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Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, United States
A guy finding out if life really does begin at 50.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


In a prior post Fresh New Year I mentioned I installed and starting using GnuCash. It's been over a month now and I have reconciled a bank statement. I'm no GnuCash expert, but I do now have the basics down.

Since my first post I've added another 25 accounts (mostly for expense). Accounts are easy to create - just a couple clicks. You can edit accounts after creating and rename or move from one parent account to another which is handy. Accounts are hierarchical and you can nest sub accounts. I have a top level account called Expenses, with many sub accounts. For example under Expenses I have an Auto account with a sub account of Gasoline which has two sub accounts xB and GMC which are my two vehicles. Auto has other sub accounts for Maintenance, Insurance, and Fees. The names of these accounts can be whatever I like, and I can have as many as I wish. The Summary page rolls up the accounts showing balances at each level. So it's a snap to see that I've spent $311 on Auto expenses this year, and $83 of that was for Gas, with $56 worth of Gas for the GMC, and $27 for the xB. All of that was shown on the account summary without actually looking at any account register.

Entering transactions is easy. Simple check register style. You 'transfer' money from one account (your checking account) to another account, Expense>Auto>Gas>GMC or example. The from account (Checking) balance decreases and the other account increases. So the core concept is you are moving money around. Your paycheck transfers money from an Income account to your checking account. Income accounts like expense accounts can have as many sub accounts as you wish. All the base accounts (Asset, Liabilities, Expenses, Income, and Equity, Trading, Banking, Receivable, and Payable) can have as many sub accounts as desired.

GnuCash allows importing from QFX/QIF so I was able to easily import my downloaded Credit Card transactions and my banking account transactions. You can schedule reoccurring transactions. It uses memorized transactions to pre-fill accounts and fields as you enter new transactions which saves typing. You enter Walmart with account Expenses>Groceries once and the next time you start a new transaction and type a 'w' it suggests Walmart with the account Expenses>Groceries.

Split transactions let you transfer money to multiple account in one transaction. For example, a paycheck gross amount is transferred from an Income account, then taxes and other deductions transfer to other accounts, and the net is transferred to your checking account. The split transaction was a bit confusing at first. After mastering it, it turned out to be a lot like Quicken's split transaction.

I need to use GnuCash Budgeting next and then I'll take a crack at setting up my Investment accounts. So at this point I'd say GnuCash did have a bit of a learning curve, but so far so good.