Chapter 11: Investments and Planning 297
Dealing with Placeholders
Sometimes, Quicken and your brokerage say you own different amounts of a given
share. The difference is usually small (often less than a share), and can be caused
by a dividend that you reinvested but forgot to record in Quicken, or rounding off
fractional shares while your brokerage uses exact values.
If your financial institution and Quicken disagree on how many shares of a security
you own, Quicken creates placeholder entries in your investment accounts. The
placeholders represent positive or negative shares to make the two totals agree.
Quicken also enters placeholders if you don’t enter complete information about
the securities you own, like if you set up a 401(k) account by specifying total
amounts instead of the number of shares you own (page 268). The best approach
to placeholders is to avoid them, because they make it so you can’t use some of
Quicken’s investment features, like reporting your investment performance for the
account with placeholders, which in turn affects a report for your entire portfolio.
But avoiding them isn’t always practical, especially if you have a long history with
investments, but a short history using Quicken.
The actual placeholder entries are simple: They contain only the security name and
a number of shares, as shown in Figure 11-16. They’re great for getting you up and
running quickly, but eventually you’ll need to provide the rest of the information.
Because placeholders are short on details, Quicken can’t use them to calculate
investment performance or produce accurate tax records (by calculating your capi-
tal gains when you sell a security, for instance). For example, to calculate capital
gains Quicken needs to know both the purchase price and the sales price of the
security. But if you have placeholders in an account, the program can’t do the
math because it doesn’t know the purchase price.
The two shaded
transactions shown here
are placeholder entries.
Placeholders show the
security’s name, the date
purchased, and the
number of shares. In the
Inv Amt column, click
Enter Cost to fill in the
amount you originally
paid to buy the shares.