Quicken® 2011 For Dummies®

Table of Contents


About This Book

How to Use This Book

What You Can Safely Ignore

What You Should Not Ignore (Unless You’re a Masochist)

Three Foolish Assumptions

The Flavors of Quicken

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: Zen, Quicken, and the Big Picture

Part II: The Absolute Basics

Part III: Home Finances

Part IV: Very Serious Business

Part V: The Part of Tens

Part VI: Appendixes

Conventions Used in This Book

Special Icons

Where to Next?

Part I: Zen, Quicken, and the Big Picture

Chapter 1: Setting Up Shop

Installing and Starting Quicken

Finishing Setup If You’ve Used Quicken Before

Finishing Setup If You’ve Not Used Quicken Before

Already a Quicken user?

Are you new to Quicken?

Describing Your Banking

Slogging Through More Setup Stuff

Steve’s Overview

Starting Quicken for the second time

Using the Accounts bar

Navigating with Tabs

Solving Tricky Setup Problems

Did somebody say Macintosh?

The mysterious case of the missing Quicken data files

Migrating from Microsoft Money

Chapter 2: Introduction to the Big Picture

Boiling Quicken Down to Its Essence

Tracking tax deductions

Monitoring spending

Printing checks (and other forms)

Tracking bank accounts, credit cards, and other stuff

Planning your personal finances

Banking online

Setting Up Additional Accounts

Setting up another banking account

Hey, Quicken, I want to use that account!

Whipping Your Category Lists into Shape

Subcategories . . . yikes, what are they?

Category groups . . . double yikes!

Four tips on categorization

Ch-ch-changing a category list

Want to Play Tag?

Chapter 3: Maximum Fun, Maximum Profits

Should You Even Bother with a Budget?

Serious Advice about Your Secret Plan

Your personal Secret Plan

Two things that really goof up Secret Plans

Setting Up a Secret Plan

Introducing the Budget window

Entering budgeted amounts

Reviewing the options

Reviewing your budget

What to do after you enter your budget

Part II: The Absolute Basics

Chapter 4: Checkbook on a Computer

Getting Started

Finding Your Checkbook

Recording Checks

Entering a check in the register

Changing a check you’ve entered

Packing more checks into the register

Sorting transactions

Working with a kooky (and clever) little thing named QuickFill

Recording Deposits

Entering a deposit into the register

Changing a deposit you’ve already entered

Recording Account Transfers

Entering an account transfer

Working with the other half of the transfer

Changing a transfer you’ve already entered

Splitting Transactions

Steps for splitting a check

Editing and deleting split categories

Deleting and Voiding Transactions

The Big Register Phenomenon

Moving through a big register

Finding that darn transaction

Pop-Up Calendars and Calculators

Attaching Flags, Notes, and Images

Chapter 5: Printing 101

Printing Checks

What if you make a mistake entering a check?

Printing a check you’ve entered

What if you discover a mistake after you print the check?

Printing a Check Register

Chapter 6: Online and In Charge

What Are Online Account Access and Online Bill Payment?

Wise Whys and Wherefores

Banking with Online Account Access and Online Bill Payment

Finding an online bank — online

Paying bills

Transferring money between accounts

Updating your Quicken accounts

Chapter 7: Reports, Charts, and Other Cool Tools

Creating and Printing Reports

Printing the facts, and nothing but the facts

Reviewing standard reports

Finding the report you want

Going to the printing dog-and-pony show

Editing and rearranging reports

Charts Only Look Tricky

QuickReports: Last But Not Least

Chapter 8: A Matter of Balance

Selecting the Account You Want to Balance

Balancing a Bank Account

Telling Quicken, “Hey, man, I want to balance this account”

Giving Quicken the bank’s information

Explaining the difference between your records and the bank’s records

Ten Things You Should Do If Your Account Doesn’t Balance

Make sure that you’re working with the right account

Look for transactions that the bank has recorded but you haven’t

Look for reversed transactions

Look for a transaction that’s equal to half the difference

Look for a transaction that’s equal to the difference

Check for transposed numbers

Have someone else look over your work

Look out for multiple errors

Try again next month (and maybe the month after that)

