Account Xpress

Personal Finances Manager
Tutorial

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Introduction

You may have heard the expression 'One ounce of practice is worth more than a ton of theory'. We believe that this is specially true when it comes to learning a new software product. This is why we have created this tutorial. Account Xpress is simple to use, but a few lessons to get started can go a long way.

This tutorial is for anyone interested in using Account Xpress to manage their personal finances. You are not required to have any previous experience with a personal finances software to complete this tutorial. But even if you did use Account Xpress or any other personal finances software product in the past, we still recommend to go through this tutorial as you may otherwise miss on some important concepts.

This tutorial will help you getting started with Account Xpress through a series of lessons presented in a logical sequence, where the completion of one lesson prepares you for the next one. After completing all the lessons in this tutorial, you should feel confident enough with Account Xpress to start using it to manage your own personal finances.

In this tutorial, you will learn:

  • How to create a new Account Xpress data file;
  • How to customize some of Account Xpress' appearance and behaviors;
  • How to create and manage accounts, categories and payees;
  • How to create transactions and transaction series;
  • How to create and use transaction schedules;
  • How to create and use transaction templates;
  • How to reconcile an account.

NOTE: This tutorial is not intended to teach you how to use Windows, it assumes that you are already familiar with the Windows operating system. In order to provide the right practice without making it too extensive, we have adequately simplified some of the financial activities required to complete this tutorial.

Tips

While going through this tutorial, here are a few tips that can help you complete the lessons more efficiently.

  • The main window in Account Xpress is divided into two main panes; the left pane and the right pane. The left pane contains a tree view and the right pane contents changes according to the selection made in that tree view. If you have used Windows Explorer in the past, you probably are already familiar with this concept. But this concept goes one step further in Account Xpress. At the bottom of the right pane is a tab control that allows you to display different views by selecting their respective tab.
  • The tree view (i.e. left pane) has four main level branches; Accounts, Categories, Payees and Others. Those branches are static in the sense that they can not be modified or deleted. Any other branch created in the tree view will appear under one of the first three main branches. The Others branch can not have any other branches underneath it.
  • Given the amount of information displayed on the main window, maximizing it (i.e. clicking its Maximize button) will usually make the application easier to use.
  • Most dialogs in Account Xpress have context sensitive help that provides general information about the dialog itself as well as a description of the items presented on the dialog forms. For general help about a dialog, click the Help button (bottom-right of the dialog) or press F1.
  • To find out which action will be performed before you click a toolbar button, position the cursor over that button temporarily (without clicking it) and a short description (i.e. hint) will appear. The short description often includes a key combination that can be used as a shortcut to perform that action.
  • In most dialogs, pressing Enter is equivalent to clicking OK or Next, and pressing Esc is equivalent to clicking Cancel or Close.

Lesson 1 - Account Xpress Data Files

At this point, we assume that Account Xpress is already installed on your computer. If this is not the case, please click here for a download link and installation instructions. Once Account Xpress is installed on your computer, come back to this lesson to continue.

Account Xpress data files have a .acx extension by default. One Account Xpress data file can store the personal finances data for one or more individuals. For example, it is common for a couple to have all their personal finances together in a single file. However, it is important to note that just like Notepad, Word and Excel files, Account Xpress files are themselves not multi-user databases and therefore can not be updated by more than one user at a time. Although a user would generally have only one active data file, it is not uncommon for a user to have other Account Xpress files for various reasons including, but not limited to:

  • Archiving some previous years' data;
  • Acting as an agent to handle someone else's personal finances;
  • Learning or experimenting with the software;
  • Tracking the finances of a small / sole proprietorship business.

In this lesson, you will create a new Account Xpress data file that you can then use for the rest of this tutorial as follows.

  1. Start Account Xpress if it is not already running.
  2. By default, each time Account Xpress starts, a Welcome dialog is displayed to allow you to either create a new file or open an existing one. In this case, select Create a new Account Xpress file and click OK or press Enter. Or, if you already have a file open in Account Xpress, save your changes (if necessary) and then select File > New to create a new file. Either way, the New File wizard is then displayed.
  3. The first thing to do when creating a new file is set its local currency. Account Xpress gives you a list of currencies to choose from and the default selection should be the currency of your country according to your Windows regional settings. On the Local Currency page, select the currency that should be used as the local currency for the new file and click Next or press Enter. Please note that once the file is created, its local currency can not be changed, so it is imperative to select the correct local currency for a new file right away.
  4. The next page (Password) allows you to password protect and encrypt the new file. In this tutorial, we are not planning to save any real sensitive information in the new file and we'll just leave the password fields blank so the file is not password protected and click Next or press Enter. A password can be set or removed at any time on an Account Xpress data file. However, when a password is set on a file, that file is encrypted and can not be opened without its password. It is important to note that if somehow the password of a file is lost, there is no way to reset or remove it and that file then becomes unusable.

  5. The last page simply explains what should happen next, once the file is created. Click OK or press Enter to create the new file.

At this point, the file has been created in memory (RAM), but has not yet been saved to disk. That is why the file name appears as Untitled in the title bar. Save the file to disk as follows.

  1. Select File > Save or press Ctrl + S to display the Save As dialog;
  2. You can change the Save in location to a location of your choice where you have full (i.e. read and write) access or accept the default location;
  3. In the File name box, type AX4 Tutorial;
  4. Click Save or press Enter.

Notice how the full path of the file is now displayed in the title bar followed by its local currency code.

Lesson 2 - Application Preferences

Application preferences are settings that allow you to customize some of Account Xpress' appearance and behaviors. Some of those preferences are set directly on the interface. For example, if you maximize the main window and then exit Account Xpress, it will be automatically maximized again the next time you start it. Other preferences must be set through the Application Preferences dialog. In this lesson, we will see how to change some of Account Xpress' main preferences.

