how to categorize money in bank when starting with Quicken

Disclaimer: I'm new to quicken and trying to figure out the best way to organize things. I've tried searching for answers but I haven't found any so let me know if I missed anything.

I'm running Quicken for windows through a subscription. I've gotten my bank accounts synced in, but I am not sure how to make quicken show how that money is earmarked. From what I understand, I can either use categories in my budget, or savings goals. What are some of the pros and cons for both options (and any other ones I'm missing)?

To categorize the money in the bank, I have tried creating a seperate budget for the first month, but the category balances for the next month are off. Any ideas how to fix that? Is there a better way to earmark the existing money in the bank?

Also, on a side note, is there a way to set a date range for a budget (aka a specific budget won't show up before a certain month and year)?

Best Answer


  • David Christopher
    David Christopher Member ✭✭✭✭
    "I am not sure how to make quicken show how that money is earmarked."

    Savings Goal is the way to go with earmarked funds that will remain in the account but not be reflected as available to spend. Make the Goal in Planning>Savings Goal.
    Next set up a Transfer Reminder in Bills and Income Tab for each Goal. 
    The money will be in the account but it will not be reflected in the in the Balance Column of your register unless you right click on the Account Bar and select 'Show savings goal transactions in register'.
    Your online balance after a reconciliation will reflect what is in bank and include the sum of your savings goals for that account.

    I have never heard of using a category to earmark money, so no wonder your budget does not work. You can place your savings goals in the budget and they show up at bottom as an expense to the period income.  In the budget building portion select the savings goals you want to track in the "Select Categories to Budget" from the "Savings Goals" section.  

    Later when whatever it is you saved for comes due, "In Categories to Budget for" on the 'Transfers In', choose the savings goal.  Then your normal income will be in Income section of Budget as well as the money from the savings goal.  Then Transfer the money required from the Savings goal account to the contributing register. 

    ""Also, on a side note, is there a way to set a date range for a budget (aka a specific budget won't show up before a certain month and year)?""

    The budget in Quicken has an Annual View or a Monthly View.  Let's say you pay property tax once a year and have a savings goal for that. You transfer the money into the goal each month. When it is due, you transfer it back to your contributing account. On the budget for the month the tax is paid you budget for the withdrawal of the money from goal back to contributing account, then in the Income section you will have a line for From Property Tax and you fill in the budget column there for the amount you transferred.  Then in the expenses you have a line for the Property Tax category that you budget the same amount and when the bill is paid in register to Treasurer or whoever, and the difference line in all three of those will zero out. 

    So I think that is what you are asking but not for an entire budget but for the Line items of a budget.   

    I took three screenshots to give you a visual from my budget last May when I paid my Property Taxes for real. Income section, Expense Section, and Savings goal section.

  • OK, so if I am understanding you correctly, for any budget line items that may have some leftover money in the positive or negative each month (such as restaurants or clothes), they can be handled by using the rollover feature in the budget.

    For items that will carry over for an extended time (say a year or more), such as property tax or homeowner's insurance), the easiest way is to transfer the money in Quicken from the budget to a savings goal. The transfer would happen at the beginning of each budget cycle and would have to be done manually. And the savings goals are completely separate from the budget?

    Then when the item is due, instead of transferring money out of the budget to a savings goal, the money from the savings goal will need to be transferred to the budget so the item can be paid.

    Thank you for posting those pictures, they helped to make sense of how the savings goals works.

    Now for the transfer to using Quicken. To clarify, before starting with Quicken I was using excel to track the amounts for each budget line item then had to keep a register to track what was in the bank, so Quicken removed a step.

    To complicate things, my income and budget are a month off. Meaning my paychecks from September are for my October budget.

    So for example (not real numbers, just examples), when I started using Quicken on September 1, my bank account had a balance of $10,000 in it. My monthly budget is $4,000. Leaving $6,000 for savings goals. But $500 of that $6,000 is rollover amounts for budget line items that get spent month to month (restaurants, clothes, gas, etc.).

    Would transferring the whole $500 into savings goals then transferring it back to the budget line item work to make Quicken understand how to handle that money? Or am I trying to do something that Quicken is not designed/unable to do?
  • Thanks for the detailed explanation, I read through it a few times over these last few days and it explains well how the process works!
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