Custom Balances Extension: Questions and Answers

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29 Sep, 2023 11:03 PM

Stuart Beesley has developed some amazing extensions (Toolbox!) for Moneydance, but I feel one needs a bit more attention and usage - Custom Balances.

It's on my top right on my summary page. To put it simply, it allows you to create balances to view, on your summary page.

But it's much more powerful than that.

It's basically a custom report generator. You can create your own reports to view, and flip through them with the group id filter (i.e. a group id identifies a specific report you made)

It's basically a custom view into multiple reports. You just add another group id (i.e. "CustomView") and you can see important lines from multiple reports you created.

It's basically a warning window - you can place in hidden rows that trigger if a problem value is found (i.e. too low, too high, etc) and it will suddenly show up, and even blink if necessary.

You can change colors, show title bars, separation lines, etc.

You can do ratios, percentages, and so on. You can show categories by timeline - i.e. how much did I spend on gas THIS MONTH, or THIS YEAR?

It's uber powerful.

That said, anything uber powerful might elicit "how do I do this or that" questions. So far, these questions have shown up in "strange places" or in threads with a totally different title. As Stuart's main tester for Custom Balances, I can certainly answer such questions, and Stuart will probably check in as well. We would also entertain suggestions for improvement, but we both think CB is fairly mature at this point.

So, feel free to ask about Custom Balances here. It's a FANTASTIC extension (IMNSHO - in my not so humble opinion)

  1. 1 Posted by dtd on 29 Sep, 2023 11:07 PM

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    Here's the Help/Information Guide as of Sep 2023:

  2. 2 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 30 Sep, 2023 05:19 AM

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  3. 3 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 30 Sep, 2023 05:20 AM

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  4. 4 Posted by avp2 on 30 Sep, 2023 03:13 PM

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    Thanks for the feedback on setting a constant - using avg just did not occur to me. Also assumed all the hide functions would work the same so did not check the math ones. With the additional math, now going to set up some more sophisticated tax estimations.

  5. 5 Posted by dtd on 01 Oct, 2023 05:34 AM

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  6. 6 Posted by avp2 on 20 Oct, 2023 11:11 PM

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    Noticed two functions Custom Balances does not have and are needed for me to move the last of my ratios over to it. They are “transaction difference” amount for the selected dates period and averaging by “days in period”. I use these for average income and expense per day.

  7. 7 Posted by dtd on 20 Oct, 2023 11:46 PM

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    Say more what you mean by these two items. Details would help Stuart consider what he may or may not implement... when I asked for improvements (like avg/by or adj/by) I got very specific.

    Stuart is not only good, he's excellent. But details will allow him to make it "even better" if he agrees the concept is good.

  8. 8 Posted by dtd on 21 Oct, 2023 12:06 AM

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    As to the second one - could you simply put the number of "days in period" into the Avg/by field? That's what I mean by detail - showing why what I just said was a misunderstanding and what you really want.

    And I have no idea what you mean by "transaction difference" for the selected date period.

  9. 9 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 21 Oct, 2023 04:19 AM

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    As dtd says, please describe in words what txn diff actually is, how it’s calculated, and how you would use it? Is it calc txns for period a, calculate txns for period b, then a-b?

    As for avg by days in period, tricky.. one for the to think about sometime list. I presume you only use this when selecting categories and transactions?

  10. 10 Posted by avp2 on 21 Oct, 2023 04:42 PM

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    By "transaction difference" I mean the difference between transactions in to, and out of, selected account/s over the date range selected. It would be added to the balance type selector and allow calculation on the change in account/s balance over the selected date range.

    And, I did mean just adding the number of days in the selected date range as an averaging choice, i.e. let the program figure the number of days in your selected date range and use that for the divisor in the averaging function. I can see where it might be a little tricky to just add it to the "avg by" selector - maybe requiring a rework the "avg by" entry function to make it more intuitive, especially as it is really a "divide, or multiply, by" entry.

    I use it in the Ratios extension to divide the the "transaction difference" by the "days in period" to calculate a per day average change in balance for selected account/s (income and expense, currently) over a selected date range.

  11. 11 Posted by dtd on 21 Oct, 2023 07:07 PM

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    So am I right in saying the average by days in period is actually available already, but you have to put the number of days in manually versus it being calculated?

