S CRYSTAL BALL

Quicken offers lots of reminders to keep you from missing a financial event; and you get to polish the crystal ball to determine how far in advance those reminders reach.

To set reminders:

  1. Choose Edit, Options, Reminders.
  2. In the Days Shown dialog box, type the number of days in advance you want notification of anything.
  3. In this same dialog box, choose the notes that you want to show -- less aggressive nags about what's happening in your financial life.
  4. Click OK.

Some people are comfortable with the default seven-day advance notice, others may want more notifications so they can be prepared, and still others may prefer fewer so they don't have to worry too far ahead of time.

 

SETTING REMINDER WINDOWS IN QUICKEN 2000

Using the Options menu in the Quicken 2000 Reminders window, you can turn Quicken Reminders on or off and customize the way the Reminders feature works if you opt to use it.

  • Show Reminders when starting Quicken. Use this option to hide or display reminders when you start the program.
  • Show Reminders from other files. Use this option to see reminders from other files you've created in Quicken. For instance, if you have separate Quicken files for business and personal use, you would see Reminders from both files each time you start Quicken, regardless of which file you open.
  • Days Shown. Choosing this option displays the Days Shown dialog box. To give yourself proper warning, you can set the number of days in advance that you want Quicken to remind you of a scheduled event. If you create a scheduled transaction to automatically record your mortgage payment on the 10th of the month and then set this Reminder option to 7, Quicken begins alerting you of the upcoming payment on the 3rd of each month.

You also can open this dialog box by choosing Edit, Options, Reminders.

 

REMINDERS WINDOW

The Reminders window is the place to see which scheduled transactions are coming up. This window can harvest the scheduled ins and outs from all of your accounts, bringing them together and organizing them by Type, Account, Date, Payee, or Amount. Just choose Features, Reminders, Reminders to see it. In the Options, you can add a collection of reminders from other files. That collection appears as an added tab to this window.

 

REMOVING COLUMNS FROM A REPORT

Have you ever wanted to get rid of an unneeded column of data from a Quicken report? Doing so is easy. Say you don't want to see the Memo column, or the date column of your report. You can hide the data in a given column by shifting the columns themselves. After generating the report (choose Reports and select the type of report you want to create), do the following:

  1. Point to one of the diamond-shaped forms to the right of the column heading you want to remove. The mouse pointer appears as a two-headed arrow.
  2. Click and drag the mouse to the left to decrease the size of the column. Voila, the column disappears!

You can use also this technique to increase the width of a column (when info in the column appears truncated, for example). To increase the width of a column:

  1. Point to the right of the column heading that you want to increase. The mouse pointer appears as a two-headed arrow.
  2. Click and drag the mouse to the left to decrease the size of the column.

Oh, by the way, the only way to get back the column that you removed is to regenerate the report.

 

REORDERING YOUR CHECKS

Do you frequently overlook that little paper reorder form that comes with your checks? So much so that you run out of checks before new ones arrive? Well, have no fear, Quicken is here. You can use the Set Up Alerts feature to remind yourself when to reorder your checks:

  1. Choose Features + Reminders + Alerts.
  2. Select Check Reorder Notice in the Set Up Alerts window.
  3. Indicate the Bank Account.
  4. In the Check Number box, indicate which check number you want to trigger a reorder alert. (Remember to give yourself enough time to get the checks reordered and delivered; you may want to set a warning ten checks in advance to be sure.)
  5. Click OK.

Later, when you enter a transaction using that check number, Quicken displays a friendly reminder that it's time to reorder those checks. The rest is still up to you: You have to make the call or send in the reorder form.

 

QUICK REPORT ACCESS

Psst . . . wanna know a quick way to redisplay one of the last reports that you created or viewed? Click the Reports menu and then select the name of the report from the bottom of the Reports menu. Similar to the File menu, the Reports menu lists the last four Reports you worked with. Learn something new everyday, huh?

 

CUSTOMIZE REPORTS

You can take one of two main roads to customizing a report:

  • Click a Report button in the button bar or the equivalent command in a right-click menu. Doing so displays the report. Next, click the Customize button on the button bar and make custom changes to that report. You can't customize it until after it displays.
  • Use the Reports & Graphs Center window to customize a report or graph. You can do this before it displays by clicking the Customize button at the bottom of the Center window. Or you can customize after displaying the report by clicking the Customize button on the button bar

 

CUSTOMIZING YOUR REPORTS

Quicken is remarkably sophisticated in its reporting. You can customize any report you see in the Reports menu. To customize these reports, click the Customize button to get to the nuts and bolts of your selected report, then just start noodling around. You can't hurt anything.

If you do play around with these items, you can save any custom report specifications that you create. To do so, click the Memorize button at the top of the report window. Quicken displays a dialog box asking you to supply a name for your customized report. (You can also provide a default report date range.) After you name the customized report, Quicken lists it whenever you choose [R]eports or [M]emorized Reports and Graphs.

 

TRIMMING BLOATED REPORTS

We all know how vital it is to categorize transactions for tracking purposes. When you start to create reports, however, you can see how all that category madness can soon get out of hand. Take, for instance, the Itemized Categories report, which is a report listing all your transactions subtotaled by category. If you've been assigning categories AND subcategories to your transactions, this report can quickly become difficult to decipher, because it subtotals transactions by category and subcategory.

If you'd rather not be subjected to a line item display of each and every transaction that has occurred, here's what you do:

  1. Create the report as usual. For example, choose Reports + Home + Itemized Categories.
  2. Click the Customize button.
  3. Click the Display tab, if necessary.
  4. In the Show section, select the Totals Only option.
  5. Click Create.

Quicken regenerates the report, showing only the total amount of each category and subcategory and not the specific transactions that comprise each amount.

 

A VERY "INTEREST"ING REPORT

When your mortgage rate is high, perhaps your only consolation is that the interest is tax deductible. To see how much you've shelled out in interest for the year, you can create a report that shows you just how much you'll be able to deduct from your taxes.

To create the report:

  1. Choose Reports + Home + Itemized Categories.
  2. Click the Customize button.
  3. In the Customize Itemized Categories dialog box, click the Accounts tab.
  4. Click the Clear All button and then select the account from which you make your loan payments (probably your checking account).
  5. Click the Include tab.
  6. In the Select to Include section, select Categories, click the Clear All button, and then select the Int Exp category.
  7. Click Create to generate the report.

Quicken creates a report showing all interest payments made for the year.

 

HENDERSON, I NEED THAT REPORT NOW!

Quicken has lots and lots of report options--lots of ways to see on-screen or on paper all the details of your finances. But when you don't have time for options, make a QuickReport. In Quicken 5:

  1. Choose Lists + Category&Transfer.
  2. In the Category&Transfer list, select a category.
  3. Click the Report button.

Quicken immediately creates a report on all transactions in that category.

 

DON'T REPEAT REPORTS

Quicken can customize reports every which way. Or, more accurately, YOU can customize your reports by using Quicken's commands and options. After you customize a report, don't just chuck your changes. Save your customization. Chances are you'll want it again. To save your customizations in Quicken 98 Deluxe:

  1. In the Customized Report window, click the Memorize button.
  2. In the Memorize Report window, type a title for your custom report (preferably something that makes sense to you).
  3. Select an icon for the report, one that can help you recognize it on-screen.
  4. Click OK.

Now when you choose the Reports menu, your custom report appears in the Memorized Reports.

 

CHANGE YOUR REPORT VIEW

In the previous tip, we explained the Inventory Value Summary Report, which summarizes your entire household inventory and its overall value. By default, this report organizes your inventory by category. But you can also choose how you view your Inventory Value Summary Report. You can view your inventory by category, location, or policy.

To switch views:

  1. If necessary, choose Reports + Inventory Value Summary to generate the report.
  2. Click the View drop-down arrow button.
  3. Select the view you want to use to display the data.

QHI automatically updates the report information to reflect your selection.

 

GETTING THE RIGHT QUICKEN REPORT

Quicken produces a bunch of different reports. How do you know which one provides the answers you want? What are you supposed to do? Sift your way through a couple dozen of these babies?

Thankfully, the answer is no. Quicken provides something called EasyAnswer reports. In effect, EasyAnswer reports let you identify the question that you want a report to answer. After you identify the question, Quicken produces the appropriate report. Here's how it all works:

  1. Choose Reports, EasyAnswer Reports And Graphs.

    Quicken displays the EasyAnswer topic of the Reports & Graphs window.

  2. Indicate you question.

    To tell Quicken what your question is, click one of the questions and then use the drop-down list boxes that accompany each question to further refine you question. For example, the "Where did I spend my money?" question lets you pick the period of time you're asking about: Last Year, Last Month, Current Year, Month to Date, and so on.

  3. Click Show Report.

Quicken produces a report that answers your question. If you asked the question, "Where did I spend my money last year?" for example, Quicken produces a cash flow report that summarizes the previous year's income and expenses by category.

 

RESTORE YOUR FAITH

Quicken's built-in Backup command saves a copy of all your information to a separate file on disk. You can back up any time you want, and you should regularly. In fact, you should put some of the backups on a disk other than your main hard drive, to protect against total data loss if that drive crashes.

If you are in such straits, you can restore your Quicken backup by following these steps:

  1. Put that backup disk into your computer.
  2. Start Quicken.
  3. Choose File + Restore.
  4. In the Restore Quicken File dialog box, double-click the file you want to restore.
  5. Click OK.

All the lists and transactions from that backup fill Quicken, ready for use.

 

RESTORING YOUR BACKUP

Our last three tips discussed how to back up your data on a regular basis. In this tip, we show you how to use the Restore Backup File command (even though we hope you never have to use this feature). In any case, restoring a backup file is fairly straightforward. Keep in mind, however, that Quicken overwrites any data in the existing file, using the data from the backup copy.

To restore a backup file:

  1. Insert into your floppy disk drive the disk containing the backup file.
  2. Choose File + Restore Backup File.
  3. In the Restore Files from Drive list box, indicate the drive letter containing the backup disk and click OK.
  4. In the Restore Quicken File dialog box, select the name of the backup file and click OK.
  5. Click OK in the resulting dialog box to indicate that you want to overwrite the current file.
  6. When you see the File Restored Successfully prompt, click OK.

Quicken imports all the information from the backup file into the current file. Now, aren't you glad you made that backup copy after all?

 

PLAN RETIREMENT FIRST

Before you use any of Quicken's other Planners -- for college, buying a home, and so on -- use the Retirement Planner. Many of the blanks you fill in and answers you provide to the Retirement Planner are put to use in the other Planners. By starting with the Retirement tool, you'll save some data-entry trouble with the others. (Besides, Quicken isn't demanding that you actually stop working at that job you love so much.) It is merely helping you project future finances for whatever life you want to lead based on new habits.

 

RETIREMENT PLANNING CALCULATIONS

Imagine that you decide to jump into your employer's 401(k) profit-sharing plan which allows you to plop about $3,000 into a retirement account that you think will earn about 9 percent annually. Fortunately, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what your retirement income will look like: You can just use the Retirement Calculator.

  1. Choose Planning, Financial Calculators, Retirement.

    Quicken displays the Retirement Calculator dialog box.

  2. Fill in the blanks under Retirement Information to suit your current situation.

    If you haven't received an update lately, you can request an estimate of your future Social Security benefits by visiting the Social Security Administration [ http://www.ssa.gov ] Web site.

  3. Indicate whether you plan to save retirement money in a tax-sheltered investment, such as a 401(k) or a traditional Individual Retirement Account.

    As a practical matter, tax-sheltered investments are the only way to ride. By deferring income taxes on your earnings, you earn more interest.

    If you're investing in taxable stuff, you need to enter the combined federal and state income tax rate that you paid on your last dollars of income in the Current Tax rate box.

  4. Enter your anticipated retirement tax rate.

    You may want to enter 0, but the fact is all that pretax income becomes your taxable income when your start withdrawing it. Make your best guess as to which bracket that might put you in.

  5. Enter the anticipated inflation rate (historically, just above 3 percent).
  6. Select the Inflate Contributions check box if the additions will increase annually by the inflation rate.

After you enter all the information, take a peek at the Annual Income After Taxes field. If you want to see the after-tax income in future-day, inflated dollars, deselect the Annual Income in Today's $ check box.

 

RETIREMENT ROUNDUP, QUICKEN STYLE

Use the Calculate For option buttons to determine a retirement income variable. You can calculate current savings, annual contribution, or the annual after-tax income.

To calculate the yearly payment required to produce a specific level of retirement income, for example, select the Annual Contribution option button. Then type all the other variables -- including the desired after-tax income and click Calculate. The Retirement Calculator figures how much you need to save to hit your target retirement income.

 

RATE OF RETURN

Quicken estimates that your rate of return on investments toward retirement will be 0%. That's ridiculous. In Quicken's defense, estimating a single rate of return for all investments for all people is well-nigh impossible. A stock might rise 100% in a year, or fall to -50% the next. A home might appreciate 10% a year for five years, then lapse into 1% a year for another five. Still, in the Retirement Planner's Return section, you're probably better off estimating 3% (if you're conservative) to 6% (if you're more optimistic).

 

RETURNS BEFORE, RETURNS AFTER

The amount of money you earn on your investments will and probably should change over time. When you're young, it makes sense that you can invest in riskier futures, and so possibly earn a higher rate of return. When you're closer to retirement, you may want to play it safer and earn a lower rate. After retirement, you may want to emphasize security above all, meaning thelowest returns. In the Retirement Planner's Return section, you can enter different amounts into the before and after boxes -- say 5% before retirement and 2% after.

 

RIGHTS FOR SORE EYES

If you have more than six accounts in your Register, you may find it cumbersome to scroll through them every time you want to click an account tab that's off the screen. After all, that little button with the arrow on it to the right or left edge of the tab row isn't the biggest thing in the world. For on-screen access to any account in your Register, try this:

  1. Right-click anywhere in the row of tabs.
  2. Select the account you'd like to view.

It's a snap!

 

SAVE EVERYTHING BUT THE DATA

There may come a time when you want a fresh start without the baggage of all your old transactions. That may be when a spouse or partner asks you for some help with Quicken, and you think they'd be smart to use all of those clever categories, accounts, and other items you've created. Or maybe you just want to start from scratch with your receipts. Just choose File, Export, QIF File and choose to export everything except the Transactions. After that, you may need to eliminate some of the accounts.

 

SAVE FOR THIS, SAVE FOR THAT

Don't let Quicken assume that everything you have in the bank is being put aside for retirement. In the Retirement Planner, click any account that is intended for something else -- college, boat, vacation -- and then click the Exclude from Plan box. When you think you've excluded as necessary, click to remove the check from the Show Excluded Accounts box. Now you should only see the accounts that are explicitly for retirement.

