Setting Up Registers
As a new user on Common Cents, the first thing you need to do is setup registers. Basically a register represents a high level account that will have one or more Common Cents accounts in it. For example, I have a checking account that is my primary account that I use to pay my bills, deposit the majority of my paycheck into, etc - pretty much like most people. I would setup a register that represents that account. When I reconcile my bank statement, I'm reconciling that register.
In Common Cents goto the utility menu (by clicking the Utility tab) and then click on the register maintenance icon. Now add a new register.
You will want to select a name that has good meaning to you that identifies your particular bank or credit account. In my case, I would start by setting up two different registers. One for my checking account and one for my Discover card. Remember, the best way to tell what registers you need is to identify all accounts you receive a statement for that need to be reconciled. This could be checking accounts, savings accounts, credit card accounts, escro accounts, etc. Once you have setup all of your registers, then goto account maintenance.
Setting Up Accounts
Accounts are setup by type. In order to setup a different type of account (ie: Asset, Liability, etc), you need to change the filter before selecting the Add Account button.
When you add an account, you are selecting from a master list of accounts that is maintained by the administrator of your system. Common Cents comes installed with default accounts, but they can be changed or added to by the administrator. Asset and Liability accounts are the only accounts that can be linked to registers (since they typically represent accounts you would reconcile from external statements). However, not every asset or liability account needs to have a register. For instance, I use my checking account to pay my groceries, satelite TV, utilities, and other bills so when I setup asset accounts for Prepaid Grocery, Prepaid TV, and Prepaid Utilities, I would select "Eric's Checking" as my register, but for assets that I have that don't represent cash from my checking account or other accounts that I have registers for (ie: Property), I would leave the register set to "None" in those cases.
Setup all the accounts you want to track your finances. Keep in mind that all transactions are entered as a double-entry transaction. So you need to have accounts available to handle your credit and your debit entry. So, if I'm creating a transaction to indicate a grocery purchase, I would need to credit Prepaid Groceries and debit Grocery Expense. Make sure you also have at least one capital account. You won't do much with it during the year, but it will be critical to have it when you close out your financial year each January. Also, don't forget your income accounts. You generally will want to have at least "Regular Paycheck Income", but if you get income from mutiple sources, you will probably want to create an account for each.
NOTE: You should be careful with Balance Forward amounts. You can get yourself into trouble here if you don't keep yourself in balance. When you are entering transactions, the system will ensure a balanced entry (that is debits and credits have to match). However, with Balance Forward amounts, you need to make sure that debits and credits match. To ensure a balanced system, run the Trial Balance report (under the Reports tab) and make sure total debits equal total credits before you enter any transactions
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