How to Use Job Estimates in QuickBooks 2011

If you've told QuickBooks 2011 that you want to create estimates — you do this during the QuickBooks setup — you can create job estimates of amounts you later invoice. To create a job estimate, choose Customers→Create Estimates. QuickBooks displays the Create Estimates window. An estimate is just an example or guess at the future invoice for a job. Predictably, you collect and supply the same information, and you fill in the fields the same way.

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When you invoice a customer for whom you have previously prepared an estimate, QuickBooks displays a list of the previously prepared estimates and lets you select one of them as the starting point for an invoice. (This shortcut can be a real time-saver.)

If you didn't originally turn on Estimates when you set up QuickBooks, you can do so after the fact. Choose Edit→Preferences, click the Jobs & Estimates icon, click the Company Preferences tab, and then select the Yes radio button below Do You Create Estimates?.

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If you use estimates to create invoices, you actually create another way to track job costs. You can ask QuickBooks to prepare reports that compare, item by item, the estimated amounts for a job with the invoiced amounts for the job. To produce this report, you choose Item Estimates vs. Actuals from the Jobs, Time & Mileage submenu.

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