 

SAVE A TREE - SAVE A BUCK

To avoid wasting checks, print a sample on plain paper by clicking Print Sample, and the place the sample against a real check and hold them up against the light. If the print appears in the right places, you're good to go. If not, realign the checks and print another sample.

 

SAVED FROM SAVING

Just a reminder, especially to those careful folks who are new to Quicken: you don't have to be so worried. There's no way to save your file in Quicken, and no need to periodically visit the File menu to save as you work.

Quicken saves automatically as you work. This is a natural and understandable feature in a program that handles your money memory. Why it isn't built into programs that handle your words and pictures is a puzzle.

 

SAVINGS GOALS

Quicken has a great feature that can help you save money. To create a saving goal, choose Planning, Saving Goals from the menu bar (note that this feature is only available if you are using a Deluxe or Home and Business version of Quicken). Then select New to display the Create New Savings Goal dialogue box. Give your goal a name, enter the amount, and finish date. Tell Quicken which account you are planning to save this money in, and then Quicken will track your progress for you.

 

SAVING REPORT OPTIONS ONCE AND FOR ALL

Do you always find yourself changing the date range of your reports? If so, you may want to use Quicken's capability that lets you change the date range once and then have that change reflected in all future reports. Here's how:

  1. From the Toolbar, choose Edit + Options + Reports.
  2. In the Report Option box, make your changes as necessary. For example, set the appropriate start and end dates for the report range.
  3. Click OK when you have finished.

From now on, your reports reflect these changes. You can always change the settings within the report screen itself if you need to override these changes for any reason.

 

HEY, YOU'VE GOT TO HIDE YOUR SAVINGS AWAY

We take it back: You don't. Quicken will hide it for you. Quicken can follow your instructions to hide away a portion of one of your accounts, such as your Checking account, as planned Savings. The money will still be there, naturally, but it won't show up in the totals you view when you see how much money you have to spend. To hide some money in Quicken 5, follow these steps:

  1. Open Features + Planning.
  2. Choose Savings Goals in the Planning dialog box.
  3. Choose New.
  4. In the Create New Savings Goal dialog box, type a name for the goal--such as "Barbecue Fund" or "Boat Buying Bonanza" (without the quotes); then enter a total amount and indicate when you'd like to have saved that much.
  5. Click on OK.

Over time, you can watch how your secret savings has grown.

 

SAVINGS GOAL, ASSET CONTROL

Create a Savings Goal in the Features, Planning menu, and Quicken will create an Asset Account to go alongside it. This will keep track of the goal transactions and balance. You can create a scheduled transaction to periodically move money from a chosen account over to the Asset Account. The same amount of money is yours no matter which account it's in, but having the Savings Goal Asset Account hide it from your obvious and liquid accounts makes it psychologically harder for you to spend what you ought to save.

 

GOTTA GET ON A SCHEDULE

Good news! You don't have to use the Financial Calendar to set up scheduled transactions. You can choose [B]anking, Sc[h]eduled Transaction List instead. This command displays a window that lists all scheduled transactions and provides buttons that you can use to add, edit, or delete scheduled transactions.

The functions of this window are pretty straightforward. To delete a scheduled transaction, for example, just select it from the list and click the Delete button.

 

IRREGULAR SCHEDULER

Real life isn't always as precise as computers would like it to be. Or at least computers that aren't quite smart enough.

A reader asked: "How does one create a scheduled transaction for a date that varies from month to month. For instance, my Social Security check is scheduled for the 2nd Wednesday of each month. This date obviously varies from month to month and there is no way that I have found to have Quicken automatically enter this information into my check register except by manually entering the date each month."

The sad news is: Quicken's not smart enough to vary the date easily. When you choose to schedule a transaction, you can tell Quicken to prompt you before actually entering the transaction in a register. Still, that means every 2nd, or 15th, or whatever day of the month, you'll get asked. And if that isn't the right date, you won't get asked again when the right date comes around.

There is another possible approach: have that check automatically deposited to your bank account, and link your bank account to Quicken so you can download and synchronize.

 

SCENARIO SUITE

The first forecast you make -- of estimated future cash flow -- can become the Base Scenario. That is, you can then build other forecasts, with changed details, to see other possible trend lines. The Cash Flow Forecast window's button bar has a Manage Scenarios command. From that you'll get a chance to modify the base, and then to compare two scenarios at a time in a graph.

 

QUICKFILL SCROLL

QuickFill is supposed to make life easier, right? You start typing, QuickFill leaps ahead to guess what it is you're typing and lays it all out for you. But if you have two regular data entries that are quite similar until far on in, such as "Mutual Fund Tax Scam 1" and "Mutual Fund Tax Scam 2," QuickFill may always guess Tax Scam 1 until you type that last character.

Big help that.

So scroll instead. That is:

  1. Type the first letters of what you want.
  2. When QuickFill makes its guess -- you'll see the rest of the entry typed out and highlighted -- press the Up or Down arrow key.

This will scroll you through the other similar entries in QuickFill's memory. When you're on the one you want, press Enter or Tab to move on with the transaction.

 

SCRIBBLING SATISFACTION

Ever make a mistake while writing out a check? You know--then you write VOID in big letters across its line item in your checkbook register, add a few scribbles to be sure it really looks voided, rip up the check, and try again on the next one. Well, occasionally, you'll need to void a transaction in your Registry, too. What Quicken lacks in scribbling satisfaction, it makes up for in efficiency:

  1. Right-click the transaction you want to void.
  2. Select Void Transaction.

That's it. The transaction is officially voided. The word "void" appears on the Payee line, and the amount disappears from the Payment column. (Quicken even goes the extra mile to simulate scribbling with all those asterisks!)

 

MEMORIZE A SEASONAL PAYCHECK

The ability to automate your paycheck deposits is a real time-saver. But can you do that if you receive paychecks on an inconsistent basis (for example, you work a part-time job that is also seasonal)? Yep, you sure can. You use Quicken's Paycheck Setup feature to automate the paycheck setup, but you simply memorize the transaction rather than schedule it.

To memorize a paycheck:

  1. Choose Features + Banking + Set Up Paycheck.
  2. Click the Next button in the Paycheck Setup box to get started, provide the appropriate information as prompted, and click Next to continue with each step of the paycheck process.
  3. When Quicken asks whether you want it to automatically remind you to enter the paycheck, select No and then click Next.
  4. Review the specifics in the Summary screen; if you're satisfied, click Done.

Quicken memorizes the specifics of your paycheck and records it as a memorized transaction in your Account Register. The next time you receive your paycheck, simply select the memorized transaction from the drop-down list in the Payee field of the Register.

 

CANCELING AN ONLINE PAYMENT

Many folks have Quicken set up to pay bills online. But suppose, for example, that you make a mistake when entering online payments. Here's how to handle the situation, depending on how far the transaction gets before you notice the mistake:

  • I have not sent the instruction to pay it yet: Simply edit the transaction or delete it from your register.
  • I sent the payment instruction, but the bank has not yet followed my instruction (made the payment): You can send another instruction to cancel the payment (see below).
  • I sent the payment instruction, and the bank has processed it and made the payment already: You cannot cancel it. Instead, you must contact the bank and issue a stop payment.

If the bank has not yet followed your instruction and given all your money away, follow these steps to cancel an online payment:

  1. Click the Online Center Quick Tab.
  2. Click the Payments tab.
  3. Select the payment you want to cancel.
  4. Click Cancel Payment.

    Quicken confirms that you want to cancel the payment. Click Yes.

    Quicken changes the status of the transaction to Cancel.

  5. Click Update/Send.

    Quicken displays the Instructions to Send dialog box.

  6. Type your PIN number.
  7. Click Send.

    Quicken communicates with your bank and, when finished, displays the Online Transmission Summary.

  8. Click OK.

The status of the transaction changes to Void in the Payments window.

 

SAVING FOR YOUR CHILD'S EDUCATION

The American middle-class is extremely nervous about sending its children to good (that means expensive) colleges and universities, and to make the middle-class even more anxious, Quicken offers a technique for planning for a child's college education.

Choose Planning, College Planner. Then, in the Can I Afford College? window, read about college costs and answer the questions, clicking Next as you go from window to window. When you are done, the Summary screen offers a plan for paying for your child's college education. Be sure to click the Internet Resources link for information about Web sites you can visit to learn about colleges, financial aid, and the cost of attending college.

 

UPDATING THE MARKET VALUE OF SECURITIES

Unquestionably, the best way to update the market value of securities is to download prices from Quicken.com. Security prices in your investment accounts are updated automatically when you do it this way. You don't have to enter them yourself. However, 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.

Follow these steps to update your portfolio from Quicken.com:

  1. Choose Finance, One Step Update.

    You see the One Step Update Download Selection dialog box.

  2. Make sure that a check mark appears beside Online Quotes, and if one doesn't appear, select Online Quotes to put a check mark there.
  3. Click the Update Now button.

    After you connect to the Internet, the quotes are downloaded to your computer. The Quicken Download Summary dialog box tells you whether the quotes were downloaded successfully.

  4. Click Done in the Quicken Download Summary dialog box.

Quicken can't download security prices if you didn't enter ticker symbols correctly. In Security Detail view, select a security and click the Edit button to open the Edit Security dialog box and re-enter a ticker symbol.

To update a security price by hand, open the Security Detail View window, select the security, 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.

 

TRACKING YOUR SECURITIES

In two of the Set Up a New Security dialog boxes displayed as you work through the steps in the process, Quicken asks how you want to track the historical cost information of this security. To do this, you first need to indicate whether this security is, in fact, one you really own or just one you're watching. If you own the security, select the "Track my holdings" radio button. If you don't own the security but you want to monitor its price or news about the security, mark the "Put it on the watch list" radio button.

The Investing Activity Center provides a hyperlink to your watch list. You can also view your watch list from the Portfolio View window.

If you're tracking a security you own, you'll need to indicate how closely you want to record the historical cost information about the security. If you're setting up a security that's inside a tax-deferred account, you can select the Today option. This is sloppiest, but, as Quicken indicates, it's also fastest. The Today option is also acceptable when you don't need to monitor the historical cost basis of the security.

If you're setting up a security that's inside a regular, taxable account, you should select the date you purchased this security radio button and then give the date.

 

MONITORING AND UPDATING SECURITIES' VALUES

Regardless of whether you're working with a mutual fund account or with securities in a brokerage account, you can collect current market prices and store them with the Quicken account information.

To do so, display the investment account with the mutual fund shares or the securities you want to update by using the Portfolio View window. To record the current market price for a security, use the up-arrow and down-arrow keys to select the security (or click the security with the mouse). Then move the cursor to the Mkt Price field and enter the current price.

 

UPDATING SECURITIES PRICES

You can collect current market prices and store this information with your accounts. Just display the investment account that has the mutual fund shares. Then click the Portfolio button or choose Investing, Portfolio View. Either way, Quicken displays the Portfolio View window.

To record the current market price for a security, use the arrow keys or click the mouse to select the security. Then move the cursor to the Price field and enter the current price.

Quicken updates the Mkt Value field in the Portfolio View window as well as the Market Value figure at the bottom of the register window. After you update the market price, you can return to the register by clicking the Re[g]ister button.

 

SHORTCUTS

In addition to mouse power, Quicken also provides some handy keyboard shortcuts. Each task you perform in Quicken has its own window. You can move quickly to other windows and avoid the extra keystrokes required in the menu system by using these keyboard shortcuts:

  • Ctrl+A: Account List
  • Ctrl+B: Backup
  • Ctrl+C: Category & Transfer List
  • Ctrl+H: View Loans window
  • Ctrl+J: Schedules Transaction List
  • Ctrl+L: Class List
  • Ctrl+O: Open a Quicken file
  • Ctrl+R: Register
  • Ctrl+T: Memorized Transaction List
  • Ctrl+U: Portfolio List
  • Ctrl+W: Write Checks
  • Ctrl+Y: Security List

 

SECRET CALENDAR SHORTCUTS

One sunny, spring day, as we were playing around, pressing random keys on the keyboard, we just happened to stumble upon some keyboard shortcuts for navigating through the Financial Calendar. (Really--it was purely by accident.) So of course, we'd like to share them with you. See if you can figure out what each letter means!

Open the Financial Calendar, if it isn't already open, by selecting Features + Reminders + Financial Calendar. And then try any of these shortcuts:

  • Press Y to jump to January 1 of the year you're currently working in. Press Y again to jump back to January 1 of the previous year, and so on.
  • Press R to jump to December 31 of the year you're currently working in. Press R again to jump ahead to December 31 of the next year, and so on.
  • Press M to jump to the first day of the month you're currently working in. Press M again to jump back to the first day of the previous month, and so on.
  • Press H to jump to the last day of the month you're currently working in. Press H again to jump ahead to the last day of the next month, and so on.
  • Press T to jump to today.

Did you notice the pattern? "Y" and "R" for "YeaR," "M" and "H" for "MontH," and "T" for "Today." Pretty sneaky! (Secret in a secret: These same shortcuts work when entering transaction dates.)

 

STAYING SECURE

See those hyperlinks at the top of Quicken's Security List window? You can use them to do useful stuff. For example, click Edit to change security information. Click Delete, predictably, to remove a security from the list. Use Hide to hide the selected security, Print to print the list, and Options to view or "un-view" (is that a real word?) previously hidden securities.

 

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 [I]nvesting, [S]ecurity 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 [N]ew 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.

 

A GOOD SERVICE FOR NORTH OF THE BORDER

Quicken can track the GST (Goods and Services Tax) used in Canada as well as the Provincial Sales Tax that many Canadians must pay. Set up new categories for each. The Canadian installation of Quicken has prepared categories for Canadian taxes such as Tax:Fed, Tax:UlC, and Tax:CPP. In Quicken 99 you:

  1. Open Lists + Category/Transfer.
  2. Scroll through the list to see if the categories are already listed.
  3. If the categories aren't there, click on the New button just above the list and give a name, description, type, and tax-status for this category.

 

SHADY CHARACTERS

Do you like the shaded green lines in the Registry? If so, this tip won't be of much value to you. But if you think you might really prefer plain white, Quicken lets you get rid of the green shading, as follows:

  1. Open the Register (Ctrl + R).
  2. Click View (in the upper-right corner of the window).
  3. Choose Register Options.
  4. In the Register Options dialog box, deselect the check box labeled Use Color Shading.
  5. Click OK.

Now your Register appears in plain vanilla white.

