Quicken U-Z
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UNGROUPED WARNING

When you open Planning, Budgeting and see the budget table on screen, try scrolling down toward the bottom. The Income, Discretionary, and Mandatory expenses groups -- listed on the left, each with several categories beneath it -- are followed by the Unassigned group. If there is much here, you need to go back to the Finance, Category & Transfers list and assign more groups. Having too many categories in Unassigned will make your budget less useful and interesting.

 

FREE UPDATES

Occasionally, when you use one of Quicken's Internet online features--for downloading the latest values of your portfolio, for example--you may see a window that offers free software updates. Generally, these updates fix bugs in Quicken and add some news or content, and they're almost always worthwhile. But don't click that Update Now button yet. First do the following:

  1. Go to the Online Menu and the Online Center to make sure your Online Banking and Investment Tracking sessions are complete.
  2. Back up your data, using the File menu.

Now you're ready to click that Update Now button. The Download Status window tells you when the new software is all set.

 

ONE-STEP UPDATE

The One-Step Update feature lets you get all of your information from the net in one step. Sorry. Sounds obvious when we write it out like that. Anyway, it can download your quotes, news, portfolio and reminders.

To set this up:

  1. Click the Online menu and choose One Step Update.
  2. In the One-Step Update window, click to make your demands, putting checkmarks beside each item you want.
  3. Click on the Update Now button.

You'll see a Customize button in this window to get more specific with your demands.

 

USING THE TAX PLANNER--PART 1 OF 2

After you identify all your tax-related transactions and figure out whether you qualify for any tax deductions, you're ready to see just how much you'll be sending to Uncle Sam or, if you're lucky, how much of a refund you can expect. With Quicken's Tax Planner module, again borrowed from Intuit's best-selling TurboTax software, you can determine, among other things, whether you'll have to pay taxes this year or enjoy a tax refund. Remember, though, the information calculated in the Tax Planner is merely an estimate, representing your best guess for how much you've paid out over the year. It pays to double-check all the information provided by Quicken's Tax Planner with your accountant or tax advisor.

Here's how to use the Tax Planner:

  1. Choose Features + Taxes + Tax Planner.
  2. In the Filing Status and Tax Year section of the Tax Planner, select your Status and the Tax Year.
  3. To import all the tax-related figures from your Quicken file, click the Quicken Data button on the toolbar located at the top of the Tax Planner window.
  4. In the Preview Quicken Tax Data dialog box, click OK to import the tax-related items.
  5. Quicken plugs all the related figures into the various fields on the Tax Planner form. If you need to change an entry or preview its contents, click the shadowed field button to the left of the entry field. Note that you can only change the contents of a field that either has a white background or appears adjacent to one of the shadowed field buttons.
  6. Make any changes necessary and click OK to return to the main Tax Planner screen.
  7. The Tax Due section, located at the very bottom of the Tax Planner form, displays the magic number. If you overpaid your taxes for the year, the last line item displays Refund Due and the amount you can expect to receive. If you owe additional taxes, the line item displays Remaining Tax Due and the amount of money you need to send in with your tax return.
  8. When you have finished with the Tax Planner, click the Close button in the Tax Planner toolbar.

USING THE TAX PLANNER--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we introduced you to Quicken's Tax Planner module, which can help you determine how much you owe this year or how much you can expect back. In this tip, we show you how to create different tax scenarios in order to compare and contrast your tax return when you substitute different figures into the Tax Planner form. You can, for example, see how any additional income earned affects your tax line, as well as the effect any new tax deductions have on the bottom line.

To create a tax scenario:

  1. If necessary, choose Features + Taxes + Tax Planner to launch the Tax Planner module.
  2. The information from the previous session should appear in the Tax Planner form. If it doesn't, or if this is the first time you're creating a tax scenario, click the Import data button to import your Quicken data into the form.
  3. In the Scenarios section, the Base option is currently selected, indicating that this is the base scenario--that is, the scenario on which all others will be compared.
  4. Select the Alt. 1 option to create a new scenario.
  5. If you want to copy the current data into the new scenario, click Yes; otherwise, click No. (Tip-in-a-tip: You probably want to copy the current data and then make any changes to items as necessary, which is much quicker than reentering the data manually.)
  6. Make any necessary changes to the information. The changes you make are automatically saved with the current scenario.
  7. To create an additional scenario, repeat Steps 4 through 6, being sure to select the Alt. 2 option in Step 4.
  8. To compare tax scenarios, click the Compare button. The Tax Scenarios Comparisons dialog box appears. Review the information provided and then click OK when you have finished.

 

NEED SOME VALIDATION?

You can validate your Quicken data to correct problems if you find Quicken behaving strangely. Of course, there's no good definition of "strangely," but think of it as Quicken behaving in unexpected ways when you take an action.

If Quicken finds errors while validating, it tries to rebuild your data -- and is often successful. Here's how:

  1. Click File, File Operations, Validate. You see the Validate Quicken File dialog box.
  2. Click a file to check and then click OK. Quicken validates your data file and displays a message when validation finishes.
  3. Click OK again.

 

VALUE ADDED

Your net worth includes the value of your car, your home (or at least your equity in it), and your household possessions. Quicken can keep those numbers up to date as their values change in the market. Use the Household and Car Values Download or the Home Values Download to keep your stored information up to date.

 

VALUE HISTORY

If you have an expensive item around the house, something that you definitely want replaced after a natural disaster or robbery, it might be worth your while to periodically note its value. Newspaper and Internet classified ads and internet auction sites can help you guesstimate such values. Then you can store them in Quicken Deluxe to keep a record, making a more convincing case to an insurance company of what that item is worth. Store these in the Features, Planning, Quicken Home Inventory, detail button, Resale Value History button.

 

TRACKING THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME--PART 1 OF 3

With the real estate market booming in nearly all corners of the country, now may be a good time to track the value of your home, whether it's your primary residence or rental property. You can do so in Quicken by creating an asset account and then recording the value of the home on a frequent basis.

To track the value of your home:

  1. Choose Lists + Account.
  2. Click the New button located in the toolbar.
  3. Select Asset as the account to create and click Next.
  4. Enter a name for the account, such as Our House, and then enter an optional description. Click Next to continue.
  5. Select Yes when asked whether you know how much the asset is worth and click Next.
  6. Enter the date you purchased your home in the As of Date field; then enter the value of the home on that date (that is, how much you paid for it). Click Next to continue.
  7. Review the information in the summary screen and click Done.

Quicken creates a new asset account using the name you specified. The opening balance of the account reflects the value of the asset you entered. Next time, we tell you how to update this value.

TRACKING THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME--PART 2 OF 3

In the last tip, we showed you how to create an asset account to keep track of the value of your biggest asset--your home. In this tip, we show you how to update the value of your asset. Say, for example, that you have a real estate appraiser appraise the value of your home. You can easily update the balance of the asset to reflect the new value.

To update the value of the asset:

  1. Choose Lists + Account.
  2. Double-click the name of your asset account.
  3. Click the Update Balance button to display the Update Account Balance dialog box.
  4. Enter the new, updated value of the house in the Update Balance To field.
  5. Enter the date of the balance adjustment in the Adjustment Date field.
  6. Select a category to use for the balance adjustment amount.
  7. Click OK.

Quicken records a new entry in your asset register. The new, updated balance appears in the Balance column, and the adjusted amount appears in the Increase or Decrease column, as appropriate.

TRACKING THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME--PART 3 OF 3

In our last two tips, we showed you how to keep track of the value of your home. Whenever you update the value of the asset, Quicken records the amount as either a positive or negative expense. For example, if you paid $149,000 for your home and it was reappraised at a value of $162,000, Quicken shows a gain of $13,000. However, because you are using the asset account merely to track the value of the house and because you do not receive or have to pay the appraisal difference, you need to exclude these values from any reports you create, so as to not skew the balance.

To exclude your asset account from reports:

  1. Generate the report as you normally would. For example, choose Reports + Home + Itemized Categories and then click the Create button in the Create Report dialog box.
  2. Click the Customize button to display the Customize Report dialog box.
  3. Select the Accounts tab.
  4. Locate the asset account for your house in the list of Selected Accounts and click it once to deselect it.
  5. Click Create.

Quicken regenerates the report and excludes the values from your asset account. Remember to follow these steps for any report you generate that includes the asset account in its calculations.

 

RESALE VALUES--PART 1 OF 2

Each item in your home inventory has three costs associated with it: the original price, the replacement cost, and the resale value. In a previous tip, we noted that when you use an item from the Suggested Items list (which appears on the right side of the List View window), Quicken automatically assigns a replacement cost and resale value to the item. But these values are only estimates. Adjust these values to reflect the prices of your own household items:

  1. Position the cell pointer in the item whose price you want to change.
  2. Choose View + Detail View.
  3. In the Original Price field, enter the price you paid for the item.
  4. In the Replace Cost field, enter a replacement cost for the item.
  5. In the Resale Value field, enter a resale value for the item.

