Delays in transfers between accounts

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Delays in transfers between accounts

Fred Bone
Maybe this issue only affects UK accounts (though somehow I doubt it).

If I transfer money from my savings account with one financial
institution to my current ("checking") account with another, the transfer
takes three or four working days. For example, a transfer which shows on
my savings account statement as dated 3 April shows on my current account
statement dated 10 April (two bank holidays and a weekend in between: bad
timing on my part!)

This is a single transaction, albeit one that doesn't happen
instantaneously. If I store it in GnuCash as a single transaction, I can
only give it one date.

What is the "proper" way to record it? I suppose I could record it as two
back-to-back transactions via a "suspense" account ("Money in transit"),
but that gets messy.

I have a related issue over the settlement dates of share transactions,
which I'd also like to have match the respective statements.


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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Daniel Carrera-2
Hi Fred,

Fred Bone wrote:
> Maybe this issue only affects UK accounts (though somehow I doubt it).

I've seen it in Canada and the UK. Fear not, there is a solution.

> If I transfer money from my savings account with one financial
> institution to my current ("checking") account with another, the transfer
> takes three or four working days. For example, a transfer which shows on
> my savings account statement as dated 3 April shows on my current account
> statement dated 10 April (two bank holidays and a weekend in between: bad
> timing on my part!)

And if you do international transfers the delay is even longer :-)

I suggest you create a 'Transit' account under Assets:Bank. You would do
two transactions:

April  3: Bank A -> Transit
April 10: Transit -> Bank B

Now your GnuCash accounts will both match your bank statements.

As a side-note: This can get funny when you do a cheque deposit into
"Bank B" and the amount gets added before the cheque has cleared from
the "Bank A". While you wait for the cheque to clear the Transit account
has a negative balance :-)

Cheers,
Daniel.
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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Andrew Sackville-West-2
On Fri, Jul 06, 2007 at 08:14:06PM +0200, Daniel Carrera wrote:

> Hi Fred,
>
> Fred Bone wrote:
> > Maybe this issue only affects UK accounts (though somehow I doubt it).
>
> I've seen it in Canada and the UK. Fear not, there is a solution.
>
> > If I transfer money from my savings account with one financial
> > institution to my current ("checking") account with another, the transfer
> > takes three or four working days. For example, a transfer which shows on
> > my savings account statement as dated 3 April shows on my current account
> > statement dated 10 April (two bank holidays and a weekend in between: bad
> > timing on my part!)
>
> And if you do international transfers the delay is even longer :-)
>
> I suggest you create a 'Transit' account under Assets:Bank. You would do
> two transactions:
>
> April  3: Bank A -> Transit
> April 10: Transit -> Bank B
>
> Now your GnuCash accounts will both match your bank statements.
I'm not sure why this is an issue. If I write a check on July 7, and
mail it to my vendor, my register will show the check dated july 7,
but my statement will show the check clearing at some later date. This is
perfectly normal and apparently acceptable. So why does it matter if
the transfer shows different dates, just like a check?

The state of the transaction is shown by the cleared states of the
both ends. If one end has cleared, but not the other, then the
transaction is still being processed, regardless of what the dates in
the register are.

seems like a lot of work to me for something that is pretty simple to
understand, and also very acceptable in the only-slightly-different
context of a check instead of a transfer.

.02

A

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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Daniel Carrera-2
Andrew Sackville-West wrote:
>> April  3: Bank A -> Transit
>> April 10: Transit -> Bank B
>>
>> Now your GnuCash accounts will both match your bank statements.
>
> I'm not sure why this is an issue.

We want the accounts in GnuCash to match the bank statements so that
it's easy to verify that they are correct. Especially if there are
additional transactions during the time period while the cheque is being
cleared. If the dates don't correspond then transactions might end up in
the wrong order. For example, it might look like your account had an
overdraft that it never had.

> If I write a check on July 7, and
> mail it to my vendor, my register will show the check dated july 7,
> but my statement will show the check clearing at some later date.

It might be that for your personal situation the exact date is not
important. I do have some account pairs where I wouldn't care much, and
if we are talking about sending a payment out to a vendor I am likely to
care less. But when I am making large transfers with a 3-week delay and
making several transactions during those three weeks, I do want to see
that my account was never $3,000 over-draft, and I do want to see that
the payments and deposits in the same order that they actually happened.