OR

In the last tip, we showed you how to get rid of the green shading in your Register. What if you like the shading, but you don't like the color? No problem. you can change the color. Here's how:

  1. Open the Register (Ctrl + R).
  2. Click View.
  3. Choose Register Options.
  4. When the Register Options dialog box opens, click Colors to open the Choose Register Colors dialog box.
  5. In the Choose Register Colors dialog box, make your selection for each of the categories (Bank, Cash, Credit Card, Asset, Liability, or Investment).
  6. When you're finished with your selections, click OK to close the dialog box and return to the Register Options dialog box.
  7. Click OK to save your changes and close the dialog box.

What if you like the default colors but you don't especially like the font? Do the following (if you just finished setting new colors, as described in the preceding steps, begin with Step 4):

  1. Open the Register (Ctrl + R).
  2. Click View.
  3. Choose Register Options.
  4. When the Register Options dialog box opens, click Fonts.
  5. When the Choose Register Font dialog box opens, choose a new font and font size.
  6. After you make your selection, click OK to return to the Register Options dialog box.
  7. Click OK to save your changes and close the dialog box.

 

SHARE THE WEALTH

Did you know that you can copy the contents of a Quicken report to another Windows program? Suppose, for example, that you want to copy a report into 1-2-3 or Excel for further manipulation. Or maybe you want to paste the data into a word processing program. Follow these steps:

  1. If necessary, switch to or create the report you want to copy.
  2. Click the Copy button.
  3. Switch to the Windows program you want to copy information to. (If the program is currently running, press Alt + Tab to switch to the application window. If the program is not running, click the Windows Start button and choose the application.)
  4. In the other application window, position the cursor where you want to paste the data and choose that program's Edit + Paste command.
  5. Switch back to Quicken, if desired.

 

THE SHOPPER'S LITTLE HELPER--PART 1 OF 5

With the Holiday season going into full swing, you're probably wondering how Quicken can help you through this hectic period. Well, Quicken can't do your holiday shopping for you, but it can help you keep track of your holiday spending and can also help reign you in if you go a bit overboard. In the next series of tips we'll show you how Quicken can help you organize and monitor your holiday spending--leaving more time to spend with your friends and family and less time at the mall.

The easiest way to track your holiday spending in Quicken is to create a category named Holiday and assign it to each of your purchases. Then use the Memo field to enter a description of the present and the intended recipient. This will be the basis for analyzing and tracking all your seasonal gift spending.

To create a Holiday category:

  1. From the menubar, choose Lists + Category/Transfer.
  2. Click the New button located in the upper left corner of the Category list window.
  3. In the Name field of the Set Up category dialog box, type Holiday.
  4. In the Description field, type Gifts or any other description.
  5. Select Expense in the Type section of the Set up Category dialog box.
  6. Click OK to complete the process.

Now, when you purchase an item, enter the transaction as you normally would in your check register. In the Category field, select Holiday. Then in the memo field, enter a description of the gift, or alternatively, enter the name of the individual the gift is for.

THE SHOPPER'S LITTLE HELPER--PART 2 OF 5

In our last tip, we showed you how to create a simple Holiday spending category to track your holiday purchases. (Choose Lists + Category/Transfer; click New in the left pane of the list and follow instructions to set up a category called "Holiday.") In this tip, we'll show you how to produce a checklist of all the holiday items you have purchased to date.

To run a quick status report on your purchases:

  1. In your Account Register, click anywhere within the Category field of any transaction that is currently assigned to the Holiday category.
  2. Click the Report button located along the top right of the register window.
  3. Select Amount spent on Holiday.

Bingo. That quickly, Quicken generates a list of all of the transactions currently assigned to the Holiday category. Now you can see whom you've purchased gifts for, whether you're playing favorites and even better, you get a running balance of the amount of money spent so far.

THE SHOPPER'S LITTLE HELPER--PART 3 OF 5

In our last tip, we showed you how you can use Quicken's Category Report feature to help you keep track of your gift buying during the Holiday season. Now let's say that you've allocated a certain amount of funds to spend on the holidays this year and you want to make sure you stick to your budget.

In this tip we'll show you how to set up a Holiday account where you enter the money you've allocated to spend on gifts. Then as you make your purchases, you enter them as withdrawals from the account. We'll be using the Credit Card account type, since you are, in effect, "loaning" yourself the cash to make your holiday purchases.

To create a Holiday spending account:

  1. From the menubar, choose Lists + Account.
  2. Click the New button located in the upper left corner of the Account List window.
  3. Select Credit Card from the list of account types in the Create new Account box and click Next.
  4. Enter a name for the account, such as Holidays 98, and click Next.
  5. Select Yes in the following dialog box to indicate that you want to set the opening balance of the account and click Next.
  6. Enter the current date as the Statement Date of the account and enter the amount of cash you have allocated to yourself in the Balance Due field and click Next.
  7. Select No in the next screen and click Next.
  8. Click Next to skip the Credit Limit screen.
  9. Review the information in the Summary screen and click Done to complete the account setup.

In our next tip we'll show you how to record your purchases.

THE SHOPPER'S LITTLE HELPER--PART 4 OF 5

In our last tip we showed you how to create a holiday credit account to help you stick to your gift-spending budget. To recap: choose Lists + Account, click the New button, select Credit Card from the list of account types, and follow along with the dialog box to enter the remaining information.

When you're ready to record a gift purchase in your holiday credit account, enter the transaction as you normally would in your check register. When you get to the Category field, select the name of your Holiday credit card account to transfer the payment to that account. The amount you spent is recorded as a payment in your check register and is also recorded as a payment in your Holiday credit account. This in effect, lowers your balance by the amount spent. When the account balance reaches zero, it means that you're out of money to spend on gifts.

Please note that since we are using a credit card account in this scenario, remember that any reports you generate will include this balance as a liability. At the end of the holiday season, make sure you close out the account, or reduce the debt to zero so that Quicken no longer holds you accountable for the debt.

THE SHOPPER'S LITTLE HELPER--PART 5 OF 5

Finally, are you flabbergasted at how much you spent on gifts this Holiday season? You can begin now to save enough for next year's gifts by starting a Holiday Savings Club. Throughout the course of the upcoming year, each time you have a little extra cash, transfer some to your Holiday Savings Club so that next season you'll have enough to go around.

To create a Holiday Savings Club Account:

  1. From the menubar, choose Lists + Account.
  2. Click the New button located in the upper left corner of the Account List window.
  3. Select Savings from the list of account types and click Next.
  4. Enter a name for the account, such as Holidays 99, and then click the Summary tab to skip the remaining steps.
  5. Review the information in the Summary screen and click Done to complete the account setup.

To transfer cash over to your Holiday Savings Club account during the year, start in your check register; create a new transaction and enter Holiday Savings Club or something similar in the payee field. Enter the amount to transfer as a payment and then enter the name of the Holiday Savings Club account in the Category field to transfer the cash. Keep in mind that we are merely funneling available cash from one account to another--you'll have to make sure you actually have the cash on hand when the next holiday season rolls around.

 

SHORTCUT COMBOS--PART 1 OF 3

The mouse is here to stay, folks, whether you like it or not. But you can do without the mouse, at least in some cases. In the next three days we'll show you keyboard shortcut combinations to activate common menu commands--a big plus when you want to keep your hands on the keyboard:

Keystroke Combination = Action

Ctrl + A = Select an account

Ctrl + B = Back up a file

Ctrl + C = Select a category

Ctrl + D = Delete a transaction or split line

Ctrl + F = Find a transaction

Ctrl + G = Go to date

SHORTCUT COMBOS--PART 2 OF 3

Today, we'll show you seven more mouseproof solutions to common menu commands. These keyboard shortcuts combinations help you keep your hands on the keyboard:

Keystroke Combination = Action

Ctrl + H = Go to View Loans

Ctrl + I = Insert a transaction

Ctrl + J = Set up or pay a scheduled transaction

Ctrl + K = Go to the Financial Calendar

Ctrl + L = Select a class

Ctrl + M = Memorize a transaction

Ctrl + N = Go to a new transaction

SHORTCUT COMBOS--PART 2 OF 3

Today we bring you the final group of keystroke combination shortcuts for everyday Quicken commands: shoo, mouse, shoo!

Keystroke Combination = Action

Ctrl + O = Open a file

Ctrl + P = Print a transaction

Ctrl + R = Go to the register

Ctrl + S = Open the Split Transaction window

Ctrl + T = Recall a memorized transaction

Ctrl + V = Void a transaction

Ctrl + W = Go to Write Checks

Ctrl + X = Go to a transfer transaction

Ctrl + Z = QuickZoom a report amount

 

SHOW ME!

Quicken provides animated video clips, called Show Me videos, that give step-by-step mini-tutorials for some of the program's more important features. Each Show Me video has accompanying audio and walks you through the steps for the task. The videos, which are found in some Help windows and on the Help menu under Show Me Videos, last less than two minutes.

To play a Show Me video, use the VCR-like controls at the bottom of the clip. The slider moves to reflect the elapsed time as the video plays.

Most Show Me video clips offer links at the bottom of the window so you can move to a standard Help file topic page -- in case you find it easier to read steps to complete a task.

 

SILENCE!

The world is a noisy place. Ever have a day when you just want a little peace and quiet? You don't want to hear cute little page-turning sounds every time an Activity Bar menu pops up. And that snappy click sound made by those QuickTabs--well, let's just say you could do without them. When life gets too noisy, turn off the sound.

  1. Select Edit + Options + Register.
  2. Select the Miscellaneous tab.
  3. Deselect Beep When Recording and Memorizing.
  4. Click OK.

While you're at it, close your office door and send all your calls directly to voice mail.

 

SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE YOURSELF A LETTER

Bombarded by those low interest rate credit card offers in the mail? If you're deep in credit card debt, the time may be right to switch to a lower interest rate credit card. Doing so may cut your finance charge by as much as half. The key is to stay ahead of the interest rate change; companies usually offer the low rate for a limited period of time only--five to six months in some cases. By beating the rate hikes, you can cut down your principal balance much more quickly with the lower finance charge.

All you need to do is remind yourself when the rate is going to change. If you're convinced you'll never be able to remember an event that is five or six months away, have faith in yourself (and in Quicken). To help you stay on top of the interest rate change, create a note to yourself in the Financial Calendar, reminding you when the current interest rate is scheduled to go up--and make sure that you give yourself enough time to shop around for a new rate.

To add a reminder in the Financial Calendar, follow these steps:

  1. From Quicken's menu bar, choose Features + Reminders + Financial Calendar.
  2. In the Financial Calendar, right-click the day of the month in which you want to create the note and select Note from the shortcut menu. (Remember: The key is to give yourself plenty of time to switch.)
  3. In the resulting Note dialog box, type your reminder and, if you want a note color other than yellow, choose a different color.
  4. Click Save to save your note.
  5. Click the Close button to close the Financial Calendar.
  6. Back in your Account Register, choose Features + Reminders + Reminders from the menu bar.
  7. Click the Options button in the top-right pane of the Quicken Reminder box.
  8. Enter the number of days in advance that you would like to be reminded.
  9. In the Show Notes For box, select how far in the future you want your reminder notes to appear. For instance, select Next Month or Next Seven Days.
  10. Click OK.

You've programmed Quicken to display the text of the notes in the Reminder window whenever you choose Features + Reminders + Reminders, to let you know when it's time to shop around for a new rate. (Or, you can click the Financial Calendar icon on your icon bar. In any calendar day with a tiny note icon in it, click the icon to reveal the text of your reminder note.)

Tip in a tip: Ideally, you should settle for a single credit card when you can find the lowest rate for the longest period of time. In fact, many credit card companies are now offering low fixed-interest rates; you just have to be sure to make your monthly payments on time to avoid any penalties.

 

NO NEED TO SLASH

As you type a date into Quicken's date field, try this: type two digits for the month (such as 07 for July), two digits for the day (such as 04 for the fourth), and then two digits for the year (such as 01 for 2001). You don't need to type slashes or backslashes or anything else in between the pairs of digits. Quicken, assuming you're entering a date, does that for you.

 

SNEAK PREVIEW

Before you print any report, get in the habit of first using the Page Preview command to see how your report will look when printed. Hey, you'll save yourself some aggravation and a few trees while you're at it.

To preview your reports before you print:

  1. If necessary, switch to or create the report you want to preview.
  2. Choose File + Print Report.
  3. Make any changes to the print settings as necessary.
  4. Click the Preview button. Quicken displays an image of how the report will appear when printed. Here's a quick overview of the buttons found in the Print Preview window:
    • Click Zoom In to get a closer look.
    • Click Zoom Out to return to full page view.
    • Click Next Page to view the next page in the report.
    • Click Prev Page to--you guessed it--view the previous page in the report.
  5. If you need to make any changes to the settings, click Close to close the Print Preview window and return to Quicken. Otherwise, just click the Print button to send the report directly to the printer.

 

SOCIAL SECURITY DISTRUST FUND

If you're pretty darned sure that Social Security won't be around when you retire -- or think it could be cut back in the era of too-many old folks and too-few workers -- tell Quicken so. Make that expectation part of your Retirement Plan. In the Retirement Benefits step of the Planner, tell Quicken to reduce your estimated SS take by some percentage: 0% if you're a real optimist, 25% if you're skeptical, 50% if you're a real doomsayer. It isn't too likely that Social Security will reduce more than that, given that too-many oldsters will still have the vote.

 

THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY

Every so often, the Social Security Administration sends you a Personal Earnings and Benefits Summary, the PEBS. You want to pay close attention to both the statement and the accompanying letter. The statement shows you how much you can expect to receive in the way of retirement savings based on your past earnings, assuming you continue to earn similar amounts in the future. The statement also typically tells you that if Congress does nothing, there will only be money to cover "X" percent of your benefits at some point a few decades in the future. For example, the statement may say something along the lines of "Blah, blah, blah, and if Congress does nothing to fix the funding challenges faced by nation's aging workers, in 2039 the trust fund will be depleted, and Social Security tax receipts will be only enough to pay 70% of the retirees and other recipients' benefits. . . ."

Okay, that's a bummer. But as long as you're not depending solely on Social Security, it isn't quite a financial meltdown either. You can easily save just a bit more money yourself and more than make up the difference.

 

SORT 'EM, DANO

After days or weeks or months of staring at your Quicken registers, it may come as a relief that they aren't carved in stone. You can change how the information is displayed -- sort it -- by clicking on the Options menu just above the register. There you'll see that you can change from the default Sort by Date to sort instead by Amount, Check Number, Payee, Order Entry date, or by Cleared Status.

 

SORT FOR AMOUNT

Sorting a register by amount is sometimes a much easier way to solve problems than just leaving transactions sorted by Date.

