using sub-categories vs tagging

Just getting started setting up categories for my personal transactions. I see how to set up categories and sub-categories. I also read about adding tags. Is there a reason to go with sub-categories vs tags. Or vice versa? Or is it 6 of one, half a dozen of the other?
Examples might be:
under the category of "gifts" separating out gifts to different people
under the category of "groceries", separating out money spent for entertaining as vs. just regular day-to-day groceries
TIA for all help and wisdom

Comments

  • splasher
    splasher SuperUser ✭✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer
    I vote for Tags.  Lets say you want to track Auto costs, so you create Auto and then subs for Fuel, Oil Changes, Tires, etc.  Now, you have three vehicles, do you create Fuel-Ford, Fuel-Truck, Fuel-Chevy and do that for each of the subs, that makes for a lot of categories.  If you only create the generic subs and Tags of Ford, Truck & Chevy, when you get the Dodge, you only create another Tag, not a whole set of subs.
    I am of the frame of mind, keep cats and subs to a minimum where possible.
    Same would apply if you had a regular home and then bought a vacation home, Tags would allow you to keep the costs separate between them without making the category list any larger.
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  • John_in_NC
    John_in_NC SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    Accepted Answer
    All have their place, and no, they do serve different purposes.

    Tags add a third dimension to transactions: you can use a tag for a variety of uses. Examples would be to lump all expenses for a trip under one tag (Oak Island 2020), tracking all the costs associated with an asset (1971 Vega), or all the expenses for a house. 

    Sure, in the last example I could setup sub cats such as Utilities:Electric:123 Any Street, but that would be cumbersome the more properties I have/lived at. Using tags, I can keep the category list trimmed down, while using a few tags to ID the costs associated with each home.
  • bmciance
    bmciance SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer
    I agree with all of the comments from Splasher and John.  My 2 cents is if I am going to budget at that level I set up a sub category.  If I only want to break out the amounts for reporting purposes, then I do a tag.  An example of this might be for vacations.  I would budget at the vacation level but set up a tag for each one to be able to get a report on the total cost of each vacation. 
  • Sherlock
    Sherlock SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer
    There are many of significant differences between tags and categories:

    Categories are hierarchical - Tags are not
    Categories are typed - Tags are not
    Categories may be associated with tax and a tax line item - Tags may not

    Note: An entry may have one category but may have multiple tags

    I suggest you consider how you plan to use the information you're entering and try to keep it simple and consistent.  If you you change your mind, it isn't difficult to switch between using a tag or a category.