Get in your car, drive to the bank, and beg for help

Chapter 9: Housekeeping for Quicken

Backing Up Is Hard to Do

Backing up the quick-and-dirty way

Deciding when to back up

Losing your Quicken data after you’ve backed up

Losing your Quicken data when you haven’t backed up

Working with Files, Files, and More Files

Setting up a new file

Flip-flopping between files

When files get too big for their own good

Using and Abusing Passwords

Setting up a file password

Changing a file password

Chapter 10: Compound Interest Magic and Other Mysteries

Noodling Around with Your Investments

Using the Investment Savings Calculator

Trying to become a millionaire

The Often Unbearable Burden of Debt

Using the Loan Calculator to figure payments

Calculating loan balances

The Refinance Calculator

The Retirement Calculator

The dilemma in a nutshell

Retirement planning calculations

If you’re now bummed out about retirement

Retirement roulette

Cost of College

The College Calculator

If you’re now bummed out about college costs

Planning for Taxes

The Other Planning Tools

Part III: Home Finances

Chapter 11: Credit Cards, Petty Cash, and PayPal

Tracking a Credit Card

How to Set Up a Credit Card Account

Adding a credit card account

Selecting a credit card account so that you can use it

How to Enter Credit Card Transactions

Touring the credit card register

Recording a credit card charge

Changing charges you’ve already entered

Paying credit card bills

Reconciling That Crazy Account

What the nasty credit card company says

Ouch! Did I really spend that much?

If you record a transaction wrong, do this

Oh, that explains the difference

If you’re ready to finish

If you want to postpone the inevitable

Paying the bill as part of the reconciliation

The Online Banking Hoopla

Should you even bother?

How to use Online Account Access with your credit card

Petty Cash and Mad Money

Adding a cash account

Tracking cash inflows and outflows

Recording checks you cash instead of deposit

Updating cash balances

PayPal Can Be Quicken’s Friend

Chapter 12: Other People’s Money

Should You Bother to Track Your Debts?

How Do You Get Started?

Setting up a liability account for an amortized loan

Fixing loan stuff

Delivering a Pound of Flesh (Also Known as Making a Payment)

Recording the payment

Handling mortgage escrow accounts

Your Principal-Interest Breakdown Won’t Be Right

So you can’t change the world

Think this adjustment business is kooky?

Automatic Payments

Scheduling a payment or a reminder

Another way to schedule transactions

Checking out the Calendar

Chapter 13: Tracking Tax-Deferred Investments

Deciding to Use Investment Features

Are your investments tax-deferred?

Are you a mutual fund fanatic?

Some investors don’t need Quicken

Many investors do want Quicken

Tracking a Tax-Deferred Investment

Setting up a tax-deferred investment account

Recording your initial investment

Buying investments

Recording your profits

Selling investments

Correcting a mistake

Working with slightly tricky investment transactions

Reconciling an account

Trying reports

Using menu commands and other stuff

Updating Securities Prices

Chapter 14: Stocks and Bonds

Setting Up a Brokerage Account

Recording your initial share balances

Working with brokerage accounts

Setting up security lists

Working with cash

Recording other not-so-tricky transactions

More Quick Stuff about Brokerage Accounts

Monitoring and updating securities values

Adjusting errors

A few words on the Investing tab’s other tools

Part IV: Very Serious Business

Chapter 15: Mind Your Business

Setting Up a Business the Quicken Way

Describing your business(es)

Designing business invoices

Identifying invoice items

Working with Customers

Setting up a Customer Invoices account

Invoicing your customers

Printing invoices

Recording customer payments

Issuing credits and making refunds

Business Bookkeeping Whistles and Bells

Jobs and projects

Using finance charges, estimates, and statements

Managing vendor bills

Vehicle Mileage Tracker

Quicken Dirty Payroll

Getting ready for payroll

Setting up the wages expense category

Setting up the payroll tax expense category

Getting the taxes stuff right

Depositing taxes

Tax deposit tips

Filing quarterly payroll tax returns

Computing annual returns and wage statements

Doing the state payroll taxes thing

Chapter 16: Managing Rentals

Describing a Rental Property

Describing Tenants

Recording Tenant Rent Payments

Recording Rental Expenses

Tracking Rental Property Profits

Part V: The Part of Tens

Chapter 17: (Slightly More Than) Ten Questions I’m Frequently Asked about Quicken

What Are Quicken’s Best Features?

Does Quicken Work for a Corporation?

What Happens to Stockholders’ Equity in Quicken?

Does Quicken Work for a Partnership?

Can I Use Quicken for More Than One Business?

What Kinds of Businesses Shouldn’t Use Quicken?

Can I Use Quicken for Real Estate Investing?

Can I Use Quicken Retroactively?

Can I Do Payroll with Quicken?

Can I Prepare Invoices?

Can I Import Data from an Old Accounting System?

What Do You Think about Quicken?

