3 Tricks to Make Your Quicken 2015 Setup Fast and Easy

By Stephen L. Nelson

If you’re new to Quicken or accounting, getting started can be a little intimidating. The program takes time to set up. The program takes time to learn. You can, however, ease the learning curve by applying three easy tips:

Skip the online banking and mobile app — at least for now

Online banking saves time and makes bill paying and bank account reconciliations easy.

The Quicken Mobile app that’s worked with recent versions of Quicken cleverly plugs a hole in the Quicken system. (You can enter transactions for a bank account even when you’re not sitting in front of a computer.)

But these two, admitted cool tools make getting started with Quicken just a little bit tougher. Accordingly, you may want to delay their use until you’re comfortable working with the Quicken desktop program.

At that point—say a few months into the future—go ahead and sign up and set up for online banking.

If you’ve a smart phone or other mobile device, download the Quicken app and starting using the Quicken cloud to sync your desktop Quicken data file with our mobile device.

But don’t feel you need to do this stuff at the very start. It’s okay to delay this complexity for a bit…

Start with a single bank account to build fluency

Here’s another tip to ease the work of getting going with Quicken: Start with a single bank account.

In other words, even if you’re got several accounts (perhaps scattered among a handful of banks and credit unions), start using Quicken at first with just one of these accounts — ideally a bank account with a bit of transaction volume so you can truly practice the ins and outs of Quicken.

If you can choose between two accounts for your starter account, pick the one for which you actually know the right bank account balance — perhaps because you’ve been reconciling the account.

Go along for a few months with this single account. Enter transactions. Correct errors. Reconcile account balances. In general, learn the lay of the land with a single, simple account.

If you start with a single account, you climb up the learning curve a bit before you find yourself dealing with more accounts, higher transaction volumes, and trickier situations.

Consider outsourcing your investment accounting

A final trick and one that’s not quite as wanton and lazy as it sounds, if you’ve got investment accounts that the investment management company does a good job of tracking, consider completely skipping the accounting for these accounts.

This sounds sloppy. But here’s the thing: Tax laws now require investment management companies (including the mutual fund management companies that many of us use) to provide pretty complete bookkeeping data about cost basis. The major investment management companies also typically provide great websites for their account holders—including powerful tools to measure performance and manage asset allocations.

You get a little benefit, therefore, from duplicating their efforts. What’s more, investment record-keeping represents one of the tougher tasks to successfully complete in Quicken. Why go to a bunch of extra work with the computers at Vanguard, Fidelity, T. Rowe Price or Charles Schwab are already doing the work for you?