Retirement accounts 401(k) with negative cash balances

myqf Member

Paycheck has pretax funds taken out of paycheck and put into retirement accounts each month. These contributions are matched by the employer. Mutual funds are purchased with all the funds. The retirement accounts do not keep a cash balance.

I am using Business & Personal subscription in Sonoma without web or mobile connections. Retirement accounts are managed through empower, so the Quicken for Mac connection is a mess. The transactions were entered by importing qfx files that were downloaded.

Each buy transaction has positive investment amount, corresponding equal negative amount, and balance that is negative total of all the corresponding equal negative amounts, so it builds up over time. The left sidebar total for the accounts appear to be pretty close to what I suspect the total should be, except they are off by the negative total of all the corresponding equal negative amounts.

How can I fix what is present and handle the import and transactions going forward until empower and Quicken decide to play nicely with each other?

Thanks for your help.


  • RickO
    RickO SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta

    It sounds like Quicken and the QFX import are functioning correctly. When the BUY transaction occurs in the 401K account, it uses up some cash in the account. Since you have no transactions showing that cash coming into the account, that's why it builds up a negative cash balance. To fix this, you need transactions that show the cash coming into the 401K account, which will be "used" by the BUYs and result in an ongoing zero cash balance. So in this case, you should do two things:

    1. In your paycheck transaction in your checking account, you should presently have a split line for the 401K deduction. In that split line, instead of whatever Category you have now, you should change it to "Transfer" and then in the Transfer column, enter the 401K account. This will move that cash into the 401K and partially offset the BUYs. (Alternatively, you can enter "Transfer:[401k-account-name]" in the Category column and avoid using the Transfer column.)
    2. Now we need to account for the employer contribution. This input to the 401K is outside of your paycheck, so you need to create a transaction each period in the 401K showing the employer contribution. It should be a transaction of type Payment/Deposit, a positive amount in the Amount column and a category such as "Employer 401K Match" or whatever you want to call it. You can make this a scheduled transaction each pay period so you don't have to enter it manually each time.

    As an alternative to #2, you can build the employer match into your paycheck transactions so that you don't need a separate scheduled transaction in the 401K account. In the checking account, this paycheck transaction would look something like this:

    Your actual paycheck will of course have many more deductions. I showed only Federal Tax in this example. Note that the “income” for the employer match is offset by the transfer of the same amount to the 401K account so that it doesn't affect paycheck's bottom line.

    Over in the 401K account, it will look like this:

    Note that the total cash balance will remain at zero after each pay period.

    It would be great if the QFX imports from Empower included the cash deposits into the 401K account, but apparently they don't and there's probably nothing you can do about that. So one of the above solutions will be the way to handle it.

    Quicken Mac Subscription; Quicken Mac user since the early 90s
  • myqf
    myqf Member

    I appreciate your helpful explanation.

    I have investment transactions being tracked back to 2014, but I am only using Quicken for January 2023 forward. Thankfully, the employer match is vested, so I should be able to quickly account for the 2014 to 2022 401(k) transactions in the retirement account itself, then use the 2 step process that you outlined for January 2023 forward transactions.

    Again, thanks!!