Quicken Tips

Quicken Tips


REPORTS AND CLASSES

To create a class within acategory (click on a transaction, press Ctrl-L, and add the classes).If you split a category into classes, you can show the individualclasses in your reports by doing the following:

  • Click on the Reports button at the bottom of the Quicken window andchoose Easy Answer Reports/Graphs.
  • In the Easy Answer dialog box, choose the How Much Did I Spend Onoption and select the category from the drop-down list.
  • Click on Show Report.
  • To see an individual class, click on the Customize button.
  • Click on the arrow beside the Subtotal By list box to expand it.
  • From this expanded list, select Class and click on Create.

You get a report that shows the expenditure in each class of thechosen category.


USING GRAPHS

Graphs are a good way to view your transactions because they provideyou with a visual display of where your money has gone. Sometimeswhen numbers don't have a big impact, graphs do. For example, you canview or print a report showing all your expenditures for the year,but there are a lot of numbers to view. On the other hand, if youcreate a graphic view, you can see immediately where all your moneyhas gone--as in, "We spent THAT much of our money on beer?" To view a graph of your expenditures to date, do the following:

  • Click on Reports and choose Easy Answer Reports/Graphs.
  • When the dialog box opens, click on Show Graph.

That's quite a beer budget you've got there!


MAKE YOUR REPORTS MORE ATTRACTIVE

Quicken enables you to generate some killer reports. However, youmight not know that you can do quite a bit to change a report'sappearance. For one thing, you may want to change the width of thecolumns to make all the headings display completely. To do this,follow these steps:

  • With your report on-screen, locate the column markers (they'resmall diamond-shaped icons near the column headings).
  • Place your mouse pointer over a marker; the pointer changes tocrosshairs.
  • Now you can use the mouse to drag the column border right or leftto expand or contract it.

To change the typeface used in the headings and body text, do thefollowing:

  • Press Ctrl-P. In the Print dialog box, you see a buttonfor Heading font and another for Body Font.
  • Click on whichever you want to change and make your selection.
  • Click on OK to print.


AUTOSTART QUICKEN

Remember when you were a schoolchild and you had a big crush on thatkid who sat behind you? How you couldn't wait to see him or her firstthing in the morning? Now that you're all grown up, do you feel thatway about Quicken? If so, you should seek help. In the meantime, ifyou run Windows 95 and use Quicken every day, you may want to have itstart automatically, as soon as Windows 95 opens. What could bebetter? You turn on the computer, and there's Quicken. If you likethis idea, here's how to set it up.

  • Close Quicken.
  • Run Windows Explorer.
  • Locate the Windows folder.
  • Click on the plus sign on the left of the folder to open it.
  • Locate the Start Menu folder.
  • Click on its plus sign.
  • Locate Programs.
  • Click on its plus sign.
  • Click on Quicken.
  • Use the mouse to drag Quicken 6 for Windows to the StartUp folder.
  • Click on the Close box at the upper right corner of the Explorerwindow (it looks like an X).

Now when you turn on your computer, Quicken will be there waiting foryou. Try not to blush.


DON'T FORGET THE DEBIT CARD

Modern technology has made it easier than ever to overdraw yourchecking account. We're referring to the debit card. This littlemonster lets you use your checking account to pay for items in placesthat would never take a check. The thing is, we often have troublekeeping track of the amounts we withdraw using the card. We suggestthis: Always take care of the withdrawals as soon as you get home.Keep the receipts and consider them entries in a checkbook. If you'reon vacation, try putting all your debit card receipts in an envelope,so when you get home you can enter them into Quicken. When you enterthe amount withdrawn by a debit card, Quicken suggests that youselect EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) in the Num Field's drop-downlist to help you keep track of how the money was withdrawn.

Another tip: Most ATM windows cast a nice reflection, affording agreat opportunity to fix your hair or see if you dribbled any lunchon yourself. Try to ignore the little camera.


OH NO! THAT'S WRONG

We never make mistakes when entering transactions, but we've heardthat some people do. If such a thing should happen to you, just clickon the transaction and make the changes.

