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Xero Personal update

It’s been great to get so much feedback about Xero Personal. There’s definitely real passion out there for what we’re doing!

The focus of version 1 was to get the important links between the BNZ and Xero working seamlessly. Our approach is a hybrid where we get the best of online banking and the frequent innovation you’ve come to expect from Xero. It’s been a huge amount of work. Over time we believe this will be the way that most personal finance solutions work. We call this Banking 2.0.

Xero Personal is a personal money manager that’s designed to be simple for anybody to use whether tech savvy or not. We expect for many people this will be their first time using a tool like this. As with Xero Business, we love getting your feedback and we have lots of things we’re looking forward to doing now we’ve got the platform out there.

Step one of any product like Xero Personal is categorization. We’ve taken a ‘crowdsourcing’ approach where over time the community makes categorization smarter. As users come on you will start to see the benefits of this. One of the requests we’ve had is to increase the number of custom categories you’re able to create. We understand that some people want really fine-grained control over how they track their expenses.

There’s two reasons why we set a cap on the number of categories. The first was to improve Xero Personal’s ability to guess the right category for you, which relies on a discrete set of categories that are shared across all users. The second is that we have a plan for how to provide really fine-grained expense tracking, which we think is even better than creating lots of custom categories.

As a way of helping those people who want this functionality right now, we’re raising the number of custom categories from 8 to 20. But you can look forward to us providing other ways that will give you even greater control of your expenses in the future.

Another feature we have on the roadmap is the ability to split transactions. There are a few ways we can tackle this, but we’re really interested to hear how you would like the splits to work. So what we’re keen to know is:

  • What type of transactions do you normally split, and how do you split them?
  • Are the split ratios always the same for a payee or are they unique for each transaction?
  • Is splitting more important then having your transactions automatically categorised for you?

Please send us an email to split.feedback@xero.com or comment below with your thoughts on these split transaction questions.

 

Read more about Personal

 

44 comments

Ben Kepes
31 March 2010 #

Sara – big ups for engaging the community. The reaction to Xero personal has been a little *loud* and it’s good to see you coming in to talk through the issues with us all…

Re split transactions – personally I split business expenses on a fixed ratio (80% personal/20% business for example) and usually it’s home office related expenses. That said I also split entertainment expenses to a different ratio so bottom line is that splitting needs to be able to handle per transaction uniqueness. With regards to automatic categorisation – most people I’ve spoken to post-personal would prefer a categorisation experience more akin to that which we experience in bank reconciliation in the business product – user experience is sticky and your business users have grown accustomed to a particular way of working…

Anyway – lots to think of – we’ll be watching with interest

Ben Kepes
31 March 2010 #

Oh and…

One more thing while I’m thinking about it. If personal is really intended to give individuals insight into their personal financial position, surely including transactions that have already been categorised as business related in personal reports is nonsensical?

How about the ability to show/hid (or more correctly include/exclude) business categorised expenses from reporting within personal?

b

Dave Bolton
31 March 2010 #

Thanks for the categories limit update! I also look forward to the other categorisation ideas, but this will do nicely till then.

Cheers, D

Harry Sims
31 March 2010 #

My main need is a split when withdrawing cash with a purchase made ie $12850 groceries $40 cash…

Thanks for the sneaky wee insight in where this is going…

Chris Young
31 March 2010 #

I’m with Ben on the splitting option – a per transaction split rather than a generalised one. As for the categories, I’ll give that one some time.

Look forward to using Personal properly either way, as Business is brilliant.

Rachel
31 March 2010 #

My use varies from the guys above.

I’d disagree with Ben’s comment: ” If personal is really intended to give individuals insight into their personal financial position, surely including transactions that have already been categorised as business related in personal reports is nonsensical?”

I’m already using Xero Personal in quite a different way from Xero Business. I use it to categorise and set goals, where as Xero business is all about what’s tax deductible.

e.g. coffee and entertainment can be tax deductible, but it’s still good to see overall where the money is going (I am a Sole Trader, it will be different if you are a company) Petrol and transport is another one.

It’s good to classify my business expenses as flexible or not, and see the break down.

