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Four Tasks Every Quicken 2013 User Should Perform

Part of the Quicken 2013 For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Working with a richly-featured, mature financial record-keeping software program like Quicken 2013 can present a bit of a challenge. The Quicken software just does so much . . . Here are four tasks that every Quicken user should perform on a regular basis:

  • Set up Quicken bank accounts for all your checking, savings, and money market accounts — and then use the Quicken software to carefully track the money that flows into and out of these accounts. Maintaining even just this simple cash accounting system lets you more easily monitor your finances, budget for the future, and identify money-saving tax deductions.

    Just one quick aside for small businesses and rental property investors: The Home & Business and Rental Manager versions of Quicken let you easily set up and run simple cash-based accounting systems for a home-based business and for real estate investments. Use these great tools if you’re a real estate investor or business owner!

  • Use the Retirement Calculator to estimate when and how you can retire. Especially with the financial meltdown in the last decade, people need to get more proactive both about saving for and planning for retirement.

    To use the Retirement Calculator, display the Planning tab, click the Planning Tools button, and choose the Retirement Calculator command. Here's a free financial planning tip: Invest some time in figuring out how to really economize on your investment-related costs because these costs (mutual fund expense ratios, financial advisory fees, trading costs, and so on) can eat away at your profits in a fashion that most amateur investors don’t understand.

  • Create a category list that makes tracking your spending and tax deductions easy. Within Quicken, you organize your financial information using income and deductions categories. Any stream of income you want to separately track or monitor, for example, requires its own category. And any expense that you want to regularly tally — perhaps the expense represents a tax deduction — also requires its own category. You can set up categories by choosing Tools→Category List.

  • Balance bank accounts each month with only a few minutes of effort by clicking the Actions button and then choosing the Reconcile command. (The Actions button appears in the upper-right corner of the Quicken window whenever a bank register shows.) Reconciling a bank account lets you catch and correct bookkeeping errors with your accounting records.

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