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)

Showing page 8 out of 9. View the first page

  1. 211 Posted by robert.l.spauld... on 07 Jan, 2024 03:14 PM

    robert.l.spaulding's Avatar

    Row1: UOR: 2+ accounts: 1.0 FMC +2.0 absorb:NO 14.0 absorb: YES 11,003

    Once I figured out where the 14.0 came from I was a little less confused. Should that example have been.
    Row1: UOR: 2+ accounts: 1.0 FMC +2.0 absorb:NO 12.0 absorb: YES 11,002?

    Looks like the example uses a 1+ in the row maths calc instead of a 1*.


  2. 212 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 07 Jan, 2024 03:26 PM

    Stuart Beesley (Mr Toolbox)'s Avatar

    Er… nope. Without any absorbs…

    Row3 accounts total 10 = +10
    Row2 accounts total 1 = +1
    Row1 accounts total 1 plus FMC of 2 = +3

    thus, total for row1 is +10 plus +1 plus +3 = 14


  3. 213 Posted by robert.l.spauld... on 07 Jan, 2024 03:36 PM

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    Ok, me just getting my head around it. Yep, I see where my logic was incorrect, I used a slightly different way, with multiplication and also provided the results I expected. I just deviated from your example.

    Catching on. Slooooowly. Need more coffee.

  4. 214 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 07 Jan, 2024 03:44 PM

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    The big question is whether this is actually useful ?

  5. 215 Posted by robert.l.spauld... on 07 Jan, 2024 03:54 PM

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    Makes it work as I had originally understood(misunderstood) Uor, just passing that final result to the next row to be manipulated further if needed.

    I'll have to work through several real world examples, like any tool, knowing how it works makes it more effective.

    My biggest confusion was going back to a previous row to force the current row value to change. (absorb vs not) because the row with absorb needing to be manipulated does not change its displayed value.

  6. 216 Posted by robert.l.spauld... on 07 Jan, 2024 04:03 PM

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  7. 217 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 07 Jan, 2024 08:07 PM

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    My big question for the future is this…. If I enable formulas then what standard functions would be useful/required?

  8. 218 Posted by robert.l.spauld... on 07 Jan, 2024 09:16 PM

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    I would say just the basic 4, just the ability to adjust the order in which they are calculated using parenthesis would be a big deal. It seems with the addition of absorb this becomes possible.

    I like using SUM in excel, to combine multiple values, regardless of sign, but like stated earlier, no sense re-writing excel.

    I'm not currently using any forward looking investment calculations, but some may find Future Value helpful. I don't think MD has a mechanism to bring in the Dividend though.

  9. 219 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 07 Jan, 2024 09:25 PM

    Stuart Beesley (Mr Toolbox)'s Avatar

    If I do formulas then of course std operators, parenthesis, etc would work.

    Sorry, I have no idea what “forward looking investment calculations, but some may find Future Value helpful” means

  10. 220 Posted by robert.l.spauld... on 07 Jan, 2024 09:40 PM

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    Compounding interest.

    Calculating the future value of an investment with reinvested dividends, Or total interest payments on a loan. Of course last time I had a loan I think MD handled that pretty well already.

    Outside the scope of your original question, but you ask. :)

    Simple Logic with If and < > If ( result > do something, do something else)

  11. 221 Posted by avp2 on 08 Jan, 2024 04:29 PM

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    I just replaced build 1040 with 1045 and all my balances came out right. I did see a few
    1 cent changes - due to new rounding rules mentioned earlier, I assume. I like the new "settings" layout and all looks pretty intuitive to me. I think formulas would be a nice way to make the calculations even clearer. I also plan to try some capital gain and RMD predictions/estimates in the near future so should be able to try out some of the new functions. Thanks for all the work.

  12. 222 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 08 Jan, 2024 04:41 PM

    Stuart Beesley (Mr Toolbox)'s Avatar


  13. 223 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 15 Jan, 2024 06:51 AM

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    PREVIEW 1047 has just been uploaded to my site:

    This now includes formula capability. For example you can perform:
    'sum(x, y, z)' or '((x + y + z) / a) * 100.0' (examples only).

    You set 'tags' against rows you want to refer to and use these as 'free' variables in the formula. Use @this to refer to the row you are on.

    READ CMD-I helpful for guidance

    Don't forget to the use the little up/down arrow picklist helpers to the right of formula for help.

    This enables you to do things you could not easily do before with just UOR.

    Step 1, install and confirm that all your numbers are unchanged... If they have changed, then stop and let me know? If you do upgrade and it's all OK, then let me know that too please?

    FYI: If you were using a recent build then you will see FMC has been split into PUM and FDA (refer help).

    TIP: Ideally do not mix RMC/UOR/PUM... Migrate over to formulas.

    TIP: formulas never refer to other row formulas... There are no formula chains (like UOR). If you refer to another row, then you get the result of everything before that row's formula.

    TIP: if you enter number literals into the formula - eg ‘(x / 100.0)’, then always use decimals or at least put .0 on the end. This is because the formula engine needs a float / double number to give a float / double result. Otherwise you might get an integer (no decimals) result. You don’t need to worry about this for magic tags or your tags of course.

    This took a lot of work (me and Dan), we don't want to be making any further changes for a long time...