RESALE VALUES--PART 2 OF 2

In the last tip, we described the costs associated with items in your home inventory. Quicken automatically assigns a replacement cost and resale value to the items you include in your inventory. But these values are only estimates and can be adjusted to reflect the prices of your own household items: Position the cell pointer in the item whose price you want to change; Choose View + Detail View and, in the Replace Cost field, enter a replacement cost for the item. In the Resale Value field, enter a resale value for the item. Resale cost is the amount you could possibly regain if you were to sell the item. By default, Quicken Home Inventory calculates the resale value as one half of the total replacement cost of the item. You can reset how Quicken calculates the resale value :

  • Use a different percentage to calculate the resale value.
  • Don't use a percentage at all; instead, set the value to the same price as the replacement cost. (As always, you can replace these calculated amounts at any time simply by typing over them.)

To recalculate the resale value of an item:

  1. Choose Edit + Options.
  2. Select the Suggested Item List tab.
  3. Make sure the Automatically Set Resale Value To option is selected.
  4. Enter the desired percentage point and then click OK.

 

OPENING THE VAULT

To open a PIN Vault -- ready to hold all of your many PINs for online accounts -- you just need two or more such accounts set up, and then:

  1. Choose File, PIN Vault, Setup.
  2. In the Pin Vault Setup window, click the EasyStep tab.
  3. Follow the onscreen instructions and enter your PINs, typing each one twice to avoid mistakes.
  4. After you answer No that you don't have any more PINs to enter, choose and type a password for the entire collection of PINs.
  5. Click Next and you'll see a list of your accounts and PINs.

You can come back to File, PIN Vault to edit or delete the list.

 

USING THE VAULT

After storing your multiple online account PINs in the PIN Vault, here's how you put them to use:

  1. Choose Finance, One Step Update. (You can also click the Online button -- the two-sided horizontal arrow -- in the top right corner of your Quicken window.)
  2. In the PIN Vault Password dialog box, type the master password that protects all PINs (and that you entered when putting those PINs into Quicken).
  3. Click OK.

Now as you update your information, you won't have to type any PINs -- Quicken does it for you. Or, if you want to enter them, you can click the Skip Vault button in the password window.

 

TRACKING VENDOR PAYABLES

Whenever you want to know how much money you owe someone, just print a report that summarizes the unprinted checks by payee name. Pretty easy, huh? All you have to do is print the A/P by Vendor business report. If you know how to print the report, go ahead. If you need a little help, here's a blow-by-blow account of the steps you need to follow:

  1. Choose [R]eports, [B]usiness to display the Business Reports menu.
  2. Choose [A]ccounts Payable Report.

Quicken summarizes the unprinted checks in your bank, cash, and credit card accounts.

 

NEW VERSION WITH OLD

Quicken and its data are immediately parted. You can keep the data from any version of Quicken even if you delete or upgrade the Quicken program. First, when you install the new version, choose to put it into a new directory. That will let you keep the old Quicken in its old directory, ready to run if you need it. Second, find your Quicken data files--they are in a group, with the main file having the filename extension .QDF--and put them into a safe, separate directory. Better yet, make a copy of them using the File menu's File Operations + Copy command. Give them a name like "QuickenFilesOld" and then when you install the new Quicken, don't ask it to import the old files. Have it create a new file with new accounts.

 

GLOBAL CHANGE OF VESTING

Here's a complicated question that I don't see an easy way to solve. Perhaps you do?

"In a 401k plan (or any retirement plan where vesting of company contributions is evoked) a company contributes for a time period then one is vested in those monies for a specified percentage. This procedure is repeated until full vesting occurs.

Let's assume 20 percent per year for 5 years. I can create an account in Quicken and I can enter my contributions and the company's contributions (these are the entries in question). How do I enter the company contributions at NO vesting? (Allowing for vesting changes in the future.) When the year is complete, how do I change my vesting to 20 percent for ALL past company contributions/entries? Must I edit each one? Is there some way to "cascade" the changes, or make "universal" changes for all "X" entries or for all entries in an account? At the end of three years my vesting is now 40 percent. And so on.

As you can see the first year will only be 12 entries; an easy edit. However, the second will be 24 entries and the third 36, etc. You will always have to change all entries until 100-percent vesting has occurred. As some plans donot vest for much longer than 5 years this procedure could be quite tedious. Thus far my solution has been not to create the account until my status is unchanging; i.e. I wait for 5 or more years. Not a very elegant solution!

I have not been able to find any reference to vesting in the manuals. At present I'm using Excel for my 401k-account information because I can manipulate the data more effectively in that arena. I import a file into a new account each year for running scenarios. It would be more elegant if I could keep all my financial information together."

 

SHOW ME VIDEOS

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.

 

VIEWING YOUR PORTFOLIO--PART 1 OF 3

After you set up your initial investments in Quicken, you use the Portfolio View window to deal with all your subsequent investment tracking needs. Unlike the Investment Register, which shows transactions for a single investment account only, Portfolio View lets you gain an appreciation for the performance of all your investment accounts. You can see how particular securities are faring and update price histories, as well as chart the ups and downs of your favorite security. Over the next series of tips, we show you how to use the Portfolio View window to get the best view of your investments.

To switch to Portfolio view, choose Features + Investments + Portfolio View.

The Portfolio View window displays a summary of all your investments:

  • When you click the Group By button, located at the far left of the Portfolio View window, you access a drop-down list that lets you pick what you want to display in the Portfolio View: All Accounts, Selected Accounts, Security, and Watch List, among others. To view a particular account, for example, click the Group By drop-down menu and choose Selected Accounts. Then, in the View Selected Accounts dialog box, select the name of the account you want to view, click the Add button, and click OK. Back in the Portfolio View window, only the securities for the selected account appear.
  • The Portfolio As Of date field is automatically set to reflect the current date. But you can change this date to see how a stock performed on a particular date. To change the date in the Portfolio As Of field, simply enter the date, in the mm/dd/yy format, or click the small calendar icon next to the field and select a date from the pop-up calendar.
  • The View button, located at the far right of the portfolio screen, enables you to select the performance measure you want to follow. To review your choices, click the View button to access a drop-down menu. After you make a selection, the performance information displayed within the Portfolio View window changes to reflect the current setting. If you select Performance, for example, the information displayed for each security includes the current market price, the number of shares you own, the initial investment, the monetary return on each security, and finally the return on investment (or ROI).

As you work in the Portfolio View window, continue to play around with the different options afforded by these three menu choices until you are comfortable with the information provided.

VIEWING YOUR PORTFOLIO--PART 2 OF 3

In our last tip, we told you how you can use the Portfolio View window (choose Features + Investments + Portfolio View) to keep track of your investments. Use the Group By field to select the investments you want to track; use the Portfolio As Of field to indicate the date by which to track a securities performance; and use the View field to select the performance measures you want to monitor.

Quicken provides seven performance views to choose from. You can modify these performance views or create your own--to choose only those performance elements you're interested in, or to change the order they will be displayed in. In this tip, we show you how to create your own customized view.

To create a customized view:

  1. If you don't have the Portfolio View window open, choose Features + Investments + Portfolio View.
  2. Click the Customize button.
  3. Select Custom1 from the View menu and click Change Name.
  4. Enter a name for the view and click OK.
  5. In the Displayed Columns portion of the dialog box, select each of the column names and click Remove. Doing so lets you start with a clean slate.
  6. Select the first entry in the Available Columns list to add to the view and click Add. Continue to select entries and click Add until you have all the column entries you want. To change the position of an entry, select the entry name from the Displayed Columns list and click the Move Up or Move Down buttons accordingly.
  7. Click OK when you're done.
  8. To switch to the view you just created, click the View button and then select the view name.

VIEWING YOUR PORTFOLIO--PART 3 OF 3

In our last two tips, we told you how to find your way around the Portfolio View window so that you can get a better understanding of your investment performance. In this tip, we show you how to use yet another view, Detail View, to zoom in on the details of a particular security.

Detail View shows a quick synopsis of the security, including the number of shares held, the market value, cost basis, and any gain or loss. You also see a listing of all transactions related to that security. Finally, an informative graph at the bottom of the Detail View window lets you chart the market value or price history of a security.

To zoom in on the Security Details:

  1. To switch to Portfolio View, if you're not already there, choose Features + Investments + Portfolio View.
  2. Click the Detail View button.

Keep the following in mind:

  • In Detail View, the current security name appears in the drop-down list box located at the upper left corner of the window. To switch to a different security, click the drop-down menu and select the new security name.
  • By default, the graph displayed at the bottom of the window displays the market value of the security. To switch to the security price history, click the drop-down menu located just at the top of the graph portion and select Price History.
  • To change the date range of the graph, click the drop-down menu just adjacent to the Market Value/Price History option and select the date range you want to use.

Again, we recommend that you play around with the options available in the Detail View window until you are comfortable with the information provided.

