Transactions

Transactions are the building blocks for your Lunch Money experience! A transaction represents the movement of money, whether that's between existing accounts or from your credit card to a merchant.

Frequently Asked Questions

Creating transactions

For details on automatic bank syncing, check here.

For details on CSV importing, check here.

For details on our Developer API, check here.

You can manually create transactions by clicking the "Add to Cash" button. "Cash" in this case refers to the default account of your transactions. If a transaction is not linked to any account, it is by default linked to Cash. Alternatively, if you have manually-managed assets set up, you should see options to add transactions to these accounts from the "Add to Cash" dropdown. You can also change the account of any transaction from the transactions details pane.

There are also options to create transactions with specific properties:

  1. Create Transfer can be used to represent the transfer of money from one manually-managed asset to another. Under the hood, this creates an expense for the originating account and a credit for the destination account, and groups them together so they show up as a net $0. This operation will also update the balance for associated accounts.

  2. Create from Recurring can be used to automatically create a transaction linked to an existing recurring expense. (For more details on recurring transactions, check here)

How do I handle the case where others pay me back for a large bill that I paid for?

We generally recommend using our grouped transactions feature for this use case. Assuming you footed the bill and your roommates end up paying you back their portion, group together all of these transactions and you should be left with a transaction that represents how much you paid. You can then treat this as a high-level transaction and assign a category to it.

If you don't want to bother recording your friends' payment, you can split the transaction and simply categorize the portion paid by your friends to a new category called "Reimbursed" which is excluded from totals and excluded from budgets. This ensures that amount is not counted towards your own expenses.

Is there a limit on how many transactions I can add?

There are limits to how many transactions you can upload on a single request but there isn't a limit on total transactions you add. This limit differs depending on the upload method (CSV or API).

For analytics and whatnot there's currently a hardcoded limit of 20,000 when fetching transactions, so if you have transactions over 10+ years, you may not be able to see the full picture if you do an "all-time" analysis.

How do I handle credit card payments?

For credit card payments, usually made up of one debit to your cash account and one credit to your credit card, we recommend using the default category Payment and Transfers. This category is set to be excluded from totals and excluded from budgets, so these transactions should not affect your overall numbers or budget. Transactions in this category should also total up to $0 at the end of the month.

For instance, let's say you spend $10 at the grocery store and $50 on a few other purchases, all on the same credit card. You'll have expense transactions like the following:

  • Debit of $10, categorized Groceries

  • Debit of $20, categorized Shopping

  • Debit of $30, categorized Restaurants

You will end up making a credit card payment of $50 to cover all those expenses. This will be represented by two transactions:

  1. Debit of $50 denoting a credit card payment from your cash account

  2. Credit of $50 denoting a credit card payment received from your cash account

Transaction 2 & 3 should be categorized as Payments and Transfers (or any other category marked as exclude from budgets and exclude from totals) and should cancel each other out and you are left with the properly categorized debits above.

What are some ways I can stay on top of manually adding transactions?

Here are some suggestions from our users on how to stay on top of manually adding transactions!

  1. A recurring task in Things (my task manager of choice) that forces me to spend 5-10 minutes at the end of each week rounding things up.

  2. My partner and I live in a primarily cash-based society. We keep a little pile of receipts in the office and every few days when it stacks too high, one of us will take it and input transactions manually. Takes about 10 minutes each time!

  3. A Lunch Money user, Derek Reiff created Milk Money, a mobile-friendly solution for quick add on-the-go. (Github source)

  4. Create a Google form for inputting transactions, and every week or so, export the data as CSV and import it into Lunch Money

Finally, there is a secret, undocumented feature which we should really take time to improve upon– the Lunch Money Quick Add screen.

Why can't I update the category for my recurring transactions?

The issue is that recurring items all share the same category. So all transactions linked to the same recurring item will inherit that recurring item's category and merchant name. As such, updating the category of a transaction is a non-action as it gets overridden by the recurring item's category anyway.

If you want to change the category of that transaction, you will need to update the category of a recurring item from the Recurring Items page, thereby updating the category of all linked transactions. You also have the option on the Settings page of foregoing categories completely for recurring items and having them all be categorized as "Recurring".

How do I deal with duplicate transactions?

In some cases, you may find duplicate transactions appearing on the Transactions page. To easily go through duplicates and remove them, we recommend using the Deduplication tool.

The Deduplication Tool will search through the active transaction list view to locate similar transactions based on your choice of 2 or more criteria. With that said, it is recommended to use at least 3 criteria to get the most accurate results.

Keep in mind that the tool will only search through standalone transactions. Split or grouped transactions are skipped and not taken into account when searching for duplicates.

Always double-check before deleting as you may have legitimate multiples of the same transaction!

How to use the Deduplication Tool:

  1. Open the Transactions page

  2. Set the transaction list to a filtered view in which you'd like to search, as the Deduplication Tool will only process through transactions on the active filtered view (eg. if the view is set to "May 2024", the Deduplication Tool will only search through transactions in that month).

If you wish to look for duplicates across multiple months or with the "All time" filter, make sure to select "Date" as one of the criteria on step 4 below, to lower the risk of legitimate transactions being selected.

  1. Click on the Options icon on the right side of the page, and click on "Deduplicate transactions":

  1. In the dialogue window that appears, you will now select 2-4 criteria to be used to identify the duplicate transactions: Date, Account, Amount and Payee. It is recommended to select at least 3 values for effective results:

  1. Next, you will select whether you wish to keep the most recently added transaction or the earliest added transaction for any duplicates:

Most recently added vs. earliest added refers to when the transaction was created within Lunch Money, not the date of when the transaction took place. This is important to consider when you already had transactions in Lunch Money and suddenly see duplicates. Selecting to "keep the earliest added transaction" will remove all the duplicates that suddenly appeared, based on when they were added in the system, keeping the originals transactions.

  1. Click on "Select transactions to delete" to continue. You will now return to the list of transactions and if any duplicates were found, you will also see transactions selected for deletion.

Pay attention to the "Selected transactions" box on the right side of the screen to see how many transactions are selected and make sure to carefully review all of them to ensure there are no legitimate multiples of the same transaction.

  1. Once you've double checked all transactions and are ready to delete them, click on the red "Delete" button on the right side of the page:

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