Auto Save

There is an option in Account Xpress that allows pending changes to a file to be saved automatically whenever that file is being closed (i.e. when you create a new file, open a different one, or exit Account Xpress altogether). That option is inactive by default, which means that Account Xpress will ask you to confirm before saving any pending changes to a file before closing it. If you prefer, you can activate the option to automatically save pending changes to a file being closed without being prompted each time for a confirmation as follows.

  1. Select Application > Preferences from the main menu;
  2. Make sure that the Save files automatically check box is checked;
  3. Click OK or press Enter to apply your change.

Default Display Period

The display period in Account Xpress is a simple and yet powerful feature that allows you to apply a filter to your financial activities so that you can see only those that pertain to a given period of your choice at any given time.

Instead of showing all your financial activities all the time, which could eventually be useless and even cumbersome, Account Xpress can filter all time-sensitive activities in the file to any relevant period of your choice. For example, you can set the period filter to see only the transactions of the last six months, the current year, the previous year, the current quarter, etc.

The currently selected period is displayed in the middle of the navigation toolbar (i.e. second toolbar from the top) as a toolbar button itself, except when the Others branch is selected in the tree view. The Others branch is not tied to any time-sensitive information and is therefore not affected by the currently selected period.

Whenever you open a file, the period filter reverts to the default period, which you can customize to your liking or even deactivate completely through the application preferences dialog. Once the file is open and the default period filter is applied, you can change that period anytime and see the ensuing results immediately.

For this tutorial, let's assume that you want the default period to cover six full months ending with the current one as follows.

  1. Select Application > Preferences from the main menu;
  2. Select (click) the Default Period tab (at the top);
  3. Select (click) the Dynamic month range radio button;
  4. Change the starting value to 5 (i.e. Starting 5 months ago);
  5. Change the length in months value to 6 (i.e. for 6 months);
  6. Observe how the date range in parenthesis next to Dynamic month range has changed to reflect the values that you selected in the last two steps according to the current date;
  7. Notice the other options that you can use for the default period;
  8. Click OK or press Enter to apply your changes.

Until the default period is changed again, each time a file is opened in Account Xpress, the default period filter that you just selected will be applied automatically. But you can also change the currently selected period of the current file anytime with the period selection button.

As mentioned earlier, the currently selected period is displayed in the middle of the navigation toolbar as a toolbar button itself. At the right end of that button is a down arrow, which when clicked, opens a list of pre-defined periods to choose from. Clicking anywhere else on that button opens a dialog that allows you to select any static period (i.e. specific start and end date) of your choice.

Let's say that right now, you only want to see the information in the file that pertains to the last calendar month. You can do so as follows.

  1. While any branch other than Others is selected in the tree view, click the down arrow at the right end of the Period toolbar button;
  2. Select Last month from the list of options presented.

That's it, any time-sensitive information displayed on the screen now pertains to the last calendar month only and will continue to do so until the currently selected period is changed again. While this may not sound like much because you just started this file and don't even have any time-sensitive information to see yet, the usefulness of this feature will become increasingly more apparent as new transactions are added to your file over time.

Reselect the default period as follows.

  1. Click the down arrow at the right end of the Period toolbar button;
  2. Select Default period from the list of options presented.

Date Format

In this tutorial, whenever you are required to set or select a date, that date will be displayed in the 'yyyy-mm-dd' format (e.g. 2022-11-28). Depending on your Windows Regional Settings, the dates in Account Xpress may be currently displayed in a different format. However, you can change the date format in Account Xpress to match the date format used in this tutorial as follows.

  1. Select Application > Preferences from the main menu;
  2. Under Display formats, select yyyy-mm-dd from the Short date drop-down list;
  3. Click OK or press Enter.
Once you have completed the tutorial, you can change the date format used in Account Xpress back to any other format of your choice by repeating the above steps, but selecting a different date format in step 2.

Font Size

By default, the lists in Account Xpress have a font size of 9 points, which may appear small depending on your screen resolution. Let's see what it is going to look like if we change it to 11 points as follows.

  1. Select Application > Preferences from the main menu;
  2. Select (click) the Lists Font Size tab (at the top);
  3. Select 11 from the Font size drop-down list;
  4. Click OK or press Enter.

Column Widths and Positions

After changing the font size of the lists to 11 points, if Accounts is selected in the tree view and Accounts by Name is selected in the right pane, you may notice that the third and the seventh columns are now too narrow to display their own title (i.e. Currency and Net Flow). You can resize any column in the lists in Account Xpress as follows.

  1. Place the mouse in the column heading over the separator between the column to be resized and the next one. The cursor shape should change to a vertical bar with two arrows pointing to the left and right;
  2. Click and drag the column separator to the right or to the left to make the column wider or narrower respectively;
  3. Once the desired column width is attained, release the mouse button.
Repeat the above steps to resize any list column that you wish to resize in Account Xpress. Similarly, if you click a column header other than on a column separator, you can reposition that column in the list by dragging it to its new position. The best part of this is that when you resize or reposition a column that way, Account Xpress remembers those settings so you don't have to change them again each time the program starts.

Lesson 3 - Accounts

In Account Xpress, an account is a ledger in which transactions affecting the monetary value (i.e. the balance) of an asset or liability are recorded. In general accounting terms, those accounts are usually referred to as balance sheet accounts while categories, which we'll cover in the next lesson, are usually known as income statement accounts.

Simply put, an asset is anything of monetary value that you own (e.g. house, car, stocks, checking account balance, savings account balance, etc.), while a liability is anything of monetary value that you owe (e.g. personal loan balance, mortgage balance, credit card balance, credit line balance, etc.). By subtracting your liabilities from your assets, you obtain your net worth, which fluctuates as new income and expense transactions are recorded. Ideally, your net worth should be positive and increase progressively over time.

