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How To Track Your Perfect Getaway in Quicken

By Janean Comfort

Let’s say you're planning a summer vacation to somewhere tropical, and you want to track all your vacation-related spending in Quicken. By using both categories and tags, you can ensure you stay within your budget and review your expenses later. This method will give you a comprehensive and organized view of your spending while helping you manage your finances better. Tracking spending in Quicken offers a variety of benefits that can enhance your financial management and planning. It is nice to know exactly where your money is going, and having a plan can reduce financial stress. Overall, tracking spending in Quicken provides a structured approach to financial management, helping you achieve your financial goals, stay organized, and make informed decisions. This month, we look at how to set up this method of planning in both Quicken Classic for Windows and Quicken Classic for Mac.

Using Categories and Tagging

Quicken enables users to create detailed budgets, set spending limits for various categories, and track their progress against these budgets. This is perfect for when you are going on vacation.

Let’s look at how to track your getaway using categories and tagging in Quicken. Tracking a vacation in Quicken involves creating specific categories and tags to accurately record all related expenses. Here are the exact steps on how you can do this in both Quicken Classic for Windows and Quicken Classic for Mac:

Quicken Classic for Windows

  1. Create a Vacation Category:
    • Go to Tools > Category List.
    • Click on New Category.
    • Enter a name for your category, such as "Vacation".
    • Choose a type (e.g., Expense).
    • Click OK to save.
  2. Create Subcategories for Different Expenses:
    • Repeat the above steps to create subcategories under "Vacation" like "Airfare," "Accommodation," "Meals," "Entertainment," etc.
    • For each subcategory, choose "Vacation" as the parent category.
  3. Record Transactions:
    • Enter your vacation-related transactions in the appropriate accounts.
    • Select the relevant category or subcategory for each expense.
  4. Use Tags for Additional Tracking:
    • Go to Tools > Tag List.
    • Create a new tag, such as "Vacation2024".
    • Apply this tag to all your vacation-related transactions for better organization and reporting.
  5. For more information on working with categories, please visit this support article.

Quicken Classic for Mac

  1. Create a Vacation Category:
    • Go to Quicken > Preferences > Categories.
    • Click on the + button to add a new category.
    • Enter a name for your category, such as "Vacation".
    • Choose a type (e.g., Expense).
    • Click Done to save.
  2. Create Subcategories for Different Expenses:
    • Follow the same steps to create subcategories under "Vacation" like "Airfare," "Accommodation," "Meals," "Entertainment," etc.
    • For each subcategory, set "Vacation" as the parent category.
  3. Record Transactions:
    • Enter your vacation-related transactions in the appropriate accounts.
    • Select the relevant category or subcategory for each expense.
  4. Use Tags for Additional Tracking:
    • Go to Window > Tags.
    • Create a new tag, such as "Vacation2024".
    • Apply this tag to all your vacation-related transactions for better organization and reporting.
  5. For more information on working with categories, please visit this support article

Tips for Both Versions

  • Budgeting: Set a budget for each vacation subcategory to keep track of your spending against your planned budget.
  • Reports: Generate reports filtered by the "Vacation" category or tag to see an overview of all your vacation expenses.

By organizing your vacation expenses with categories and tags, you'll have a clear view of your spending and can plan future vacations more effectively.

Question of The Month

How do you plan and budget for your vacations and trips using Quicken? Are you able to stick to your budget once the trip begins?

Latest Releases

The latest Quicken for Windows release R57.12 is now live and available to all users for Quicken Classic for Windows. Some highlights from this release are:

Improved:

  • Imports from Quicken Mac Business & Personal now include additional business information.
  • Added institution names to icons of top listed financial institutions.
  • Print preview for reports is more readable.

Fixed:

  • Closed and Hidden accounts were not included by default in cards.
  • Excessive login requests for customers.
  • Issue expanding Compare-to-Register (C2R) display.

We also released a Hotfix version R57.16. We fixed an issue preventing some users from making local backups of their data files and an issue with incorrect values in customized Investment Performance Reports.

Before you install any update, we recommend you perform a One Step Update. You should also make a backup of your data file. To see all the current releases for Windows, please visit this support article.

We released Version 7.7 & 7.7.1 (4/2024 & 5/2024) for Quicken Classic for Mac users. Some highlights from these releases are:

We improved the Sidebar customization menu, allowing you to more easily toggle between balance types (Today, Online, and Projected). We’ve also streamlined the progress indicator in the Sidebar while updating accounts. Reports can now be customized by Memo field and Reconciliation Status, and you can export mileage tracking records to .CSV. Lastly, we fixed a crash that could occur when downloading transactions or syncing on Intel-based Macs.

To see all the current releases for Mac, please visit this support article.

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Comments

  • Palace
    Palace Member ✭✭✭
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    I support everyone who chooses to track vacation spending. More power to ya. Me, I prefer to set aside a predetermined amount of money for vacation expenses. When that runs out, guess what, I calculate my vacation time is over 🤔 Be it one day, one week, or one month. I don't wish to spend time on vacation transcribing where I'm spending money. Just spend my time doing what I find fun and interesting, as the mood strikes.

