Getting started as a traditional online-only user

Hi,

Sorry for the excruciatingly long post. In panic mode here I think, so just need some help

Some background - this isn't my first time using quicken. I tried it many years ago, failed miserably, and went back to my old ways.

For years, I've been managing my finances with Excel, paying bills/etc via online bill pay and various automatic payments from websites. I feel that software like Quicken is the way to go for overall better budget and trending purposes.

After making the investment in the software subscription, I downloaded and installed it without any issues. Next, I added all of my accounts including banks, loans, cars and investment accounts.

I started off happy - downloaded all of my transaction history, could see my overall net worth - just like I see it in excel. However, things don't seem to be adding up anymore. I don't think it's a bug, I think it's me - as this is what turned me away last time, and I'm confident that there is no way that it's the software managing things wrong - it has to be the way I'm doing it....

So here it goes -- I do my financial review usually just once a month, typically around the 19th or 20th every month. I open quicken, do a "one step update" and it automatically downloads all of my transactions from the past into the system. Except November. I skipped November because I'm a putz....

I've noticed that these recurring issues happen:
1) The bank balance and quicken balance differ - Here, it makes sense in some case when the "available balance" and "current balance" differ, as some transactions from the bank are posted on their website, but not the same in quicken. It seems to be pretty standard, so I will "generally" ignore it. I.e., I can accept a few hundred dollar differences, since that can "usually" match to a few pending expenses - gas, utility payment, whatever. I stop ignoring it when the account is off by several thousand dollars....

2) Transactions are missing - I spent the better part of a few hours going through and adding a ton of missing transactions that were present on my online forms, but weren't present in Quicken. I heard it was related to the "auto entry" thing, so disabled that item while fixing all of this. It still seems to happen from time-to-time. This does not correlate with the balance differences, as the differences are wildly off

3) Formerly missing transactions appear randomly - For all of the transactions that I manually had to create, they later showed up automatically, so then I go through the process of finding everything I manually created, and deleted them

4) Transfers get posted as either income or expense - I transfer money constantly. As-in, I intentionally keep my checking account balances low, such that I can receive more income from the higher daily balances of my savings accounts. I've seen in many cases where the transfer from one account to another is considered a debt or income, so in all of my reports there's a really weird skew

5) Bill pay to credit card accounts is not considered a transfer - Similar to #4. I pay my credit card off in full every month, it's not a bill, since it's legitimately every expense I made for the month - i.e., no interest, fees, none of that mess. I have no idea how to properly categorize these payments, since they aren't really bills, they're just (essentially) electronic transfers from one account to another, to offset the transactions that were previously posted. In all of my reports, it essentially shows that all of my expenses are double from what they really are....

6) Transactions get posted to the wrong account - Combining with numbers 4 and 1 above, every single bank account in this past month downloaded all of my transfers to the wrong accounts. All of them. So now, in addition to needing to go to my bank statements and compare what has or hasn't posted and what has or hasn't been entered twice, I now have to move a bunch of transactions from one thing or another, because it's not right. For what it's worth, for December, every account (except 2 - which happen to be the only 2 accounts that were completely idle) - are off by several thousand dollars...

7) There's a lot more I'd like to play with, but I'm just stuck here - For instance, it would be awesome to not see every bill as "overdue", since I pay it all automatically via the bank or automatic debits - or even better, setting up per-category budgets (i.e., groceries) based on prior expenses/etc. If I can't seem to wrap my head around how to keep a simple bank balance remotely close to what the bank says, this advanced stuff will just kill me.....

To me, the above is way more work than what I was doing in Excel. In Excel, I never entered each individual transaction before, hence really trying to rely on Quicken to do it all for me. What am I doing wrong? I mean, why should something that should be so simple, wind up being such a major activity for me? In my quest to make life easier and get a better handle on budgeting and finance, it seems like the workload has increased exponentially - and it's really making me second guess whether this is the way to go or not.