Account Xpress can handle any number of accounts but to keep this tutorial simple, we'll start with only three; a checking account, a credit card account, and a cash account.

Creating a Checking Account

Assume that you have a checking account with the following characteristics:

Name:CO-OP Checking
Reconcilable:Yes
Minimum balance:$2,000
Next check number:254
Opening balance:$2,548.15
Opening balance date:Sep 30, 2022

An account is reconcilable when it can be reconciled against periodic statements from a financial institution (e.g. bank statement). While most accounts are reconcilable, there are a few exceptions. The cash money that you have on hand is one of them. Casual loans (i.e. account used to keep track of unofficial and interest free loans that you carry with friends and relatives) is another one.

Some financial institutions will waive your monthly account fee if you keep a minimum balance in your account. By setting the minimum balance to $2,000, we assume that this is the minimum balance that we need to keep in the CO-OP checking account to avoid those fees. If that account didn't have that option, the minimum balance could be left at zero (the default), indicating that going below that amount would create an overdraft on the account. Account Xpress uses the minimum balance amount to determine how much money is available in the account so you can avoid account fees, overdraft fees and / or NSF (non-sufficient funds) fees.

By setting the next check number to any number greater than zero, we indicate that checks can be used with the account and that the next time an expense transaction is created for that account, that number can be easily selected.

The opening balance and opening balance date of a reconcilable account should match the end balance and end date of the last bank statement available for that account, prior to the date on which tracking that account should start in Account Xpress.

Create the CO-OP checking account as follows.

  1. Select Accounts > New from the main menu. The New Account wizard is then displayed;
  2. For the account name, type CO-OP Checking;
  3. For the account type, select Checking;
  4. The file's local currency should be selected by default, click Next or press Enter;
  5. Confirm that the Account is reconcilable check box is checked and click Next or press Enter;
  6. Type 2000 (without decimal places or thousands separator) as the minimum balance for the account and click Next or press Enter;
  7. Type 254 as the next check number for the account and click Next or press Enter;
  8. Type 2548.15 (without a dollar sign or thousands separator) as the account opening balance amount, set the opening balance date to 2022-09-30 and click Next or press Enter;
  9. Verify that the account details have been set as shown above and click OK or press Enter to create the new account.

Select Accounts in the tree view (left pane) and the Accounts by Name tab in the right pane if they are not not already selected. At this point, you should see one entry in the list in the right pane for the newly created account. Please take a minute to review that entry and notice how Account Xpress calculated the value in the Available column by subtracting the value of the Min Bal column from the value in the End Bal column.

Now if you expand the Accounts branch in the tree view, you will see that a new branch has also been created underneath it for the new CO-OP checking account. If you then select that new branch, you should see its transaction list in the right pane with one row representing the opening balance for that account. That row is not from an actual transaction and therefore can not be modified as such. You can modify the opening balance amount and / or date of an account through its Account Details dialog, which we'll see later in this lesson.

Creating a Credit Card Account

Assume that you have a credit card account with the following characteristics.

Name:Amex
Reconcilable:Yes
Minimum balance:-$5,000
Next check number:0 (i.e. doesn't use checks)
Opening balance:-$387.56
Opening balance date:Oct 9, 2022

All credit card accounts are reconcilable. The minimum balance of a credit card is the negative value of its credit limit. Credit cards do not usually support checks. The opening balance of a liability account is usually negative.

Create the Amex credit card account as follows.

  1. Select Accounts > New from the main menu. The New Account wizard is displayed;
  2. While Account is selected, click Next or press Enter;
  3. For the account name, type Amex;
  4. For the account type, select Credit Card;
  5. The file's local currency should be selected by default, click Next or press Enter;
  6. Confirm that the Account is reconcilable check box is checked and click Next or press Enter;
  7. Type -5000 (without decimal places or thousands separator) as the minimum balance for the account and click Next or press Enter;
  8. Leave the check number as 0 and click Next or press Enter;
  9. Type -387.56 as the account owing opening balance amount, set the opening balance date to 2022-10-09 and click Next or press Enter;
  10. Verify that the account details have been set as shown above and click OK or press Enter to create the new account.

Creating a Cash Account

A cash account is useful to keep track of cash expenses, cash withdrawals and any other cash transactions that you may have. It can not be reconciled because you don't get any bank statements for it. However, since most of us do not get a receipt for everything that we pay cash, it can be adjusted periodically to compensate for any discrepancies found between the cash that you have on hand and the cash transactions that you recorded in Account Xpress over time. This kind of adjustment can be done by creating an expense transaction against the Miscellaneous catgory.

Let's say that you count the amount of cash that you have on hand right now and it turns out to be $87.50. Create a Cash account using that amount as its opening balance as follows.

  1. Select Accounts > New from the main menu. The New Account wizard is displayed;
  2. While Account is selected, click Next or press Enter;
  3. For the account name, type Cash;
  4. For the account type, select Cash;
  5. The file's local currency should be selected by default, click Next or press Enter;
  6. Uncheck the Account is reconcilable check box and click Next or press Enter;
  7. Leave the minimum balance as 0 and click Next or press Enter;
  8. Type 87.50 as the account opening balance amount, set the opening balance date to 2022-11-28 and click Next or press Enter.
  9. Verify that the account details have been set as shown above and click OK or press Enter to create the new account.

Select Accounts in the tree view and notice how the newly created accounts appear in the different account lists in the right pane (i.e. Accounts by Name, Accounts by Type and Accounts by Currency). Then select each account, one at a time in the tree view and notice how an opening balance entry appears in their respective transaction list in the right pane. Notice also that the last two columns (i.e. Cleared and Clear Balance) in the transaction list of the reconcilable accounts do not appear in the transaction list of the Cash account since that account is not reconcilable.

When it's time to create your own accounts, simply use your most recent financial statements to get the accounts opening balance and date for each of them. For your Cash account, use the amount of cash that you have on hand and the current date as your opening balance amount and date respectively.

