Creating Sub Accounts for Receivable (Q Win Canada)

gj0608
gj0608 Member ✭✭
Current version - Quicken Deluxe Canada

Background:
I have set up a miscellaneous receivable account that I track as you may expect miscellaneous receivables - money owed by friends/family or credits owed by stores (that provide credit on exchanges but not refunds), gift cards received as gifts etc. plus monies I may owe to others. So generally it is always in a net receivable position.

Issue:
Is it possible to create sub accounts inside the one receivable account (in my case, miscellaneous receivable). I do not want to create individual receivables for each person or entity that may owe money to me - the amounts are not material on its own to warrant its own main account. However, I do want to track the monies owed by and to others. So if there is a way to create subaccounts within the main receivable account that I set up and see the balances of the subaccounts, that would be helpful.
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Answers

  • Tom Young
    Tom Young SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    In the USA versions of Quicken you can attach Tags to transfers.  That's the way I'd handle that.  You can run reports on your miscellaneous receivables Account limiting transactions to only select on one Tag at a time.
  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    Tom,

    Thank you for the response and suggestion. A few months ago, I tried using tags - not a big user of tags - and couldn't accomplish what I wanted. Can you please provide a more detailed suggestion as to how to do it and accomplish my objectives? The goal is to easy see a summary of the various sub-acconts (or tags) within my miscellaneous receivable account. Too bad there isn't a sub-account feature for assets/liabilities like there is for income and expense categories. The tag workaround seems cumbersome to me versus the ease of having sub-accounts for a main asset/liability account.
  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    And I'm not sure what you mean by attaching Tags to transfers. The main account consists of what I would call different payees that I would like to have a subtotal for each (preferably, each payee would be a sub-account) . Not sure where the transfer part comes into this workaround suggestion of using Tags.
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    Quicken doesn't have sub accounts.  About the only thing that comes close is Savings Goals.  Each saving goal creates another account and in the main account money is transferred to these accounts, and the user can select to see these transaction in the main account or not.

    That doesn't seem to fit the bill of what you are trying to do, but it also sounds like you need to describe more of what the problem really is.  After all you should be able to run reports, or even filter the register at times to see balances for a given payee if you just need a quick total.  So you would need to describe why that won't work in your case.
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  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    Chris,

    Thank you for your response. I thought I was clear - so I will try again. It is quite common in accounting systems for accounts receivables to have a main account with a sub-accounts for each individual customer. Instead of digging through the main accounts receivable account, one can go to the particular sub-account to see its balance for a particular customer or display the balances by sub-accounts to see that balance information.

    In Quicken, the income and expense categories have sub-accounts capabilities that I was hoping would also exist for assets and liabilities. Unfortunately, it does not.

    I have a miscellaneous receivable account created under the section of Property & Debt. I don't see how one can generate a report by subtotalling the payees within the miscellaneous accounts receivable account that I created.
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    First off let me say that I don't have the Home & Business version so I can't talk about what extra features it has.  But Quicken isn't really a "formal accounting system", it is a "personal finance program", with in the case of Home & Business some extra features added in.  But even though I have only seen the Home & Business version a couple of times, it is very clear to me that all the "business" part are just built on top of the personal parts.  Like using tags for different businesses and such, and so it has all of the same limitations.

    And speaking of categories, yes in an accounting system that would be considered accounts and as such you would have sub accounts.  That isn't true of Quicken, categories aren't accounts, and as such there isn't such a thing as a sub account/category.

    On the subject of the reports.  How about the banking transaction report?
    Reports -> Banking -> Transaction

    You can sub total by Payee, and customize it for the account.
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  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    Just semantics - but categories are really accounts. You may call income and expense accounts "categories" but they are really accounts.

    Also, while you may refer to Quicken as a personal financial program, it really is an accounting program for individual purposes - no different than an accounting system tracking asset, liabilities, income and expenses for a business.

    Therefore, all I'm saying is that if income and expense categories (again, these are really accounts) have sub-account capabilities, so should the balance sheet accounts (being assets and liabilities).

    I tried your suggestion:

    Reports -> Banking -> Transaction

    It didn't work as the overall balance generated by the report for some reason does not agree to the ending balance in my miscellaneous receivable account balance. Don't know why.