  • Jim_Harman
    Jim_Harman SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
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    I track vacation spending using the Travel Category. I use Tags to track the destinations. Almost all vacation expenses are charged to a credit card, so I just set the Category and Tag when the transactions download. I don't find it necessary to track airfare, hotel, restaurants, car rental, etc separately.

    QWin Premier subscription
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
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    I didn't really see this question until people started to answer it.

    How do you plan and budget for your vacations and trips using Quicken? Are you able to stick to your budget once the trip begins?

    I read this as a planning/budget, not so much a "tracking" which to me is different.

    I have never been a "budget person". I have done like @Jim_Harman and when the expenses came in and recorded them to "Vacation" and sometimes used tags. But that was more out of interest of knowing what was spent than anything else. I have done reports where that might feed into a budget and basically is just for understanding how it works to help others. I never pay much attention to if the amounts I put down actually matched reality or not, except in passing.

    About the closest I have ever come to "budgeting" is that I have looked over how much I have spent on things on a yearly basis to know about how much I need to live on, especially as I went into retirement.

    In the "planning" I guess basically you could say what I do is a rough estimate of what a given vacation would cost and then determine if it is worth to me/we can afford it. Other than that, I don't really worry about it much.

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  • NotACPA
    NotACPA SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Rather that budgeting, I look at the projected balance in the account from which I pay almost all of my bills. So, it's really more of a "cash flow" than a budget.

    I record everything in Q, including future payments and other Scheduled transactions. When the projected balance in the account gets low (or a projected negative amount) I just move over some money from the retirement accounts … since I'm taking RMD anyway.

    Q user since February, 1990. DOS Version 4
    Now running Quicken Windows Subscription, Business & Personal
    Retired "Certified Information Systems Auditor" & Bank Audit VP

  • BK
    BK Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited June 25
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    This is a very informative post @Quicken Janean

    I use the Travel category with sub-categories of Air Travel, Hotel, Rental Car, Public Transportation. I also use the Entertainment category for things like tours and events etc. And of course Food & Dining and others as appropriate. Then simply create a Tag for my destination (Miami 2024) or a generic one if I am going to multiple places (Europe 2024). Since all expenses go on credit cards, I can accurately determine how much I spent on each destination based on dates, in the case of the multiple destinations. Alternatively one could create additional tags for each destination. I have never looked at Budgets - still shows "Get Started".

    - QWin Deluxe user since 2010, US subscription on Win11
    - I don't use Cloud Sync, Mobile & Web, Bill Pay/Mgr

  • CaptainKen
    CaptainKen Member ✭✭
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    As others have detailed I also use Travel category with subs. While I’ve used Tags in the past I haven’t for Travel yet, but I think I will now that I’m retired and traveling more. Many times I’ve spent too much time poking around to find a restaurant name or something we did, but Tags would simplify it without needing to know dates. Plus if your initial travel spending over laps other trips, then Tags will make it super easy to keep them separated. One thing I started doing about a year ago was to use a best guess to separate alcohol from the dinning bill. Too bad Q doesn’t use sub categories when importing.

  • NotACPA
    NotACPA SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
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    @CaptainKen Q doesn't use sub-cats when importing because your card company knows neither the names of your categories nor the existence of any sub-cats.

    If you want to use them, you need to manually input the transaction. The download then becomes the confirmation that you got the amount and approximate date correct … although the name might vary from what you input, that doesn't really matter. Sometimes purchases come in with a corporate name rather than the name of the specific entity.

    Q user since February, 1990. DOS Version 4
    Now running Quicken Windows Subscription, Business & Personal
    Retired "Certified Information Systems Auditor" & Bank Audit VP

  • CaptainKen
    CaptainKen Member ✭✭
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    @NotACPA Thanks for the details. I've been with Q since it first came out in 1988 and have accounts that are still active since then. I've avoided transaction importing because not sure how that might affect existing manual entry accounts. Also it will probably take less time to manually input compared to the time it would take to clean up the incorrect merchant names, pollution of the Memorized Payee list, and correct categories/subs/tags assignments.

    Regarding assigning sub-cats during import, maybe there could be a way Q could do a best guess based on the merchant somehow. Perhaps some new AI feature could eventually address this. Just thinking out loud here.

  • NotACPA
    NotACPA SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
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    "based upon merchant somehow"??? At my local Kroger, I buy groceries, occasional household goods, beer, wine, pharmacy and gasoline. Also, my state doesn't have an income tax so I can deduct my state sales tax on my IRS 1040 … so sales tax is another split.

    HOW is Q supposed to do that "best guess"? My card company doesn't know what I purchased either, only the date, amount and merchant … so they can't provide/download it either.

    Q user since February, 1990. DOS Version 4
    Now running Quicken Windows Subscription, Business & Personal
    Retired "Certified Information Systems Auditor" & Bank Audit VP

  • CaptainKen
    CaptainKen Member ✭✭
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    Yes, I agree that my best guess suggestion doesn't pan out.