Note that once an account is created, its currency can not be changed. It is therefore imperative to select the correct currency for an account at the time of its creation.

Modifying Accounts

When you create a new account, you have to provide a mandatory value for some of its attributes (i.e. name, type, minimum balance, etc.). Accounts have many other optional attributes to which you can assign a value and the value of some of the mandatory attributes can be also changed anytime. We will now see how to set and modify the value of the attributes of an account.

Most credit card transaction receipts display the last four digits of the credit card used for the transaction. While this should not make any difference if you only have one credit card to keep track of in Account Xpress, adding the last four digits of a credit card to the account name can be helpful while recording transactions from the receipts that you have collected over a certain period (e.g. a week) for transactions that were paid with different credit cards. The recording of those transactions should then be faster and less error prone (i.e. lower risk of posting the transaction to the wrong account).

Change the name of the Amex account to append the last four digits of its credit card number and set the value of a few other attributes at the same time as follows.

  1. Select (click) Accounts in the tree view;
  2. Select one of the account lists (i.e. Accounts by Name, Accounts by Type or Accounts by Currency) in the right pane;
  3. Double-click the Amex account row in the list to display the Account Details dialog;
  4. In the account name field, type Amex - 2561;
  5. Click the Card tab (at the top);
  6. In the service number field, type 888-567-1234;
  7. Click the Web Site tab;
  8. In the web site address (URL) field, type https://americanexpress.com;
  9. Take some time to explore the other attributes on the different pages of the Account Details dialog;
  10. Click OK or press Enter to commit your changes;
  11. Select File > Save or press Ctrl + S to save your changes.

While exploring the different pages and attributes available through the Account Details dialog, you may have noticed that some of them are of a sensitive nature, such as the account number, expiration date and security code of the debit / credit card. Please keep in mind that if you set any of those attributes with their real value in your own file, you should also password protect that file for obvious security reasons.

Lesson 4 - Categories and Category Groups

Categories are the kind of accounts that allow you to keep track of your income / revenue, expenses and payments. They allow you to see not only where your money is coming from, but most importantly where it goes. They also give you the ability to create a budget plan and see how it compares to your actual income and expenses (i.e. Budget versus Actual). In general accounting terms, categories are usually known as income statement accounts.

A category can stand by itself or belong to a specific group. For example, you may choose to have a category group named Bills, under which you have a category for each of your monthly bills (e.g. Cable, Cellular, Hydro, Internet, etc.). Stand-alone categories appear directly under the Categories branch in the tree view.

Category groups should have sub-groups and / or categories, but can not be used in transactions. Categories on the other hand can be used in transactions, but can not have sub-categories or groups underneath them. For example, if you create a category group named Auto and a category underneath it named Fuel (i.e. Auto\Fuel) then you won't be able to create transactions for the Auto category group, but you will be able to create some for the Auto\Fuel category. However, you will not be able to create sub-categories (or category sub-groups) under the Auto\Fuel category.

Categories can be used for budgeting purposes only, tracking purposes only or both (i.e. budgeting and tracking). While most categories should be used for both budgeting and tracking purposes, there are some exceptions. More about this later.

When you create a new file in Account Xpress, a default set of categories and category groups is created automatically for you under the Categories branch in the tree view. These should give you an idea of the kind of categories and groups you may need, and give you a head-start on setting up your own. Since different people have different kinds of income and expenses, you will almost certainly want to update the default categories according to your own needs and preferences. Aside from regular expenses, categories can also be used to track the cost of specific ones such as special projects, vacation / travel, education / training, extra-curricular activities, etc. For example, if you renovate your kitchen, you can create a Kitchen Renovation category in which you can record all the expenses associated to renovating your kitchen and have its final cost automatically calculated to the penny.

In this lesson, you will change the default set of categories and category groups to make up for a few assumptions. Assume that you don't have a land line (i.e. home telephone) and that you also prefer to record all your bank charges directly under a Bank Charges category instead of a group with various categories underneath it (i.e. Bank Charges\Interest and Bank Charges\Services). Let's start by deleting the Bills\Telephone category.

  1. In the tree view, expand the Categories branch if it is not already expanded;
  2. Expand the Bills category group;
  3. Under Bills, right-click the Telephone category and select Delete;
  4. Click Yes or press Enter to confirm.
Then, let's delete the Bank Charges category group and create a new Bank Charges category to replace it.
  1. Under the Categories branch, right-click the Bank Charges category group and select Delete;
  2. Again, click Yes or press Enter to confirm;
  3. From the main menu, select Categories > New > Category to display the New Category wizard;
  4. While N / A -- (i.e. top level category) is selected as the category group for the new category, click Next or press Enter;
  5. For the category name, enter Bank Charges and click Next or press Enter;
  6. While the Expense / payment radio button is selected, click Next or press Enter;
  7. While the Both (i.e. budgeting and tracking) radio button is selected, click Next or press Enter;
  8. Click OK or press Enter to confirm the category details and create the new Bank Charges category.

Select File > Save or press Ctrl + S to save your changes.

When you organize your own categories and category groups, start by deleting the ones that you don't need. Then add any missing ones that you do need. You can also rename existing categories and category groups as per your own preferences. To rename a category or category group, simply right-click its name in the tree view, select Edit from the popup menu, set the name as per your own preference and click OK or press Enter to commit your change.

Lesson 5 - Payees

Payees are the people and businesses who receive money from you in exchange for products and / or services. Payers are the exact opposite. However, since people and businesses can be both payers and payees depending on the context, we will usually call them all payees in Account Xpress as this is what they are most of the time.

The use of payees in Account Xpress is not mandatory, but can be useful to tell how much money some of them have received over a given period. Adding a payee to your transactions can also help with the account reconciliation process. Creating payees in Account Xpress is very easy and, as with accounts and categories, can be done on the fly while creating or editing transactions. In this lesson, we will not create any payees as we'll see how to do it on the fly instead in the next lesson.