For example, imagine that you enter some of your transactions as you make them, but then enter others at the end of the month when a statement comes in. Sorting by amount can be an easy way to find duplicate items. When you've spent $243.51 on clothing, you may not notice that you entered it on 5/1 but the credit card company didn't deduct it until 5/5. If you sort by Amount, those will be side by side, and easily recognized as doubles of the same spending moment.

 

SORTING

If you click the Options button (which appears in the top-right corner of the Register tab), notice that it displays a bunch of commands that begin with the word Sort. These commands all work the same basic way. They let you reorganize the transactions shown in the register in some new way: by date, amount, check number, and so forth.

If you point to the column heading for the Payee field, the Payment field, or the Cleared Status field, Quicken displays a pop-up command that you can use to re-sort the transactions in the register. These commands, just so you know, are self-explanatory. The one that appears when you point to the Payee field is something like, "Sort payees in alphabetical order." And the one that appears when you point to the Cleared Status field is "Sort transactions into groups of reconciled, cleared, and uncleared transactions." You get the picture.

 

SPEED 2D

Maybe you don't have the fastest computer in the west, but you can make it seem a bit faster by forgoing the fancy 3D graphs that Quicken creates. Why not display your graphs in 2D? You get the same picture but with just a little less oomph.

To display your graphs in 2D:

  1. Create or switch to any graph by choosing Reports + Graphs.
  2. Click the Options button.
  3. Select Draw in 2D (Faster) in the Graph Options dialog box.
  4. Click OK.

 

SPEEDY OPTIONS DELIVERY

Tired of clicking the Options icon (or choosing Edit + Options) every time you want to change a Quicken setting? Then attach a Speed Key to the Options icon so that you can access the Options dialog box directly by using a simple keyboard combo--no mice necessary.

To attach a Speed Key to the icon, do the following:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Iconbar.
  2. In the Customize Iconbar dialog box, scroll across the Current Iconbar and select the Options icon. (If you don't have an Options icon in the list, click New, choose Options from the Add Action to Iconbar dialog box, and click OK.)
  3. Click the Edit button.
  4. In the Edit Action on Iconbar dialog box, click Change.
  5. In the Change Iconbar Item dialog box, click inside the Speed Key box to place the cursor there.
  6. Type a letter, such as "O" for Options (this letter will be used in combination with Alt + Shift).
  7. Click OK, click OK again, and then click Done.

Now take that Speed Key for the test spin: Press Alt + Shift + O (or whatever letter you assigned to it), and what do you see? Why, the Options dialog box of course! (You can follow these same steps to set up a Speed Key for any icon.)

 

SPEEDY PRINTING

So you followed our last tip and applied a fancy font style to your report. Looks good, doesn't it? But now you're cursing us for bogging down your print jobs. Well here's a little trick for getting the best of both worlds, at least temporarily. When you find that your reports aren't printing as swiftly as before, you can print your reports in draft mode--at least until you get them the way you want them. When you print in draft mode, Quicken substitutes the current font for a simple one to speed up printing time.

To speed up your print jobs:

  1. If necessary, switch to or create the report you want to print.
  2. Choose File + Print Report.
  3. Select the Print in Draft Mode option.
  4. Click OK to print the report.

 

BUT I LIKE TO WORK WITH SPREADSHEETS!

So you've used Quicken to create a fantastic budget for your home or business, but you don't like working with it in Quicken. If you prefer working with budget in your favorite spreadsheet program, try the following:

By choosing Edit, Copy All, you can copy all the information shown in a particular window (say, the Budget window) to the Clipboard. After the budget information is there, you can start a Windows spreadsheet program such as Excel and use the Edit, Paste command to paste the budgeting stuff stored on the Clipboard into the spreadsheet. If you're familiar with a spreadsheet program, go ahead and try it. You might just like it -- particularly if you want to use the spreadsheet program to analyze or play with the data.

 

SPRUCING UP A REPORT--PART 1 OF 2

When you create reports, Quicken uses the same boring font (Arial) for all of the data. So what's the point of having all those fancy fonts on your PC if you can't use them in your reports? Guess what? You can change the heading and body fonts of your reports to anything your heart desires. Just remember, use a little self-control. The last thing you need is a financial report that bares all of your financial future in a frilly font.

To add some pizzazz to your reports:

  1. First create the report or switch to the report you want to change.
  2. With the report on-screen, choose File + Print Report.
  3. In the Print dialog box, click the Heading Font button to change the font used for the report heading.
  4. Select the font you like from the Font list box.
  5. Select the font style from the Font Style list box.
  6. Select the font size from the Size list box.
  7. Check out how your choices look in the sample box that's just below the Font list boxes. Then continue selecting different fonts, styles, and sizes until you're satisfied.
  8. Click OK when you're done.
  9. Back at the Print dialog box, click the Body Font button to change the font used for the body of the report (which includes everything but, you guessed it, the heading).
  10. Repeat Steps 3 through 7 until you are satisfied; then click OK.
  11. Click OK again to print the report.

SPRUCING UP A REPORT--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we showed you how to switch from the same old boring typeface in your reports to something with a little more pizzazz. In this tip, we show you how to make those same changes for all of the reports you create.

To change the fonts used for all reports:

  1. Choose File + Printer Setup + For Reports/Graphs.
  2. In the Printer Setup for Reports and Graphs, click the Heading Font or Body Font buttons as necessary.
  3. Make your selections in the resulting dialog box and click OK.
  4. When you have finished making changes to the report fonts, click OK again.

Now, every report you create uses these new fonts.

 

SQUINT NO MORE

Are you having a hard time reading the small lines of data in Quicken, particularly in your check register? If so, you'll be pleased to know that you can get some relief. You can change the font and increase the font size of the text used in the registers and other areas of Quicken:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Register.
  2. Click the Font button in the Register Appearance section of the Register Options dialog box.
  3. Select the font and font size of your choice from the resulting list in the font box
  4. Click OK.
  5. Click OK again.

 

STARTING WITH A BLANK SLATE

Each time you launch Quicken, it automatically loads the file you had open the last time you used the program--which, for the most part, makes perfect sense. After all, most of us use the same file over and over again. For some folks, however, especially those who share Quicken with other members of their household, it's a real drag. But guess what? We have a solution (as always) to your predicament. It's what we're here for.

If, when you launch the program, you'd rather not have Quicken automatically load the last file you had open, follow these steps:

  1. Hold down the Ctrl key as you double-click the Quicken icon on your desktop. Doing so launches Quicken without a file currently loaded.
  2. To open the file you want, choose the File + File Operations + Open command. (Or better yet, select the name of the file from the Recently Opened Files list at the bottom of the menu.)

 

STARTING IN MID-YEAR

It's natural to want to start managing your finances with Quicken on January 1 or some other clear-cut date. But life isn't always so neat. If you start in mid-year, you can ignore what came earlier in the year and just operate on an immediate basis for all of your accounts.

 

STATUS-CONSCIOUS

You can check the status of any online payment. Suppose, for example, that you receive a transmission error while sending transactions and you aren't sure of the status of the transaction. Quicken lets you check:

  1. Click the Online Center QuickTab.
  2. Click the Payments tab.
  3. Select the payment about which you want status information and click Update Status. The button text changes to "Don't Update Status" and adds an instruction to send to the bank.
  4. Click the Update/Send button. The Instructions to Send window appears.
  5. Type in your PIN and click Send. Quicken contacts the bank. The Online Transmission Summary window appears.
  6. Click OK to close the window.

 

STAY ON THE RIGHT TRACK--PART 1 OF 6

The last series of tips discussed the various options you have for creating budgets. Of course, creating the budget is relatively easy; sticking to it is the hard part. But we're here to help. In this next series of tips, we show you some tricks to constructing a realistic budget and then sticking to it.

First, take a look at a budget: Choose Features + Planning + Budgets. The most important information is displayed in the three line items at the very bottom of the budget:

  • The Total Inflows line calculates the amount of cash influx into your accounts.
  • The Total Outflows line calculates the amount of cash that has left your accounts.
  • The Difference amount shows you how much you have left over.

While increasing your Total Inflows may be tough, you can concentrate on the Total Outflows, where you have the most control. As you make changes to your budget estimates, keep a close eye on the Difference amount--definitely one figure that you want to raise to its highest potential.

STAY ON THE RIGHT TRACK--PART 2 OF 6

The thought of entering data consistently into your budget can be rather daunting. Fortunately, Quicken provides a number of commands that can help you enter data quickly and efficiently.

First, entering data in the budget is really quite simple: Just move to the item you want to enter and type the amount. Following are a few other things you should know about entering data:

  • You don't need to type the minus sign when entering expense items; Quicken does this for you automatically.
  • To undo a data entry, press Esc. Quicken restores the original amount.
  • To fill a row with the same amount, enter the amount in the first column, click the Edit button, and choose Fill Row Right. Quicken fills all the items to the right of the current item with the specified amount.
  • To fill a column with the same amount, enter the amount in the first column, click the Edit button, and choose Fill Columns. Quicken fills all the columns to the right of the selected column with the specified amount.
  • To clear a row of amounts, position the cursor in any area of the row, click the Edit button, and choose Clear Row.
  • To remove all amounts from the budget, click the Edit button and choose Clear All. Click Yes in the resulting dialog box. Quicken removes all items from the budget.
  • At any time, you can restore the budget to its original state (that is, the last time it was saved). To do so, click the Restore button.

STAY ON THE RIGHT TRACK--PART 3 OF 6

One of the first things you should do when you create a budget is to separate your discretionary expenses (those you can do without) from your nondiscretionary expenses (those expenses that you HAVE to cover). You can cut back on your dining expenses (discretionary), for example, but you really can't do anything about your housing costs (nondiscretionary.) Although Quicken automatically associates specific categories to these classifications (called "supercategories," by the way), you may also need to create some classifications on your own. For example, while Quicken may consider a category such as Dry Cleaning a discretionary expense, you may think otherwise if your job requires that you wear professional attire that must be dry cleaned.

To assign supercategories to your budget categories:

  1. In the budget window (choose Features + Planning + Budgets), click the Edit button and choose Supercategories.
  2. The first two columns in the Manage Supercategories dialog box show you the categories used in your file and their current supercategory designations. Look at each category included in your own budget and review its companion supercategory classification. You can change these supercategory designations.
  3. To assign a supercategory, select the category name, select the supercategory from the Supercategory column, and click Assign. For example, select Dry Cleaning in the Category name list, select Non-Discretionary in the Supercategory Name list, and click Assign. To clear an association, click the Clear button instead.
  4. Click OK when you have finished.

Back at the budget, click the View button and choose Supercategories. Quicken organizes all your budget items first by income or expense and then by supercategory. Review the items listed under the discretionary category and adjust the amounts accordingly. Remember, you want to adjust the Difference amount (displayed in the bottom right corner) to as high as it can reasonably go.

STAY ON THE RIGHT TRACK--PART 4 OF 6

After you create your budget and tweak and finesse the numbers to put yourself at your maximum savings potential, you can go back about your daily Quicken business--namely, entering transactions. But your budget status is never far from reach because Quicken provides you a fast and simple way to check the status of any budget item from within your check register.

To check the status of a budget item:

  1. Locate a transaction that contains the category you want to track and click the right mouse button.
  2. From the resulting menu, choose Category Budget. (Note that the category name varies, depending on the selection you make. If you are looking at a Groceries transaction, for example, the menu item reads Groceries Budget.)

The Category Budget Information dialog box appears and shows you the current amount spent in that category, as well as the budgeted amount. The simple bar chart gives you an instant sense of where you stand. Note that this feature works with the current month's budget and data only.

To use this (and the following) tip, effectively, keep in mind that Quicken uses the last budget you had open to perform the comparison. If, for example, you have a Budget named Best Scenario with a monthly Grocery budget of $100, and that budget was the last one you used, Quicken uses the $100 Budget amount as the comparison for the current transaction category selected.

STAY ON THE RIGHT TRACK--PART 5 OF 6

In the last tip, we showed you a trick for keeping track of your budget status for a selected category right from within your check register. In this tip, we show you how to set up a reminder system to help you keep an eye on a specific budget category. Say, for example, that you have a hard time keeping to the Dining budget you set for yourself. You can use Quicken's Progress bar to help you monitor your dining expenses throughout the month. In fact, you can track two different budget categories with the Progress bar, say Cash and Dining. Here's how:

  1. Choose Features + Planning + Progress Bars. The Progress bar appears at the very bottom of the Quicken window.
  2. Click the Cust button at the far right of the bar.
  3. In the Customize Progress Bar dialog box, click the Left Gauge Type and select Budget Goal.
  4. Click the Choose Category button and select the name of the category you want to track. For example, select Cash.
  5. In the Date Range box, select Current Month.
  6. Repeat Steps 3 through 5 to customize the Right Gauge Type area.
  7. Click OK.

The Progress bar appears at the bottom of your screen. Each graph uses a gas gauge-type scale. Each bar shows the amount currently spent in respect to the budgeted amount. Any empty area shows that you are at or below your budgeted amount.

STAY ON THE RIGHT TRACK--PART 6 OF 6

What budgeting process would be complete without a hard copy report? Quicken lets you create two types of budget reports: - The Monthly Budget report generates a report by month that shows you the actual amount, the budgeted amount, and then the difference between the two.

  • In addition to that information, the Budget report compares the actual-to-budgeted income and expenses and the difference between the two; unlike the Monthly Budget, the simple Budget is based on annual figures. The amounts listed are then prorated accordingly.

To generate one of these reports:

  1. To create a Monthly Budget report, choose Reports + Home + Monthly Budget; to create a Budget report, choose Reports + Other + Budget.
  2. Click Create to generate the report.

 

STAY ON TOP OF IMPORTANT EVENTS

Staying abreast of important financial milestones is just as important to sound financial action as making sure your bills get out in a timely fashion. Here again, Quicken can notify you of dates or other information you need to know. Using the Alerts feature, you can instruct Quicken to sound an alarm when certain conditions--you're about to exceed your credit limit, for example, or your checking account balance is at its minimum--are met.

To stay abreast of important events:

  1. Choose Features + Reminders + Alerts.
  2. From the Select an Alert Area, select the type of alert you want to create. Select Account Min. Balances, for example.
  3. In the Enter Values section, enter the conditions that must be met for the alert to appear. For example, enter the minimum balance for the appropriate account; then, in the Remind Me At field, enter the amount the balance must reach for the first reminder to appear. Note that options in this portion of the dialog box vary, depending on the selection you make in Step 2.
  4. If you are creating more than one alert, click the Apply button to save the current alert and continue working. Otherwise, click OK to create the alert and close the dialog box.

