One of my favorite things about Xero, an online accounting software, is its ability to automatically categorize transactions based on a customized set of rules. While other accounting software have some built-in automation features (such as pre-filling information from the last entered transaction for a payee), Xero is unique in that it categorizes transactions when they match certain conditions for payees, amounts, references, etc.
For example, I set up an automatic monthly payment on my bank’s online banking site for a recurring expense with a fixed amount. The bank sends the payment with a paper check. Xero does not import a payee or description for these particular transactions. Xero imports the amount of the check and “CHECK #XXXX” for the reference. Even with this limited criteria, these transactions can be automatically categorized with the rule shown in the screenshot below.
Creating the automatically categorized transaction in Xero and reconciling it then becomes as easy as clicking on the “OK” button. Though setting up the bank rules takes some time on the front end, it saves a ton of time in the long run.