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Create and import budgets into QuickBooks Online 

Learn how to get your budgets into QuickBooks.

Many businesses create budgets and use them to track their actual sales and expenses.

In QuickBooks Online Plus and Advanced, you can create budgets using your accounting data. Once your budgets are in QuickBooks, you can review and edit everything as needed. Then you can run financial reports to compare your sales and expenses with your budget.

Create or import a budget

Sign in to QuickBooks as a user with permission to access, create, or delete budgets. Then follow the steps for your version of QuickBooks Online.

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

You can have up to five budgets. We'll give you a .csv template to use to create your budget.

Step 1: Review your business' fiscal year

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

  1. Sign in to QuickBooks Online as an admin.
  2. Go to Settings ⚙ and select Account and Settings.
  3. Select the Advanced tab.
  4. In the Accountings section, review the First month of the fiscal year field. If you need to edit the date, select Edit ✎.

Step 2: Get your budget data

If you already have your budget data, you can skip this step. If you don't have it yet, you can use your QuickBooks data to start your budget:

  1. Go to the Reports menu.
  2. Select and open the Profit and Loss Detail report.
  3. From the Report Period ▼ dropdown, select a timeframe. If you want to use last year's data, select Last year. Make sure the beginning and end of the year match your fiscal year. If you want to use data from your current fiscal year, select This Year-to-date.
  4. Select Run report

Use this info as a guide to create your budget.

Step 3: Download a budget template

Download a budget template from QuickBooks. Use it to create your budget so all of your data is compatible:

  1. Go to Settings ⚙ and select Budgeting.
  2. Select Import budget.
  3. Select the Sample.csv link to download the template. Save it somewhere you can easily find it, like your Downloads folder or desktop.

Step 4: Create your budget

Now you have a budget template. Open the .csv file in Excel or Google Sheets. QuickBooks uses your chart of accounts and fiscal year months to format the template. Enter your budget for each account for each month.

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.

Upload your budget template

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

  1. Go to Settings ⚙ and select Budgeting.
  2. Select Import budget.
  3. Select Browse and then select the template QuickBooks. Then select Next to upload it.

Now your budget is in QuickBooks. Do a quick review.

  1. Give the budget a name.
  2. Review the cells to make sure the correct amounts are in each account. If you need to edit a data field, select it and make your changes.
  3. When you're ready, select Save to save your budget.

Step 1: Set the first month of your fiscal year

Make sure you know when the first month of your fiscal year starts. 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.
  6. Select Done.

Once you have verified that your fiscal year is correct, review the data you plan to base your budget on.

Step 2: Get your budget data

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. Here's how to customize the report to display the previous fiscal year's amounts instead:

  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.

Use this info as a guide to create your budget.

Step 3: Create your budget

Note: If you don't want to start a brand new budget, you can copy an existing one. Go to the "Edit, copy, or delete budgets" section.

  1. Select Settings ⚙️ and then Budgeting.
  2. Select Add budget.
  3. Enter a budget name in the Name field.
  4. From the Fiscal Year drop-down list, select the fiscal year for the budget.
  5. Use the options on the Interval drop-down menu to specify whether the budget is Monthly, Quarterly, or Yearly.
  6. 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. This is optional.
  7. 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. This is optional.  If you don't see Class or Location options, here's how to turn location tracking on and here's how to get started with class tracking.
  8. Select Next.
  9. If you didn't use the Pre-fill data option, enter the budget data into the table. Note: QuickBooks Online accepts decimals and doesn't round to the nearest dollar. If you don't see all your accounts and subaccounts, select the Settings ⚙ icon above the Total column and see if the Hide blank rows option is selected.
  10. When you're done select Save or Save and close.

Run budget reports

There are special budget reports that help you keep track of your budget goals.

  1. Go to Settings ⚙ and select Budgeting.
  2. Find your budget on the list.
  3. Select the Action ▼ dropdown and then Run Budget Overview report or Run Budgets vs. Actuals report.

The Budget Overview report summarizes budgets by account. The Budgets vs. Actuals report summarizes accounts alongside your actual account totals. It also shows how much you're under or over budget.

Edit, copy, or delete budgets

Edit a budget

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

  1. Go to Settings ⚙ and select Budgeting.
  2. Find your budget on the list.
  3. Select the Action ▼ dropdown and then select Edit.
  4. Edit each account one month at a time.
  5. If you want to change the time period from month-to-month to quarterly or yearly, select the Gear ⚙ at the top of the budget. Then select Quarter or Year.
  6. When you're done, select Save.

Copy an existing budget

Instead of starting from scratch, you can create a copy of an existing budget. This lets you start this year's budget using last year's data.

  1. Select Settings ⚙️ and then Budgeting.
  2. Find the budget you want to copy.
  3. From the Action column, select Copy.
  4. On the Copy Budget screen, enter the new budget name and fiscal year.
  5. Select Create Budget.
  6. Update the budget amounts as necessary.
  7. Select Save or Save and close.

This saves the copy as a separate budget.

Delete a budget

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

  1. Go to Settings ⚙ and select Budgeting.
  2. Find your budget on the list.
  3. Select the Action ▼ dropdown and then Delete.

Focus on your business, not your books.

Get a dedicated team of QuickBooks-certified bookkeepers to set up, import, and categorize all your transactions for you. Learn more about QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping.

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