By Jessica Groskopf, Ag Economics Educator, Nebraska Extension
December pre-tax planning meetings are right around the corner, so farmers and ranchers might want to spend a little time at their computers get their Quicken bookkeeping file in order.
It has been a few months since most farmers and ranchers have entered transactions. When inputting several months of entries, anyone is likely to make a few mistakes. Here are tips to tackle two common problems faced when entering transactions into Quicken:
Don’t panic if some transactions appear to be lost. It is very rare to that entries are actually lost. Many times they are just being automatically sorted by Quicken, and once they are saved, they move off the screen you are viewing.
Check filters. If some transactions are “disappearing” it maybe because you have filtered transactions in such a way that new entries are being saved, but are not appearing on your immediate screen. Check to make sure the three drop-down filters under the account name at the top of the screen are not limiting the transactions being viewed.
Check how columns are sorted. Once you have checked the filters at the top of the screen, look at how your columns are being sorted. Quicken automatically sorts transactions using the column settings you have chosen. The column that indicates the category by which the transactions are being sorted will have a small blue triangle next to the column title. It is most common to sort transactions by date when entering data.
Check that the transaction was entered on the proper account. After checking the filters and the column, sort search from the entry you believe may be lost. The easiest way to verify the account into which a transaction was entered is to view all transactions within your Quicken file at once.
To do this, click on “All Transactions” on the accounts sidebar on the left side of the screen. Then, in the search bar on the top right, enter the transaction amount or the payee name. If the entry does not appear, it was not saved and you will need to re-enter it. You can change the account by typing the correct account name in the account column.
The second most common issue is unbalanced accounts. When entering several transactions at a time, people will notice that the balance listed in Quicken does not match their bank statement or check register. Some people in this situation will enter an “adjustment” transaction for the amount of the discrepancy so that the balances match. However, this only corrects the balance, not the incorrect entry hiding somewhere with your file.
Check your ending balances. Rather than combing through each transaction individually, start by looking at each month. Starting in January, check the ending balance of your bank or credit card statement against the balance of the final transaction on last date of that statement. If that ending balance of the bank statement matches the balance listed in Quicken, there are no problems with the entries that month.
Reconcile your accounts. To ensure that you do not inadvertently change a transaction once you have verified the ending balance is correct, you can change the status of the transaction to “reconciled” (right-click on the transaction, click on reconcile status, select reconciled). A reconciled transaction cannot be modified without approval.
Check each individual transaction. Once you have found the month with the error, check each individual transaction that month until you can pinpoint and correct your error.
Farmers and ranchers face many other challenges when preparing financial records for their pre-tax meeting. Do you have other Quicken challenges? Feel free to ask to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 308-632-1247.