Quicken doesn't show correct Vanguard account balance

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Quicken doesn't reflect the correct Vanguard account/market balance. It excludes the roll-over amount from another 401K account and display a negative Cash Account balance. 
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Connie Truong

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Posted 4 months ago

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Lyn Buddenhagen

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A little more detail would be helpful: Windows or Mac platform? Version (year)? Did you download transactions? Migrate them from another version (and which platform/version)?
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Connie Truong

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Mine is Mac and Quicken 2017. It downloaded other 401K account ok. This account has a roll-over transaction, and Quicken kept reading in a negative cash balance (which should be zero as the fund has been allocated) that equals to the roll-over amount.
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Les Mikesell

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Same here.   I connected to the account before adding funds.   The cash showed up but then was offset by fund purchases so quicken shows a 0 balance (negative cash value equal to the fund purchase).   Will it fix it to delete the account and add it back?

Also, these funds were rolled from a different institution that recently dropped quicken support and the amount is somewhat different from the last value shown there.  Is there a way to represent the closing of the old account as a transfer with the correct amount?
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Tom Young, SuperUser

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@Les Mikesell

In the future you should start your own question instead of tagging on to a 3 month old post.

Frankly I can't follow your statements.  It sounds like you rolled over a retirement account from one financial institution to another.  I assume the entire transaction was along the lines of

  • Sell securities in the old account
  • Transfer cash from old account to new account
  • Buy securities in the new account
And that's exactly how it should be recorded in Quicken. 

I certainly don't understand how "I connected to the account before adding funds" affects anything, assuming that means you activated online services in the new account before funding the new account.  (I don't even see how that's possible, frankly.)

But then you say "The cash showed up but then was offset by fund purchases so quicken shows a 0 balance (negative cash value equal to the fund purchase)" and that just doesn't make sense.  That sequence of events should mean that there's NO CASH in the account.

Look at the sequence of events I outlined above and record those transactions in Quicken. 

  • Sell all the securities in the old account against the amount of "proceeds" that actually showed up in the new account.  (Since the original discussion you tagged onto spoke to "retirement accounts" I assume that's the case for you too.  Any "gain" or "loss" recorded on the sale(s) is irrelevant here; simply make sure the proceeds equals the amount that gets transferred.
  • Record a transfer from the old account to the new account for the cash
  • In the new account use the cash transferred to buy whatever securities you bought.
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Les Mikesell

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I added to this post because it seems like a Vanguard update issue, not showing correct balances.

I already had a non-IRA account at Vanguard, and created an IRA account to accept the rollover - and added it in Quicken before the funds arrived.   My old institution (which had dropped quicken support) sold the funds and mailed me a check made out to Vanguard, which I forwarded on to them.   There are 4 Quicken transactions for the new account:
  •   "Opening Cash Balance" of 0.00
  • MiscInc    of the check amount   - with that balance
  • Xout                negative check amount - 0 balance
  • Bought      Fund      check amount        - negative check amount
Total Market Value  $0.00.

Which obviously does not match what I see in Vanguard's web interface.   I thought the point of using Quicken was that it would track what the institutions show.

If I have to enter some manual transfer to correct this, will it matter that the fund sale price does not match the last values in Quicken from the old institution due to not being able to connect for several months?
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Tom Young, SuperUser

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As a general practice you should never blindly accept downloaded transactions or allow Quicken to automatically enter them. 

The correct sequence of events in Quicken should have been:

  • Opening cash balance of $0
  • Transfer of cash from old to new Account
  • A "Buy" or series of "Buys" of securities utilizing the transferred cash
  • Ending cash balance of $0
  • Ending bases of all securities equal to the transferred cash balance
"If I have to enter some manual transfer to correct this, will it matter that the fund sale price does not match the last values in Quicken from the old institution due to not being able to connect for several months?"

You're the accountant here, not Quicken.  Quicken is the tool you use to keep your books, instead of a big thick book labeled "General Ledger" into which you inscribe entries with your quill pen.  Quicken is much better than a manual ledger in many ways but you still have to apply some thought and effort to the process.

I assume that despite the fact that the old institution no longer communicates with Quicken that it does communicate with you and you have or can obtain records of transactions covering the period from the last download up to the date of sale.  You need to manually enter those transactions so that the details and balances "per Quicken" match the details and balances "per old institution".  At that point you should have the correct amount of cash to transfer per the 2nd bullet point above.
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Les Mikesell

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I don't really care about the "accounting".  I care about current balances being current and matching the values the institutions hold in my accounts - which is not currently correct.   I'd rather not deal with a few hundred now meaningless transactions in my now defunct account to get from the last balance I had to the closing check value from the sale of all its funds.   Is there some simplified way to get Quicken to understand the whole thing was sold for one price and get that balance into the new account instead of the currently negative cash value offsetting the balance to 0?

You just answered my similar question about a sale in a different account at Vanguard, but that time there was an exact matching account in a bank transaction, so this is a little different.

The 'big picture' piece I am missing here is, why is Quicken happy to show the bank transaction and the correct current bank balance even if it doesn't match that transaction elsewhere,  but the Vanguard accounts show the wrong balance and retains non-existing cash values in that situation?
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gmalis1, SuperUser

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You put funds in an account, creating a cash balance. 

You purchase shares of a security or mutual fund with those funds, reducing the cash balance.

You should wind up with a ZERO cash balance.

Remember, in investment accounts in almost all cases your cash balance should be zero!!!

