The Quicken 2012 Budgets Window

To get to the Quicken 2012 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. 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 Quicken's idea of clever.

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Quicken 2012 automatic budgets are easy but rough

You can click the Automatic Budget button in the Create A New Budget dialog box if you want Quicken to create 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.

But if you do click Automatic Budget and then OK, Quicken looks through your transactions for the selected time period (month, quarter, or year) and creates a budget for the five largest spending categories.

When Quicken finishes with these tasks, it displays the budgeted information in the Budgets window, setting the budgeted amount for each of the big five spending categories to whatever the actual spending equals.

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To change an automatically budgeted amount, click the category you want to budget and then the Edit hyperlink. (The Edit hyperlink doesn't appear until you point to or click on the category.) Quicken then displays the Edit a Budget Category dialog box, which lets you set the budgeted amount for the spending category to some other amount.

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If you want to automatically budget more than just your top five spending categories, click the Add Category hyperlink, shown in the bottom-left corner of the Budgets window.

When Quicken displays the Add Budget Category dialog box, select the category you want to budget, click Next, and then provide the budgeted amount and interval (monthly, daily, weekly, and so on). When you click Done, Quicken returns you to the Budgets window.

Quicken 2012 advanced budgets are more work but more accurate

You can add a category to the Advanced Budget Setup window by clicking the Add More Categories link (see upper-left corner of window) and then choosing the categories you want to budget from the Select Categories To Budget dialog box.

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To budget an amount for a category shown in the Advanced Budget Setup window, click the income or expense category and then, when Quicken opens a text box for the category, enter the budgeted amount into the Your Budget column. You can use the Period column's text box to specify the budgeting interval: Monthly, Daily, Weekly, and so on.

If you want set specific amounts for each budgeting interval, select Specific from the Amount column and then enter the interval-specific budget amount for each month, day, week, or whatever into the text boxes that Quicken opens.

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As you enter amounts, Quicken updates any subtotals and grand totals that use those amounts. Note, too, that Quicken displays a little calculator icon when you've selected a text box that accepts a value. Click the Calculator icon to display a pop-up calculator to make computations on the fly. When you finish with the Advanced Budget Setup window, click Done to return to the Budgets window.

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