Considering how easy it is to keep track of transactions properly, I
don't see any purpose in having a discrepancy between my GnuCash and my
bank statements.

Daniel.
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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Doug Laidlaw
On Sat, 7 Jul 2007 07:45:10 am Daniel Carrera wrote:

> Andrew Sackville-West wrote:
> >> April  3: Bank A -> Transit
> >> April 10: Transit -> Bank B
> >>
> >> Now your GnuCash accounts will both match your bank statements.
> >
> > I'm not sure why this is an issue.
>
> We want the accounts in GnuCash to match the bank statements so that
> it's easy to verify that they are correct. Especially if there are
> additional transactions during the time period while the cheque is being
> cleared. If the dates don't correspond then transactions might end up in
> the wrong order. For example, it might look like your account had an
> overdraft that it never had.
>
> > If I write a check on July 7, and
> > mail it to my vendor, my register will show the check dated july 7,
> > but my statement will show the check clearing at some later date.
>
> It might be that for your personal situation the exact date is not
> important. I do have some account pairs where I wouldn't care much, and
> if we are talking about sending a payment out to a vendor I am likely to
> care less. But when I am making large transfers with a 3-week delay and
> making several transactions during those three weeks, I do want to see
> that my account was never $3,000 over-draft, and I do want to see that
> the payments and deposits in the same order that they actually happened.
>
> Considering how easy it is to keep track of transactions properly, I
> don't see any purpose in having a discrepancy between my GnuCash and my
> bank statements.
>
> Daniel.
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Banks get around the overdraft situation by posting credits before debits.  
Gnucash posts bank receipts (increase in asset=debit) before payments
(credits.) so your books should never show a non-existent overdraft.  In any
event, what matters is the state of your books and the bank balance at the
end of any working day.

It is standard practice for your cashbook to show the date a check is written.  
That is what a Bank Reconciliation Statement is for.  To make one, first tick
off all the cleared checks according to your bank statement.  Then you list
the outstanding checks and total them.  Then you do this sum:

Balance according to Bank Statement:
        Less uncleared checks:
Balance according to cash book (Gnucash):

(This is in any book about elementary accounting.)

When I was a lawyer, I had to do that every month for my trust account, and
keep the bank reconciliations to show my auditor.  Some people write the
reconciliations in a separate book.  My list of accounts was small enough
that the whole report went on one foolscap page.

Having checks outstanding at the end of the financial year is messy (I have
one at the moment,) but there is no error in principle.  There is a
reconciliation at the end of the year, and the outstanding check stays in the
list of o/s checks until it is cleared.  I had non-businesslike clients who
took months to bank checks.  Where would you record the check during that
time?

If you do it your way, you will have trouble if your books ever have to be
audited.  If you aren't using an accountant now, there is always a Taxation
Department audit.  I suggest that you consult a local accountant to help set
you up, even if you don't use one regularly.

HTH,

Doug
--
Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.
   - Voltaire
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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Daniel Carrera-2
Doug Laidlaw wrote:
> Banks get around the overdraft situation by posting credits before debits.  
> Gnucash posts bank receipts (increase in asset=debit) before payments
> (credits.) so your books should never show a non-existent overdraft.

I have no idea what you are saying. Are you sure we are talking about
the same thing? I am not talking about debits and credits that happen on
the same day. I'm talking about debits and credits that happen 3 weeks
apart. If I enter a deposit for August 12 when the money was really
available on September 20 and I make a large payment on September 29
GnuCash will indeed show an overdraft that was never there.

> In any
> event, what matters is the state of your books and the bank balance at the
> end of any working day.

And those will be wrong. The balance at the end of many working days
will be wrong.

> When I was a lawyer, I had to do that every month for my trust account, and
> keep the bank reconciliations to show my auditor.

And you don't think that this is more hassle than my solution?

> If you do it your way, you will have trouble if your books ever have to be
> audited.

These are my personal finances. Nobody is going to audit my GnuCash.

