Thank you for choosing Personal Accountz. Please be aware that this program is no longer supported or developed. Please see below some historical help rescources or alternatively, please see our current personal finance product; Home Accountz V3.
Where can I get help?
Help is available free on our dedicated Personal Accountz Forum where you will get answers from experts, or direct via email to support at accountz.com
How do I use the Demo to start my own file?
There is a short cut to a demonstration file on your desktop. Double-click that to view it. It will give you an idea of how to set up your accounts. There is also a link to a video that will help you. If you want to use the demo file as a starting point, click on the menu option File > New (Clear entries), then File > Save as to give it a name and folder to save it to. You should also open Preferences > Autosave and set the 'Save on exit' and 'Preserve file on exit' options.
Can I download from my bank?
Yes - mostly. Please click here which UK financial institutions support downloads.
I downloaded a patch and now the program wont start? There are 2 possible reasons:
- The patch must be installed in the same location as the original and the original installation must not be removed. If you install it anywhere it will not work.
- The original was uninstalled before the patch was applied. Patches add or fix components to an original installation only. If the original is uninstalled it wont work.
To fix, re-install from your original CD then run the patch again.
My password doesn't work when I convert a PA5 file into a PA6 (Personal Accountz) file? Please run your file in PA5 and remove the password before converting. Once loaded into PA6 you can set the password again.
But can't I do all this in a spreadsheet?
No. There is no guarantee that your functions and formulas will always be in place when you create new rows. Without resorting to using built in programming languages, you cannot create a replicating formula that will guarantee all new groups will show the correct total. The same applies to the ability to create an entirely automatic real time function for Standing Orders and Direct Debits.
Other systems have options to alter the amount of the first payment of a standing order, why doesn't PA?
Our aim is to keep all displays as simple and consistent as possible. You can alter any amount, anywhere, wherever you want - so it is easy to alter the first payment amount either before or after it has appeared in the entries window. A better way is to use two automated entries, one for the first payment and the second to cover the remainder.
Other systems use a sophisticated 'split' or 'multiple' entry function. Why doesn't PA?
Our philosophy is to keep the interface as clean and simple as possible and to ensure nothing is ever hidden. Splits are easy to do using a cash account. Make the first entry From, say Bank, To Cash. Now add each split as a new entry From Cash To wherever you want to analyse the payment. This way you can see everything and it only involves a singe extra entry no matter how many times you split the payment. If you set up an account called 'Splits' and use that instead of a cash account, you will always know if you have allocated all the money in the split, because it will return to zero each time.
Is there a way that I can create a user-defined report for an account so that the only transactions shown are those in which the account appears on the "from" side?
Yes. Just double-click directly on the From field of any entry in the Entries table for the account you want to report on (eg. if it's for the 'Bank', then double-click on any entry with Bank in the From field).
I can’t get the Auto-insert reference feature to work?
This feature works with new entries only. I suspect you may be trying it on existing entries. That is, you have tried it on entries you have already made, hoping it would insert the 'next' number after you press the Enter key on the Reference field.
Another explanation is that you are pressing Tab instead of Enter. These 2 alternative ways of moving from field to field have different behaviour depending on context.
This is the way it works. When making a new entry (and that means a new row at the bottom of the Entries window), pressing Enter on a blank Reference field will auto-insert the reference number associated (only) with the From account and assuming the reference has been added to the account's database record. That number will then be incremented in that account's database record automatically. Pressing the Tab key instead, or typing in any character(s) manually will stop the auto-insert happening.
Is there a way to change the forecast options for all accounts at once?
No. But in normal use you should only set the forecast for real accounts (eg. Bank, Credit Card etc.). Any income or payment type accounts that are used will be included in any reports you produce from the system. So, Double-clicking on the group's total will generate a forecast for all accounts within the group.
Is it possible to sort data?
Entries can be sorted on any column by single-clicking the column header. Clicking again will sort in the opposite direction. Within the Accounts panel, drag and drop technique can be used to move individual accounts in or out of groups. The screenshot shows the accounts sorted by the Reference field.
In the tutorial it says leave the 'From column' blank when entering an opening balance. However, wouldn't it be a good idea to set up an account for opening balances?
Yes. But that approach is typically used in a business and is not necessary for home accounting. Here's how you would do it:
The first entry for each bank account would transfer money from the 'Opening Balances' account to the bank account (or the other way round if the balance is overdrawn).
Here's how it works: first, the 'Accounting Equation': Assets = Liabilities + Equity (the acronym ALE is a simple way to remember this). If both sides of the equation balance, your accounts are complete.
If we take the simplest case: you have just one account, your Bank (an Asset). Lets assume its balance was +100 and you have just started a new file in Personal Accountz.
