The Budgets Window in Quicken 2014

In Quicken 2013, to get to the window in which you enter your budget, click the Planning tab and click the Budgets button. This causes Quicken to display the Budgets window — though the window won't show any budgeting information because you won’t yet have created any budgets.

If you click the Get Started button, which appears in the middle of the Budgets window if you haven't created a budget, Quicken displays the Create a New Budget dialog box. (See Figure 3-1.) You now can begin the process of creating a budget. With the sort of kindness you often don't expect from strangers, Quicken even suggests a name for your budget and enters it into the Budget Name text box. The name will be something really clever like “Budget 1” or “Budget 2,” but you can replace this with something more meaningful to you.

The Create a New Budget dialog box.
The Create a New Budget dialog box.

Automatic budgets are easy but rough

When you click the OK button in the Create a New Budget dialog box, Quicken automatically creates a starting budget using any existing financial data. (This rough-hewn approach, obviously, doesn't work unless you've already been using Quicken and so have some existing financial data.)

When Quicken finishes with these tasks, it suggests and displays budgeted amounts in the Budgets window for your five biggest spending categories. (See the following figure.)

The Budgets window with automatically created budget amounts.
The Budgets window with automatically created budget amounts.

To change an automatically budgeted amount, click the budget value you want to change. Quicken then opens a text box for the value and also adds little buttons you can use to fiddle with the budgeted amount. (In the figure above, the Food & Dining budget item is selected, so that’s the line item with the little buttons and the editable text box.)

The little buttons that appear in the Budgets window for a selected line item let you do stuff with that line item’s budgeted amount:

  • Rollover Unused Amounts button. Quicken lets you control how unused budget amounts either get or don’t get rolled over into the next budgeting period. When you click the Rollover button ( which looks like two entwined arrows), Quicken supplies a menu with commands to turn off the rollover of unused budget amount feature, to turn on the rollover of unused budget amounts, to roll over only positive amounts, and to display help about the whole science and art of budget rollovers. Note that by default, rollovers don’t occur. In other words, if you under-spend in month 1, Quicken doesn’t automatically add your month 1 under-spending to your month 2 budget.

  • Apply Amounts button. If you click the button that shows a gear, Quicken displays a menu with commands that let you use the budgeted amount for the current month as the budget for the rest of the months remaining in the year, as the budget for all of the months in the year, and that let you indicate you want the month's budget set to the average spending for the category. The Apply Amounts menu also provides a "help me, I'm in terrible trouble" command you can use to get more information.

  • History and Transactions button. If you click the button that shows a tiny column chart, Quicken displays a pop-up box with two tabs: History and Transactions. The History tab (shown in the following figure) graphically depicts your monthly spending for the category over the last year in a column chart. The Transactions tab lists the transactions that make up the category total.

  • Calculator button. Quicken also displays a little calculator icon when you’ve selected a text box that accepts a value in both the Graph View and Grid View. Click the Calculator icon to display a pop-up calculator to make computations on the fly.

    The History and Transactions pop-up box.
    The History and Transactions pop-up box.

Advanced budget settings for your calendar

You can click the Advanced Budget Settings button (the arrowhead that appears just in front of the label “Advanced Budget Settings”) in the Create a New Budget dialog box (refer to the first figure in this article) when you want to use a non-calendar-year for your budget. When you do this, Quicken adds to option buttons to the Create a New Budget Window (see the next figure). You mark the Use My Current Calendar Setting button to specify that you want the calendar year used as a budgeting year. You mark the Use a Different Year button to choose a budget year that starts some time other than January.

The Advanced Budget Setup window.
The Advanced Budget Setup window.

Specifying categories for budgeting

You can add a category to the Budgets window when you’re budgeting by clicking the Select Categories to Budget link (see lower-left corner of window) and then choosing the categories you want to budget from the Select Categories to Budget dialog box (shown in the next figure). Click OK when you finish with the Select Categories to Budget dialog box.

The Select Categories to Budget dialog box.
The Select Categories to Budget dialog box.

Budgeting different monthly amounts

If you want to set specific amounts for each month of the year, click the Budget Actions button and choose the Switch to Annual View command. Then enter the budget amount for January into the January Budget column, the amount for February into the February budget column and so on. (See the last figure.)

An annual view of the Budgets window.
An annual view of the Budgets window.

As you enter amounts, Quicken updates any subtotals and grand totals that use those amounts. And note that you don’t have to do anything special to save your budgeting work. Quicken automatically saves your budget for you. When you’re done working on your budget, for example, you can just exit the Quicken program or click a tab to see another Quicken window.

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