How to Get Started Using Quicken

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One of the most popular personal finance software applications on the market today is Quicken. They've been around for decades, and over the years I've used Quicken faithfully — even after getting a Mac. When I first went to college more than 15 years ago, my parents gave me a computer with a version of Quicken, and told me to use it to keep track of my finances.

Quicken is pretty much the gold standard in personal finance applications. Quicken can manage every aspect of your finances: bill paying, reconciliation, budgeting, goal setting, investment performance tracking, retirement planning, asset allocation, debt reduction, categorize your income and spending, and much more.

You've made the resolution you want to get better with your finances, and decided you want to use Quicken. With the amount of features Quicken has it can be overwhelming where to begin. To get started with using Quicken, follow this detailed step-by-step tutorial:

Step 1: Purchase Quicken

We recommend buying from Amazon. Amazon offers immediate software download or CDROM sent via mail.

There are multiple versions of Quicken available. If you are confused on which version to buy we recommend Quicken Premier because of the investing options and has the most popular features available.

Amazon frequently changes their prices. The prices listed below are updated hourly.

Version Retail Price Sale Price Discount Link
Quicken Starter for Windows $39.99 $39.99 0% Learn More
Quicken Deluxe for Windows $79.99 $64.99 19% Learn More
Quicken Premier for Windows $54.99 $45.00 18% Learn More
Quicken Home & Business for Windows $104.99 $84.99 19% Learn More
Quicken for Mac $79.99 $64.99 19% Learn More

Step 2: Create an Intuit ID to Connect

After buying and downloading Quicken, you'll be asked if you want to use your Intuit ID. If you already use an Intuit product (like Mint.com, QuickBooks, TurboTax, or an older version of Quicken), check to see if you already have an Intuit ID.

If you don't have an Intuit ID, you can choose to create one. It's easy, and starts with using your email and setting up a password.

register Quicken Intuit ID

If you want to use Quicken Connected Services to better sync everything, you'll need an Intuit ID (so create one if you don't have one already). Connecting everything this way can be useful if you use other Quicken products like Investing.Quicken.com, TurboTax, and QuickBooks, and you want all your info connected. If you are wanting to sync your financial information on your mobile device, then you will need to create an Intuit ID.

However, you don't have to use Quicken Connected Services if you don't want to. You have the option to select “Use Quicken without connecting.”

Once you've decided whether or not to use an Intuit ID, and Quicken Connected Services, you can then register your copy of Quicken. Registering makes it easier to recover the software if you need to, without buying another copy, since you'll have a record of the version you're using.

Step 3: Create and Sync Your Accounts

In the next step, you'll be prompted to set up your first account. Quicken first takes to you to the “Home” tab, which is where you'll get an overview of your finances.

The Home tab allows you quick access to your spending habits, upcoming bills, and even your budget. The first step you see highlighted is a “See Where Your Money Goes.” Click on the blue “Get Started” button in this section, and you can begin adding accounts.

Quicken see where your money goes

This is where you decide whether you want to add your information manually, or if you want to connect your bank accounts electronically. I'm pretty old school, so my personal finance software is not connected to my bank accounts. I prefer to enter the information by hand. However, Quicken makes it easy to connect and sync your banking information, if you desire.

Begin by entering the name of your first bank. If you want to connect online, and have the transactions update automatically, you'll need to have your bank login information handy. You'll have to connect your accounts to Quicken using your bank's username and password (or PIN).

If you expect to use Quicken's “Update” feature often, it makes sense to check the “Save this password.” If you don't have Quicken save the password, you will have to re-enter it when you want updates to be included. Quicken uses bank-level encryption, so your information is as safe as it can be. If you want to connect, click the appropriate button and wait for Quicken to get the information from your bank and add it in.

Quicken connect bank accounts

You can add nicknames to your accounts, and identify them as checking or savings. You can also add more accounts if you want, including investment accounts.

When you're ready to update your accounts, simply choose which accounts to update using “Online Services.” This is possible on your smartphone or tablet as well.

Another option is to use the “One Step Update” button. You can customize the settings for the One Step Update, determining which accounts and financial institutions you want to be included. It's also possible to automatically get stock quotes and headlines as part of the One Step Update.

Step 4: Set Up Bills and Statements

One of the things I like about personal finance software is that you can set up bills to automatically record, and even see which bills are coming up, and how they affect your cash flow. This is something Quicken does very well.

After you set up your accounts, return to the Home tab and then click in the “Stay On Top of Monthly Bills” section. Once you're there, you can enter your bills, their amounts, and how often you pay them.