    Frustrated - just wish Quicken would offer sub-account capabilities for its assets and liabilities as it seems that is a no-brainer.
  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    Chris,

    My mistake. I did not change the default selection of Year to Date. Once I changed it to include all transactions, it works.
    This suggestion works.

    Thank you.
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    Your welcome.

    BTW to an accountant it might be semantics, and I will certainly agree that categories work like "hidden accounts" (same for tags), but as a programmer I can tell you that internally they are structured very differently than how accounts are.  And the reason to bring up personal vs "formal accounting" is to point out that when Quicken was created they made design decisions that aren't easily changed.  For instance there isn't any auditing in Quicken.

    One of the things I think non programmers (and even some programmers) fail to realize is just because there is the term "soft" in software, in lots of respects software is no more "soft" than a building.

    If you have a single family home and decide that you want to put a 10 story building up in the same location, it would be no surprise that the foundation wouldn't support that.  The same is true for software.  There is a foundation constructed to support everything that goes above it.  These design decisions on the "foundation" control what can and can't be added without major underline changes.
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  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    Not going to get into a specific software discussion other than to say that Quicken sells itself as an accounting program for personal finance use. The purpose is to provide detailed information about one's net worth (assets net of its liabilities) and one's income net of its expenses - much like a business does with its accounting system.

    Categories - whatever you call it - are accounts. Don't understand why under the hood it would be any different than that in a business accounting software.
    Seems like a simple fix to me - add sub-account capabilities to accounts like they do for categories. A no-brainer. Hardly believe adding that capability is akin to constructing a 10 storey building on a single home lot.
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    gj0608 said:

    Seems like a simple fix to me - add sub-account capabilities to accounts like they do for categories. A no-brainer. Hardly believe adding that capability is akin to constructing a 10 storey building on a single home lot.
    If it was truly a simple fix, then why has Quicken Inc and Intuit before them, never created sub accounts?
    You can't believe that you are first to ask for them, right?

    So take your pick, either you aren't right and it isn't a simple fix, or you believe that Quicken Inc and Intuit before them decided that sub accounts are a useless feature and the customers don't know what they are talking about.

    Pick which every you like.
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  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    And again, thank you for the report suggestion. The only thing I have to do is make sure to have the payee description consistent on both the set up and repayment.

    For example, if I purchase an item from a store XYZ for someone who promises to pay me back, I have to be careful how I set up the transaction and repayment with respect to the payee (say Mr. A).

    I would normally set up the transaction within the credit card account that I used to make the purchase at XYZ with the payee being XYZ and the account being my "Miscellaneous Receivable".

    When I collect payment from the individual (Mr. A), I would normally record the deposit in my bank account with the payee being Mr. A.

    If I run the transaction report for the Miscellaneous account, I will see a positive amount for Store XYZ and a negative amount for Mr. A. If these were the only 2 transactions, that would be fine. However, I have a number of transactions involving different parties and it would be difficult to track the net amount due from or due to a particular person.

    Therefore, I have to make sure when setting up the initial receivable that the payee is not the store XYZ but instead the debtor Mr. A. so that all the transactions are grouped within the same payee when I generate the transaction report for the Miscellaneous receivable account.

    However, when I reconcile my credit card online, I'm not going to see Mr. A on that credit card statement. Therefore, when recording the initial purchase in my credit account in Quicken, I put Mr. A in the payee but I put the merchant's name in the memo box field as a way to cross-reference to the credit card statement.
  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    edited May 13
    I have another pet peeve that many others share as well that Quicken has not fixed and it has to do with foreign currency translation. Not going to repeat it here (topic - Quicken Canada - Ability to Convert Downloaded Foreign Security Prices to Domestic Currency). I believe you may have commented on this issue as well.

    Again, it is another item that should be a quick fix. Just because they haven't done it doesn't necessarily mean it is because it is difficult for Quicken to do....sometimes, software providers do not take valuable input from its customer base - it is a simple as that.
  • NotACPA
    NotACPA SuperUser, Windows Beta Beta
    Regarding your A & XYZ scenario: have you considered using tags, where "Mr A" would be the tag value?
    THEN you could run a report subtotaled by Tag.
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  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    edited May 13
    Per my earlier discussion, I have tried using Tags - not very familiar with it and not a big user of it. I don't see how tags would solve the problem. I created a tags for this purpose and I failed to see how it can accomplish my objective (would like to remove the tag created when I create a report but don't know how, that is the tag created shows up as an option under Tags in the report and since I don't use tags, how can I get rid of it as it is annonying - separate question).

