Almost every single financial topic I write about, research, track, measure or explore always comes back to one program that I use on a daily basis: Quicken. I use it to track every financial move I make and it’s a tool I couldn’t live without.
I highlighted my transition from MS Money to Quicken years ago; the transition was smooth and now Quicken is the first program I start and one of the only ones I use throughout the day. (The other one I use almost as much is Quickbooks for tracking our business financials.)
I’m working on putting together some of my favorite daily uses and highlights for readers who also use Quicken. However, I realized I got ahead of myself since we haven’t written about the basics of Quicken for those of you who aren’t already users (or who haven’t developed a love of tracking every penny over the last decade). To get everyone up to speed, I asked one of our assistant writers to summarize the basic features of Quicken:
Quicken is a personal finance software designed to allow people without a great deal of financial experience to plan and manage their finances. Quicken 2014 makes it possible to stop worrying about balancing your checkbook and tracking your finances. You can easily see any upcoming bills and your current net worth using the built-in financial tools. Quicken also helps you to create and manage a budget using a wizard that guides you through most of the most common transactions and budget categories. You can also forego the template and create your own budget and categories if you are a more experienced user.
Quicken, which is owned by Intuit who also owns the online Mint program, aims to simplify your life, increase your free time, and make the difficult job of managing your finances a thing of the past.
Quicken 2014 is recommended for anybody that wants to simplify their finances and get on track. If you have large debts, Quicken can help you devise a plan to pay those debts off. Users that want to track investments can take advantage of the advanced portfolio tracking services. Those who simply want to manage their checking and savings account, or track credit card transactions can do so quickly and easily with automated transaction downloads direct from your financial institution. Quicken is simple enough for anybody to use while advanced enough to appeal those with the most complex financial requirements. While there is a Mac version of the product, it is recommended that you use the Windows version when possible. Windows provides additional features and support for mobile devices not available on the Mac.
How Quicken Can Help You Improve Your Finances
Improve your finances with many of the time saving features included in Quicken 2014. Download your transactions securely from your bank, credit cards and loans directly to the financial software. Sort expenses by category automatically using Quicken’s intuitive transaction recognition. If a transaction isn’t categorized correctly, you can quickly change the category and Quicken remembers your preferences. Once you categorize your transactions, you can quickly view a chart of all your income and expenses over the last 30 days. The chart provides a visible and easy to understand format that clearly shows where the majority of your money is going. This makes it possible to analyze your spending to see areas where you can spend less.
Quicken analyzes your transaction history and makes it possible to create a realistic budget. Additionally, Quicken creates a forecast so that you know not only how much you currently have, but how much you have coming in. This makes it easier to plan for big purchases and helps you ensure that you have enough money in the bank when your bills are due.
Quicken Pros and Cons
- Download transactions automatically from your financial institutions.
- Comes with support for tracking your finances on the go with the mobile app.
- Scan and store receipts to simplify the process of completing your taxes.
- Track your business or home expenses using intuitive transaction labeling.
- Helps you to create and stick to a budget.
- Reminders alert you when a bill is due.
- Sends text and email alerts to keep you in control of your finances.
- Users can also upgrade to a more advanced version of Quicken and transfer all of the data.
- The mobile app doesn’t work with Mac-based computers and requires an iOS or Android device.
- Users must purchase more expensive versions to take advantage of advanced features.
- Transaction labeling doesn’t always provide a simple and easily identifiable transaction name.
- Starter edition doesn’t provide the ability to transfer existing data from other versions of Quicken.
The features that most users will appreciate the most are the ability to scan and store receipts, download transactions from financial institutions and project income and expenses. All three options are available in every version of Quicken. Scanning and storing receipts makes it possible to keep track of your transactions and provide more detailed information when necessary. The option to download transactions from your financial institution makes it easier to reconcile finalized transactions from your bank with your sales receipts. The forecasting feature takes the data from your past income and expenses and gives you a forecast of your future balance. Since your current balance alone doesn’t provide the whole picture, the forecast feature can help you anticipate expenses and prevent overdrafts when you forget about a transaction that is coming up.
Are you a Quicken user? Please share your favorite tips and tricks for getting the most out of Quicken!