The main purpose of this lesson is to emphasize the importance of creating only payees with whom you do business frequently. In Account Xpress, when it comes to payees, more is less. Each time a payee is created, a new branch is created in the tree view under the Payees branch. By limiting the number of payees created, you are making the Payees branch much more manageable. Having hundreds of payees under the Payees branch, most of them with only one or a few transactions is impractical. A good rule of thumb is to create only payees with whom you do business at least once a month, every month. Other payee names can simply be added to their respective transaction description (e.g. Teeth cleaning at Amazing Smiles).

Lesson 6 - Transactions

Now that you have created some accounts and worked with categories and category groups, you are ready to create some transactions. Transactions are the essence of your personal finances. In this lesson, you will create four transactions; two expenses, one transfer and one split transaction (i.e. a combination of income and expenses in this case).

Expense Transaction (1 of 2)

Assume that you purchased some groceries on Oct 18, 2022 to the amount of $61.78 paid with your Amex credit card and record that transaction as follows.

  1. Select Transactions > New > Expense or press Ctrl + X;
  2. Set the expense transaction details as follows:
    Date:2022-10-18
    Account:Amex - 2561
    Category:Food\Groceries
    Payee:Wegmans
    Amount:61.78
    Description:Groceries
  3. Click OK or press Enter;
  4. Click Yes or press Enter to create the new payee Wegmans;
  5. Verify the new payee name and click OK or press Enter.

Now select Amex - 2561 in the tree view and see how the new transaction appears in the list of transactions for that account. Notice how the payee name is displayed as part of the description. If you select the Food\Groceries category or the Wegmans payee in the tree view, you can see that the same transaction appears in their respective transaction list as well.

Then select Accounts in the tree view and Accounts by Name in the right pane. Notice how the Outflow, Netflow, End Bal and Available values have changed as the result of the newly created transaction. Notice also how the Net Flow value on the TOTAL row is displayed in red to indicate that at the present time, the Outflow amount exceeds the Inflow amount for the currently selected period (i.e. so far in the currently selected period, your expenses are greater than your income).

Expense Transaction (2 of 2)

Record another expense transaction for the purchase of a pair of shoes at Payless on Oct 20, 2022 to the amount of $53.49 paid with your Amex credit card.

  1. Select Transactions > New > Expense or press Ctrl + X;
  2. Set the expense transaction details as follows:
    Date:2022-10-20
    Account:Amex - 2561
    Category:Personal\Clothing
    Amount:53.49
    Description:Pair of shoes at Payless
  3. Click OK or press Enter.
Notice how instead of creating a new Payless payee, we simply added the name to the transaction description. As mentioned in lesson 5 (Payees), you should only create payees with whom you do business frequently (i.e. at least once a month, every month).

Transfer Transaction

When you make a payment on the balance of your credit card, you are actually transferring money from one account to another (e.g. from your checking account to your credit card account). That payment is therefore recorded as a transfer, not as an expense. Recall that an expense reduces your net worth, which is not the case with credit card balance payments.

Record another transaction for the payment of the Amex credit card balance with a cheque (number 254) from the CO-OP checking account dated Oct 28, 2022 as follows.

  1. Select Transactions > New > Transfer or press Ctrl + T to start a new transfer transaction;
  2. Set the transfer transaction details as follows:
    Date:2022-10-28
    From:CO-OP Checking
    To:Amex - 2561
    Reference:254
    Amount:387.56
    Description:Amex balance payment, statement of Oct 9, 2022
  3. Click OK or press Enter.

Split Transaction

A split transaction can be any combination of income, expenses and / or transfers. The recording of a salary income from a pay stub is a very good example of a split transaction. Assume that on Oct 14, 2022, your pay check was deposited directly into your CO-OP checking account and you subsequently received a pay stub with the following details.

Employer name:ABC Manufacturing
Pay period:2022-10-01 to 2022-10-14
Pay date:2022-10-14
Gross pay:$2,086.94
Income tax:625.80
EI Premiums:18.50
Net pay:$1,442.64
Record a corresponding split transaction as follows.
  1. Select Transactions > New > Split or press Ctrl + L;
  2. Set the date to 2022-10-14;
  3. Click the Category radio button;
  4. Select Salary Income from the list of categories (right below the radio button);
  5. Set the amount to 2086.94 and click the From button;
  6. Select Salary Deductions\Income Tax from the list of categories;
  7. Set the amount to 625.80 and click the To button;
  8. Select Salary Deductions\EI Premiums from the list of categories;
  9. Set the amount to 18.50 and click To;
  10. Click the Account radio button;
  11. Select CO-OP Checking from the list of accounts (right below the radio button);
  12. The amount should already be 1442.64, click To;
  13. Click the Payer / Payee radio button;
  14. Type ABC Manufacturing in the payee selection box (right below the radio button);
  15. Set the amount to 2086.94 and click From;
  16. Select Yes to create the new payer ABC Manufacturing;
  17. Verify the new payer name and click OK or press Enter;
  18. Set the description to Salary income for two weeks ending Oct 14, 2022;
  19. Click OK or press Enter.

Take a little time to see how the transactions that you just created appear in the transaction list of their respective accounts, categories and payees. Select File > Save or press Ctrl + S to save your changes.

Creating transactions is likely the most common task that you will perform in Account Xpress. For this reason, when it comes to creating transactions, Account Xpress provides many options designed to help you perform this task as efficiently as possible. The next few lessons demonstrate how to use some of these options.

Lesson 7 - Transaction Series

A transaction series is a set of similar transactions created at once such as the rent payment with a series of post-dated checks. Where applicable, creating a transaction series is much faster than creating the same set of transactions one at a time. In this lesson, you will learn how to create a transaction series.

