This is part of the manual for the Android Finance Application.
This tutorial takes you through some of the basics of using the Finance application.
It covers the typical scenario of using the application for the first time, where you need to set-up some of the basic account and payee details whilst entering a transaction.
Finance uses the standard terminology used in finance packages such as Microsoft’s Money, or Intuit’s Quicken.
- Credit and Debit. A credit is a transaction where an amount is added to an account. Conversely, a debit is a transaction where an amount is taken out of an account.
- Accounts. These are places where you save or borrow money. Standard accounts could be cheque accounts, savings accounts or credit-card accounts.
- Payees. These are sources of expenditure or income (i.e. places where you spend or receive money). Common payees could be your grocery store (Wallmart), petrol station (Shell) or your employer (McDonalds). Payees can be accounts and transactions between accounts are usually termed ‘transfers’.
- Transaction. Records the movement of money between accounts and payees.
- Categories. These identify the type of transaction. Whilst not necessary, they can be useful in grouping transactions and identifying budgets
Starting Finance for the First Time
When you open Finance for the first time, you will see the Finance home page, as shown below.
From here, you can access the various screens of the application. It also provides you with an overview of your accounts, showing how many accounts, payees, categories, schedules and transactions are held in the Finance database.
Creating an Account
The first thing we want to do is create an account. For this tutorial, we will create a new ‘Cash’ account that represents the money we have in our pocket.
From the home screen, press the Accounts icon. This will show you a list of accounts, although it’s empty at present If you have lots of accounts, you can use the filter to search for specific accounts, rather than scrolling through a long list.
To create an account, just press the ‘Add Account’ action button. This will open the account creation screen.
The account needs some initial details:
- Name. The account name should describe the account and it must be unique.
- Opening Balance. The opening balance is the amount of money that the account currently has. This needs to be accurate otherwise the account balance will not be correct and it will be hard to reconcile the accounts at a later time.
- Date. This should be the date the account was actually opened.
- Status. The status determines if the account is Active. An active account is one that is in current usage whereas an Inactive account is one that is no longer used. Inactive accounts will not appear in any of the selection dialogs, so ensure that the account is active.
For the purposes of this tutorial, we have created an account named Cash, with an opening balance of 50, starting today. Press Save to save the account details. This will take you back to the account list.
You can press the Cash account to be shown a list of transactions, which will be empty.
The process for adding Payees and Categories is very similar to adding accounts.
Adding a Transaction
We will now add a transaction to our Cash account. This transaction will represent the purchase of goods from the Grocers using our new Cash account.
Press the ‘Add Transaction’ action button to add a new transaction. This will open the transaction creation screen.
This screen allows you to create a transaction and requires that you enter certain details. As a minimum you must enter:
- Account. This is the account from which money will be taken (debit) or saved (credit).
- Payee. This is the person or shop from which you are buying goods (expense). It could also represent your employer who pays your wages (income).
- Date. The date of the transaction.
- Amount. The value of the transaction.
To select an Account, press the Account entry field.
This shows you all the accounts that have been defined. You can filter the accounts or add a new account from this dialog.
Press the Cash account to select it for our transaction. The transaction will be updated with the Cash account.
Now we want to add a Payee. Press the Payee entry field.
This shows the list of Payees that have been defined. Note that our Cash account is showing here. Accounts are also Payees and transactions that occur between accounts are generally called Transfers.
We want to create a new Payee, called Grocer, so press the Add button.
Enter Grocer as the Payee name and ensure that the Payee is active. Press the Save button to save the payee.
The transaction now contains details of both the Account and Payee. We will create a category for the transaction called Food. Whilst categories are optional, they are very useful in grouping transactions so that you can see where your money is being spent.
Press the Category entry field. Normally, this would prompt you to select a category, but since there are no categories defined, you will instead be asked to create a new Category.
Enter Food as the Category name and press the Save button.
The transaction now shows the category as Food.
Our transaction now needs an Amount. Press the Amount entry field to open the calculator. Enter the transaction amount as minus ten (-10).
The amount is always relative to the account. If we are taking money out of an account, then it is a debit and should be negative. Conversely, adding money into an account is a credit and should always be positive.
Finance does not make any distinction between types of accounts, such as Savings accounts and Credit Card accounts. As such, this makes it easier to determine if a transaction amount is negative or positive using the simple rule:
Money taken out of an account is always negative.
Press the OK button to save the amount.
Note that in the transaction screen, the amount is shown as a positive value and the ‘Is debit’ checkmark is set. The Amount text also indicates what the transaction represents, e.g. taking money “from Cash to Grocer”. You can press the ‘Is debit’ checkmark to change it from a debit to a credit. The text will be updated to reflect this.
The transaction is now complete. You can optionally change the date or add a memo to describe the transaction.
Press the Save button to save the transaction.
When a transaction is saved, a confirmation message will appear on the screen. Note that the transaction screen remains open. This allows you to add another transaction straight away and is very useful if you have lots of transactions to add with similar details, e.g. to add another grocery transaction on a different date you just need to change the date and amount and press Save.
To return to the transaction list, just press Cancel.
The transaction list for the Cash account now shows our new transaction. The total represents the account balance after this transaction has been applied. Transactions in this list are in reverse date order, so the first item in the list will show the actual account balance.
Press the back button to return to the Home screen.
Note that the information section has been updated to reflect the current status.