When the conditions for the alert are met (you exceed a minimum balance, for instance), Quicken displays an Alert box informing you of the situation. It also provides additional information about what you can do to remedy the situation. For example, it may suggest that you transfer money into an account that has exceeded its balance. When you see this dialog box, click OK. The next time you start Quicken, the alerts appear in the Reminders window and remain there until you turn them off or remedy the situation.

 

STOCK PERFORMANCE

Quicken.com [http://www.quicken.com] enables you to chart one or more securities against standard indexes like the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the NASDAQ Composite. Here's how:

  1. Click the Investing tab.
  2. Click the Multiple Security Charting link.
  3. In the drop-down list, select Closing Prices or Growth of $10K, a period of time, the securities you want to track, and indexes you what to compare to.
  4. Click Go Online to Chart.
  5. Quicken connects to the Internet and shows you a Charts window. You can type additional stock symbols to compare into the Symbols text box.

 

STOCK OPTIONS

What did the year of the Options bring you? Or was that '99? Maybe this was the year of the Crashing Options. Quicken 2000 can track options for you from here on out.

  1. Open the Security List window (press Ctrl+Y).
  2. Click the New button.
  3. Click the Employee Stock Option button.
  4. Click Next.

Now just follow the on-screen instructions.

 

STOCK PICKER TICKER

After you buy a stock, you'll surely use Quicken to record what you've done, track how it does, and calculate any tax results. You can also use Quicken before buying, for research into which stocks are best.

To find out more about a particular stock:

  1. Choose Investing, Investment Research.
  2. Type the ticker symbol for the stock you're considering into the text box.
  3. Click the Go Online button.

Quicken connects through the Internet to Quicken.com and downloads research about that particular stock.

 

FREE STOCK QUOTES

With an Internet connection, Quicken is ready to download free stock quotes for everything in your portfolio. That helps you with the continuing decision of "should I stay or should I go," as well as informing your current net worth, potential capital gains, and other financial factors.

  1. Open the Investments account register.
  2. Click the Portfolio button.
  3. Click Update Prices.

For most people it isn't worthwhile to do this too often, leading to more heartburn and possibly to inflated commission expenses if the ups and downs of the market are given too much heed.

 

INSTANT STOCK QUOTES

With Quicken and an Internet connection, you can download security quotes at any time. Nice, huh? Quicken can update the value of your portfolio based on the quotes you download. Here's how:

  1. Click the Investing QuickTab.
  2. Scroll down and click Update Prices. The One Step Update Download Selection dialog box appears.
  3. Place checkmarks beside any item you want to download and click Update Now. Quicken connects to the Internet and displays the Download Status window. When the process finishes, Quicken displays the Download Summary dialog box.
  4. Click Done. Quotes in both your Watch List and your portfolio are updated.

Note: You can also click Update in the Portfolio window to download quotes.

 

USING QUICKEN'S PRE-BUILT STOCK SCREENS

Quicken.com -- Popular Stock Searches [http://www.quicken.excite.com/investments/stocks/search/] uses a large database that's owned by Disclosure, an independent financial information company. Quicken's Stock Evaluator compares your search results and explains the benefits and limitations of using each variable as a stock selection criterion. The prebuilt stock screens are divided into three categories:

  • Popular Searches: Uses preset criteria that match the most popular investing strategies.
  • EasyStep Search: Walks you through six steps that use important variables one step at a time. Each step provides definitions about the variable and shows why the variable is important in your stock search.
  • Full Search: Uses 33 variables on one page and many advanced search options.

 

TRACKING STOCK

With all the IPOs of the past few years, "tracking stock" has become a popular item. But there isn't much Quicken experience with it. If you're an IPO or spin-off veteran, can you answer this reader query? "How does Quicken let you keep track of tracking stock? My company used to have one symbol (say AA), but then decided to separate into two new companies (say AAX and AAY). We were given 2 shares of AAX and 1 share of AAY for each share of AA, but they did something funky to calculate the new prices. Anyway, I have no idea how to record this kind of transaction in Quicken. I really need some help because right now my portfolio has become a mess, trying to record this crazy transaction."

 

A WATCHED STOCK NEVER LOSES

Dipping a toe into the market? Or just want to dip a toe into a stock you haven't actually owned?

Quicken understands this caution. That's why it has the Watch List.

  1. Open Lists + Investment.
  2. Choose Security.
  3. In the Security List window, click on New.
  4. In the Set Up Security window, fill in the details of the security you want to track: name, symbol, type, asset class and so on.
  5. Select Show in Watch List.
  6. Click on OK.

You'll see it in the Security List, with a green check on the far right Watch column.

 

STRAIGHTEN UP AND FLY RIGHT

When you move your mouse pointer over an item on the Activity Bar (the row of pictures across the bottom of the screen), a pop-up menu appears automatically. You may find this feature handy if you're trying to conserve on mouse clicks, but it can be an annoyance if menus keep popping up unexpectedly, whenever your pointer happens to land on an Activity Bar item. If you'd prefer to have more control over these "Fly-Over" menus, turn them off.

  1. Right-click anywhere on the Activity Bar.
  2. Click the Use Fly-Over Menus option to remove the check mark.

From now on, a menu won't pop up unless you actually click an item on the Activity Bar. Way to have a say!

 

A SUBCATEGORY IS A GOOD THING

By now, you already know how important categories are. Well, even if you haven't been paying attention to anything we've said, just accept the fact that categories are all that separate us from the animals. Now you can fine-tune your spending habits by creating a subcategory, which is essentially a category of a category. For example, to track both local and long distance phone calls, you can create subcategories for Local and Long Distance within the parent category of Phone Expense.

To create a subcategory, follow these steps:

  1. Enter a transaction in your account register as you normally would.
  2. Click the Category field and then click the Add Cat button.
  3. Enter a name and description for the new category.
  4. In the Type section, select Subcategory Of, click the drop-down arrow, and select the appropriate Parent category.
  5. Click OK when you're finished.

After you create a subcategory, you can assign it to any transaction that applies to the parent category. Subcategory transactions appear in reports as subtotals of the parent amount.

 

MAKING THE QUICKEN QUICK SWITCH

If you really want to switch from one Quicken file to another with lightning speed, you can select the name of the other file directly from the bottom of the File menu, where Quicken lists the last four files you used.

 

IT'S A SYNCH

Do you use Quicken on more than one computer? Your desktop and your portable maybe? You can synchronize the data between the two, even if they aren't connected into a network. In Quicken Deluxe 98:

  1. Choose File + File Operations + Export.
  2. In the Export window, type a name for your Quicken data.
  3. Choose drive A (the drive you're going to export the account information to).
  4. In the To Export box, click the name of the Quicken account you're synching.
  5. Now you decide how much data to export. All of it, or just some, such as the transactions between certain dates. A smart idea is to simply choose to export everything since your last sync operation.
  6. Click OK.
  7. When the export operation is done and the floppy disk stops spinning, remove it and put it into the other computer.
  8. In that other computer, start Quicken and choose File + File Operations + Import.
  9. In the Import window, choose drive A (the drive you're importing from) and type the name of the file you exported.
  10. Click the account you want to import.
  11. Select the Special Handling For Transfers option. (This option helps you avoid duplicating transactions.)
  12. Click OK.

Now you can use Quicken on this other computer and know that all your numbers are current.

 

TO TAB OR NOT TO TAB

Are you tired of tabbing your way to some field in a transaction so that you can enter a note, for example? Or Shift + tabbing to back up so you can fix that wrong check number field near the beginning of a transaction? From such little things, large frustrations are made. So instead:

  • Press the Home key twice to go to the first field.
  • Press the End key twice to go to the last field.

 

TAKE THEM ALL

The first, most powerful aspect of Quicken is its categories, which are labels for types of expenses and income. When you first start using Quicken--or set up a new Quicken file for yourself or some other user--you see that Quicken has a bunch of categories ready for your use. Some are for home; some are for business. Go ahead and install with both the Home and Business categories. Having them all doesn't clog or slow your system, but it can give you a better chance of having just the right category when you need it. When creating a new Quicken 5 file, follow these steps:

  1. Choose File + New.
  2. Type a name for your Quicken file.
  3. In the Create Quicken File dialog box, select both the Home and Business boxes.
  4. Click OK.

 

TAKE A WALK DOWN MEMORIZED LANE

In previous tips, we've shown you how to create simple reports by selecting the Activity Bar's Reports item, selecting Easy Answer Reports/Graphs, and so on. Sure, these reports are easy to create, but that doesn't mean you want to go through this creation process every time you want to view the same data. You can save (or memorize) any report settings for even quicker access in the future.

After creating a report you want to keep at arm's reach:

  1. Click the Memorize button.
  2. Type a name for the report on the Title line.
  3. Type a Description on the appropriate line, if you wish (21 characters or fewer, please).
  4. Select an icon other than the standard blue notebook icon (again, only if you want to).
  5. Click OK.

To view a report based on these exact same settings in the future:

  1. Select Reports + Memorized Reports.
  2. Select the report you want to see.
  3. Click the Create button. (Tip: To change the original report settings before Quicken creates the report, click Customize, select any new options, and then click Create.)

And you thought report-creating couldn't get any easier!

 

TALK TO ME, ICONS

When you hold your mouse pointer over an icon at the top of the screen (in the iconbar that sits below your menu commands), you see a little yellow box of text describing that icon. Want to know an icon's identity at first glance, without having to let your mouse hover over it? You can add text to the icons:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Iconbar.
  2. In the lower-right corner of the Customize Iconbar dialog box, click the box next to Show Text. (The change appears on-screen immediately.)
  3. Click Done.

Now they're talking!

 

LOWER YOUR TAX BILL

It goes without saying, but everyone would like to lower his or her tax bill. Quicken offers two ways of doing it. Use the Deduction Finder to identify spending categories that represent tax-deductible expenses. Use the Maximize My Deductions worksheets to identify itemized deductions -- the kind that you can report on Schedule A of your next tax return.

 

BACKTRACKING YOUR TAX DEDUCTIONS WITH THE TAX ASSISTANT

Perhaps you've been managing a checkbook using Quicken for a while now (at least the past year) and have just now decided that you want to take advantage of the program's tax features for preparing your 2001 tax return. Is it too late? Should you wait until next year? Not at all. Setting up tax information is easily solved using the Quicken Tax Link Assistant. Some procrastinators even wait until they actually begin preparing their tax returns before they use this feature.

To use the Tax Link Assistant, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Taxes, Tax Link Assistant.

    The Tax Link Assistant dialog box appears. The left side lists the categories for your checking account. The right side, labeled Tax Form Line Items, lists all the different lines of the 1040 income tax form, as well as any schedules. At the top of the dialog box, you see brief step-by-step reminders as to how to use this dialog box.

  2. Under Category, select the category to which you want to assign a line or schedule of your tax form.
  3. Under Tax Form Line Items, select the tax form line or schedule.
  4. Click Assign Line Item to Category.
  5. Repeat Steps 2-4 for other categories.

    You don't have to match up all the categories to tax form line items. You only need to match the ones that you have to report on your tax return.

  6. After you finish, click OK to save your changes.

You can now review the tax information for each category by using the Edit Category dialog box. Choose Finance, Category Transfer List. Select the category you want to review, and click the Edit button.

 

TRACKING TAX DEDUCTIONS WITH QUICKEN

To track your tax deductions in Quicken, make a list of the deductions you want to track. To do so, pull out last year's tax return. Note which lines you filled in. This method works because there's a darn good chance that the tax deductions you claimed last year will also be the tax deductions you'll claim in the future.

 

SETTING UP QUICKEN TO TRACK TAX DEDUCTIONS

Quicken can help you track tax deductions, but you have to tell it which ones to track in which accounts. To track your tax deductions, first make a list of the deductions you want to track by pulling out last year's tax return and noting which lines you filled in. There's a darn good chance that the tax deductions you claimed last year will be the ones you'll claim this year.

Next, you need to tell Quicken which of the predefined categories you want to use for a given account and whether you need to use business categories. You can view the predefined lists by choosing Finance, Category & Transfer List. Look through the lists and if you find categories you don't need, jot them down for deletion. (For example, if you don't pay state income taxes in the state you live in, get rid of the state tax category.) If you need a category you don't see, jot that down, too. Some typical categories you may want for tax deductions include:

  • Medical and dental expenses
  • State and local income taxes
  • Real estate or personal property taxes
  • Home mortgage interest and points
  • Investment interest
  • Charitable contributions
  • Casualty and theft losses
  • Moving expenses
  • Unreimbursed employee expenses

Changing a category list is a snap. Here's how to add a category:

  1. Choose Finance, Category & Transfer List to display the Category & Transfer List window.
  2. Click the New button on the Category & Transfer List window, to display the Set Up Category dialog box.
  3. Enter a short name for the category in the Name text box and a description for the category in the Description text box.

    (Identifying a category group is optional at this point -- folks new to Quicken can skip it.)

  4. Indicate whether the category is an income category or an expense category by clicking either the Income or Expense button.

    (Folks new to Quicken can safely ignore the Subcategory button.)

  5. Indicate whether the category tracks an amount you will use on an input line on next year's tax return by checking the Tax-related check box.
  6. Click OK.

Quicken adds the new category to the Category & Transfer List window and redisplays the window.

To remove unwanted categories, with the Category & Transfer List window open, simply select the category you want to remove and click Delete. Quicken asks if you're sure: If you are, click OK.

 

TAX FAQS

Quicken 2000 collects the facts you need for tax planning into one place: the Tax Center. To get to the Tax Center, choose Taxes + Tax Center. Here, you can see the following:

  • Year-to-date income
  • Tax-related expenses by categories
  • Tax calendar, with dates you need to know for paperwork and payments
  • Hyperlinks to answers and advice
  • Projected tax summaries

The Center is a great HQ for your tax toils in the next month.

 

LINKS TO TAX FORMS

Oh, you'll be glad if you take a few minutes to do this -- glad when April 15 rolls around, that is. Open your Categories list -- under the Finance menu -- and then open each category and see if you can link it to a specific tax form. Click a category, click the Edit command just above the list, check the Tax-related box, and then scroll through the drop-down menu to find the right form. It may even be worth spending an hour with your tax accountant to do this, getting his or her advice on which categories and links to make.

 

SET ASIDE TIME TO SET UP YOUR TAX LINKS

One of the most compelling reasons to use personal finance software such as Quicken is to plan for and minimize taxes. Of course, you can do that only if Quicken knows how to distribute your tax-related expenses and income. Although Quicken has some tax smarts built in, you need to help it with details--such as which categories you want assigned to which tax form lines. You can check on any category's tax link this way in Quicken 99:

  1. Choose Lists + Category/Transfer.
  2. In the Category & Transfer List, click on the tax category of interest.
  3. Click on Edit, above the list.
  4. Note whether "Tax-related" is checked near the bottom of the Edit Category dialog box, and if so, which Form is listed beneath.
  5. If this is correct, click on OK.
  6. If not, choose another form from the list and then click OK.

