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Dashboard and Reports fixed in IE9

5/25/2011 in ClearCheckbook Updates
We fixed the issues that were causing a few problems in the latest version of IE9. One of the issues was moving gadgets on the Dashboard page and the other was properly viewing reports. Both of these issues have been tested and resolved.

If anyone using IE9 experiences any other anomalies on the site, please let us know and we'll work on getting those fixed.

Importing Transactions to Improve Money Management

5/24/2011 in Money Management Tips
A great way to get started with ClearCheckbook money management is to import some of your old transactions into the site so you have a little bit of spending history available. We offer the importing of QIF, OFX and QFX files for free, and the addition of CSV files if you’re a premium member. Most banks, financial institutions and other money management software will allow you to export to one of those formats.

To import a file, click on the Tools link in the main navigation and then click on Import Transactions. You start by selecting your QIF, OFX, QFX or CSV file and loading the file. The next page lets you tell ClearCheckbook what fields from your imported file you would like matched to fields we recognize. We do our best to automatically assign all the fields, but depending on who generated the imported file, they could be different. Next, you have some options for the imported file, such as a date range, date format and whether or not to import all of these into a specific account. Once you’ve filled out all the information here, click the Import button.

After clicking the Import button, you’ll be taken to the Verify Imported Transactions page. This is where you can look over and verify all of your transactions before fully adding them to your transaction register. This is a good time to make sure the dates are formatted correctly and all of the fields matched up correctly. A common mistake is sometimes people match up a payee or memo field with the category field and end up importing hundreds of categories on accident.

If you’re a premium member, you can also use the “Check for Duplicates” function to see if any of the transactions you’re importing are already in your transaction register. On the Duplicate Transactions page, you can change a few filter options to make the duplication checking more strict or more relaxed. We’ll show you a list of all possible duplicates and you can choose to remove any of the duplicate imported transactions before they’re added to your register. Money management is difficult if you’ve got duplicate transactions!

The final step is to add the transactions to your register. You can add every transaction or just the ones you select. Before you fully import the transactions, you can select the “Mark these transactions as jived” checkbox if you want to let the system know that all of these transactions have cleared with your bank statement. If you want to start over, simply click the Delete All Imports button and you an start the process over.

Again, the Import functionality is a great tool to get started with money management, but after importing your initial transactions, the best thing to do is manually enter all of your transactions whenever you buy something or make a deposit. That way you have a better grasp on your finances and it makes money management easier.

Using our Budget Calculator Tool

5/18/2011 in Budgeting Tips
ClearCheckbook’s budget calculator too, simply known as Budgets in the site, is a great way to set monthly budgets and track your spending in various accounts and categories. To get to the budgets page, simply log into your account and click on the “Budgets” link in the main navigation menu. If you’ve already added some budgets, they will show up as a list on this page. You can also add new budgets / spending limits from here.

Adding a budget:
To add a new budget to the site, go to the Budgets page and scroll to the Create a Limit form. On this form you will enter the amount you want your monthly budget to be, then whether it’s for all your accounts, a specific account or a specific category. Next, you select what day you want the budget calculator to reset your budget. By default it’s set to the 1st of the month, so on that date, the amount spent will reset.

There are also a few options you can choose from. “Rollover” allows you to tell the budget calculator that you want any money you didn’t spend on the budget to be added to the next month’s budget. “Include Transfer” tells the system to include any transfers into the budget. “Include Deposits” tells the system that it should deduct any deposits you’ve made to the budget from the amount spent.

Viewing your budgets:
You can view your budgets from the Budget page, or by adding a dashboard gadget to your Dashboard page. Each budget will list the name of the budget (which you can click on to be taken to a search page that shows all transactions included in the budget), the amount you’ve spent, the actual spending limit for the budget, how much money you have remaining in the budget, a colored bar representing how close you are to reaching your budget, an options column that shows any additional options you selected and a column for editing or deleting the budget.

