CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Originally published September 3, 2001

Quicken for Home & Business

Hidden between Quickbooks and Quicken is a jewel of product called Quicken 2002 Home & Business. You won't find it listed under the "best selling products" on the Intuit home page and it doesn't get the marketing muscle that Quickbooks or Quicken receives. In fact, you have to dig a bit into the website to find Home & Business, but you'll find it's a worthy product among the Intuit arsenal of financial software packages. Since I've installed and tested this product, I can see that many users who are struggling to master Quickbooks would find this product much easier to use and well capable of meeting their business needs.

Quickbooks is a full-figured bookkeeping package that relies on a double-entry system of assets/liabilities and income/expenses. It's a classic bookkeeping model that has many strengths and advantages, but it's often overkill for some smaller companies. It relies on a system of lists for vendors, customers, inventory items, and employees that must track back to the appropriate accounts for proper reports.

There's no such thing as generating a quicky invoice in Quickbooks. First, you must setup the customer and then the item to be billed. Invoices and items must each track to the correct asset or income account. When the payment is received, it must be posted and deposited in separate steps before it actually appears in the bank register. Paying bills using the accounts payable routine is equally demanding, but this is a must for many businesses.

Some companies, however, merely want to pay bills, generate invoices, issue statements and receive payments on a cash basis, without setting up an elaborate accounts receivable or accounts payable system.  Quicken 2002 Home & Business has all the ease of traditional Quicken but with a business flair that leaves out the complexities of the Quickbooks double-entry bookkeeping system.

The Home and Business version still generates an accounts receivable register, for example, but billings and payments are both maintained from this one register. Since this version does not manage inventory, the invoicing process is much more streamlined. Customers and items to be invoiced can be added directly from the invoice screen, without going to the separate list utility that Quickbooks requires.

Invoices and statements can be easily customized to include only the fields you need. You can choose your own fonts and add company name, logo and memo.  The statements generated by the Home & Business version are actually much more useful than the ones generated by Quickbooks.  They list a balance forward and history of transactions.

Basic business reports such as Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet statements can be generated in this version of Quicken. A Schedule C will be created if the proper tax categories have been assigned to income and expense categories. A payroll module, QuickPayroll, can be easily added if desired. It's a standalone payroll utility that writes checks, tracks the payroll liabilities and automatically generates required forms, such as 940, 941, W-2 & W-3.  The only items that track back to the actual Quicken register are the deductions from the bank account when the payments for payroll or payroll liabilities are actually made.

 Other convenient features offered by Quicken Home & Business include tracking vehicle mileage, creating estimates, tracking projects, and creating a "mini" business plan. The program is enabled for online banking and any data you currently maintain in Quicken translates seamlessly to the Home & Business version.

If you don't need the bookkeeping power of Quickbooks, this product is actually a much better value.  Quickbooks Pro 2001 sells new for $250 and upgrades cost $170. Quicken for Home & Business sells for $80.  If you're using Quickbooks for payroll, annual tax table updates cost $130 as compared to $89 for the Home & Business version. Do check with your accountant to determine the best software product for your business needs.


Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company, Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached by e-mail at cschuler@uop.edu or cschuler@ceeprompt.com or by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com. Click here for past archived columns.

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