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Getting Started Guide for Quicken 2011

Updated: 2/15/2012 | Article ID: GEN82984

Getting Started with Quicken 2011 for Windows

Thank you for choosing Quicken!

This guide is for new Quicken users, but returning users are more than welcome!  Keep in mind, this is not an all-inclusive guide.  If you need help with a specific topic or message, please utilize the search tool at the top of this page.

If you are upgrading from a previous version to Quicken 2011 and need some guidance, go here.

You can download this guide in PDF format by clicking here.

In this guide, you'll find out how to:

Take a tour of Quicken

Quicken is designed to make your day-to-day tasks as easy as possible. Here is a quick introduction to the controls you will use most often.

Quicken is designed to make your day-to-day tasks as easy as possible. Here is a quick introduction to the controls you will use most often.

  • To download new transactions from your accounts linked to Quicken, click the blue circular arrow.  This will open the One Step Update window. You can also update the Quicken software when updates become available.
  • The Account Bar lists the accounts you have added to Quicken. You can click on each individual account to show its register, a list of transactions within an account.
  • Click an account name in the Account Bar to open its register.
  • Selecting the gear icon opens the Account List, where you can view, edit and make other changes to all of your accounts in one place.
  • Tabs along the top give you access  to tools and features organized around common financial activities.
  • Click on Add an Account at the bottom of the Account List to set up more accounts in Quicken.
  • In your account's register, you can click on a single transaction to make changes, or click on a blank line to enter a new transaction.
  • Also while in your account's register, you can click on the Account Actions menu of tasks, preferences, and reports related to the account you are working with.
  • Click Help to connect with other Quicken users in our Live Community forum.

Tour the Register in the following Video

Use the Home Tab

The Home tab is a dashboard where you can track your finances and stay on top of your bills. The Get Started button takes you to wizards that help you get set up.

2011_home

Set Up Your First Account

Watch the video or follow the instructions below

Follow these simple instructions and you will be up-and-running with Quicken in less than 10 minutes. Seriously!

  1. Click the Home tab at the top of the Quicken window.

    small_home

  2. Click Get Started in the See Where Your Money Goes section.

    get_started_money_goes

  3. Enter or choose the name of your bank.
    This is the bank where your primary checking account is located.
    Your primary checking account is the one you deposit your paycheck into and pay your bills out of.

    2011_enter_bank

    Note: If your bank is not on the list or prefer not to download (manually add your account), click on the Advanced Setup link at the bottom of the screen you are on and follow through the prompts. If you decide to take the route, you will not need to continue with the steps below.

  4. Enter your bank login information.
    For most people this is the same login they use for their bank's web site.

    2011_user_password_bank

  5. Click Connect.
    Quicken begins a conversation with your bank to discover what accounts you have. This can take about a minute to complete.

    2011_connect

  6. Set preferences for your Quicken accounts.
    Skip this step if you don't see the preferences screen.
    If you feel like it, give nicknames to your accounts. These names will be used in the Quicken interface and reports.
    If there are accounts you don't want to add to Quicken, select Ignore instead of Add.
  7. Quicken creates your accounts and downloads your transactions…

    Congratulations! If you've been following along, you've just added your first Quicken account!

    2011_account_added

    If you want to set up more accounts, click Add another account. If you don't, no problem; you can always add more accounts later.

Categorize Your Transactions

Categorizing your transactions lets you see where you're spending your money. The good news is that Quicken does most of this work automatically for you!

Quicken assigns categories to your transactions when it downloads them from your bank. For example, if you used your ATM card at Kroger, Quicken knows that Kroger is a grocery store and it automatically assigns the category Food & Dining:Groceries to the transaction.

In most cases, Quicken can accurately guess the category. In some cases, however, it won't recognize the transaction the first time it sees it -- for example, your rent check. Quicken also might assign a category to a transaction that you don't want -- for example, during that trip to Kroger you may have bought pet food, which you want to track under the category Pets:Pet Food & Supplies instead of Food & Dining:Groceries. Naturally, you'll want to assign the correct categories to your transactions.

Here's how…

Use the Spending tab to categorize transactions

The steps below use the Spending tab to assign a category to a transaction. The process is identical if you use a Quicken account register. However, a key advantage of using the Spending tab is that it alerts you if you have any uncategorized transactions. Nice!

  1. Select the Spending tab. The Spending tab shows you the transactions from your spending accounts. It also has a cool pie chart that shows you where your money is going.

    2011_spending

  2. Click the transaction that you want to change the category for.

    2011_category_change

  3. Click the 2011_arrow button next to the category you want to change.
  4. Click the category you want from the list.

    2011_categories

    If you don't see it at first, just start typing its name and Quicken will find it.
    If the category you want isn't in the list, click the Add Category button.

Update Your Accounts

Now that you've set up an account, you'll want to keep it up-to-date. To display and update your Quicken accounts:

  1. Click the One Step Update icon. (Or choose Tools from the top menu > One Step Update.)

    2011_accounts_one_step_update

  2. Enter the account password.

    2011_one_step_update_password

    Tip: If you want Quicken to remember the password, click Manage My Passwords.