    As for transaction difference, am I correct that "basically" you'd like the Inc/Exp Date range to be optionally extended to accounts? (It would need to be optional, as sometimes you want Inc/Exp date range because of how categories calculate things over time, which is why it currently says Inc/Exp date range, Others: All Dates)

  12. 12 Posted by avp2 on 21 Oct, 2023 08:11 PM

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    While it is possible to do a per day average by just putting a number in the “avg by” box, it is kind of cumbersome to have to figure out what the number is manually and, probably, having to change each different day you look at the report - most people will probably set the date range to one that varies from view to view, like “year to date”.

    My current Custom Balances that have accounts selected do use an “all dates” range so I did not notice that was all it could be. And, though I do need a different range at present, I suspect I might at some time. I therefore think that it would be preferable to treat “accounts” and “categories” the same as to date range, even if it needs to be an option or separate date range settings for the two. The two ratios I am working with now, however, are categories so would work with the existing date range setup.

    BTW, I note a MD budget currently allows the same selectable date range for both “accounts” and “categories” as a group. I do not see how they might total differently, both are just a selection of transactions.

  13. 13 Posted by dtd on 21 Oct, 2023 08:24 PM

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    Not suggesting you "live with it" re avg/by manual entry. Just trying to clarify what you are suggesting you want.

    Same for date ranges in Custom Balances. So it sounds like, given "categories only" at the moment, that transaction differences is also already implemented... just maybe not as you desire.

    As for accounts, since accounts are cumulative (+/-) over time, it didn't seem necessary to give them date ranges. As it is, I was the one who requested date ranges for categories, as with 35+ years of data, any cumulative over time value was truly worthless.

  14. 14 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 21 Oct, 2023 09:29 PM

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    Re: txn diff….

    Am I right I’m saying that this already exists for categories? Ie these can only be the total of in/out over the specified period?

    If I’m correct, then you are asking for this over accounts.

    Example: Bank account. Specify last month. It would total the transactions in/out of the bank account for last month and this would be the result? Whereas currently it totals all txns in/out over all time to get the account balance. In this scenario would the balance type make any difference? Current, Cleared, Balance etc?

  15. 15 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 21 Oct, 2023 09:32 PM

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    And what does this mean?

    “… It would be added to the balance type selector and…” that bit then confused me?

  16. 16 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 21 Oct, 2023 09:35 PM

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    And… given this statement….:

    “The two ratios I am working with now, however, are categories so would work with the existing date range setup.”.

    Then surely this is already actually a “transaction difference” for these two categories? If not, can you explain why it’s not?

  17. 17 Posted by avp2 on 21 Oct, 2023 10:17 PM

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    Not unless one of the existing balance selections subtracts the start of date range balance from the end of date range balance, i.e. the “transaction difference” and probably how I should have described it originally.

    If that difference is available as a selection, I can use the existing date range selections as my current ratios are only on categories.

  18. 18 Posted by dtd on 22 Oct, 2023 03:18 AM

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    If using a date range, (for categories) everything from before the date range is ignored, and everything after the date range is also ignored.

    So there is no "subtraction", it is simply the accumulation of values from that date range, ie. transactions in versus transactions out.... and if that is NOT what you are asking for then you have confused us both.

  19. 19 Posted by dtd on 22 Oct, 2023 03:20 AM

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    Have you created a row to try it? I did, and it's exactly right (in fact I use this for yearly totals for some categories), but maybe we still don't understand your request?

  20. 20 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 22 Oct, 2023 09:17 AM

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    @avp. Given this:

    Jan -1
    Feb -1
    Mar -1
    April -1 -2 +1
    May -3

    The balance for all is -8

    Using date range March to April you get -3
    CB will give you -3 for this date range.

    In your example, what is the txn diff for the same date range?

    As @dtd says, there is no subtraction of balances. We add up transactions. The same as Ratios does.


  21. 21 Posted by avp2 on 22 Oct, 2023 04:00 PM

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    I now see what you and DTD have been trying to tell me. Sorry for being so dense.

    The only thing I would like then is a program figured “days in date range” number to do the average with.

