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Quicken can automatically create a budget for you based on the transactions you've entered for your recurring expense categories. You can edit this budget by adding or removing the categories for which you want to set budget amounts. With a budget in Quicken, you set the maximum amount you plan to spend in specific categories. For example you may want to budget 500 per month to spend for groceries or $100 per month for clothing purposes. Quicken compares your plan, with your actual spending based on your transactions in your spending accounts.
Keep in mind that you don't need to budget every dollar you spend, for instance it may not make sense to budget something like your car insurance payment, if that's a bill with a fixed amount. It would make more sense to budget categories that you can control, based on your discretionary spending, like dining out or entertainment purchases. In fact, it's best to start budgeting with a few spending categories that you want to monitor closely and add more categories, if needed, once you get the hang of budgeting. Quicken can automatically create a budget based on your recurring expense categories, afterwards, you can easily add or remove those categories to more precisely match your needs.
It's best to set up a budget after you set up all your primary spending accounts, and after you've entered and categorized at least three months of transactions in your spending accounts. The automatic budget that Quicken creates will be much more accurate. Once you decide which categories you want to set budget amounts for, Quicken will pull in information in from your transactions, and show you where you stand for each. Let's walk through the steps for creating a budget through the Quicken. First, click the planning tab, If it's not already selected, click the budgets tab, If you haven't yet created any budgets in Quicken, you'll see this create a budget window when you open the planning tab.
Click the Get Started button in the middle of the create a budget window. Create a unique budget name, I'll call this one Jeanie's budget If you wish, you can change the budget year to start on any month of the year. You may want to do this if you work in a fiscal year environment, If you leave it as is, the budget will stay with the normal January to December calendar year. Click OK, to create this budget, you'll see that Quicken creates a budget for all your recurring personal expense categories. Quicken creates the budget based on transactions from the previous 12 full four months. If you don't yet have 12 months of transactions, that's okay.
Quicken will just create the budget based on the transactions you've entered. Now just take a closer look at this Budget Window, first notice that it shows Jeannie's overall spending's in her selected categories along the top of the screen. She spent about $7,500, out of about $10,000 budgeted. The categories that quicken automatically selected, are along the left-hand side. Quicken selected bill and utilities, mobile phone, cash and ATM, fast food, furnishings, home improvement, and rent. If I want to remove a category I right-click on the category and select remove category.
I know right away I want to remove by Bills and Utilities categories, because these are just recurring bill payments, not discretionary spending. Genie would like to budget the amount of cash she takes out of the ATM. And the amount she spends on fast food and home improvement, let's set an amount for these. Jeanie would like to limit the amount of cash she takes out of the ATM each month, to $400 and she'd like to limit her fast food budget to $50 per month. For home improvement, she can see that she is spending a lot, she is like to limit that 200 a month.
She can see that she's already over budget for this month. But that's okay, this is just a target and she can do better next month. To add a category or sub-category to the budget list, just right-click on the budget, Click Choose Categories. Jeanie would also like to limit her entertainment spending. So, she is going to check the entertainment category, and click OK. Now, entertainment shows up,she has already spent up a $149 this month, and she would like to limit herself to 150 per month, in entertainment spending. Notice that the amount that Jeanie spent for this month so far, is displayed with these green and red bars.
Red means she's over her budgeted amount. Green means she's on track. Gray means she hasn't spent anything in that category yet. If I want to how much she's spent in these categories for previous months, I can click these arrows next to month and year at the top of the screen. There's only three months of data, we only see three months worth of bar graphs. We can also change the time frame display to quarterly or yearly with this drop down, I'll keep it in the current-month view for now. The target amount budgeted per-month for the category, is displayed on the right-hand-side.
To revise the monthly budgeted amount,just click on that number and type in a new dollar amount. Be aware that this only changes the budgeted amount for the current month, If I want to apply this budgeted amount to all months, I need to select this little tools icon to the left of the amount and select apply this amount to all of 2014. If I click this little bar graph next to the number, I can see the transactions that have been included this month already. If I want to start fresh and delete this budget or create another budget, I can use the Budget Actions drop down in the upper right corner.
To create a report for this budget, click Budget Actions, Budget Reports and select Current Budget or Historical Budget, I prefer current budget to print, post, and remind myself of my current goals. Creating budgets on the Planning tab is a helpful feature in Quicken. Once you set it up with a few spending categories you want to monitor, you can see at a glance how you're doing at sticking to your budget goals.
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