Accounting & Tax Tips
November 13, 2018

How to Create a Budget and Forecast in QuickBooks Online

It’s an old adage, to make money you have to spend some. But figuring out how to spend it is critical to success, which is why budgeting and forecasting is so important. While some like to use spreadsheets for their budgeting process, we love QuickBooks Online’s budgeting feature for several reasons. First it’s very robust and tied directly to your accounting system, so the numbers are accurate and timely. QBO is also cloud based, so you or your team always has access to the information. Furthermore, it has extremely powerful budgeting tools.  

Here is the step-by-step guide to getting started with creating a budget in QuickBooks Online.

FYI: QBO uses pop-up windows to help you prepare budgets. If you have your browser set to block pop-ups, you should make an exception for QBO.

How to Create a Budget in QuickBooks Online: 

  1. Prior to creating a budget in QuickBooks Online, make sure your “Fiscal Year” is correct because the budget starts at the fiscal year’s first month. To check, click the gear icon button and then click the “Account and Settings” link. Click the “Advanced” tab and then select the “First month of fiscal year” setting in the “Accounting” section. Adjust this setting, if necessary.
  2. To create a budget in QuickBooks Online, click the Gear button. Then click the “Budgeting” link under the “Tools” heading. Then click the “Add budget” button in the page that appears to create a new budget.
  3. In the “New Budget” window, type a name for the budget into the “Name” field. Use the “Fiscal Year” drop-down to choose the budget’s fiscal year. Use the “Interval” drop-down to select the time intervals to show within the budget.
  4. To pre-fill the budget with actual data, if available, select the year from which to use the actual data from the “Pre-fill data?” drop-down. To subdivide the budget, select a choice from the “Subdivide by” drop-down.
  5. If you chose to subdivide your budget, the “Add subdivided budget for” drop-down lets you select for which customers, classes, or locations to subdivide the budget. This also adds a “View budget for” drop-down from which you can select from the choices made in the “Add subdivided budget for” drop-down to show the choice in the budget. When finished, click the “Next” button in the lower-right corner to continue.
  6. To edit the budget’s information, click a line in the budget to edit. Then enter the budget information into the columns within the selected row. To enter the same value into all columns to the right of a column’s field, type a value into the field. Then click the “Copy Across” button, which looks like a right-pointing arrow in a blue circle at the right side of the field, to copy it to all the other column’s fields to the right. To clear all of the fields’ information, click the “Clear” button, which looks like an “x” in a blue circle at the right end of the selected row.
  7. When finished, click “Save and close” button in the lower-right corner of the page to show the “Budgets” page. The list in this page shows all the budgets you have created. To edit a budget, select the “Edit” choice under its “Action” column. To delete a budget, select the “Delete” choice under its “Action” column.
  8. If you want to copy a budget, select the “Copy” choice from its “Action” column. To run a “Budgets vs. Actuals” report or “Budget Overview” report, select either the “Run Budgets vs. Actuals report” or the “Run Budget Overview report” command from the budget’s “Action” column.
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