  22. 22 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 22 Oct, 2023 04:29 PM

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    Ok. So you are confirming CB already does ‘transaction difference’ for categories with date ranges; yes?

    So the question is whether this is also useful for Accounts? Anyone? An example?

    As for average by ‘days between’… a question.

    • the easiest method is to calculate the days between the date range boundaries - e.g. last fiscal year would be 365 days (irrespective of any txns). However, what if you specify ‘all dates’; what do you do then?

    • the hardest way is to find the days between the actual first/last txn dates within the date range. E.g. last fiscal year:

    April 6th to April 5th
    With actual txns occurring from 20th April to 1st March
    Would be 315 not 365

    This solves the all dates problem, but I can see arguments for both methods.


  23. 23 Posted by avp2 on 22 Oct, 2023 06:49 PM

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    Yes. And, I just transferred my two ratios into CB. They also calculated the same values I got from the Ratios extension - number of days entered manually. For now, I set them for last 365 days vs my preferred date range of This Year or Year to Date.

    I think the date range selector would definitely be useful for accounts too, but do not have such a CB line yet. Average “Cash on Hand”, which might include checking, investment and asset accounts, for year to date would be an example.

    For the “days in period” selector I requested, the number calculated should be the days in the range, vs days between oldest and newest transaction. However, a “number of transactions in period” could also be a useful selection to have available.

  24. 24 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 22 Oct, 2023 06:58 PM

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    • So, how would you calculate 'days in the range' for 'all dates'?

    • I'm glad you can't see a use for txn diff on normal accounts... Can anyone else?

    • That's a no for 'number of txns in period'... I really cannot see a useful scenario for that one.... (?).

  25. 25 Posted by dtd on 22 Oct, 2023 07:41 PM

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    avp2 - "Average Cash on Hand" would be based on all dates, versus a date selection, as part of the cash on hand would include the balance for those accounts from before your date selection. Segmenting accounts by a set of dates could just as easily be set up by selecting categories instead of the account itself.

    In a nutshell, when thinking about "custom balances", accounts are looked at for their present balance (although current balance, balance, and cleared balance can come into play), while categories tend to be looked at as historical "segments of time" balances.

  26. 26 Posted by avp2 on 22 Oct, 2023 08:20 PM

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    I would expect days for an “all dates” selection to be those between, and include, the date of the oldest transaction and in those accounts/categories selected and the current date. How it would be calculated I don’t know. If it is too much trouble, I would just not allow that date range for figuring number of days - similar to what MD does in the Thermometer graph and transaction registers.

    I can see transaction difference being useful for accounts too. I just have not had a Ratio line that does that and it currently can not be done in CB for any date range I am interested in.

    No “number of txns in period” is Ok by me. It would just allow a different average to be done that I have, so far, not had a need for. I just used it in the my previous hypothetical account example.

  27. 27 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 25 Oct, 2023 02:23 PM

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    @avp2 - please grab PREVIEW build 1036 from my site:

    You now have the EXPERIMENTAL / PREVIEW average by DAYS (and other options) between auto-calc feature...Have a look/play.

    Let me know how you get on etc?

  28. 28 Posted by avp2 on 25 Oct, 2023 03:43 PM

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    Did not try every date range, but This Year and Year to Date worked as expected.

    I did notice one small thing though. Because the “avg by” entry does not seem to work with an I/E averaging function set. I can no longer make expense values to display as positive, i.e. multiply by -1 in the avg by box. It would be nice to still have some way to do that.

  29. 29 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 25 Oct, 2023 04:06 PM

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    ... I'm sorry, I did not understand that sentence. But I can take a guess.

    I think you are saying that you have tried the new 'I/E (date range): Avg/by no# of:' feature where you select one of DAYS, WEEKS, MONTHS, YEARS and this works as expected. However you used to use -12 in the Avg/By (for example) to calculate an average cost per month, but now you are using MONTHS. Your old way flipped the sign on the result, but the new way does not. Have I stated the problem correctly?

  30. 30 Posted by avp2 on 25 Oct, 2023 04:21 PM

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    I have tried the the new I/E avg by and it works as expected. But, I would like to be able to display my expense per day generated that way as a positive value. I have done that with other expense values by using a -1 multiplier in the “avg by” entry, but that method does not work with the new I/E average function.

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