How to suppress Categories with $0 actuals or $0 budget?

GregM
GregM Member
I want to track actuals against budget, Andy that I mean true cash flow against budget. For example, I went in and selected all the categories for which I wish to budget and entered the values accordingly. All is good. When I look at the budget variance I see all teh categories I have forecast as I would expect. I also see actuals applied so I can track trend and variance. Again, as I would expect.

But how would I track true cash flow? Example: it is 2022 and I don't buy DVDs or go to the theater anymore. So I did not budget for the "Movies & DVDs" category. But I found the rabid-fan version of my favorite move on DVD and had to buy it. When I record the transaction against the Movies & DVDs category it does not show as an actual spend in my budget. I would have to go and manually select that category to have it appear.

One option would be to select all categories for the variance reporting but Quicken would suppress the category from display assuming either transaction dollars = $0.00 OR budget dollars = $0.00. Alternatively have an option in the Select Categories pane to automatically include categories when a transaction is posted regardless of if it has a budget value.

Is something like this possible? If not, this should be a fairly easy add and I don't know why it is not part of the budget already.

Answers

  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    edited January 11
    There is a request for the developers to create an "Everything Else"-type category in the budget, which would include any spending or income in categories not selected to appear in the budget. To add your vote for such a feature in the future, please click this link to visit that Idea thread and click the little black arrow under the vote counter in the yellow box. You can also enter your own comment post there as well.

    There are a number of requests for budget enhancements: better reports, rollover from one month to the next, and "everything else" among them. My understanding is that the budget code is very complicated, and all changes to the budget require extensive work -- nothing is easy to add. That doesn't mean they won't add more functionality, just that these things wait until they can allocate significant programming time to adding such features. User votes for these features helps to influence where the various ideas sit on their priority list.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • GregM
    GregM Member
    The "Everything Else" bucket doesn't really cut it either. And would likely be harder to code in than allowing all categories to be included in display for actuals. The use case here is not that an expense was miscategorized but rather that a valid spend was made but it was not something that was budgeted for. By simply allowing all categories to be included in the budget report (this is Quicken Mac btw) with the option to suppress all rows with $0 actuals and $0 spend would work quite well. Any expense entered to a non-budgeted category shows red as $x over $0 budget.

    If the budget code is as complicated as you state adding logic to manage and display a dynamic "smart category" would be a lot harder than simply "show all categories" or "show all categories suppressing $0 values" (optional user select).

    Then after looking at the report if it is determined that I really DO need to budget for this unplanned spend category I can edit the budget to do so. Alternatively, the actuals and variance reporting works as one would expect.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    The problem for the developers is that different people want different things.
    • Show just the categories I have budgeted. I'm really just interested in tracking my income/spending for a select number of categories
    • Show the categories I have budgeted, and one line for everything else. I can always drill down on everything else and decide if I want to itemize any of those categories in my budget.
    • Show the categories which have budgeted or actual non-zero amounts, and hide the others.
    • Show all categories. That is, if I add a new category during the year, show it in the budget instead of me needing to remember to add it manually. 
    …and probably a few other variations. 

    Then layer in one of the top user-requested budget features: monthly rollovers, so that any amount over or under budget gets carried forward from one month to the next month's budget amount.

    Preference settings can allow any number of options, coding all the various options makes it even more complex to implement flawlessly.

    I am not saying that more options wouldn't be desirable/useful; I understand the usefulness of each of these options, and think any of them would be useful to some Quicken Mac users. 

    Meanwhile, the developers haven't even addressed yet the Number One budget request which would seem to be relatively simple: the ability to set an end date or date range for an actual versus budget report. (Currently the actual versus budget report is only accurate technically on the 12 month-end days a year, assuming you have all your expenses entered/posted on the last day of each month.)


    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • GregM
    GregM Member
    Being a developer myself I understand the need to prioritize updates. What I am referring to in this request is something that application already does in several reports. The Spend by Category already automatically suppresses all $0-balance categories.

    The logic already exists so one option could be to add a budget report based on the Spend by Category (basically Spend by Category with Budget Variance) would do it with next to no development effort. Alternatively, allowing the Budget panel to use this suppress logic would be a little more effort but not insurmountable.

    The requested option to have a dynamic "Other" category would be a design and coding exercise. Same with point-in-time reporting. That latter is hard even for enterprise software due to Ux/Tx/Rx date conflicts.

    Again, I understand prioritizing conflicting enhancement requests, but I also understand product management and need to evaluate cost of options and prioritize accordingly.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    edited January 20
    GregM said:
    The logic already exists so one option could be to add a budget report based on the Spend by Category (basically Spend by Category with Budget Variance) would do it with next to no development effort. Alternatively, allowing the Budget panel to use this suppress logic would be a little more effort but not insurmountable.
    @GregMThat's a good idea. Unfortunately, the Budget and Reports are, at this time, completely separate areas of the program. So they'd still have to do significant coding work to introduce budgets as data which could be selected using the reports engine. And I believe they should, because that would allow user-selected date ranges, with is undoubtedly the single top request from users for budgets. But it's not a "next to no development effort" project.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • GregM
    GregM Member
    Trust me, I can empathize. It is never easy balancing product roadmap with client "demands".

    Thanks for the insights.