I just spent the last couple of hours cleaning up old financial paperwork. So, if you’re not interested in that kind of thing, move along, nothing to see here, etc, etc.

I’ve blogged before about my continuing struggle to keep up with my Merrill Lynch accounts, in terms of entering the statements into Quicken. For quite a while, I’ve resisted letting Quicken download those accounts, since there tended to be some annoying little problems with that process. So, I kept manually entering them. Well, I fell off that bandwagon at the end of 2010, and had just been letting the statements pile up since. As David Allen would say, I’d gone numb to it.

I used to just have two accounts with Merrill — a catch-all account (called a CMA), and a Roth IRA. Well, now, I have the CMA, the Roth IRA, a traditional IRA (created when I rolled over the 401(k) from NMS), and an inherited IRA (from my Mom). So, that’s really too much to keep up with. Today, I decided to “clear the decks,” as it were, and get everything set up to download into Quicken. I started by shredding a bunch of old statements, from 2008-2010, that were in my filing cabinet. Then, I sorted out the big pile of 2011-2012 statements, and put them away, organized in a reasonable fashion, in the filing cabinet. Then, I set up all the accounts to download into Quicken. The result (in Quicken) is a little messy, but it all adds up correctly, and I guess that’s all I need.

My plan from this point forward is to open each statement as I get them, review it at a high level, then file it away. Meanwhile, the activity will get downloaded into Quicken any time I’m in there, balancing my checkbook, so that will be at least once a month.

I guess the main reason for this blog post is so that I can remember what I did, and when I did it, so that I can review things later in the year, and see if this system is working out. My main goal for this year is to actually look at the statements when I get them, so I can call Merrill if something is wrong, or if I need to change anything. Now that I won’t feel burdened by the need to do data entry every time I get a statement, hopefully I can avoid the temptation to just pile them up without looking at them!

catching up on paperwork

The last time I really sat down and brought all my accounts up to date in Quicken was in April 2010. Well, after feeling kind of sick yesterday, I’m feeling better today, and I decided that it would be a good day to do a lot of catch-up work. I entered all of my 2010 Merrill statements into Quicken, manually.

And I decided to give up on entering my 401(k) statements from my old job. I had quarterly statements going back to 2009 that I hadn’t entered. I decided to instead just let Quicken update that account automatically. That account is managed by Fidelity, and I had previously had trouble getting Quicken to update that account automatically, but it seems to be working now. The reason I still have that account, by the way, is because it’s still help up in some kind of audit related to the bankruptcy of that company. I’m hoping it will get released at some point this year, and I’ll be able to roll it over into an IRA at Merrill.

I also now have an inherited IRA with Merrill, which is basically half of my mother’s old IRA. I decided to just set that up as automatically updating, rather than entering it manually. I think that will work OK. I’d like to switch my main Merrill CMA and Roth IRA accounts over to auto-updating too, but I’m still a little afraid to do that. At one point, the way Merrill fed data into Quicken was pretty weird and not quite right. I’m going to watch how this works with my inherited IRA for a few months, and see if it’s looking reasonable enough at this point to switch all my accounts over to auto-update.

Meanwhile, I had really planned on firing up TurboTax today, and getting at least a first draft of my taxes done. That hasn’t happened yet, but at least I’ve “cleared the decks”, so to speak, so I can get started with that, without worrying about all the other paper that was piling up on my file cabinet.

Oh, and I think I’m supposed to watch the SuperBowl today too.

and even more Quicken frustration

So I decided to fix my Merrill accounts in Quicken (see previous post). At first, I tried going through the transactions, to delete the messed up ones, and get it straight that way. It turned out, though, that the download from Merrill had screwed stuff up all the way back to December 2007.

So I decided that I’d restore my Merrill accounts from a Quicken backup file from before I set up the download. Well, it turns out that restoring a Quicken file is an all or nothing proposition. You can’t just restore one account. You can open a backup file in Quicken and *export* one account, though. But then you can’t *import* it into your active file, so that turns out to be pretty useless. So I printed out all the transactions in my active file since that backup, did the restore, then re-entered all the banking and credit card transactions that I’d done since the backup. I’ve also re-entered the two 401(k) statements I’d entered after that backup. So now, after a couple of hours of work, I’m basically back where I started, minus the last four months of Merrill statements, which I’ll have to enter in manually now.

