Using classifications for assigning payments/expenses to family members?


C

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"?
 
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D

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
much.

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.
 
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P

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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