Suppose you meant to enter Ripoff Music Shop, but you typed RipoofMusic Shop instead. You don't want the check to print that way;here's what to do:

  • In the register, move the mouse pointer up to the erroneous entryand click. This will highlight the entry.
  • Now use the arrow keys to move to the error and make the change.
  • Press the Enter key and your correct transaction will be recorded.


MAKE YOUR OWN NUM SELECTION

In a previous tip, we made some comments about how to deal with debitcards, those magic cards that make it so easy to become destitute.Quicken suggests that you assign EFT to the Num field. However, youmight not find the entry EFT to your liking. (Perhaps you had aharrowing experience with a gangster named Ernie Frank Toecrusher andyou prefer not to be reminded of him.) Fortunately, Quicken is soflexible that it lets you create another field called Debit orsomething more sensible. If you'd prefer that your debit card entriesdisplay Debit in the Num field, rather than EFT, try this:

  • Click in the Num field to expand the list.
  • Click on Edit List.
  • Click on New.
  • Enter Debit.
  • Click on OK.
  • Click on Done.

Now you can select Debit in the Num field when you enter a debit cardtransaction.


CREDIT WORTHY

Contrary to what most people think, a direct relationship existsbetween credit cards and actual money. Sooner or later, you're goingto have to actually pay for the stuff you buy with credit cards. Ifyou're a bit credit card happy (and, really, who isn't?), you maywant to set up and use a separate credit card account. Doing so notonly handles paying your credit card bills, but it can help you keepclose track of what you owe. To set up a separate credit cardaccount, follow these steps:

  • Choose Lists + Account (or press Ctrl-A).
  • When the Account List appears, click on New.
  • Select Credit Card and click on Next.
  • Enter an Account name and description, and click on Next.
  • If you have your last statement (you'll need it sooner or later),select Yes; then click on Next.
  • Enter the statement date and the balance and then click on Next.
  • If your card isn't from Quicken and you don't use Online banking,select No and then click on Next.
  • Enter the card's credit limit and click on Next.
  • The Account summary appears. If all is well, click on Done.
  • Back in the account list, double-click on your new entry to get tothe Register.

Assuming you have a checking account already set up, when you make acredit card payment, choose Transfer To/From Checking. This way, thepayment is automatically subtracted from your checking account.


STAY BALANCED

Unless you're Mary Poppins, the time will come, and more often thanyou'd like, when your account won't balance. This is less likely tohappen when you use Quicken than when you simply scribble numbersinto your checkbook, but it still happens. To balance an account:

  • Choose Features + Banking + Reconcile.
  • In the Choose Reconcile Account dialog box, choose the account youwant to reconcile and click on OK.
  • In the next screen, enter the ending balance.
  • Enter any service charges, or interest if applicable.
  • Click on OK.
  • Now click on each transaction that has cleared (a checkmark willappear).
  • If the Difference is zero, you're OK.
  • Click on Finish

If there is a discrepancy, go through all your numbers to look forthe error.


SHORTCUT KEYS--A BAKER'S DOZEN

  • Ctrl + O to open a file
  • Ctrl + B to back up a file
  • Ctrl + P to print a file
  • Ctrl + N to start a new account
  • Ctrl + W to write a check
  • Ctrl + A to open the account list
  • Ctrl + T to get to the memorized transaction list
  • Ctrl + K to open the calendar
  • Ctrl + R to open a register
  • Ctrl + H to open a loan window
  • Ctrl + C to open a category list
  • Ctrl + J to open scheduled transactions
  • F1 to get help on the current window

REGISTER NAVIGATION

When a register begins to get large, think about the time it takesjust to navigate through the thing--probably not the most efficientuse of your time. To help you out, here are a few shortcuts that youcan use to get around in a register more quickly:

  • To move up one screen, press Page Up.
  • To move down one screen, press Page Down.
  • To get to the first transaction, click on the Date field and pressCtrl-Home.
  • To get to the last transaction, click on the Date field and pressCtrl-End.


