Using classifications for assigning payments/expenses to family members?


Charles Blaquière

One of my eventual goals with Money is to use it to figure out the monthly
"who owes how much to whom" amount. As you know, in a household, sometimes
one person has to run errands for another, and/or themselves, and/or the
household. Examples:

- If I pay $20 for something for Michael, he'll owe me $20.
- If he pays $30 for something for himself, no money is owed.
- If he pays $50 for a joint purchase, I owe him $25.

Assuming these were the only transactions that month, the end-of-month
accounting would show that I owe Michael $5.

Since categories are useful budgeting tools showing *what* our money is
spent on, classifications seem to be ideal for keeping track of *who* each
purchase is for. I was thinking about using classification 1 as "family
member" (Charles; Michael) to keep track of who _paid for_ something, and
classification 2 (Charles; Michael; both) to keep track of who _it's for_. I
could presumably create custom reports showing each combination's total
(Charles paid for Michael; Charles paid for both; Michael paid for Charles;
Michael paid for both), allowing me to manually add/subtract 4 numbers at
the end of the month.

Given what you know about Money, is this the recommended way to deal with
"who pays" and "whom it's for"?



Dick Watson

I think classification would be a hard way to do this, though I suspect it
could be made to work. The typical scenario for classification is something
like which automobile got the gasoline (Category:Subcategory
Automobile:Gasoline, Class:Subclass Automobile:SLK) or which rental property
incurred the property tax (Category:Subcategory Taxes:property Tax,
Class:Subclass Property:321 Republican Lane).

A big question here is whether you have separate Money accounts. ("Michael's
Checking," "Charles' Checking," "Michael's pocket change," "Charles' Pocket
Change"). If you don't, I'm hard pressed to see a good way to do this (nor a
reason it matters), though, as noted, your proposed scheme could probably be
made to work. If you do have separate accounts, you could use a simple one
level classification system. Class:Subclass "On behalf of:Michael" and "On
behalf of:Charles" At the end of the reconciliation period, the sum of
Class:Subclass "On behalf of:Michael" in Charles' accounts less the sum of
"On behalf of:Charles" in Michael's accounts would reveal who owes who how

I've racked my age-addled brain for twenty+ minutes trying to figure out how
to make this work with transfers and some kind of credit accounts, but I
think I'm failing to figure it out. The advantage to some variation along
these lines is it keeps track of the movement of money at the time. The
problem I can't get around is it takes three split elements for effected
transactions. E.g.,

- Michael spends $50 for Food:Groceries for Charles. Michael has a $50
Food:Groceries expense on one of his accounts. He adds split elements for
($50) "Transfer:Charles' settlement balance" and $50 "Miscellaneous:Deposit,
credit to follow." This puts "Charles' settlement balance" account $50 in
the hole, keeps the transaction amount at $50 of Food:Groceries, and creates
an artificial income of $50 against the expense category
"Miscellaneous:Deposit, credit to follow."

- Charles has a $90 Housing:Rent expense on one of his accounts. He adds
split elements for $90 "Transfer:Charles' settlement balance" and ($90)
"Miscellaneous:Deposit, credit to follow." This puts "Charles' settlement
balance" account $40 in the black, keeps the transaction amount at $90 of
Housing:Rent, and creates an artificial expense of $90 against the expense
category "Miscellaneous:Deposit, credit to follow."

- At the end of the settlement period, "Charles' settlement balance" account
is $40 in the black. Michael transfers the $40 difference to Charles'
account in a transaction entered in, say, "Michael's Checking" in another
three element split: $40 "Transfer:Charles' Checking," $40
"Miscellaneous:Deposit, credit to follow" and ($40) "Transfer:Charles'
settlement balance". Michael is out the $40, Charles is richer by the $40,
"Charles' settlement balance" is back down to $0, total expenses of
"Miscellaneous:Deposit, credit to follow" are back up to $0.

Seems like there must be an easier way.

It will probably bother me the rest of the day. I hope somebody else posts
the easier way.



Paul C

When I had two roommates I created an Asset account for each using his name
as the name of the account. As I spent Money I would transfer the portion
each was responsible for to their Asset account. If I spent $99.00 at the
grocery store, I would enter a split transaction with detailed memos- $33.00
assigned to "Groceries : Food & Misc" (my portion), $33.00 assigned to
"Transfer To : Jeff" (Jeff's portion of the grocery bill) and $33.00
assigned to "Transfer To : Jim" (Jim's portion.) At the end of the month I
would print an account transaction report displaying only unreconciled
transactions for each account; this looked just like a statement and was
great for going over details and resolving questions. Once we agreed on the
transactions I could balance the account just as if I was reconciling to a
statement. If either of my roommates purchased something on my behalf, I
entered a transaction in their Asset account using the proper category and
subcategory; this reduced the amount of the asset account (what they owed
me) and gave me the detail I needed to track my budget and expenses. Both my
roommates used Quicken and neither could figure out how to create a report
as detailed as my Money report.

With the problems Money has in other areas (US Savings Bonds, Budget quirks:
ARGHH), I was surprised and very pleased with the way Money allowed me to
track and reconcile roommate liabilities.

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