 

VISIBLE AND HIDDEN

Image isn't everything. Some of those securities in your Security List may be officially "hidden," meaning they are not kept up-to-date and you can't operate on them. If people use your Quicken Options menu (which appears just above the Security List) they can choose View Hidden Securities. The securities you had sent off to Hide are displayed -- although still officially hidden. You can identify these securities in the list because they have a small "Stop" hand icon after the security name. These securities aren't "unhidden" and fully usable until you select them and click again on the Hide command.

 

AVOID THIS VOID ERROR

When you mark a transaction as void, Quicken does three things:

  • It sticks the word VOID at the very start of the Payee field.
  • It marks the transaction as cleared.
  • It erases the amount in the Payment or Deposit field.

So far, so good. But if you happen to later fill in the Payment or Deposit field, and don't pay attention to the warning from Quicken that you're editing a reconciled transaction, Quicken uses the payment or deposit amount that you enter to adjust the account balance -- even though Quicken still shows the transaction as void.

Let's hope that the folks at Intuit will fix this, pronto. In the meantime, the bottom line is that you need to make sure that you don't edit transactions after you void them. Otherwise, you can all too easily foul up your account balance. Perhaps even overdraw your account.

 

VOID, COPY, DELETE, AND OTHER EDITING WONDERS

To copy and void transactions appearing with Quicken registers:

  1. From the register window, select the transaction that you want to delete, copy, or void.
  2. Choose Edit, Transaction.
  3. Choose Delete, Copy, or Void from the drop-down menu that appears.
  4. If you choose to copy, Quicken records the transaction into memory; skip ahead to Step 6.
  5. If you choose to void, Quicken removes the dollar amount of the transaction and inserts the word VOID on the payee line. That's it, you're done.
  6. To paste a copied transaction, click the transaction line to bring up the shortcut menu you used in Step 2.
  7. Select Paste.
  8. A dialog box listing all previously copied transactions appears. Select the one that you currently want to enter on the transaction line.

 

INTO THE VOID

After any amount of time using any checking register, you're sure to make a mistake. Well, maybe not you, but I did. Lots of times. And I generally just clicked on the Delete button to eliminate the transaction entirely.

There's a better way, if this is a transaction that you want to remember, though you don't want it affecting the Balance. Void it instead of Deleting.

  1. Click on the transaction.
  2. Open Edit + Transaction.
  3. Choose Void Transaction.
  4. Click on the Enter button (to confirm the Void.)

Now this transaction remains, in case you need to know when and where the mistake happened.

 

INTO THE VOID

Occasionally, you need to void a check that you wrote but decided not to give to the payee. You can void the transaction in Quicken:

  1. Click the QuickTab of the account register containing the transaction you want to void.
  2. Right-click anywhere on the transaction you want to void.
  3. In the shortcut menu that appears, 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.

Note: Quicken automatically marks voided transactions as cleared with the familiar "c" notation.

 

SORT OF A VOIDING BUG

When you mark a transaction as void, Quicken does three things: It sticks the word VOID at the very start of the Payee field, it marks the transaction as cleared, and it erases the amount in the Payment or Deposit field. So far, so good. But if you happen to later fill in the Payment or Deposit field, and don't pay attention to the warning from Quicken that you're editing a reconciled transaction, Quicken uses the payment or deposit amount that you enter to adjust the account balance -- even though Quicken still shows the transaction as void. The bottom line is that you need to make sure that you don't edit transactions after you void them. Otherwise, you can all too easily foul up your account balance. Perhaps even overdraw your account.

 

VOIDING VERSUS DELETING

Deleting and voiding transactions are two different beasts. Take a look at each one so that you won't get bitten:

  • A deleted transaction is erased from your financial records; it may as well have never happened.
  • A voided transaction remains in your data records (along with the word VOID and a few asterisks) so that you know you made the transaction but voided it.

If you write a check by hand and have to tear it up because you accidentally entered the wrong name in the Payee line, void the transaction instead of deleting it. That way, you have a record of what happened to the check.

 

HITTING THE WALL

A Quicken file larger than 5MB can mean trouble. Performance suffers and transactions may even disappear. When your file is that large, consider archiving some of the older transactions to a separate file.

To archive:

  1. Choose File, File Operations, Copy.
  2. Type a name for this archive file.
  3. Choose a date range, say everything from the calendar year two years back and previous to that.
  4. Click OK.

These archived transactions aren't erased. They're still around if you need to dig them up.

 

WASH OUT

If you buy and sell securities, remember that Quicken's Capital Gains report--under Reports + Investment--doesn't know about "Wash Sales"--securities sold at a loss less than 30 days after they were purchased. You'll need to do this yourself or have your accountant handle it.

 

THAT'S THE WAY I LIKE IT

As the past two tips have demonstrated, you can make a number of changes to your report settings in order to get just the report you want. But is there more? For example, a subscriber recently asked whether it was possible to change the row and column headings used in a report. In particular, she wanted to remove the lines labeled Inflows and Outflows. Although you can't edit these particular lines yourself, you can export the contents of the report to your favorite word processing or spreadsheet program and then format the report as you see fit:

  1. Generate the report as you normally would. For example, choose Reports + Home + Cash Flow and then click the Create button in the Create Report dialog box.
  2. Click the Copy button in the Button bar to copy the contents of the current report to the Clipboard.
  3. Switch to your word processing or spreadsheet program.
  4. Choose Edit + Paste.

The contents of the Clipboard--in this case, your Quicken report--are then pasted into the current document. Keep in mind that you lose a significant amount of formatting when you perform this procedure. However, your word processing and spreadsheet programs have enough formatting tools to enable you to design just the report you need.

 

GET TO THE FULL BLOWN WEB

When you access the Web from within Quicken, it appears in its own tabbed window in Quicken, much like your check register and other accounts do. Quicken is using its own limited embedded browser tool to provide you access to these Web pages. However, you can launch your own browser and go off and do your own thing on the Web as well.

  • To launch a full-blown version of Internet Explorer, click the Full Browser button, located in the Button bar just above the browser window. So when you click this button, you gain access to all the features of Internet Explorer, including your saved bookmarks as well as the ability to go to other Web sites.
  • To return to the Quicken window, click the Return to Quicken button (in the upper-right corner of the screen).

Keep in mind that you have to exit from the Internet Explorer program separately. To do so, choose File + Close.

 

WEB ENTRY

Register with Quicken.com and you have the option of using WebEntry. That feature lets you store transactions from wherever you are, using any Web browser-equipped computer. Then when you're back to your own personal computer with your own Quicken files on the hard drive, you can connect again to Quicken.com and download those stored transactions, integrating them with your own records. Use the One-Step Update button and make sure to check the WebEntry Download box.

 

REACTIVATING THE WEB

One of the cool things about Quicken's Web connection is that any of the Web services you activate remain displayed in a Quicken window. Even after you disconnect from the Web, you can still access the displayed information by clicking the tabbed window. To reactivate your Web connection from a particular window, simply click any link that may be displayed in the window. This action relaunches your ISP connection and then the page in question.

 

WE SPENT HOW MUCH ON VIDEO RENTAL?

In a previous tip, we discussed the importance of categorizing as you enter Quicken transactions. To prove our point, over the next two tips, we'll show you how to create some simple reports.

Suppose you want to know how much you spent on video rentals in 1997. (This is just an example, of course; you can track any expense you want.) Now, if you've been lazy about categorizing, roping everything from catching the latest flick to Grandma's 75th birthday dinner into Entertainment, you're out of luck. But if you've been a real stickler about categorizing, as we suggested, setting up a report to answer this question is easy. Quicken offers some handy reporting tools for answering simple questions such as this one.

  1. Hold your mouse pointer over the activity bar's Reports item.
  2. Select Easy Answer Reports/Graphs.
  3. Under Step 1, select How Much Did I Spend On...?
  4. Under Details (Step 2), click the down arrow next to Show Spending On and select the category you want to know more about (for example, the Video Rental category).
  5. Next to For the Period, click the down arrow and select Last Year.
  6. Click Show Report.

Amazing how fast all those $3.50s add up, isn't it?

 

WE'RE ON A LOW BUDGET--PART 1 OF 5

So you say you're ready to buckle down and start saving more for retirement (or start saving, period)? Good for you. It may mean the difference between just getting by and living the retirement life you've always dreamed about.

The easiest way to cut back on spending (so you can save more) is to establish and stick to a strict, yet reasonable budget. Without a plan, the money just flies out of your hands, and--surprise, surprise--there's nothing left for your future. Oh, and one more thing before we get started: Stop waiting for the Budget Guy (or Gal) to come knocking on your door and show you how to save your money. That's what we're here for. Remember, every day you wait to put a good plan into place means less in your pocket later.

Convinced? Then let's create that budget. As a good starting point, create a budget based on last year's spending:

  1. Select Features + Planning + Budgets.
  2. Click the Edit button at the top of the Budget window (not Quicken's Edit menu command) and select Autocreate.
  3. Under Transactions, leave From 1/97 To 12/97 selected. (Or select the period of past transactions you want Quicken to use to create your budget.)
  4. For a budget that's identical from one month to the next, leave Use Average for Period selected. (Note: If your income and expenses vary greatly from month to month, select Use Monthly Detail.)
  5. Click OK and wait as Quicken completes the budget.