I love Xero Personal already – and having 2 split options – one for cashout (manual), and one to assign percentages to some bills – e.g. Phone, Power with a bank rule would be good.

Splitting is definitely way more important than auto categorisation. Accuracy over convenience for me.

James R
31 March 2010 #

Updating the application within 2 days of release based on user feedback is excellent.
One small formatting issue I’ve noticed on the main xero marketing front page is that the ‘S’ on the end of ‘managing your personal finances’ is cut off in chrome. (Yes, I’m a pedant)

I’m eagerly waiting a share market update on the latest customer numbers. Bring on another doubling in customer numbers and my share value please.

Glen Barnes
31 March 2010 #

I split my expenses in several ways:

1) I assign a certain % of home expenses to my business as i can claim this for tax purposes. This should be able to go through to my Xero Business account
2) I split some by various categories. For example a purchase at the cafe with cash out might go $10 cafe, $40 cash.
3) Here is the tricky one the one that is a show stopper for me. Currently Xero personal is pretty much ‘single user’ with a nod to pushing stuff through to Xero Business. In reality this is not how households work. See Rod’s blog post on iLife Server to get the idea. Some of our joint expenses I pay for on my personal credit card and want to push that through to a joint budget tool. Some are just for myself, some will go to our 8 month old’s bank account, etc.

For me you really need to work towards a ‘Family Pack’ idea where money can easily be pushed and pulled between personal, joint, kids, accounts, etc. splitting as needed.

It also needs to deal with investments, shares and everything else that makes up my net worth and savings goals.

When it reaches this point I would be willing to pay for the service, until then it is just too under powered to offer any real benefits.

stuartm
31 March 2010 #

Thanks for listening and for increasing the number of categories. Also looking forward to seeing how you are planning to improve categorisation in the future – I’m happy to beta test.

As for split transactions, the most common scenarios I have are if we want to split a particular receipt across several categories – for example, a $200 shopping bill might include $50 of personal spending. Or we might fill up with petrol at the service station but spend $20 on groceries and get $50 cash-out.

KimA
31 March 2010 #

Re: split transactions my scenarios include those mentioned above eg cash out with a purchase, or splitting an ATM withdrawal over different cash purchases, plus also splitting my salary transaction so I can track PAYE, super contributions, bonus etc separately. These types of transactions would be actual dollar splits rather than ratio.
I would value having splitability over auto categorisation.

Also +1 re having the ability to track investments….

Andrew Smith
31 March 2010 #

Transaction splits would need to be definable each time. ie $100 spent at the supermarket is $50 groceries and $50 something else, but next time might by $80 and $20. I don’t mind if Xero guesses the full amount is groceries because I once categorised it as that, as long as I can somehow get to that transaction to edit it later.

Blair
31 March 2010 #

Xero – this is awesome. Great to see that even just a couple of days after the launch you are listening to what your users are saying, and already bringing out an update!

For splitting transactions, I’d love to just see a “split” button when going through the reconcile list. Clicking this would bring up a little box which would ask you for the two amounts to split it to – obviously filling out one of these could auto-fill the other one with the remaining amount.

After you’ve filled that in, it would then just appear as two seperate items on the transaction list (with the two different amounts) so that you can link each one to whichever category it should be.

This would work perfectly for the most common case where this is needed – cash out with purchases. You could easily split a $200 purchase from Countdown Supermarket to be $150 for groceries and $50 for cash-out.

Look forward to seeing what you come up with =)

Blair
31 March 2010 #

One more thing – I’m really suprised that Xero Personal doesn’t have the functionality to deal with Mortgages, which I think is a fundamental thing that people care about when managing their own finances.. especially with BNZ’s TotalMoney package which makes all of the accounts so important. Any plans to allow me to add my Mortgages to the accounts list?

I’d really love to be able to set up a goal to pay off a certain amount of the mortgage by the end of the year etc

Jon
1 April 2010 #

I have to echo what others have said about your response – it’s a real compliment to you that people care about your products this much and a credit to you that you are engaging like this.
For me the absence of manual transaction entry is still a deal breaker though.
We could use a lot of Xero Personal’s but we are working with people running micro businesses (who are disadvantaged in the labour market) and do not have bank accounts or will primarily use cash. In every other way (including the stuff you are working on) it would meet our needs perfectly.
Any plans to add this functionality ?
I’m happy to sit quietly and wait if it’s on the way !