Daniel.
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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Fred Bone
In reply to this post by Daniel Carrera-2
On 6 Jul 2007 at 20:14, Daniel Carrera said:

> Hi Fred,
>
> Fred Bone wrote:
> > Maybe this issue only affects UK accounts (though somehow I doubt it).
>
> I've seen it in Canada and the UK. Fear not, there is a solution.
>
> > If I transfer money from my savings account with one financial
> > institution to my current ("checking") account with another, the
> > transfer takes three or four working days. For example, a transfer which
> > shows on my savings account statement as dated 3 April shows on my
> > current account statement dated 10 April (two bank holidays and a
> > weekend in between: bad timing on my part!)
>
> And if you do international transfers the delay is even longer :-)
>
> I suggest you create a 'Transit' account under Assets:Bank. You would do
> two transactions:
>
> April  3: Bank A -> Transit
> April 10: Transit -> Bank B
>
> Now your GnuCash accounts will both match your bank statements.

Thanks. This is just what I am doing (except I put "Money in Transit"
under "Suspense", together with the automatically-created "Imbalance-GBP"
and "Orphan-GBP"). The (minor) problem with this is the lack of any
visible link between the two, other than both being for the same amount.
Perhaps I'm expecting too much.

> As a side-note: This can get funny when you do a cheque deposit into "Bank
> B" and the amount gets added before the cheque has cleared from the "Bank
> A". While you wait for the cheque to clear the Transit account has a
> negative balance :-)

This is, of course, exactly what happens when purchasing shares, during
the 3-day settlement time. The broker shows my shares as purchased on,
say, May 22, but the debit to my cash account is shown on May 25.

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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Daniel Carrera-2
Hi Fred,

Fred Bone wrote:

>> April  3: Bank A -> Transit
>> April 10: Transit -> Bank B
>>
>> Now your GnuCash accounts will both match your bank statements.
>
> Thanks. This is just what I am doing (except I put "Money in Transit"
> under "Suspense", together with the automatically-created "Imbalance-GBP"
> and "Orphan-GBP"). The (minor) problem with this is the lack of any
> visible link between the two, other than both being for the same amount.
> Perhaps I'm expecting too much.

I don't know why you need an 'Imbalance' or 'Orphan' account. You
shouldn't. You only need _one_ account, the one I call Transit.

To have a visible link between them I suggest you use the 'Description'
and 'Num' fields. The Description and Num should be the same in both
transactions. I realize that often the description will just be "Money
Transfer", but the Num field can still help here. You could put the
cheque number if using a cheque, and in the case of electronic transfers
I use my own sequential numbering scheme. For example, 'E01' for your
first transfer on record, 'E02' for the next, etc.

Cheers,
Daniel.
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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Doug Laidlaw
In reply to this post by Fred Bone
On Sat, 7 Jul 2007 03:28:01 am Fred Bone wrote:

> Maybe this issue only affects UK accounts (though somehow I doubt it).
>
> If I transfer money from my savings account with one financial
> institution to my current ("checking") account with another, the transfer
> takes three or four working days. For example, a transfer which shows on
> my savings account statement as dated 3 April shows on my current account
> statement dated 10 April (two bank holidays and a weekend in between: bad
> timing on my part!)
>
> This is a single transaction, albeit one that doesn't happen
> instantaneously. If I store it in GnuCash as a single transaction, I can
> only give it one date.
>
> What is the "proper" way to record it? I suppose I could record it as two
> back-to-back transactions via a "suspense" account ("Money in transit"),
> but that gets messy.
>
> I have a related issue over the settlement dates of share transactions,
> which I'd also like to have match the respective statements.
>
>
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It occurred to me, that if you record checks only when they appear on your
statement, your cashbook balance will not allow for them and will be
artificially high.  If it is a question of avoiding unintentional overdrafts,
you need to know what unpresented checks to allow for.  In the standard
procedure of recording checks when they are written, this is taken care of.  
If deposits are delayed, you will have a problem.  Once again as a lawyer, it
was a no-no to draw against a cheque (sorry, it is easier to spell it that
way), because, if the cheque later bounced, we had spent somebody else's
money.  We used to get special clearances regularly.  Some lawyers would get
a special clearance on every cheque and bill the bank fees to the client, but
really, it became part of his overhead then.    I remember when a cheque
drawn by one of my clients ( but not on a file I was handling, thank heaven,)
bounced after a Bank Cheque was drawn against it.  Panic broke loose.  It was
the office accountant's fault for not clearing the cheque first.  If the
client's cheque had not been recorded in the ledger, that could have happened
more easily and more frequently.  That is why my auditor would not have
allowed me to use the suggested system, if I had tried it.

