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Quicken 2004 for Dummies

Quicken 2004 for Dummies

by Stephen L. Nelson
Effectively managing money is essential to achieving your financial goals, but if the mere thought of money management makes your palms sweat, you’re not alone. If you run a small business, financial management can be the key to success. Whether it be personal or business finances, you’ll have a tough time if you don’t take care of the dollars with


Effectively managing money is essential to achieving your financial goals, but if the mere thought of money management makes your palms sweat, you’re not alone. If you run a small business, financial management can be the key to success. Whether it be personal or business finances, you’ll have a tough time if you don’t take care of the dollars with sense.

Money management programs like Quicken can save the day, but some of those are almost as confusing as the whole financial management mystery itself. Furthermore, the constant changes in tax laws and interest rates require them to be updated frequently. That’s where Quicken 2004 For Dummies comes in. Whether you’ve just bought Quicken software for the first time or you’re updating from a previous version, this book will help you

  • Set up Quicken 2004 for your personal or business needs
  • Handle your checkbook
  • Manage accounts payable and receivable
  • Take control of your finances
  • Prepare for tax time

If you’re familiar with an earlier version of Quicken, you can skip the basics and jump right into upgrading the program and using the newest revision. Either way, you’ll find out how to

  • Manage the bills for your family or business and set up a checkbook
  • Maintain detailed financial records and generate reports
  • Track your expenses and tax deductions
  • Make the most of your investments and set up a savings program to reach your goals
  • Control your credit cards and unlock the mystery of interest accrual
  • Handle accounts payable and receivable, and keep track of business income and outgo
  • Set up the records you’ll need to make filing taxes much easier

With Quicken 2004 as your electronic financial assistant, you may find managing your finances is no longer scary. Quicken 2004 For Dummies makes it quick and easy to find out.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Quicken has been around for 20 years, and every year it gets more powerful. The folks at Intuit exert superhuman efforts to keep it simple. But, let’s face it: Your finances are probably anything but simple. For millions of folks, using Quicken is a desperate attempt to bring order to a monthly deluge of statements and new financial data.

More than a million Quicken users have chosen one book to help them get up-and-running: Stephen L. Nelson’s Quicken for Dummies. They want a book that would be both easy and enlightening -- and that’s what they get. The new Quicken 2004 adds still more features...and, like clockwork, the new Quicken 2004 for Dummies is here to tame them.

Nelson may be the world’s No. 1 author on personal and small business accounting software. If so, it’s because he doesn’t just write books. His day job is helping individuals and entrepreneurs set up their books. He’s constantly seeing their goals and challenges firsthand -- and the obstacles that stand in their way. It shows.

He begins by walking you through “setting up shop” -- installing Quicken and getting it configured with your accounts. Along the way, he makes some suggestions that you’ll appreciate down the road, at tax time. (Don’t start with last month’s statement, start with last year’s final statement. It’s easier than you think, and it’ll help you start planning more effectively, too.)

After you get comfortable with Quicken’s working interface, you’ll master its core checkbook functions: recording checks, deposits, and transfers; splitting categories; deleting and voiding transactions; memorizing recurring transactions, and so forth. Nelson focuses on techniques that make data entry faster and easier, so you’ll be more likely to stick with it.

There’s detailed coverage of Quicken’s powerful online features, plus a full chapter on reports and charts (check out Quicken 2004’s new Net Worth Monitor, which can monitor asset changes over time, broken down by cash, property, or investments).

Next, you’ll learn how to use Quicken 2004 to manage credit and debit cards. If you’re among the enlightened minority who never carry a balance, this is cake. But for many of us, life’s a little messier than that -- so you need to worry about tracking interest (not to mention paying it.) Nelson walks you through everything from setting up credit card accounts to reconciling them. (Elsewhere, he offers some handy tricks for tracking down errors and discrepancies -- great for when you and Visa don’t remember events quite the same way.)

The book focuses on Quicken 2004 Premier (though much of what’s in here applies to the other versions, too). Since Premier has significant home/small business functionality, this book helps you there, too. In particular, you’ll find a full chapter on payroll, and another on managing receivables and payables.

Whether you have a business or not, Nelson’s money-savvy approach will help you use Quicken to do what it’s supposed to do: build wealth. (Take a look, in particular, at his “(Almost) Ten Tips on How Not to Become a Millionaire.”) Personal finance will never be easy. But together, Quicken and Nelson come as close as you can possibly expect. Bill Camarda

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Quicken 2004 For Dummies

By Stephen L. Nelson

John Wiley & Sons

Copyright © 2003

Stephen L. Nelson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7645-4234-6

Chapter One

Setting Up Shop

In This Chapter

* Installing Quicken

* Touring Quicken

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

* Retrieving existing Quicken data files

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 have 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 from menus and how to enter stuff into 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 overviewof how you work in Windows. Read the
stuff in the appendix, or at least skim it, and then come back to this chapter.

