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Key Concepts

These are the basic ideas that build up Alka

💰 – Accounts & Categories
In
, we follow our own Law of Conservation of Money, which states that money never disappears—it only moves from one account to another. At their most basic level, accounts and categories are handled in a very similar way and both can be referenced simply as 'accounts'.

As an example, if you ever have a transaction where you've spent $50 on a dinner with your friend Bob, it basically means that you have moved money from, let's say, your account 'Chase/Credit Card' into the 'Expenses/Food/Restaurants' and 'IOU/Bob' accounts.

Protip: You can nest accounts together by adding / in between an account's name and its parent.


What is the difference?
Accounts tend to be grouped under 'Assets & Liabilities' (aka Balance Sheet Accounts) while Categories will be grouped under 'Income & Expenses' (aka Income Statement Accounts).

In short, Balance Sheet Accounts are all those accounts where knowing their exact balance at any point in time is important (ie. Credit Cards, Investments, Loans, etc.). On the other hand, Income Statement Accounts represent the inflow and outflow of money (ie. Salary, Utilities, Supplies, etc.).


External Categories
Whenever new transactions get added into your ledger through any of your connections, we try our best to categorize them based on the information we receive from your bank.

Nonetheless, these categories might not actually be accurate. For example, you could end up with both Uber Ride and Uber Eats transactions categorized under the same 'Transportation' categories whereas the latter would make more sense to be categorized as 'Delivery'.

External Categories should mostly be seen as a hint towards where your transactions should go but not as a last destination. Our recommendation would be to create your own categories in a way that fits how you look at your finances.


Type & Subtype
This will allow you to further categorize your accounts and categories into specific groups without having to necessarily nest them together.

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As an example, adding an 'Online' type to all your online account providers will help you identify them easily, regardless of the institution it belongs to.

Protip: You can group your accounts by type by adding groupBy:type in your Display Query.

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🏦 – Chart of Accounts
This is the place where you'll find a complete list of /; as well as create, delete or modify all your accounts.

By drilling into your Chart of Accounts, you can quickly gather information about each account's 'Book Balance' compared against 'Bank Balance', know when it was last synced, the total amount of postings in it and even update an account's balance.

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The Chart of Accounts is divided into 3 main groups:

Assets & Liabilities
Also known as Balance Sheet accounts, they are used to categorize those transactions that involve assets you own and liabilities you owe. Their balances represent a "snapshot" of your finances at any given point.

Examples of Balance Sheet accounts include: Cash, Investments, Properties, Accounts Payable, Loans, etc.


Income & Expenses
Also known as Income Statement accounts, they represent all the inflows and outflows of value over a period of time and together help you figure out your Net Income.

Examples of Income Statement accounts include: Restaurants, Salary, Transportation, Sales, Rent, Utilities, etc.


Other accounts
There are certain transactions that might not fit under Assets & Liabilities nor Income & Expenses and therefore are nested under 'Other'.

Examples of Other accounts include: Initial balance, Transfers, Balance Assignments and .



📈 – Financial Report
A financial report is the perfect way of visualizing the in's and out's of how your money is moving through your accounts.

It is composed of a chart and a pivot table that can be configured by selecting a date range, specific accounts and many more settings to drill further into your data.

Protip: Quickly access your financial report by pressing G then R on your keyboard.


Chart
The middle line represents you balances, the green bars the inflows and the red bars the outflows. Hovering over any of these items will give you more information about that specific date.

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Pivot Table
By default, it consists of a table with a main column showing your accounts and a second column divided onto cells that showcase a an account's balance, the change over a specific period of time and the amount of transactions added during said period.
When clicking on any given cell inside the pivot table, you'll get a full list of all the transactions that occurred in that specific point in time.

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Further reading:
@How can I create custom financial reports?



📥 – Inbox
It is the space where you will receive all your ledger's transactions when they created manually, through bank connections or after importing a CSV file.

Whether you take care of your finances every day, a couple of times a week or once a month; the inbox tells you exactly what needs your attention at any given point in time.

Easily move through it by pressing J to go forward or K to go backwards, categorize and label accordingly in a way that fits your life and once you're done with a transaction, don't forget to press E to mark it as done and get it out your way. Repeat however many times necessary until you reach Inbox Zero—turn this into a habit and you'll soon be dealing with your finances several times faster than before.


