A “tag” is a short description or keyword that you can use to label your receipts. Tags are notnecessary, and many people new to PearBudget don’t use them. But they can be really useful, and once you’re comfortable with them, you can do some pretty cool things with them.
For example, Sarah and I got an oil change on our red minivan last week. We put it in the category “car maintenance.” We then used the tags “oil change” (so we’d remember what work we had done), “red minivan” (so we’d know which car had the oil change), and “Colonial Foreign Car” (so we’d know where we had the work done). None of those tags are necessary, but at the end of the year, we can look back at all of our receipts tagged with “red minivan,” and see how much it cost us over the year. Or, we can see all the work we had done over the year.
We’d write those tags into PearBudget like this (note how we use commas to separate the tags):
You can make up whatever tags you want. Note that a period or a comma that isn’t followed by a space won’t be split into two tags. So you’d want “kids, clothing” rather than “kids,clothing”. Here are some fancier tag examples:
Using that example from above, with the oil change: let’s say we wanted to include the mileage of the van when we took it in. We could use a “single-use tag,” like this: *134,126. See that asterisk (*)? Now, when we look at our list of tags, that one won’t be in the list, but it’ll still be associated with that receipt, and with the car maintenance category. So at the end of the year, we could look at all car maintenance receipts (or all receipts tagged with “red minivan”) and we’d see the mileage of the car throughout the year. Slick.
You can use tags to give you an easy way to balance your checkbook. Whenever you write a check and you enter it into PearBudget, use two tags — the tag “check” and the single-use tag of the check number (so, “*1034” or whatever).
Whenever you want to balance your checkbook, just do this: get your last bank statement (or go online to get it), and look up your check tag on PearBudget. PearBudget will tell you all of the checks you’ve written, and your bank will tell you all of the checks that have been cashed. So you can quickly see which ones are still outstanding, and you can quickly figure out how much money you really have available in your checking account.
Tracking Credit Card Use
Let’s say you want to know what your credit card bill will be before you get it in the mail. Just use the tag “visa” (or whatever) to note which expenses you used the card with. PearBudget will tally up your expenses across categories, and you can see what you’ve spent over the month, regardless of the category you spent it on.