How to Set up a Cash Account in Quicken

Use This Feature to Keep Your Budget on Track

screenshot of Quicken
••• Intuit

If you're keeping close track of your budget, it might help to set aside a cash account for some of your purchases so you can monitor your spending. Quicken makes it easy to set up and use cash accounts—and you can transfer money into and out of these just like with other accounts.

Using a Cash Account

Having a cash account allows you to compartmentalize your money. If self-discipline isn't your strong suit, this can come in handy.

Say you have just two accounts: checking (which you use for spending money) and savings (which is for a rainy day). With just two financial groupings—saving or spending—you might find that money doesn't always find its way to your savings account as you intended it to. You pay your monthly bills and for discretionary items out of your checking account, and it may seem like that account balance invariably falls pretty low before your next paycheck hits the bank.

You can separate your must-pay bills from your discretionary spending when you set up a cash account. Mandatory expenses can continue to come out of your regular checking account, while flexible "extras" will come out of your cash account.

You can divert a reasonable portion of your income there, and should that account fall empty before your next payday rolls around, you'll know it's time to cool it with your spending. Postpone your unnecessary purchases until payday and stay on budget.

Cash accounts are also useful for keeping track of flexible spending account (FSA) expenses and reimbursements. Just set up a new cash account and name it Flexible Spending Account, or something similar, and enter your FSA transactions as they occur. This will allow you to stay on top of your FSA balance as the year progresses.

Setting up a New Cash Account

You can set up a new cash account in Quicken simply and easily.

  1. First, go to the top of the account bar in Quicken and click the plus sign to add an account. If you prefer, you can instead click on "Tools," then choose "Add Account" from the dropdown list.
  2. The account setup window should pop up. Select "Cash" under the account category of "Spending and Saving," then click on the "Next" button at the bottom right.
  3. Name the account so you can easily distinguish it from your other accounts, especially if you'll be setting up multiple cash accounts for different purposes. Click "Next."
  4. Enter details for the date you want to start using the account and the amount of cash that you have on hand and will be tracking in this account. The date to start tracking will default to today's date, but as with the account name, you can accept that or change it. (Remember that this is cash, not money in another account that you've earmarked for other purposes.) Click "Next."
  5. Quicken will tell you that the account has been added. At this point, you can click on "Finish" at the lower left to go back to using Quicken. If you want to set up another account, whether it's a cash account or something else, click on "Add Another Account" instead to go back to the beginning of the account setup process.

Your new cash account will now show up on the left in the account bar under the "Banking" category. If you run into trouble, click on "Help."

Different Versions of Quicken 

Your version of Quicken may not match these steps exactly, but the guidance should still apply. The steps for Quicken 2010 are virtually identical to Quicken 2011. Quicken's 2016 and 2017 versions differ mostly in the enhanced number of accounts you can add, but Quicken 2017 substitutes a plus sign (+) for "Add an Account" at the bottom of the account bar. From there, the on-screen instructions will guide you along. More recent versions of Quicken operate in much the same way.

For Mac users, Quicken for Mac instructs you to click on Accounts and then "New" to add a new account on computers using the macOS operating system.

Article Sources

  1. Quicken Help. "How Do I Transfer Money Between Accounts?" Accessed Feb. 17, 2020.

  2. Quicken Help. "How Do I Enter Accounts and Transactions Manually in Quicken for Windows?" Accessed Feb. 17, 2020.

  3. Quicken Help. "Adding Accounts To Quicken." Accessed Feb. 17, 2020.

  4. Quicken Help. "Adding Accounts and Downloading Transactions in Quicken for Mac." Accessed Feb. 17, 2020.