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Creating Recurring Transactions in QuickBooks Desktop and Online

Yes, you can do it in both versions, but the process is a bit different.

Even businesses that have been reticent to move their financial bookkeeping to a computer get excited when they see how much time QuickBooks can save. They can learn about this through a QuickBooks training course, but the real impact doesn’t hit them until they’re actually using it with their own company data.

One of the areas where both the desktop version of QuickBooks (examples here are from QuickBooks 2013) and QuickBooks Online accelerate your workflow is in the creation and scheduling of recurring transactions.

Recurring transactions are just what they sound like: invoices or estimates or purchase orders or other QuickBooks receivable or payable document that you have to enter on a regular basis. These can be either for a fixed amount (like an insurance payment) or different amounts (like your electric bill). If they’re the same, you can even schedule them to be processed automatically. And you can set reminders so you don’t forget about the ones that need to be modified every time.

Recurring Transactions in QuickBooks 2013

To create a recurring transaction in the desktop version of QuickBooks 2013, your first step is simple: Fill out the form for the transaction that you want to recur and save it. When that’s done, open it again and click on the Memorize icon in the toolbar (or click Edit | Memorize in earlier versions). This window will open:

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You’ll set up recurring transactions and reminders in the QuickBooks Memorize Transaction window.

You’ll probably want to change the name to something memorable in case you create more than one for that individual or company.

If you want to be reminded to process the transaction so you can change an amount (the most common reason), click the button next to Add to my Reminders List. Select the second option if you just want to create a “skeleton” version of a transaction form that you can use in the future, but you don’t want a reminder because it’s not on a regular schedule.

Click Automate Transaction Entry, and some of the previously grayed-out options will light up. Open the drop-down list next to How Often and make a selection from options like Twice a month, Monthly, Quarterly and Annually. Choose the date when you want the recurrence to begin in the next field, and then tell QuickBooks how many total transactions you want (memorized transactions can be edited, so you can always change this). Finally, indicate how many days before the due date you want the transactions to be processed. Click OK.

Warning: Be absolutely sure you’re correct when establishing this last option. Your transactions will occur without your bidding.

To edit the processing options for a recurring transaction, go to Lists | Memorized Transaction List. Right-click on the correct one and select Edit Memorized Transaction. You can also choose to enter the transaction if it’s one that hasn’t been scheduled, if the schedule changes, or you forgot to pay it when you were reminded.

Recurring Transactions in QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online actually offers two ways to create a recurring transaction, or “template.” One works much the same way as it does in desktop QuickBooks. Open the transaction you want to repeat and click the Make Recurring button in the lower right corner of the screen. You’ll see this window:

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QuickBooks Online is more flexible than desktop QuickBooks in terms of creating recurring transactions, or templates.

Much of this window is similar to what you saw in the desktop version of QuickBooks; there are few differences. QuickBooks Online automatically enters Scheduled transactions without any intervention from you, so setting a Reminder is most useful here when you have a transaction whose amount changes every time – you can go in and edit it before sending it. Unscheduled means just that: no reminder and no automatic dispatching. You just pull it up when you need it.

QuickBooks Online lets you include other, unbilled charges, which the desktop version does not, and it will send an alert for a Scheduled Transaction.

To use the second option, you’d go to Company | Recurring Transactions. This opens the list of your existing templates, so it’s where you’d go to find and edit a recurring transaction. You can view them by template type and transaction type.

To create a new one, you’d click the New button in the lower right. This opens a dialog box that asks you what kind of form you want, then opens the Recurring [type] Template. This is a kind of hybrid of the Memorize Transaction dialog box in the desktop version of QuickBooks 2013 and the transaction form itself, as shown below.

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The Recurring Invoice Template in QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Online lets you name your templates, like the desktop version does. But you’ll fill out both your transaction data and your recurring options on the same screen, just as you entered data in a separate screen and dialog box in QuickBooks desktop. If you select Scheduled, you’ll have to click on the Edit Schedule button off to the right.

When you’re done, click Save Template, and your transaction will appear in your list of recurring transactions.

This process can be confusing, and may take a QuickBooks tutorial to straighten out. Recurring transactions can help you save time, but they can also create late payments and billings if they’re created incorrectly.

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