Has anyone figured out a way to create a budget comparison report in Quicken for Mac?

emilyrathke
emilyrathke Member
edited January 10 in Reports (Mac)
When I used Quicken for Windows, I was able to create a budget report that compared my monthly (or yearly, etc.) spending (by category) to my budget and display the difference. This was the most useful tool! I can't figure out a way to do it in Quicken for Mac. Instead, I have to go through the hassle of printing my budget (in extremely tiny print) and doing this on my own. Hoping the software development team can provide that feature in a future update soon!! (The code should already be mostly there, since it's available in the Windows version.)

Answers

  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    First, I'd just note that the code in Quicken Windows has nit bearing on Quicken Mac; the two development teams do often try to make things work and/or look similar, but the programs are so different under the hood that code in one can't be moved to the other in any useful way.

    As for an actual versus budget report, this is an area of the program which the developers have inexplicably ignored for years; there is very limited functionality. As you've found, the only report to show budget versus actual is if you open your budget and print it — and that's not so useful, because it shows all 12 months, and it doesn't even total across the months.

    The only place you can see year-to-date budget versus actual is in the columns to the right of the category names. If your second column is January, click the "<<" icon to open the YTD columns; then click the "v" icon to toggle between Jan-December and Jan-current month. So that's good, right? Unfortunately, not really. First, these columns don't print when you print the budget. Second, it always shows actual versus budget through the current month. So if you view it today, December 9, you're seeing actual income and expenses through today and budget through the end of December; but what you likely want is to see is YTD through the end of the prior month (e.g. Jan 1-Nov 30) so you're comparing apples to apples. And there is no report to do that. So if you look on the last day of November, and all your transactions are up-to-date, you can view — but not print — your year-to-date through November. But if you wait until December 1 to look at it, the YTD column will be showing the budget through December, which you don't want.

    That said, there is a viable workaround, but it requires a minute or two to produce the budget comparison in a spreadsheet. Even if you're not a spreadsheet wizard, it's pretty straightforward. Here's how:
    • In Quicken's budget screen, click on the Export icon in the upper right, and select Export Full Budget to CSV.
    • Open the CSV file in Excel or Numbers or Google Sheets. The spreadsheet columns have the categories followed by three columns -- Actual, Budgeted, Difference -- for each month of the year.
    • Delete the columns to the right of any months you want (say, January through Match if you want a report through the first quarter).
    • In a blank column, on the first row of numbers, construct a formula the add the Actual values for each of the months. For instance, in Excel, that formula is "=C10+F10+I10" or "=SUM(C10,F10,I10)"
    • Click that cell and Fill Right for two columns, creating the sum of Budgeted and Difference values.
    • Select those three YTD cells you just created, and Fill Down down the entire length of the spreadsheet.
    In those columns you created, you now have the Actual, Budget and Difference for the months you retained. In the three top summary rows, you have total Income, total Expenses and total Difference (aka your bottom line gain or loss). If you want a nicer-looking report to keep or print, you can do additional work to improve the appearance of the spreadsheet if you wish, like creating column headings over the three YTD columns you created, bolding key values, eliminating some of the header rows, etc.

    Once you've done this a time or two, you'll find you can create such a spreadsheet in a minute or two, so you can get a viable budget-versus-actual report whenever you want one. It's obviously not as simple as being able to generate such a report in Quicken, but it is do-able… even though it's annoying to have to build each month. 

    (If you're an advanced spreadsheet user, you can build a spreadsheet with formulas for each month such that so you just have to export the Quicken report and paste it into one sheet, select your month, and see a YTD report in another sheet. I have an Excel file with three sheets: the first is where I paste in the export from Quicken; the second builds 12 columns of YTD actuals and 12 columns of YTD budget values from the first sheet; the third is my YTD report where I enter the month number and it pulls the appropriate actual and budget values from the second sheet. This allows me to generate a YTD budget report in 5 seconds without needing to create or edit any formulas — but building such a spreadsheet requires some proficiency.)

    The developers somehow thought their job was done when they provided a way to print the budget or dump it into a spreadsheet. Sadly, this seems to indicate that no one on the development team or management team actually uses the budget in Quicken Mac in real life, or they would understand how problematic this is. I continue to hope this is at or near the top of their development to-do list, but it's been several years since they added budgets and a modern reports engine... and so far, there's still no useful budget report. The good news is that the developers have stated that they are planning to add such a report feature to Quicken Mac; the bad news is that we don't know when such a feature will be released. 

    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
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