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Create or import budgets in QuickBooks Online

by Intuit Updated 6 days ago

Learn how to create or import budgets in QuickBooks Online Plus and Advanced.

Many businesses use budgets to help plan their finances. Look back at your assets and liabilities, then create a budget for the coming year, month, or quarter. 

With all your financial data in QuickBooks, you can create the profit and loss budgets you need for your company. This gives you an overview to help compare your actual income and expenses with your budget.

In this article, you'll learn how to:



Create a budget

To create a new budget, you’ll need to sign in as an admin or as a user with the correct permission to access budgets. Admins can also add custom roles with permissions to access only budgets. Here’s how.

Note: Only QuickBooks Online Plus and Advanced subscriptions have access to the budget feature. If you have a different subscription and want to use budgets, learn how to upgrade your subscription to Plus or Advanced.



Review the fiscal year for your business

Make sure the beginning of your fiscal year is correct in QuickBooks. You can create a budget at any time, but it helps if you start at the beginning of the fiscal year.

  1. Sign in to QuickBooks Online.
  2. Go to Settings Settings gear icon. and select Account and settings.
  3. Select the Advanced tab.
  4. In the Accounting section, review the First month of fiscal year field. If it’s incorrect, select Edit ✎.
  5. Select the required month from the ▼ dropdown and select Save.
  6. Select Done.


Create your budget

To create a budget, you can either use your past financial data or previous budgets in QuickBooks. If this is your first budget, start here. We'll show you how to copy a budget after you’ve added your first budget.

You can also create a budget by importing a .xlsx file (see below), or if you are using QuickBooks Online Advanced, from Excel using Spreadsheet Sync.

Note: QuickBooks Online creates the budget accounts list directly from your chart of accounts. If you need more accounts in your budget, add them to your chart of accounts before you create the budget.

  1. Go to Settings Settings gear icon. and select Budgeting (Take me there).
  2. Select Create budget.
    Note: Select Create a budget, if you are adding for the first time.
  3. Ensure the Budget type is set.
    Note: Profit and loss is set as the default option.
  4. From the Period dropdown ▼, select the fiscal year you're creating the budget for.
  5. Select the Budget format: Consolidated or Subdivided.
    • For subdivided budget, select what you want to subdivide by, from Subdivide by, and Subdivide for dropdowns ▼.
  6. Optionally, from the Pre-fill data dropdown ▼, select a reference data value you want to prefill your budget with.
  7. Select Next.
  8. You may take the following actions as needed:
    1. To customize the budget title, select the edit icon ✎ next to the automatically generated title. 
    2. If you want to add either past actual or past budget data as a reference, turn the Compare reference data switch on, and select what type of reference data you want to use.
    3. If you want to prefill your budget with the reference data, select the checkbox next to Accounts to select all or individual rows. From the Batch actions dropdown ▼, select Copy reference data, and select Got it.
      Note: Skip this step if you have already pre-filled your budget with reference data.
    4. To remove the reference data, select the required rows, then select Clear data from the Batch actions dropdown ▼, and select Clear Data.
  9. Enter your budget for each account for each month.
  10. Select Save or Save and close.


Upload a budget using an Excel template

Both QuickBooks Online Plus and Advanced users have the option to upload their budget from a .xlsx file.

Step 1: Download a budget template

Now that you’ve created your first budget, download a budget .xlsx template. QuickBooks uses your chart of accounts and fiscal year months to format the template. Then you can use the template to create your budget, which ensures that your data is compatible and imports without errors. 

Note: To format the template, QuickBooks uses account names, and not account numbers from your chart of accounts. So make sure to have unique account names before downloading the sample file.

  1. Go to Settings Settings gear icon. and select Budgeting (Take me there).
  2. Select Import budget.
  3. From the Select time period dropdown ▼, select the fiscal year you're creating the budget for.
  4. Select the Budget format: Consolidated or Subdivided.
    • For subdivided budget, select what you want to subdivide by, from Subdivide by, and Subdivide for dropdowns ▼.
  5. Select Next.
    Note: Select Skip and follow the steps to upload your budget if you already have it on our template.
  6. Select the P&L budget_template.xls link to download the template. 
  7. Save the file somewhere you can easily find it, like the downloads folder on your computer.

Step 2: Create your budget using the template

  1. Open the .xlsx budget template in Excel or Google Sheets. 
  2. Enter your budget for each account for all months listed in the Consolidated sheet.
    Important: Don't add more columns or rows. If you need more accounts to appear, add them to your chart of accounts before you download the template.
  3. When you’re done, save the changes.

Step 3: Upload your template

When you're ready, import your budget back into QuickBooks:

  1. Go to Settings Settings gear icon. and select Budgeting (Take me there).
  2. Select Import budget.
  3. From the Select time period dropdown ▼, select the fiscal year you want to create the budget for.
  4. Select the Budget format: Consolidated or Subdivided.
    • For subdivided budget, select what you want to subdivide by, from Subdivide by, and Subdivide for dropdowns ▼.
  5. Select Skip.
  6. Select Upload budget and then find and open the template. 
  7. Select Next, then select View budget.
  8. Now that your budget is in QuickBooks, do a quick review.
  9. To customize the budget title, select the edit icon ✎ next to the automatically generated title.
  10. Review the cells. Make sure the correct amounts are in each account. If you need to make edits, select a field and make the changes.
  11. Select Save or Save and close to save your budget.


Duplicate an existing budget

Instead of starting from scratch, you can duplicate an existing budget. This jumpstarts your new budget by using last year's data. Here’s how to duplicate a budget:

  1. Go to Settings Settings gear icon. and select Budgeting (Take me there).
  2. Find the budget you want to duplicate.
  3. From the Actions column, select the ▼ dropdown, then select Duplicate.
  4. From the Period dropdown ▼, select the fiscal year you're creating the budget for.
  5. Select Duplicate.

This saves the copy as a new, separate budget.



Edit a budget

If you need to edit a budget, make your changes in QuickBooks:

  1. Go to Settings Settings gear icon. and select Budgeting (Take me there).
  2. Find your budget on the list.
  3. From the Actions column, select the ▼ dropdown, then select View/Edit.
  4. Edit each account one month at a time.
  5. To change the time period from monthly to quarterly or yearly, switch between Yearly/Quarterly/Monthly views.
  6. Select Save or Save and close.


Delete a budget

If you decide to delete a budget, be careful. You can't recover deleted budgets.

  1. Go to Settings Settings gear icon. and select Budgeting (Take me there).
  2. Find your budget on the list.
  3. From the Actions column, select the ▼ dropdown, then select Delete.
  4. Select Yes to confirm.


Run budget reports

You can run special profit and loss budget reports that help you keep track of your budget goals.

  1. Go to Settings Settings gear icon. and select Budgeting (Take me there).
  2. Find your budget on the list.
  3. From the Actions column, select the ▼ dropdown, then select Run Budgets vs. Actuals report or Run Budget Overview report.
  4. If you want to export a budget as pdf/excel, export them via reports.

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