Now when you choose a category for any transaction, that amount will automatically add up with all other tax-related amounts and be ready for your tax planning and tax-form preparation.

 

TAX PLANNER

The Tax Planner in Quicken is basically an income-tax preparation program boiled down to a single display screen. Instead of the many questions and options in a tax program such as TurboTax, the Planner asks you to state just basic facts -- status, income, business expenses, deductions, and so on -- from which it can calculate your probable refund (that's the hopeful scenario). Most people can benefit from using the Planner periodically, to see if their withholding or quarterly estimated payments are in the right ballpark.

 

TAX PLANNER

The Tax Planner in Quicken 2000 is under the Taxes menu, not the Planning menu. When you choose Tax Planner, you see what is basically an income-tax preparation program boiled down to a single display screen. Instead of the many, many questions and options in a tax program such as TurboTax, the Planner asks you to supply just basic facts -- status, income, business expenses, deductions, and so on -- from which it can calculate your probable refund (that's the hopeful scenario). Most people can benefit from using the Planner periodically, to see if their withholding or quarterly estimated payments are in the right ballpark.

 

ANNUALIZE FOR TAX PLANNER

Lumpy expenses and intermittent income are big obstacles to tax planning. It's hard during June to estimate what you'll owe at the end of the year if you make most of your money in November and December, or your expenses are paid in big lumps at odd intervals. Quicken's Tax Planner can help you smooth out the lumps through annualizing.

  1. Open Features, Taxes, Tax Planner.
  2. Click the Quicken Data button to grab your tax-related transactions in a hurry.
  3. In the Preview Quicken Tax Data window, click the Annualize All button. Then click OK.

This will estimate what your full year's income and deductions will be from what they've been so far.

 

TAX PLANNER IMPORT

Keeping your categories and classes up-to-date pays off when tax time comes. That diligence even pays off before tax time comes because it makes it easier to use Quicken's built-in Tax Planner to see if you're on the way to a big refund or a painful check.

Preview your tax data by following these steps:

  1. Choose Features, Taxes, Tax Planner.
  2. Click the Quicken Data command in the top left of the Tax Planner.
  3. In the Preview Quicken Tax Data window that appears, scan through the list of major tax items and see if any are way off base. If not, click OK and Quicken fills in the Planner with the data. If the numbers are inaccurate, click Cancel and go to your accounts and categories to make some adjustments.

 

TAX PLANNING WITH QUICKEN

Quicken comes with a very powerful, very useful Tax Planner. The Tax Planner helps you make a precise estimate of the taxes that you'll owe. To use the Tax Planner, take the following steps:

  1. Chooses Taxes, Tax Planner to display the Tax Planner window.
  2. Verify the tax year and filing status in the upper-left corner of the Tax Planner window.

    If incorrect, click the Year or Status hyperlink to display the Tax Planner Options text boxes, which let you specify the Tax Year and the Filing Status and choose one or more Scenarios (sets of income tax inputs).

  3. Click the Wages hyperlink and enter the wages and salaries that you and your spouse expect.

    Quicken then makes a first rough calculation of the amount you'll owe in taxes. Of course, Quicken needs more data before this number is accurate, so don't freak out yet. Click Next to move to the next set of input text boxes.

  4. Enter the other income you'll have from interest, dividends, capital gains, and so on.

    To record this other income, click the Interest/Dividend Income, Business Income, Capital Gains and Losses, and Other Income hyperlinks and provide the information. You can also look at last year's return or at the year-to-date information you've already collected by using Quicken.

  5. Click the Adjustments to Income hyperlink and identify any adjustments to your gross income.

    Most people make only one adjustment -- contributions to a deductible IRA. Self-employed individuals, however, also typically have several other adjustments, including half of their self-employment tax (which Quicken automatically calculates and enters), a portion of any health insurance paid, and Keogh and SEP pension contributions.

  6. Click the Deductions hyperlink and estimate your itemized deductions.

    Alternatively, if you'll probably or possibly use the standard deduction, carefully check any of the boxes that Quicken uses to determine which standard deduction you should use.

  7. Click the Exemptions hyperlink and then tell Quicken how many personal exemptions you'll claim.
  8. Click the Other Taxes & Credits hyperlink and then indicate whether you owe any other taxes or have tax credits you can use to reduce your taxes.

    These other taxes, by the way, typically include just two: self-employment tax (which is the tax that self-employed people pay in place of social security and Medicare tax) and, in special cases, the alternative minimum tax.

  9. Click the Withholding and Tax Payments hyperlinks and enter any estimated taxes you've paid or any federal income taxes your employer has withheld from your paycheck.
  10. Return to the Tax Planner Summary and review Quicken's calculations.

Quicken estimates the total tax you'll pay (which is useful and interesting in itself), the estimated refund or payment you'll have to make, and one other particularly useful bit of information -- your marginal income tax rate (which Quicken labels Marginal Rate).

 

TAX REPORTS

Soon you'll be exporting your Quicken results to a tax preparation program. When you do, make sure you don't assume that your results are the same number that the government will be seeing. What you stored may not match what the IRS has on its forms from employers, banks, and other sources. You'd better match the two up to see if there are any discrepancies.

 

STATE TAX WITHHELD IS DEDUCTIBLE

Quicken handles state tax withholding in a different way from state tax paid at the end of the fiscal year. When you're entering withholding data, categorize the state taxes as Tax:State and they'll be linked to the W-2:State Withholding form.

 

DEDUCING YOUR TAXES

Who couldn't use a few extra deductions at tax time? Using the Quicken Deduction Finder, you just may find a few. The Deduction Finder, borrowed from the Intuit TurboTax program, is a database of over 100 deductions accompanied by Yes-or-No questions to determine whether you are entitled to the deduction. Follow these steps:

  1. Click the Deduction Finder link in the Tax Center window or choose Taxes, Deduction Finder.
  2. Read the introduction and click OK.
  3. Under Choose a deduction type, enter your filing status.

    (Yes, this is a confusing label for this field, because you are not actually entering a deduction type in it.)

  4. Under Choose a deduction, scroll down the list and select a type of deduction.
  5. Under Questions, answer Yes or No to each question by clicking on the appropriate check boxes.

After you complete the questions, Quicken tells you whether you can take the deduction at the bottom of the question area. Unsure how to answer some of the questions? Wondering just how Quicken determines your eligibility for a deduction? Just click the More Information button under Next Steps for more comprehensive information about the deduction.

When you finish answering the questions, click the Action Plan tab at the top of the window to find out what the criteria, limits, and documentation are for claiming your deduction.

 

ESTIMATED TAXES

Many small businesses and solo workers have to make estimated state and federal tax payments. Instead of waiting for April 15, they pay quarterly throughout the year. If you fall into this group, use Quicken to help you keep track of your estimated payments. In Quicken, create a special category, named something like Tax:Fed:Est, and link it to the Schedule 1040:Federal Estimated Tax. If you're using Quicken 99, do the following:

  1. Choose Lists + Category/Transfer.
  2. In the Category & Transfer List dialog box, click the New button.
  3. In the Set Up Category dialog box, enter a name for the special category, something like "Tax:Fed:Est"( without the quotes).
  4. From the Subcategory Of drop-down list, choose Tax:Fed.
  5. Click Tax-Related and, from the drop-down list, choose Form 1040: Federal estimated tax, qtrly.
  6. Click OK.

Do the same thing with your state taxes: Create a category for them and then link that category to the Schedule A:State Estimated Tax.

 

QUICKEN TAXES REPORTS

You can use these reports in Quicken to help with your taxes:

  • Capital Gains: Lists all the realized gains on individual investments you hold. (A capital gain occurs when an investment is worth more than you paid for it. When you sell the investment, you realize the gain.)
  • Tax Schedule: Lists all transactions you've entered as tax-related and subtotals them by line item.
  • Tax Summary: Lists all transactions you've described as falling into tax-related categories.

 

STATE OF THE TAXES

In the Quicken Financial Planner (which comes with some versions of Quicken, such as Home & Business 99), you can figure out how much of your income goes to pay state and federal taxes and how what state you live in affects that. If you're interested, gird you loins and then do the following:

  1. Click Start + Programs + Quicken.
  2. Choose Quicken Financial Planner.
  3. In the Financial Planner window, click the Income tab.
  4. In the Salary box, type your annual salary estimate.
  5. Click the Taxes and Inflation tab.
  6. Select the state you live in from the What State Do You Live In drop-down list.

In the Adjust Your Tax Rate box (below the state line), you can see what percentage of your income you pay in both state and federal taxes. If you want to see what percentage you'd pay if you lived in another state, pick another state from the Which State menu.

 

THE TAXMAN COMETH--PART 1 OF 3

Well, folks, like it or not, tax season is upon us. With just under two months to go, the time has come to start preparing your finances for your accountant. If you've been a good Quicken user (and I know that you have!), you've been assigning categories when you should have. If you've been diligently assigning categories, you're in luck: Many of Quicken's categories are assigned a corresponding tax category, and Quicken uses these tax categories to generate reports, which pretty much pull together all the tax-related information you need.

If you haven't done so already, make sure that the Tax Schedules with Categories option is turned on so that you can track taxable items:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Quicken Program.
  2. Click the General tab.
  3. Make sure Use Tax Schedules with Categories is selected.
  4. Click OK.

THE TAXMAN COMETH--PART 2 OF 3

If you read our last tip, you know why Quicken categories are a crucial element in preparing for tax season. In a nutshell, Quicken keeps track of taxable items by assigning many of its categories to a particular tax schedule. Then, when the time comes to generate reports and the like, Quicken notes which items are tax related and pulls together the information it needs.

In this tip, we show you how to mark a category as tax related. You may need to do this to the categories that you created or to the Quicken categories that you modified.

To mark a category as tax related:

  1. Choose Lists + Category/Transfer.
  2. The word Tax appears in the Tax column if a category is currently taxable. To mark a category as taxable, select the category name and click the Edit button in the Categories and Transfer List window.
  3. In the lower portion of the Edit Category dialog box, all the items related to taxes appear. Select the Tax-Related checkbox.
  4. Click the arrow to the right of the Form field drop-down list and select the Form and line item that should be assigned to the category for your tax purposes.
  5. Click OK.

THE TAXMAN COMETH--PART 3 OF 3

In our last tip, we showed you how to mark a Quicken category as tax related: Choose Lists + Category/Transfer, select the category you want to mark, and click the Edit button. Then select the Tax-Related checkbox. Finally, select the Form and line item to assign to the category.

If you need a little more hand-holding than this method provides, you definitely want to check out the Tax Link Assistant. This assistant offers you a single location to assign line items and tax forms to your categories. Even better, the Tax Link Assistant shows you all the line items found on each schedule and provides a description of each line item and each schedule--handy info to have when you're not entirely sure of what you are doing.

To use the Tax Link Assistant:

  1. Choose Lists + Category/Transfer.
  2. Click the Tax Link button to launch the Tax Link Assistant.
  3. To find out what a specific tax form or line item assignment entails, select the Form name or line item from the Tax Form Line Items. A description of the selected item appears at the bottom of the Tax Link Assistant box.
  4. To assign a tax form or line item to a category, select a category from the Category column. The Assigned Line Item column, to the right of the Category listing, shows the line item and schedule, if any, currently assigned to that category.
  5. Select the line item you want to assign to the category from the Tax Form Line Items list.
  6. Click the Assign Line Item to Category button.
  7. Continue assigning categories or simply check out the definitions of line items as necessary. Click OK when you have finished.

 

IF IT'S A SURE THING, YOU OUGHT TO PLAN.

For taxes, that is, which Quicken 5 offers in its planning tools. This is not a tax-prep program like TurboTax or TaxCut. It doesn't figure out all the details, fill out forms, and print or email them in. What it does is ask you for the bare outlines of your situation--income, outgo, deductions, exemptions--and then estimate the taxes you'll owe in the coming year. If you make the Tax Planner part of your financial tune-up, at least once a quarter, you won't have nasty surprises come April 15. Better yet, you'll have a chance to experiment with different scenarios--shown as the Base, Alt1 and Alt2 buttons--to see how changes to your basic numbers will raise or lower your tax. Then you'll have some time to do something about it, to change when you get paid, what you buy and so on, before the end of the tax year.

 

GOING BACK IN TIME

Most people run their Quicken on a calendar year basis, January through December. Most do the same for their taxes and their fiscal year. Some financial events affecting that year occur after it is over, such as estimated tax quarterly payments in January or IRA investments up to April 15. If you close out a Quicken year and use its data for your taxes, make sure you manually enter these amounts with the right dates before you finalize those calculations.

 

MORE ABOUT TIMING

The Retirement Calculator assumes that you or your employer will add to your retirement savings at the end of the year -- what financial planners call an ordinary annuity. If you or your employer adds to your retirement savings at the beginning of the year, you earn an extra year of interest. As a result, your after-tax income will be more than Quicken shows.

 

CUSTOM-MADE TOOLBAR

If you're a toolbar addict, you'll be pleased to know that you can customize Quicken's toolbar to your heart's content. But the really cool thing is that you can perform this toolbar redesign on the fly. To see what I mean, click on the icon you want to move, hold down the mouse button, and then drag the icon to its new location. Viola! Is that easy or what?

 

TRANSACTION TOOLBAR

Enter, Edit, Split: These are the buttons on the Transaction Toolbar. If this toolbar is turned on, you see these three buttons appear next to the Balance amount while you're in a register. Generally, this toolbar is useful only if you're a regular splitter, because Return enters the transaction for you, and the Edit commands are available above through the Edit menu. To turn the transaction tools on or off, choose Edit, Options, Register Options, and click the Display tab. You then see the checkbox near the bottom of the window.

 

TOPIC FOCUS

Starting today I'm going to focus the tips in this topic on Quicken 99 for Windows. That seems to be the most popular version of Quicken just now. And there's been just too much opportunity for confusion when several versions are packed together in a single topic. There will be a new topic for Quicken 2000 for Windows, and another for Quicken 2000 for Mac. If you use another version of Quicken, please let us know. And if you have any comments or suggestions, please let us have those too. We'll answer if we can.

 

TRACK YOUR INVESTMENTS--PART 1 OF 6

Okay, so you've been playing the stock market for some time, and every time those statements arrive, you promise yourself that this month you'll start actively tracking the performance of your investment portfolio. Well, procrastinate no more. In this series of tips, we show you how to set up that Investment account in Quicken. Next month, we concentrate on how to keep on top of its performance.

