138 Quicken 2008: The Missing Manual
Paying Bills Online
bank sets. For example, if you have to keep $1,000 in your account to avoid
monthly service fees, set the Quicken alert to $2,000. Quicken examines your
upcoming scheduled transactions and displays a warning message box if the
minimum is imminent.
Don’t wait until the last minute to move money into your checking account to
cover your bills, particularly if you’re transferring money from a different finan-
cial institution, like a mutual fund company. New banking rules let financial insti-
tutions yank money from your account immediately, but still allow banks to drag
their feet when it comes to making your deposits available. Transfer money into
your checking account at least three days ahead of time if you use online transfers—a
week or more ahead if you use snail mail.
Tip: If you frequently withdraw cash from your checking account, consider increasing the cushion you
keep there. Similarly, if you write a large check that isn’t a scheduled transaction, check your estimated bal-
ance when automatic bills are going to hit your account to see if you should transfer money in.
Paying an Occasional Bill Online
A payee’s Web site is also handy for paying bills you don’t pay automatically. The
same Web page that lets you set up automatic payments usually includes a way to
make a one-time payment by transferring money from your checking account or
charging your credit card. In Quicken, record the transaction in the appropriate
account register so you know how much money you have in your account.
It’s a good idea to set a scheduled transaction to remind you in advance about the
bill, so you have some breathing room in case the company’s Web site is down. For
example, set the due date for bills you pay manually to 7 to 10 days before the bill
is due. You can set these transactions up as scheduled transactions (page 161),
except that you use the Remind Me setting instead of “Automatically enter.” This
way, you have time to transfer money to your checking account, or make sure your
credit card isn’t maxed out, for example.
Coordinating Bill Payment with Quicken
Here are the steps to coordinating payee-initiated bill payment (the ones described
on page 137) with your Quicken data:
1. Record every credit card charge, check, withdrawal, and deposit as they happen.
This is the best way to know how much money you actually have in the bank
and what you’ll owe when the credit card bill arrives.
2. When you receive a bill whose amount varies from month to month, like util-
ity bills, edit the scheduled transaction in Quicken to reflect the new payment
If it’s an automatically paid bill, simply file the original in your filing cabinet.
When the bill’s due, the payee pulls the money from your checking account (or
charges your credit card) and Quicken records the scheduled transaction.