Chapter 18: (Almost) Ten Tips on How Not to Become a Millionaire

Ignore the Fact That You Can Build Wealth by Investing in Ownership Investments and Earning Average Returns

Ignore the Fact That You Can Get Much, and Maybe Most, of the Money from Tax Savings and Employer Matching

Don’t Tap Your Computer’s Power to Develop Wealth-Building Insights

Give Up, Because It’s Too Late to Start Anyway

Get Entangled in at Least One “Get-Rich-Quick” Scheme

Fake It with False Affluence

Give In to the First Big Temptation of Wealth Building

Give In to the Second Big Temptation of Wealth Building

Chapter 19: (Almost) Ten Troubleshooting Tips

Tactics #1 and #2: Use the Quicken Help File and This Book

Tactic #3: Visit the Quicken Product Support Web Site

Tactics #4 and #5: Check the Microsoft or the Hardware Vendor Product Support Web Site

Tactic #6: Contact Intuit Directly

Tactic #7: Try a Quicken Newsgroup

Tactic #8: Install and Use Antivirus Software

Tactic #9: When All Else Fails . . .

Part VI: Appendixes

Appendix A: Quick-and-Dirty Windows 7

Choosing commands with the furry little rodent

Choosing commands by using the Alt+key combinations

Using shortcut-key combinations

Disabled commands

Using command icons

Text boxes

Check boxes


Option buttons

Command buttons

List boxes

The Learn About Next Steps After Setup command

The Quicken Help command

The Current Window command

The Product And Customer Support command

The Quicken Live Community command

The Quicken Support command

The User Manuals command

The Submit Feedback On Quicken command

The Join The Quicken Inner Circle command

The About Quicken command

The Privacy Statement command

The Register Quicken command

The Unlock Again command

The Add Business Tools and Rental Property Tools commands

Appendix B: Glossary of Business, Financial, and Computer Terms

Quicken® 2011 For Dummies®

by Stephen L. Nelson, MBA, CPA


About the Author

Stephen L. Nelson is a CPA in Redmond, Washington. Nelson has an undergraduate degree in accounting, a Master of Business Administration degree in finance, and a Master of Science degree in taxation. He’s spent more than two decades helping individuals, real estate investors, and businesses manage their finances — usually, in part, by better use of computer systems such as Quicken.

As corny as it sounds, Steve truly enjoys writing books that make using personal computers easier and more fun. In fact, a substantiated rumor that appeared first in The Wall Street Journal says Steve has written more than 150 computer books.

Steve is the best-selling author on the Quicken product. In fact, Wiley recently tallied up Steve’s Quicken For Dummies sales — and darned if Wiley hasn’t printed more than one million copies!

Author’s Acknowledgments

I want to acknowledge the help of two groups. First, a huge thanks to the wonderful folks at Intuit who helped me by providing the beta software and other friendly assistance for this and past editions of this book, especially including Roger Kimble, Dale Knievel, Laura Messerschmitt, Aaron Patzer, Kjirsten Petersen, and Jayme Ringer.

Another big thank-you to the editorial folks at Wiley Publishing, Inc., including Kevin Kirschner (project editor), Debbye Butler (copy editor), and Bob Woerner (executive editor). Thanks also to David Ringstrom for his technical assistance and superb attention to detail. Finally, thanks, too, to the composition staff.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Kevin Kirschner

Executive Editor: Bob Woerner

Copy Editor: Debbye Butler

Technical Editor: David H. Ringstrom

Media Project Supervisor: Laura Moss-Hollister

Editorial Assistant: Amanda Graham

Sr. Editorial Assistant: Cherie Case

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Katherine Crocker

Layout and Graphics: Joyce Haughey

Proofreaders: John Greenough, Penny L. Stuart

Indexer: Christine Karpeles

Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies

Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher

Mary Bednarek, Executive Acquisitions Director

Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director

Publishing for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher

Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


You aren’t a dummy, of course. But here’s the deal: You don’t have to be some sort of technogeek or financial wizard to manage your financial affairs on a PC. You have other things to do, places to go, and people to meet. And that’s where Quicken 2011 For Dummies comes in.

In the pages that follow, I give you the straight scoop on how to use Quicken 2011 for Windows, without a lot of extra baggage, goofy tangential information, or misguided advice.

About This Book

This book isn’t meant to be read from cover to cover like some Dan Brown page-turner. Rather, it’s organized into tiny, no-sweat descriptions of how to do the things you need to do. If you’re the sort of person who just doesn’t feel right not reading a book from cover to cover, you can, of course, go ahead and read this thing from front to back.

I can recommend this approach, however, only for people who have already checked the TV listings. There may, after all, be a Dog the Bounty Hunter rerun on.