Assume that as required by your landlord, instead of writing one check at the beginning of each month, you write a series of 12 post-dated checks once a year for the payment of your rent. To make this even more realistic, we'll say that you wrote your last series of post-dated checks a couple of months ago and that two of those checks have already been cashed. The next check number in that series is 242. Create a transaction series to record the last 10 checks in that series of 12 checks as follows.

  1. Select Transactions > New > Expense or press Ctrl + X as if you were writing a single expense transaction;
  2. Check (click) the Series check box (bottom left);
  3. Set the expense transaction series details as follows:
    Account:CO-OP Checking
    Category:Bills\Rent
    Payee:ACME Management
    Reference:242
    Amount:750
  4. Click Next or press Enter to get to the next page;
  5. Select Yes to create the new payee ACME Management;
  6. Verify the new payee name and click OK or press Enter;
  7. On the Repeat Cycle page, set the repeat frequency to Repeat transaction every 1 month;
  8. Set Starting on / Next date to 2022-10-01;
  9. Next to the For radio button, change the number of months to 10 (i.e. only 10 more checks to record in this series);
  10. Click Next or press Enter;
  11. The Description Mask page allows you to set a different description for each transaction in the series using variables that change from one transaction occurrence to the next. Under Mask Variables set the Next occurrence number to 3 (i.e. the first two checks have already been cashed);
  12. Set the Max occurrence number to 12;
    NOTE: The max occurrence number does not mean that this is the maximum number of occurrences that can be generated, but that the next occurrence number will start again at 1 instead of going above it (e.g. rent payment 11 of 12, 12 of 12, 1 of 12, 2 of 12, etc).
  13. Set the Description mask field to Rent for the month of [MMMM] [YYYY] ([NextOcc#] of [MaxOcc#]);
    Notice how the Mask Rendering field replaces the variable names with their respective value for the first / next occurrence in the series. It should display 'Rent for the month of October 2022 (3 of 12)' at this point.
    TIP: The Insert Variable into Mask button can help you enter the variable names. For example, with the cursor at the proper position in the Description Mask field, instead of typing [MMMM] in the field, you can click Insert Variable into Mask and select MMMM - ( January .. December ) from the list.
  14. Click Next or press Enter;
  15. Click OK or press Enter;
  16. A confirmation that 10 transactions have been created should be displayed. Click OK or press Enter.

If you select CO-OP Checking in the tree view, you should now see the first few rent payment transactions of the newly created transaction series in the transaction list in the right pane. The other transactions in that series have also been created, but you don't see them in the list at this point as their respective date is outside the scope of the currently selected period.

Select File > Save or press Ctrl + S to save your changes.

Lesson 8 - Transaction Schedules

Some transactions such as your salary income and many regular bill payments are repetitive in a very predictable way. Instead of recording those transactions manually each time they occur, you can let Account Xpress generate them automatically for you at the proper time with the help of transaction schedules.

A transaction schedule is a kind of template that Account Xpress uses to generate repetitive transactions at pre-determined intervals. By default, missing scheduled transactions are generated each time a file is opened in Account Xpress. But they can also be generated manually at any time.

On file opening, scheduled transactions are generated according to their respective transaction schedule repeat frequency. Monthly based scheduled transactions (i.e. transactions occurring monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, etc.) are generated when their next occurrence date is within one month from the current date. For example, if the next occurrence date of a transaction schedule is August 15 of the current year, a transaction can be generated automatically from that transaction schedule as early as July 16.

Non-monthly based scheduled transactions (i.e. transactions occurring daily, weekly, biweekly, etc.) are generated when their next occurrence date is within the current month. This means that the first time a file is opened in a given month, all scheduled transactions for that month are generated automatically. For example, if today is July 1st, you open a file with a transaction schedule that generates weekly transactions and the occurrence date of the next transaction to be generated is July 5th, then scheduled transactions will be automatically generated for July 5th, July 12th, July 19th and July 26th at the same time while opening that file.

Transaction schedules have an Auto accept generated transactions flag. This option should only be used when no other action is required on your part to complete the generated transaction (e.g. pre-authorized payments, direct deposits, etc.). By default, this option is not selected and generated transactions are added to the pending transactions list.

Creating a Transaction Schedule

Assume that your cell phone monthly bill payment to the amount of $42.65 is due on the 20th of each month. You usually receive the bill in the mail sometime in the first week of the month following the month for which the service was provided and you pay the bill with a post-dated online payment from your checking account. Create a transaction schedule that will generate a new cell phone service monthly payment transaction with the next payment due on Oct 20, 2022 as follows.

  1. Select Transactions > New > Schedule from the main menu;
  2. Set the new transaction schedule details as follows:
    Transaction Type:Expense
    Account:CO-OP Checking
    Category:Bills\Cell Phone
    Payee:Verizon
    Reference:ONLPMT (OnLine Payment)
    Amount:42.65
  3. Click Next or press Enter;
  4. Click Yes to start the creation of the new payee Verizon;
  5. Verify the payee name and click OK or press Enter;
  6. On the Repeat Cycle page, set the repeat frequency to Repeat transaction every 1 month;
  7. Set Starting on / Next date to 2022-10-20;
  8. For the duration, check (click) the Indefinitely radio button;
  9. Click Next or press Enter;
  10. Set the Date field under Mask Variables to 2022-09-01;
  11. Set the Description mask field to Cell phone service payment for the month of [MMMM] [YYYY];
    [MMMM] and [YYYY] represent values that will change for each transaction generated by the new transaction schedule. Notice how the Mask rendering box replaces the value placeholders in the Description mask field with the month and year currently selected in the Date field under Mask Variables. As new transactions are generated by this transaction schedule, their description will also change to match the proper month and year according to the repeat cycle selected in step 6 above.
    TIP: The Insert Variable into Mask button can help you enter the variable placeholders. For example, with the cursor in the proper position in the Description mask field, instead of typing [MMMM], you can click Insert Variable into Mask and select MMMM - ( January .. December ) from the list.
  12. Click Next or press Enter;
  13. Verify your entries and click OK or press Enter.