Bada-boom, bada-bing--Quicken fills in all your data from last year (or the period you selected) to complete the budget. You're now looking at your average income and expenses, by category, for each month last year. See the number that appears across the Difference row (at the bottom)? That's how much you had left over for savings (ouch). Take some time to look all those numbers over, noting areas where you think you could cut back. In the following tips, we show you how to tweak that budget to suit your needs and (we hope) to make that Difference figure a bit higher.

WE'RE ON A LOW BUDGET--PART 2 OF 5

In our last tip, we mentioned how important budgeting is for sticking to an aggressive retirement savings plan. (If you don't have a savings plan in place, don't worry--we get to that in future tips, after all the budgeting stuff.) We also showed you how to automatically create a budget based on last year's spending: Select Features + Planning + Budgets; select Edit + Autocreate; and click OK. The result is a monthly tally of income and expenses by category--a good starting point, but certainly not the finished product. Time for a little budget tweaking.

First of all, you don't need to display every category in your budget. Ditch those that don't apply to you by turning off the display of all those with zero values:

  1. Click the View button.
  2. In the pop-up menu, select Zero Budget Categories to deselect this option.

    Also, because the next step in the budget-creation process is making some adjustments to your discretionary spending (the spending over which you have control), you may want to separate the categories in your budget into what Quicken calls "supercategories"--among them, Discretionary and Non-Discretionary. But first, you need to assign a each category to a supercategory:

    1. Select Edit + Supercategories.
    2. One at a time, select each category that doesn't have a supercategory next to it, select the appropriate Supercategory Name in the list on the right, and click the Assign button.
    3. After you have assigned a supercategory to all categories, click OK.

    Now select View + Supercategories, and you see the categories in the expenses portion of your budget separated into supercategories, such as Discretionary and Non-Discretionary expenses. (Note: Categories that don't have a supercategory assigned to them appear under the Unassigned supercategory.)

In our next tip, we'll show you how to shave some dollars off your discretionary spending budget.

WE'RE ON A LOW BUDGET--PART 3 OF 5

In this series of tips, we're discussing budgets as an important part of sticking to an aggressive retirement savings plan. Here's a quick review of what we've covered so far:

To set up a budget based on last year's spending, select Features + Planning + Budgets; select Edit + Autocreate; click OK; to hide the categories that don't apply to you, select View + Zero Budget Categories. Next step: lowering those Discretionary expenses so that you have more for savings!

A discretionary expense is one over which you have control. You have little control over non-discretionary expenses, such as housing costs, utilities, or gas for your car, so leave those alone for now. But discretionary expenses--clothing, dining out, MOVIE RENTALS-- are 100 percent in your control. If you want to save more money, make the choice to spend less on these items:

  1. So go ahead and select View + Supercategories. You should now have a budget with categories separated into Discretionary and Non-Discretionary expenses (among other supercategories).
  2. One at a time, look at the figure next to a discretionary category and decide whether it's reasonable and, more importantly, necessary. (Tip: Click any category with a folder next to it to display its subcategories.)
  3. When you find a category on which you can cut back your spending (there are lots of them, let's face it), select this dollar amount in the Jan. column and type a lower number.
  4. Optional: With the cursor still in the field you just changed, select Edit + Fill Row Right to carry the change across every month in the budget; then click Yes to confirm.

Repeat these steps to lower more discretionary categories, and when you're finished, check out the Difference row at the end of the budget. You've got more money to save already!

In our next tip, we'll discuss more budgeting adjustments.

WE'RE ON A LOW BUDGET--PART 4 OF 5

In this series of tips, we're discussing budgets as an important part of sticking to an aggressive retirement savings plan. Here's a quick review of what we've done so far: To set up a budget based on last year's spending, select Features + Planning + Budgets; select Edit + Autocreate; click OK; to hide the categories that don't apply to you, select View + Zero Budget Categories. To separate your expenses into discretionary and non-discretionary categories, select Edit + Supercategories, assign a supercategory to each category you use, click OK; then select View + Supercategories. Finally, go through all of your expenses, lowering those on which you think you can cut back. (Type a new number in the Jan. column, then select Edit + Fill Row Right.) Now for some final tweaking . . .

If there are months during which you plan to have a higher-than-normal income or expense (for example, if you receive a bonus twice a year or if you plan to pay a lump insurance payment in January), make those adjustments now:

  1. Scroll over to the appropriate month and select the figure you need to change.
  2. Type a new number.

In the same way, adjust any expense that doesn't apply to every month. For example, if you've budgeted $30 for haircuts, but only go once every two months, delete this expense from every other month. Or if your car insurance will be paid off in October, delete this expense from November and December:

  1. Select the figure you want to delete.
  2. Press the Delete key on your keyboard or type a zero.

When you've finished making all the necessary adjustments, go back and look over the budget for any red flags (unnecessary expenses you may have forgotten to lower or missing expenses). When you're satisfied that it all looks correct and doable (we know, you wish you could budget more for video rental, but that doesn't count), click the Save button to save all your hard work.

Our final tip on this series, sticking to your budget, comes tomorrow.

WE'RE ON A LOW BUDGET--PART 5 OF 5

If you've followed the steps in our last four tips, you now have a budget that breaks down how much you should be spending on what on a month-to-month basis, so that the difference between income and expenses equals enough for an aggressive savings plan. Here's a quick review:

To set up a budget based on last year's spending, select Features + Planning + Budgets; select Edit + Autocreate; click OK; to hide the categories that don't apply to you, select View + Zero Budget Categories. To separate your expenses into discretionary and non-discretionary categories, select Edit + Supercategories, assign a supercategory to each category you use, click OK; then select View + Supercategories. Finally, go through all of your discretionary expenses, lowering those on which you think you can cut back (type a new number in the Jan column, then select Edit + Fill Row Right); and adjust any individual figures, if necessary, for expenses that vary from month to month.

Now that you've come up with this great budget that meets your savings goals, how on earth do you stick to it? Here's one tip that works for us:

Using the budget you just set up, add up all the expenses that come out of pocket each month, such as groceries, gas for the car, health and beauty items, Friday night pizza --you know, all the items (other than bills) you spend money on from week to week. Take the monthly figure, multiply it by 12, then divide that number by 52. The result is your weekly budget.

Each week, on the same day, withdraw that amount from your checking account and tell yourself that it has to get you through the week. And MAKE it get you through the week. (Pretend you can't get any more under any circumstances.) So if, for example, you splurge on dinner out the night of the weekly withdrawal, you might need to cut back on video rentals to make it through the week. (Tip: Set some money aside at the beginning of your budget week for meeting necessary expenses such as gas for the car and groceries.) And if you run out of money? Well, then, you'll just have to tough it out until the next "payday"!

The first few weeks may be a little tough, but if you've set reasonable goals for yourself, you'll find that you can stay within your budget quite easily. And you'll be amazed at how satisfying it is to meet your goals. (If you fail every week, despite a serious effort, it may be time to readjust your budget.)

We won't say it isn't tough to stick to a budget--it is. But think about the result: When retirement comes, that extra money may buy you those yearly jaunts around the world you always dreamed about! (Or better still, it may keep you from having to ask your kids for money!)

 

GET WEB SUPPORT

In addition to providing a substantial body of information via the Quicken.com Web site, Quicken also makes available a whole slew of product support options. The Quicken Support Network offers program updates and patches, a knowledge base of information, and user forums where Quicken users can pose specific questions and receive answers from other users. You can access the Quicken Support Network from directly within Quicken or at any time you are browsing the Web, by typing http://www.intuit.com/support/quicken/.

To launch the Quicken Support Network:

  1. Choose Help + Product Support.
  2. Click Go to Web. The Quicken Support Network Web site appears in its own Internet window in the current session of Quicken.
    • To access the various sections of the site, simply click the appropriate link. You can also search through the Quicken Knowledge Base for specific information on a topic with which you need assistance.
  3. When you have finished with the session, choose Online + Disconnect. (If you use an Internet Service Provider such as AOL, you'll have to first switch over to AOL and then disconnect from within the program.)

 

WHAT GOES UP MUST COME DOWN

One of the more interesting aspects of tracking your investments is keeping on top of the current security price, which is one of the quickest ways to see how well (or how poorly) your investments are doing. If the current price of a security is well above the price you paid for it, you can pat yourself on the back. In this tip, we show you how to update the price of your securities, a task you may want to perform at regular intervals. Today, we show you how to manually update the price history; tomorrow, we explain how you can do it via the Web.

To update the price of a security:

  1. Choose Features + Investments + Portfolio View to switch to the Portfolio View window.
  2. If necessary, adjust the date in the Portfolio As Of field to reflect the accurate date.
  3. Click in the Mkt Price column of the security you want to change.
  4. Enter the new updated price of the security.

When you click outside of the Mkt Price column, the new security price is reflected.

 

WHAT HAVE I GOT TO DO?