I'm ok with needing to re-learn how to "do life", so long as I know my bills are getting paid on-time or a few days early and my net worth keeps increasing. I just really want to make this software work, without needing to hire a part-time book keeper to come in and do all of the above every month...


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Comments

  • Ray CosnerRay Cosner Member ✭✭
    edited December 2018
    Please consider editing this post down to a much shorter one that gets right to the questions you want to have answers for.  Very few people are going to wade through three screens of rambling thoughts.  You can get good help here, if you can focus.
  • RyanRyan Member
    edited December 2018

    Please consider editing this post down to a much shorter one that gets right to the questions you want to have answers for.  Very few people are going to wade through three screens of rambling thoughts.  You can get good help here, if you can focus.

    Thanks. I think my problem is that I really don't know where to start - and don't know where I'm wrong. Nothing adds up (literally), and it's costing me many, many hours with tons of errors. Attempting to explain, in detail, all of the issues I'm facing is the only way I know of to ask for help...

    I'll give the rest of the community some time to reply, before I post all of the 7 points in separate questions, only since my experience in forum settings yields upset people from re-posting the same things repetitively.
  • splashersplasher SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2018
    The only advice I can give is to not expect Quicken to run on auto-pilot and be correct and to work on it weekly.  A little time each week means you aren't trying to remember something that happened a month ago and what you are dealing with is a lot smaller each time.
    -splasher  using Q since 1996 -  QW2016, 2017 & Subscription  -  Win7/Win10
    -Questions? Check out the  Quicken Windows FAQ list

  • Ray CosnerRay Cosner Member ✭✭
    edited January 20
    The title of your post indicates one potential issue.  Quicken is still fundamentally a stand-alone desktop program, with both the software and all your data residing on your computer.  A key feature is the ability to download from your bank, broker, etc. new data on your transactions.  But the software and your data including downloads reside on your computer.

    Quicken does have both a mobile app and a browser-based cloud program, both tie to your own data but with reduced functions compared with the desktop program.  I only use the desktop version, and I suspect that's true of the majority of users.

    The mobile and browser versions are getting a lot of bad reviews in this forum (usability issues) and the consensus advice seems to be not to use them until the kinks are worked out.
  • mshigginsmshiggins SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2018
    Regarding your issue #6, having transactions go to the wrong accounts seems to be caused by syncing to the Quicken cloud. I would stop syncing to the Quicken cloud until you get the other issues addressed.



    Regarding your issue #1, if your account balances don't match the bank's balances, you'll want to determine why and address the issue. As Splasher noted, you can't rely solely on downloads, you may need to manually edit or enter transactions. Until you get the account balance issues addressed, I would not try to tackle the other issues, except #6.
    Quicken user since Q1999. Currently using QW2017.
    Questions? Check out the  Quicken Windows FAQ list
  • Ray CosnerRay Cosner Member ✭✭
    edited December 2018
    You should expect your accounts to balance with the bank or broker, right down to the penny.  If they don't, there are missing or duplicated transactions to track down.

    Do not allow Quicken to automatically place downloaded transactions into your account registers.  A transaction you entered manually in your checkbook register may be duplicated by a transaction you download after it clears your bank.  You can control this feature in your Preferences.  

    After a download, Quicken will report both "new" and "matched" transactions.  The "new" ones often in fact will match a manually-entered transaction, but Quicken may not recognize that.  You can manually align these by using the drop-down that you get when selecting the button to edit the downloaded transaction.  Just this morning I learned from another post you can also drag-drop a transaction from the download list to the register to force alignment, but I have not done that personally.  I have generally found the claimed "matches" to be reliable, so I will automatically accept them after I've checked that all the "new" transactions are really new ones.

    I have had similar issues with downloads from my investment broker.  There are more nuances to that issue, so I'll set it aside for now.  While you are in the learning mode, I'd advise just focusing on banking accounts.
  • splashersplasher SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2018

    The title of your post indicates one potential issue.  Quicken is still fundamentally a stand-alone desktop program, with both the software and all your data residing on your computer.  A key feature is the ability to download from your bank, broker, etc. new data on your transactions.  But the software and your data including downloads reside on your computer.

