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How to Budget by Using Quicken 2010

A budget, as you probably know, is a list of the ways you earn and spend your money. With the ease of Quicken at your assist, a budget can go a long way toward improving your financial picture.

Setting up a budget with Quicken

Here's how to create a budget in Quicken 2010:

  1. Click the Planning tab, then click the Other Tools button.

    The Other Tools menu appears.

  2. Select the Budget command.

    Quicken displays the Setup tab in the Budget window.

  3. Click the Automatic button if you want Quicken to create a starting budget by using any existing financial data.

    Otherwise, click the Manual button.

  4. After you make this choice, click the Create Budget button.

If you indicate that you want to create an automatic budget by, essentially, recycling your old “actual numbers,” Quicken displays the Create Budget: Automatic dialog box, in which you can specify which old actual numbers to use. This window allows you to

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  • Choose a date range to scan. Use the From and To boxes to identify the range of dates that span the months or the year you want to use.

  • Select a budget method. Use the Select Budget Method option buttons and text box to indicate how you want Quicken to budget.

  • Set your options. Use the Options check boxes to tell Quicken how to handle rounding and one-time, extraordinary transactions.

Choosing categories

After you indicate that you want a manual or automatic budget, Quicken displays the Choose Categories dialog box. Select the categories and accounts you want to budget, and then click OK; Quicken next displays the Income tab in the Budget window.

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You use the Income tab to enter your budget for income amounts, and use the Expenses tab to budget for expense amounts. If you want to budget savings, you can enter these by using the Savings tab. (Budgeted savings, by the way, are just planned account transfers — money you plan to move, for example, into a savings account.)

Initially, none of the tabs show categories or accounts, which are what you use for your budgeting. Display categories and accounts:

  1. Click the Choose Categories button so that Quicken displays the Choose Categories dialog box.

    Or, if you’re looking at the Savings tab, click Choose Accounts so that Quicken displays the Choose Accounts dialog box.

  2. Click the Mark All button.

  3. Click OK.

    Categories or accounts appear along the left edge in the window. Any categories with subcategories (if you have these) contain subtotals for the total inflows and for the total outflows.

Entering budgeted amounts

To budget an income or expense amount, select the category in the Category/Account list box, and then enter the budget into the Amount text box or boxes. Use the Method option buttons to specify how you want to budget the amount: using an average amount, using different monthly amounts, or using different quarterly amounts. Different Amount text boxes appear for different budgeting methods. After you specify your budget amounts, click the Apply button.

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While you enter amounts, Quicken updates any subtotals and grand totals that use those amounts.

Reviewing the options

If you click the Options menu, which appears near the upper-right corner in the Budget window, Quicken displays a menu of several useful commands and switches:

  • Save Budget: Saves a copy of the current budget.

  • Restore Budget: Replaces whatever information appears in the Budget window with the information contained in the last saved copy of your budget.

  • Show Cents: Turns on and off the display of cents.

  • Separate View: Separate income, expenses, and savings budgeting information on separate Income, Expenses, and Savings tabs.

  • Income/Expense View: Separate income and expense budgeting information on different tabs.

  • Combined View: Put income, expenses, and savings budgeting information on the same tab.

  • Set Up Alerts: Displays the Alerts Center dialog box, which lets you tell Quicken that it should alert you when your actual spending begins to approach a specified limit.

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  • Go to Category List: Displays the Category List window, which lets you add, edit, and delete income and expense categories.

Reviewing and saving your budget

After you enter your budget, click the Summary tab to see a summarized version of your income and expense budgets and a pie chart of your budget.

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Use the Summary tab’s Top Yearly Budget Items drop-down list to select the budget data you want to plot in the pie chart.

You can tell Quicken to save your budget by choosing Options→Save Budget in the Budget window, but you don’t have to. When you leave the Budget window or close it, Quicken automatically saves your work for you.

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