TRACKING MUTUAL FUNDS

Quicken offers a handy way to track your mutual funds. (But beforeyou start tracking your mutual funds, ask yourself whether you reallyneed to. For example, you don't need to track an IRA or a 401Kinvested in mutual funds. As tax-free transactions, all you have todo is subtract the contributions from your pretax income.) For thosemutual funds you do want to track, you first have to set up anaccount:

  • Choose Lists + Account and click on New.
  • Select Investment and click on Next.
  • Enter your account name and a description (if desired) and click onNext.
  • In response to the check-writing prompt, select No and click onNext.
  • Select One Mutual Fund and click on Next.
  • Unless you're tracking a tax-deferred account, click on No and thenclick on Next.
  • When the Summary screen appears, select Account Contains a SingleMutual Fund.
  • Click on Done. Quicken will create the new Register.
  • Double-click on your new entry to open the Register.
  • Now you can start entering the data--purchase price, shares, dollaramounts, and so on--for your mutual fund investments.


SEE IT ALL

How would you like to get a quick overview of all your financialdealings for the year--all at once? You can:

  • Choose Reports + Snapshots to open a snapshot collection of graphsand reports, a sort of mini-view of everything Quicken can find toshow.
  • To see a larger view of any of the items, click on the item youwant to enlarge and then click on Enlarge.
  • To get back to the original view, click on the Close box (the X inthe upper right corner of the current window).


THE TRUTH CAN HURT

In the last tip, we explained how to open and view Snapshots (Reports+ Snapshots). This time, we show you how to customize Snapshot tomake it look the way you want it to look:

  • Choose Reports + Snapshots.
  • Click on Customize.
  • Under the Snapshot Type listing, choose the type of snapshot you'dlike to see. The list includes a lot of very useful data, such ascharts comparing your monthly income and expenses over a period oftime and actual vs. budgeted income.
  • Click on OK.

To close Snapshot, click on the Close box at the upper right cornerof the Snapshot window.


CRASH TEST DUMMIES

This can happen to you! Your computer can crash. And we mean REALLYcrash--not just hang up and wait for you to restart. Think new harddisk here, or, at the very least, reformatting your current disk andre-installing all the software.

But how do you get back your Quicken data after a crash? (You havebeen backing up to floppy disks, right?) When everything is backtogether and ready to run, do the following:

  • Reinstall Quicken. Accept all the defaults, and Quicken loads intothe C:\Quickenw folder.
  • Put that backup floppy disk into Drive A.
  • Open Windows Explorer and click on Drive A to open the backupfloppy.
  • When you see the disk contents, press Ctrl-A to select all thebackup files.
  • Scroll down the Explorer left pane and locate the Quickenw folder.Then use the mouse to drag all the files from Drive A into theQuickenw folder.

Assuming you kept good daily backups, you now have all your databack. What's that saying? "An ounce of prevention is worth a poundupside the head later."


THE DATING GAME

The year 2000 is getting close now. The time when everything fromspace shuttles to hair dryers will suddenly stop working and quitepossibly file for unemployment. It isn't really a problem for Quickenusers. If you type in 12/25/01, Quicken knows what you mean (unlikethose programs that assume you mean 12/25/1901.)

Somehow, the Quicken approach seems more logical to us; we haven'tneeded to enter dates in the early 1900s for a long time--not sincewe had to walk 10 miles to school in 10 feet of snow and we usedQuicken for Abacus.

If you'd like to check out the Quicken approach for yourself, do thefollowing:

  • Press Ctrl-K to open the calendar.
  • Click on Go To Date.
  • Enter 12/25/00 (or 12/25/01 or 12/25/09, or whatever).
  • Click on OK.

The calendar pops right to the entered date--in the correct century.Imagine that.

PS: Just in case you want to look at the calendar for the early partof the 20th century, just open the calendar and enter 12/25/1901.(Quicken dates go back to 1/1/1901).


DON'T FORGET QUICKREPORT

Generating reports in Quicken isn't a big problem, but there aretimes when you may want to very quickly see a report on a specificitem while you're working in the Register. At such a time, what youneed is a QuickReport. Follow these steps to see a QuickReport:

  • Click on the field you want to examine.
  • Click on the Report button in the Register window.
  • Make your choice from the drop-down list (these will vary,depending upon the field you've chosen to examine).

Your report appears.

If you want a spending graph--a chart that shows where your moneygoes, do the following: - Click on the Balance field.

  • Click on Report.
  • Choose Expense Summary Graph.

Oooh. Pretty.


WHICH FUND IS THE BEST?