    If one could walk me through how tags fully work and could solve my sub-account issue (an issue I wish Quicken could solve by simply allowing subcategories for accounts like they do for categories), that would be very much appreciated.
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    gj0608 said:
    Again, it is another item that should be a quick fix. Just because they haven't done it doesn't necessarily mean it is because it is difficult for Quicken to do....sometimes, software providers do not take valuable input from its customer base - it is a simple as that.
    OK I can't see the code and as such there is some guessing at this, but I can tell you based on 45+ years of software development, that the chances of it being a "quick fix" to add sub accounts is almost zero.

    On the other hand I do believe that you foreign currency problem falls into a different category.
    Whereas the sub-account request has come up many a times.  The one about the foreign currency is far rarer.
    But there is even more to it as far as I can see.  But also if I remember that discussion correctly, I do think that given that they "want to do it", that one on the other hand should be pretty simple.

    Do you realize that in Quicken Windows US you can't download in a currency other than USD?
    Bottom line is at one point Intuit had a group that was working on the Canadian product and expanded the multiple currency support in Quicken Windows Canadian.  Basically none of that ever got ported back into the US version (it doesn't even have a currency history, only the current exchange rate).

    Far less US users have foreign currencies than the Canadian users do, and these days the "Canadian support" consists of every once in a while the same US development team takes "time out" to update the Canadian version with the changes from the US branch.  I don't think I have every noticed a release note in the Canadian version that addressed anything that is "Canadian only".

    So not being a "popular request" on the US side (or in this case even possible without other changes), really affects if it will happen on the Canadian side.

    Now this is only a personal opinion, but over the years Quicken became a "sore thumb" to Intuit, where it contributed very little to their bottom line, but had tons of problems, and so they finally got rid of it.

    I think that the Canadian version is sort of like that to this day (a sore thumb).  Clearly from day one, someone said "support Canadian, sure that's just changing the a couple labels here and there, right?"  It is pretty clear Quicken Windows Canadian hasn't gone much past that kind of a concept.
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  • NotACPA
    NotACPA SuperUser, Windows Beta Beta
    In your Receivables account, there's an option (under the Gear icon to the far right of your account name) to show the TAG column. Likewise in your checking and card accounts.
    Just use that field to assign tags to your Receivables transactions and then, when you need further info, run a REPORTS, Banking, Transaction report with the Subtotal by Tag  option  selected.  Just make sure that ALL of your tags are selected for the report.
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  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    Chris,

    Not a software developer but an accountant. That being said, the sub-accounts would be a great add-on feature. This is an accounting software for personal finance and as such not having that ability is a negative of the Quicken program.

    If adding sub-accounts to accounts is indeed extremely difficult to do (as surprising as that may be for me, I will take your word), then the initial design set up was flawed, to begin with Quicken.

    Whoever was responsible for setting up this rigid structure that made it impossible to add the invaluable feature of subaccounts failed to either solicit input from accountants when initially designing the program or failed to make the simple observation - "hey, we have sub-accounts for income and expense categories, why not for balance sheet accounts. Let's ask some accountants if this would be neat to have" If they did, the software developers would have asked users who would be well versed in this area and would have enlightened them on the importance of having such a feature.
  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    > @NotACPA said:
    > In your Receivables account, there's an option (under the Gear icon to the far right of your account name) to show the TAG column. Likewise in your checking and card accounts.Just use that field to assign tags to your Receivables transactions and then, when you need further info, run a REPORTS, Banking, Transaction report with the Subtotal by Tag  option  selected.  Just make sure that ALL of your tags are selected for the report.

    Thank you for your suggestion.