    However, if Q allowed the creation of a relation between the generic corporate name to the actual merchant name, that might be doable for certain companies if they only have a single specific merchant brand in the users area.

  • BK
    BK Member ✭✭✭✭
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    I have a different personal experience in the past 14 years with Quicken where for my downloaded names and sub-categories have been fairly accurate and efficient to a point where I may alter a transaction once a month. Yes I wrote downloaded "sub-categories". Most of my categories get downloaded with the correct sub-cats such as Food & Dining:Fast Food, or Groceries etc. without me having them in my MPL.

    We have tons of transactions in our family and we travel internationally every other month. I would say that more than 90% of the foreign names and categories download correctly including foreign characters.

    But one interesting observation: My wife and I used two CCs back to back at the same restaurant in Germany. Once CC company shows the restaurant's name with the umlaut (Ü) character while the other has it garbled. One categorizes it as Dining while the other as Restaurants (on their respective websites) - same thing but not consistent. Both downloaded into Quicken as Food & Dining:Restaurants but the merchant names were of course different.

    This suggests that our downloaded transaction experience may differ based on the FI we are using - just a guess. I have no explanation why I get my sub-cats downloaded (even those I don't have in my MPL) while others are not as mentioned in an earlier post. I consider myself lucky in that respect.

    - QWin Deluxe user since 2010, US subscription on Win11
    - I don't use Cloud Sync, Mobile & Web, Bill Pay/Mgr

  • Jim_Harman
    Jim_Harman SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 10
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    Here is my understanding of the factors and settings that control how a downloaded transaction is matched to an existing transaction if present, and if not, automatically renamed,  categorized, and tagged:

    If an uncleared transaction is already in your register for the same amount and within a few days of the downloaded transaction, Quicken declares a Match and retains the Category and Tag information. This  could be a manually entered transaction or a Reminder you have accepted. It is important to review each transaction to make sure the match is correct. If you have another transaction for the same amount and close to the downloaded date, the match may be incorrect.

    If no matching transaction is found, the next step is to standardize the Payee name, so that for example Starbucks is always Starbucks, not STARBUCKS #12345 or whatever was downloaded. Renaming of Payees is controlled by your Renaming rules and if none applies, automatic renaming as enabled by the settings in Edit > Preferences > Downloaded transactions. 

    The automatic renaming works pretty well, but it sometimes makes mistakes. 

    After any renaming, Quicken tries to match the Payee and assign a Category and/or Tag. If the Payee after any renaming is found in your Memorized Payee List, the memorized Category and Tag information is applied.

    If the Payee is not found in the MPL and “Automatically categorize transactions” is enabled in Edit > Preferences > Downloaded transactions and Quicken recognizes the Payee in its built-in list after automatic renaming, it will will use the Payee name to assign one of its built-in Categories unless you have deleted that Category. If you have renamed the built-in Category, it will use the name you have assigned. 

    The automatic categorization is not foolproof. For example, it categorizes Christmas cards purchased through Unicef Market as Groceries. 

    I review each downloaded transaction and make any needed corrections before accepting it. Thus the only transactions that appear in the register are ones I have already reviewed and thus there is no need to tag the ones that have been reviewed.

    If you auto-accept transactions, it puts a blue dot next to the ones you have not reviewed. I do not use this.

    QWin Premier subscription
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
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    I'm going to add my two cents to what @BK and @Jim_Harman said.

    First off, on the "good characters" vs "garbled"". Quicken isn't Unicode and even if it was, there is in fact no "one standard" for character encoding. In a lot of cases, is more a guess than something that is actually known. Bottom line is there is a ton of different encoding schemes out there and this could even be different for different stores let alone different financial institutions.

    On the "guessing of the name/category". From what I understand this isn't as "blind" of a guess than it looks like. First off, the server that provides this information has an extensive list of merchants, but even more than that they do get some kind of "purchase type" on some transactions. But clearly, if the purchase has different categories Quicken is never going to be able to get the information needed to break out a split with the right categories. These would come into play when you are using the automatic renaming/categorization (something I never use, so don't know exactly how good it is). The renaming rules using "Quicken Name" are "part of this system". Note though that the "automatic" parts only kick in at the very end where your renaming rules and memorized payees don't match.

    And I don't really get why this discussion is about "sub-categories". I have a feeling that the term really is "split line categories".

    Because a sub-category works no different than a category as far as all this processing goes.

    But there is one more thing that maybe adds to the confusion.

    Say you create a new data file and the one of the categories it creates by default is Auto:Fuel. And you delete that and put in Gas.

    Even if the server knows that a given transaction is "Auto:Fuel" since you have "broken the connection" to what it knows the corresponding category is for its server entry is Auto:Fuel, there is nothing that implies that your category Gas is the same, and as such probably wouldn't automatically categorize the transaction as Gas.

    As far as I know there are two "standard lists" the old one and the "Mint one" (this the "new" one that is used for new data files for new users, I believe is now controlled by Edit → Preferences → Setup → Use New Subscriber settings for new files and accounts. I'm calling this "Mint" because these new (very long) category names were changed when Intuit bought Mint, and that is what Mint was using.

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