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Create budgets in QuickBooks Online

SOLVEDby QuickBooksQuickBooks Online4490Updated 1 day ago

Learn how to add budgets into QuickBooks.

Many businesses use budgets to make an educated guess on how their finances might look in the coming months or years. This is done by looking back at the income and expenses of the business over the last month, quarter, or year to create a budget for the coming year.

We’ll show you how to use your QuickBooks data to create a budget for your business. We’ll also show you how to review and edit your budget and run reports to compare your actual income and expenses with your budget.

Create a budget

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

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.

Step 1: Review the fiscal year for your business

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

  1. Go to Settings ⚙ and select Account and settings.
  2. Select the Advanced tab.
  3. In the Accounting section, review the First month of financial year field. If it's incorrect, select Edit ✎.
  4. Select the required month from the dropdown and select Save.

Step 2: Get your budget data

If you already have the data you want to use for your budget, you can skip this step. If not, you can base your budget on data from either the current fiscal year or the previous year. If you plan to use historical data, run a Profit and Loss Detail report to make sure transactions and accounts look correct.

Here’s how to run the report:

  1. Find and select the Profit and Loss Detail report.
  2. From the Report Period ▼ dropdown, select a timeframe. For example: 
    • If you want to use data from the previous year, select Last Year.
    • If you want to use data from your current fiscal year, select This Year-to-date.
  3. Make sure the beginning and end of the year match your fiscal year. 
  4. Select Run report.
  5. If you don’t want to reopen the report again, select the print or export icon to print or download a copy of the report. 

Use this info as a guide to create your budget.

Step 3: Create your budget

To create a budget, you can either make a new one or copy an existing one. If this is your first budget, start here and we'll show you how to copy a budget after you’ve added your first budget.

If you have a QuickBooks Online Advanced subscription, you have the additional option to create a budget by importing a .csv file. To learn how, expand the Upload a budget using a .csv file section below.

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 ⚙ and select Budgeting.
  2. Select Add budget
  3. In the Name field, enter a name for the budget.
  4. From the Fiscal Year ▼ dropdown, select the fiscal year you’re creating the budget for. 
  5. From the Interval ▼ dropdown, select whether you want the budget to display Monthly, Quarterly, or Yearly
  6. Select the actual date year from the Pre-fill data? ▼ dropdown if you’d like QuickBooks to prefill your budget with actual data from your chart of accounts.
    Note: if you use the pre-fill data and you change your mind, you’ll have to start over to delete the data. Select the X to close the budget and start over. 
  7. Use the Subdivide by ▼ dropdown to subdivide the budget further. 
  8. When you’re ready, select Next or Create Budget
  9. Enter your budget for each account for each month. Use the report you saved in Step 2 if needed. 
  10. When you’re satisfied with your budget, select Save or Save and close

Copy an existing budget

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

  1. Select Settings ⚙️ and then Budgeting.
  2. Find the budget you want to copy.
  3. In the Action column, select the ▼ dropdown, and then 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 new, separate budget.

With QuickBooks Online Advanced, you have the option to upload your budget from a .csv file. If you've never made a budget before, you have to create at least one budget (which can be blank) before you’ll see the .csv import option. Here’s how to create a budget using a .csv file:

Step 1: Create a blank budget

If you’ve already created a budget, you can skip this section.

  1. Go to Settings ⚙ and select Budgeting.
  2. Select Add budget
  3. In the Name field, enter a name for the budget. (You can delete this budget later.)
  4. Select Next
  5. Select Save or Save and close.

Step 2: Download a budget template

Now that you’ve created your first budget, download a budget .csv 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. 

  1. If you’re not already in Budgets, go to Settings ⚙ and select Budgeting.
  2. Select Import budget.
  3. Select the Sample.csv link to download the template. 
  4. Save the file somewhere you can easily find it, like the downloads folder on your computer.

 Step 3: Create your budget using the template

  1. Open the .csv budget template in Excel or Google Sheets. 
  2. Enter your budget for each account for all months listed.
    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 4: Upload your template

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

  1. Go to Settings ⚙ and select Budgeting.
  2. Select Import budget.
  3. Select Browse and then find and open the template. 
  4. Select Next
  5. Now your budget is in QuickBooks. Do a quick review.
  6. In the Name field, enter a name for your budget.
  7. 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.
  8. When you're ready, select Save or Save and close to save your budget.

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. In the Action column, select Edit.
  4. Edit each account one month at a time.
  5. To change the time period from monthly to quarterly or yearly, select the Gear ⚙ at the top of the budget. Then select Quarter or Year.
  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 ⚙ and select Budgeting.
  2. Find your budget on the list.
  3. In the Action column, select the Edit ▼ dropdown, then select Delete.

Run budget reports

You can run 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. In the Action column, select the Edit dropdown, then select 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.

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