How to Buy and Sell Securities in Quicken 2013

By Stephen L. Nelson

Buying and selling securities in a brokerage account and tracking the transactions in Quicken 2013 is very similar to buying and selling shares of a tax-deferred investment. You fill in the same fields in almost the exact same way. Start by displaying the investment account window.

1Click the Enter Transactions button.

Quicken displays the dialog box

2Choose Buy – Shares Bought in the Enter Transaction drop-down list box.

Quicken, ever responsive to your needs, displays the Buy – Shares Bought dialog box.

3Provide the transaction date. Select the security in the Security Name drop-down list box. Use the Number Of Shares, Price Paid, and Commission text boxes to describe your purchase.

(You can get this information from your order confirmation slip.)

4Indicate whether Quicken should adjust a cash account.

Use the From This Account’s Cash Balance or the From option button to specify which cash account Quicken should adjust for the transaction. You can say the usual cash account (by selecting the From This Account’s Cash Balance option button) or specify some different account (by selecting the From option button and then choosing the account in the From drop-down list box).

5Click the Enter/New or the Enter/Done button when you’re finished.

Pretty simple, right?

6To sell a security, display the investment account window.

Then click the Enter Transaction button.

7When Quicken displays the dialog box, choose Sell – Shares Sold in the Enter Transaction drop-down list box.

Quicken displays the Sell – Shares Sold dialog box. Use the Transaction Date box to provide the sales date. Use the Security Name drop-down list box to identify the stock, bond, or mutual fund you’re selling.

You use the Number of Shares, Price Received, and Commission text boxes to describe your sale, and you use the To This Account’s Cash Balance or the To option button to specify whether Quicken should adjust some bank account balance for this transaction.

8Click the Specify Lots button.

If you purchased share lots at different prices or at different times, you can click the Specify Lots button to open the Specify Lots for Investment dialog box. Here, you can pick and choose which lots to sell so that you can minimize the capital gains taxes you’ll owe. (Good idea, huh?)

A lot is simply a batch, or set, of shares that you purchase at one time. If you sell the most expensive lots, you reduce your capital gains and the taxes on those gains.

The Specify Lots for Investment dialog box also provides nifty command buttons for automating the process of selecting lots. If you click the Maximum Gain or the Minimum Gain button, Quicken picks lots for you in a way that produces the largest possible or smallest possible capital gain, respectively.

Alternatively, you can click the First Shares In or the Last Shares In button to sell either the oldest shares or newest shares first, respectively. This business about picking the lots you sell is rather arbitrary, of course. By letting Quicken pick lots, you can manipulate the capital gain you’ll have and the capital gains taxes you’ll pay.

But it’s all legal (as long as you specifically tell the brokerage company which lots you’re selling). And honorable. And it can save you money because you can time your capital gains so that they occur when they’ll cost you the least.

9Click the Enter/New or the Enter/Done button.

If you’re someone who has large capital loss carryforwards — as many investors do after the brutal years of the previous decade — your capital loss carryforwards may totally wipe out any gains you have to recognize over the next few years (or decades, gulp). In this case, you may not get much benefit from fooling around with this specific identification business. Consult your tax advisor for details.