To create an Investment account:

  1. Choose Features + Investments + Create New Investment.
  2. Click OK in the Enter a New Investment box.
  3. Enter a name for the Investment account and an optional description; then click Next.
  4. Select No in the resulting dialog box; (regarding application for online service) then click Next.
  5. If your investment account also allows you to withdraw money through a checking account or debit card, select Yes; otherwise, select No. Click Next.
  6. If your investment account contains multiple stocks, bonds, or several mutual funds, select that option; otherwise, select One mutual fund. Click Next.
  7. Indicate whether this account is tax deferred and click Next.
  8. Review the information displayed in the Summary screen and make any necessary changes. (It's a good idea to use the Info screen to record as much information as you can about the account.) Click Done when you have finished.
  9. At this point, the Security Setup screen appears. Quicken uses this series of screens to help you enter your securities. The options displayed in these screens vary depending on the type of security you are adding to the account. For now, click Cancel and then click Yes to cancel the setup screen and return to your new Investment account register.

Over the next few days, we show you how to add specific security types to your Investment account.

TRACK YOUR INVESTMENTS--PART 2 OF 6

Our last tip started you on the process of tracking your investments in Quicken. To create an Investment account, choose Features + Investments + Create New Investment and then follow the Account Setup screen, providing the required information. In this tip, we show you how to add stocks to your account.

  1. Choose Features + Investments + Create New Investment.
  2. Select I Want to Setup a Security in an Existing Account. Click OK.
  3. The Security Setup screen appears. Click Next to begin the setup process.
  4. From the Account Name drop-down list, select the Investment account in which you want to add the security. Click Next.
  5. Enter a name for the first security you are tracking. For example, enter the name of the company whose stocks you have purchased.
  6. Enter the ticker symbol for the security.
  7. Select Stock as the type of security and click Next.
  8. Click Next to skip over the resulting screen. (We explain the Investment goal and Asset class options in upcoming tips.)
  9. Indicate the date from which you want to start tracking the security. You can choose the current date, the end of last year, or the date you purchased the stock. To choose this last option, you will have to enter the date you bought the stock. Click Next.
  10. Enter the number of shares you purchased, the cost per share, and the commission fee on the transaction. Note that the Total Cost is calculated at the bottom of the screen. Click Next.
  11. If you have additional stocks to enter, click Yes; otherwise, click No. Click Next.
  12. Review the information displayed in the final screen. Click Done when you have finished.

Quicken activates your Investment account and displays the transaction you just created.

TRACK YOUR INVESTMENTS--PART 3 OF 6

In this series of tips, we're explaining how to track your investments in Quicken. To recap, choose Features + Investments + Create New Investment to create the Investment account and then follow along with the Account Setup screen to provide the required information.

In this tip, we show you how to add a mutual fund to the account.

  1. Choose Features + Investments + Create New Investment.
  2. Select I Want to Setup a Security in an Existing Account. Click OK.
  3. In the Security Setup screen, click Next to begin the setup process.
  4. From the Account Name drop-down list, select the Investment account in which you want to add the mutual fund. Click Next.
  5. Enter a name for the mutual fund you are tracking.
  6. Enter the ticker symbol for the mutual fund.
  7. Select Mutual Fund as the type of security and click Next.
  8. Click Next to skip over the resulting screen. (We discuss the Investment goal and Asset class options in upcoming tips.)
  9. Indicate the date from which you want to start tracking the mutual fund account. You can lick on choices for the current date, the end of last year, or the date you purchased the fund. You will have to enter the date you bought the fund if you want to use this last option. Click Next.
  10. Enter the number of shares you purchased, the cost per share, and the commission fee on the transaction. Note that the Total Cost is calculated at the bottom of the screen. Click Next.
  11. If you have additional mutual funds to enter, click Yes; otherwise, click No. Click Next.
  12. Review the information displayed in the final screen. Click Done when you have finished.

TRACK YOUR INVESTMENTS--PART 4 OF 6

The past three tips have discussed how to set up an Investment account to keep track of your investments. We've also explained how to set up the account with the Features + Investments + Create New Investment command, as well as how to add stocks and mutual funds to the account. In this tip, we show you how to add any bonds you own to the account.

To add bonds:

  1. Choose Features + Investments + Create New Investment.
  2. Select I Want to Setup a Security in an Existing Account. Click OK.
  3. The Security Setup screen appears. Click Next to begin the setup process.
  4. From the Account Name drop-down list, select the Investment account in which you want to add the bonds. Click Next.
  5. Enter a name for the bond you are tracking.
  6. Enter the ticker symbol for the bond.
  7. Select Bond as the type of security and click Next.
  8. Click Next to skip over the resulting screen. (We discuss the Investment goal and Asset class options in upcoming tips.)
  9. Enter the date the bond was purchased and the maturity date of the bond. Click Next.
  10. Enter the Annual Yield, the Face Value of the Bond, and any Accrued Interest the bond may have. Click Next.
  11. Enter the number of bonds you've purchased and the cost per bond. Note that Quicken alters the display of these values to match those found in the newspaper. Click Next.
  12. If you have additional bonds to enter, click Yes; otherwise, click No. Click Next.
  13. Review the information displayed in the final screen. Click Done when you have finished.

TRACK YOUR INVESTMENTS--PART 5 OF 6

The last step in setting up your Investment account is to provide the initial cash balance of the account. The initial balance represents the money in the account that you'll use to purchase your securities. The account balance represents any uninvested money you have in the account.

To update the cash balance of your Investment account:

  1. Choose Features + Investments + Update Cash Balance.
  2. Enter the cash balance for the account.
  3. Enter the date of the cash balance deposit.

Your Investment account is updated with the current balance information.

TRACK YOUR INVESTMENTS--PART 6 OF 6

In our last tip, we showed you how to set the initial cash balance of your Investment account. In this tip, we show you how to transfer additional cash to your Investment account. For example, if you receive a yearly bonus from your employer, you may want to use that cash to purchase additional investment securities.

To transfer additional cash to the investment account:

  1. Click the EasyActions button.
  2. Choose Transfer Cash into Account from the menu.
  3. Enter the date of the cash transfer.
  4. Enter the amount of the cash transfer.
  5. In the Transfer Account field, select the account to transfer the funds from. In most cases, you want to run any cash transfers through your checking account.
  6. In the Money field, enter an optional description of the transfer. For example, you may want to enter Bonus if the cash you are transferring originated as a work bonus.
  7. Click OK to transfer the funds.

Quicken updates your Investment account balance to reflect this infusion of cash. A transaction is also entered in the account from which the funds were transferred.

 

TRACKING DOWN DUPLICATE ENTRIES

After entering a transaction, do you ever experience deja vu? Like, maybe you've already entered that transaction? Unfortunately, Quicken doesn't alert you when you make a duplicate entry unless you are entering a check payment (and you type the same check number). What gives, anyway?

Well, while we send letters to Intuit demanding (okay, maybe asking politely) such a feature, in the meantime here are a few ways to double-check your entries:

  • Sort your register by Payee. You'll then have to eyeball your entries to make sure you haven't entered the same transactions twice. To sort by Payee, click the View button and select Sort by Payee.
  • Create a Register report and then go through the entries one by one. To create a Register report, select any blank transaction in the register, click the Report button, and select Register Report.
  • Use the Reconcile feature to match up the transactions in your check register with those that appear on your monthly statement. To run the Reconcile feature, click the Reconcile button and enter the requested information. In the Reconciliation window, you can then use the Delete button to remove any duplicate charges from your account.

 

TRACKING DOWN TAXABLE ITEMS--PART 1 OF 2

By enabling Quicken's tax-related categories, as explained in the last tips, you're on your way to locating all tax-related items in your finances. To mark a Quicken category as tax related: Choose Lists + Category/Transfer, select the category you want to mark, and click the Edit button. Then select the Tax-Related checkbox. Finally, select the Form and line item to assign to the category. Or, you can use the Tax Link Assistant to walk you through the items found in a typical tax schedule: Choose Lists + Category/Transfer. Click the Tax Link button in the middle pane of the window and follow instructions from there. And now--the easiest way to locate your taxable items is to create a Tax Summary Report--a very simple report that shows all taxable income and expense items that have occurred over the year.

To create the Tax Summary Report:

  1. Choose Reports + Home + Tax Summary.
  2. In the Create Report dialog box, select Last Year from the Report Dates drop-down menu and make sure the dates shown in the From and To fields reflect 1998.
  3. Click the Create button at the bottom of the dialog box.

Quicken generates a Tax Summary Report listing all tax-related income and expenses. (Be sure to review the report information for accuracy.) This report is a great place to start as you gather together your tax material.

TRACKING DOWN TAXABLE ITEMS--PART 2 OF 2

In addition to the Tax Summary Report we introduced in the last tip, another useful report that you can use in your tax preparation is the Tax Schedule Report. This report not only displays all the tax-related income and expense items that have occurred, but it also organizes the tax-related items by tax schedule.

To create a Tax Schedule Report:

  1. Choose Reports + Home + Tax Schedule.
  2. In the Create Report dialog box, select Last Year from the Report Dates drop-down menu and make sure the dates shown in the From and To fields reflect 1998.
  3. Click the Create button at the bottom of the dialog box.

The resulting report, like the Tax Summary Report, displays all tax-related income and expenses; unlike the Tax Summary Report, this report is also subtotaled by tax schedule and tax line item. Salary, for example, appears subtotaled by the form W-2, and the line item is Salary or Wages, self.

 

TAXABLE VS TAX-DEFERRED

Tax-deferred investments often pay a lower rate of return than taxable investments because you make that percentage back -- and possibly more -- when tax time comes. To put that detail into your Retirement Planner, use the Return section, click the Use Separate Rates of Return checkbox, and enter the different rate percentages.

 

TRANSACTION COSTS IN ASSETS

As you spend money to build an art collection, to protect it, to improve it, or to earn money by selling part of it, you can record those transactions in your Asset account for the collection. You can include any expenses from starting the collection. If you get a loan against the collection, create a separate Liability account for that.

 

STABILIZING THE MEMORIZED TRANSACTION LIST

Whenever you record a transaction, Quicken "remembers" it and puts it on the Memorized Transaction List. The QuickFill feature remembers how much you paid or deposited the last time around and enters the same amount in the Payment or Deposit box the next time you record a transaction that involves the same person or party. Suppose, however, that you want QuickFill to put in a default amount in the Payment or Deposit box that is different from what you entered last time and will remain the same from here on out. You can do that by "locking" the transaction on the Memorized Transaction List.

To lock a transaction, open the Memorized Transaction List (by choosing Banking, Memorized Transaction List or pressing Ctrl + T), click the transaction you want to lock, and either click the Lock icon in the lower-right corner of the window or click in the Lck column. Transactions that have been locked show a picture of a padlock in the Lck column. To "unlock" a transaction on the list, click its lock icon to remove it.

Note: If Quicken isn't memorizing transactions automatically, choose Edit, Options, Register, click the QuickFill tab in the Register Options dialog box, select the Auto Memorize New Transactions check box, and click OK.

 

TRACKING DOWN TRANSACTIONS

Need to see an overview of activity that has occurred in a particular account? Say, for example, that you want to know whether your credit card use displays any sort of pattern. Or maybe you want to see when you've made payments to a particular account. Easy enough. You just switch to the Financial Calendar and elect to only display the account in question. When you do, only payments or transactions made to that account are shown on the calendar.

To create a calendar of account events:

  1. Choose Features + Reminders + Financial Calendar.
  2. Click the Options button.
  3. Select the Accounts tab.
  4. Select the Account name you want to track. (Note: You may want to click the Clear All button first and then select the account.)
  5. Click OK.

Quicken redisplays the calendar, showing only transactions for the particular account you chose.

 

TRACKING DUAL CASH FLOW

If you've been following the last couple of tips, you probably have a pretty good sense of where your cash is going--iced coffee anyone? But what about the cash purchases that your significant other makes? One of the horrors of a joint checking account is not knowing what the other partner is doing.

To keep track of all those ATM withdrawals that you and your partner make, create a category called Cash (or whatever else you want to call those all-too-frequent runs to the ATM machine). Then, within the Cash category, create a subcategory for each of you.

  1. Enter the transaction as usual; when you get to the Category field, click the drop-down arrow and click Add Cat.
  2. Enter your name in the Name field, select Subcategory of in the Type section, and select the Cash category.
  3. Repeat Step 2 for your partner.

When the time comes, you will be able to generate a report itemized by category, showing all the withdrawals that each of you made.

 

TRACKING NONMONETARY ITEMS

You can use Quicken to keep track of items that have no monetary value -- such as frequent flyer miles or vacation days -- without adding any money value to your bookkeeping system. To track nonmonetary items, you have to start with an investment account designed to track each item. Follow these steps to get up and running:

  1. Choose Banking, Banking Activities, Create a New Account. When the EasyStep Account Setup window appears, choose Other Investment as the account type. Then choose Next to get started.
  2. In the next EasyStep window, give the account a name that indicates its use. There's no financial institution involved, so just click Next.
  3. The next window inquires about online services for this account. Of course, you answer No. Choose Next again to see a window that asks about the ability to write checks from this account. Again, answer No and click Next.
  4. The next EasyStep window wants information about the kind of securities that you're tracking in this account. Select One mutual fund and choose Next. A question appears regarding the tax status of the account; select No to indicate that this is not a tax-deferred investment, and choose Next.
  5. The Summary window appears, showing the information you supplied. No fields are selected or filled in other than the Account Name and Description.
  6. When you click Done to complete the account setup, the Setup Mutual Fund Security dialog box appears. This dialog box wants information about the mutual fund that isn't applicable to your non-financial tracking. Just click OK.
  7. The Create Opening Share Balance dialog box appears so you can enter the date you're using to begin tracking, and the number of units (frequent flyer miles, days off, widgets, whatever you're tracking) in the Number of Shares box. Don't fill in the price per Share box.

The new investment account's register immediately appears on the screen so you can enter transactions. As you gain or use your nonmonetary items, enter these changes in the related account. For instance, whenever you fly, you should enter the number of miles you've earned. You enter transactions directly into the account's register just as if you were entering any other type of transaction.

 

UPDATING THE MARKET VALUE OF SECURITIES

Unquestionably, the best way to update the market value of securities is to download the prices from Quicken.com [http://www.quicken.com]. Here's how:

  1. Choose Finance, One Step Update to see the One Step Update Download Selection dialog box.
  2. Make sure that a check mark appears beside Online Quotes. If one doesn't appear, select Online Quotes to put a check mark there.
  3. Click the Update Now button. After you connect to the Internet, the quotes are downloaded to your computer. When the Quicken Download Summary dialog box tells you that the quotes were downloaded successfully, click Done.