    Quicken does have both a mobile app and a browser-based cloud program, both tie to your own data but with reduced functions compared with the desktop program.  I only use the desktop version, and I suspect that's true of the majority of users.

    The mobile and browser versions are getting a lot of bad reviews in this forum (usability issues) and the consensus advice seems to be not to use them until the kinks are worked out.

    @Ray ; I took it to mean that the OP wasn't going to enter anything manually and rely on downloads for everything.
    -splasher  using Q since 1996 -  QW2016, 2017 & Subscription  -  Win7/Win10
    -Questions? Check out the  Quicken Windows FAQ list

  • Gary WGary W Member
    edited December 2018
    Ray: I am using Quicken Mac Deluxe 2018 v5.7.2 (build 57.23252.100) and macOS 10.12.6.

    I did not see and option in "Preferences" to NOT automatically place downloaded transactions into my account registers.  Is that due to the version I'm on, or is the option hidden?

  • splashersplasher SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2018
    Gary W said:

    Ray: I am using Quicken Mac Deluxe 2018 v5.7.2 (build 57.23252.100) and macOS 10.12.6.

    I did not see and option in "Preferences" to NOT automatically place downloaded transactions into my account registers.  Is that due to the version I'm on, or is the option hidden?

    This is a thread on Quicken for Windows and in general does not apply to Quicken for Mac.
    -splasher  using Q since 1996 -  QW2016, 2017 & Subscription  -  Win7/Win10
    -Questions? Check out the  Quicken Windows FAQ list

  • Ray CosnerRay Cosner Member ✭✭
    edited December 2018
    Gary W said:

    Ray: I am using Quicken Mac Deluxe 2018 v5.7.2 (build 57.23252.100) and macOS 10.12.6.

    I did not see and option in "Preferences" to NOT automatically place downloaded transactions into my account registers.  Is that due to the version I'm on, or is the option hidden?

    splasher is right.  I am using the Windows version.  Everything I said in my post beginning "You should expect..." is based 100% on my Windows experience.  
  • Bob_LBob_L SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2018
    Re. #5. Transfers can be excluded from reports via the Customize button at the top of reports and choosing the advanced tab.
    Quicken Premier Subscription, Windows 10 Pro
  • smayer97smayer97 SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2018
    Gary W said:

    Ray: I am using Quicken Mac Deluxe 2018 v5.7.2 (build 57.23252.100) and macOS 10.12.6.

    I did not see and option in "Preferences" to NOT automatically place downloaded transactions into my account registers.  Is that due to the version I'm on, or is the option hidden?

    Gary W Please start a separate thread for QMac... then any questions you have may get addressed there.

    (If you find this reply helpful, please be sure to click "Like", so others will know, thanks.)

    If you find this reply helpful, please be sure to click "Like", so others will know, thanks.

    (Canadian  user since '92, STILL using QM2007)

    Have Questions? Check out these FAQs:
  • RyanRyan Member
    edited December 2018
    splasher said:

    The only advice I can give is to not expect Quicken to run on auto-pilot and be correct and to work on it weekly.  A little time each week means you aren't trying to remember something that happened a month ago and what you are dealing with is a lot smaller each time.

    ok, this actually makes a lot of sense. I think I was always expecting that it "just worked", but that there is a bit more to it than that. Thanks.

  • RyanRyan Member
    edited December 2018

    The title of your post indicates one potential issue.  Quicken is still fundamentally a stand-alone desktop program, with both the software and all your data residing on your computer.  A key feature is the ability to download from your bank, broker, etc. new data on your transactions.  But the software and your data including downloads reside on your computer.

    Quicken does have both a mobile app and a browser-based cloud program, both tie to your own data but with reduced functions compared with the desktop program.  I only use the desktop version, and I suspect that's true of the majority of users.

    The mobile and browser versions are getting a lot of bad reviews in this forum (usability issues) and the consensus advice seems to be not to use them until the kinks are worked out.