Editing your budgets:
Editing a budget is as easy as clicking the Edit link next to the budget you want to modify. Clicking that link will take you to a form that behaves exactly like the Create a Limit form. Simply modify your settings and save it.

Deleting a budget:
To delete a budget, simply click the Delete button next to the budget you want to delete and confirm that you really want to delete it. It will then remove the budget from our budget calculator.

Our budget calculator is a great way to stay on top of your spending. By setting realistic spending limits, you can track how close you’re getting to exceeding your budget. It’s also a great tool if you’re trying to save some money. You can adjust your budgets to a lower amount to try and force yourself to cut back in certain areas.

If you’re a premium member, you can also see a history of your budgets and how much you’ve spent compared to what the spending limit of your budget actually was. This is a helpful way to go back and see if you need to adjust a budget if you’re consistently going over or under the spending limit.

Using Reminders for Money Management Success

5/13/2011 in Money Management Tips
If you want to get a grip on money management and get your finances under control, our Reminders and Recurring Transactions tool can help you with that. In its most basic form, the Reminders and Recurring Transactions tool will show you what days you have to pay bills or remember to do other important things. From there, you can set it to email you a reminder, have it recur several times and associate transactions with it. This mini-tutorial will give you an overview of the Reminders and Recurring Transactions Tool.

To get to the reminders and recurring transactions tool, click on the Tools item in the navigation menu. Next, click on the Reminders and Recurring Transactions link in the list below. When the page loads, you’ll be presented with a calendar for the current and next months, as well as list of any upcoming reminders you may have. If you don’t have any reminders added to the site, you’ll see a form to add a new one.

The reminder calendars will show what days you have reminders set to occur and how many are set to happen on that date. If you click on the date in the calendar that has a reminder occurring on it, the list on the right will re-populate with that reminder and all upcoming reminders up to 30 days after the date you selected. If you click on a date without a reminder occurring, it will display the Add Reminder form on the right pre-populated with the date you clicked on. You can move forward and backward in time in the calendar by clicking the “<<” or “>>” links above the calendar.

Adding a new reminder is very easy. If you don’t see the add reminder form already, there is a link above your list of upcoming reminders to display the add reminder form. When you’re adding a new reminder, you give it a title/description so you know what the reminder actually is.

Next, you can select if it’s a one time reminder or if you want it to repeat over a time period. If you want it to repeat over set durations, click the Repeating option. This will bring up an “End Date” input that lets you select when the reminder ends. Next, you select if it repeats every x days, weeks, months or years. For example, if you get paid every other Friday, you would set your Start Date to the date of your next pay check and then set it to repeat every 2 weeks.

If you want more flexibility over how the reminder will repeat, you can select the Repeating (Floating) option. This is a little more dynamic and lets you set reminders for time periods such as “Every Second Tuesday” or “The First Day” of the month.

After deciding how the reminder occurs, you have the options to add a transaction to it and an option to email you. Adding a transaction to the reminder lets you easily schedule payments that may be automatically deducted from your bank account or pay checks that come in. If you select the Add Transaction option, you’ll see a typical Add Transaction form like you would when adding a normal transaction to the site. Simply fill out the details and the transaction will be posted on the day the reminder is set to occur.

If you select the Email Me option, you can tell ClearCheckbook to send you an email reminder up to a week in advance of the reminder occurring. This is great if you need to know a few days ahead of time so you can write a check and mail it before a bill is due.

After adding the reminder, the calendars on the left will update and you can see your reminder if it falls within the current or next month. If you need to edit your reminder, you can find it in the list and click on the name of the reminder. This will bring up a form that lets you edit any of the options. Deleting a single occurrence or the entire reminder can also be done by clicking the appropriate link in the list of reminders.

If you have a transaction associated with a reminder, the reminder list will show the amount next to the reminder name. There is also a Post Now link that if pressed, will automatically add the transaction at that time, rather than when the reminder is set to occur. This is helpful if you pay a bill early and want it to show up in your register immediately.