Daxter
1 April 2010 #

I’m enjoying laying around with the trial but have a few bug-bears. One feature of my own personal spreadsheet budgeter is the ability to determine your spare money once all of your flexible and fixed costs are deducted and split this sum across the relevant number of weeks in that given month. It really helps to set a weekly cash spend goal. Other than that, I would live to see that splitting as stated above and of course, automated feeds to all the major banks in time

Daxter
1 April 2010 #

Having just added a second account during my trials I cannot see a way to view them as individual entities other than on the dashboard. For example, when trying to analyse my income v spending, all the transactions from the second account are bundled in with the first. I don’t want to have 3 – 4 seperate log-ins to manage each account. Surely there is an easy way to select whether to view accounts independently and also combined as is the case currently?? Anyone else having this issue?

Matt Brown
1 April 2010 #

Mortgage/loan repayment splitting is the most important split type to me. This needs to be able to vary each time as the interest/principal portion will be continually changing with common loan structures. This should be pretty easy if you’re getting a feed from BNZ as they break this out already.

Outside of mortgage/loan payments the scenarios above of taking cash out, and splitting expenses at some ratio between business and personal would be the most common use-cases for me.

Nice work on getting these updates out so quickly :)

Mark
1 April 2010 #

Thanks for the quick response and feedback about direction.
Agree with the comments re splitting especially accuracy over auto categorisation. Ideal would be if it guesses a category or split based on previous experience and also allows user to easily edit – in reality splits are both one off eg cash out with eftpos and regular like salary etc.
Clearly the interface between Xero Personal and Business needs to work both ways I want to pay expenses like phone, power, rates, vehicle etc in Business (split say 40% business and 60% drawings) and then to be able to import/transfer the 60% drawings into Personal as income and as personal expense – whereas others like Ben do the transfer the other way around.

Smallfurrything
1 April 2010 #

Thanks for engaging us, Xero.

1. What type of transactions do you normally split, and how do you split them?
EXAMPLE 1. Trip to the shops: You pay by card and you buy more than just food. SO you want to split your food items into essential Food (“Groceries”!), Toiletries and Personal Care.
EXAMPLE 2. Cash withdrawl: You withdraw £20 in cash and you spend £7.60 on food, hire a DVD at £2.40 and then £10 on beer.
ANSWER: If you have transaction of value £X, then you can split into as many catagories as you like of whatever value you like. So plit Y and split Z must equal X.

2. Are the split ratios always the same for a payee or are they unique for each transaction?
ANSWER: Allow us make them unique. Not interested in guess-work and ratios, that would be useless.

3. Is splitting more important then having your transactions automatically categorised for you?
ANSWER: WIthout a doubt! A few more minutes categorising my accounts is a worthwhile price to pay for accurate personal accounting!

THanks XERO!

Jason Plimmer
1 April 2010 #

First again awesome that you are showing that you are listening by 1) your initial and quick change to the number of categories and 2) with this blog request.

First – for us accuracy over automation – everyone does it different but the results out of Xero personal need to reflect our personal way of doing things; – we have a number of categories for our home budget that regularly result in payments needing to be split between categories – eg payment at dept store covering both parents’ personal purchases, kids purchases and general household items – so could be 4 categories against that one payment – so ability to split payment between categories based on actual expenditure is key. Be helpful (eg show difference still to be allocated) but not limiting how we do it.

+1 for splitting mortgage payments between interest and principal and including mortgage accounts (and potentially other debt instruments such as HPs etc) as they are the equivalent to savings goals by paying more off quickly and also are key influences on our personal net worth.

+1 for automatic downloads from other banks, the first bit that made sense to me about changing to Xero Business – so got to have it (sorry for those users that haven’t experienced it)

A key problem that you have is the level of comfort that potential users of Xero personal have with budgeting/accounting tools – those who just want to know broadly where my money is going each week in pretty visuals without the fine grain analysis, where your limited categories and automatic guesses would work great – and then those (like above) where the analysis of personal spending is more complicated and is performed by those who have a higher level of financial literacy and comfort with these tools and therefore the tool needs to have the ability to take the analysis to a higher level of customisation to reflect their personal situations.