    Reading what I wrote, it can be taken both ways. I predominantly use the desktop version, although I've had the online sync enabled. Based on this though, it makes me feel better about wanting to only use the desktop - and I'll definitely disable the web stuff for a while.
  • RyanRyan Member
    edited December 2018
    mshiggins said:

    Regarding your issue #6, having transactions go to the wrong accounts seems to be caused by syncing to the Quicken cloud. I would stop syncing to the Quicken cloud until you get the other issues addressed.



    Regarding your issue #1, if your account balances don't match the bank's balances, you'll want to determine why and address the issue. As Splasher noted, you can't rely solely on downloads, you may need to manually edit or enter transactions. Until you get the account balance issues addressed, I would not try to tackle the other issues, except #6.

    Thanks on both of the above - seems that I need to:
    1) Disable all of the online sync
    2) Start monitoring things a lot closer to make sure everything lines up as-is, and on a more frequent basis.
  • RyanRyan Member
    edited December 2018

    You should expect your accounts to balance with the bank or broker, right down to the penny.  If they don't, there are missing or duplicated transactions to track down.

    Do not allow Quicken to automatically place downloaded transactions into your account registers.  A transaction you entered manually in your checkbook register may be duplicated by a transaction you download after it clears your bank.  You can control this feature in your Preferences.  

    After a download, Quicken will report both "new" and "matched" transactions.  The "new" ones often in fact will match a manually-entered transaction, but Quicken may not recognize that.  You can manually align these by using the drop-down that you get when selecting the button to edit the downloaded transaction.  Just this morning I learned from another post you can also drag-drop a transaction from the download list to the register to force alignment, but I have not done that personally.  I have generally found the claimed "matches" to be reliable, so I will automatically accept them after I've checked that all the "new" transactions are really new ones.

    I have had similar issues with downloads from my investment broker.  There are more nuances to that issue, so I'll set it aside for now.  While you are in the learning mode, I'd advise just focusing on banking accounts.

    I had the "automatic thing" off once, and then turned it back on - but it definitely seems to make sense then to turn it off, download everything for the past x days, compare those x days to what's exactly on the bank websites, and then save it into the register.

    When you say "Matches" - I think I know what you mean. In the column with the blue dot, next to the flag column, it says "New" and then "New Match". I'll pull this up in the manual to go into more detail, especially since based on how you're saying it here - it would seemingly fit well with my "bill pay" connection question. Thanks!!
  • RyanRyan Member
    edited December 2018
    Bob L said:

    Re. #5. Transfers can be excluded from reports via the Customize button at the top of reports and choosing the advanced tab.

    ooh, ok - so in essence, I can create a spending report that excludes all transfers and even a couple of specific payees, that should help a lot.

    I think I was also confusing the "reports" versus the "spending tab" - i.e., I pick an account (or all accounts), take a time period (i.e., this month) and look at the pie chart of what was spent by category. I was calling this a report, but even though that's somewhat true - that's not what real people call it. This gem will help a bunch!
  • swensenswensen Member
    edited December 2018
    In regards to #5, how you see double transactions/amounts when you pay off your credit card bill, how are you entering the credit card payment in your checking account register? The category should be set to: "[Checking account]", and then it shouldn't show up as an expense in a category on your reports.
  • RyanRyan Member
    edited December 2018
    swensen said:

    In regards to #5, how you see double transactions/amounts when you pay off your credit card bill, how are you entering the credit card payment in your checking account register? The category should be set to: "[Checking account]", and then it shouldn't show up as an expense in a category on your reports.

    I've never used quicken to "pay" anything, I've only used my online banking sites - that being said, I've done it two ways.

    I have 2 bank institutions; We'll call them Institution #A and Institution #B.
    #A has a checking and savings account
    #B also has a checking account, and a credit card account

    The (overly complicated process) is for money to move like this:
       A.Savings -> A.Checking
       A.Checking -> B.Checking
       B.Checking -> B.CreditCard

    -- That's what i'll refer to as "the old method". It used a "transfer" in the bank to pay the account, rather than their "bill pay" system. It would record the payment as a payment in the register, but then would record it as a transfer from the checking account.

