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Tracking TSP performance in Quicken

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Jonathan
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Tracking TSP performance in Quicken  Reply with quote  

Hello, all,
Up until now, I haven't really used Quicken to track my TSP performance. I've been doing some research lately, and have discovered both how to import historical fund prices into Quicken (using .csv files) and how to import old transactions (using modified QIF files). So far, OK.

However, I've discovered that whenever you do an interfund transfer and represent this by "selling" shares in one fund and "buying" them in another, Quicken treats this as modifying your cost basis. In other words, rather than keeping the cost basis of your TSP account set at your net contributions to the account, the cost basis is basically the total of your most recent "buy" of fund shares. If you do occasional (or frequent) interfund transfers, your cost basis just goes up and up and up.

Is this the way things are supposed to work? I'll admit I'm still new to financial data tracking and 401k stuff, but it seems to me that interfund transfers in the TSP aren't real purchases/sales of stock, and the cost basis should be whatever you contribute to the TSP. Or is Quicken right?
Post Mon Apr 02, 2007 8:38 pm
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coaster
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Quicken is set up for mutual fund transactions, and it's handling the cost basis correctly for mutual funds. Sorry, I don't know anything about TSP, so I can't speak to that, and I'm not familiar enough with Quicken to offer a workaround. You'd think there must be one, though. Is there a Quicken forum?

~Tim~
Post Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:15 pm
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coaster
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Ha ha ... I felt guilty about being too lazy to look it up myself, so I did just that:

http://www.quickencommunity.com/

~Tim~
Post Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:17 pm
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coaster
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Hey, I think I've got a possible solution: TSP is a tax-deferred account, correct? Maybe you could set it up as an IRA in Quicken?

~Tim~
Post Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:11 pm
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Jonathan
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Thank you, Tim. I'll have to look into IRA management in Quicken...everyone I've read on the subject seems to think the TSP should be set up in Quicken as a 401k, which works for keeping track of fund prices and transactions, but the cost basis seems to be off. So maybe IRA would be a better choice.
Post Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:24 am
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coaster
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I'd think 401(k) should work, too, since it's a tax-deferred retirement plan. I'm surprised it doesn't. Let us know how the IRA plan works out for you; I'm curious myself. Smile

~Tim~
Post Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:11 am
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Jonathan
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quote:
Originally posted by coaster
I'd think 401(k) should work, too, since it's a tax-deferred retirement plan. I'm surprised it doesn't. Let us know how the IRA plan works out for you; I'm curious myself. Smile


Well, see that's the thing...I'm not quite sure what Quicken should be showing. It does display the average annual rate of return for my TSP account overall. But since the cost basis keeps changing every time I do an interfund transfer, the other reports of overall gains are a bit complicated.

Now, that's not to say that what Quicken is reporting is useless. When I "sell" shares of a given fund and "buy" shares of another, it reports the gains in the "sold" fund as "realized gains", and any gains in currently-held funds as "unrealized gains".

So again, I guess it depends both on what Quicken can do and what I want it to do. It does track my current TSP holdings just fine, as well as TSP fund prices. And yeah, I can see average annual returns. It's just a little funky with how it reports gains.

Perhaps the TSP is a sufficiently unique retirement system that Quicken could include it as a category of investment all to itself. I know others have mentioned that Quicken should do this, given the huge number of participants, but I guess we'll have to make do with what we have for now.

By the way, for those (like me) who have some catching up to do with entering TSP transactions in Quicken, It IS still possible to import transactions into Quicken using QIF files. I wrote a PERL script to take values from a comma-separated file (.csv) created in Excel from quarterly performance statements and put them into a QIF file. I then imported the transactions into Quicken. MUCH faster than entering them all by hand.
Post Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:39 pm
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coaster
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I guess what I'd do in that situation is to track manually in a spreadsheet, side-by-side with Quicken, for a period of time to see where and how much it differs from what I'm really looking for.

~Tim~
Post Tue Apr 03, 2007 3:03 pm
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Jonathan
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OK, I've done some additional research on this.

Basically, this topic came up because I saw return on investment numbers Quicken was providing that looked extremely low, and fingered the changing cost basis as the culprit.

Quicken is correct to calculate cost basis the way it does for standard mutual fund accounts -- I suppose it's a matter of opinion as to whether it should be doing that for a retirement plan that doesn't actually have stocks, and in which "sales" and "purchases" are really just interfund transfers.

The cost basis is really more an issue for taxes anyway, as I understand it, and for the TSP (again, as I understand it) capital gains aren't taxed. I'm sure those up on taxes will correct me if I'm wrong.

So perhaps the trouble, if there really is any trouble in all of this, is calling the TSP funds "mutual funds" in Quicken. At any rate...

What matters most to me is the annual rates of return, which Quicken calculates just fine (the same could be done, with a good deal more effort, using Excel's "XIRR" function). So this really isn't a big issue either way.
Post Wed Apr 04, 2007 3:57 pm
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coaster
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OK, thanks for the follow-up. Smile

~Tim~
Post Wed Apr 04, 2007 4:04 pm
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FantasyTSP
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Re: Tracking TSP performance in Quicken  Reply with quote  

quote:
Originally posted by Jonathan
...have discovered both how to import historical fund prices into Quicken (using .csv files) and how to import old transactions (using modified QIF files)....


Could you provide a sample CSV/QIF file used to import into Quicken. I'm trying to add an export feature to FantasyTSP and have had trouble making it work.

Thank you!
Post Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:37 am
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Jonathan
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Re: Tracking TSP performance in Quicken  Reply with quote  

quote:
Originally posted by FantasyTSP
quote:
Originally posted by Jonathan
...have discovered both how to import historical fund prices into Quicken (using .csv files) and how to import old transactions (using modified QIF files)....


Could you provide a sample CSV/QIF file used to import into Quicken. I'm trying to add an export feature to FantasyTSP and have had trouble making it work.

Thank you!


I can do that. Typically, I import prices using a PERL script that visits the TSP website, gathers the last 30 days of prices (since that's what is displayed there) and puts it into a CSV file. The format of the CSV file is pretty straightforward, but I'll have to get one later today.

For importing old transactions in a QIF file, I haven't had to do that for over a year (I enter them manually every paycheck). But again, I'll see if I still have the script around.
Post Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:00 pm
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Elena C.
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Hey guys, I have a thought for you. Here's what I do whenever I get stuck and have an issue like this... I go on odesk.com and create a new job. It only takes a few seconds. Just describe whatever it is you need help with, and you can either name a price for the job or hire at an hourly rate (capped of course). I bet if you post something like this you'll have 20 people bidding to help you for a ridiculously low sum like $4 within a couple of hours. I have had so many utterly brilliant people help me for such reasonable prices. You can get them to help you via Skype or just trade messages and files, etc. It's been a godsend for me. Thought I'd share! Smile
Post Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:59 am
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coaster
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That's an interesting suggestion, but it's a very old thread and we discourage people from resurrecting old, dead threads. When don't you open a new thread on the topic?

~Tim~
Post Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:29 am
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