    But please do let us know your thoughts, did upgrade go OK, any issues, are you using formulas OK? etc... Thanks

  14. 224 Posted by dtd on 15 Jan, 2024 07:15 AM

    dtd's Avatar

    1047 is a major upgrade - probably the biggest Stuart has ever done on Custom Balances. If you realize 1038 is the latest official release, CB now has asof dates, offsets, reminder inclusion, security cost basis and security gains, math calculations, formulas, display adjustments and so on.

    Yep, you need to read the documentation again, but it's worth it.

    Custom Balances has had at least two kitchen sinks thrown into it.
    And it's all good stuff.

  15. 225 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 15 Jan, 2024 07:37 AM

    Stuart Beesley (Mr Toolbox)'s Avatar

    .. and of course using @pi in CB formulas will be VERY useful for most people 😉 😝

  16. 226 Posted by dtd on 15 Jan, 2024 08:04 AM

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    Really he put @pi in... as well as @danspecialnumber

    Sometimes I just can't control Stuart... well actually never.

  17. 227 Posted by dwg on 15 Jan, 2024 08:45 AM

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    Tis a worry :)

  18. 228 Posted by robert.l.spauld... on 15 Jan, 2024 01:47 PM

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    Absolutely amazing. Thank you very much. This should keep us busy for quite some time. :)

  19. 229 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 15 Jan, 2024 02:30 PM

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    Please do let me know that all existing numbers are unchanged and that new formula works ok?

  20. 230 Posted by avp2 on 15 Jan, 2024 05:50 PM

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    My existing numbers work in build 1047. I will be changing a couple to formulas soon and will post if there are problems.

  21. 231 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 15 Jan, 2024 07:00 PM

    Stuart Beesley (Mr Toolbox)'s Avatar


  22. 232 Posted by he on 15 Jan, 2024 08:23 PM

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    I can confirm that my rather extensive use of CB yields the same numbers under release 1047 when compared to the previous version (presumably 1046?).

    I was particularly concerned about potential adverse affects on Reminder rows, which I use extensively and rather creatively, but I'm happy to report that all is well.

    Speaking of Reminders, is now a good time to talk about subtotaling by account and date?

  23. 233 Posted by dtd on 16 Jan, 2024 07:43 AM

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    This took a lot of work (me and Dan), we don't want to be making any further changes for a long time...

  24. 234 Posted by dtd on 16 Jan, 2024 07:47 AM

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    at least months....

  25. 235 Posted by dtd on 16 Jan, 2024 07:51 AM

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    @he - but hey - with formulas, CB is a lot more powerful, see if you can create your own subtotals and such....!

  26. 236 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 16 Jan, 2024 08:18 AM

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    @he - that’s great to hear. 👍 ✅

    I’m always very conscious about speed and work hard to ensure it’s optimised. My goal was no, very little difference in speed.

    Categories by date range, balances by asof will impact performance * numbers of rows.

    Formulas are efficient as they only reference already calculated rows.

    As for ‘Reminders, is now a good time to talk about subtotaling by account and date?’, I presume you are talking about LFR? If so, please can you keep comments on other extensions in separate threads. Thank you.

  27. 237 Posted by he on 16 Jan, 2024 10:54 AM

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    I presume you are talking about LFR?

    Negative, I'm referring to CB because I can reference it, at a glance, from the summary page without having to go to a menu to invoke an extension. Having said that, it really doesn't matter to me where the functionality exists, be it CB, LFR or something else.

    It's also becoming painfully obvious that I'm in the minority in the way I use Reminders. When I abandoned Quicken for MD, I found MD's Reminders to be a significant and substantial improvement over Quicken's, just a bit incomplete for reasons mentioned in other posts. But as I'm the only one clamoring for Reminder improvements, I'll stand down and refrain from making future requests.

  28. 238 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 16 Jan, 2024 01:35 PM

    Stuart Beesley (Mr Toolbox)'s Avatar

    Hi @he, sorry, but this is so far away from what CB does and how CB works that this will never be considered (whether it's account balances with / or without Reminders)... As you know the whole premise is that you create a custom row and do with that what you want... You are free of course to create rows per account, for reminders, up to certain dates, to create subtotals that way.

    Have you looked at the other tools, like Moneyforecast...? Can't that create future balances, per account, including Reminderds?

  29. 239 Posted by he on 16 Jan, 2024 02:40 PM

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    I appreciate your candor.

    Using CB, I've cobbled together exactly what you suggested. I'm a user, not a programmer, so what I've done is neither pretty nor elegant but it is functional. And in the future, you can count on me to test CB changes against my reminder rows because it's the one area I know really well.

    Ideally, and in my very humble opinion, my Reminder requests should be baked into the core MD software, not extensions. But as MD is a mature product, and it appears I'm the sole requester of these enhancements, I'm not holding out hope of my requests being fulfilled anytime soon. Ironically, the Reminder portion of CB now has greater functionality than the MD version displayed on the summary page, especially in the area forward looking dates.

    Completely understand and respect your position on the capabilities of CB. While I have your attention, just know that CB makes a huge difference in the way I -- and I'm guessing others -- use MD. This extension alone has saved me countless hours of slicing and dicing my financial data, MD just wouldn't be the same without it. Thanks for what you've created.

  30. 240 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 16 Jan, 2024 02:51 PM

    Stuart Beesley (Mr Toolbox)'s Avatar

    @he thanks for your feedback... and please do keep sending over ideas/suggestions, even if we say "no".

    As for Moneydance standard code.... I hear you, but you need to be raising separate enhancement requests for IK staff to review/feedback.... There's not a lot I can do about standard MD....

    Always grateful for testers with complex data in CB!!!

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