Wondering what that little To Do icon in the lower-right corner of your screen does? Click it and find out! Yep, it opens the Reminders window.

If the Quicken Reminders window is already open, clicking the To Do icon is equivalent to selecting the Reminders tab. And if the Reminders window isn't open--well, then it is now!

(NOTE: Right-clicking the To Do button is the same as right-clicking anywhere inside the QuickTabs area.)

 

WHAT'S THE DAMAGE?

Keeping track of all the account balances that Quicken monitors for you can get a little mind-boggling: checking, savings, credit cards, and the like. But you can easily generate a quick report that lists all the account balances for you. (Although Quicken includes all your accounts, for this tip, you want to remove any long-term accounts from the report--accounts such as your mortgage or car loan, as well as Investment income. In this case, you want to see only the balances of the accounts you deal with on a daily or weekly basis.)

To generate the balances of your cash and Credit Card accounts:

  1. Choose Reports + Other + Account Balances.
  2. Edit the Report Balance date if necessary. Quicken automatically fills in the current date.
  3. Click the Customize button.
  4. Click the Accounts tab.
  5. In the Selected Accounts area, click your Liability and Investment accounts to deselect them.
  6. Click Create to generate the report.

The resulting report lists all your Assets accounts, which include Cash and Bank accounts, and your Liabilities accounts, which include all your credit card debt.

 

WHAT'S THE SECRET PASSWORD?

Worried about Nosy Nellies--coworkers, kids, whomever--snooping through your financial business? Then lock your Quicken file up tight. Just assign a password of your choice to a file so that no one can get inside but you (no one, that is, unless you reveal the secret password). To password-protect a file, do the following:

  1. Open the file you'd like to password-protect.
  2. Select File + Passwords + File.
  3. Type a password of your choosing in the Passwords box.
  4. Type the password again in the Confirm Passwords box (and write down the password somewhere).
  5. Click OK.

From now on, when you (or anyone else) try to open the password-protected file, the Quicken Password dialog box appears. Enter the secret password or keep out!

 

WHAT'S YOUR NET WORTH?--PART 1 OF 2

As 1998 draws to a close, it's time to start planning for the new year. Maybe 1999 will be the year you buy a new house or finally do all that work on your existing home that you've been putting off. Before you make any life purchases, the first thing you need to do is to figure out how much you're worth, better known as your net worth.

To calculate your net worth, you must determine how much cash you have on hand or available to you (known as your assets) and then compare it with any outstanding debt (known as liabilities). The difference between these two amounts represents your net worth. Quicken's Net Worth report produces just that--a report that compares your assets to your liabilities.

To calculate your net worth:

  1. From the menubar, choose Reports + Home + Net Worth.
  2. In the Create Report screen, enter the last date of the current year in the Report Balance of field.
  3. Click the Create button located at the bottom of the screen to generate the report.

The resulting Net Worth report is comprised of two parts. The Assets portion contains the balances of your checking, cash, asset and investment accounts. The Liabilities section contains the balances of your credit or charge card accounts, as well as any liability accounts you may already have, including existing home mortgages, car loans, and the like. The Overall Total portion of the report then calculates the difference between your assets and liabilities. It is this figure, among others, that the bank or lending institution looks at to determine your viability as a loan candidate.

WHAT'S YOUR NET WORTH?--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we introduced Quicken's Net Worth reporting tool, which helps you determine how much you are worth. To calculate your net worth, choose Reports + Home + Net Worth. The Overall Total figure represents your net worth. Before you become too discouraged, you might want to take a closer look at your possessions to determine if you can assume them as Assets. For instance, even if you currently have a car loan, you can add the present value of your car (minus the loan balance of course) to the net worth report as an asset. To obtain the car's worth, either get the blue book value from your insurer or simply enter what you think the car is reasonably worth. You can also create asset accounts for any land you may own, or any jewels you may have (ha! We should be so lucky.) Basically, you want to include in your report any items that could potentially lead to additional cash.

To add your car (or other item) as an asset:

  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 Asset from the list of account types and click Next.
  4. Enter a name for the account, such as My Car, and click Next.
  5. Select Yes in the following dialog box to indicate that you will set the amount of the asset and click Next.
  6. Enter the current value of the asset in the Value field and click Next.
  7. Review the information in the Summary screen and then click Done to complete the account setup. If you need to make any changes, do so and then click Done.

If necessary, choose Reports + Home + Net Worth to create a new Net Worth report to include your additional assets. Or, switch back to the Net Worth Quicktab to see your updated report and Overall Total.

 

WHAT'S YOUR STUFF WORTH? PART 1 OF 8

If you own a home, you carry homeowners insurance to protect yourself against loss in the event of a fire or other catastrophe. While it may be easy for an insurance company to estimate the value (and replacement cost) of the house itself, it's not so easy for them to guess what you've got stashed inside. They can come up with a ballpark figure based on the number of rooms you have, but this isn't the best way to determine how much coverage you need. (Take a look inside five different three-bedroom homes; clearly, the total value of what's inside is not the same from one home to the next.)

If you want to be sure that your policy reflects the value of your in-home possessions, take some time to put together a home inventory. Submit a copy to your insurance company to assist in establishing the proper coverage. And keep a copy in a very safe place off premises (such as a safe deposit box) to be sure that you can show your losses if disaster does strike.

Quicken Home Inventory (QHI) allows you to set up anything, from a basic inventory to one that's complete with descriptions, serial numbers, and depreciation values for every item in your home. To open this mini program (it's part of Quicken but can also stand alone), do the following:

  1. Open Quicken.
  2. Click the Inventory icon (or select Features + Planning + Quicken Home Inventory).

To open a stand-alone copy of QHI, select the Quicken Home Inventory item inside the Start menu's Quicken 98 folder.

In the next seven tips, we'll discuss some of QHI's options. Stay tuned.

WHAT'S YOUR STUFF WORTH? PART 2 OF 8

In our last tip, we introduced Quicken Home Inventory (QHI), the perfect tool for creating the most basic to the most-detailed home inventory. This inventory--which is a list of all your possessions and what they're worth--can be the basis for establishing your home insurance coverage and for showing your losses in the event of a claim. To open QHI (it's part of Quicken, but it can also stand alone), open Quicken and click the Inventory icon (or select Features + Planning + Quicken Home Inventory). To open QHI without opening Quicken, select the Quicken Home Inventory item from your Start menu's Quicken 98 folder.

In today's tip, we show you the quickest way to complete an inventory, using only predefined items and their suggested values. Here are the QHI basics:

  1. To select the room you want to inventory, click the down arrow next to View by Location and select a location.
  2. To add suggested items to your inventory, select the items from the right-hand side of the window and click Add Selected Item (or simply double-click the item). Quicken fills in the item and its suggested values in the table on the left.

To switch to a different category of suggested items--such as Electronics or Jewelry & Valuables--click the down arrow in the Item Category column and select a category. The list of suggested items changes to reflect the new category.

Use these simple instructions to list your possessions for every room, and you've got yourself a home inventory. The information you've entered becomes part of the Qhi.idb file. (Be sure to back it up to disk when prompted to do so upon exiting; then store the disk in a safe place or give a copy to your insurance company.)

WHAT'S YOUR STUFF WORTH? PART 3 OF 8

In the first tip in this series, we introduced Quicken Home Inventory (QHI), the perfect tool for creating the most basic to the most-detailed home inventory. This inventory--which is a list of all your possessions and what they're worth--can be the basis for establishing your home insurance coverage and for showing your losses in the event of a claim. To open QHI, open Quicken and click the Inventory icon (or select Features + Planning + Quicken Home Inventory). To open QHI without opening Quicken, select the Quicken Home Inventory item your Start menu's Quicken 98 folder.

Today, we offer a few QHI tips.

By default, QHI displays your inventoried items by location. Click the down arrow next to View by Location and select a room, and you'll see that location's contents in the table. However, if you prefer, you can list your inventory by category (for example, if you want to see all the Jewelry & Valuables together).

To view your inventory by category, simply choose View + By Category. You can now switch from one category to the next by using the drop-down list next to View by Category.

WHAT'S YOUR STUFF WORTH? PART 4 OF 8

In the first tip in this series, we introduced Quicken Home Inventory (QHI), the perfect tool for creating the most basic to the most-detailed home inventory. To open QHI, open Quicken and click the Inventory icon (or select Features + Planning + Quicken Home Inventory). To open QHI without opening Quicken, select the Quicken Home Inventory item your Start menu's Quicken 98 folder.

Today, we give you two tips for editing your inventory.

Tip No. 1: Not happy with the replacement and resale values that QHI assigns to particular items? Change them:

  1. If the suggested replacement value for an item is way off base, adjust this number in the table on the left and press Enter. (The resale value automatically adjusts itself to half of this number.)
  2. If you don't think the resale value is half of the replacement value, change this number as well.