How to Use This Book

This comment dates me, but I’m not ashamed to say that I always enjoyed reading those encyclopedias my parents bought for my siblings and me. I could flip open, say, the E volume, look up elephants, and then learn just about everything I needed to know about elephants for a fifth-grade report: where elephants live, how much they weigh, and why they eat so much.

You won’t read anything about elephants here, but you can use this book in the same way. If you want to learn about something, look through the Table of Contents or index and find the topic — printing checks, for example. Then flip to the correct chapter or page and read as much as you need or enjoy. No muss. No fuss.

If you want to find out about anything else, you can, of course, just repeat the process.

What You Can Safely Ignore

Sometimes I provide step-by-step descriptions of tasks. I feel very bad that I have to do this. So to make things easier for you, I highlight the tasks with bold text. That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re supposed to do. I also often provide a more detailed explanation in regular text. You can skip the regular text that accompanies the step-by-step descriptions if you already understand the process.

Here’s an example that shows what I mean:

1. Press Enter.

Find the key that’s labeled Enter. Extend your index finger so that it rests ever so gently on the Enter key. In one sure, fluid motion, press the Enter key by using your index finger. Then release the key.

Okay, that’s kind of an extreme example. I never go into that much detail. But you get the idea. If you know how to press Enter, you can just do that and not read further. If you need help — say, with the finger depression part or something — just read the nitty-gritty details.

Can you skip anything else? Let me see now. . . . You can skip the paragraphs with the Technical Stuff icons next to them. See the “Special Icons” section, later in this Introduction, for an example of the Technical Stuff icon. The information I stick in those paragraphs is really only for those of you who like that technical kind of stuff.

What You Should Not Ignore (Unless You’re a Masochist)

Don’t skip the Warnings. They’re the text flagged with the picture of the 19th century bomb. They describe some things you really shouldn’t do.

Out of respect for you, I’m not going to put such stuff in these paragraphs as “Don’t smoke.” I figure that you’re an adult. You can make your own lifestyle decisions.

So I’ll reserve the Warnings for more urgent and immediate dangers — things akin to “Don’t smoke while you’re filling your car with gasoline.”

Three Foolish Assumptions

I assume just three things:

You have a PC with Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7.

You know how to turn it on.

You want to use some flavor of Quicken 2011.

The Flavors of Quicken

Okay. I lied in the preceding section. I’m going to assume one more thing: You own or somehow have access to a copy of Quicken.

You may be interested to know that Quicken comes in several versions. It doesn’t really matter which one of the several versions you have. Each version works in basically the same way, and this book applies to them all. But because each version has a few unique features, you may find that your screen doesn’t look exactly like the screens shown in this book. You may, for example, have a few buttons that you don’t see in the figures I show you. Don’t worry if this happens. It probably means that you’re working with a different version than I am.

Just to let you know, I used the super-duper, includes-everything version to write this book. You can tell this because the menu bar, which appears in some of the figures, shows both a Rental Property menu and a Business menu. If you have a different version, your menu bar will not show these menus. Your title bar (if you compare) will also show a different name

The upshot here? Don’t freak out if your version of Quicken 2011 looks a wee bit different from the figures shown in this book.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is organized into six mostly coherent parts.

Part I: Zen, Quicken, and the Big Picture

Part I covers some up-front stuff you need to take care of. I promise I won’t waste your time here. I just want to make sure that you get off on the right foot.

Part II: The Absolute Basics

This second part of the book explains the core knowledge you need to know in order to keep a personal or business checkbook with Quicken: using the checkbook, printing, reporting on your finances, using online banking, balancing your bank accounts, and using the Quicken calculators.

Some of this stuff isn’t very exciting compared to The Colbert Report — which really is a good show, isn’t it? — so I work hard to make things fun for you.

Part III: Home Finances

Part III talks about the sorts of things you may want to do with Quicken if you’re using it at home: credit cards, loans, mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. You get the idea. If you don’t ever get this far — hey, that’s cool.

If you do get this far, you’ll find that Quicken provides some tools that eliminate not only the drudgery of keeping a checkbook, but also the drudgery of most other financial burdens.

While I’m on the subject, I also want to categorically deny that Part III contains any secret messages if you read it backward.

Part IV: Very Serious Business

The “Very Serious Business” part helps people who use Quicken in a business or for real estate investing.

If you’re pulling your hair out because you’re using Quicken in a business, postpone the hair pulling — at least for the time being. Read Part IV first. It tells you about measuring profits, preparing payroll for any employees, tracking the amounts that customers owe you, and other wildly exciting stuff.

