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IntroductionMoney pervades our lives, simultaneously desired and disdained. Most of us can't t get along without it and would love to have more of it. Yet many of us don't t do an especially good job of managing the money that we do have. How often have you heard people say things like "I don't know where all my money goes"? Many people live from paycheck to paycheck, just getting along with no financial plan for the future and hardly any control over their financial present. In the meantime, they're building up consumer debt and digging themselves a hole that will take a long time to get out of.
Sound familiar? It certainly does to me; I was one of those people for many years. I finally got fed up with feeling that my finances were out of my control, so one December evening I bought a copy of Quicken Deluxe and promised myself that I would start using it when the new year began. Unlike some of my other New Year's resolutions, I did start using Quicken, and melodramatic as it sounds, it changed my life. I used Quicken to take stock of my finances and identify where I was handling my money poorly. Then I came up with a plan to pay off my debts and start saving for the future. I then kept track of my plan using Quickens reports and graphs. Today I'm happy to say that I no longer wonder what my financial picture is, because Quicken gives me all the information that I need. There were some ups and downs, but I made it to fiscal sanity. So can you.
If you want to get better control over your finances, this book is for you. I'll show you how to use Quicken to help you get out of debt, manage your present finances, and invest for the future.
Welcome, iMac owners!Id especially like to welcome aboard owners of Apple's cool iMac computer. In fact, you folks are one of the main reasons this book was written; when I found out in 1998 that every iMac would include a copy of Quicken Deluxe, I suggested to my editors at Peachpit Press that iMac owners deserved a book about Quicken that was as friendly as the iMac itself. I was sure that the iMac was going to be a hit. Luckily, they had the good sense to agree. With Quicken Deluxe 2001 shipping with iMacs beginning Fall 2000, it made sense to update the book this third time for the new version and for all those new iMac owners.
Just the facts, Ma'amI have to admit that I don't t have a lot of patience for computer books that are thick and heavy enough to cause injury if you accidentally drop them on your foot. I'd rather open a book, find out how to do a task, and toss the book back on the shelf without wading through endless blather and more details than I ever wanted to know.
In this book, I've organized different financial tasks into chapters, and within each chapter are step-by-step directions that tell you exactly how to accomplish various tasks.
My assumptions about youIn writing this book, I've made the following assumptions about you. First, you own Quicken Deluxe 2001 and a Macintosh powerful enough to run the program. That's not a difficult requirement, as Quicken 2001 will run on any machine using a PowerPC processor, with at least 32 of RAM and virtual memory turned on, running Mac OS 8.6 or higher. You'll also need a monitor with a video resolution of 800 x 600 or higher. That pretty much means that if your Macintosh was built anytime after about 1994, and you've been reasonably diligent in upgrading the Mac OS system software, chances are it will run Quicken just fine.
I've also made the assumption that you're familiar with the basics of using a Macintosh. You don't t need be a Mac guru, although you shouldn't t be stumped by concepts like selecting text, clicking and dragging, and using files and folders. If you need to brush up on the essentials, allow me to suggest that you pick up a copy of the excellent Mac OS 9: Visual QuickStart Guide, by Maria Langer, coincidentally also published by Peachpit Press.
Last, I've made the assumption that if you have bought this book, you're a person of uncommon discernment, style, and grace.
If you're just leafing through these pages in a bookstore, I'm trusting you not to let me down.
What's not in this bookBecause I wanted to write a book that was genuinely useful, rather than one that slavishly touched every base and documented every Quicken feature, I had to decide what I didn't want to put in the book. So I looked through Quicken for features that were little used or that weren't that great. The first feature to get the heave-ho was Budgeting.
Making budgets is one of those things that everyone says they want to do but hardly anyone really does. This isn't just my opinion; I've seen surveys of real Quicken users that bear me out. My apologies to you if you are one of the few, the proud, who really do budgets. A close relative to Budgeting is Forecasting, which also did not make the cut.
Although I've included two chapters on investments, those chapters are intended for the relatively light-duty investor. If you have a modest stock portfolio, some mutual funds, and some other savings plans, the investment chapters should work just fine for you. But it you're constantly churning your portfolio, buying and selling options, and otherwise serious about playing the markets, you might find my investment chapters to be a bit thin.
I've also skipped over some of the less interesting of Quickens companion programs, such as the Quicken Home Inventory program, which is one of the few outright flops in the otherwise-excellent Quicken package.
Let's get startedA popular bit of pop philosophy states, "The journey is the reward." I'm afraid that my pragmatic side says that when it comes to money, I believe that "The reward is the reward." In this case, the reward of using Quicken can mean smarter control over your finances and in turn a better and richer life for yourself and for your family. That's a journey well worth taking. Thanks for joining me.