How to Set up a Budget With Quicken 2013 and Later

Before You Start a Budget in Quicken

This is a sample of what a budget looks like in Quicken personal finance software.
Quicken / Intuit

Quicken 2013 added an improved module for budgeting with changes from previous years. This step by step tutorial takes you through setting up a budget with Quicken 2013 and later versions until there's another major change to this feature.

Some things to keep in mind when setting up your budget are:

  • It's easiest to start a budget after you have three months worth of transactions in Quicken. It is because the software pulls in all recurring expense categories automatically when a new budget is created.
  • If you used Quicken in the past and upgraded to the latest version, your data file was converted to the latest version. The last twelve months worth of transactions will automatically be used to create the budget.
  • New budgets will show average monthly expenses going forward, based on expenses from prior months and amounts are rounded up to the next dollar. If you're looking to improve your spending habits, you will need to make some changes to the budget Quicken automatically generates.
  • The new budget will only include expense categories, but if you want to add monthly income and transfers between accounts, I'll show you how to do so in step three of this tutorial.

Create a New Budget

The first step to creating a budget in Quicken is to give the budget a name and save it.
Screen Shot by Shelley Elmblad

Follow these steps to start setting up a budget in Quicken:

  1. Click on the Planning tab at the top, then click on the Budgets button found on the left just under the navigation tabs (Home, Spending, etc.).
  2. Click on the Budget Actions button on the right. This button has a drop down arrow next to the title, which indicates that there are multiple options to choose from, like create, duplicate or edit a budget, or select a budget report. You need to click on Create New Budget.
  3. The Create a New Budget window in Quicken, shown above, will open. Enter a name for your budget and click OK, unless you want to change the month the budget starts (the default is January-December, and most people don't change this). If you want to change the month that the budget starts, click on Advanced Budget Settings, then select Use a different calendar and use the drop down list to select the month.
  4. Click OK to save your budget.

Quicken will load the budget you just created. If you look at the top of the window to the left, you will see the name of your new budget in brackets.

Add or Remove Budget Categories

How to select and remove categories from a budget in Quicken.
Screen Shot by Shelley Elmblad

Once a new budget is created in Quicken, you will need to look over the categories that have been included. You can add and remove categories, including transfers and income that aren't included in when creating a new budget, using these steps:

  1. If you're not already in the budget feature, click on the Planning tab, then the Budget button near the top.
  2. Click Budget Actions then click on Select Categories to Budget, which is the first option.
  3. Choose categories you want to include in your budget by clicking on the box next to them. Quicken defaults to showing all categories. If you want to view only income or transfers, click on the titles on the left.
  4. Remove categories by clicking on the checked box next to the category name. When you remove a category, it's only gone from the budget planning. You can still assign transactions to the category in account registers if you wish, the amounts just won't appear in the budget.
  5. Down on the lower left, you'll see an option for showing hidden categories (see explanation below). If you want to view hidden categories, click on the box to show them. If you decide to use any hidden categories, be sure to unhide them (see below) in the category list, so they show up in your budget reports.
  6. Click OK to save your choices.

Hidden Categories Explained

Hidden categories are created to remove them from the drop-down list used to categorize income and expenses in the account registers. Using this option keeps this list shorter and easier to manage when working with transactions. New users will not have any hidden categories.

Unhide categories by clicking on Tools at the top of Quicken, Category List, then click in the Hide column.

Tip: Once your budget is done and you start using it, you can remove categories while working on your budget by right-clicking on the name of the category you want to remove.

Enter Budget Amounts

Quicken budget Annual View shows monthly budget details.
Screen Shot by Shelley Elmblad

You can enter budget amounts one of two ways. Either use Quicken's Graph View or switch to the Annual View. The Annual View allows you to enter varying amounts each month while you can only enter monthly amounts in the Graph View.

Switch between Graph and Annual views by selecting either from the drop-down box above the budget creation window or by clicking on the Budget Actions button on the right, then Switch to Annual View or Graph View.

Enter Amounts in Graph View

  1. Locate the last column with the title Budget while in Graph View.
  2. Click on a number in that column, across from the category you're budgeting for, and enter the monthly amount.
  3. When you click away from where you entered the number, it will be saved.
  4. Proceed to other sets of other budgeted amounts.

Enter Amounts in Annual View

  1. Annual View has columns for each month. Click on the row for the category you want to enter a budget amount for, then click on the corresponding box for the month you're entering a number for.
  2. Type in the amount for the month for the selected category. When you click out of the box, the amount is saved.

Tip: Use what ever method is easiest. If you have mostly expenses that do not vary from month to month, enter them in Graph View then switch to Annual View to enter variable expenses.

Accessing Budget Reports

Graph View and spending detail pop up in Quicken personal finance software.
Screen Shot by Shelley Elmblad

You've now completed the last step to setting up your budget in Quicken 2013 or later versions.

As you enter transactions, you can check the Graph View at any time to see how your spending compares to your plan. To get details on spending, click on the graph for any category, shown above.

You can get more detailed budget reports by clicking on Reports on the upper right, then select Current Budget or Historical Budget.