A more general comment is that there is an apparent issue with the NZ population’s (and probably other countries as well) financial literacy (given our apparent inability for some of us to realise when we are living outside out means etc) that your tool (especially with the banks wanting to focus on all their clients and not just those with high levels of financial literacy) may need to handle both ends of the spectrum. Which will be a challenge for you but it may improve our country’s financial literacy at the same time if you can achieve it.

Does this require two tools – or can you do both though some form of settings (or maybe something akin to the financial advisor tab ie only viewable by those who want to turn it on) for those who want turn the simple tool into something that is more powerful and reflective of our complicated lives?

Tim
1 April 2010 #

Xero guessed zero of 156 items. Seems category limitation is uncessary if the “guessing game” doesn’t work.

Jason Blumer, CPA
2 April 2010 #

I believe everyone is going to split transactions in many different ways. I may track my personal financial transactions for groceries differently than someone else (because my wife wants a different type of report).

So I believe it’s going to be hard to define how to split transactions per % or category, or any other method. We really need to be able to split transactions in as many ways as we chose without limitations.

Splitting transactions is more important right now than Xero Personal actually memorizing automated transactions or categorizing them from the bank feeds (at least in the US, since we can’t currently pull in US bank transactions automatically).

Great job!

Darryl Collins
3 April 2010 #

I haven’t tried Xero Personal yet, but I plan to real soon now! However I am keep track of the comments on the blog and find it very interesting and useful whilst I muster the energy and commitment it will take to make the first step!

I thought Xero would be interested in this very original blog post from my former business partner and friend Tony Bowden who has a unique view of where personal finance software often go wrong – http://nothing.tmtm.com/2009/06/track-every-penny/ He knows what he’s talking about – I’ve seen some of the tracking and analysis he does of his own spending!

Darryl Collins
3 April 2010 #

Actually this is the blog post I was looking for http://nothing.tmtm.com/2007/09/what-i-want-from-personal-finance-software/ (the other one is relevant and interesting too!)

Ben Kepes
7 April 2010 #

It would be good if Xero personal bought through ALL the information on transactions. At the moment I’m seeing way more detail (forex currency and amount) in internet banking that I have no visibility on in personal which makes it all the more difficult to remember what the transactions are without going into IB…

[...] is incorporating transaction splitting to help you fine-tune your spending even further. Read this blog post over at Xero to find out [...]

VJ
9 April 2010 #

I’d agree with the previous posters that transaction splitting needs to be done on an individual transaction basis. It’d be good if certain transactions could be flagged (typical ones which I’d need to split would be supermarket ones) for review each time I logged in. Otherwise would prefer these being separated out and not categorised at all.

Russell
14 April 2010 #

I loved the approach to important and categorisation – simply brilliant. But where there is a joint account need we need to ability to specifiy whose salary or expense it may be. The lack of ability to add any kind of supporting note is jarring, given that you are sensibly trying to group categories at a higher level.

Like most the lack of split categories is a deal killer – especially where cash is withdrawn at an ATM.

Also the ability to flag a transaction as suspicious or requiring follow-up is kind of essential. My workflow is to import and then go and discuss anything unusual with my wife.

I see the vision and will go through the short term pain.

Jon
24 April 2010 #

Any news on when the next update is likely to be? I’ve been putting off signing up till split categories and the ability to add a transaction has been implemented .

Colden Wakely
26 April 2010 #

I got all excited about Xero personal, used it for a day and gave up. At this stage there is too much missing for me, mortgages, splits, but one of the biggest thing is the inability to enter in new things, such as bills, I might have 30-60 days to pay some bills, or I know that my insurance bill comes annually, and I might want to know 90 days in advance in order to plan for that.

Xero personal is great to see where my money went, but I want to know where it is going to go….. I need forward planning tools please. I do hope this is in the list of enhancements you are working on.

I am still really excited for it, it looks great, but there is a lot more that I need from it before it is a tool I can really use.