Tip No. 2: Just dump that old beanbag chair in the trash? Better delete it from your inventory:

  1. Next to View by Location, select the room in which the item appears. (Or if you have items listed by category, select the appropriate category.)
  2. Click anywhere in the row of the item you want to delete.
  3. Click the Delete button at the bottom of the List View window.
  4. You'll be prompted to confirm that you want to delete the item (this gives you time to rethink whether you really wanted to toss that old beanbag chair after all). When you decide that it's outta here, click Yes to confirm the deletion.

WHAT'S YOUR STUFF WORTH? PART 5 OF 8

In the first tip in this series, we introduced Quicken Home Inventory (QHI), the perfect tool for creating the most basic to the most-detailed home inventory. To open QHI, open Quicken and click the Inventory icon (or select Features + Planning + Quicken Home Inventory). To open QHI without opening Quicken, select the Quicken Home Inventory item your Start menu's Quicken 98 folder.

Today, we give you a few QHI tips.

Is there an item that you'd like to add to your inventory but that doesn't appear in any of the suggested items lists--such as an eight-foot inflatable dinosaur? No problem. Just type the item in manually, adding it to any of the existing categories:

  1. Click the New button in the List View window. (The cursor automatically jumps to the first empty cell under Item Description.)
  2. Type the name of the item. D-i-n-o. . . .
  3. Click the down arrow beside Item Category and select the relevant category. (If you can't figure out which of the given categories this item fits into, just select Unassigned.)

Suggested replacement cost? Sorry, QHI can't help you there. Pull out that old receipt, enter a figure in the Replace Cost column and press Enter. (The resale value is automatically set to half of the replacement amount.)

 

WHAT'S YOUR STUFF WORTH? PART 7 OF 8

In the first tip in this series, we introduced Quicken Home Inventory (QHI), the perfect tool for creating the most basic to the most-detailed home inventory. To open QHI, open Quicken and click the Inventory icon (or select Features + Planning + Quicken Home Inventory). To open QHI without opening Quicken, select the Quicken Home Inventory item your Start menu's Quicken 98 folder.

If you have a number of items that fit into a certain category that is NOT included in the QHI's categories, feel free to set up a new one:

  1. Click the Categories icon (or select View + Categories List).
  2. In the Categories dialog box, click the New button.
  3. Type a name for the category.
  4. Click OK and then click Close.

You can add items to your new category right on the inventory list. As described in an earlier tip, click New (or select the next blank row in the list), type the name of the item, and then select the new category under Item Category.

 

WHAT'S YOUR STUFF WORTH? PART 8 OF 8

In the first tip in this series, we introduced Quicken Home Inventory (QHI), the perfect tool for creating the most basic to the most-detailed home inventory. To open QHI, open Quicken and click the Inventory icon (or select Features + Planning + Quicken Home Inventory). To open QHI without opening Quicken, select the Quicken Home Inventory item your Start menu's Quicken 98 folder.

Just decide to move that old, duct-taped chair from the living room to the basement? Better move it in your inventory, too:

  1. Click the Move Item icon (or choose Edit + Move Item).
  2. Select the Current Location of the item--in our example, you'd select Living Room.
  3. In the list on the left, select the item you moved--for example, the beanbag chair. (If more than one chair--or whatever--is listed, select one and click Item Info to be sure you're moving the right one.)
  4. Under Move to this location, select the room to which you're moving the item (Basement, for example).
  5. Click Move.

Frasier would be proud!

 

WHERE DOES ALL MY CASH GO? PART 1 OF 2

Are you horrified by the amount of cash that just seems to just fly out of your accounts each month? Unlike checks or even debit card purchases, cash can be a pretty wily beast to track. The best way to keep on top of your cash purchases is to carry around a little notebook and write down every purchase you make, regardless of how small the amount. At the end of the week or month, you'll start to gain a sense of where all your hard-earned cash ends up. Pretty soon, you can make sure it stays in your own hands and not the hands of someone else.

WHERE DOES ALL MY CASH GO? PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we introduced you to the first step in tracking the wild cash beast--writing down where you spend it. After you record exactly where your cash is going, you can use Quicken to keep track of all your cash purchases. \ Say, for example, that you withdraw $50 from your main checking account. Through the course of the day, hang on to the receipts or take note of where you spent that cash. When the time comes to log it in to Quicken, record the initial withdrawal as an ATM transaction as you normally would. Then use the Split feature to itemize each and every purchase you made with that $50.

To split a transaction:

  1. Enter a transaction in your account register as usual. (In this case, enter the ATM cash withdrawal.)
  2. Click Split Transaction.
  3. In the Split Transaction window, assign a category. Quicken returns you to the Split Transaction window.
  4. In each Amount column line, enter the expenses you want to track.
  5. Click OK to return to your account register.

 

WHERE OH WHERE HAVE MY MISSING CHECKS GONE?

A reader recently asked whether Quicken could create a report that shows a list of missing checks or checks that had not yet cleared the bank. Despite our best efforts--and a predefined report provided by Quicken, called "Missing Checks"--we are sorry to report that Quicken doesn't perform this simple procedure, at least not in a manner that we would expect. Quicken's Missing Checks report shows a listing of all checks, including those that haven't cleared, as well as those that have. Quicken also insists on lumping all transactions--payments, deposits, transfers and the like--into the Missing Checks report.

HOWEVER, after fiddling around with the Customize options (hey, that's what we're here for, right?), we were able to come up with some sort of solution. Read on. In the meantime, we'll fire off yet another missive to Intuit, asking the eternal question: "Why did you do this?"

To customize the Missing Checks report:

  1. Choose Reports + Home + Missing Checks.
  2. Click Customize in the lower pane of the Create Report box.
  3. Click the Advanced tab of the Customize Missing Checks Report box.
  4. In the Status box, deselect the Blank option. This action serves two purposes: It weeds out any transactions that have a blank status (including any checks you've written that haven't yet cleared), and it flags any older checks that still haven't cleared (these are your missing checks).
  5. Select Payments from the Transaction Types list box to include only those transactions that are payments. (Unfortunately, doing so also includes ATM withdrawals and any other transactions in your checking account.)
  6. Click Create to generate the report.

Quicken generates a report of all payment transactions for the period specified. Any missing checks--whether they are physically missing or not yet reconciled--are labeled as such in the report.

 

WHERE'S THE BEEF?--PART 1 OF 2

Looking for an easy way to close an open Quicken window, such as a Register or Checks window? Let's face it--that tiny little X button (the one in the upper-right corner of every open Quicken window) doesn't give you much to grab onto. But those QuickTabs--now those are beefy buttons! Right-click any QuickTab and select Close: [such and such] to close the corresponding window.

WHERE'S THE BEEF?--PART 2 OF 2

In our last tip, we showed you how to close an open Quicken window without that teensy-weensy X button: Right-click any QuickTab and select Close: [such and such]. Do you frequently use the X in the far upper-right corner of the Quicken window to exit Quicken, but find this button annoyingly small? Then beef it up a bit.

  1. Right-click the Windows 95 desktop and select Properties.
  2. Click the Appearance tab.
  3. Click the down arrow under Item, scroll up, and select Caption Buttons.
  4. Adjust the Size (you see the effect of your change right in the preview).
  5. When you're happy with the size, click OK.

You can't miss those buttons now! (Note: This change affects caption buttons for all Windows 95 windows, as well as Taskbar items.)

 

SOMETIMES WIDER IS WORSER

Quicken's reports on your finances can stretch across the entire screen--too wide to fit on a single printed page. What if you gotta have 'em on one page? Easy. In Quicken 5, with your report on-screen:

  1. Choose File + Print Report.
  2. In the Print Report dialog box, select Fit to One Page Wide.
  3. Click OK.

Now your printed effort sticks to a single page.

 

REGARDING WINDFALLS

Your boss calls you into his office, smiles, and gives you the good news. You're getting a bonus! But remember: You're best off not spending a windfall until you actually hold the check in your hot little hand. (You're even better to wait, say, six months. That way you can really thing about whether you need those new golf clubs.

Don't spend a windfall on something that increases your monthly living expenses without first redoing your budget.

 

CLOSE AN OPEN WINDOW

One of the great things about using a Windows-based program is that you can work with multiple windows open at the same time. Such a feature can be a real time-saver in Quicken, where you work with many different accounts and reports at once. Each time you open a new window (which happens whenever you switch to another account, generate a report, or even display a list), Quicken adds the name of the window to the Quicken QuickTabs. To switch to an open window, simply click the corresponding QuickTab. To close an open window, click the small X that appears in the upper-right corner of the window.

Alas, you are limited in the number of QuickTabs windows you can have open at any one time--15 to be exact. So sometimes you have to close one window before you can open another. Switching to a specific window only to close it can be a real pain. But guess what? We have a way to quickly close a window:

  1. Right-click the QuickTab of the window you want to close.
  2. From the shortcut menu, choose Close: window, where window is the name of the current window. For example, the menu option would read Close: Loans if the current window was the View Loans window.

 

CLOSE ALL WINDOWS SIMULTANEOUSLY

When you have a large number of windows open on-screen at any one time, you certainly don't want to be bothered with closing them one by one. Well guess what? You don't have to. You can close all open windows in one fell swoop: choose Window + Close All Windows.

