GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide
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GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide

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GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide
Yawar Amin, GnuCash Documentation Team
Tom Bullock
Carol Champagne
Mike Evans
Dave Herman, GnuCash Documentation Team
Geert Janssens, Development Team
Jon Lapham, GnuCash Team
Chris Lyttle, Team
Cristian Marchi, GnuCash Documentation Team
Bengt Thuree, Team GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide
by Yawar Amin, Tom Bullock, Carol Champagne, Mike Evans, Dave Herman, Geert Janssens, Jon Lapham, Chris
Lyttle, Cristian Marchi, and Bengt Thuree
This Guide contains a tutorial for using GnuCash and describes the concepts behind GnuCash.
Copyright © 2010-2011 Yawar Amin © 2010 Tom Bullock
Copyright © 2010-2011 Cristian Marchi © 2009-2011 Geert Janssens
Copyright © 2006 Chris Lyttle © 2003-2004 Jon Lapham
Copyright © 2002 Chris Lyttle © 2001 Carol Champagne and Chris Lyttle
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), Version
1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
You can find a copy of the GFDL at this link [ghelp:fdl] or in the file COPYING-DOCS distributed with this manual.
This manual is part of a collection of GNOME manuals distributed under the ...

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GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide Yawar Amin, GnuCash Documentation Team Tom Bullock Carol Champagne Mike Evans Dave Herman, GnuCash Documentation Team Geert Janssens, Development Team Jon Lapham, GnuCash Team Chris Lyttle, Team Cristian Marchi, GnuCash Documentation Team Bengt Thuree, Team GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide by Yawar Amin, Tom Bullock, Carol Champagne, Mike Evans, Dave Herman, Geert Janssens, Jon Lapham, Chris Lyttle, Cristian Marchi, and Bengt Thuree This Guide contains a tutorial for using GnuCash and describes the concepts behind GnuCash. Copyright © 2010-2011 Yawar Amin © 2010 Tom Bullock Copyright © 2010-2011 Cristian Marchi © 2009-2011 Geert Janssens Copyright © 2006 Chris Lyttle © 2003-2004 Jon Lapham Copyright © 2002 Chris Lyttle © 2001 Carol Champagne and Chris Lyttle Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. You can find a copy of the GFDL at this link [ghelp:fdl] or in the file COPYING-DOCS distributed with this manual. This manual is part of a collection of GNOME manuals distributed under the GFDL. If you want to distribute this manual separately from the collection, you can do so by adding a copy of the license to the manual, as described in section 6 of the license. Many of the names used by companies to distinguish their products and services are claimed as trademarks. Where those names appear in any GNOME documentation, and the members of the GNOME Documentation Project are made aware of those trademarks, then the names are in capital letters or initial capital letters. DOCUMENT AND MODIFIED VERSIONS OF THE DOCUMENT ARE PROVIDED UNDER THE TERMS OF THE GNU FREE DOCUMENTATION LICENSE WITH THE FURTHER UNDERSTANDING THAT: 1. DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, WARRANTIES THAT THE DOCUMENT OR MODIFIED VERSION OF THE DOCUMENT IS FREE OF DEFECTS MERCHANTABLE, FIT FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR NON-INFRINGING. THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO THE QUALITY, ACCURACY, AND PERFORMANCE OF THE DOCUMENT OR MODIFIED VERSION OF THE DOCUMENT IS WITH YOU. SHOULD ANY DOCUMENT OR MODIFIED VERSION PROVE DEFECTIVE IN ANY RESPECT, YOU (NOT THE INITIAL WRITER, AUTHOR OR ANY CONTRIBUTOR) ASSUME THE COST OF ANY NECESSARY SERVICING, REPAIR OR CORRECTION. THIS DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY CONSTITUTES AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THIS LICENSE. NO USE OF ANY DOCUMENT OR MODIFIED VERSION OF THE DOCUMENT IS AUTHORIZED HEREUNDER EXCEPT UNDER THIS DISCLAIMER; AND 2. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES AND UNDER NO LEGAL THEORY, WHETHER IN TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), CONTRACT, OR OTHERWISE, SHALL THE AUTHOR, INITIAL WRITER, ANY CONTRIBUTOR, OR ANY DISTRIBUTOR OF THE DOCUMENT OR MODIFIED VERSION OF THE DOCUMENT, OR ANY SUPPLIER OF ANY OF SUCH PARTIES, BE LIABLE TO ANY PERSON FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY CHARACTER INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF GOODWILL, WORK STOPPAGE, COMPUTER FAILURE OR MALFUNCTION, OR ANY AND ALL OTHER OR LOSSES ARISING OUT OF OR RELATING TO USE OF THE DOCUMENT AND MODIFIED VERSIONS OF THE DOCUMENT, EVEN IF SUCH PARTY SHALL HAVE BEEN INFORMED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. Feedback To report a bug or make a suggestion regarding this package or this manual, follow the directions at the GNOME Bug Tracking System [http:// bugzilla.gnome.org]. Table of Contents 1. Overview ....................................................................................................................... 1 Introduction ............................................................................................................... 1 Features .................................................................................................................... 1 Easy to Use ....................................................................................................... 1 Tracks Your Investments ..................................................................................... 2 International Support ........................................................................................... 3 Business Support ................................................................................................ 3 Accounting Features ............................................................................................ 3 What’s New in 2.4 ............................................................................................. 3 New in v2.0 ............................................................................................ 4 About this Book ......................................................................................................... 4 Top Ten Reasons to Use GnuCash ................................................................................ 6 Installation ................................................................................................................ 7 2. The Basics ..................................................................................................................... 