  3. Click Update Now. Quicken downloads any new transactions and updates your account balance.

For more information, check out our article on Updating Transactions and Balances From Financial Institutions.

Reconcile Your Accounts

When you are ready, you can reconcile your accounts.

Set Up Your Bills and Income

OK. So now you have a one or two accounts set up in Quicken and you can download transactions and use categories to see where your money is going. What's next? What more could there be? Beyond tracking your spending, Quicken actually makes it easier to spend your money. And we mean that in a good way!

If you're like most people, you have pretty much the same bills every month and you get paid on a regular schedule. If you tell Quicken what your bills are, and when you expect income, it can remind you when your bills are due, and project your account balances into the future. This will help you avoid late fees and overdraft charges, and perhaps put some of that "extra money" you might have into your savings account. Imagine that! Here's how…

  1. Click the Home tab.

    2011_home_tab

  2. Click Get Started in the Stay on Top of Monthly Bills section.

    2011_get_started_monthly_bills

  3. Click Add a bill to tell Quicken about any bills it doesn't know about yet.

    2011_add_bill

    You can also click Edit to change the details of a bill, such as when it's due, the amount, etc. Click Next and tell Quicken about your paycheck and other income you may have. When you've finished, the Stay on Top Monthly Bills section on the Home tab lists your upcoming bills and any income for the selected date range. Tip: Click Options and select Change date range to change the time period displayed. 

    2011_bill_income_reminder

Set Spending Goals

If you've been following along and setting up Quicken as you work through this guide, you now know where your money is going, and where you stand regarding your upcoming bills and income. Knowing these critical facts about your finances sets the stage for the next huge benefit of Quicken: keeping your spending in line with your income. Think about it as "budgeting lite." And relax, you don't need to track each and every penny; tracking just a few critical spending categories is usually enough to keep your expenses under control.

How does Quicken do it? This will sound familiar: a section on the Home tab makes it easy to see if you're coming in under your target or if you're in danger of blowing your budget.

  1. Click the Home tab.

    2011_home_tab

  2. Click Get Started, in the Track Spending Goals to Save Money section.
    2011_get_started_track_spending
  3. Quicken displays a few categories you might want to track, and your average monthly spending for each.

    2011_monthly_spend_save

  4. Change your goals by editing the amounts and by choosing new categories to watch.

    Set some spending goals

  5. When you've finished, the Track Spending Goals to Save Money section on the Home tab shows you how you are doing on each goal, and your overall spending on all of your goals.

    2011_track_when_finished

Get More out of Quicken

When you start to feel more comfortable with Quicken, here are some things you might want to check out.

  • Pay your bills online: You can set up Quicken to pay your bills online without needing to go to your bank's website. For more information, in the Quicken Help Contents, choose Stay on top of your bills > Personal bills, expenses, & income > Paying bills online.
  • Manage your investments: You can add brokerage accounts to Quicken and track your investment performance from within the Investments tab. (Quicken Premier, Quicken Home & Business, and Rental Property Manager only.)
  • Track your business: If you own a business, you can track your income and expenses and performance. (Quicken Home & Business and Rental Property Manager only.) If you have a rental business, you can keep track of your properties. (Rental Property Manager only.)
  • Plan for tax time: The Tax Center in the Planning tab helps you keep track of information you'll need for tax time.
  • Report on your finances: Take a look at the reports and graphs in Quicken. You'll find reports like Income vs. Expense and Spending by Category - both very helpful when you're trying to figure out where you stand. Choose Reports menu > Reports & Graphs Center.
  • Add your paycheck: The Paycheck Setup wizard helps you enter all the income and deductions listed on your paycheck. Quicken uses this information in tax-related planners and calculators. Click the Planning tab, click the Tax Center button, and then click Add Paycheck.
  • Use the All Transactions register: The All Transactions register lets you review and work with transactions from all your spending, asset, and liability accounts in one place. This helps you easily identify uncategorized transactions, and edit your transactions in one place.
  • Set your preferences: You can configure Quicken so that it works the way you do. Choose Edit menu > Preferences.

Get Help When You Need It

We want to make sure you get the help you need. If after reading this guide you have questions, you can turn to the following resources.

  • Quicken Help Includes explanations about how features work and steps on how to do most tasks. From the Help menu, choose Quicken Help.

    2011_quicken_help

  • Quicken Live Community: An online forum where you can get answers from other Quicken users and experts. Click the Help button in the lower right of Quicken. You can also access Live Community at qlc.intuit.com.

    2011_live_communities

  • Quicken Support: If you run into a bug or other malfunction in Quicken, contact Support at quicken.com/support.

    2011_support_site

  • McGraw Hill's Quicken: The Official Guide Offers a more thorough intro to Quicken and all of its features. Available at many bookstores and online.

    2011_official_guide

Thank you again!

We sincerely hope this short guide gets you up-and-running with Quicken. We really appreciate your business and work hard every day to make Quicken the best personal finance solution on the market.

The Quicken Team

 
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