Using Category Rules to automatically categorize transactions
A Category Rule automatically categorizes newly imported transactions for you! Category rules are checked against your transactions (after your Filters) and will re-categorize any transactions that have been automatically categorized from the bank feed 🎉
In this user guide
How category rules work
Category Rules let PocketSmith do the heavy lifting 💪🏽 for you when it comes to getting your transactions categorized. With Category Rules, you're able to set up your PocketSmith account to automatically categorize transactions just the way you like. This means less time spent manually categorizing your transactions - yay!
Category Rules work by matching a transaction's merchant name to the merchant keywords belonging to a Category Rule. If a transaction's merchant name has text in it that match the Category Rules' merchant keywords, then that transaction will be assigned to the appropriate category.
Bridie shops at Betty's Liquor store for wine. She wants all her Betty's Liquor transactions to be automatically assigned to her 🍻 Drinks category. The trouble is, each time a new transaction comes in from Betty's Liquor, it often comes in with different details in the merchant name, such as, a different time, date, or card information etc.
When Bridie sets a Category Rule for Betty's Liquor, she needs to pick out the best merchant keywords from the transaction in order for the Category Rule to be successful each time a new transaction comes in. In this case, the common merchant keyword for Bridie's transactions at Betty's Liquor is 'Bettys'.
Creating category rules and editing merchant keywords
There are a few different places around PocketSmith where a Category Rule can be created for a transaction and where you can add a transaction's specific merchant keywords to a category rule.
We recommend applying your category rules from the Categorize Items page or when editing a transaction because you can simultaneously edit the merchant keywords for that transaction.
Based on the example above with Bridie's Betty's Liquor purchase, Bridie can adjust the merchant keywords so that it just contained 'Bettys'.
Creating a category rule and editing merchant keywords from the Categorize Items page
When categorizing transactions from the Categorize Items page, you can add merchant keywords to a Category Rule so that similar future transactions are automatically categorized.
- Go to the Categorize Items page ( Accounts > Categorize Items)
- Assign a category to the transaction
- Tick the checkbox for Make this a Category Rule
- Edit the merchant keyword so that it will match future transactions
- Click Save & continue
Creating a category rule and editing merchant keywords when editing a transaction
When editing a transaction from the Transactions page, you can add merchant keywords to a category rule so that similar future transactions are automatically categorized.
- Navigate to the transaction you would like to categorize on the Transactions page ( Accounts > Transactions)
- Click on the transaction and select a category from the category dropdown
- Tick the checkbox to Make this a Category Rule
- Edit the merchant keyword so that it will match future transactions, then click Save
Adding to a Category Rule from the Transactions page
When categorizing transactions from the Transactions page, you can create a category rule for transactions so that similar future transactions are automatically categorized too. However, you'll need to head to your Settings to edit the category rule's merchant keywords.
- Head to the Transactions page ( Accounts > Transactions)
- Select all the transactions you want to categorize to the same category
- Click on the Category menu item in the toolbar
- Click the checkbox beside Make this a Category Rule
- Select a Category from the dropdown menu to categorize the transactions and create separate category rules for each set of merchant keywords
- The category will be applied to the selected transactions, and the rules will apply to any future transactions that match the merchant names in your selection
Following this, it's really important to edit your merchant keywords for the newly created category rule, as the merchant keywords may need to be refined to broaden the category rule's application.
Learn how to do this here: Editing merchant keywords
Editing a category rule
To improve the Category Rules performance so that they automatically categorize more transactions, you will want to edit the merchant keywords or the order of your Category Rules.
The following user guide explains how to edit your Category Rules: Editing category rules
Applying a category rule to past transactions
When you create a new category rule, it won’t run the rule against any existing transactions - only against new transactions that are imported to PocketSmith in the future.
If you're creating a category rule via the Categorize items page (rather than on the Transactions page), PocketSmith will attempt to apply the rule to newly imported uncategorized transactions, but generally speaking, it won't apply them to existing transactions.
However, you can force a category rule to run against your existing transactions!
- Head to Settings > Category Rules, Saved Searches & Filters
- Ensure Category rules is selected in the left menu
- Navigate to the category rule you're looking for, click the three-dot menu and select Edit
At the bottom of the list of merchant keywords, you'll see a section
Apply category rule to all matching transactions. This section will only show if there are transactions that match your category rule but are assigned to a different category, or, are currently uncategorized.
Tick the checkbox Manually apply this category rule to all transactions containing the above merchant keywords > Apply category rule > OK
Selecting this option will apply the category rule to all transactions with matching merchants, even if they have been previously categorized to another category. Consider whether this is the right option for you!
The difference between category rules and filters
Category rules work by automatically categorizing your transactions purely based on the merchant (or keywords within the merchant), of a transaction. Filters, on the other hand, can categorize your transactions based on multiple criteria, such as Merchant keyword + amount + specific account.
Filters can also apply changes to transactions other than just assigning a category.
- Add a label
- Change the merchant name
- Delete a transaction
- Mark a transaction with the transfer icon
- Assign a category
For more detail on using filters please see Everything you need to know about filters.