Nobody can tell you which mutual fund is the best, but if you'regetting ready to invest, you can use Quicken to get an idea of whichfunds to strongly consider.

  • Click on the Mutual Fund Finder button in the icon bar.
  • If you're asked what to search on, just click on Next.

A list of all the mutual funds Quicken knows about appears.Obviously, the numbers won't really be very up-to-date. However,because you're probably looking for long-term investments, thefigures should be reasonably valid—especially the five- and ten-yearnumbers.

To get specific information on a particular fund, do the following:

  • Click on the fund name to select it.
  • Click on Fund Details.
When the Fund Detail dialog box opens, you see some rather detailedinformation on your selected fund. If you'd like to see it in graphform, click on Graph.

Remember, use this information simply as a guide; don't make adecision to buy until you check the current numbers.


A GRAPHICS PRIMER

When you use graphics to view your income and expenses, you need tomake sure that you choose the right graph and the right layout tomatch your requirements. For example, if you want to show all theexpenses, you don't want a 3D pie chart because the small expensesdon't display properly. Take a look at an example:

  1. Temporarily create a small transaction--say $3.95.
  2. Choose Reports + Graphs + Income and Expenses
  3. Click on Create.
  4. Look at both graphs--bar and pie. Can you see the smalltransaction?
  5. Click on Options.
  6. Select Draw in 2D.

The small transaction shows up better in 2D. But take a look at thebar chart: It doesn't have enough resolution to display the smalltransaction. Although chances are you won't generally have such asmall amount in a single category, you should be aware that not allgraphs can show all transactions equally well.


PRINT GRAPHICS YOUR WAY

Although Quicken can produce some attractive and informative graphs,you're not stuck with using the defaults to make printouts. Forexample, if you use a black-and-white printer, you may like to usepatterns rather than colors to make your printed graphs look good.The best approach to printing easy-to-read graphs that are alsoattractive is to try it both ways, with color and patterns:

  1. Choose Reports + Graphs and select one of the objects. We selectedIncome and Expense.
  2. Click on Create.
  3. Click on Print to print the default graph.
  4. Click on Options.
  5. Select Use Patterns Instead of Colors.
  6. Click on Print.

Now compare the two printouts to see which looks best.


GETTING RID OF THAT BIG DEBT

So you got in just a little too deep and now you need to get out. Youcan use Quicken to help your debt-reduction planning. The QuickenDebt Reduction tool provides you with an analysis of your situationand a graph that shows you how quickly you can reduce your debts bymodifying your current behavior. Grab your Quicken CD and yourmonthly statements and get ready to come up with a plan to reduceyour debt.

  1. Choose Features + Planning + Create a Debt Reduction Plan.
  2. In the Debt Reduction dialog box, click on Next.
  3. Follow the wizard through the windows by clicking on Next untilyou get to Debts. (You can choose to learn more about debt anddebt-reduction concepts.)
  4. When you get to Debts, click on Add to add a debt. Here's whereyour statements will come in handy. In the Edit Debt Reduction dialogbox, enter the information on your loans and credit cards and clickon OK.
  5. Continue clicking on Add and adding debts until you have them allentered.
  6. Click on Next.
  7. Keep following the wizard until Quicken completes your plan.

When you're finished, Quicken will present you with a chart showinghow quickly you'll pay down your debts if you make changes to yourhabits. The Quicken part is the easy part; the hard part is followingthe plan.


HOW DO I DEAL WITH FUTURE EXPENSES?

Occasionally, you may need to postpone counting all (or a portion) ofyour expenses. Say that, for your business, you purchase equipmentthat costs $100,000. If you plan to use the equipment for 10 years,you may want to depreciate the equipment over that 10-year period, soyou decide to allocate $10,000 per year to equipment expense. To dothis, set up an asset account for the equipment:

  1. Choose File + New.
  2. Select New Quicken Account and click on OK.
  3. Select Asset and click on Next.
  4. In the Asset Account Setup dialog box, enter the name (WidgetPolisher) and then click on Next.
  5. In response to the asset-worth prompt, select Yes (you do knowwhat the equipment is worth--or at least you know what you paid);then click on Next.
  6. Enter the value ($100,000 in our example) and click on Next.
  7. Click on Done.

