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Reports not tracking categories with a transfer

With the recent update for Quicken for Mac 5.13.3, report transactions that are assigned a category and a transfer now do not show in reports. For example I track my mortgage payments with a split transaction from my checking account. The split is made up of an "Interest Payment" category and a "Principal Payment" category. The Principal Payment category is linked to the loan account to deduct that amount from the loan balance. In the previous version I could run a report and see both the interest and principal categories in reports. Now the principal category does not show. (It does show in the FROM checking and TO loan in the transfer section - but this section is cumulative and does not include the category detail).

I also link categories to transfers when making improvements to an asset. For example I would categorize something as "Home Improvement" but then transfer it to the related asset account. That too does not show when running a report. I do this with my retirement accounts as well.

It is interesting to note that whenever I remove the link to the transfer account, the transaction then does show in approximate category on the report. This was not an issue with the previous Quicken Mac version.

Thank you for the help.

Comments

  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    This is actually by design, and was a major new feature in version 5.13. Users have been asking for years to be able to control reporting for transfers; in some places, people want to see them for cash flow purposes, while in other cases people don't want to see them because the the actual expenses are recorded in another account (such as a credit card).

    In the Summary and Comparison reports, you'll see there is now an Advanced tab in the Customize panel of a report, and you can control whether you want to see transfers, and if so whether you want all transfer or just those outside the accounts selected for the report:



    So you can control which transfer you see in your reports by the combination of this setting and which Accounts you include in the report. 

    This feature doesn't yet exist in Transaction reports, but the product manager said it would follow in an upcoming release.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • mmotroni2006
    mmotroni2006 Member ✭✭
    Thank you @jacobs for the explanation. For my purposes this is a step backwards and now I have several reports that are useless. It also necessitates viewing categories in multiple places instead instead of one. For example I get all the TO / FROM transfers then I have to click within each to see the categories within that transfer. It's just another step. Any workaround? How easy is it to go back to the previous Quicken Mac version, until more functionality here is added?
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    I've always found Quicken Mac's implementation of categories with transfers to be problematic. I think transfers should have no categories, because that turns a transfer -- a movement of funds between accounts that is neither a revenue or expense -- into both a revenue/expense and a flow of funds between accounts. I think its much cleaner to record expense categories when entering the purchase transactions, and not have transfers have any category. Doing it this way does not create the problems you're now trying to work around.

    I'm just guessing here, but I don't think the developers plan any additional functionality with transfers in reports, because they're not assuming people are categorizing transfers -- so it might help if you created a new Idea thread with clear description of what behavior you'd like to see for reporting on transfers, so that fellow users could vote for it.

    Yes, your old reports may need to be modified, or you might need to create two separate reports where you had one before, but my suggestion is to look for ways to generate the reporting you want with this new structure. If you can't get there at all, then creating a new thread laying out what's missing might provide a path to a future change. 

    Going back to a previous version of Quicken typically isn't easy. Assuming you have a backup of the application prior to the update, you could restore that version of the application -- but you often need to also restore a version of the data file from the same time, because there are often database changes with each update. And that means losing all your work since the update. (It's possible the current data file will work with version 5.12.x, but I don't know and haven't tried it.) If you do roll back successfully waiting for changes in transfer reporting, just be aware you might be there for awhile, because I'm not sure the developers are planning to address what you want them to. 
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Michael 102
    Michael 102 Member ✭✭
    This is a **HUGE** problem for me. I've been complaining about it for weeks and can't get any answers from Quicken. I've posted, chatted, and called. It's caused major headaches. Reports that once worked are now off by thousands of dollars. If only I really had the money Quicken makes me think I have because 5.13 completely broke reporting. Reporting wasn't very good before 5.13 and now it's completely unusable. Worse, there is absolutely no way to find all these transactions that have categories on transfers because Quicken omits them from reports. I've experimented with the new transfers on reports and find whatever it does to not be at all helpful or useful.

    If they're going to make changes like this, they need to provide warnings to people and also provide a way to report on and clean up all the transactions that have categories on transfers.

    Someone on another thread suggested using tags. I've tried that with some success. This has left me with a very poor solution of running one report for categories and another for tags. Then I have a spreadsheet where I put numbers from the various reports to try to get back to what I used to be able to do with one report in Quicken before 5.13. Now if I just completely dump categories and use tags instead of categories, maybe I can get it all back in one report. I've spent hours trying to figure out our financial situation after all this changed. I'm still not there. I keep finding more situations where I had a category on a transfer.

    A potential solution to this would be to add a preference on how to handle reporting on transactions that have a category on a transfer. Maybe these could be the options:
    1) Report only on Category
    2) Report only on Transfer
    3) Report on both Category and Transfer (people need to know this could cause errors in their reports if they don't understand what it's doing)

    Sometimes I think my life might be better if I just went to a paper ledger.