    However, I'm not sure if the use of tags is preferred to the above method of just running a report on transactions on the account (in my case, Miscellaneous Receivable) and then subtotal by payee. By doing it this way, you are able to see the composition of what makes up my main account balance; whereas, with your suggestion, I don't think you are able to see that.
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    gj0608 said:
    Chris,

    If adding sub-accounts to accounts is indeed extremely difficult to do (as surprising as that may be for me, I will take your word), then the initial design set up was flawed, to begin with Quicken.
    Well I tend to disagree with this statement.  There is a lot that goes into the decision when designing such a product.  And even though a sub account might be a useful feature, what was more important is a program that was simple to use for the average person.  Quicken became the "industry standard" for personal finance software, so clearly the designers did some things right.  Quicken is over 35 years old, and has never had sub accounts, so I don't think the majority of Quicken users feel the same as you do.

    Note there are several competing personal finances software programs (which I can't name here) and they have sub accounts, and for that matter categories are accounts too.  But which program is the most popular?
    Quicken by far.  Even with all its warts.

    BTW I have tried using some of the other products that are "account based" and I definitely like the approach Quicken uses more.

    gj0608 said:
    Let's ask some accountants if this would be neat to have" If they did, the software developers would have asked users who would be well versed in this area and would have enlightened them on the importance of having such a feature.
    And this statement really sums up what I'm talking about.  You want to ask accountants what they want for a product that is purposely targeted for non accountants, as in the average person that needs to track their finances.

    There are tons of programs out there for accountants, Quicken isn't one of them.
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  • NotACPA
    NotACPA SuperUser, Windows Beta Beta
    My late Father used a personal finance product that was provided by his "Big 4" accounting firm.
    I worked with it a little bit, when I was visiting, and found it overwhelmingly confusing ... especially when compared to the relative simplicity of Quicken.
    Also, if I recall correctly,  even with his  "corporate discount" is cost THOUSANDS of dollars per year.
    Also, @gj0608, NOTE that I'm retired "Certified Information Systems Auditor", so while I'm Not A CPA ... I'm FAR from ignorant about accounting.  Before Audit summoned me, I designed and built the main "money mover" system for one of the country's largest banks.  If the transaction had an $, it went thru me ... No "name and address" type stuff, just dollars at a rate of 2,500 transactions A SECOND.
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  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    NotACPA,

    I'm sorry but I'm unsure how the handling of a high number of dollar transactions/second is relevant in the sub-account design feature of an accounting program. Also, I'm not sure how adding the sub-account feature would make the program overly complicated. It isn't complicated right now with the sub-accounts feature for Quicken income and expense accounts. Therefore, it would not be that difficult to understand how to use the program if it had sub-accounts for assets and liabilities accounts.

    Chris,

    I will defer to your knowledge on the software coding. However, I respectfully disagree that not having that sub-account feature decision was proven to be a wise one for Quicken. Just because it didn't add and it didn't impact its leadership position in the personal finance program industry, doesn't mean it is the best product. It may just mean it got an earlier adoption and people like myself have not made the transition to other competing products because they are locked into the program. People will tell you that the beta vcr was a better product than VHS but guess who won and why. And Apple is considered a superior operating system than Windows but guess which one has more users (by the way, I'm using Quicken for windows on a virtual machine on my MacBook).

    The bottom line is this - the feature of subaccounts (and take it from an accountant who has more experience in dealing with various accounting systems) would be welcomed one for Quicken. If it is difficult to add now because of some self-inflicted historical coding problem, then that is a fault of the initial design of the software - plain and simple. I fail to understand how the creators of the program designed a sub-account feature for income and expenses but didn't consider it for assets and liabilties. One would think that a programmer involved in the setup of the program would have been triggered to ask why not for the assets and liabilities?

    In conclusion, I would like to thank you for your help - generating the report in banking through the transactions as a workaround to the sub-accounts. As for our difference in opinion considering the importance of having the sub-accounts feature, let's just agree to disagree.

    I sincerely thank you for your help with the workaround suggestion.
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    gj0608 said:
    NotACPA,

    I fail to understand how the creators of the program designed a sub-account feature for income and expenses but didn't consider it for assets and liabilities.
    You fail to see the reason because they didn't design income/expenses/category sub accounts.

    What they did is create a list of categories, where each record contains information like whether it is income or expense and if has a tax line and such.