HTH,

Doug.
--
I grow old, always learning new things.
-Solon, Greek lawgiver, 6th c. B.C.
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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Daniel Carrera-2
Doug Laidlaw wrote:
> It occurred to me, that if you record checks only when they appear on your
> statement, your cashbook balance will not allow for them and will be
> artificially high.

Could you explain what you mean by this? Honestly, I did not follow your
explanation at all. What is my cashbook balance? What is a cashbook?

> If it is a question of avoiding unintentional overdrafts,

No. I said that I want my GnuCash account balances to show the money
that I actually had available in the account. I don't want GnuCash to
say that on March 15 I had $1800 when in reality I had $4600 and I don't
want it to say that on February 12 I had $7000 when in reality I had
$200. I want the bank balances to be accurate. I gave the example of an
over-draft in the sense that I don't want GnuCash to say that on a
certain date I had an over-draft of $2000 when in reality my bank
balance was perfectly positive. I have no idea why you think this has
anything to do with avoiding real-life overdrafts. I know how much money
I have available at each time and it's not hard to not spend more money
than I have in the bank. Why would I need GnuCash to avoid spending more
money than I have in the bank?

> It was
> the office accountant's fault for not clearing the cheque first.  If the
> client's cheque had not been recorded in the ledger, that could have happened
> more easily and more frequently.

Recording a deposit when the money is actually available would prevent,
rather than promote this type of error. It seems wrong to record in
GnuCash that I have an additional $2,000 in my account before I actually
have that money there. Since you are keen on preventing over-drafts
(I've never had problems with over-drafts), using a transit account to
record money that has left one account (e.g. on an electronic transfer)
but is not yet available in the destination account seems like a very
good idea.

Daniel.
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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Andrew Sackville-West-2
In reply to this post by Daniel Carrera-2
On Sat, Jul 07, 2007 at 09:32:08AM +0200, Daniel Carrera wrote:

> Doug Laidlaw wrote:
> > Banks get around the overdraft situation by posting credits before debits.  
> > Gnucash posts bank receipts (increase in asset=debit) before payments
> > (credits.) so your books should never show a non-existent overdraft.
>
> I have no idea what you are saying. Are you sure we are talking about
> the same thing? I am not talking about debits and credits that happen on
> the same day. I'm talking about debits and credits that happen 3 weeks
> apart. If I enter a deposit for August 12 when the money was really
> available on September 20 and I make a large payment on September 29
> GnuCash will indeed show an overdraft that was never there.
? I'm assuming you made a typo there, otherwise, how could money
available on Sept 20 show as an overdraft if you make the large
payment 9 days later?

regardless, my original point was that there is more than one way to
do things. If it matters to you that the dates match up on both ends,
then its perfectly acceptable to use a "suspense" or "in-transit"
account to keep track of things, but its more work. I use "undeposited
funds" in my business all the time. I book sales as one monthly
transaction into that account and then use my back reconciliation to
draw money from that account into my various checking and money
market accounts. It works  nicely and keeps my transactions to a
minimum. It doesn't refelct reality in terms of the dates of
transactions, but it summarizes the many many many actual deposits
into a handful of large transactions. IOW, do it the way that works
for you, just do it consistently and logically.

for your specific situation, show a split transfer as:

date1 Bank1 -> suspense
date2 suspense -> Bank2

and that's perfectly okay.

sorry if we headed off down the wrong path.

A

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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Daniel Carrera-2
Andrew Sackville-West wrote:
>> If I enter a deposit for August 12 when the money was really
>> available on September 20 and I make a large payment on September 29
>> GnuCash will indeed show an overdraft that was never there.
>
> ? I'm assuming you made a typo there, otherwise, how could money
> available on Sept 20 show as an overdraft if you make the large
> payment 9 days later?

No typo. And that's precisely the point. Of course there is no overdraft
and GnuCash should not make it look like there was. Here is a more
detailed example:

- I have two bank accounts: A and B.

- Suppose that I deposit a cheque on bank B, based on the account in
bank A. In other words, I'm transferring money from A to B.

- The money becomes available on Sep 20 in bank B.

- On Sep 29 I use that money to make a payment.

- On bank A the initial cheque withdrawal only shows up in August 5.


If I represent this as a single transaction in GnuCash and use the
latter date (August 5) it will look like my account was over-draft on
Sep 29 when in reality it was just fine.

This is merely an example of how using a single transaction can make
GnuCash show an incorrect balance. Sure, I could use Sep 20 as the
transaction date, but that just means that GnuCash will display a
balance on bank A that doesn't match the bank statement.

