Keeping track of your community’s finances can be a chore, especially if you’re using a written checkbook or homebrew Excel sheet. When it comes time to do your STC budget or financial report, guessing at the expenses and income for all the budget categories can be tricky. We recommend you use Quicken to track your community expenses. Quicken is a software application for both the PC and Mac.
What benefits do you get from using Quicken to manage your community finances?
- Budget categories used to track income and spending.
- Automatic updates from your bank and PayPal.
- Reports for budgets and chapter leadership meetings.
- Mobile app so community leaders can see funds available.
- Data is automatically backed up.
Quicken electronically tracks your spending into budget categories that you determine. For STC communities, the annual budget form contains all the budget categories you’ll probably need. In the following images, I illustrate how I’ve configured Quicken to use the same budget categories listed in the STC budget form:
Don’t worry about having to set this up in your own copy of Quicken. I’ve created a blank Quicken database with all of the default STC categories created for you. Download the sample Quicken File, unzip it, and open it in Quicken Deluxe 2016. There is a cheaper version of Quicken available, but it claims that you can’t import files. Now Quicken Basic is probably what your chapter needs, and if you buy that you may have to enter the budget categories yourself.
Whenever you receive income or spend money, you are prompted to associate the transaction with a budget category. At any time you can call up a pre-generated report to see how much has been placed in each category. You can customize the reports to show you monthly income and expenses, so you can see how much individual events has gained or cost your community, for example.
When it comes time to prepare the STC budget, this reporting feature makes filling in the budget form simple. Generate a report from Quicken, and then copy and paste the numbers into the matching budget categories. With this method you can fully complete a community budget form in under an hour. Maybe even 30 minutes if you’re good with the copy/paste technique.
If your bank offers an electronic integration with Quicken, and many banks do, you can download your transactions directly into Quicken. The same goes with PayPal, which does integrate with Quicken. This will simplify tracking your income an expenses as all you will have to do is approve the records as they are imported. No bank or PayPal account is perfect, and sometimes duplicate transactions may be downloaded, so be sure to double-check items before adding them to Quicken.
Quicken offers a free mobile app. Anyone can install it and configure it to point to their community bank records, if they are given access. You must have an Intuit ID and password, and your community Quicken records must be set to sync with the Quicken cloud to do this.
Information is Backed Up
Quicken automatically backs up your database as frequently as you like. Place this backup file in a place where other appropriate community members can access it, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, and never fear about your data walking out when the last treasurer retires.
In order to make best use of your financial tracking, keep your community records organized, and simplify your accounting life, try using Quicken.
- Download Quicken Basic or Deluxe from www.quicken.com.
- Optional: Download the sample Quicken File as a starting point. It contains the basic budget categories from the STC budget form. It was made in Quicken Deluxe 2016.
- Customize the budget categories to meet your community needs. Not hosting a banquet, but instead organizing a conference? Just edit the budget category to say Conference instead of Banquet. (Tools > Category List)
- Set up your community checking, savings, and PayPal accounts so they automatically download into Quicken.
- Generate the reports to see how your expenses and income are budgeted.
- Install the mobile app (optional) so you or other community leaders can see your finances on the go.
- Back up your data to your community’s cloud storage, in a restricted treasurer folder.
- Complete your community budget and financial reports within an hour.
If you have any questions or comments, let me know.