Using Quicken

by Karen Jones

Besides using Quicken to track expenses through bank, cash, and credit card accounts I also use it to track other liabilities and assets:

  1. I use Quicken liability accounts to track principal and interest payments on our home and rental property mortgages. Making extra payments to principal is no sweat for Quicken. I can see exactly how we're progressing in paying off the loans. Interest rate changes on our ARM's is no problem for Quicken either.

  2. I set up Quicken asset accounts for each of our two cars and entered a value as of the date I started the account. (I used a banker's blue book to determine the values). Periodically (like once a year) I enter a transaction to adjust the value downward for depreciation (I now check Edmunds on the internet which I learned about by reading the Dollar Stretcher).

  3. I set up another asset account for our furniture etc. (& appliances including tv, vcr, and computer) using the receipts which I had kept in an envelope in our safe deposit box. (You could also use professional or published appraisals for antiques or collectibles if you own such items). Until I did this I had no idea what the total value of these items was. Doing a "register report" on this account gives me a list of every item in the account with a total at the bottom. I printed this out and put it in the envelope with all the receipts before putting it back into the safe deposit box.

  4. I set up two more asset accounts for our rental property and our home. On the former I began the account with the contract price of the property. Then I entered a transaction to increase the value for settlement fees and closing costs (excluding escrow for taxes and insurance which are expenses, not assets) followed by additional transactions for various home improvements and for expenses related to refinancing. This house had been our home, so I also entered a transaction to decrease the value for tax purposes by the amount of postponed capital gain from the sale of a previous residence. Since the property is being rented out I am also entering transactions to depreciate it on the books for tax purposes.

  5. To track the value of our IRA's and some shares of stock that we own I set up three Quicken investments accounts. One each for my husband's and my IRA mutual fund accounts and another one to keep track of the stock. When a stock dividend check comes in the mail I record it with a "dividend and transfer" transaction which automatically generates a corresponding deposit (or "transfer") transaction into the Quicken "Checking" account (where I deposited the check). For stocks which are in a dividend reinvestment plan I enter a "reinvest dividend" transaction for the number of shares and dollar amount as shown on the quarterly statement. This has been an easy way to track portfolio value, return on investment, stock price history, etc., all in one place. Before doing this the only way I could figure out what all these assests were worth was to go to individual statements and add it all up manually each time I wanted to know.

By now, you are probably getting the idea that I am pretty thorough, but why, you might ask, would I go to all this trouble? When we wanted to apply for the mortgage on the second property it was extremely easy to print out a "Net Worth Report" and a "Portfolio Value Roport by Security" and on the mortgage application form, where it asks for ALL of this information anyway, I only had to write "see attached report". My thoroughness may have been a factor in our being approved for the loan, since we were close to the line on income/loan amount.

Karen is a former computer systems analyst programmer, the wife of a minister and an at-home-mother of two teenage daughters. Home management, and especially budgeting are her forte, but she also enjoys sewing, crafts, Girl Scouts, garden club, and volunteering at church and school.

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