Although QuickBooks was designed for use in businesses, if you can handle the language of the program, it’s a great program for personal budgeting, as well, particularly if you use the same program at work. It’s perhaps the most versatile and effective budgeting tool for understanding your personal spending and making positive changes to increase your savings.
With QuickBooks at home, you can:
- assess cash flow
- automate bill pay without worrying about overdrafts
- link directly to your bank account
- develop a savings plan to save more efficiently
- work to pay off debt
There’s no doubt it’s a great tool, but it can be a little overwhelming, so many families don’t bother with the platform for their personal finances. The interface a little more complex than simpler programs such as other popular budgeting apps, and it can also generate errors with such functions as proper synching or locating unrecoverable data.
You have to remember that QuickBooks has one of the most integrated and useful support centers of any accounting/budgeting software, though. With the help of quick-fix guides and tech support, you can get your budget back on track and start saving money.
Here are a few tips for making the most out of your QuickBooks budgeting program.
- Set Up Your Profile
The first step is to set up your profile. After you’ve installed the software on your PC, have the EasyStep Interview wizard walk you through the program if you don’t know it already.
Get familiar with the various functions and develop an understanding of how the platform works. You’ll also want to set it up as your home financial account rather than as a new business. This will simplify the program so you can easily track your finances without the extras you don’t need.
Next you’ll want to link your bank account by selecting banks from the list provided. If your bank has not been integrated with the program, which can be the case with smaller credit unions, you’ll have to enter transactions manually.
Finally, go to the Vendor Center and set up vendor names so that when the program receives transactions from your bank account or manual data entries, it will automatically file it in the correct category. This is worthwhile for your cash-flow assessment and spending reports.
- Define Your Goals
Once you’re all set up, think about where you are with your finances now and where you want to be. Some goals you set might include paying off debts, saving for a home, reducing monthly expenses, or understanding where your cash is going. Knowing your goals ahead of time will make it easier to shape your analyses and reports later on.
- Set Up Automatic Bill Pay
Most banks let you set up bill pay through their system, but it’s often easier to control the automatic transactions through QuickBook’s platform. You’ll never forget to pay a bill again, and it keeps you more involved with your finances.
When you know that a bill will be taken out of your checking account automatically at a certain time each month, you tend to watch that account more closely, which in turn helps you to monitor your spending better.
- Watch Your Cash Flow
Perhaps the biggest benefit of using QuickBooks over any other budgeting tool is the ability to monitor and manage your cash flow closely. You can either enter your transactions manually, or let your bank send the transactions to the correct folder.
You’ll need to go in afterward and manually file any transactions that have been misplaced or don’t readily fit into a category. No matter how you handle the cash flow process, using QuickBooks to do your budget gets you involved.
You’ll go through a process of weekly or daily reconciliation to make sure your spending matches with your bank account, and it should become obvious where you’re spending the most.
- Create Reports to Analyze Spending
You have the ability to develop personal financial reports that you can analyze with whatever metrics you prefer and as often as you like. After you’ve reconciled your account (including credit cards and loans), you can analyze such items as monthly spending compared to yearly spending, areas where you’re spending the most money, and week-by-week comparisons.
Each of these reports gives you the ability to note and track trends and patterns that could be causing problems in your finances. It’s much easier to make changes in your budget when you understand where you most need to improve.
QuickBooks for personal finances isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great solution for people who already use the program in their business. Its integrated platform can help you see where you’re falling down in your spending and make better decisions for financial freedom.
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