Quicken is a popular commercial record-keeping package that is:
User friendly. Quicken is easy for people unfamiliar with accounting terms to use, making it a good place to start when changing from a hand-kept cash accounting system to computerized records.
Inexpensive and readily available. Depending on the version that you select, Quicken may be purchased for $40-50 at many retail outlets.
Flexible. Allows record-keeping for a wide variety of agricultural and non-ag business enterprises.
Widely used. Users can compare notes with neighbors on its application and use.
Quicken's checkbook register makes for a familiar environment to begin computerized recordkeeping. Although Quicken includes only home and general business income and expense categories, farm income and expense categories are easily added. Import options allow you to add a farm category list created at Oklahoma State University that matches the tax Schedule F, minimizing the effort required to develop a beginning chart of accounts.
Quicken's "class" feature can be used with categories to further identify and sort transactions to allow cash reports by enterprise, by partnership share, or by farm. QuickFill features recognize and complete repetitive transactions to reduce the typing required. Splits of transactions allow a specific transaction to be divided into as many as 30 components with different category and/or class assignments. For example, a check written to a farm supply store can be separated into expenses for fertilizer for wheat, feed for hogs, and fuel for checking cattle.
Reports—transactions, cash flow, account balances, balance sheet, comparison, tax summary—are easily generated, information filtered and layout modified. Although tax schedules are not generated, tax schedule reports summarize information recorded that pertains to a specific tax schedule and data can be exported to other software such as TurboTax®.
Built-in financial planning and monitoring features are also useful. Loans can be amortized with scheduled payments retained for future use. Whole farm budgets based on historic Quicken® data can be generated quickly and easily as can budgets developed from "scratch". Comparison reports highlight budget versus actual figures. Quicken files can be imported easily into QuickBooks®, a popular small business accounting package, if the producer later requires a more sophisticated financial record keeping system.
For agricultural users, a major shortcoming in Quicken is the inability to easily summarize physical data associated with individual financial transactions, making it hard to integrate production and financial records in reports and analysis. Within Quicken, physical quantities and price per unit information can be stored in memo lines and exported to spreadsheets for further summary and analysis. Likewise it is difficult to maintain a depreciation schedule for individual assets. Since Quicken was written for a broad personal finance market, the user must adjust to the software.