Understanding Account Reconciliations

I have used the latest versions of Quicken for Windows for over 30 years. A simple online update involves more than 20 financial accounts. Cancer sidelined me beginning in 2019. Now recovered, I'm trying to reconcile all the accounts, and in some cases I have to go back to 2020. I have had irregular reconcile attempts for the past two years; so there are many mistakes and individual reconciled transactions throughout. I have not tried to roll back to a clean slate, but instead went back to the earliest month where I am certain the reconciliation is correct. Using a paper statement, I enter the closing date, beginning, and ending balances. When I click to proceed, Quicken is adding an amount to the beginning balance from somewhere of $18,000 that I can't explain.
In it's most simple form, Quicken should know which unreconciled transactions are remaining that occurred prior to the closing date (within a day or two). But the programming of Quicken is anything but simple; so there must be some kind of squirrelly routine that determines which transaction are actually related to the task at hand.
Please explain.

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Answers

  • Sherlock
    Sherlock SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Answer ✓
    When we reconcile, Quicken only uses the ending data and ending balance.  The beginning balance used is the sum of the reconciled (R) transactions in the register.  Regarding dates, you may want to review: FAQ: How does Quicken determine which transactions qualify for a reconcile?
  • C Russ
    C Russ Member
    Thank you for the speedy reply. Unfortunately, it's not working for me. I read and understand the named FAQ, and the 2018 update states exactly how I expected Quicken to work. It does not -- there's much more to it. The original FAQ post states the process I thought was happening, but I simply can't match that up with my reality. I created a 1 page pdf to demonstrate how all my numbers seem to match -- except the Quicken generated "Opening Balance Difference". If you are interested, I'll send you a copy, if you tell me how.
  • Sherlock
    Sherlock SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 3
    C Russ said:
    Thank you for the speedy reply. Unfortunately, it's not working for me. I read and understand the named FAQ, and the 2018 update states exactly how I expected Quicken to work. It does not -- there's much more to it. The original FAQ post states the process I thought was happening, but I simply can't match that up with my reality. I created a 1 page pdf to demonstrate how all my numbers seem to match -- except the Quicken generated "Opening Balance Difference". If you are interested, I'll send you a copy, if you tell me how.
    You should be able to drag and drop the file on to the comment text entry box.
  • NotACPA
    NotACPA SuperUser ✭✭✭✭
    That "Opening Balance Amount" is created from what you input when you created the account.  Have you verified it?
    And "Opening Balance Difference" isn't a term that I recognize".  Where in Q does it appear?
    Q user since DOS version 5
    Now running Quicken Windows Subscription, Home & Business
    Retired "Certified Information Systems Auditor" & Bank Audit VP
  • C Russ
    C Russ Member
    Single page illustration of my reconcile attempt.
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    You have an "Opening Balance Adjustment" because you tried mucking with the prior balance that Quicken calculated.  The "Cleared Balance" is the total of the transactions that have been reconciled plus the ones marked cleared.

    In my opinion they shouldn't allow one to change the prior balance.

    Think of it this way, the prior balance Quicken that the reconcile starts with is calculated from the transactions in your register.  If it is wrong, you are already starting out wrong, and as such there is little chance that you can properly reconcile.  Changing that amount isn't going to magically correct whatever is wrong with the transactions you have in the register.

    Let me give a few examples.


    You will notice that the Prior Balance is the balance on my last reconciled transactions (and all transactions before it are reconciled).

    If I put in a date of today, and an Ending balance of 3,227.64:


    Here is what the reconcile looks like:


    Notice there isn't an "Opening Balance Difference".  Also, the "Cleared Balance" is the calculated "Prior Balance" plus the 0.03 cleared interest transaction.

    Now let me go back and change that prior balance.



    That "Opening Balance Difference" is telling me that the prior balance I entered is -2,227.61 different from what Quicken has calculated for the transactions in the register.

    Now looking at yours between this "Opening Balance Difference" and the calculated difference with the Cleared Balance and ending statement it is calculating you need a balance adjustment.

    But the real problem here is that the moment you see that your prior balance isn't match what Quicken calculates, you are heading down the path of no reconciling because the transactions in Quicken aren't matching what your financial institution has.
    Signature:
    (I'm always using the latest Quicken Windows Premier subscription version)
    This is my website: http://www.quicknperlwiz.com/
  • Sherlock
    Sherlock SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 4
    C Russ said:
    Single page illustration of my reconcile attempt.
    The Opening Balance Difference is the difference between the sum of the the reconciled (R) transactions in the register and the amount you specified as the Prior Balance.

    The Cleared Balance is the sum of all the transactions in the register that are marked as either reconciled or cleared.

    In other words, the reconciled opening balance being used by Quicken is: -728.47.