    In October, I changed this to be a little more simple, i.e.
      A.Savings -> A.Checking
      A.Checking -> Online Bill Pay -> B.CreditCard

    The second method is much preferred, for simplicity. I lose out on a few dollars a year in interest - but that's acceptable.

    When using the newer option (option 2 above), what happens is that the Transfer from A.Savings->A.Checking goes in as a transfer, but then the bill pay from A.Checking into B.CreditCard is written as an expense. So then, when I'm in the spending tab, it says that I spent $x on "credit card payment" - which is true, but not so true.
  • Bob_LBob_L SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2018
    swensen said:

    In regards to #5, how you see double transactions/amounts when you pay off your credit card bill, how are you entering the credit card payment in your checking account register? The category should be set to: "[Checking account]", and then it shouldn't show up as an expense in a category on your reports.

    What version of Quicken are you running? Credit card payments are not showing up on my Spending tab (QW2019].
    Quicken Premier Subscription, Windows 10 Pro
  • RyanRyan Member
    edited December 2018
    swensen said:

    In regards to #5, how you see double transactions/amounts when you pay off your credit card bill, how are you entering the credit card payment in your checking account register? The category should be set to: "[Checking account]", and then it shouldn't show up as an expense in a category on your reports.

    2019 R15.18 Build 27.1.15.18

    Maybe I'm just doing it wrong, will try again after I finish cleaning up my data file and reconciling all of my statements from the past few months
  • smayer97smayer97 SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2018
    swensen said:

    In regards to #5, how you see double transactions/amounts when you pay off your credit card bill, how are you entering the credit card payment in your checking account register? The category should be set to: "[Checking account]", and then it shouldn't show up as an expense in a category on your reports.

    It sounds like the payment from A.Checking to B.Credit Card is being recorded as a categorized transaction rather than a Transfer. Do you have the B.Credit Card account in the category field of the payment from A.Checking?

    If you find this reply helpful, please be sure to click "Like", so others will know, thanks.

    (Canadian  user since '92, STILL using QM2007)

    Have Questions? Check out these FAQs:
  • RyanRyan Member
    edited December 2018
    swensen said:

    In regards to #5, how you see double transactions/amounts when you pay off your credit card bill, how are you entering the credit card payment in your checking account register? The category should be set to: "[Checking account]", and then it shouldn't show up as an expense in a category on your reports.

    A-HA! yes! It shows category "Bills & Utilities: Credit Card Payment", rather than "[xyz credit card Account]"!
  • smayer97smayer97 SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2018
    swensen said:

    In regards to #5, how you see double transactions/amounts when you pay off your credit card bill, how are you entering the credit card payment in your checking account register? The category should be set to: "[Checking account]", and then it shouldn't show up as an expense in a category on your reports.

    Glad you sorted that out. :-)

    If you find this reply helpful, please be sure to click "Like", so others will know, thanks.

    (Canadian  user since '92, STILL using QM2007)

    Have Questions? Check out these FAQs:
  • RyanRyan Member
    edited December 2018
    swensen said:

    In regards to #5, how you see double transactions/amounts when you pay off your credit card bill, how are you entering the credit card payment in your checking account register? The category should be set to: "[Checking account]", and then it shouldn't show up as an expense in a category on your reports.

    no, i'm glad YOU sorted it out!
  • smayer97smayer97 SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2018
    swensen said:

    In regards to #5, how you see double transactions/amounts when you pay off your credit card bill, how are you entering the credit card payment in your checking account register? The category should be set to: "[Checking account]", and then it shouldn't show up as an expense in a category on your reports.

    Glad to help  :-)

    If you find this reply helpful, please be sure to click "Like", so others will know, thanks.

    (Canadian  user since '92, STILL using QM2007)

    Have Questions? Check out these FAQs:
  • Ray CosnerRay Cosner Member ✭✭
    edited December 2018
    I have a question for all of us:

    There are a number of books on Amazon and elsewhere in the $20 range aimed at new users of Quicken.  Would one of these be useful to someone in Ryan's position?  I haven't used one of these books, so I think we need feedback from others before recommending that to Ryan.