 

COLOR MY WINDOWS

There's no practical point to this tip at all. Just the reminder that you can change the look of your Quicken by recoloring its windows.

  1. Open Window + Color Schemes.
  2. Choose any of the named Schemes from New England (the way Quicken starts) to Mesa.

That's all. Just a little interior decorating.

 

LOWER AN OPEN WINDOW

When you've been working with a lot of windows open, you may decide that you'd like to temporarily deactivate a window but not close it. For example, say that you'd like to put aside your check register while you concentrate on your monthly reports. Well, you can achieve this goal by minimizing a window.

To minimize a window, click the Minimize button (the boxed underline character in the upper-right corner of the program window).

The title bar of the minimized window appears along the bottom of the main Quicken window. When you want to work in that window again, reactivate (or maximize) it by double-clicking the title bar.

 

MORE WINDOWS WONDER

In our last tip, we talked about the joys of working with multiple windows. We also told you that Quicken lets you have no more than 15 windows open at any one time. Well, that's not entirely accurate.

Quicken does, indeed, prevent you from opening more than 15 windows--if you are using the QuickTab feature. If you turn off the QuickTabs, you can have as many windows open as you want (or can stand). When you turn off QuickTabs, note the appearance of a new menu choice in the main menu, entitled, appropriately enough, Window.

To turn off QuickTabs:

  1. Right-click anywhere within the QuickTabs area.
  2. Choose QuickTabs Off from the shortcut menu.

To switch to another open window, do one of the following:

  • Choose Window and then select the name of the window you want to open.
  • Click the title bar of any open window to activate that window.
  • Press Ctrl + F6 to switch between every open window.

 

TRACKING YOUR WITHHOLDING

Quicken also includes a Paycheck Wizard that you can use to describe the taxes withheld from your paychecks and categorize the deductions from your paycheck. That said, however, you probably don't even need to keep track of these amounts unless, for some reason, you want precise estimates of the income taxes you pay. (Keep in mind, though, 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 the Taxes, Tax Activities, Set up my Paycheck command. Quicken launches the Paycheck Wizard, which asks you a few general questions about your deductions and then provides a dialog box similar to a Split Transaction window where you can enter and categorize your deductions.

 

WHO CALLED IN THE CALLIGRAPHER?

In a previous tip, we showed you how to change your color scheme to spiff up your Quicken experience: Right-click a blank area below the QuickTabs (or between items on the Activity Bar), select Color Schemes, and then choose a scheme. Looking for an even more customized look? Consider changing your Register's font to something more exciting, like Century Gothic or Gill Sans. (But be sure to choose something legible!) Just like redecorating your office, sometimes a change of scenery is all you need to feel refreshed about something as mundane as finances. To change the font the Register uses, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Register.
  2. Under Register Appearance, click the Fonts button.
  3. Scroll through the list of Fonts until you find one that you like. (Watch the previews in the white box.)
  4. Select a new font (and size, if you want). Heck, if you want to be really crazy, select Bold, too!
  5. Click OK twice and watch as your Register takes on a whole new look.

(Tip: Click the Reset button [inside the Choose Register Font dialog box] to switch to Quicken's default font: 8-point MS Sans Serif.)

 

WHO NEEDS THE BAR?

If you think the Transaction toolbar in the Register is only in the way, you can get rid of it easily. (The Transaction toolbar is the one that contains the Enter, Edit, and Split buttons).

  1. Open the Register (Ctrl + R).
  2. Click View.
  3. Choose Register Options.
  4. When the Register Options dialog box opens, deselect the Show Transactions Toolbar check box.
  5. Click OK to save the change and close the dialog box.

There you are--a Register with no Transaction toolbar. It looks cleaner maybe. But how do you do a Split transaction? Like this:

  1. Right-click the transaction.
  2. When the menu opens, choose Split. The Split Transaction dialog box opens, just as it would if you clicked the Split button in the toolbar.

How to edit? Simply click where you want to make changes and make the changes. To enter without an Enter button, press the Enter key on your keyboard.

 

WHO'S ON FIRST?

We've discussed several of the Register display options recently. Here's another that you may like to use. By default the Register displays the date first and then the transaction number. Many people would prefer to have it the other way around. No problem. Here's how to make the change:

  1. Open the Register (Ctrl + R).
  2. Click View + Register Options.
  3. When the Register Options dialog box opens, turn off the check box labeled Show Date in First Column.
  4. Click OK to record the change and close the dialog box.

Now the Register displays the transaction number first, followed by the date.

 

WITH A SNIP-SNIP HERE . . .

Do you have a memorized transaction list that's longer than Gone with the Wind? What a pain in the hard drive it is to find the one you want to drag onto your Financial Calendar! One solution is to type the first letter of the transaction you have in mind (after clicking anywhere on the list once, to place the focus there); but if you have lots of transactions that start with that letter, happy scrolling. Instead, ask Quicken to display only those transactions you use on your Financial Calendar.

  1. Open the Financial Calendar, if it isn't already open, by selecting Features + Reminders + Financial Calendar.
  2. Click the View button and select Edit Memorized Transactions List.
  3. Click the Calendar icon in the far-right column of any transaction you don't want to appear in the Financial Calendar's memorized transaction list.

(Tip: If there are very few transactions you want in the list, hide them all in one fell swoop:

Select the first, hold down Shift as you select the last, and then click the Calendar button in the lower-right corner of the dialog box. [It takes a few minutes for Quicken to delete all those icons.] Then go through the list and click once in the Cal column of each transaction you want in the list--most likely, all your regular expenses.)

  1. When a Calendar icon appears next to only those transactions you want in the list, close the Memorized Transactions list.

Now switch back to your calendar window and take a look at the shortened list. Much better!

 

WORKING FOR TWO

Each person is working to support at least two people: their current self and their post-retirement self. For every year that you hope to not be working, you need to put aside some money while you're still in the labor force. Of course, there are government programs such as Social Security that will help. But you'll probably want the security and comfort of more money than SS will provide. How much more? Quicken's Retirement Planner can help you decide -- open Planning, Retirement Planner. Then you'll need about a half-hour to fill in the blanks.

 

YEAR-END CLOSEOUT--PART 1 OF 3

We know, we know--some of you are just now getting around to thinking about finances for the new year, gathering the financial data you need to begin preparing your income taxes and reconciling your bank statements from December 1998. In this tip, we show you how to use the Year-End Copy feature to close out your current Quicken file. But first, you must make a decision about how you want to deal with your 1998 data file. You can do either of the following:

  • Archive: An Archive file copies all this year's data to a separate file but keeps the data in the current file as well. That is, you continue to use the current file as you always did and just start entering transactions for the new year. The upside is that you retain all your historical data in a single file.
  • Start a New Year: When you go this route, Quicken creates a copy of your current file and then removes all the last year's transactions from the current file, in effect allowing you to start with a clean slate and store only the new year's transactions in the file. The downside to this approach is that you no longer have any historical data in the current Quicken file, so generating any comparison reports will be impossible.

Generally speaking, most people will want to create an Archive copy. However, if your current Quicken file is becoming too large for backup or transfer to a disk, you may have no choice but to elect to Start a New Year copy of the file. You can always refer to your past year's data file as needed.

In tomorrow's tip, we show you how to actually make the Year-End copy, using the Archive option.

YEAR-END CLOSEOUT--PART 2 OF 3

Our last tip introduced the Year-End Copy feature, which closes out your current file and prepares Quicken for the new year. In this tip, we show you how to perform the procedure, using the Archive option. When you archive your data, you copy all this year's data to a separate file AND keep the data in the current file. (Before closing out the file, first make sure that you reconcile your checking account with your latest bank statement.)

To create an Archive copy, follow these steps:

  1. Choose File + File Operations + Year-End Copy.
  2. Select Archive and click OK.
  3. In the Archive Old Data to File field, enter a name for the archive file ("1998 data," for example).
  4. In the Location of Archive File field, enter the location where you want to store the archive file or, if you prefer, accept the current setting of QUICKENW.
  5. In the Archive Transactions Prior To and Including field, Quicken automatically enters the last day of the previous year for you. Because you are performing this action now, in 1999, make sure that the field contains the date 12/31/98.
  6. Click OK to generate the archive file.
  7. In the File Copied Successfully dialog box, select Current File and click OK to return to the Quicken file.

YEAR-END CLOSEOUT--PART 3 OF 3

In this series of tips, we have introduced the Year-End Copy feature, which closes out your current file and prepares Quicken for the new year. Yesterday, we showed you how to perform the procedure by using the Archive option. Today, we explain how to use the Start a New year option to create a brand new file and thus remove all the previous year's transactions from the current file. (Remember: Before closing out the file, first make sure that you reconcile your checking account with your latest bank statement.)