> regardless, my original point was that there is more than one way to
> do things. If it matters to you that the dates match up on both ends,
> then its perfectly acceptable to use a "suspense" or "in-transit"
> account to keep track of things, but its more work.

That is a statement I can agree with. I'm sure that there are many cases
where a Transit account would be a bad idea and it's better to make a
single transaction (on Sep 20 I guess) and let the statement disagree
with bank A.

Your system is sound and seems to work well for your situation. And I'm
sure that your situation is more typical than mine.

I am unusual in that my most important transactions have a significant
time delay. I get money in the UK which I transfer to Canada and Germany
and I have to deal with 3-4 week delays which could really throw my
accounts out of whack.

> sorry if we headed off down the wrong path.

Yeah, sorry I got impatient a couple of times.

Cheers,
Daniel.
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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Andrew Sackville-West-2
On Mon, Jul 09, 2007 at 11:22:17PM +0200, Daniel Carrera wrote:

> Andrew Sackville-West wrote:
> >> If I enter a deposit for August 12 when the money was really
> >> available on September 20 and I make a large payment on September 29
> >> GnuCash will indeed show an overdraft that was never there.
> >
> > ? I'm assuming you made a typo there, otherwise, how could money
> > available on Sept 20 show as an overdraft if you make the large
> > payment 9 days later?
>
> No typo. And that's precisely the point. Of course there is no overdraft
> and GnuCash should not make it look like there was. Here is a more
> detailed example:
>
> - I have two bank accounts: A and B.
>
> - Suppose that I deposit a cheque on bank B, based on the account in
> bank A. In other words, I'm transferring money from A to B.
>
> - The money becomes available on Sep 20 in bank B.
>
> - On Sep 29 I use that money to make a payment.
>
> - On bank A the initial cheque withdrawal only shows up in August 5.
>
>
> If I represent this as a single transaction in GnuCash and use the
> latter date (August 5) it will look like my account was over-draft on
> Sep 29 when in reality it was just fine.
see this is where I'm confused. August 5 happens before Sep 29, in
most years... but obviously we're confusing ourselves here so moving
on...

>
> This is merely an example of how using a single transaction can make
> GnuCash show an incorrect balance. Sure, I could use Sep 20 as the
> transaction date, but that just means that GnuCash will display a
> balance on bank A that doesn't match the bank statement.
>
> > regardless, my original point was that there is more than one way to
> > do things. If it matters to you that the dates match up on both ends,
> > then its perfectly acceptable to use a "suspense" or "in-transit"
> > account to keep track of things, but its more work.
>
> That is a statement I can agree with. I'm sure that there are many cases
> where a Transit account would be a bad idea and it's better to make a
> single transaction (on Sep 20 I guess) and let the statement disagree
> with bank A.
>
> Your system is sound and seems to work well for your situation. And I'm
> sure that your situation is more typical than mine.
actually, I'm sure min eis not typical, but it works for me... as your
"Transit account" will surely do what you need.

>
> I am unusual in that my most important transactions have a significant
> time delay. I get money in the UK which I transfer to Canada and Germany
> and I have to deal with 3-4 week delays which could really throw my
> accounts out of whack.

then by all means, use the transit account. it actually accurately
reflects reality as the money is "in transit" during that time.

>
> > sorry if we headed off down the wrong path.
>
> Yeah, sorry I got impatient a couple of times.

:)

A

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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Daniel Carrera-2
Andrew Sackville-West wrote:
> see this is where I'm confused. August 5 happens before Sep 29, in
> most years... but obviously we're confusing ourselves here so moving
> on...

D'oh. I meant October. Oh well.

Cheers,
Daniel.
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Re: Delays in transfers between accounts

Andrew Sackville-West-2
On Tue, Jul 10, 2007 at 01:58:25AM +0200, Daniel Carrera wrote:
> Andrew Sackville-West wrote:
> > see this is where I'm confused. August 5 happens before Sep 29, in
> > most years... but obviously we're confusing ourselves here so moving
> > on...
>
> D'oh. I meant October. Oh well.

ah ha! I knew I wasn't crazy! I'm not going to dig back through the
archive, but i"ve been shaking my head over that the whole time now,
trying to understand how you get an overdraft by taking money out
after you put it in...

thanks for a good laugh!

A

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