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A recurring transaction is a memorized transaction to which you have assigned a schedule (for instance, pay on the 15th of each month) so that it can be automatically inserted into your database on that schedule. There is also an option to be prompted for whether to insert the transaction, before it is inserted.
Please read about memorized transactions to learn how to memorize them from a register window, because only previously memorized transactions can be set to be recurring. Journal Entries can also be memorized, and thus made recurring, by finding them on a register window for one of the accounts included in them, and then memorizing them.
For transactions that are repeated, but not on a definable schedule, or where the amounts vary each time, we recommend that you just use them as regular memorized transactions, and insert them manually as needed. That's because it would be easier to forget to make whatever changes are needed if you let the transaction be automatically inserted as a recurring transaction than if you have to manually insert it as a memorized transaction.
Another approach that does something very similar to memorized transactions is to use the right-click menu options in the register window for Copying, Cutting and Pasting Transactions. The difference between memorized transactions and the copy/cut/paste options are that memorized transactions persist after you close the program, whereas copied and cut transactions don't. You can also cut or copy and paste transactions between different accounts' register windows, whereas memorized and recurring transactions can only be re-inserted into the same account's register window.
Defining and Maintaining Recurring Transactions
You use the Maintenance ⇒ Recurring Transactions menu option, once you have memorized one or more transactions, to bring up a window such as the following (with some sample ones on it that we use for testing, some of which have already been set to be recurring):
This window displays all memorized transactions, in alphabetical order by their name, whether or not they have already been set up to be recurring. In the example above, the first one is just memorized, while the following three have been set up to be recurring.
The Name is the name you gave to the memorized transaction. The Main Account is the register account it was memorized from (or the first account in the splits of a journal entry). The other fields are explained in more detail in the section below about editing recurring transactions.
You can click on any transaction in the list, or use the mouse to move to one, and then click one of the buttons at the right to do one of the actions described in the following paragraphs.
Click Edit Recurrence (or double-click on a transaction) to either edit an existing recurrence schedule for a transaction that is already recurring, or set up recurrence for the first time for a memorized transaction. Details on that editing are below.
Click Delete Transaction to entirely delete a memorized transaction, and any recurrence schedule you have set up for it. Transactions that you have inserted into a register based on this memorized transaction will of course still be there!
Click Stop Recurring to remove the recurrence schedule from a transaction that has been set up to be recurring, and change it back to just be a regular memorized transaction, that can be inserted into a blank line in a register window by right-clicking and picking Insert Memorized Transaction. (Transactions with a recurrence schedule cannot be inserted in that way.)
Clicking the Edit Transaction button just tells you in detail how to do that, which is by re-memorizing an edited version of the transaction from a register window. (You cannot actually edit the contents of a memorized or recurring transaction, such as the Payee / Description, amount, splits etc., directly from this window.)
Clicking Help displays this Help topic. Clicking Close closes this window.
Editing Recurrence Details
When you click Edit Recurrence in the window above, a window such as the following will come up. This example is for a memorized transaction that has not yet been set up to be recurring.
As you can see, some defaults (or sample values) are filled in for new recurring transactions, which you then need to edit to be as you need them to be. We will first describe the options on the window above, then some alternate options that appear when you make a different choice for the Frequency (if it is not Monthly as shown above).
The Memorized Name, Payee / Description and Type (transaction type) are just for your information, so you can be sure you are looking at the right transaction.
The Frequency can be Monthly, Weekly, or Twice Monthly. For Monthly, you can set it to be every 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 or 12 months, which allows you to cover transactions that are actually monthly (every 1 month), bi-monthly (every 2), quarterly (3), semi-annual (6) or annual (12).
Under the line for the Frequency, when it is Monthly, you have radio buttons and fields you can fill in to choose when during the month the transaction occurs. You can specify a day number in the month, from 1st to 28th or "Last", which will be the last day in any month it occurs. Or on the next line, you can specify a given weekday in a given week of the month, like the 3rd Tuesday of the month.
When you set the recurrences to be every 2 or more months, the first calculated recurrence (the Next Recurrence field, calculated by the Calculate First button) is always in the first possible month - it doesn't skip any months for that first calculation. So for instance if your Start Date is October 1, 2016, and the recurrences are set to be on the Last day of every 2nd month, the first recurrence will be on October 31, 2016 (not November!), and the next one on December 31, 2016. (There may be further adjustments to those dates based on other fields discussed below, particularly to skip weekend dates.)
For Frequency Weekly, that section changes to look as follows:
It can be every 1 to 4 weeks, and you specify the day of the week on which it occurs. As with Monthly, the first calculated recurrence doesn't ever skip any weeks.
For Frequency Twice Monthly, that section changes to look as follows:
That is basically like Monthly, except you have to specify two days in every month on which the transaction occurs, the first in the fields on the left, and the second in the fields on the right (after the word "AND"). The setting Twice Monthly assumes that those transactions occur every month. (This means that the control that is present for Monthly recurrences, for "Every ___ Months", isn't present, so for instance you can't have a twice-monthly transaction that only occurs every 2 or every 3 months.)
The Start Date is the first date on or after which this window will calculate a next recurrence date. (That next date will also always be calculated to be on or after today's date.)
For the Ending Date, you have three options: "Never", or after some entered number of recurrences, or on or before a given date. If you specify after a number of occurrences, however, when you later click the Calculate First button, it actually calculates the last recurrence date based on all of your other criteria, fills in the actual ending date, and changes the radio button indicating the style of ending date to select the 3rd radio button. That saves the program from continually having to calculate this in the future, every time this transaction is used.