This allows you to see when you can expect to pay bills, as well as see how much money you're going to have left after they're paid. It's a handy way to look ahead so you know what's coming and better manage your cash flow.

Quicken monthly bills

While in this middle of this step, it's also a good idea to include reminders. These reminders can be setup to help pay your bills on time. You can also set it up so you can see, in your Home tab, which bills will be due in a certain amount of time, such as the next seven days.

One of the newer features of Quicken is that you can take pictures of your receipts and then attach them to the corresponding transaction, so you can easily document your spending. All of this can be synced between your desktop version and your mobile devices. This can also help you with bill alerts, and more.

Step 5: Create a Budget

Finally, if you want to use Quicken to help you budget, you can do so quickly and easily. Return to the Home tab and choose the “Create a New Budget” option.

Quicken create a budget

If you want Quicken to create a budget for you, name the budget and then allow Quicken to scan all your past transactions, and use your income and expense information to put something together for you. If you want to tweak it more, or customize a new budget, select “Advanced Budget Settings” and go from there.

Quicken will help you track how much you've spent, and how much you have left to spend monthly, as well as in each category.

Next Steps With Quicken

Continue to customize your Quicken account, adjust your budget each month, record statements, bills and make payments, and use it to track your finances. After just a few months, you'll have a much better idea of where you stand with your money and your spending habits.

This should give you a good start to getting started with and using Quicken to manage your money.

Do you use Quicken? What's one of your favorite features?

Miranda Marquit

Miranda is a journalistically trained freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in personal finance. Her work has appeared and been mentioned, in various media, online and off. You can follow Miranda on: Twitter

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6 Comments

  1. Use Quicken without connecting is NOT an option on 2016. I bought the software to complete work over the 3 day weekend. Well, me and thousands of post show the Registration Site is Broken. It prevents anyone from using the software at all! The error code is pure junk. But, a Google shows the Registration site is pretty much broken, no help available. Some people were upgraded and lost the previous data entries.
    OH, Intuit was purchased in 2016? The new owner may want to kill off the PC / MAC version and only offer the cloud version?
    Before even thinking about buying this software, look at all the reviews for the 2016 version by people really, really mad. These users have 5 to 15 years of use and are dropping this product. The reasons they use mirror my absolutely horrible experience.
    Besides, who wants their Cloud service stored in India? The Cloud is just a generic term.

    It is difficult to find a substitute since Intuit dominated the market.
    However, after this horrible experience, I can’t personally trust intuit agian.

  2. wondering if there is a free tutorial. for quicken 15 had have no success with it bought home & business downgraded to deluxe because could not get features to work am on a brand new dell. have used quicken for years with little issue. Simply can not use the auto download feature. have read reviews that say it is to cumbersome. any suggestions would be appreciated yes I bought the official guide too. still cant get things to work

  3. I just purchased Quicken 2015 for my Dad, he had Essentials from 08…needed to get upgraded… and now he can’t seem to enter additional shares into his portfolio the way he was doing it in Essentials… and the program used to update stocks automatically…

    Help..

  4. This helped so much. I only wanted to use this as a manual checkbook and for reconciling statement. Your tut help me to know that I did not have to sign on to the bank. It was so clearly written and left no doubt as what and how to do. Thanks. I hope the Quicken starter edition is just as clear and easy to us. I had used older quicken that had been put on a very old computer years ago by whomever sold me the computer. Computer stopped working recently and did not know how, or if at all possible to download to new computer. Anyway, old computer was sent to recycling plant.

  5. Great site and thank for sharing. I WAS a Quicken user for years and slowly pulled away for several reasons. I am striving to simplify more and more … so s a test for the 2014 tax season I was able to simplify and sort/categorize all 2014 bank transactions simply by downloading to a spreadsheet (Kingsoft Calc – free), sorting and then categorizing a full years transactions in 20% of the time of the incremental monthly update time I did when I used Quicken. Conclusion: for bank transactions and tax prep – do it with a spreadsheet.

    However, now as a retiree I would like to consolidate / coordinate and view as a read only method all my different accounts tax and qualified accounts (in several financial firms) in one system. BUT I would like it to be simple simple and do not know how to start up Quicken to be that tool. Oh, I have Quicken 2010 and was curious if that version would be sufficient.

    I also understand there are other free consolidating portfolio tools AAII lists Morningstar.com SmartMoney.com and Wikinvest.

    Any suggestions and comments welcome.

    1. Quicken 2010 is EOL (End Of Life) and will not be able to download data. You can enter transactions manually though. If you are looking for just read only Personal Capital might be a better fit. See our review on it.

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