    We have been giving Ryan a lot of experience-based advice like "don't use the web version" which I suspect he won't find in a book.
  • Ray CosnerRay Cosner Member ✭✭
    edited February 15

    The title of your post indicates one potential issue.  Quicken is still fundamentally a stand-alone desktop program, with both the software and all your data residing on your computer.  A key feature is the ability to download from your bank, broker, etc. new data on your transactions.  But the software and your data including downloads reside on your computer.

    Quicken does have both a mobile app and a browser-based cloud program, both tie to your own data but with reduced functions compared with the desktop program.  I only use the desktop version, and I suspect that's true of the majority of users.

    The mobile and browser versions are getting a lot of bad reviews in this forum (usability issues) and the consensus advice seems to be not to use them until the kinks are worked out.

    I did try it, after Intuit announced they would be divesting Quicken but before the current outcome (Quicken Inc.) was known.  To me, the future of Quicken was in doubt and I looked for alternatives.

    I installed [removed] and copied some (not all) of my data to it.  I did not see any compelling features, and some things I liked in Q were not in PC.  What really put me off was that I started getting frequent phone calls from employees of [removed] that wanted to sell me additional personal advisory services.  Well, I already have an independent advisor.  I found these calls to be very annoying.  They wouldn't take "no" for an answer.  They only stopped when I terminated my account, and I decided to wait for the future of Q to become clearer.
  • Connie BrownConnie Brown Member
    edited February 15

    The title of your post indicates one potential issue.  Quicken is still fundamentally a stand-alone desktop program, with both the software and all your data residing on your computer.  A key feature is the ability to download from your bank, broker, etc. new data on your transactions.  But the software and your data including downloads reside on your computer.

    Quicken does have both a mobile app and a browser-based cloud program, both tie to your own data but with reduced functions compared with the desktop program.  I only use the desktop version, and I suspect that's true of the majority of users.

    The mobile and browser versions are getting a lot of bad reviews in this forum (usability issues) and the consensus advice seems to be not to use them until the kinks are worked out.

    Good points. I like PCs investment on the web pages and its uncomplicated connectivity and downloads. I ignore the features to get my financial advisor business. They don't call me.


    @Ryan, if you are looking for a good web-connected view of your accounts, have you tried [removed]? It doesn't do everything as Quicken but may deserve a peek.

    Quicken has more features than PC (ex. splits, budgeting) that I use and I've used Quicken off and on for years so I'm reluctant to abandon it while it transitions.

    But I've also run into some of the same problems described above with placeholders and hunting hours for out of balance transactions or not being about to download transactions at all, like to JCPenny or BP investments. 

    Even so, at this point I am persevering with Quicken and watching to see how they address quality problems and now and then checking in on the web-based features in PC. 

    It looks like Quicken is moving to more web-like features as PC but they aren't there yet. They'd be a stellar operation if they can address the barriers. It can be a make or break issue for many users. I'm routing for Quicken. And watching.
  • mshigginsmshiggins SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2018

    The title of your post indicates one potential issue.  Quicken is still fundamentally a stand-alone desktop program, with both the software and all your data residing on your computer.  A key feature is the ability to download from your bank, broker, etc. new data on your transactions.  But the software and your data including downloads reside on your computer.

    Quicken does have both a mobile app and a browser-based cloud program, both tie to your own data but with reduced functions compared with the desktop program.  I only use the desktop version, and I suspect that's true of the majority of users.

    The mobile and browser versions are getting a lot of bad reviews in this forum (usability issues) and the consensus advice seems to be not to use them until the kinks are worked out.

    It's against the terms of service for this forum to advertise other personal financial programs. If you want to discuss other personal financial software, you should do so on that software's forum.
    Quicken user since Q1999. Currently using QW2017.
    Questions? Check out the  Quicken Windows FAQ list
This discussion has been closed.