Check your checking, cut your debt, budget for vacation or pay bills automatically using features standard in Quicken for the last 10 versions. Version 2011 adds some real power with new twists on old features, creating a true personal finance manager. Quicken's three editions -- Deluxe 2011, Premier 2011 and Home & Business 2011 -- take their years of user experience and automate more tasks to simplify the program. It's designed to manage total personal finances, a shift from previous versions, where the focus was managing financial accounts.
Open Quicken and select the "Home" tab. This is the starting point. In Quicken 2011, the "Home" tab is now a dashboard with access to Quicken features. On first use, it's designed to track finances. Creating accounts is the first step in a five-step process.
Click the "Get Started" button. Quicken 2011 presents plain language command windows to build financial records, starting with checking and savings accounts followed by credit cards. New in the 2011 version, you can track PayPal accounts, loans, and investments. Major assets, such as homes, vehicles, and other asset-based investments can be added as well. Enter the bank name and the sign-in data, and Quicken finds all your online accessible accounts from the institutions, credit card vendors and lenders.
Update all accounts using the "One Step Update" button on the "Home" tab. This will download all available data from financial institutions. Quicken recognizes major national and regional payees and automatically categorizes purchases. When the accounts update is complete, add, delete or modify categories to meet personal needs from the "Category" command on the "Account" menu. Personal checks, where statements do not identify payees will need to be categorized and payees entered manually. Quicken recognizes similar transactions in the future and will recommend or apply categories as it "learns" the financial transaction patterns.
Click "Get Started" in the "Stay on Top of Monthly Bills" dashboard section, opening the Bill Setup window. Enter regularly occurring monthly bills, such as car payments, utility bills and credit card payments. Quicken Reminders can be set by checking the "Remind Me In" check box and selecting the notification period from the drop-down list box on the Bill Setup window. Quicken can connect with Microsoft Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010 to add reminders to the "To-Do" and "Task List" features in the Office suite program.
Click "Get Started" in the "Track Spending Goals to Save Money" section and fill in monthly budgets, savings goals, retirement savings goals and spending goals. These data will be tracked against actual expenditures, deposits and income to visually display results in charts and tables.
Press F1, select the "Help" command from the "Help" menu or click the "?" icon on the "Home" tab to access the online "Help Manual" and other Quicken support features. Intuit, Quicken's publisher, has complete online help and tutorials combined with a live community where all Quicken users can ask and answer questions.
After creating accounts, all other financial data, such as adding monthly bills and modifying categories, can be performed later. In the "Edit" menu, select "Preferences," and set the Quicken database to backup at least once every three times it's opened. In the beginning, back up the database each time the program is opened to protect against data loss, corrupt data or a major data entry error.
If upgrading to Quicken 2011 from earlier versions, make a complete backup of all Quicken files in a separate directory, portable hard drive or DVD. Version 2011 creates a completely different database system than earlier versions of the program. It has no backward compatibility.
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