Check Insert Automatically for the program to automatically insert the transactions into the database when you start the ACCOUNTS program and they are due. A window will be displayed showing you which ones have been inserted, when that happens. If you uncheck Insert Automatically, that same window will come up when the transactions are due, but you will have to choose whether to insert or skip them. (More details on that window are below.)
The control where you specify a number for Insert ___ days before the recurrence date allows you to specify that the insertion into the database, or the prompting for it if you didn't check Insert Automatically, will be done a specified number of days ahead. You can set to be between 0 (on the exact day) and 14 days (two weeks ahead). You can type the number, or use the small up and down arrows to its right to increase or decrease the displayed number.
It's important to understand that even if you specify say 3 days before the recurrence date, the actual saved transaction date will be the desired recurrence date - it will just appear in your database, or be prompted for, 3 days prior to that, or whenever you next start ACCOUNTS on or after that day 3 days prior.
The Don't recur on weekend days checkbox only applies to certain settings for the selection of the days that can occur on any day of the week, like specifying Monthly transactions on the 1st day of the month. If you check that checkbox, the controls under it for what to do if the recurrence is on a weekend appear (otherwise they are invisible). You can choose to move weekend recurrence dates forward to the following Monday, or back to the preceding Friday. However, whatever you choose, transactions will always be kept within the same calendar month that the transaction was calculated to occur in, so sometimes those options may be ignored. Also, ACCOUNTS has no list of statutory holidays built in, so for instance if you have a recurrence set to be on the 25th of each month, then it could occur on December 25th (Christmas). You can always go into the register in which any transaction has been inserted and edit the date afterwards!
The Next Recurrence date is calculated for you automatically, after you set all of the desired settings above it in the window, and then click the Calculate First button. That will calculate the first possible recurrence date on or after both the specified Start Date and today's date, and insert it into the Next Recurrence date. (You cannot manually edit this field.)
When you are editing recurring transactions in this window that had already been set up, the Calculate First button is only enabled if you make changes. If you wish to reset the next recurrence date for some reason, come into this window, make any change (and if you don't want that change, change it back), and then click Calculate First.
The Save button only gets enabled after you do Calculate First. It saves the details you have specified, and closes the window.
The Cancel button is used to cancel changes and close the window. That button will instead say Close if you are editing a previously set up recurring transaction, and haven't made any changes.
Inserting Recurring Transactions
When you have recurring transactions that are due to be inserted or prompted for, as explained above (possibly some number of days before their actual next recurrence date), then when you start the program, a window like the following will come up:
As in the Maintenance ⇒ Recurring Transactions list window, the Name is the name you gave to the memorized transaction. The Main Account is the register account it was memorized from (or the first account in the splits of a journal entry). The displayed Date is the next recurrence date, that will become the transaction date. The Chq / Ref # field is for any cheque or reference number, and is the only editable field. (For memorized transactions that are journal entries, however, "auto J/E #" is displayed there instead, as in the first row in the window above, which is to show that the next unused journal entry number will be automatically assigned when this is saved.)
For transactions that have a transaction type that indicates they are, or may be, a cheque, such as "CHECK", "CHEQUE", "CHK", "CHQ" etc., the next cheque number for the bank account they are being inserted into will automatically be filled into the Chq / Ref # field. You can edit those on this window, however, if you do want to make changes to the cheque numbers.
You will see that in the example window there are two sections, Automatically Inserted Recurring Transactions, and Recurring Transactions for you to Confirm. Those sections will include whichever recurring transactions are due for which you checked or unchecked the Insert Automatically checkbox, respectively, in the window where you set up the details for this recurring transaction. If you only have one of those two types of transactions (either automatic, or to be prompted for) on a given date, only one of those two sections will appear on the window.
For transactions in the section under Recurring Transactions for you to Confirm, you will see two buttons beside each one. It's very important to understand what each of them does (and what not clicking either of them does!).
If you click Insert for a given transaction, it will be inserted when you close the window.
If you click Skip for a given transaction, it will be entirely skipped for the displayed recurrence date, and only prompted again on the following calculated recurrence date, such as in the following month for a monthly transaction. (This does not mean to just skip deciding about inserting this transaction at this point.) You might use this if for some reason that transaction wasn't occurring this time, or if you had already manually inserted it into the program.
If you do not click either button, that means you are not deciding about it at this point, and it will be prompted for again the next time you start ACCOUNTS. If you have transactions where you have not clicked either button, when you close this window you are asked whether you are sure about not making that decision for some transactions.
Whichever way you close this window (with the Close button, by pressing Enter or ESC, or by clicking the "X" at the top-right corner of the window) the specified actions will happen - inserting any that are automatic, and doing whichever Inserts or Skips you clicked for the ones you have to confirm. There is no way to prevent the program from doing that.
There may be cases where more than one occurrence of the same transaction needs to be inserted. As an example, if it is a weekly recurrence, and you have not run ACCOUNTS for over two weeks, two or more of them will be due. Prior to release 2.30, only the first such transaction would be inserted when you started ACCOUNTS, and the next one would be inserted the next time you started ACCOUNTS. Now after you attempt to close the window to accept the first occurrence of that transaction that is due, the next one will be displayed, and so on until all of the transactions that are due have been processed.
After this window closes, you can go into the register window(s) for the accounts the transactions were inserted into to review them, if you wish. At that point you could also make any changes you want. Examples of changes you might want to make would be to change the transaction date if the actual date was slightly different from the scheduled recurrence date, or to change in the amount for this recurrence, etc.