To close out your current file, using the Start a New Year option, follow these steps:

  1. Choose File + File Operations + Year-End Copy.
  2. Select Start New Year and click OK.
  3. In the Copy All Transactions to File field, enter a filename in which to store the previous year's transactions.
  4. In the Delete Transactions From Current File Older Than field, Quicken automatically enters the first day of the new year. Because you are performing this step now, a couple of months into 1999, make sure the date field contains the date 1/1/99.
  5. In the Move Current File To field, enter the location where you want to store the archive file or, if you prefer, accept the current setting of QUICKENW.
  6. Click OK.
  7. In the File Copied Successfully dialog box, select File for New Year and click OK to return to the current Quicken file.

You will find that your current file no longer contains any of the transactions from the previous year. The file does contain, however, any transactions that have not yet cleared. You'll also find that Quicken has copied over the balance as of the last day of the previous year.

 

YOU CAN REDUCE YOUR DEBT--PART 1 OF 4

You say you've tried everything--fiddled with countless budgets, cut out unnecessary expenses--and you're still having problems reducing your debt? Don't fear: Quicken's Debt Reduction Planner offers yet another tool in an arsenal to help you attain a debt-free life. And you won't have to shell out money to a financial planner either.

To get started on your way to a debt-free existence:

  1. From the Toolbar, choose Features + Planning + Debt Reduction Planner.
  2. In the Debt Reduction box, click Next and then, (in order to skip over the movie Quicken wants to show you about this task) follow the instructions to cancel and click Next again. Then click the Debts tab in the same dialog box.
  3. Click the Add button to add the debts you owe to the Debt Reduction Planner.
  4. Enter the required information in the Loan Info section of the Edit Debt Reduction dialog box.
  5. In the Monthly Payment section, enter the amount of money you normally send in with each statement and then enter the minimum payment amount. (Tip-in-a-tip: If possible, you should be sending in more than the minimum payment required.)
  6. Enter the Annual Percentage Rate of the loan or credit card.
  7. Click OK. Repeat Steps 3 through 6 to enter each additional debt.

When you're finished entering your debt, click Next. The How am I Doing Now screen appears, giving you the lowdown on your existing debt. It calculates when you will be debt-free, based on the information you supplied. It also shows you the total amount of interest you will have paid out over the course of your debt. Yikes.

Tomorrow, we explain the miracles of the other elements of your Debt Reduction Planner.

YOU CAN REDUCE YOUR DEBT--PART 2 OF 4

Yesterday, we showed you how to enter your debt information into the Debt Reduction Planner in order to let Quicken help you pay down your debt. To review: Choose Features + Planning + Debt Reduction Planner; click New Plan in the center pane; click Yes in the resulting dialog box; then click Next and Next again to return to the Debt Reduction box.

The next phase of the Planner re-orders your debt and offers suggestions for prioritizing extra payments that will get you out of the red as soon as possible and minimize the amount of wasted money (a.k.a. interest payments) that you will pay out over time.

  1. Choose Features + Planning + Debt Reduction Planner to get to the Debt Reduction box.
  2. To get to the Order screen, click Next. (Again, to skip over the movie Quicken wants to show you about this task, click Cancel and Next until you get to the Order tab). This screen suggests payments you should be making in order to meet the Optimized payment plan. In most cases, the Planner suggests that you send more money to the debt with the highest interest rate and send the minimum amount to the others.

To get to the next phase in the Debt Reduction Planner, click the Savings tab. This option has calculated the amount of money currently in your Savings and Investment accounts. It suggests that you use a portion of your savings to pay down your debt. If you can do so, enter a one-time amount. Click the Recalculate button to show the updated results of your debt. Click Next to continue on to the Budget section.

In the Budget section, your goal is to locate areas where you can reduce expenses and then use the "extra" money to pay down your debt. To specify an area, select a category for which you have some control over how much you spend (for example, a cash category). The Average Monthly Spending Amount appears. Enter the Amount to cut back. Click the Recalculate button to see the effect these cutbacks have on your debt. Click Next to continue with the final phase of the process.

The Action Plan tab in the Debt Reduction box supplies the steps necessary to get out of debt as soon as possible. You may want to print out the Action Plan and refer to it from time to time. Click Next and then Done to generate a graph that shows you your debt reduction process.

The final element of the Debt Reduction Planner puts you in the Debt Reduction window. Here you see a comparison of your old method for getting out of debt versus the new method you've instituted, including the one-time payment you supplied from your savings. The Debt Reduction Planner has optimized your payments, so you should see that your debt-free date will be sooner and that your interest charges have been reduced.

In the next few tips we'll show you how to rely on the Debt Reduction Planner to make your debt-free day become a reality.

YOU CAN REDUCE YOUR DEBT--PART 3 OF 4

In this series of tips, we've shown you how to use the Debt Reduction Planner to devise a realistic plan for eliminating debt. To get started, choose Features + Planning + Debt Reduction Planner. Your Debt Reduction Action Plan appears. In this tip, we show you how to update your plan as your financial circumstances change and also show you how to create a new plan if you incur new debt.

To record changes to a debt--for example, if your Minimum Payment amounts are reduced or you've negotiated a new interest rate:

  1. Open the Debt Reduction window (Features + Planning + Debt Reduction Planner) and click the Update Debt Balances button in the upper left pane.
  2. Click Yes in the resulting dialog box.
  3. Select the Debt you want to update and click the Edit button.
  4. Make modifications as necessary. Enter a new Minimum Payment, for example, if your payment has been reduced. Enter a larger or smaller Current Payment if you'd like to reduce or increase the amount of payment. Enter a new interest rate if you've renegotiated.
  5. Click Done when you have finished.

If you've come up with some additional cash to pay down your debt, return to the Savings tab of the Debt Reduction window and enter the amount in the Onetime Payment field of the current plan. Click the Recalculate button to update the current plan.

YOU CAN REDUCE YOUR DEBT--PART 4 OF 4

Our last three tips have dealt with creating a Debt Reduction plan to help get you out of debt. To recap, choose Features + Planning + Debt Reduction. Your Debt Reduction Action Plan appears. You can make changes to the action plan by clicking the Update Debt Balances button. You can create a brand new plan by clicking the New Plan button.

If you're still not feeling motivated enough and feel like you'll never see the light of a debt-free day, take heart. Just take a look at the Debt Comparison chart in your Debt Reduction window for some motivation. See how your debt dips as you pay it off. The blue line represents your old way of paying off your debt, and the green line represents the whole new you, under your strict debt reduction plan. To see the balance of your debt, click on any point in either line to calculate the balance at that moment.

The Debt Comparison chart is just one way to monitor the pay down of your debt. To see how each payment affects your debt balance, click the Payment Schedule button in the middle pane. A Detailed Payment Schedule appears, listing each and every payment you make and the effect of that payment on your debt balance.

  • To generate a hard copy of this report, click the Print button.
  • To print the entire listing, select Print Entire Schedule in the Schedule Range dialog box and click OK.
  • To print a specific range, select Custom Date Range and then enter the range of dates. Click OK to generate the report.

Finally, if you feel like you still need a little help, Quicken has a few pointers to help you reduce your debt. Click the More Info button in the Debt Reduction window to display a series of tips.

 

HAVE IT YOUR WAY

A good way to generate just the data you want in a report is to experiment with the Subtotal By field, which appears in nearly all the reports you create. For example, you can subtotal data by week or month or by a specific category or account. To change the subtotaling of the data in your report, you use the Subtotal By option.

To experiment with the various options of the Subtotal By button, first create a report (for example, choose Reports + Home + Itemized Categories and click Create). Then follow these steps:

  1. Click the Subtotal By drop-down menu.
  2. Make a selection, such as Week.
  3. Click the Update button.

Quicken regenerates the report based on the Subtotal By option you specified. Keep making choices from this menu until you have found a report that suits you.

 

YEAR-END ARCHIVE

Quicken has a one-step command you can use to back up all of last year's transactions, without depriving you of their detail for any budgeting and tax-prep work coming in the next few months. In Quicken 5:

  1. Choose File + Year-End Copy.
  2. In the Year-End Copy dialog box, select Archive.
  3. Click OK.
  4. In the Archive dialog box, type a name for last year's file and choose the disk drive and directory where you want to store it.
  5. Click OK.
  6. In the File Copied Successfully dialog box that appears after the copying, select Current Year.
  7. Click OK.

 

START THE NEW YEAR RIGHT

Whew! You made it through 1999 (and all those other 19s before). Now that you're in a new year, back up all of last year's records to a single file. (If you still have some transaction reports coming in, you may want to put this task off for a few weeks.) Although you can use the Backup command, using the one-step Year-End Copy command is easier:

  1. Choose File + Year-End Copy.
  2. In the Year-End Copy dialog box, click the Start New Year choice.
  3. Click OK.
  4. In the Start New Year dialog box, type a name for last year's file and choose the disk drive and directory where you want to store it.
  5. Click OK.
  6. In the File Copied Successfully dialog box that appears when the copying is done, click File for New Year. That's what you'll be using now, and it will have the same name as the Quicken file you were sing last year--not the new name you just gave last year's results.
  7. Click OK.

Your Quicken file carries forward all the balances from last year, but it no longer has all the individual transactions to slow you down.

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Last modified: May 30, 2017