 

TRACKING YOUR SECURITIES

In tone of the Set Up a New Security dialog boxes displayed as you work through the steps in the process, Quicken asks how you want to track the historical cost information of this security. To do this, you first need to indicate whether this security is, in fact, one you really own or just one you're watching. If you own the security, select the Track my holdings radio button. If you don't own the security but you want to monitor its price or news about the security, mark the Put it on the watch list radio button.

The Investing Activity Center provides a hyperlink to your watch list. You can also view your watch list from the Portfolio View window.

If you're tracking a security you own, you'll need to indicate how closely you want to record the historical cost information about the security. If you're setting up a security that's inside a tax-deferred account, you can select the Today option. This is sloppiest, but, as Quicken indicates, it's also fastest. The Today option is also acceptable when you don't need to monitor the historical cost basis of the security.

If you're setting up a security that's inside a regular, taxable account, you should select the date you purchased this security radio button and then give the date.

 

TRACKING SECURITIES YOU DON'T OWN

Even if you haven't got your financial act together enough to actually purchase stocks or bonds on your own, you can still track the securities you hope to someday own. That way, you can see how your stock picks would pan out--an exercise that may actually help you resolve to open that brokerage account after all. Who knows, you could be the next Warren Buffet!

To track a security you don't own:

  1. Choose Lists + Investment + Security.
  2. Click the New button.
  3. Enter the name of the security you want to track and the ticker symbol, if you know it.
  4. From the Type field, select the type of security you want to track.
  5. Select Show in the Watch List checkbox.
  6. Click OK.

After you add securities to your watch list, you simply treat those securities as if you owned them. Update the security prices as necessary, keeping an eye on how the price fluctuates.

 

INSTANT TRANSACTION GRATIFICATION

By now, we all know that scheduled transactions can save a heck of a lot of time by allowing you to automate regularly scheduled transactions. Well, the Memorized Transaction list can be just as helpful in entering transactions, especially when it comes to transactions that don't occur on a frequent basis but do occur pretty regularly. With the Memorized Transaction function, you can quickly enter a transaction in your register; then it automatically assigns the current date as well as the next check number (or whatever payment method is being used). All you have to do is change the amount of the transaction.

To enter a memorized transaction:

  1. Choose Lists + Memorized Transaction.
  2. Locate the transaction you want to record in your check register.
  3. Click the Use button.

Quicken automatically switches back to your check register. Notice that the transaction is entered in your register and the payment field appears highlighted. Enter the correct payment amount and click the Enter button or press the Enter key.

 

SO WHAT ARE TRANSACTION PASSWORDS?

After you choose File, Passwords from the menu bar, you can create a file password or a transaction password by choosing File or Transaction from the Passwords submenu. In general, you use a file password to protect the access into a Quicken file.

A transaction password works like a file password except that the user has to enter the transaction password if he or she tries to enter a transaction that is dated before a specified date. You specify the date, called the cutoff date, when you set up the transaction password.

The logic is that you use a transaction password to prevent some idiot from fouling up last year's or last month's transactions; however, you can take a couple of easier approaches than using transaction passwords.

You can create and safely store backup copies of the Quicken file for last year or last month. Or you can keep the idiots from fooling around with your Quicken files. Jeepers, if somebody can't understand an instruction such as, "Use the current date," do you really want them mucking about in your books?

 

CORRECTION: FINDING MEMORIZED TRANSACTIONS

Back in April, we told you about a quick way to locate specific transactions in your check register, using the Memorized Transaction List. Unfortunately, our instructions told you how to make Quicken enter the current memorized transaction into whatever register is currently open. Oops. So today, we rectify the matter by giving you the long-awaited instructions for finding a recent memorized transaction:

  1. Choose Lists + Memorized Transaction to switch to the Memorized Transaction List.
  2. Locate and select the memorized transaction you want to find.
  3. Click Report.

Quicken generates a payee report, which lists all transactions recorded to the specific payee in the memorized transaction. To view the specifics of a transaction, double-click the specific transaction in the report. Quicken switches to the appropriate register--with the current transaction displayed.

Whew! We feel better now.

 

UPDATING QUICKEN'S SCHEDULED TRANSACTIONS

You don't have to use the Calendar to set up scheduled transactions in Quicken. You can choose Cash Flow, Scheduled Transaction List instead. This command displays a window that lists all scheduled transactions and provides buttons that you can use to add, edit, or delete scheduled transactions. The functions of this window are pretty straightforward. To delete a scheduled transaction, for example, just select it from the list and click the Delete button.

 

VOIDING TRANSACTIONS

Occasionally, you need to void a check that you wrote but decided not to give to the payee. Do the following to void transactions:

  1. Click the QuickTab of the account register containing the transaction you want to void. Note: If you don't see the QuickTab, press Ctrl + A to open the Account List and double-click the account.
  2. Right-click anywhere on the transaction you want to void. A short cut menu displays.
  3. Select Void Transaction. Quicken sets the value of the transaction to $0.00 and voids the transaction.
  4. Click or press Enter to save the changes.

Quicken automatically marks voided transactions as cleared. Note the C in the Clr column of the voided transaction.

 

TRANSACTION RESTORATION

You may have noticed that pressing the Escape key doesn't get you the result you want when you're unhappy with the changes you're making to an existing transaction. You press Escape, Quicken asks whether you want to save your changes, you dutifully click No, and--instead of allowing you to continue working--Quicken closes the window you were working in. So how do you cancel changes to a transaction? First, you don't use the Escape key unless you want to close the current window. Following are two techniques you can use when you want to cancel changes made to an existing transaction or to cancel a brand new transaction:

  • After making your changes, click anywhere outside the current transaction. Quicken asks whether you want to save the last transaction you were viewing. Choose No.
  • Choose Edit + Transaction + Restore to restore the transaction to its original contents.

 

SCHEDULING A TRANSACTION IN QUICKEN

You can set up a scheduled transaction in Quicken to remind you of any bill or deposit that happens on a regular basis. For example, you might set up a scheduled transaction to remind you to pay a monthly phone bill or to record a paycheck received.

When you open the Scheduled Transaction List, you see commands that enable you to create your scheduled transactions, including scheduled transactions to prompt you to save your money. Follow these steps to set up the scheduled transaction:

  1. Choose Cash Flow, Scheduled Transaction List.
  2. Click Create New, Scheduled Transaction.
  3. Choose the settings for the scheduled savings transaction.
  4. Click OK to finish crating the scheduled transaction.

The new transaction appears in the list in the All Types tab of the Scheduled Transaction List window.

Shortcut alert! If the transaction you want to schedule already appears in your register, you can right-click on the transaction and choose Schedule Transaction to open the Create Scheduled Transaction dialog box. Then continue with Step 3 above.

 

TRANSACTION SHORTCUTS

There are one-letter shortcuts to tell Quicken what type of transaction you're entering. After entering the date, when you're in the Number field:

A is for ATM

D is for Deposit

E is for EFT or Electronic Funds Transfer, or Debit card transactions

N is for the Next check number (you'll also get this if you type the first numeral of that check number)

P is for Printing a check

T is for Transfer (to another of your own Quicken accounts)

Just press that first letter and you can move right on to the Payee zone.

 

SORT TRANSACTION TYPES

With a register open -- say, your checking account register -- try clicking on the Options menu and then on Sort by Check Number. Naturally this is a neat way to line up the checks you've written, without any interruptions by deposits or any other kind of transaction.

Scroll through the register. You'll see that this same option has also gathered the ATM transactions, the Transfers, and other types of transactions.

 

DOWNLOADED TRANSACTIONS

When you're working with downloaded transactions in Quicken, you'll see either the word "New" or "Match" in the Status column. Here's why:

Quicken tries to match downloaded transactions to ones already in your register. Quicken uses the date, amount, and check number to identify matching transactions, and then highlights the matching transactions in the top portion of the window for you.

  • If Quicken misses a match, edit the transaction in the register that should match to give it the same date, amount, and check number as the downloaded transaction.
  • If Quicken matches a transaction it should not match, highlight the erroneous match and click Unmatch in the window at the bottom of the register.

 

"LOCKING" QUICKEN TRANSACTIONS

Whenever you record a transaction, Quicken "remembers" it and puts it on the Memorized Transaction List. The QuickFill feature remembers how much you paid or deposited. The next time you record a transaction that involves the same person or party, Quickfill enters that amount in the Payment or Deposit box.

Suppose, however, that you want QuickFill to put in a default amount in the Payment or Deposit box. That default amount is different from the last entry and will remain the same from here on out. You can do that by "locking" the transaction on the Memorized Transaction List.

To lock a transaction, open the Memorized Transaction List by choosing Banking, Memorized Transaction List (or pressing Ctrl + T). Click the transaction you want to lock, and either click the Lock icon in the lower-right corner of the window or click in the Lck column. Transactions that have been locked show a picture of a padlock in the Lck column. To "unlock" a transaction on the list, click its lock icon to remove it.

 

MEMORIZED TRANSACTIONS

Whenever you record a transaction, Quicken "remembers" it and puts it on the Memorized Transaction List. To see the list, choose Banking, Memorized Transaction List (or press Ctrl+T). Quicken remembers the payee name, the amount of the transaction, and the category you put it under so that you don't have to enter this information all over again when you record a transaction to the same party.

 

MEMORIZED TRANSACTIONS

Quicken provides a feature - memorized transactions - which is almost irrelevant to day-to-day Quicken use now that the QuickFill feature exists. But because you may hear about this tool, here's how it works.

A memorized transaction is one that you've stored or that Quicken has stored on a special list. (To store the transaction, you select it in the register and choose Edit, Memorize Transaction.)

To later use or abuse a memorized transaction, choose Cash Flow, Memorized Transaction List to display a list of previously memorized transactions. When Quicken displays the list, select the transaction you want to reuse and click Use.

A memorized transactions list is a handy tool. But if you're feeling a little overwhelmed, don't spin your wheels trying to get up to speed on this feature. QuickFill almost always does the job for you because - get this - it automatically grabs memorized transactions from the list.

 

SCHEDULING TRANSACTIONS

To help you record and remember to make transactions that are done repeatedly, you can schedule them. After you schedule a transaction, it appears in the Bills and Schedules Transactions list in the My Finances window, where you can plainly see it. A list of scheduled transactions also appears at the bottom of registers when scheduled transactions are due to be made. You can enter a scheduled transaction simply by clicking the Enter hyperlink on the Bills and Scheduled Transactions list.

 

TRANSFER CHOICES

What is the difference between using the Transfer dialog box in Quicken or choosing the Transfer transaction in a register? Well, nothing. It's simply a matter of your personal preference. You certainly can use the Transfer transaction in a register. When you tab into the Category field, Quicken displays all the other accounts you have created, but you will not see any categories. Simply choose an account.

 

ONLINE TRANSFERS

To be able to transfer money from one account to another online, you'll need to have multiple accounts with the same institution, each enabled for online account access. Then you'll use the Online Financial Services Center window and click on the Transfers tab. You enter the details and then click the Update/Send button, followed by your PIN. Look to the summary afterward to check the status.

 

PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT

Quicken preferences are settings you use to tell Quicken how it should look and work. For example, you can use preferences to tell Quicken how often it should create those automatic backup copies of the Quicken data files. And you can use preferences to assign passwords that must be provided before Quicken opens a data file.

To change Quicken preferences, you choose the Edit menu's Preferences command. When you do this, Quicken displays the Preferences dialog box. The icon bar or list box that appears along the left edge of the dialog box provides clickable icons. You click the icon that represents the set of preferences you want to change. For example, if you want to change or work with the general preferences, you click the General icon. Then, Quicken displays the buttons, boxes, and scrollable list boxes used for moving around with General preferences in the area that remains in the dialog box.

You can always reset the preferences to their default settings by clicking the Defaults button. Note, however, that clicking the Defaults button resets only the preferences settings for the stuff that's currently being shown. In other words, if you're working with the Register preferences, clicking the Defaults resets the Register preferences to their default condition. It doesn't reset the General preferences to their general condition.

 

A NEAT LITTLE TRICK

You can expand and edit the list box of Num entries that Quicken displays in the register. If you want to add some new Num entry to the drop-down list box, for example, do the following:

  1. Click the Edit List button, which appears at the bottom of the list. Quicken displays the Edit Num List dialog box.
  2. Click the New button and then complete the dialog box that Quicken displays.

You can also edit any new Num entries you add by using the Edit Num List dialog box. Feel free to experiment with the list all you want -- you can't hurt anything.

 

A NEAT LITTLE TRICK

You can expand and edit the list box of Num entries that Quicken displays. If you want to add some new Num entry to the drop-down list box, for example, do the following:

  1. Click the Edit List button, which appears at the bottom of the list.

    Quicken displays the Edit Num List dialog box.

  2. Click the New button and then complete the dialog box that Quicken displays.

    You can also edit any new Num entries you add by using the Edit Num List dialog box.

To figure it all out, just experiment. You can't hurt anything.

 

TURNING OFF THE VOICE

If you like Quicken's Qcards feature but can do without the accompanying voice--which activates when you have the Quicken CD in your CD-ROM drive--you can turn off the PC speaker by doing the following:

  1. Click the Speaker icon in the Windows 95 taskbar.
  2. Click the Mute All button.
  3. Click anywhere else to return to Quicken.

Quicken continues to display the helpful text but mutes the voice.

Now, if only shutting up the guy in the next cube were that easy . . .

 

ADDING YOUR TWO CENTS--PART 1 OF 2

Just as you would scribble notes to yourself while reading a book, you can also annotate a Quicken Help topic. That way, you can then view your notes along with the information provided by the Help topic.

To annotate a topic:

  1. Display the Help topic you want to annotate.
  2. Choose Edit + Annotate.
  3. Type out the contents of the note and click Save.

A paper clip symbol in the upper left corner of the Help topic window indicates that the Help topic is annotated. To view the annotation, simply click the paper clip; a window with your notes appears. Click Cancel to close the window.

ADDING YOUR TWO CENTS--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we showed you how to annotate a Help topic: Display the Help topic you want to annotate, choose Edit + Annotate, type the contents of the note, and click Save. In this tip, we show you how to remove an annotation from a Help topic:

  1. Display the annotated Help topic.
  2. Click the paper clip button.
  3. Click the Delete button.

Tip-in-a-tip: You may want to bookmark all annotated help topics so that you are later able to quickly identify them. To bookmark a Help topic, choose Bookmark + Define, enter a name, and click OK.

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Last modified: May 30, 2017