    For an account they have completely different records, these have the date, payee, category, tag, amount, ... fields.  And in fact the category and tags aren't even stored in this record, instead they are "pointers" to the category in the list of categories.

    So the two don't look anything like each other.

    How do I know that it is structured like this?
    Go change the name of a category, watch how fast that update is.  All that is changed it the name of the category in the category list.  Whenever they go to display or look up what is in a record they user that pointer back there to pick up the name to display for that transaction.

    The same is true for other lists like the securities.  Even when you have a transfer the "category" is a pointer, just in this case it is a pointer to the transaction in the other account.

    Now go change every payee in all the accounts from "Safeway" to "My Store".  That is a very lengthy operation because there isn't a list of payees.   Each payee name is a separate text field in a transaction.  So to change all of these they have to update every transaction that has that payee.  Interesting fact, Quicken Mac implemented the payees as a list, and each transaction has a pointer to the payee record in the payee list.  You can go to a payee and change it, and all the transactions with that payee will change to the same name.  That was poor decision in my opinion.

    Besides the fact that structures of the data isn't anything close to containing the same information there is the visual and behavior parts of this.  How should it even look so that you know that it is in fact a sub account?
    And you want to have sub accounts based on the payee, how is that even going to be performed.

    If I look at the closest thing to a sub account in Quicken Windows it is the Savings Goals.  What they did there is create accounts.  They show up just like any other account, there isn't really a whole lot visually that make them a sub account of the account that they draw from.  And how does the money pass between the parent and sub account?  Nothing more than a transfer.  The only thing that is really special is that fact that they much have some kind of flag in account record that lets them know that this is a transfer to a Savings Goal account because you can flip one setting to show those records in the "parent" account or not.  This nothing more than filtering the account by including/excluding transactions based on one flag.

    Their decision to make "lists" instead of accounts lines up with how the average person thinks about their finances.  No one other than an accountant talks about a category as it it was an account.  What's more it simplifies certain operations like renaming categories, and takes much less space than having "full account records" for everything.  And memory/disk might not be quite so important now, but it certainly was when Quicken was created.

    And I want to apologize if all of this sounds like any of this sounds like I'm trying to be negative about your suggestion or such.  It isn't meant that way, it is just that even though I strongly disagree with a lot of things that the Quicken developers have done over the years, they do have their reasons.  Some have to do with the technical side, some have to do with pleasing the majority of their customers, and some are purely business decisions.

    I'm glad I could find a workaround for your problem.
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  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    Thinking about the Saving Goals and how they are implemented got me thinking.  I'm going to backtrack on that a bit.  They could do a similar thing to implement sub accounts.  That would mean that they wouldn't have to do any major structural changes.  The parent/sub accounts would all basically be the same account, but filtered in a way to only show the transactions that are in that parent/sub account.  In other words they would be creating some "virtual accounts".

    It would be far from a "quick fix", but it wouldn't also be a major rewrite of the foundation.  It would be something in between.  It would certainly be a "major feature change".
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  • Tom Young
    Tom Young SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 14
    " Can you please provide a more detailed suggestion as to how to do it and accomplish my objectives? The goal is to easy see a summary of the various sub-acconts (or tags) within my miscellaneous receivable account."
    As you understand, there's no "sub-Account" structure in Quicken where you can simply open up Miscellaneous Receivables and immediately see "Ted owes me $50, Jane owes me $37.95" and so forth.  What's necessary here is to Tag each transaction related to Ted, Tag each transaction related to Jane, and so forth.  So a series of transactions loans/paybacks in the Account would look like this:
    But you could pull out the amount due by borrower by using the search box:
    $130 (Frank) + $37.95 (Jane) + $50.00 (Ted) = $217.95
    Even better, you could also create a memorized report to do the same thing, simply asking for inclusion/exclusion on the appropriate Tag.  That way you could clear or reconcile ("c" or "R" in Clr column) transactions that offset, exclude those transactions in the report, and see a detail list of "what's currently owed."
    This setup is fairly fragile since Quicken doesn't control Tag with the same rigor it applies to Categories or SubCategories, ("income and expense accounts to accountants), so you can easily forget to use the correct Tag with a transaction or use an incorrect Tag.
    If this is a big deal to you then I'd guess Home & Business would be a better choice since it does seem to have some rudimentary "receivables" abilities.
  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    Tom,