Part V: The Part of Tens

By tradition, a For Dummies book includes “The Part of Tens.” It provides a collection of ten-something lists: ten answers to frequently asked questions about Quicken, ten ways not to become a millionaire, and ten tips for troubleshooting Quicken when you encounter a problem.

Part VI: Appendixes

It’s an unwritten rule that computer books have appendixes, so I include two. Appendix A gives you a quick-and-dirty overview of Windows for those new to the world of Windows. Appendix B is a glossary of key business, financial, and computer terms.

Conventions Used in This Book

To make the best use of your time and energy, you should know about the following conventions I use in this book.

When I want you to type something, such as Hydraulics screamed as the pilot lowered his landing gear, I put it in bold letters.

By the way, with Quicken, you don’t have to worry about the case of the stuff you type (except for passwords, which are case sensitive). If I tell you to type Hillary, you can type HILLARY. Or you can follow e. e. cummings’s lead and type hillary.

Whenever I describe a message or information that you see on the screen, I present it as follows:

Surprise! This is a message on-screen.

Special Icons

Like many computer books, this book uses icons, or little pictures, to flag things that don’t quite fit into the flow of things. For Dummies books use a standard set of icons that flag little digressions, such as the following:

technicalstuff.eps This icon points out nerdy technical material that you may want to skip (or read, if you’re feeling particularly bright).

tip.eps Here’s a shortcut to make your life easier.

remember.eps This icon is just a friendly reminder to do something.

warning_bomb.eps And this icon is a friendly reminder not to do something . . . or else.

Where to Next?

If you’re just getting started, flip the page and start reading the first chapter.

If you have a special problem or question, use the Table of Contents or the index to find out where that topic is covered and then turn to that page.

Please note that some special symbols used in this eBook may not display properly on all eReader devices. If you have trouble determining any symbol, please call Wiley Product Technical Support at 800-762-2974. Outside of the United States, please call 317-572-3993. You can also contact Wiley Product Technical Support at

Part I

Zen, Quicken, and the Big Picture


In this part . . .

When you go to a movie theater, some prerequisites are necessary for the show to be truly enjoyable. And I’m not referring to the presence of Angelina Jolie or Will Smith on the screen. Purchasing a bucket of popcorn is essential, for example. One should think strategically both about seating and about soda size. And one may even have items of a, well, personal nature to take care of — such as visiting the little boys’ or girls’ room.

I mention all this stuff for one simple reason: To make getting started with Quicken as easy and fun as possible, you have to complete some prerequisites, too. And this first part of Quicken 2011 For Dummies talks about these sorts of things.

Chapter 1

Setting Up Shop

In This Chapter

Installing and setting up Quicken

Setting up your bank (or other) accounts if you’re a first-time user

Providing a Quicken overview

Solving setup problems

If you’ve never used Quicken, begin here. This chapter tells you how to install Quicken (if you haven’t already) and how to start the program for the first time. You also find out how you go about setting up Quicken accounts to track banking activities — specifically, the money that goes into and out of a checking or savings account.

If you’ve already begun to use Quicken, don’t waste any time reading this chapter unless you want the review. You already know the stuff it covers.

By the way, if you have Windows, I assume that you know a little bit about it. No, you don’t have to be some sort of expert. Shoot, you don’t even have to be all that proficient. You do need to know how to start Windows applications (such as Quicken). It also helps immensely if you know how to choose commands on menus and how to enter stuff in windows and dialog boxes. If you don’t know how to do these kinds of things, flip to Appendix A. It provides a quick-and-dirty overview of how you work in Windows. Read the stuff in the appendix, or at least skim it, and then come back to this chapter.

remember.eps When I say Windows, I mean a recent version of Windows — something Microsoft is either currently selling or has sold in the last few years. Quicken 2011 won’t run on Windows versions earlier than Windows XP, so if you want to run the latest version, I’m afraid it’s time to upgrade. By the way, for the computer I used to write this book, I used Windows 7.

Installing and Starting Quicken

You install Quicken the same way that you install any program in Windows. If you already know how to install programs, you don’t need any help from me. Stop reading here, do the installation thing, start your newly installed Quicken program, and then start reading the next section, “Finishing Setup If You’ve Used Quicken Before.”

If you need help installing Quicken, here are the step-by-step instructions. Installing Quicken from a CD-ROM is as easy as one, two, three, four:

1. Insert the CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive.

In a short amount of time, Quicken should display the Quicken 2011 install wizard window. I’m not going to show this window in a figure. There’s really nothing in the window to talk about. The window just reads Welcome to the InstallShield Wizard for Quicken 2011.