In addition to going to the Reminders and Recurring transactions page, you can also add it as a gadget to your Dashboard page. This will show the calendar and any upcoming reminders.

The Reminders and Recurring Transactions tool is a great tool for money management. By scheduling all of your upcoming bills and alerting yourself of them, you’ll be less likely to forget a payment. The Reminders and Recurring Transactions tool also ties into our Estimated Future Balances feature so you can project your balances to a future date.

Money Management Basics with ClearCheckbook

5/9/2011 in Money Management Tips
This will be the first in a series of blog posts about how you can use ClearCheckbook’s features to help you with money management. In this post we’ll be covering the transaction register and how to get the most out of it.

The ClearCheckbook Transaction Register in its most basic form is just a web-based version of your traditional checkbook register. When you add transactions to the site, they show up in your register sorted by the date of the transaction. If you want to sort the register by any of the other columns, simply click on the column header to sort it. You can also set the register to view a specific account, or an overview of all your accounts combined together.

The real power of ClearCheckbook revolves around marking your transactions as “Jived.” This is our term for transactions that have cleared with your bank statement. To “jive” a transaction, you just click the check mark next to the amount of the transaction that’s cleared with your bank. If done correctly, your “Jived” balance for an account should match exactly what your bank statement says. If these numbers don’t match, then you know there is a discrepancy between your ClearCheckbook account and your bank statement. (As a side note here’s an excellent tutorial put together by one of our members about how to jive your transactions: https://www.clearcheckbook.com/help/tutorial#jive)

You can also easily edit and delete transactions from this page. Editing a transaction is as easy as clicking on it and changing the details of the transaction. To delete one or more transactions, simply click the check box next to the transaction(s) you want to delete, then click the “Delete” button at the top or bottom of the register.

Money management isn’t just about knowing how much money your bank thinks you have, it’s also about knowing how much money you do have. Banks aren’t aware when you write checks and often times stores only send $1.00 pending charges when you pay with a credit or debit card until the transaction fully clears. If you simply trust what your bank says your balance is, you could be greatly overestimating how much money you are actually able to spend.

This is why adding all of your transactions to the register is very important. As soon as you write a check or go buy gas for your car, you enter that transaction into the site. The Overall Balance tells you how much money you actually have in your account. It’s essentially what your bank statement says, plus any outstanding transactions your bank doesn’t know about yet.

Here’s an example of how keeping your transactions up to date in your register could really help you from bouncing a check or overdrawing your account. Lets say you have $500 in your account today. You write a check of $200 for utilities, go buy some gas and groceries and then go see a movie with friends. That could easily add up to another $200 of expenses. Some of those stores, like the gas station, will post a $1 pending transaction to your account instead of the $40 or so it really cost.

Now, a few days later some friends ask if you want to go travel out of town for the weekend. You look at your bank’s website and see you still have a few hundred dollars in your account (because the check hasn’t cleared and those pending transactions don’t reflect the actual cost of the transaction). Now, when go to and get a hotel room or chip in for gas, you could easily dip into a negative balance.

Someone who entered those transactions into their ClearCheckbook register would have known exactly how much money they had to spend (which would have been around $100 instead of $350-$450 their bank might have told them.) They would have been able to make better decisions about what they purchase and prevented themselves from overdrawing their account.

The above example is compounded even more when you throw credit cards into the mix. If you diligently enter your credit card purchases into your transaction register, you’ll know whether or not you can afford to pay your bill off at the end of the month by looking at your overall balance.

Money management isn’t just about setting budgets or putting money into a savings account. It starts by simply knowing where your money is being spent and how much you have at any given time. By taking a few minutes to enter your purchases into ClearCheckbook and knowing how much money you truly have, you can save yourself a lot of money in overdraft fees.

The upcoming posts in this series will cover how to use the transactions from the register to view spending reports, set budgets, pay bills and more all in the effort to give you true power over money management.

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