Quicken Introduction

Quicken is a personal finance management program created by Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks. Whereas QuickBooks was developed for businesses who wanted handle the bulk of their accounting in-house, Quicken was designed for the home-based or small business user who wants to manage their finances using a feature-rich, intuitive accounting program that's simple to use.

Quicken software gives you the power to do more than just log your finances and manage your bills. It can also be used to create a budget and better manage your money. If you're like the majority of the population and find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, you can use Quicken to track where your money is spent, then change your spending habits to allow more for savings. Quicken will show you, at a glance, where your money is going so you can better spend - and better save. What's more, it will also help you plan for the future by helping you manage investments.

Just as they are more than several ways that you can use Quicken to manage your money and finances, there are also several versions of Quicken that you can use. Each version is tailored to a specific user and ensures that Quicken is the exact program that you need. For example, someone who simply wants to manage their bank accounts and categorize transactions would do fine with the Starter Edition. However, someone who wants to track investments in addition to managing bank accounts would do better with Premier.

The version that you choose to purchase should be determined by your financial and accounting needs. Take a look at the screenshot below taken from the Intuit website. Each version of Quicken is listed, along with the features that each contains. You should choose the version that contains the features that you'll need as you use the program.

In the snapshot above, the features for Quicken Start Edition, Deluxe, and Premier are listed. These versions are all geared toward the home-based user who wants to manage their personal finances and/or investments using the program. However, you can also purchase Quicken Home and Business if you want to track personal and business finances, or Quicken Rental Property Manager to track income and expenses for rental properties.

 Unlike other software programs that are complicated to master, Quicken is fairly easy once you learn how to use it.

 Although more advanced features may not be available with the more basic versions, this article is designed so that students can learn to use the features of the version they're using, as well as the major features of other versions too.

What's New in Quicken

All versions of Quicken come jam packed with new features and tools to give you more reasons to use the program - and more ways to benefit from it. Let's take a look at the major improvements included in the latest release.

These improvements include:

  •          The ability to snap pictures of receipts using your phone or tablet, then store and track them using Quicken. This makes tracking spending and tax deductions easier than ever.
  •          The Quicken mobile app makes it easy to check your finances right from your phone or tablet. Plus, you can get email and text alerts when unusual transactions occur. Simply download the mobile app from your phone's app store, then sign into your Intuit account to get started.
  •          The ability to view bills directly from the register. It makes it easy to track bills that are coming due and estimated future balances.

    Installing Quicken

    Quicken is installed the same way as any other program on your computer. If you purchased Quicken on CD-ROM, you'll insert the CD in the drive. You'll then see the Install Wizard window. If you download Quicken online, you'll click the Run button. You'll be taken to the Install Wizard window as well.

    Once you see the Install Wizard, click Next.

    Quicken asks you to agree to their license agreement, and it will also ask you permission to send anonymous messages about usage, but not about your personal finances.

    Check the boxes, then click Next.

    Decide where you want to install Quicken on your computer or accept the suggestion it makes (recommended).

    Click Next.

    In the next window, it will let you know that Quicken needs to be installed, but it also may need to be updated.

    Click the Install button. Once it's successfully installed, click the Finish button.

    At this point, you'll need to restart your computer for the installation to complete. Don't wait to restart if you want to use Quicken right away. It only takes a few minutes to reboot, and it will guarantee Quicken performs correctly.

    Setting Up Quicken --Previous Users

    If you've used Quicken before, but it was a previous version, the way you will set up Quicken will differ from how a new user will set it up. That's so you can make sure all your data files from the previous version are imported into Quicken 2014. However, it's not difficult, so don't worry.

    When you start Quicken for the first time, you'll see this window:

    If you've used Quicken before, you want to click the I'm Upgrading button. As you can see in the above snapshot, this is so you can open and convert an existing data file from a previous version. You'll then see a Get Started with Quicken window. You'll be asked if you want to:

  •          Open a Quicken file on your computer
  •          Restore a Quicken data file that's on a CD or disc
  •          Start over with a new data file

    If you want to open a Quicken file, you'll be asked to locate that file on your computer. If you want to restore a Quicken file, you'll have to show Quicken where that is as well.

    Setting Up Quicken - New Users

    If this is your first time using Quicken - or you don't have Quicken on your current machine, you'll want to click the I'm New button above. You'll then see this window:

    In this first step, you'll be asked to create an Intuit ID. If you already have an Intuit ID, click the blue link on the right hand side of the window that says, "Already have an Intuit ID?"

    Click the Next button.

    Now you'll be asked to tell Quicken more about you (as shown in the snapshot below).

    Click the green Next button when you've entered the required information.

    You're now ready to use Quicken.

    Click the green Done button. You are then taken to Quicken's home screen, as pictured below.

    The home page walks you through setting up Quicken for use. We will walk you through it as well.

    Getting Help When You Need It: About Quicken QCards

    This article is designed to teach you what you need to know to successfully use Quicken. However, after you finish this article and start to use the program on your own, you may find that you need a little help as you navigate through the program.

    Quicken realizes that even the most skilled users can need a little help from time to time. For that reason, they have created Qcards to help you.

    A Quicken Qcard is pictured below.

    QCards give you guidance and tips to help you with whatever you're doing.

    To view Qcards, click the View Guidance button toward the upper right hand side of the Quicken screen.

