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Create, edit, and manage budgets

QuickBooks Online Plusand Advanced has an easy-to-navigate budgeting feature. Budgets help you plan ahead so you can stay on top of your expenses and revenue. After you set one up, use the Budget vs. Actuals report to help make informed decisions for your business.

You can make a budget at any time, but year-end is a great chance to start planning for the year ahead.

Note: You must be an Administrator with All Access rights to create, access, edit, or delete budgets.

Set the fiscal year's first month

Your budget starts with the first month of your fiscal year, so it's a good idea to verify that the Fiscal Year setting is accurate.

To verify or change the fiscal year setting:

  1. Select Settings ⚙️.
  2. Select Account and Settings.
  3. Select Advanced.
  4. In the Accounting section, verify that the setting in the First month of fiscal year field is correct, or select Edit ✎ to change the setting.
  5. Select Save and close.
  6. Select Done.

Once you have verified that your fiscal year is correct, the next step is to review the data you plan to base your budget on to ensure that it's accurate.

Review historical amounts

You can base your budget on data either from the current fiscal year or from the previous year's amounts. If you plan to use historical data, it's a good idea to run a Profit and Loss Detail report to make sure transactions were assigned correctly in the past.

By default, the report shows transactions created during the current fiscal year to the current date, but you can customize the report to display the previous fiscal year's amounts instead.

To customize the Profit and Loss Detail report:

  1. Select Reports.
  2. Locate and open the Profit and Loss Detail report.
  3. Select Last Fiscal Year (or Last Year if January is the first month of your fiscal year) from the Report period drop-down list to use the previous year's data. To use data from the current fiscal year, accept the default setting of This Year-to-date.
  4. Select Run report.

The report displays data from the fiscal year you specified. You can use this report to verify that the transactions you're planning to base your budget on were correctly assigned.

Now that you have verified the information to use in your budget, the next step is to create it.

Create your budget

You can now create your budget. The Budgets feature provides guidance to help you create your first budget.

To create a budget:

  1. Select Settings ⚙️.
  2. Under Tools, select Budgeting.
  3. Select Add budget.
  4. Enter a budget name in the Name field.
  5. From the Fiscal Year drop-down list, select the fiscal year for the budget.
  6. Use the options on the Interval drop-down menu to specify whether the budget is Monthly, Quarterly, or Yearly.
  7. (Optional) From the Pre-fill data drop-down list, specify whether to automatically enter data from the current or previous year into the budget, and specify the year to use.
  8. (Optional) From the Subdivide by drop-down list, specify whether to split the budget by Class, Customer, or Location, then specify what class, customer, or location to add to the budget.
    • If you don't see Class or Location options, those settings are not turned on. To turn them on go to Settings ⚙, Account and Settings, Advanced tab, in the Categories section.
  9. Select Next.
  10. If you did not use the Pre-fill data option, enter data into the table. Note: QuickBooks Online accepts decimals and does not round to the nearest dollar. You can edit the amounts at any time. If you do not see all your accounts and subaccounts, select the Settings ⚙ icon above the Total column and see if the Hide blank rows option is selected.
  11. Select Save or Save and close.

Your budget is saved and listed in the Budgets window.

Budget reports

You can view the following reports for the budget you created:

  • Budget Overview: Summary of budgeted amounts for a specific budget.
  • Budget vs. Actuals: Summary of budgeted amounts versus actual amounts and their variances and variance percentages.

To view, email, print, or export these reports:

  1. Select Settings ⚙️.
  2. Under Tools, select Budgeting.
  3. Locate the budget to view, email, print, or export.
  4. From the drop-down in the Action column, select Run Budget Overview report or Run Budget vs. Actuals report.
  5. On the Report page, select Email ✉️ or Print \uD83D\uDDA8️ and, in the Print, email, or save as PDF dialog, specify whether to create and send an email with the budget report, or print a copy of the budget. You can also Save as PDF from this dialog.
  6. (Optional) Select the Export icon and select Export to Excel or Export to PDF from the drop-down list to export the data in your budget.
  7. (Optional) To view, email, print, or export a different report, select a different budget from the Budget drop-down list.

Regardless of the number of rows or columns, the entire budget report is printed on a single page.

If the font appears too small on a printed report, you can export the budget report to an Excel spreadsheet and print it from there.

Edit, copy or delete existing budgets

When you create a new budget, existing budget reports are not overwritten or affected. To change an existing budget, you must edit it one line at a time.

To edit an existing budget:

  1. Select Settings ⚙️.
  2. Under Tools, select Budgeting.
  3. Locate the budget to edit.
  4. From the Action column drop-down menu, select Edit.
  5. Edit the budget name or the budget amounts for each of the corresponding accounts, if necessary.
  6. (Optional) For subdivided budgets, select one of the options on the drop-down menu in the Show rows as field to change the criteria the budget is subdivided by.
  7. (Optional) Select the Settings ⚙ icon above the Total column and select Month, Quarter, or Year under View by to change the budget interval.
  8. Select Save or Save and close.

The budget is edited to reflect your updated data or settings.

To copy a budget

Copying an existing budget allows you to create a new budget using your existing budget's amounts. This is specially helpful if you want to use budget information for a previous fiscal year to create a new one.

  1. Select Settings ⚙️.
  2. Under Tools, select Budgeting.
  3. Locate the budget to copy.
  4. From the Action column drop-down menu, select Copy.
  5. On the Copy Budget screen, enter the new budget name and fiscal year.
  6. Select Create Budget.
  7. Update the budget amounts as necessary.
  8. Select Save or Save and close.

The budget is copied with the name, year, and budget amounts you specified.

To delete an existing budget:

You can delete an existing budget, but you should exercise caution when doing so.

Once a budget has been deleted, it cannot be restored. The activity log retains a record of the deleted budget, but it can't provide any details about it.

  1. Select Settings ⚙️.
  2. Under Tools, select Budgeting.
  3. From the Action column drop-down menu, select Delete.

The budget is now entirely deleted and cannot be restored.

To recreate the deleted budget, you must re-enter all of the information manually.

Focus on your business, not your books.

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