Now you can use the new account to track the transactions that applyto it. In the Decrease field, enter transactions for each of theyears in which you want to record an expense.


HOW ABOUT MY FUTURE INCOME?

Suppose that you just completed work for which you'll be paid $5,000.You completed the work in December 1997, but you won't get the moneyuntil February 1998. In this case, you may want to record the incomein the year in which you performed the work, rather than in the yearin which you get the actual cash in hand. To do this, set up anAccounts Receivable account by following these steps:

  1. Choose File + New.
  2. Select New Quicken Account and click on OK.
  3. In the Create New Account dialog box, select Asset and click onNext.
  4. In the Asset Account Setup dialog box, name the account and thenclick on Next.
  5. In response to the asset-worth prompt, select Yes and click onNext.
  6. Enter the value of the expected income and click on Next.
  7. Click on Done.

Now, when you perform work, in the Increase field in the AccountsReceivable account, enter the amount you expect to be paid. Then whenyou get the money, record the deposit as a transfer from the AccountsReceivable account, as follows:

  1. Click on Transfer.
  2. Enter the amount and choose the account.
  3. Click on OK.


IS THAT PHONE DEDUCTIBLE?

Quicken Deluxe can help you determine what's tax deductible and whatisn't. This tip shows you how to get started, but what you enterremains your personal business. All we can say is that you mustanswer all questions honestly, or you can mislead yourself aboutdeductions.

  1. Choose Features + Planning.
  2. Select Identify Possible Tax Deductions and click on OK.
  3. Click on an expense (try Cellular Phone as an example). Quickenasks you questions about the item.
  4. Answer all the questions (honestly, we might add).

Quicken informs you whether the item is deductible or not (the phoneisn't).

Go ahead and check out some other expenses. If you decide you'd liketo start fresh, click on Clear Checkmarks and then click on OK. Bythe way, don't mess with the IRS based on the Quicken decision--checkwith your tax expert first. Quicken can help you out, but taking itsadvice as the final word on taxes is not a good idea.


YOU CAN QUOTE ME ON THAT

If you're connected to the Internet and invest in stocks, check outthe Quicken Feature called Online Quotes. With it, you can getregular price updates on your investments. Here's how it works:

  1. Choose Features + Investments + Setup Online Quotes.
  2. When the Online Quotes dialog box appears, click on New Security.
  3. Enter the stock's name.
  4. If you don't know the symbol, click on Look Up.
  5. After you enter your stocks and their symbols, click on Download.
  6. Click on Update Now. After Quicken finishes the download, itdisconnects.
  7. Click on Done.

Your Portfolio opens and displays the data on your selected stocks.

In the future, unless you want to set up more stocks, you can get theinfo without going through the procedure described above. Instead:

  1. Choose Features + Investments + Portfolio View.
  2. Click on Update Prices.
  3. Choose Get Online Quotes.
  4. Click on Download.
  5. Click on Update Now.
  6. Click on Done.

Quicken will now update your Portfolio with the latest information.Note that the reports are delayed by at least 20 minutes, so there'sno point in connecting every 10 or 15 minutes.


UPDATING QUICKEN 6

If you're connected to the Internet and you'd like to update yourcurrent copy of Quicken 6 for Windows, follow these instructions: 1. Choose Features + Online + Quicken Live (Internet) + Update myQuicken 6. 2. Click on Update Now. 3. Follow the on-screen directions.

What do you get with the update? Here's a partial list:

  • CNNfm (the Financial News Network)
  • Enhancements for CheckFree customers
  • Canadian average cost (for Canadian investors)
  • Backup on Windows NT NTFS disks


ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK

By default, pressing Enter when you're filling out checks moves youto the next entry. But what if you prefer to use your left pinkyinstead of your right pinky? If you'd prefer to use the Tab key anddisable this Enter-key function, here's what you do:

  1. Press Ctrl + W to get to the Checks folder.
  2. Click Options.
  3. When the Check Options dialog box opens, click the QuickFill tab.
  4. Deselect Use Enter Key to Move Between Fields.
  5. Click OK.

Now the Enter key does nothing, and you use the Tab key to move tothe next field.


