POTM for January: GnuCash

This month’s Project of the Month is GnuCash, the personal and small-business financial-accounting software.

I use GnuCash to keep track of my finances. Even before I started my business, GnuCash helped me to organize my income, expenses, and bills. I have stopped using my checkbook’s registry just because it is easier to use GnuCash to update my savings and checking accounts.

What appealed to me was the familiarity I already had with this system. I took a couple of years of accounting in high school (thanks, Mr. Mullin!), and so I was quite familiar with ledgers, journals, debits, and credits. Don’t think that you need to know accounting to use GnuCash. It’s just that knowledge of the principles of accounting help, regardless of the application or tools you use to balance your books. I haven’t used anything like Quicken or Money, so I can’t comment on them. I do know that when trying to setup either of those programs on someone else’s machine, I had a tough time figuring out how to enter transactions. It just wasn’t worth the effort to figure out how those applications tried to make it “easier” for me.

By the way, if you already use Quicken or Money, it can import your data, so if accounting software is the only thing preventing you from moving to a different operating system, you don’t have to feel that your data is stuck.

GnuCash provides a way to see your financial data in customizable reports, complete with graphs and charts. You can use multiple currencies, track your stock portfolio, manage your small business, reconcile your statements, and schedule transactions. I personally haven’t used all of these features, but I am starting to do more and more. I recently decided to transfer a set amount each month to my ING Direct account, and instead of requiring me to remember to manually enter the amount each month, GnuCash does it for me.

The only feature I am waiting for is the ability to close balances. Supposedly, the code is actually written for this feature, but it is disabled since it has not been tested thoroughly enough. For now, each December 31st, I manually transfer all of my expenses and revenues into a temporary account, then I transfer the balance to my equity account.

To donate to this project, please visit http://sourceforge.net/donate/index.php?group_id=192 or learn about other ways to help.

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