CW

Slake
4 May 2010 #

I gave up in first a half hour when I discovered the category limitation. There is no way we can create only 20 new categories. Why? It doesn’t make sense to me at all. This is a real disappointment.

CarlH
5 May 2010 #

I’ve been using this for a week now (as a BNZ MoneyMap) customer, and I keep encountering a weird sorting problem when I try and sort transactions by date. Where do I post problems like this?

JS
6 May 2010 #

I have just started playing around with this via the BNZ Moneymap and quite like it. It captured the last 90 days transactions and I can’t figure out how to load older ones I can still see in IB and have in OFX files.

Also I would echo some of the comments above. flexible splits, more categories, future planned payments/commitments being a start.

Amy Domican
7 May 2010 #

Hi CarlH and J S our Customer Care team will contact you directly. J S thanks for the feedback, we really value your input and take will take all comments into consideration for future developments.

Ken
8 May 2010 #

When is the next update for Xero personal coming? Specifically split transactions and the iPhone version. Also what about a blog update on Personal developments from the Xero team?

Sara Goepel
10 May 2010 #

@Jon + @Ken We’re working on a number of things for Xero Personal, including splits. We’re planning on an update in June.

Randall
1 June 2010 #

Hi, I just given Xero Personal a trial run for the past few days and its a great work in progress. However as others have stated, the inability to manually enter transaction details is a complete deal breaker.

Commonweatlh Bank won’t allow me to export a QIF file with a specific date range. This makes data entry a convoluted process but even without this personal issue, I would still love to enter data myself rather then import external files constantly.

I’m on board 100% once this functionality is integrated within Xero Personal. Good work so far, keep it up.

Simon H
5 June 2010 #

You guys seem to be slowing down. Following the blog and there are fewer and longer periods between feature announcements (personal or business version); what’s happening in Xero land?

To be honest Xero Personal is a pretty run of the mill product for a first release and I would have thought you would have been trying to knock out new features at a steady rate to keep the interest going. Any chance you can share with us a little of the roadmap of where you see Personal going over the next 12 months? Because having split transactions might be nice, but it isn’t anything special.

Rod Drury
5 June 2010 #

@Simon. Fair call. We’re conscious it might appear like that.

We had a few things behind the scenes to get done but we’re testing the next version of Xero Personal now and have some great stuff coming soon after that. Still a few weeks away but you’ll see the cadence back to our normal cycles. We have a lot we want to do with Personal this year.

Xero Business is also due for a good release late this month. The annual accounts work is a major bit of work to dev and test but we’re very pleased with how it’s coming together. We have a few big things in train that span multiple release cycles which have a number of the team tied up.

We’ve obviously made a rod for our own backs but fear not, there is a lot of good stuff in the pipe. We like nothing better than getting stuff out there so there’s plenty of pressure internally. But we hear you.

Rod

Jon
28 June 2010 #

Not to sound like a broken record but you mentioned you hoped an update in June would include split transactions. With 4 days of June left is that still on the cards?

Sara Goepel
28 June 2010 #

@Jon- The release with splits is now tracking for 14 July. The delay is because we had to divert some of the team onto http://answers.xero.com.

Sara

Jon Gledhill
30 June 2010 #

Thanks for the update Sara. This can’t come soon enough for me.

Jennie
30 June 2010 #

Get splits and manual transactions in there and I’m sold!

gearu
6 July 2010 #

Automatic categorisation drives me nuts! I wish that I was able to specify which items are ok to be automatically assigned. 50% of automatic assignment are the same every time – and this is ok, however, if I Withdraw Cash from an ATM this always relates to a different category – so I want to be able to tell Xero Personal not to automatically assign this. It would be ideal if these items would be marked for ‘always needs approval’ and then always “guessed” but added to the guessed list, so that they required approval. At the moment I have to sort all my activity by date and scroll through the whole list correcting all the entries.

In my opinion, splitting is more important than automatic assignment – however, as stated above, if I could impose some control over this would be the best – since some things I know will never change (like rent or mortgage payments) – and i would like to be able to set these items to automatically be assigned.

Is there any way to export all my data? I spend all this time categorising things – but see now way that I can use this information to export the details to provide to my accountant to assist with tax.

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