Check register and accounting system, too? (evaluation) C. A. Johnson.
I have seen several programs that provide a record of checkbook activity. Generally, they provide a subroutine for balancing your checkbook against the monthly bank statement, and not much more. For me, they have been more trouble than they were worth.
Perhaps, I did not learn how to use them properly, but it appeared to me that they more than doubled the work of maintaining my checkbook. When you have to keep a manual record so that you will know the status of your bank account any time you write a check, entering the data again into the computer just to reconcile your records with the bank statement hardly seems worth the effort and takes longer than balancing with a pocket calculator.
So, I had given up on computerizing my checkbook records--until Maxi C.R.A.S.
Maxi C.R.A.S is not only a check register system, but an excellent double entry accounting system, as well. It is a conversational, menu-driven program. It is so user-oriented that even the newest computer tyro can use it without difficulty, yet it provides a sophisticated set of reports which are designed to aid in money management and ease the pain of completing the Internal Revenue Service forms.
The documentation is well written, clear, and to the point. All features of the program appear to have been dealt with in an excellent manner. Some hints on advanced uses of the program are provided, but I am convinced that there are many additional applications and variations of this program which will be developed by those who make serious use of it. The Account Structure Naturally, as with any accounting system, the first chore is to define the account structure. In Maxi C.R.A.S., you may establish as many as 223 accounts, divided in any way you choose between expense and income accounts. Once the account structure has been established and the transactions entered, the account structure cannot be altered nor can any of the transactions be edited. Of course, you can always start over, define a new account structure and reenter the data, if you wish.
To allow for oversights in defining the accounts, I recommend that you include several "undefined" accounts in both the expense and income account lists. Maxi C.R.A.S. allows you to edit the account tiltes later. If you reserve a larger number of accounts than you intially think you need and enter the extra accounts with blank titles, you may add the actual titles later. The accounts will be there to use as you discover your need for them.
The program does not restrict you to a one check-one account entry. If you write a check for a group of items which span several accounts, you may enter the total amount of the check for the check register and then break out the amounts to be entered into the accounting system according to the accounts to which they belong.
It is a standard practice in accounting that nothing is ever erased once it is entered into the books. Errors are generally corrected by entering new transactions, properly identified as corrections, to offset the errors. Maxi C.R.A.S. conforms to this practice.
After entering the data for a transaction into the computer, you are given a last chance to review it and either cancel it or add it to the disk file. You may include a note as part of the transaction if an explanation is desired. Once the transaction has been written to disk, however, it cannot be changed.
By including a CASH account, you can handle cash expenditures without affecting your checkbook balance. This is done by entering a 0.00 for the check amount and offsetting the purchase with a negative CASH amount and a positive amount for the other accounts. Printing Checks
Maxi C.R.A.S. provides for printing checks as well as reports. At the time the transactions are entered, your are asked if you wish to print the check. If you reply "Yes," a notation is made into a special file. When you are ready to print checks, you select the proper item from the menu and indicate whether you are using continuous form checks.
If you answer N you may print checks singly. The program will not allow you to print a check more than once. If you wish to use window envelopes to mail your checks, you may build an address file and the program will pick up the address and include it on the check at printing time.
Several useful reports are provided. The Check Register Statement (Figure 1) is a two-page report (too wide for a single page printing) showing all of the transactions during the month with a running balance.
Other reports include check Register Notes, Income and Expense Account Subtotals (Figure 2), selected Account Statement (Figure 3), Checkbook Reconciliation, and Account Distribution Statement (Figure 4). Pros and Cons
One of the outstanding features of Maxi C.R.A.S. is its ability to interface with VisiCalc. The format for the file set up for VisiCalc is as follows: Account names are in the first column, opening balances for each account in the second column, and monthly balances in the remaining columns. Once you get the data into VisiCalc, you can manipulate it in many ways. If you are a VisiCalc devotee as I am, you will agree that this feature alone is worth the price of the program.
Of all the many things that Maxi C.R.A.S. does, there is only one that I am not happy with. The report program is designed to be used with continuous form paper. There is no provision for pausing at the end of each page to insert a new sheet of paper. I attempted to provide the Figures for this article with my daisy wheel printer and gave up in utter frustration. I could not insert the new pages quickly enough. It seems to me that it would have been a simple matter to have provided the capability to select either continuous feed or single sheet reporting.
Written specifically for the TRS-80, Maxi C.R.S.A. is supplied with both Model I and Model III versions. The Model I version comes on two disks, and the Model III is supplied on a single disk. Both versions are delivered on disks with TDOS, a stripped down version of DOSPLUS. If you wish to use a different operating system, the instructions for conversion are provided.
Products: Adventure International Maxi C.R.A.S. (computer program) - Evaluation