Re-read Tom Young's post.  He has the exact sequence of events and the exact transactions you should have in your Vanguard account.  

BTW, if you rolled over a 401K into an existing Vanguard investment account, why in the world would you create a NEW Vanguard investment account?  It should be going to the account you already have. 

Between your other post and this post, you need to be more aware of how to treat transfers between accounts and how investment actions work in Quicken.

Because I get the impression that you're very lost on these topics.  Even YOUR supposed entries in the Vanguard account are all wrong.
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Les Mikesell

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My older Vanguard account was not tax-deferred - and has a joint ownership with my wife.  The rollover account had to be a new, separate IRA account, although I can access both with the same login.

I made _no_ manual entries, so I don't see how they can be wrong.    Quicken made the 4 entries I posted earlier and is showing the negative cash balance offsetting the fund purchase.    Should I just delete the account in Quicken and add it back now that it is funded?    Or is there a simple way to get a transfer from the not-quite-matching old 401k account that is still showing its old balance>

I'm not really concerned about the fund transaction items since the internal dividend and capital gain reinvestments that make the bulk of the transaction history have much less to do with the value than the share price fluctuations.   What I want to track is the current value, and that's what I thought Quicken should show.
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gmalis1, SuperUser

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Wow...you really don't get it, do you?

In the old 401K account, sell ALL shares of ALL the securities in that account.  That will create a cash balance.  When you sell them, just make sure you click on "Sell All Shares" and put in ONLY the dollar and cents amount.  Quicken will put in the price per share.  The share price is an irrelevant amount.  All that matters is that you sell ALL the shares and have the correct cash you get FOR EACH SECURITY IN THAT ACCOUNT.  

Then, transfer the entire cash balance to the new Vanguard account.  Use Cash Transferred Out of Account as the transaction type and use your Vanguard account as the transfer.  You will be prompted for which account you want to transfer the funds to.

Make sure you use the ENTER TRANSACTIONS button for the Sell transaction(s) and for the Cash Transferred Out of Account.  DO NOT ENTER THESE TRANSACTIONS DIRECTLY INTO THE REGISTER.

You should now have a cash balance of zero in your old 401K account and you should also have a share balance of zero.  

And you should have the money needed in your new Vanguard Account from the transfer.  If you downloaded your transactions from Vanguard, they should have all the BUY transactions of any mutual funds you purchased.  Hopefully, that should be the same EXACT amount as the cash balance you started with in that register.  If it is off by a few cents, then tweak the amount of one of the funds.  But, after all the BUY transactions, you should have a cash balance of zero in the Vanguard account.  

The price per share is NOT important.  Let Quicken calculate that for you or Vanguard's downloaded price.  What's important is that you have the EXACT correct number of shares of each mutual fund and that when you are done with the BUY transactions that you have a zero cash balance remaining.  

With what you have now, you have a negative cash balance in your new Vanguard account because you didn't fund it with any money to buy the mutual funds in Vanguard.  

You can't buy stock or mutual funds out of thin air.  You need to fund the account with cash to buy anything.  In your case you sold funds, got the cash, transferred it to a new account and then bought shares of mutual funds.

Think of it this way.  You go to the store for a gallon of milk.  You don't just walk into the store, get the milk and leave.  You have to PAY for it.  Same with your mutual funds.  You have to pay for them somehow.

I don't understand how you can't comprehend this.  It's not rocket science or brain surgery.  

Just think for a minute on what actually happened in your real life transactions.  Quicken has zero idea what you did with the money from your old 401K and how it got into your Vanguard account.  Vanguard has no idea WHERE you got the money to buy the mutual funds.  And your 401K company has no idea what you bought with the money you got from their account.  You have manually set up that transaction as a transfer.

Wow...you're exhausting me with this. 
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gmalis1, SuperUser

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Once again...read about transfers in the Quicken HELP file.

You actually might learn something. 
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Les Mikesell

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I'm not an accountant - obviously - and I don't really want to be one.  So no, I don't get it.

I want an ongoing net balance of my accounts, and that's what I thought Quicken would do by picking up the values reported by the institutions for my account.   It manages to do that for my bank account even when it doesn't know where the money comes from or goes to.   I'm just confused about why it cares on the vanguard account.  Why can't it just pick up the value by itself and show what the web view shows. Why is it important to Quicken to know where the money came from or went when I just want the totals?

What is  the significance of pricing out each fund in my old account to get the sale total?  Who would ever use those details?  I got one check - it's not a taxable event and even if it were the institution would provide the tax documentation.  Why does anything need to track it?

If money has to be transferred from somewhere for quicken to think it exists, how would you represent cash that had never been in an account before?  The really confusing part here is that quicken has always shown the correct value in my old 401k (until the institution dropped quicken support) while regular contributions were being made.  Why did it let those contributions increase the value without needing an offsetting transfer?  
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gmalis1, SuperUser

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Move to Mint.  Quicken is way above your head.

Mint will download your transactions for you and come up with the balance you need.

It's brainless.  

And I'm done here.  It's not worth the elevated blood pressure.  
(Edited)
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Les Mikesell

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Is there a way to use Mint without letting it store your passwords?
Brainless is what I want, but I'm not letting some remote web site keep my passwords.

Oh, by the way - I deleted the IRA account and added it back.   And now it shows the correct value with no manual entries.   So, one of the ways Quicken was doing it had to be wrong.
(Edited)