To see your newly created transaction schedule, select Others in the tree view and Transaction Schedules in the right pane. To modify a transaction schedule, simply double-click it in the list or select it and then press Enter. To delete a transaction schedule, select it and press the Delete key. You will then be prompted for a confirmation.

Generating Transactions

Select File > Save or press Ctrl + S to save your changes. As long as the new transaction schedule exists, each time the file is opened, Account Xpress will check it and automatically create new transactions from it as needed based on the current date. You can also get transaction schedules to generate new transactions at any time by selecting one or more transaction schedules in the list, right-clicking one of them and selecting Generate transactions from the context menu.

Re-open the AX4 Tutorial data file (select File > Open Recent > 1 ...\AX4 Tutorial.acx). You should see a message stating '3 scheduled transactions generated'. To see the newly generated transactions, select Others in the tree view and Pending Transactions in the right pane.

Accepting Generated Transactions

As you can see, automatically generated transactions are placed in the pending transactions list. Pending transactions must be manually accepted to appear in other transaction lists (i.e. account, sub-account, category and / or payee transactions). When a pending transaction is accepted, it is also removed from the pending transactions list as it is then no longer pending acceptance.

So when is the right time to accept a pending transaction? The simple answer is when the transaction actually occurred. For example, for a salary income transaction, that should be any time after your pay check is actually deposited into your bank account, unless you signed up for direct deposits, in which case the transaction can be accepted anytime. For a bill payment transaction, that should be any time after you actually made or post-dated the payment. If you have setup pre-authorized payments for that service, you can also accept the pending transactions for that payment anytime.

Let's assume that on Oct 5, 2022 you received your cell phone service bill for the month of September and on the same day, you post-dated its payment online with a pre-authorized payment date of Oct 20, 2022. You can now accept the pending transaction for this payment as follows.

  1. Select Others in the tree view and Pending Transactions in the right pane;
  2. Locate and select the pending transaction with the description 'Cell phone service payment for the month of September at Verizon';
  3. Verify the transaction details (panel below transactions list) to ensure that they match your cell phone service bill details. You can edit the pending transaction to make any correction at this point if necessary;
  4. Right-click the pending transaction and select Accept from the context menu.
If you select CO-OP Checking in the tree view and Transactions in the right pane, you can now see that the pending transaction has been accepted. The transaction appears in bold as it has not yet cleared the bank. You will clear that transaction during the account reconciliation, which will be covered later in the tutorial.

NOTE: If you accept many pending transactions at the same time, Account Xpress will ask for a confirmation before accepting them. That confirmation is not required when accepting pending transactions one at a time.

Select File > Save or press Ctrl + S to save your changes.

Lesson 9 - Transaction Templates & Replications

In the last lesson, we have seen how some repetitive transactions can be created automatically with the help of transaction schedules. However, not all repetitive transactions can be created that way. Some transactions are very repetitive, but in a much less predictable way. Let's take grocery shopping and car fueling for example. Although those transactions are very repetitive, their amount and frequency are often not consistent enough for them to be created from transaction schedules, leaving you almost no choice but to create them manually as they occur instead.

When it comes to creating repetitive, but less predictable transactions, you have a few options.

  • You can create them from scratch (as seen in lesson 6).
  • You can replicate existing transactions that already have most of the details of the ones that you want to create.
  • You can use transaction templates.

Replicating Existing Transactions

Replicating an existing transaction is like using it as a template to create a new one. It is also very easy. Simply right-click an existing transaction and select Replicate Transaction from the context menu. The New Transaction Details dialog is then displayed with all the information of the transaction being replicated except for the date.

Assume that on Oct 24, 2022 you've stopped at Wegmans to pickup a few grocery items to the amount of $17.25 that you charged to your Amex credit card as you normally do. Create that transaction as follows.

  1. Select Amex - 2561 in the tree view;
  2. Select Transactions in the right pane (if not already selected);
  3. Right-click the entry of the last groceries transaction in the transaction list and select Replicate Transaction from the context menu;
  4. Set the new transaction date to 2022-10-24;
  5. Set the amount to 17.25;
  6. Click OK or press Enter.

Now assume that on Oct 28, 2022, you received your next pay stub for the salary period ending on that same date. The earning and deduction amounts on that pay stub are identical to those of the salary income transaction recorded earlier in lesson 6 (Transactions). Create a new salary income transaction for this new pay stub as follows.

  1. Select CO-OP Checking in the tree view;
  2. Right-click the entry of the last salary income transaction in the transaction list and select Replicate Transaction from the context menu;
  3. Set the new transaction date to 2022-10-28;
  4. Change the transaction description to Salary income for two weeks ending Oct 28, 2022;
  5. Click OK or press Enter.

Transaction Templates

As we have just seen, replicating an existing transaction can really speed up the creation process of repetitive transactions. The only drawback of this feature is that the transaction being replicated must first be located. Fortunately, there is a way to replicate your most repetitive transactions without having to locate them first.

Transaction templates allow you to have all the repetitive details of a repetitive transaction entered automatically for you with a few clicks of the mouse or by pressing a specifically assigned shortcut key. Template shortcut keys start with Ctrl + Shift followed by an alphabetical key of your choice. For example, you can set Ctrl + Shift + G to start a groceries transaction and / or Ctrl + Shift + F to start a car fueling transaction, etc. Just like pressing Ctrl + X can start a new expense transaction anytime (i.e. as long as there is no other dialog already open), those shortcut keys can invoke their respective template anytime also.