Note: If nothing happens when you put the CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive, don’t panic! First, try removing the CD and then putting it in again. If Windows still doesn’t recognize the CD, you need to tell Windows that it should install your Quicken program. In many versions of Windows (but not necessarily with your version), you do this with the Windows Control Panel by using the Programs tool. To do this, refer to your Windows user guide or a good book about your version of Windows (such as Windows 7 For Dummies, written by Andy Rathbone).

2. Click Next.

Quicken then displays a window that asks you a couple of questions:

• Whether you accept the Quicken license agreement.

• Whether you’re okay if Quicken sends anonymous usage statistics to Intuit.

You can answer the install wizard’s questions by checking the boxes in front of the questions.

3. Click Next.

Quicken displays the next window of the install wizard, which asks where you want to install Quicken. You should accept the installation’s program suggestion. (The installation program suggests a Quicken subfolder in your Program Files folder.)

4. Click Next.

Quicken displays yet another window of the install wizard that indicates the wizard needs to install the Quicken software and may need to update the software, too. Assuming you’re okay with all this — and you should be — click the Install button.

Quicken installs itself. This process takes a few minutes. Along the way, you may see other screenfuls of messages, including marketing information about the features new to Quicken and some progress reports on the installation itself.

After the installation is complete, Quicken displays an installation complete message.

5. Click Done.

Congratulations. You’re done.

After installing the Quicken software, the installation program starts the Quicken program to finish the setup process.

Finishing Setup If You’ve Used Quicken Before

If you’ve used a previous version of Quicken, the Quicken program might show option buttons to indicate what you want to do next: Open the found data file. (Alternatively, you can indicate that you want to open some other data file.) You’re done. You’re ready to begin Quicken-ing.

tip.eps The Quicken setup process can usually tell whether you’ve used Quicken before. The setup process knows where the Quicken installation program usually puts the Quicken program and data files, and the installation program will look there. If you’ve used Quicken before but Quicken can’t see this, two possibilities exist: The first possibility is that you put the Quicken data file someplace weird. (If that’s the case, hopefully, you remember the weird place you hid the Quicken data file. But if not, see the later section, “The mysterious case of the missing Quicken data files,” at the end of this chapter.) The second possibility is that you didn’t do anything with the Quicken data file but that the data file has somehow gone missing. (If that’s the case, hopefully you backed up the Quicken data file to a CD or to some other disc from which you can restore the data file.)

Finishing Setup If You’ve Not Used Quicken Before

To finish up the setup when you’ve not used Quicken before, the program displays a friendly welcome message (not shown), which asks you to indicate whether you’re a new Quicken user (or someone who wants to start over from scratch as if you’re a new user) or if you’re already a Quicken user and need to open a file from a previous version of Quicken.

You indicate your Quicken status by selecting the appropriate option button and then clicking the big, blue Get Started button. What happens next depends on which button you click.

Already a Quicken user?

If you’ve used Quicken before and select the I Am Already A Quicken User option, Quicken then displays another Get Started With Quicken 2011 window that asks whether you want to open a Quicken file located on this computer, restore a Quicken data file you’ve backed up to CD or disc, or start over and create a new data file.

If you indicate that you want to open another Quicken data file located on the computer, Quicken displays a dialog box that asks where that file is. If you indicate that you want to grab a backup copy of the Quicken file, Quicken displays a dialog box that asks where that file is. Presumably, if either of these situations is your case, you’ll know where the data file or backup copy of the data file is.

Are you new to Quicken?

If you indicate that you’re a new Quicken user, Quicken automatically sets up a data file for you (you don’t need to worry about it). Next, Quicken prompts you to register. (You might as well do this. The registration takes only a few minutes. All you do, in a nutshell, is provide your name and address, a bit of information about how you use Quicken, and your e-mail address.)

After the data file is set up, Quicken starts the home page (see Figure 1-1). The Setup Center walks you through the steps for setting up Quicken. (You can find out much more on this process in the next section.)

Figure 1-1: The Quicken home page.


Describing Your Banking

If you haven’t used Quicken before or are starting over from scratch, the first time you start Quicken 2011, the program shows a home page that includes a big Get Started button in (roughly) the middle of the screen.

Clicking the Get Started button allows you to provide information about your primary checking account and its current balance. Figure 1-2 shows the window that collects the first part of this information, but just so you don’t get confused, here are the precise steps you take:

Figure 1-2: The first Add Your Primary Checking Account window.


1. Identify the financial institution — usually a bank — by typing your institution’s name in the text box provided.

As you type, Quicken displays a list of financial institutions that match what you’ve typed so far. The more you type, the shorter the list of possible matching institutions.

