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Customize Quicken To Classify Your Investments



 Bonnie  Biafore An increasing number of e-mails arrive in my inbox from folks asking how they can get the investment reports they want from Quicken software. The final answer, of course, depends on what they have in mind, but in most cases Quicken reports require tweaking to show anything close to what an investor wants to see. As a last resort, exporting information from a report into a spreadsheet means you can crunch numbers to your heart’s content.

First, you’ll need to categorize. Allocating portfolio dollars across different types of investments can smooth out a portfolio’s return from year to year and reduce its level of risk. Quicken (with help on categories from Value Line) slices the investment universe into domestic and global bonds; large-cap, small-cap and international stocks; cash; and the catchall “other,” for investments such as real estate and precious metals. There’s another class called “unclassified,” which shows whether you’ve forgotten to assign something to an asset class.
   


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Quicken can download from your brokerage account the asset class for investments, even assigning portions of an investment (such as a mutual fund, which might include bonds, stocks and cash) to appropriate classes. The big drawback is that the software’s asset-allocation reports and graphs use its built-in classes and won’t entertain other types.
   
So if, say, you’re not happy with “other” to classify your property or gold, you can resort to two other options: “security type” and “investing goal.” Security type lets you break categories into the level of detail you want; the investing goal category labels assets earmarked to pay for such events as retirement or a child’s college education.
   
The security-type list starts with the usual suspects, such as stock, mutual fund and bond, but you can create any type you want to differentiate among large-growth or large-value mutual funds, emu farms and so on. As you download new investments, Quicken adds the corresponding security type to its list. If you want to change the entries, choose Investing, then Security Type List. In the Security Type List window, click New to create a new type. Click Edit to revise an existing type. (You can delete a type only if it isn’t applied to any security.)
   
To assign a security type to one of your investments, press Ctrl+Y to open the Security List. Right-click a security, then click Edit. In the Edit Security Details dialogue box, in the Type drop-down menu, choose the type you want and click OK.
   
Quicken starts the investing-goal list with college fund, growth, high-risk, income and low-risk categories. To add other goals, choose Investing, then Investing Goal List. In the Investing Goal List window, click New to create a goal. Click Edit to change one.
   
To assign a goal to one of your investments, press Ctrl+Y to open the Security List. Right-click a security, then click Edit. In the Edit Security Details dialogue box, click Other Info at the bottom. In the Additional Security Information dialogue box, in the Investing Goal drop-down menu, choose the goal you want to apply.

Reporting by Security Type

Quicken doesn’t have a built-in report grouped by security type or investing goal. Tweaking a report to show investment by either of these classifications is a breeze.
   
Start by generating an investment report such as Investment Performance. In the report window, in the Subtotal By drop-down menu, choose Security Type or Investing Goal. If you customize the report, you can also choose which security types, investing goals, accounts and securities to include.

Changing the Information You See

Built-in Quicken reports come with specific columns, which may not be the information you want. The columns in some reports are cast in concrete, but other reports are more accommodating. If you can choose columns in a report, in the Customize dialogue box is a Display tab with a Show Columns section.
   
In the Customize dialogue box, check marks identify the columns you can see in the report. Click a box with a check mark to hide that column. Click an empty box to display the column. To go back to the original columns, click Reset Columns.

Exporting to Spreadsheets

If you can’t make a Quicken report do what you want no matter what, it isn’t lack of knowledge on your part. To perform fancier calculation footwork on investment numbers, export a report with the information you want. Then you can use a spreadsheet program such as Excel to analyze and format your numbers. All you have to do is generate a report in Quicken: In the window menu bar, click Export Data, then choose Report to Excel Compatible Format. What you get is a tab-delimited file (one in which tabs separate each item).
   
You can also export reports to the clipboard, which you can then paste into a spreadsheet, document or presentation. Exporting a report to PDF comes in handy when you want to send information to your accountant at tax time — for example, a list of your retirement account balances as of Dec. 31.

Link of the Month

A relatively new entry in the investment-website universe is Investor Dashboards. This site displays charts for the investments in a portfolio. To set up your portfolio, click Edit Profile, then type the ticker symbols into the box for one of the lists.
   
Click Small Charts to see a price chart for each security. (Large Charts show features more suited to people who use technical analysis, such as column and exponential moving averages.) Click the link below a chart to open the company’s website. You must register (username and password only), but it’s free.


Bonnie Biafore is the author of 24 books about investing, personal finance, project management, software (such as QuickBooks and Project) and the recently published novel, Fresh Squeezed. Go to BonnieBiafore.com to learn more.



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