When I say Windows, I mean a recent version of Windows - something
Microsoft is either currently selling or has sold in the last five years. Quicken
2004 won't run on Windows 3.1, so if you want to run the latest version, I'm
afraid it's time to upgrade.

Installing and Starting Quicken

You install Quicken the same way 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 do need help installing Quicken, let me give you the step-by-step

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 2004
Installation window, shown in Figure 1-1. Your window may appear
slightly different if you're installing some other version of Quicken than
Quicken Premier - which is what I am installing in Figure 1-1.

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 this doesn't get Windows to 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 a tool called Add/Remove Programs.
For help on how to do this, refer to your Windows user guide or a good
book about your version of Windows (such as Windows XP For Dummies,
written by Andy Rathbone and published by Wiley Publishing, Inc.).

2. Click Next.

Quicken then asks you a few questions:

The first question is whether you accept the Quicken license

The next, as shown in Figure 1-2, asks whether you want to perform
an Express or Custom installation. Unless you want to spend time
figuring out which features you'll use and muck about storing all the
bits and pieces of Quicken in different places, go with the Express

The installation program also asks whether you want to install the
U.S. version or the Canadian version.

3. Answer these three questions by clicking the appropriate buttons.
Click Next to move to the next question. Then click the Install Now
button when you answer the last question.

Quicken installs itself. This process takes a few minutes. Along the way,
you see several screenfuls of messages including marketing information
about the features new to Quicken 2004 and some progress reports on
the installation itself.

If you're upgrading from an earlier version of Quicken to Quicken 2004, the
installation program also displays a message at the start of the installation.
It says that if you install Quicken 2004 in the same default quickenw
directory, it'll need to uninstall the current version of Quicken. Because
this uninstallation of "old" Quicken is sort of a big deal - what if you want
to use the old Quicken? - the installation program asks you to confirm
this bit of minor risk-taking.

When in doubt about some installation option, just accept the default
suggestion by pressing Enter.

After the installation is complete, Quicken displays the message shown
in Figure 1-3. If you want to start the Quicken program, check the Launch
Quicken 2004 When I Click Finish check box. If you don't, uncheck the box.

4. Click Finish.

Congratulations. You're done.

After you install Quicken, you need to start it to finish the setup process. If
you told the installation program to launch Quicken 2004, you should see the
Quicken program window on your screen. If you didn't tell the installation
program to launch Quicken, you need to start Quicken.

The easiest way to start Quicken is to double-click the Quicken shortcut icon
that (post-installation) appears on your Windows desktop. The Quicken program
window appears, almost like magic.

Finishing Setup If You've Used
Quicken Before

If you've used a previous version of Quicken, the Quicken program indicates
that it has found an old Quicken data file and gives the data file's name, as
shown in Figure 1-4. Use option buttons to indicate what you want to do next:

Open the found data file, open some other data file, or start over from
scratch with a new data file. You want to use your existing data file, so select
the Open a File Located on This Computer option button, and you're done.
You're ready to begin Quickening.

Finishing Setup If You Haven't
Used Quicken Before

If you haven't used Quicken before - or if you have but you want a fresh start
and a fresh set of accounts - you need to set up a new data file. (A data file is
the place where all your financial records are stored.) This set-up process
occurs automatically as part of setting up your first bank account in Quicken.
What happens next depends on whether you've used Quicken before:

  •   If you haven't used Quicken before, Quicken automatically sets up a data
    file for you (you don't need to worry about it) and starts the Quicken
    Guided Setup. You may see a dialog box that asks if you're a new user
    and then one that asks where you want to store the Quicken data file.
    Eventually, you see the dialog box shown in Figure 1-5.

  •   If you have used Quicken before, Quicken asks you to name the new data
    file (using a familiar-looking dialog box named something like Create
    New Data File), and then it starts the Quicken Guided Setup, as shown
    in Figure 1-5.

    Running the Quicken Guided User Setup

    Okay. Here's the deal. The Quicken Guided User Setup walks you through a
    three-step process that asks about your personal financial affairs as well as
    asks a few other questions. (You walk through the steps by clicking the Next
    Step button in the lower-right corner of the window.)

    The first step asks you to provide some personal information: your name, your
    spouse's name, your birth date, number of dependents, and so on. Figure 1-6
    shows the window that collects this information. Answer the questions by
    typing information into the appropriate boxes or clicking the appropriate buttons.
    That's it. Simple stuff.

    The second step asks you to check boxes that correspond to financial management
    tasks you want to accomplish with Quicken. (You can check as many
    boxes as you want; but at a minimum, you want to check the Manage My
    Checkbook and Bills box.)

    The third step - and this is key - provides buttons that you click to
    describe the accounts that you want to manage with Quicken, as shown in
    Figure 1-7.