    Thank you for the explanation - this was helpful. Just realized I also can do I search within my Miscellaneous Receivables by payee name to get the same info.
  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    Chris,

    Thank you for the detailed explanation. I'm going to accept your explanation as to why the implementation of sub-accounts for the balance sheet accounts cannot be done in its current software setup. However, the fact remains the software should have been constructed and designed initially to do so. The addition of subaccounts in no way should add confusion to non-accountants. To the layman using Quicken, they are doing accounting (or bookkeeping) without even knowing it. If they can understand the use of sub-accounts for income and expense accounts, they surely could understand it from a balance sheet perspective.

    Again, I find this is a flaw in the program design that the original programmers should have implemented.
  • gj0608
    gj0608 Member ✭✭
    Tom,

    Maybe this is for another thread but I never did understand the use of tags. It doesn't sit well with me when I can accomplish the same thing by some other method - such as payee in the above example. I guess the bigger question is: what's the benefit of using tags?
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    gj0608 said:
    Chris,

    Thank you for the detailed explanation. I'm going to accept your explanation as to why the implementation of sub-accounts for the balance sheet accounts cannot be done in its current software setup. However, the fact remains the software should have been constructed and designed initially to do so. The addition of subaccounts in no way should add confusion to non-accountants. To the layman using Quicken, they are doing accounting (or bookkeeping) without even knowing it. If they can understand the use of sub-accounts for income and expense accounts, they surely could understand it from a balance sheet perspective.

    Again, I find this is a flaw in the program design that the original programmers should have implemented.
    Even though I don't really agree that the Quicken developers made a mistake in this case I will say that software developers are human and do make mistakes and certainly can't anticipate all the possible use cases of a product especially years in advanced.  I can certainly point out such flaws in both Quicken Windows and Quicken Mac.

    gj0608 said:
    Tom,

    Thank you for the explanation - this was helpful. Just realized I also can do I search within my Miscellaneous Receivables by payee name to get the same info.
    I looked back at my comments, and realized that even though I was going to suggest that when I suggested the reports, I must have got sidetracked and didn't mention it.  Yes, this is a way to do it one at a time, on the fly.

    And also I realized that maybe I glossed over the Savings Goals to quickly.
    Savings Goals don't look like "sub accounts" where you might have something visually indicating that they are a sub account of a parent account, but in fact they do pretty much work like you would expect a sub account to work.

    The way to create the Savings Goal/sub account is "strange" for a sub account creating a goal where the goal name is the name of the sub account and the funding account is the parent account.  But you can fund the account by a transfer to the "sub account", and get money back in the main account by doing a transfer in the other direction.  And there is two filtering modes in the "parent/funding" account to show or not show these transfers.  I'm not entirely sure this will give exactly what you want to see, but it might.  It certainly will look "crude".
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  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    gj0608 said:
    Tom,

    Maybe this is for another thread but I never did understand the use of tags. It doesn't sit well with me when I can accomplish the same thing by some other method - such as payee in the above example. I guess the bigger question is: what's the benefit of using tags?
    My explanation for what I think is the main reason for tags is "grouping".

    Say you two businesses.  It stands to reason both of them are going have a lot of overlap in the categories they use, but when it comes time to do reporting on them, you would want to separate the two.

    You could do something like this in your categories:
    Business1:Misc Exp
    Business1:Office furniture
    ...
    Business2:Misc Exp
    Business2:Office furniture
    ...

    But that means duplication of all the categories.  Instead you can create two tags Business1 and Business1, and just tag the Misc Exp, Office furniture, ... transactions with the proper tag.  And then when you create a report you have one with the Business1 tag selected and in another report you have the Business2 tag selected.

    This is in fact the basis of how the Home & Business edition of Quicken works.  It is a bit hidden, but in fact they use tags to keep the businesses separated.

    Other examples I have heard are like tracking the expenses of a given vacation separately.  The main advantage over your payee idea is one that you sort of hit on already.  For that to work the payee has to be the same.  Whereas with tags you can tag any transaction and it will be "grouped" with all the other transactions with that tag in the reports.
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