You would make one entry From nowhere To Bank for 100. Nothing wrong with this. However, if you were in business, or simply wanted to follow the Accounting Equation as a safeguard then an accountant would say the money came From YOU. YOU in accounting terms represents Equity.
The simplest solution that ensures you are accounting for everything is to open an account and name it Equity (or Net Worth, which is more appropriate to the home user) or use your own name or 'Opening Balances' as the name.
Your entry would therefore come From Equity (ie. You) and go To Assets (eg. Bank).
To make sense of this, look at the reality: at some point you gave 100 to the Bank. Therefore it owes you 100. The Accounting equation is fulfilled. Assets = 100 Equity = 100.
Does the system handle use of credit cards of various foreign currencies?
I would recommend using each entries 'reference' and/or 'comment' fields to store the foreign currency value and exchange rate of a transaction, placing the approximate base currency value in the 'amount' field until your final statement shows the true value.
You can use the Personal Accountz calculator to convert the amount and cut and paste the result into the transaction 'amount' field. The calculator has an unlimited number of lines, each of which can be 'named', so you can always store foreign exchange rates in there permanently for easy future calculations.
My credit card balance is completely wrong, how can I check it?
The simplest way to check a balance is to double-click on it. This will give you an instant report on every transaction that makes up that balance. By looking at the running balance total in the last column, you can see exactly how the balance got to where it is now.
Any mistakes should be fairly obvious. You can then locate the offending entry in the Entries table and correct it.
To find an entry, open the Search toolbar in the Entries table (click on the Magnifying glass button in the panel on the left) and type in any part of the entry you are looking for (eg. the date, reference, amount etc.). The search happens as you type by highlighting matching fields.
Use the next, back and first buttons to move between matching entries.
Another useful tool if you know the balance is out by an approximate amount is to sort the entries by the amount column (single-click on the column header). Scroll to the group of entries that match the amount you are out by.
Single-click on the date column to sort back into date order. Clicking again will reverse the order (ie. each click toggles between ascending and descending order.).
Can I download bank statements?
Yes, this is a new feature of Personal Accountz 6, it was added through popular demand and to allow users to download historical data. You will still need to go through it, but at least you can build a picture of your previous spending to compare to your current spending.
There are very real problems with downloading bank statements:
- You cannot download all the data from any UK bank: All you get is the amount, date and some reference. That means you will need to manually step through each entry to finish it and therefore give it some meaning if you want to analyse your income and expenditure.
- You will need to check for duplicates (part 1): You will need to ensure you do not download statements more than once or that they do not overlap in any way.
- You will need to check for duplicates (part 2): Personal Accountz will auto-insert your standing orders and direct debits for you. This also allows the software to forecast ahead, giving you information in advance about pending overdrawn balances. If you download transactions from your bank it will result in duplicate entries. There is no way round this in any software of this type, that is why we have made data entry in Personal Accounts so fast.
- Always know what your REAL balance is: Downloading transactions will only give you your bank's idea of your balance: What about uncashed cheques? What about credit card payments that have yet to be processed? What about money paid into your account? What ATM or debit card transactions that have not yet been debited?
- Spotting fraudulent or error transactions: Unless you keep your receipts, or at least a note of what you have spent, you are relying on the bank or credit card company's idea of your transactions.
Personal Accountz has been designed to let you enter data rapidly, far more quickly that any other accounting software. The Preset Entries feature lets you enter transactions with a couple of key presses. Automated entries save you entering commonly occurring entries. All you have to do is keep your receipts and remember to add them to Personal Accountz from time to time. It is a very fast process and typically takes no more than 10 minutes a week.
The benefits are that you will always know exactly how much you really have to spend. You will also be informed in advance of pending direct debits such as TV licence payments that most people forget about until they suddenly appear on their bank statement. The same can be said of insurance payments, water, gas, rates, electricity and telephone direct debits.
So, downloading bank statements sounds like a great time saver until you try it.
Can I import my data from Personal Accounts 5, Intuit Quicken or Microsoft Money?
Yes, using the Accountz Converter software supplied with Personal Accountz you can convert PA5 and QIF files. Full details are in the Appendix in the User Manual.
Can I move columns around?
Yes. You can move the columns where you like by dragging the column heading whilst holding down the Control or Command key. Column widths can also be adjusted.
Can I sort the Entries on a column other than by date?
Yes. You can sort any window by any column at any time by single-clicking on the columns heading. Clicking again will reverse the sort.
Can I create a new file complete with carried forward balances?
Yes. Open the File > New (continuation) option from Personal Accountz menu bar. It is described in full in the Appendix.
Can I re-group my accounts?
Yes. You can move an account to the top of its group by dragging it to the parent group. If you drag it over an account in the same group, it will convert that account to a new group and insert the dragged account into it.
Can I have interest added automatically to a credit card account at a set percentage?
Interest is calculated differently by different institutions. We have looked very hard at this aspect. To do it properly would require extra fields to be added and that would not help its ease of use.