    Now I need to explain something here. The Quicken Guided Setup assumes
    that you're going to set up everything you need or will ever need in Quicken
    all at once and in the beginning. You can do that if you want, but that's not
    my suggestion. You can easily add stuff later, when you want it. So, I suggest
    that you set up your principal checking account or accounts in the beginning.
    Later on, if you want to set up credit card accounts or manage your investments
    or track a rental property, you can quickly set up the accounts and
    other stuff you need then. Sound okay?

    My reasoning in suggesting this is that I'd like you to have some experience
    working with Quicken before you go hog wild. Focus first on those personal
    accounting tasks that you absolutely will want to perform. This approach
    gets you working with Quicken - happily, productively, and successfully - from
    day one. If you want to do more in a week or a month or a year, great.
    You can easily do more, and by then, you'll know so much more about
    Quicken that adding these other tasks will be a snap.

    Setting up an account with
    the Guided Setup

    To set up an account for your principal checking account from within the
    Quicken Guided Setup, display the Add Cash Flow Accounts window (refer to
    Figure 1-7) by clicking the Cash Flow Center button. (This button appears on
    the left edge of the Quicken window and is cleverly labeled, "Cash Flow
    Center.") Then follow these steps:

    1. Click the Add Account button that's next to the Checking label.

    Quicken displays the Quicken Account Setup dialog box (see Figure 1-8).

    2. Identify the financial institution - usually a bank - by typing your
    institution's name into 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. If you see your bank or whatever listed, select
    it. If you don't see your bank listed, mark the This Account Not Held at a
    Financial Institution button.

    When you click Next, Quicken displays the third Quicken Account Setup
    dialog box, as shown in Figure 1-9.

    3. Tell Quicken that you want to set up a checking account by marking
    the Checking option button. Then click Next.

    4. Tell Quicken the name you want to use for the checking account. Then
    click Next.

    You do so by typing a name in the Name This Account text box, as
    shown in Figure 1-10. By the way, you can be as general or as specific as
    you want. But remember, brevity is a virtue; be as concise as you can.
    The reason is that 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.

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

    When Quicken asks for the ending statement date, enter the date of your
    last bank statement. This is the date, by the way, on which you will start
    using Quicken. Enter the date in MM/DD/YYYY fashion. Figure 1-11
    shows the dialog box that Quicken uses to ask for this information.
    "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 June 2,
    2004, type 06/02/2004, or you can type 6/2/2004.

    6. Enter the ending bank statement balance by referring to your bank

    This balance is whatever shows 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 into the Ending Balance text box.

    7. After you type the bank statement balance, click the Done button.

    Quicken removes the Checking Account Setup dialog box and redisplays
    the Add Cash Flow Accounts version of the Quicken Guided Setup window
    (refer to Figure 1-7). If you want to add another account, simply repeat
    Steps 1 through 8.

    8. After you add the accounts you need - and, again, I think you can
    start with one or, if you really want, two - click the Next Step button
    to continue moving through the Guided Setup.

    9. Eventually, you really do finish, although you need to click Next Step
    another four or five times, depending on how much stuff you've said
    you want to do with Quicken from the get-go. Then you click Done
    and OK.

    Quicken will ask you if you want to set up other accounts for tracking your
    debts and maybe even your investments. But you know what? Go ahead
    and skip setting up this other stuff for now. I recommend keeping stuff
    simple in the beginning. If all you ever do with Quicken is track your bank
    accounts, you get about 90 percent of the value of the product anyway.
    And you save yourself a bunch of work.

    In the end, voila, the Quicken program window appears, as shown in
    Figure 1-12.

    Steve 's Overview

    You don't need to know much about the mechanics of the Quicken interface - the
    way its windows work - 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 want to make a couple of quick comments.

    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 Programs -> Quicken 2004.

    Quicken changes the way its
    document windows look

    Quicken doesn't use document windows the way that other Windows applications
    do. Quicken basically turns document windows into pages that you leaf
    through by clicking the window buttons that appear along the left edge of the
    program window. Back in Figure 1-12, for example, you see buttons for Cash
    Flow Center, Investing Center, and Property & Debt.

    A few words about financial activity
    centers' QuickTabs

    Quicken arranges all of its features - whistles, bells, or whatever else you
    want to call them - into financial activity centers. For example, the Cash Flow
    Center and the Investing Center and the Property & Debt Center are all financial
    activity centers. You get the picture. Each of these centers gets its own


    Excerpted from Quicken 2004 For Dummies
    by Stephen L. Nelson
    Copyright © 2003 by Stephen L. Nelson.
    Excerpted by permission.
    All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

  • Meet the Author

    Stephen L. Nelson, MBA, CPA, provides accounting, business advisory, and tax planning preparation services to small businesses. He’s a member of the American Institute of CPAs and a prolific author.

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