YOUR VERY OWN ICONBAR

Quicken's iconbar doesn't appear by default. However, after youbecome familiar with Quicken, you'll probably find that you can savetime by using the icons on the iconbar--especially if the barcontains only the icons you need. To create an iconbar that containsonly those few icons that you commonly use, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Iconbar.
  2. In the Customize Iconbar dialog box, click an icon.
  3. Click Delete.
  4. When the warning box appears, click OK.
  5. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 until all the icons are deleted.
  6. Back in the Customize Iconbar dialog box, click New.
  7. From the list, select an operation, one you know you'll accessfrequently.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Repeat Steps 6 through 8 you've selected all the icons you want,being careful to choose your most common tasks.
  10. Back in the Customize Iconbar dialog box, select the check boxeslabeled Show Icons and Show Text.
  11. Click OK.


YOUR VERY OWN CUSTOM ICONBAR

In our last tip, we showed you how to customize Quicken's Iconbar(Edit + Options + Iconbar). Not only can you tell Quicken whichoperations to place in your iconbar, but you can also tell theprogram to use the icons of your choice to represent thoseoperations. In other words, you're not stuck with a picture of ascale to represent the Reconcile Account command. Instead, you canchoose from a whole bunch of other pictures that Quicken offers(perhaps yin-yang might better represent reconciliation to you?). Topick a different icon, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Edit + Options + Iconbar.
  2. In the Customize Iconbar dialog box, click the icon whose pictureyou want to change.
  3. Click Edit.
  4. In the Edit Action dialog box, click Change.
  5. In the Change Iconbar Item dialog box, choose a new icon from thelist.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Click OK again to go back to the Customize Iconbar dialog box.
  8. Click Done.

You new icon selection now appears in the iconbar. Perfect balance.


ARE THEY RIPPING ME OFF?

If you're shopping for a home mortgage, you'll encounter an amazinglywide range of interest rates. Do the mortgage companies think youwere born yesterday? Well, yes, they do. One in particular thatbunches our boxers is a higher interest rate for a shorter-termmortgage.

Currently, the most popular home mortgage is one with a 30-year term.However, if you can make the larger payments, a shorter-term mortgagecan save you bundles of money. Unfortunately, some lenders like tocharge a higher interest rate for the shorter-term loan. Many peopleaccept the higher rate because they're still saving a lot of moneyfor the shorter-term loan when compared to a 30-year loan.

Consider this though: The lender assumes less risk if you're payingoff the loan in 15 years instead of 30. If you want a standardpayment schedule (once per month), the lender doesn't need to doanything special to service your loan. What this boils down to isthat you certainly shouldn't have to pay a higher rate for a 15-yearloan than for a 30-year. If anything, you should pay less. So shoparound for your mortgage as thoroughly as you shop around for yourhome. Now, about those plumbers . . .


SETTING UP AN AUTOMATIC BUDGET

Do your spending habits make the U.S. Government look like a bunch ofthrifty skinflints? What's that? You don't CARE? Well, it wouldn'thurt to look. Quicken can set up a budget for you, based on yourcurrent spending habits. Here's what you do:

  1. Choose Features + Planning + Budgets.
  2. When the Budgeting screen appears, click Edit.
  3. Choose Autocreate.

Quicken produces a budget based on your transaction history. Notethat you must have several months of transactions for this to work.And get a load of that doughnut category! Sheesh!


DO YOU HAVE AN AFFINITY FOR AFFINITY CARDS?

Affinity credit cards, cards that are issued by a manufacturer or aservice organization, have become popular recently. For example, youmay have a General Motors card that includes a five-percent rebatefor every purchase. The rebate then goes into an account that you canuse toward the purchase of a General Motors car. A number of airlinesalso issue affinity cards that establish a rebate account that youcan apply to future plane tickets.

Are affinity cards a good deal? It all depends on your personalspending habits. If you commonly use the credit card for a number ofpurchases, affinity may be a good deal. However, don't think onlyabout the 5 percent rebate account; keep in mind the total interestthat you have to pay.

Suppose you have a Platinum card for which you pay 12 percentinterest. Using an affinity card for which you pay more than 17percent wouldn't really pay. Save your money in a short-term CDinstead. Then you can buy any brand of car you want. If you saveenough money this way, you could maybe buy a jet.