The workaround that most people use is to add an automated entry for the interest. Update it whenever you like. It will give you what can only ever be a guestimate, but that is better than nothing.
Can I set up automated entries for direct debits if the amount changes on some months?
Yes. As soon as you get your direct debit statement (14 days in advance according to the direct debit guarantee), open Automated entries and edit the amount. The forecast balance will auto-update at the same time.
How do I start with an empty file?
Open the File > New option from Personal Accountz menu bar, or turn off the Always start with the last file option in the Auto-save tab of the Preferences window.
How do I change the date format from UK to USA?
The default date format is UK (Day/Month/Year) you can change this anytime in Preferences to US format (Month/Day/Year).
How do I load my version 5 file into version 6?
The quick way is to select File > Open and navigate to wherever the file is. Click on the Open button to load it in. However, we advise you to use the Converter application that came with Personal Accountz first. This will ensure your imported account names comply with Personal Accountz stricter naming conventions. The User Manual Appendix has full details on using Converter.
How do I make a transfer, eg paying off a credit card?
Because your transactions are held in accounts (and not a mixture of categories, sub-categories and accounts), a transfer is just the same as any other entry in Personal Accountz (eg. From bank account To credit card). It really is that simple.
How do I produce a bank statement?
Double-click on any account's statement balance.
How do I view just my bank entries?
Double-click on any account's current balance.
How do I produce a forecast statement?
Double-click on any account's forecast balance.
How do I export a report to a spreadsheet?
Click on the Export button on the left of any report window's toolbar. Save the report with a suitable filename to any folder. Load the file into any spreadsheet (use File > Open or File > Import from your spreadsheet).
How do I open a new account?
To create a new account in the Accounts panel, highlight the account group you want the account added to and click the Insert button (first button from the tool bar on the left hand side of the window).
To add another account to the same group, select any account within the group and click on the Append button (third button down on the left in the toolbar).
How do I keep track of my possessions and assets?
Open a new account for each asset. Enter as much detail as you like for each asset in the Database component (eg. when it was bought, guarantee period, telephone support numbers). You can also create an account group and drag all the asset accounts into it so you can get an overall valuation (this is useful for insurance purposes as well as keeping an inventory).
How do I keep track of my share portfolio and ISA's?
In exactly the same way you would for any other assets - see previous FAQ.
How do I delete an unwanted entry?
Select the entry you want to delete and click on the second button in the toolbar on the left of the Entries panel. This cannot be undone. Please use with care and always make regular backups in case you need to restore to an earlier point.
How do I delete an unwanted account?
In the same way you delete entries as in the previous FAQ. If an account contains entries or is included in an automated or preset entry, you will not be able to delete it until you remove all references to it.
How do I set up automated entries?
This is explained in detail in the tutorial section of this manual. Whenever a payment falls due, Personal Accountz will make an entry in the Entries table. Automated entries are only processed each time the program is started. This is to stop the system accidentally posting entries when you are in the middle of adding or editing them.
How can I enter my shareholdings?
Simple. Set up an account for each company you hold shares for (setting up a group first, then inserting each account into that is a good idea if you also want an overview of your total shareholdings).
Every time you trade, make an entry. This will involve a transaction from, say, your bank to the company the shares are for, or vice-versa if you are selling.
If there is commission, then make another entry from your bank to a commission account.
When you receive dividends, make an entry from a dividends income account to your bank.
Also, make use of the database record available for each share account to record the number of shares you sell and buy.
Capital Gains on Shares
You need a way of recording capital gains on shares. For example, if I buy 100 shares in xyz corp at £1, then I find that the price has gone up to £2, I need it to display that they are worth £100 more both for asset valuation and also for capital gains tax reasons.
Create an account called 'xyz capital gain' and then record the increase (or decrease!) in value as a £100 entry into it. Then every time you check the value of the shares you record it as an increase or decrease in this account. This also has the advantage that it shows up as a red negative balance when they are losing money.
Also, if you want to record dividends from each individual company you will need a separate account for each company eg. xyz corp dividends, abc corp dividends etc.
How do I deal with credit card bills?
When you pay the credit card bill, the money will come From Bank and go To Credit Card for whatever amount you are paying off that month. Most users set this up as an automated entry to save them time. As soon as you know the amount, edit the automated entry's amount field.
Should a Credit Card account be set up as a 'real' or a nominal account?
A credit card account is a real account. You don't zero its balance each year as you would for say, an account that tracks your income tax. All the things you buy with your credit card are entered as From credit card To some payment account.
So if you have accounts for Food and Petrol, buying some food will involve an entry that comes From credit card and goes To food. A petrol purchase would be From credit card To petrol.
Paying off your credit card each month will be an entry that comes From bank and goes To credit card.