    If the reconciled opening balance has changed, a reconciled transaction has been added, modified, or deleted.  To determine the source of the change, I suggest you compare the running balance of the account register in the current Quicken file with the running balance of the account register from a Quicken file backup saved when the account was last reconciled.  One way to accomplish this is to print the registers to text files.
  • cfrphoto
    cfrphoto Windows Beta Beta
    I recently attempted to switch from manual to downloading some transactions form online accounts. After reconciliation, one account had a changed beginning balance dated 12/31/1997. No matter what was entered Quicken should not change reconciled amounts without a warning. One problem is that Quicken "Prior Balance" is not the same as the "Beginning Balance" in manual reconcile. It should be possible to continue doing manual reconciliations from bank statements even if some transactions are downloaded. Otherwise, how is it possible to transition from manual reconcile? Scheduled payments from bank or biller web sites are entered in advance either manually or from scheduled transactions in Quicken. Integrity of reconciled transactions must be respected.
    Quicken since version 6
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    cfrphoto said:
    I recently attempted to switch from manual to downloading some transactions form online accounts. After reconciliation, one account had a changed beginning balance dated 12/31/1997. No matter what was entered Quicken should not change reconciled amounts without a warning. One problem is that Quicken "Prior Balance" is not the same as the "Beginning Balance" in manual reconcile. It should be possible to continue doing manual reconciliations from bank statements even if some transactions are downloaded. Otherwise, how is it possible to transition from manual reconcile? Scheduled payments from bank or biller web sites are entered in advance either manually or from scheduled transactions in Quicken. Integrity of reconciled transactions must be respected.
    The Opening Balance changing is a bug, and as such that is why there isn't any warnings when it messes thing up (as in it isn't supposed to happen in the first place).

    As for "Beginning Balance" it sounds like you are confusing something else because neither manual or online balancing have a "Beginning Balance".

    There should be no reason you can't switch between manual reconcile and online reconcile.
    The warning that Quicken puts up is just because some people might be confused with the fact that if they have been reconciling to the current balance, and then switched to "statements" some of the transactions on the statement might not show up because they are already reconciled.

    If you don't select "Always use Online Balance for this account, Don't ask me again." then you can switch between the two with a simple selection on the starting reconcile dialog:


    The main differences between the two are that with the "Use online balance" you don't get to change the date, or ending amount, and the prior balance is always the one that Quicken calculates.  And one shouldn't be touching that Prior balance even if they are allowed to when "Use paper statement" is selected.
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    (I'm always using the latest Quicken Windows Premier subscription version)
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  • C Russ
    C Russ Member
    Thank you to everyone providing responses to my query. First, I want to apologize for a mistake made in my initial posting. I made the statement, "Using a paper statement, I enter the closing date, beginning, and ending balances". "Beginning" balance should have read "Prior" balance; although my bank uses the term "Balance Last Statement" which is actually more precise for anyone using paper statements. I've learned a lot from all the comments, and I waded my way through each. The key to the answer to my problem, however, was provided by Sherlock -- "The beginning balance used is the sum of the reconciled (R) transactions in the register" regardless of dates. This presents no problem for those diligently doing monthly updates and reconciles. However, as initially stated, "I have had irregular reconcile attempts for the past two years; so there are many mistakes and individual reconciled transactions throughout." Now that I think I understand the problem, I can ignore "Opening Balance Difference", "Cleared Balance", and the register "Balance Adjustment" at the end. This is preferred to resetting all the "R" and "C" flags. I'll expect the account(s) to be squared away following the March 2022 reconcile.
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    @C Russ yes, this has been a complaint of mine for years.  They shouldn't be including reconciled transactions past the statement ending date.  If they would do that, then one could reconcile past statement periods without this kind of problem.
    Signature:
    (I'm always using the latest Quicken Windows Premier subscription version)
    This is my website: http://www.quicknperlwiz.com/
  • carolp60
    carolp60 Member
    I have had a problem with reconciling to a paper statement for quite awhile. Every time I update from the bank it checks off the entries even though I believe I have it set right for paper statements. I do not have the box checked that says reconcile using online balance. But it wants to do it anyway so I have to uncheck all of them which is a real pain. The download also often does not match things correctly so I have to carefully check each one to make sure each one is matched correctly. On my last reconciliation my beginning balance was off $350 and after doing some investigation. I found that an entry that had been reconciled previously was not even there. I reentered it and was able to finally reconcile. I work with QuickBooks all the time and this kind of thing is very frustrating to me. I wish Quicken would not keep trying to reconcile to the online balance. I want to reconcile to my paper statement and it takes my forever when I have to undo check marks that I didn't put there. I've tried leaving them there but that is worse! I do reconciliations with QuickBooks all the time and I spend 10 times longer doing my personal reconciliations on Quicken! Please let me know if I don't have something set up right.
  • Frankx
    Frankx SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Hi @Carolp60,

    Can you clarify something for me - when you say "Every time I update from the bank it checks off the entries even though I believe I have it set right for paper statements.", are you referring to the "c" that shows up in the "Clr" column?  If so, why do you believe it is necessary to "uncheck" them? 

    The fact that a "c" is in that column should actually make you reconciliation process easier, because you only need to consider whether the entries without the "c" are actually still outstanding or whether they actually cleared the bank (in which case you need to manually clear those). And the box "that says reconcile using online balance"  actually has no effect on whether the "c" will appear in the register, or not.  But I agree that you should not have that checked since you are more comfortable reconciling to a bank statement - which I believe that many users prefer.

    Let me know if I can clarify anything else or if you have any followups.

    Frankx

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