How does Quicken suggest categories for expenses?

The MergThe Merg Member ✭✭✭
edited April 2017 in

I'm seeing what I think is some strange behavior for how Quicken is suggesting categories for downloaded expenses.

For example, I had a charge downloaded for my credit card for McDonald's. When I went to accept the charge, it recommended a category from by business. I have used that category only one time (and it was for a McDonald's expense). Pretty much every other time I have used McDonald's as a payee, my category is either Food: Dining Out or Food: Take Out. 

Why would it propose a category that was used one time years ago?

For transactions at my grocery store, it is also recommending a category that I have not used in over a year. Basically, just about every transaction at the store I end up putting in the category of Food: Groceries.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Merg

Comments

  • Howard RoarkHoward Roark Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2016
    Go to Edit > Preferences > Downloaded transactions.
    Click on the small yellow circle with the question mark in the middle (lower left).
    Open the resulting Help section titled "Automatically categorize transactions".
    Click on the blue link to "How Quicken suggests categories and payees for you".
    Expand/read the two articles in the "How Quicken suggests categories" section.
  • The MergThe Merg Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Okay. I found this in that section for manually entered transactions:

    When you enter a transaction, Quicken searches the Memorized Payee List and then the register for a transaction with a matching payee that was entered within the last year.

    - A memorized or QuickFill payee: Prefills the Category field with the category associated with the memorized payee
     - A split transaction with a matching payee: Asks you to edit the transaction if the amounts are different from the amounts for the memorized payee
     - A recognized payee name (Quicken checks a list of payees; see How Quicken suggests categories for transactions you update from your financial institution below.):  Automatically categorizes the transaction
     - No matching payee: Leaves the Category field blank

    And this about downloaded transactions:

    When you download credit or charge card transactions from your financial institution, the data may include a merchant code for each transaction, which is mapped to a standard Quicken category. Quicken may or may not use that category, depending on the payee.

    - First, matched payees and split transactions are categorized as described in the above section on manual transaction entry.
    - If no matched payee is found, Quicken assigns a category to the new transaction based on the merchant code.
    - When processing transactions that use Compare to Register (including those downloaded from a financial institution), Quicken checks for a category in the transaction during the Compare to Register process. If found, that category is put in the register.
    - Quicken doesn't suggest categories for downloaded bank transactions with a payee such as VISA or MasterCard.

    In my case, I am having the transactions downloaded and then I go through and Accept them one by one. For the case of most credit card transactions, I do not manually enter them into my register as I let them come via the download from my FI.

    In looking at my Memorized transaction list, I had 3 for McDonald's, Food: Dining Out, Food: Take Out, and the business one. The business one was used once back in 2013. In looking at the information above about downloaded transactions, it states that matched payees are first matched via the section rules for manually entered transactions. In looking at the rules for manually entered transactions, it states that it searches the Memorized Payee List and then the register for a transcation with a matching payee that was entered within the last year.

    Am I missing something here?

    Thanks.

    - Merg
  • mshigginsmshiggins SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Delete the memorized payee that maps McDonalds to your business expense.
    Quicken user since Q1999. Currently using QW2017.
    Questions? Check out the  Quicken Windows FAQ list
  • mshigginsmshiggins SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    You may also want to consider setting the preference to delete unused payees after X months. This will weed out infrequently used payees and can help with performance issues caused by a large Memorized Payee List.
    Quicken user since Q1999. Currently using QW2017.
    Questions? Check out the  Quicken Windows FAQ list
  • The MergThe Merg Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Yup. I've already done that now. But any ideas on why it would be grabbing THOSE memorized payee items. That doesn't seem right or am I missing something else with how it automatically categorizes transactions.

    Thanks.

    - Merg
  • mshigginsmshiggins SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Memorized Payee List is first in the hierarchy for determining the category. I'm not sure what search order is used for the MPL. I'm guessing your business category was the first in the MPL for McDonalds?
    Quicken user since Q1999. Currently using QW2017.
    Questions? Check out the  Quicken Windows FAQ list
  • The MergThe Merg Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Nope. It was third alphabetically.

    That's where I was all confused. A category used once over 3 years ago and not even at the top of the list alphabetically.

    - Merg
  • mshigginsmshiggins SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Order of category creation? The expenses list in the Lifetime Planner used to sort in that order. Made it damn hard to find categories to exclude.
    Quicken user since Q1999. Currently using QW2017.
    Questions? Check out the  Quicken Windows FAQ list
  • The MergThe Merg Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    I wouldn't think that would be it. I've been going to McDonald's long before I had my business categories. :)

    Like I said, confusing, huh?

    By removing from the Memorized Payee list, that should stop that annoyance for the few payees that I have been having this issue with.

    - Merg
  • The MergThe Merg Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Well, I found that it just used another old category for my grocery store. I am actually wondering if it grabs the last item listed alphabetically in the Memorized Payee list. The item I removed from the list was last alphabetically and the one that it just used was second to last as the time, but is now last.

    - Merg
  • The MergThe Merg Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Well, I just confirmed that it goes through the list of Memorized Payees categories in reverse alphabetical order to recommend a category. That's a goofball way of doing things. Not the most used, not the most recent, but whichever category is last alphabetically for that payee.

    - Merg
  • mshigginsmshiggins SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    That's weird. I'll have to try it.
    Quicken user since Q1999. Currently using QW2017.
    Questions? Check out the  Quicken Windows FAQ list
  • The MergThe Merg Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Please let me know what you find.

    Thanks,
    Merg
  • mshigginsmshiggins SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Using an answer so I can attach screen captures.

    The first screen capture shows three transactions for the same payee in the order entered.

    The second screen capture shows the memorized payee list when starting to enter a fourth transaction for the same payee.

    For me, the first memorized payee listed is from the last entered transaction for the payee, no matter what the alphabetical order is of the category or memo.
    imageimage
    Quicken user since Q1999. Currently using QW2017.
    Questions? Check out the  Quicken Windows FAQ list
  • The MergThe Merg Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    [mention://67891 @mshiggins]:

    I think you are misunderstanding me. What I am referring to about the recommended categories is not when I am manually entering in a transaction. This is the category that is suggested when you have a downloaded transaction and I then select that transaction to determine if I want to Accept it.

    In those cases, it will always select the last alphabetical category for that particular Memorized Payee.

    - Merg
  • Howard RoarkHoward Roark Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2016
    " ... it will always select the last alphabetical category for that particular Memorized Payee".

    Doesn't work that way for me (Q2016 R6).

    I get the category that has been used (by far) the most often, or the category in the oldest memorized transaction for that payee (in my test they were both the same). But that category was not the lowest or highest in alphabetical sequence of the categories for that memorized payee.

    On the other hand, when I manually entered a transaction for that same memorized payee, Quicken chose the category that sorted lowest by category name (which was not in either the newest or oldest memorized transaction for that payee).
  • The MergThe Merg Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    I just wanted to verify that in your test, this was the suggested category for downloaded transactions, correct? I am also using Q2016 R6.

    - Merg
  • Howard RoarkHoward Roark Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2016
    For downloaded transactions:
    "I get the category that has been used (by far) the most often, or the category in the oldest memorized transaction for that payee (in my test they were both the same)". [19]
  • The MergThe Merg Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Something is going on then. I just downloaded some transactions that included one from Amazon.com. It recommended the category of Tools when the last time I used that was eons ago and there are more recent and commonly used categories for Amazon. When I viewed the Memorized Payee list, guess which category was last alphabetically?

    - Merg
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