    The Qcard for the Account Bar is shown below.


    Setting Up Quicken: Creating Financial Accounts

    If you're using Quicken to manage and track your personal finances, then it goes without saying that the bulk of your work in Quicken will be dealing with checking, savings, credit cards, and cash accounts. These are the staple accounts of all households. These are often the accounts that household finances revolve around. For that reason, we are going to learn how to create these types of accounts in this article.

    Setting Up Banking in Quicken Using Automatic Setup

    If this is your first time using Quicken, you will have to set up your bank accounts in the program. This is easy to do.

    Click the Get Started button on the home screen.

    You'll then be asked to enter the name of your bank - or to choose the name of your bank from the list.

    You'll then be asked to login to your online account with your bank.

    Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Quicken 2019 course?

    Click the Connect button. Quicken will download your transaction history from your bank account.

    Setting Up Banking in Quicken Using Manual Setup

    If you don't want to sign in to your bank account online using Quicken, you can click Advanced Setup at the bottom of the window pictured above.

    Select "I want to enter my transactions manually".

    Click the Next button.

    Enter a name for the account, as well as any other information Quicken requires. Click Next.

    Next, enter a statement ending date, as well as an opening balance for Quicken.

    Click Next.

    You'll then see a window telling you that your account was successfully added.

    Click Finish. 

    Setting Up Monthly Bills

    Once you have your bank account set up in Quicken, it's time to set up your monthly bills. To do this, click on the green Get Started button on the home screen under Stay on Top of Monthly Bills.

    You will see this window:

    If you downloaded your transaction history, Quicken will identify the bills you pay each month. However, if you've chosen to enter things manually and have yet to enter in your transaction history, you'll have to do this manually.

    Click the Next button.

    You will then see the same window with an Add Income Reminder button added to it.

    Click this button to add details about your income.

    We will cover the Paycheck Setup Wizard later.

    For now, let's go back and show you how to enter bills.

    Note: If you've followed along with the article thus far, click the Cancel button until you are returned to the home screen. Click the green Get Started button again to set up your bills. You will be taken to the window shown below.

    Click the Add a Bill button (pictured above).

    Enter in the name of payee, or the person/company who you pay each month.

    Click Next.

    Enter in the next due date and the amount due. You can also enter in a category, tag, or memo. 

    Click Done.

    You can click the Add a Bill button to add another bill, or click Next.

    You are taken back to the window pictured above. You can set up a scheduled bill or deposit, or you can add an income reminder.

    Create additional Checking or Savings Account

    We already showed you how you can create a checking or savings account as you set up Quicken for the first time. However, chances are you won't add all your accounts during the set up process. Plus, there may be times after you start to use Quicken that you want to add more accounts to your list.

    That said, we're going to show you another way that you can add checking or savings accounts.

    To add a checking or savings account:

    Go to Tools>Add Account.

    Go to the Primary Accounts section (shown above). Click Checking or Savings to add one of these accounts.

    We're going to select Checking.

    The window pictured below should look familiar to you. We saw this window when we were setting up Quicken.

    Enter the name of your bank, or choose the name of your bank from the list.

    Now, click Next.

     Complete the steps to add the account.

    Create a Credit Card Account

    To create a credit card account, we're going to start by using the same first step that we used to create a checking account. Go to Tools>Add Account. This time, select Credit Card in the Primary Accounts section.

    You'll see the window pictured above.

    Enter the name of the bank that holds your credit card account, or select a name from the list.

    Click Next.

    In the next window, you'll be asked to enter your online login for that credit card account.

    Click Connect.

    If you want to enter your credit card account manually, click Advanced Setup (as shown at the bottom of the snapshot above).

    Put a check beside "I want to enter my transactions manually."

    Click Next.

    Give a name to your account like you did for checking, then specify what the account will be used for.

    Click Next.

    In the window above, you'll enter your Statement Ending Date as well as your Statement Ending Balance. The balance that you enter will become your opening balance for this credit card in Quicken.

    Click Next.

    Your credit card account is now setup.

    Adding a Credit Card Limit

    To add a limit to a credit card account, go to the Account Bar and right click on the credit card account.

    Select Edit/Delete Account from the context menu.

    You will then see this dialogue box:

    Enter the limit for the credit card, then click OK.

    Create a Cash Account

    To create a cash account in Quicken, go to Tools>Add Account.

    In the Primary Accounts group, click on Cash.

    Enter a name for the cash account, then specify how it will be used.

    Click Next.

    In the next window (pictured below), you're going to enter the date that you want to start tracking the cash account, as well as the amount of cash that you have. This becomes your opening balance in Quicken.

    Click Next.

    Setup of your cash account is now complete.

    Adding Your PayPal Account

    Most people today have a PayPal account. That makes it important when you're talking about your finances to think of your PayPal account as a financial account, especially if you regularly have money going into and out of it.

    You set up a PayPal account in Quicken the same way that you would set up a bank account. Notice that when we go to create a new checking account, and type PayPal as the name of our banking institution, PayPal appears.

    Click on PayPal, then click Next.

    Enter your login information for PayPal.

    You will then see the account has been added:

    Click Next.

    Click the Finish button.

    Edit Account Information

    To edit information in your accounts or change/activate online services, go to the Account Bar and right click on the account that you want to edit.

    You can also delete the account by clicking the Delete Account button.

    When you're finished, click OK.