Well, I guess I’ve learned my lesson — Quicken and Merrill Lynch just don’t work together, and probably never will!

Quicken 2009 disappointment

I mentioned about a month back that I’d decided to download my Merrill statements into Quicken rather than hand-entering them. I *thought* at the time that it had worked out OK. Well, it kind of did, but I just went in and updated the account for this month’s statement, and I can see clearly where it’s still not doing a lot of stuff right. It doesn’t pull down my direct deposit transactions, so it looks like a bunch of money just shows up in the account from thin air. And it doesn’t seem to understand the transfer of money from cash to the ML bank deposit program, so it just shows a bunch of shares appearing there, again, out of the blue. So, basically, not so good. At the end of the day, it’s got the right balance in the account, but I think that historical graphs and reports are going to be all screwed up, if I try to look back at a particular security.

So, now I need to decide if I want to back out the last six months worth of transactions that I’d downloaded, and enter all the stuff in manually, or just live with it. I’m still obsessive enough that I really don’t like the idea of “just living with it,” but I’m not sure I have the spare time (or the will) to go back and enter all this stuff in. Oh well.

On a related subject, I just noticed that the account balance on one of my credit cards was all screwed up. I think that probably happened during the Quicken 2009 upgrade I did a while ago. I think I’ve fixed it now, but it’s another annoyance from a program that’s been around for years and should be able to handle this stuff without wigging out.

financial stuff

I did my taxes last weekend, so I decided to bring my Merrill Lynch and 401k accounts up to date in Quicken this weekend. I had two quarterly 401k statements and four monthly Merrill statements to enter. Very depressing. Lots of money down the drain over the last several months!

I’ve been manually entering my Merrill statements into Quicken for about a decade now. I tried switching to a download & import scheme about five years ago, I think, but it didn’t work quite right, so I gave up and went back to hand-entering them. Well, I decided today that enough time had passed that it was worth giving it another try, and it worked OK. So, now, I’ve got nearly all of my financial stuff automated. The only think I really need to enter manually now is my 401k statement, since that’s apparently not available in a Quicken-compatible download.

financial stuff

I decided to be Mr. Responsible today, and catch up on all my financial stuff. I entered my last three quarterly 401(k) statements into Quicken, along with my last eight monthly Merrill Lynch statements. It was pretty depressing, seeing how much value has been lost over the last few months. I just have to assume it’ll bounce back before I retire.
I also opened a new CD with NJM Bank. They have pretty good rates, and they’re a pretty stable company. I really don’t know what the best place to put my money is right now, but a 12-month CD is a nice safe place to stash a few bucks, I guess.

cleaning stuff up

I’m getting over a cold right now, so I’ve stayed in all day, watching college football, and working on various things around the house. Once again, I found myself about 6 months behind in entering my Merrill Lynch statements into Quicken, so I took care of that. And, I did another round of going through old papers, shredding old receipts and filing some stuff I wanted to keep. I found a bunch of stuff from my fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, including my “plausible deniability award” (don’t ask).

I also found receipts from the first two PC-compatible machines I owned. The first was an Amstrad PPC-640. (Check that web link. I’d forgotten that I could power it with ten D cells! Try that with your MacBook Pro! And, yes, it was a 22 lb portable!) The second was a fairly vanilla 286 Wang. (Alas, I can’t find a picture of that one on the internet.)

And I found some receipts related to my Amiga 500, though I didn’t find the receipt for the machine itself.

Merrill Lynch

I realized this weekend that I’d fallen way behind in entering my Merrill Lynch statements into Quicken. Like, a year and a half behind. Oops. So I’m sitting here now entering them all. Part way through, I realize that I seem to have lost ten cents somewhere. Being the obsessive weirdo that I am, I go back through all my statements, and I find the incorrect entries in November 2004. (It wasn’t one ten-cent error, but two five-cent errors.) I have a sense of deja vu about this, so I search the blog and discover that I’ve done this before.

Ed Foster’s Gripelog – Quicker and Quicker Quicken Sunsets

I’m going to keep an eye on this discussion at Ed Foster’s web site. I’ve been using Quicken for maybe 10 years now, but it may finally be time to switch to something else. It just seems that Intuit is trying to squeeze money out of their customers without providing much in the way of new features from year to year.