Transaction Tags in Moneydance

After making the switch to Moneydance at the beginning of 2010 I discovered a useful feature of the software called “Transaction Tags” (or “Tags” for short).  What are Tags?  Well, the short answer is they provide an alternative way to group transactions beyond the standard categories Moneydance provides.

Why would you use this?  Well, let’s examine a few scenarios.  Let’s say I have a category called Parties.  Let’s go a bit further and say that I threw a backyard BBQ called “Project Velociraptor” in 2011 (which I did) and I placed all the expenses incurred for that party into the Parties category.  Now when I run a category report I see these expenses summed up in the Parties category just as I expect.

Suppose a couple years later I want to throw another party of a similar nature.  I want to see how much it cost me last time, so that I can budget properly.  I could run a category report for Parties for the year 2011 and get my total.  Easy enough.

But, what if I end up also throwing a Halloween party in 2011?  Now I have to try to figure out which transactions belong to the BBQ, and which transactions belong to the Halloween party.  That’s kind of a pain.

I can solve this problem with Tags.  First, I’d create a transaction tag by clicking Tools -> Edit Transaction Tags from the main menu.

I’m now presented with a list of Tags.  I would then click on the “+” sign to create a new Tag.  I’ll call it 2011 Project Velociraptor, then accept the changes.  I then repeat the process, calling the new Tag 2011 Halloween Party.  (I like to prefix my tags with the year so they’ll sort correctly in the Edit List window and the drop down list.)

Now when I enter any transactions associated with the BBQ I’ll assign them to the Parties category, but I’ll also add the 2011 Project Velociraptor Tag to it.  This can be done by clicking on the Tags field, then scrolling to the appropriate tag and left clicking it.  That will place a check mark beside it.  Hit the Enter key, and it’ll accept your selection.

For any expenses associated with the Halloween party, I’ll repeat the process, but this time I’ll add the 2011 Halloween Party Tag instead.  (Keep in mind that all these transactions were still assigned to the Parties category.)

Now I want to run a Tag report to see how much I spent on each party.  Click Tools -> Graphs and Reports to bring up the dialog box below.

In this example we’ll run for all dates and for all types of accounts.  This will show us everything.

So if I want to see the totals I spent on parties in 2011 I’ll run a category report for Parties.

In order to see how much I spent on the BBQ and the Halloween parties individually I can just run the tag report and both of them will show up with distinct totals.

What’s also nice is that a transaction can roll up to multiple tags.  Be careful though; due to this fact Tags really aren’t additive with other Tags.  The Tag report won’t sum them at the bottom which will help keep you from making that mistake.

Another example of Tag usage is vacations.  You might have a Travel category, into which you placed the expenses from two vacations taken back to back.  Tagging each vacation allows you to track the expenses for each individual trip.

I also used this to track expenses for my Nintendo wii.  I bought it several years ago and placed the expenses in the Gaming Consoles:Hardware subcategory.  I also bought games for it, which I placed into the Games Consoles: Video Games subcategory.  Over subsequent years I bought more games, then more hardware.

Rather than have to build a report manually and try to include every transaction over multiple years, I tagged them all with a wii Tag.  Now I can refer to the tag report to see how much my wii itself has really cost me, and my category report shows me overall how much I spent gaming console-related stuff (which is not necessarily all wii-related).

I use this general rule of thumb when deciding whether or not to use a Tag vs. a Category.  If it’s a one-time expense then I’ll probably use a Tag.  If it’s going to be a recurring expense then I’ll usually use a category.  Other uses can and do apply, of course, but this is generally how I use them.  One of the most useful aspects of Tags is the flexibility they provide.

Moneydance’s Transaction Tags can be a very elegant and useful way to group expenses above and beyond the usual category groupings.  Hopefully this example aptly demonstrates this.

 

 

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9 Replies to “Transaction Tags in Moneydance”

  1. Thanks for you time and energy and being willing to share your knowledge. I just bought MoneyDance and imported two years worth of transactions from my bank. I would like to know is there a way to mass fill the category and tags for transactions with the same description? I have Googled this, but haven’t found an answer.

    Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Wayne,

      I think the “Find and Replace” extension would work best for this. It’ll allow you to find a bunch of transactions matching certain criteria and then you can make bulk changes to all those transactions (including adding/removing tags).

      Go to the “Extensions” menu in Moneydance, then choose “Manage Extensions”. Install the “Find and Replace” extension. After it’s installed it’ll be available via the same “Extensions” menu. It’s pretty straightforward after that. Hope this helps.

      Take care,
      Brian

  2. Until I read your article regarding tags in MoneyDance, I was seriously wondering if avoiding explanation of all aspects of how they ultimately functioned was a condition of membership in the MoneyDance community . . .

    Thanks! I’m a newbie and sensed that they –tags– had some kind of handy filtering usefulness, but could find no reference to it.

    1. Sometimes it’s hard to find that info you really need…glad that my article was helpful. I don’t participate in the Moneydance help forums anymore (too many rude customers over there), but I’d be happy to answer to the best of my ability any questions you might still have. Good luck!

  3. Hi Brian, Your posts are very helpful. Any ideas on this:

    I’m getting deeper into this.

    For this Category/Tag: Charitable Donations:T+V

    The Tag is always Charitable Donations:T+V

    But The Category is sometimes “Charitable Donations:T+V” and sometimes “Charity” (the account for a charity (non-profit) that we manage)

    Therefore we need to be able to total by Tag

    How do we do this?

    Thanks

    Tim
    P.S. Also the “Tools – Edit Transaction Tags” doesn’t seem to be in the latest version of Moneydance

    1. Hi Tim,

      If you’re looking to split between two charities I think I’d just set up a sub category for each specific charity and put them both under a parent category called Charity.

      For example, Charity:XYZ and Charity:ABC (where XYZ and ABC are both charitable organizations). This would allow you to roll up all charitable donations under a single parent category OR break them out by specific organization. Your choice. You can also continue adding more subcategories if you start donating to additional charities in the future.

      To create a subcategory you just create a new category and then assign it a parent from the drop down menu. In my example that parent would be “Charity”.

      I use transaction tags for subgrouping to avoid a glut of subcategories or when I want to roll up the same transaction two different ways.

      If you do still want to tag these, you could assign any and all charitable spending simply to the category of “Charity” and then add transaction tags to each donation, grouping it whatever way you see fit. To report on it you can create a tag report and simply filter only on the specific tags you care about. To show total charitable donations you’d build a category report and lump it all together into the “Charity” parent category.

      And you’re right, they changed the way tags are handled in Moneydance 2015. Now you just type in the tag name when you enter your transaction. It automatically creates the tag and it’s available to use again later for future transactions. To delete a tag, you have to delete it from all transactions where you used it and MD will delete it from the master list. You can use the Find & Replace add on feature to make this kind of thing easier.

      Hope this helps. If it’s still unclear let me know.

      Brian

      1. Hi Brian,

        Thank you – very helpful.

        Just to clarify:

        Some transactions are actual money transfers into the Account of a Charity I run, the information in the Category field for these is “Charity Account’

        Some transactions are donations to other charities, these are categorised as ‘Charitable Donation’

        Is it possible for an ‘Account’ to be a Sub-category of ‘Charity’?

        Thanks

        Tim

        1. That makes sense. Accounts are handled differently than categories in MD and to my knowledge you can’t use an account as a subcategory. You’d have to “spend” the money you transfer into that charity account after you’ve transferred it, from the charity account you transferred it to.

          Based on my understanding, it seems you could create a tag called “Charitable Donations” and add that tag to all your spending to outside charities. You could also attach that tag to all transfers into your Charity account. Then both would get grouped together.

          After that, run a “Tag Summary” report, apply whatever filters you want, and you should see all your charitable donations summed and grouped by the tag “Charitable Donations”.

          Hope that helps.
          Brian

          1. Thank you Brian

            I think that will sort it out. I’ll let you know if I need to work it out more.

            Tim

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