At any point in time you will see your credit card balance and your spending breakdown. Double-click on the credit card's Current Balance to get a really detailed report. From there click on the S button for a month by month breakdown.
n summary, real accounts are those that:
a) you get a statement from
b) you don't want zeroed each year
Can I produce a report from the Entries window?
Yes. Double-click on any field for an instant report. You can also open the user-definable reports window where you can specify everything from the account you want to see, to a range of dates you wish the report to include.
Can I edit entries?
Yes. You can edit any entry, anywhere, at anytime. Just place the cursor wherever you want and edit the contents.
Can I un-reconcile entries?
Yes. Remove the reconcile character(s) from the relevant side of the entry you want to un-reconcile.
Can I lock entries so I don't accidentally edit them?
Yes. Go to the Reconcile tab in the Preferences window and select the Lock reconciled option.
Can I get a report of just my unreconciled entries?
Yes. Click the Reports button (right hand side of button bar) in the Entries window, select the account, tick the Un reconciled box, click Create Report.
Can I group accounts?
Yes. You can group accounts (Categories in Quicken) and group those groups too (Sub-Categories). But what is really great is the ability to nest groups even further. The result is that you can have a group called 'Expenses' that contains a group called 'Motor' that contains a group called 'Petrol' that contains individual accounts for say Tesco, J Sainsbury and other petrol stations.
You could also have a group containing your income accounts (eg. Salary, Christmas Presents, Interest received, Dividends etc.) then group your income and expense groups together to give you an overall picture of your ins and outs. A double-click on any individual account or group total gives you an instant report of all the entries plus an account and month by month breakdown (this can also be printed or exported to a spreadsheet).
Finally, you could also have a group containing your assets (eg. House, Car, Investments, Bank etc.), and group that with the above groups for an overall picture of your net worth.
How many accounts can I have?
You can create as many accounts (of any type) as you need - and at any time. There is no limit other than the available memory/disc space in your machine.
Can I rename an account and/or its code whilst it is in use?
Yes. You can rename anything anywhere any time. All changes will be reflected 'across the board' as you type.
I have split a file to archive off last year's data. Now, whenever I open it, it updates the standing orders and direct debits. Is there a way to stop this?
Yes. There are 2 methods:
1. Set your system clock back to the year of the file (or earlier). Load the file, open the Automated tab in Preferences and turn off the Active option. Save the file. Reset the clock back to today.
2. Load the file, turn off the active feature (as above), and delete the extra entries (they will be obvious since it is every entry after the year end of that file). Save the file.
I have set up my auto entries, but they are not being 'fired' as entries. Do I have to do something to start the system going?
You may also have not realised that Automated entries are only fired each time the program is run (ie. add a new one and it wont auto-insert until the program is next run).
Another important point. If the Left to do field is blank then one or more of the fields has not been filled in. A common one to miss is the M (multiple) field. Eg. if you set the period to M (for months) you can set the multiple to 1 for monthly insertions or 3 for quarterly insertions.
It is important to note that you cannot backdate automated entries. They can only be entered starting at a future date. If you make the start date before tomorrow, the 'Done' field will simply be incremented until the next due date is ahead of today.
Is there a way of entering my mortgage balance and have PA automatically calculate interest owing, which is updated once principal payments have been made?
I'm afraid not. We have looked at this in detail in the past. The primary problem is varying interest rates and varying calculation periods. Most institutions have subtle differences with some that are not so subtle. This means we would need to keep historical tables of rate changes, periods and algorithms. The user interface would probably be difficult even with the best will in the world.
However, here's the workaround that most people use. It is probably just as accurate a way as it would be if we attempted an automatic calculation.
I suggest you set this up in a new file so you can see how it works without other accounts and entries obscuring it. To start a new empty file, click on File -> New. Make sure you save your current file first.
You may also like to turn off the Start with the last file you save option too (in the Auto-save tab in Preferences). With this option off, you can select which file you want to work on by clicking on the File menu option and viewing the History section. So here goes:
1. Open new accounts for Bank, House, Mortgage, Interest.
2. Make a single entry From Mortgage To House for the amount you borrowed (or your current mortgage balance if you already have an existing mortgage).
3. Set up 2 Automated entries:
a) From Bank To Mortgage for your monthly mortgage payments
b) From Mortgage To Interest for the monthly interest You will need to calculate your average monthly interest (this is the manual bit that replaces any automatic methods mentioned in the first paragraph of this article).
4. Set the forecast option to 12 months for the Mortgage account. You will see the balance for the year ahead. Double-click on the forecast balance for a detailed report.
When you receive your annual mortgage statement at the end of the year, you can adjust the figures in your interest payments so they match.
Alternatively, you can just add a single entry to take care of the whole year's interest in one go. This would be the same as just adding the amount at year end when you receive your statement though. The former method will more accurately reflect the real state of your account.