2. Tell Quicken whether you want to download transactions directly from your bank or enter transactions manually.

If your bank provides Internet access to your bank account — and many banks do — Quicken knows. And as a result, Quicken attempts to not-so-subtly push you into just grabbing data from the bank’s Web site. I’m going to suggest, however, that you maintain your account manually. You have plenty of time later to find out how online banking works. (Online banking is really cool, though. See Chapter 6 for more information.)

That said, however, if you see your bank listed and you want to use online banking, select the bank and click Next. When you click the Next button, Quicken displays another version of the Add Your Primary Checking Account window, which asks for the username and password required to access your bank account electronically. To download transactions and account balance information directly from your bank’s Web site, you will need to provide this information. After you provide this information, click the Connect button to test the username and password information.

If you don’t want to use online banking quite yet and are happy to start slow and go manually at the start, click the Advanced Setup hyperlink at the bottom of the Add Your Primary Checking Account window. Quicken won’t quite believe you’re bold enough to ignore its strong advice to go digital and so will display another Add Your Primary Checking Account window that provides option buttons you can use to indicate you want to download transactions or that you want to enter transactions manually (see Figure 1-3). Click the Enter Transactions Manually button.

Figure 1-3: The second Add Your Primary Checking Account window attempts to force you to do online banking.


Note: Quicken may not get into this online banking stuff if Quicken can tell that your bank doesn’t support online banking.

3. Tell Quicken the name you want to use for the checking account.

You do so by typing a name in the Account Name/Nickname text box, shown in Figure 1-4. Furthermore, if given the choice, click one of the option buttons that may appear below the Account Name/Nickname text box to indicate whether you’re using the bank account primarily for business finances, personal finances, and so on. By the way, as far as the account name goes, you can be as general or as specific as you want. But brevity is a virtue here, so be concise: Quicken uses your account name to label stuff within the Quicken window and on Quicken reports. If you use a long account name, the name may not always fit on reports and screens.

Figure 1-4: The third Add Your Primary Checking Account window.


4. Enter the ending bank statement date by referring to your bank statement.

After you provide Quicken with a name and general description of the account’s transactions, click Next, and Quicken displays another account setup dialog box (shown in Figure 1-5) that asks about the account’s ending statement date and ending statement balance. Enter the date of your last bank statement into the Statement Ending Date text box. This date, by the way, is forward from which you will start using Quicken. Enter the date in MM/DD/YYYY or MM/DD/YY fashion.

“Geez, Steve,” you’re now saying to yourself, “what’s MM/DD/YYYY fashion?” Okay. Here’s an example: If your bank statement is dated August 10, 2011, type 8/10/2011, or you can type 081011.

5. Enter the ending bank statement balance by referring to your latest bank statement.

This balance is whatever appears on your bank statement. This balance is also the amount of money in your account on the date you begin your financial record keeping. If you have $4.16 in your checking account, type 4.16 in the Statement Ending Balance text box.

6. After you type the bank statement balance, click the Next button to continue moving through the account setup.

Ultimately, you’ll see a window that provides buttons you can click to start using Quicken and to add additional bank accounts and even credit card accounts.

If you have several other bank accounts that you want to set up within Quicken, repeat the preceding steps for each account. Just click the button that refers to adding another bank account.

Figure 1-5: The fourth Adding Your Primary Checking Account window.


Slogging Through More Setup Stuff

Okay, from my perspective, after you’ve described your bank account(s), you’re ready to start using Quicken. With Quicken, the key thing you want to do is track your bank account or accounts so you can monitor and measure your income and your outgo. And so that you know how much money you have in an account.

The folks at Intuit, however, allow you to provide the Quicken program with a lot more information about your financial affairs. Specifically, the Intuit gang let you describe in detail your income sources and your regular expenditures.

To tell Quicken all about your income and outgo, click the Get Started button, which appears in the Stay On Top Of Monthly Bills area of the home page. When you do, Quicken displays the first Stay On Top Of Monthly Bills window, shown in Figure 1-6. To describe a recurring bill (like your rent check, car loan payment, and so on), you click the Add A Bill button. Then, when Quicken displays the Add Bill Reminder dialog box (not shown), you describe the bill in detail, including who gets paid, when they should be paid, why they’re paid, and so forth. (I’m not going to describe the Add Bill Reminder dialog box here because I talk about it in detail in Chapter 12 when the subject of loan payments comes up.)

If you click the Next button shown in the bottom-right corner of the Stay On Top Of Monthly Bills window, Quicken displays a second version of the Stay On Top Of Monthly Bills window, shown in Figure 1-7. The second version of the Stay On Top Of Monthly Bills window provides an Add A Paycheck button and an Add Other Income button.