    A category on a transfer is immensely useful. I considered it to be a wonderful feature that helped me better report on my financial situation.
  • Michael 102
    Michael 102 Member ✭✭
    @jacobs I appreciate your answer; however, how do you know the behavior is "by design"? Do you work for Quicken? I've been trying to get some kind of official answer from Quicken about this behavior, but that seems to be impossible.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    @Michael 102 No, I don't work for Quicken. I only know what I know from reading what the product manager and moderators say on this site, from reports from fellow users, and from my own use of the program. 

    I know you've been frustrated by not getting an "official answer from Quicken", but that pretty much doesn't exist. On occasion, one of the site moderators here is able to post information that's "official" from Quicken, but usually not about specific features of the program. Sometimes the Quicken Mac product manager posts here (see more on this below), and those are as close to "official" as it comes. There just isn't a mechanism they have for users to have two-way communication with policy-makers at Quicken. Reports from "Report a Problem" in the program, as well as problem reports from their support team, do make it to the developers, but there isn't a team of people other than the Support representatives devoted to having dialog with users. 

    What I said was "by design" was the changes in the way the reports handle transfers. This was one the primary changes in versions 5.13, and it was based on years of requests from users to be able to have control over seeing transfers (cash flow transactions) in reports.

    I understand that some people who have used transfers with categories had parts of their workflow disrupted by the change. I agree they should have done a better job of communicating it to users, and perhaps providing better tools or information about how to adapt to the changes. My guess -- only a guess -- is that they didn't fully anticipate all the use cases where users have applied categories to transfers. As I wrote above, I've always found that functionality problematic; although users like you found a way to make it useful, it seemed to be that it would always cause other problems because having a transaction exist as both a cash flow and a revenue/expense type simultaneously is tricky to deal with without double-counting income/expenses or without missing some income/expenses if report criteria are set to exclude certain transfers.

    I would expect that when they add the "advanced" options for including/excluding transfers to the Transaction reports, which the product manager indicated would be coming in the next update, it will make it easier to solve your problems -- either by constructing the report you need, or at least finding your categorized transfers so you can go back and change them to work with the new reporting method.

    When they release the next update, it will be announced by a post from product manager Marcus (in a post titled something like "Quicken for Mac v5.14 Released"). He typically monitors those new release threads on this site for a week or so after release, looking for people reporting problems they're not aware of. If you try the update and still find yourself unable to construct the reports you need, you might try posting in that thread about the problem. there's no guarantee he'll read and reply to your post, but it's your best shot at getting a direct line to the product team at Quicken.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Michael 102
    Michael 102 Member ✭✭
    @jacobs Thank you for your reply. I knew Marcus was a public face, but didn't realize he was the product manager. I usually only make it to the forums when there's a problem. I did post comments about the problem on the 5.13 release thread, but maybe it was after he stopped monitoring things. The reporting problem wasn't immediately apparent to me. I took a few days before I started to realize something was wrong with the numbers, and then some hours of investigation until I figured out what was going on. Fortunately, I had 5.12 on another computer and could verify the problem. The unfortunate thing is there could be many people who haven't figured out there's a problem yet.

    There are some ways to deal with this, but without understanding what Quicken is planning to do, it's difficult to pick what I want to do. I could be digging another pit for myself.
  • Stephen Fisher
    Stephen Fisher Member ✭✭✭
    I agree with Jacobs that for most cases " I think transfers should have no categories because that turns a transfer ... into both a revenue/expense and a flow of funds between accounts", and I think Q is right for doing it that way. I have ideas for Michael and Mmotroni on how to get around that, if needed...

    I have two issues. When I use Category Summary and select " no transfers- Default" I still get the Income transfers reported in the "Uncategorized" category as if I never selected it. Transfers outgoing to expenses were not reported.

    But, assuming this "Advanced" feature worked, why the heck wouldn't Q have included it for the "Create Transaction Report" as well?
  • Stephen Fisher
    Stephen Fisher Member ✭✭✭
    > @""Stephen Fisher1"

    I solved the bit about the inclusion of transfers when I asked it not to. That occurs because if you do not insert a category in the "Category" field when you post a transfer (which you shouldn't have to), then against common sense Q automatically puts the word "Uncategorized" there. Then when you run a report, Q creates an "Uncategorized" Category and that contains the transfers that you didn't want reported.
  • Susan H
    Susan H Member ✭✭
    I use Principal categories when transferring loan payments between accounts (i.e. Principal:Equity Loan, Principal:Mortgage). In the Category Report, the loan principal category shows but the Mortgage principal category does not. Please advise.
  • Stephen Fisher
    Stephen Fisher Member ✭✭✭
    Susan, I would not recommend doing it that way.  Your mortgage should be tracked in a liability (debt) account.  When you make a payment on the mortgage from your bank account, you must treat it as a split transaction.  The interest is an expense category and the principal is transferred as a credit against your debt.  No further categorization needed. When you bring up the mortgage account on your screen, you will see all the debt reduction and the amount of principal remaining to be paid. No need for a category. 
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