What is a rule?

Rules are created to automatically update certain fields of a transaction based on some criteria. The purpose of a rule is to keep your transactions organized and categorized in the way that you choose.

A rule is made up of two parts: the criteria and the effect.

Rule criteria

The rule criteria determines which transactions a rule should apply to. For instance, if we want to automatically set the category to Ridesharing for transactions where the payment name contains the word Uber because every Uber transactions is named differently, the rule criteria would be payee name contains 'Uber'.

We support the following for building your rule criteria:

  • Payee name

  • Amount range (between, >, >=, <, <=, =) and type (expense or income)

  • Day range (supports date wrapping as well)

  • Imported from which account

  • Notes

Category rules can match payee and notes in one of three ways: contain, start with, or match exactly.



Will match

contains 'Market'

Farmer's Market


contains 'Market'



contains 'Market'

Marketing Class 101


starts with 'Uber'



starts with 'Uber'

Uber Eats


starts with 'Uber'



exactly 'Walgreens'



exactly 'Walgreens'



Rule effect

The rule effect determines how a transaction which means the rule criteria will change. Currently, you can set a rule to have the following effects:

  • Set a new payee name

  • Set a note

  • Set category

  • Set tag(s)

  • Link to a recurring expense

  • Mark as reviewed

  • Don't link to recurring

  • Don't create a rule

  • Delete (this) transaction*

* - only accessible when creating a rule via a transaction

You may also use a rule to split a transaction. Note that splitting and updating the original transaction properties are mutually exclusive, meaning you may only do one or the other!

Rule creation

A rule can be created in various ways:

  1. A category rule is automatically created with a “match exactly” rule whenever you change the category of a transaction. This can be turned off in the Settings.

  2. A suggested rule is automatically created when you rename a payee.

  3. When you edit a transaction, you'll also be presented with an option to create a new rule based on the changes you just made. You can always edit these later in Rules.

  4. When a new recurring expense is created, a system rule is automatically created to match transactions to recurring expenses. We do not recommend editing or deleting these, but the option is there if you need to make some adjustments to ensure they match your recurring transactions.

  5. Lastly, you can create a new rule manually by clicking “Add a new rule” in the Rules page.

Applying rules

A rule in Lunch Money is applied to all inputted transactions. For CSV import tool and developer API, there are options to toggle this off. There is currently no way to avoid rules for manually-inputted transactions or imported transactions from bank syncing. Updating an existing transaction will not trigger rules.

When editing a transaction whose payee name matches many others, you have the option to apply the same changes to those transactions. This will appear as part of a notification system and will show you exactly which transactions will be affected with the option of de-selecting some.

You also have the option to apply rules retroactively via the “Apply” button next to each rule in the Rule page. Before applying, Lunch Money will let you know which transactions will be updated with the option of de-selecting some.

Using one-time rules

One-time rules + "delete transaction" rule action

The use case here is for folks anticipating an imported transaction, but wanting to see the transaction amount adjustments right away. Create a manual transaction that auto-deletes once a corresponding pending/posted transaction is imported.


  1. Create a manually-managed transaction

  2. Click into the transaction and select "Create Rule"

  3. Set your conditions (i.e. new transaction with payee 'Walmart' in account 'Bank of America credit card')

  4. Choose 'delete transaction' as an action– this auto-selects the current transaction. Note this feature is only available via "Create a rule" from the Transactions details view.

  5. The option to 'delete rule after use' is automatically selected in this case.

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