Figure 1-6: The first version of the Stay On Top Of Monthly Bills window.


Figure 1-7: The second version of the Stay On Top of Monthly Bills window.


To provide more information to Quicken — such as information about your income — click a button like the Add A Paycheck or Add Other Income button. After you click one of these sorts of buttons, Quicken displays dialog boxes that ask for the gory details. If you click the Add A Paycheck button, for example, Quicken asks for the name of your employer and for the details of your paycheck.

Steve’s Overview

You don’t need to know much about the mechanics of the Quicken interface — the way its window looks and works — to begin working with Quicken, especially in any chapters in this book in which I cover the basics. I provide plenty of detailed instructions, but I have a couple of quick comments now.

Starting Quicken for the second time

The second time you start Quicken — and every subsequent time — things work pretty much the same way as the first time. Double-click the Quicken icon on your desktop. Or, if you like doing things the hard way, click Start and then choose Quicken 2011.

Using the Accounts bar

Along the left edge of the program window, just beneath the boldface word Accounts, Quicken lists the accounts you’ve set up. In other words, if you set up a single checking account, the Accounts bar shows just that single checking account. If you set up 13 bank accounts because that’s just the sort of person you are, the Accounts bar shows the 13 checking and savings accounts.

You can display the transactions you’ve entered for an account shown in the Accounts bar by clicking the account name. (I talk more about this in Chapter 4.)

You can collapse the Accounts bar by clicking the minus (-) symbol that appears in front of the word Accounts. If you’ve previously collapsed the Accounts bar, you can expand the bar by clicking the plus (+) symbol that appears in front of the word Accounts.

Navigating with Tabs

Quicken arranges all its features — whistles, bells, or whatever else you want to call them — using navigation tabs that appear near the top edge of the window. For example, if you look closely at Figure 1-1, you will see tabs labeled Home, Spending, Bills, Planning, and Investing.

If you’re still confused, click the buttons and bits of text in the area of the Quicken window that I’m talking about. You’ll clearly see how things work.

tip.eps If you click the Home or Bills tab and you haven’t yet set up enough of Quicken to use the features provided by the tab, you encounter a blue Get Started button. If you click the Get Started button, Quicken steps you through setting up the tabs features.

Solving Tricky Setup Problems

I want to quickly go over a handful of annoying setup problems new Quicken users may encounter. If you have Quicken set up and are ready to roll, skip this stuff.

Did somebody say Macintosh?

You can use the existing old Quicken files if you’re working with a new version of Quicken. In fact, if the Quicken installation program can find a version of old Quicken files on your computer, it gives you the option of just skipping all the Quicken Express Setup stuff. In this case, you just begin using your existing files. (I mention this point earlier in this chapter, in fact.)

If you’ve been using Quicken for Macintosh, however, you have to export your data from the Macintosh before you can read it in the Windows version. And I can think of about a million things more fun to do than exporting Quicken data from a Mac to Windows. See the section in Chapter 17 on importing data from an old accounting system for a brief discussion on the procedure and some suggestions for better ways to spend your time.

The mysterious case of the missing Quicken data files

If Quicken doesn’t find the old files, you need to open the specific files. But if you have this problem, you should be able to solve it yourself. What has happened, if you find yourself in this boat, is that you’ve moved or messed around with the Quicken files with some other program, such as Windows. If you did that, presumably you had a reason. And more to the point, you should know where you put the files.

Migrating from Microsoft Money

Suppose that you’re moving from Microsoft Money to Quicken. The question of the hour is this: Can you reuse your old or existing Money files in Quicken? The answer is, “Yes, sort of.”

First of all, the Quicken File menu includes an Import command that lets you import files from Microsoft Money 2007 or 2008. So far, so good.

Further, if you’ve got an older version of Microsoft Money you want to convert data from, you can download a program called Data Converter from the Quicken support Web site. Data Converter converts Microsoft Money data files from Microsoft Money 2003 and later versions to the Quicken 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 file format. Quicken 2011 should easily then convert one of these old-format Quicken files to the Quicken 2011 file format. So, theoretically, you can move old Microsoft Money data files to Quicken.

Practically, however, moving financial information from Quicken to Money or vice versa doesn’t seem to work all that well. Transactions seem to get lost. Account balances get messed up. People ruin their lives. Well, maybe that last comment is a slight exaggeration. But, no kidding: Migrating is problematic. If you do want to move from one program to another, I suggest making sure that you have a really good reason for doing so and that you allow yourself enough time to track down and correct any errors. The Data Converter is available from— use the search term Microsoft Money after you select your Quicken version.