Assume that you fill-up your vehicle at Cenex most of the time and that you usually pay for the fuel with your Amex credit card. Create a transaction template that will allow you to start a new car fueling transaction each time you press the Ctrl + Shift + F shortcut key combination as follows.

  1. Select Transactions > New > Template;
  2. Set the new transaction template details as follows:
    Transaction Type:Expense
    Account:Amex - 2561
    Category:Auto\Fuel
    Payee:Cenex
    Amount:0.00
    Description:Car fuel fill-up
  3. Click Next or press Enter;
  4. Select Yes to start the creation of the new payee Cenex;
  5. Verify the payee name and click OK or press Enter;
  6. For the template name, type Car fuel fill-up;
  7. For the shortcut key, press Ctrl + Shift + F while the cursor is in that field;
  8. Click OK or press Enter.

Note that we have left the amount at zero on purpose. Aside from not knowing yet what the amount will be, this will force us to set an amount (other than zero) whenever we use the new template.

Select Others in the tree view and Templates in the right pane. You can now see the newly created template. To modify a transaction template, simply double-click it in the list or select it and then press Enter. To delete a transaction template, select it and press the Delete key. You will then be prompted for a confirmation.

Now, if you select Transactions > New from the main menu, you can see that a new menu option has been created with the template name between the Split and Schedule sub-menu options. From now on, you can use that option to create a new Car fuel fill-up transaction. But you can also invoke that menu option anytime by pressing its shortcut key combination (i.e. Ctrl + Shift + F).

Assume that on Oct 17, 2022, you stopped at Cenex to fill-up your vehicle to the amount of $57.87, which you paid with your Amex credit card as usual. You can now use your new Car fuel fill-up template to record that transaction as follows.

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + F;
  2. Notice how the transaction type, account, category, payee and description have all already been set automatically;
  3. Set the new transaction date to 2022-10-17;
  4. Set the amount to 57.87;
  5. Click OK or press Enter.
Now if you select Amex - 2561 in the tree view and Transactions in the right pane, you can see how the new Car fuel fill-up transaction has been created and how easy it is to create repetitive transactions using transaction templates.

Note that when using transaction templates, the fact that some selections are made automatically to save you time doesn't mean that you can not change them. For example, if you had used a different payment method or stopped at a different gas station, you could still have used the Car fuel fill-up transaction template and changed those specific entries as required before completing the transaction.

Select File > Save or press Ctrl + S to save your changes.

Lesson 10 - Account Reconciliation

One of the great features in Account Xpress is the ability to reconcile an account with its periodic bank statement. In this lesson, we will assume that you have received your CO-OP checking account statement for the period of October 1 to Oct 31, 2022. The information on that statement appears as follows:

DATE DESCRIPTION DEBITS CREDITS BALANCE
Oct 01Balance forward2,548.15
Oct 01Check# 242750.001,798.15
Oct 14Deposit1,442.643,240.79
Oct 20Verizon Wireless42.653,198.14
Oct 28Deposit1,442.644,640.78
Oct 28Check# 254387.564,253.22

Reconcile this account statement with the CO-OP checking account in Account Xpress as follows.

  1. Select CO-OP Checking in the tree view and Transactions in the right pane;
  2. Confirm that the Balance forward amount on the bank statement matches the Clear Balance of the Account Opening Balance (first) entry in the transaction list;
    NOTE: Normally, the Balance forward amount on the bank statement should match the Clear Balance of the last cleared transaction (i.e. Cleared = Yes) in the transaction list. But since this is the first reconciliation done for the CO-OP checking account in Account Xpress, there are no cleared transactions yet, which is why we match the Clear Balance amount of the Account Opening Balance instead.
  3. For each transaction that appears on the bank statement:
    1. Find and select the corresponding transaction in the CO-OP Checking transaction list in Account Xpress;
    2. Press the Space bar to clear it (i.e. Cleared should change from No to Yes).
  4. Confirm that the Clear Balance of the last cleared transaction in the transaction list in Account Xpress matches the balance of the last entry on the bank statement;
    If both amounts match, then the reconciliation is complete. Otherwise, please verify that all the transactions created earlier in this tutorial have been entered correctly and check your last cleared balance again.
  5. Select File > Save or press Ctrl + S to save your changes.

It is common to see some transactions on your financial statements that have not yet been recorded in Account Xpress when you do your own reconciliation. For example, your checking account statement may show some valid service charges that you will have to enter into Account Xpress in order to complete your reconciliation. You should not however enter any questionnable transactions that appear on your statement without first confirming their validity. It is easy to forget about certain transactions, but there is always a possibility for fraudulent or otherwise unauthorized transactions to appear on your financial statements as well, which should be reported as such to your financial institution as soon as possible.

Prior to reconciling one of your own accounts, please make sure that you don't have any transaction receipts that have not yet been recorded in Account Xpress, and that you don't have any transactions in the pending transactions list that need to be accepted (i.e. with a date falling in, or preceding the period covered by your bank statement) for that account.

Also, some transactions on your financial statements may have a different date than their corresponding transaction in Account Xpress. This is normal given the fact that it can take some time for a financial institution to process a transaction for various reasons. You should not worry about modifying the date of those transactions in Account Xpress. As long as the final balance on your financial statement matches the balance of the last cleared transaction in Account Xpress, there is no need to be concerned.

Conclusion

In this tutorial, you have learned the fundamental concepts required to start using Account Xpress. While the tutorial did not cover all available features, it did cover enough for you to be able use the software to start managing your own personal finances. Of course, there is more to personal finances management than creating accounts, organizing categories and recording transactions, but that is a good start. As you get more comfortable with Account Xpress, you can start exploring other features such as sub-accounts, budget management, file archiving and data import, which are all explained in details in the reference section of the help file (i.e. select Help > Reference).

We hope that you found this tutorial useful. If you have any questions or comments about this tutorial or Account Xpress itself, please visit our support page at https://felitec.com/support/

Thank you.