Archive for April, 2013

GnuCash: A Review

GnuCash is a tool for tracking your money that works on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. GnuCash has powerful features for tracking assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. Using GnuCash has helped me learn some more advanced accounting terms and concepts, such as double-entry accounting. I’m not going to explain those concepts here, as the GnuCash guide does a good job. Be sure to read both the help and the guide.

I plan to use GnuCash for many years to come. As my finances become more complicated, and my assets grow, by God’s grace, I need a tool to help me track my money. I’ve heard of other people tracking their money on spreadsheets, and I realize that if I did that, I would spend too much time trying to tweak the formulas. GnuCash has excellent data entry and reporting, saving me from writing these myself.

I consider GnuCash a compelling alternative to online finance tools, such as Mint, because it keeps my data secure on my personal computer. Of course, this raises its own risks, since there are many ways an adversary could access your data on your own computer. Still, I am more comfortable with these risks then the unknown risks of trusting the cloud.

Advantages of GnuCash

  • Using it will teach accounting concepts.
  • Register entry has powerful autocomplete and keyboard shortcuts.
  • Importing account transactions in QFX format automatically determines whether the data needs to be used to add a new transaction, or to reconcile an existing transaction.
  • The reconciliation window allows you to keep your accounts in sync with bank statements.
  • Included reports give a good overview of income and expenses.

Areas to improve

  • I wish color coding affected the accounts in the account list view, not just the color of their tab. Since I’ve heavily customized my accounts, the account list view can get longer than one screenful. Color coding would help me quickly spot a particular account.

Things still to learn

  • How to use the price editor for multiple currencies in an effective way.

Features I haven’t used

  • Budgets.
  • Recurring transactions. If I enter it manually, it reminds me that I am spending that money.