Quicken is a personal finance software tool that can help you track every penny you earn and spend. If desired, Quicken even helps you track tax deductions and automatic 401(k) contributions from each paycheck. For budgeting purposes, however, this level of detail can make things more confusing than they need to be. A working personal budget tracks take-home pay and day-to-day spending to ensure you're living within your means while helping you set aside extra for savings, special events or luxury items.
Open Quicken and select the "Planning" tab.
Click on the button labeled "Other Tools." Then, select the "Budget" option.
Click "Automatic," in the budget setup window if you have financial data already entered in the application, and Quicken will analyze previous spending patterns to create your budget.
Click "Manual" in the budget setup window if you don't want your budget setup automatically, or if you don't have any spending history added to the program yet.
Click "Create Budget" and customize the options for automatic setup. Otherwise, select "Create Categories."
Select all of the categories and accounts you want to track in your budget. For practical budget tracking, financial expert Dave Ramsey recommends showing only accounts and categories that directly relate to cash flow. Net pay, for example, and everyday bills or expenses are useful for working budgets whereas the value of your 401(k) is not since those funds are not part of your short-term spending plan.
Select each category individually and enter a monetary budget amount. Quicken lets you enter monthly, quarterly or annual budgeting totals for each item. If you're not sure how much money to budget, make estimates to start and then revise them as needed over time.
Save your budget when you're finished, and review it by clicking the "Summary" tab.
- Dummies: How to Budget Using Quicken 2010
- "The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness"; Dave Ramsey; 2007
Kathy Burns-Millyard has been a professional writer since 1997. Originally specializing in business, technology, environment and health topics, Burns now focuses on home, garden and hobby interest articles. Her garden work has appeared on GardenGuides.com and other publications. She enjoys practicing Permaculture in her home garden near Tucson, Ariz.