Inbox Zero
It is the reward for getting through your finances—an empty transaction inbox means less worries on your mind to distract you from the things that really matter.


📒 – Ledgers
A ledger is the financial workspace where you'll be handling your data. Within it, you'll find all your transactions, accounts, categories, connections and ledger settings.


Members
Ledgers can be shared between multiple people by inviting them to participate from the settings pages. Each member of a ledger will have access to all the information within a ledger.

Further reading:
@How can I invite members into my ledger?

Handle
All ledgers must have a unique handle that will function as your ledger's address. You can use this address to share the direct link of your ledger (ie. alka.app/my-ledger).

Protip: Ledger handles can only contain alphanumeric characters and short dashes.


Shortcut
Each ledger can be quickly accessed by using their dedicated shortcut. To reference your ledger's shortcut, click on the dropdown menu over the top left corner of the app.

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Multiple Ledgers
In some cases, financial data needs to be separate––for example when handling personal finances vs business finances. To do this, it is possible to create different ledgers that will function completely separate.

Protip: Create a new ledger by pressing CMD/CTRL then K and searching for the 'Create new ledger' action in the omnibar.

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🏷 – Labels
Another way of grouping items together is via labels, which can be used to identify related transactions that might otherwise not be related at all.

A good example of this could be a surprise birthday party for your friend Bob. Thanks to labels, expenses such as food, drinks, gifts, local and even the weird animal balloons he likes so much can be categorized accordingly while still being accounted towards the total cost of the event.

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☁️ – Omnibar
It is the center of command for everything and anything you might want to do with Alka.

Do you want to categorize your transactions in bulk? Omnibar. Do you want to create a new account? Omnibar. Do you want to enable our sexy-looking dark mode? Omnibar.

In fact, new actions will be constantly added into your omnibar as you create new accounts, labels, etc., to the point where you'll never need to remove your hands from the keyboard—ever.


How does it work?
Press CMD then K to activate it and search for an action to execute, such as labeling in bulk. Once located, press Enter and let the command be executed.

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🎓 – Smart Views
Smart Views are an integral part of the Alka experience—everything you see by default, from your to the , is just a different Smart View configuration we've pre-built to determine how the data should be displayed in specific pages.

At its core, a Smart View consists of a Filter Query (what data should be shown) and a Display Query (how data should be displayed) and you can learn more about the specifics of this in our .


Saving Smart Views
You might find yourself wanting to come back to a specific Smart View, which can be done quickly by clicking on the 'Save' button on the top right corner of your screen and selecting the 'Save as Smart View' option from the dropdown menu.

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Once saved, it will appear under the Smart Views section on the left sidebar.



📃 – Transactions & Postings
A transaction in the most basic sense is a movement of money (or commodities) from one place to another. In the case of a person purchasing an item from a retail store it is the movement of cash from that person's wallet to the retail store's cash register.

Another example of a transaction is receiving a paycheck from your employer and having it deposited to your bank checking account. Even the movement of money from your bank checking to your bank savings account is a transaction.

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Figure 1.1 - A transfer of money from a 'Checking' account to 'Savings' account


Postings
A posting is the underlying balancing act within a transaction. When you transfer $1000 from 'Checking' to 'Savings' account, your 'Checking' account has $1000 leave from the account and moves $1000 to your 'Savings' account.

In your 'Checking' account we represent this movement out of the account with a parenthesis of ($1,000) rather than a negative number so as not to imply a "loss" of money since no money is actually lost in the transaction but rather moved from one place to another. The lack of a parenthesis in a posting's amount implies movement of money towards this account.

In any given transaction, the sum of all posting amounts must balance to zero. There can be any number of postings within a single transaction but there is always a minimum of two (at least one posting is used to balance the other).

Summary
In summary you can think of a transaction as the movement of money from one (or multiple) source(s) to another source(s).

A transaction is like a container that holds multiple postings, and each posting shows the source and destination accounts by either using parenthesis on the amount (outflow) or the absence of parenthesis (inflow).

Further reading:
@How can I share a bill with friends?

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