8 Accounting Concepts .................................................................................................. 8 The 5 Basic Accounts ......................................................................................... 8 The Accounting Equation ..................................................................................... 8 Double Entry ..................................................................................................... 9 Data Entry Concepts ................................................................................................... 9 Files ................................................................................................................. 9 Accounts ......................................................................................................... 10 Transactions ..................................................................................................... 10 Interface .................................................................................................................. 10 Tip of the Day ................................................................................................. 10 Account Tree Window ....................................................................................... 11 Register Window .................................................................................. 12 Toolbar Buttons ................................................................................................ 12 Menu Items ..................................................................................................... 13 Menu Shortcuts ................................................................................................ 13 Getting Help ............................................................................................................ 13 Help Manual .................................................................................................... 13 Web Access ..................................................................................................... 13 Topic Search .................................................................................................... 14 Storing your financial data ......................................................................................... 14 Creating a file .................................................................................................. 14 Saving data ...................................................................................................... 14 Opening data .................................................................................................... 17 Backing Up and Recovering Data ................................................................................ 17 Backup file (.gnucash) ....................................................................................... 17 Log file (.log) .................................................................................................. 18 Lock files (.LNK and .LCK) ............................................................................... 18 File Management .............................................................................................. 18 Putting It All Together .............................................................................................. 19 3. Accounts ..................................................................................................................... 23 Basic Accounting Concepts ........................................................................................ 23 Balance Sheet Accounts ..................................................................................... 23 Income and Expense Accounts ............................................................................ 23 GnuCash Accounts .................................................................................................... 24 Balance Sheet Accounts ..................................................................................... 24 Income and Expense Accounts ............................................................................ 26 Putting It All Together .............................................................................................. 27 iii GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide Simple Example ............................................................................................... 27 The Basic Top Level Accounts ........................................................................... 27 Making Sub-Accounts ....................................................................................... 29 4. Transactions ................................................................................................................. 31 Basic Concepts ......................................................................................................... 31 The Account Register ................................................................................................ 31 Simple Transaction ............................................................................................ 31 Split ............................................................................................... 32 Features of the Account Register ......................................................................... 33 Choosing a Register Style .......................................................................................... 34 Using Entry Shortcuts ................................................................................................ 35 Reconciliation .......................................................................................................... 36 Reconcile windows ........................................................................................... 37 Scheduled Transactions .............................................................................................. 40 Creating from the Ledger ................................................................................... 40 from the Editor .................................................................................... 42 Putting It All Together .............................................................................................. 47 Open GnuCash file ........................................................................................... 47 Opening Balances ............................................................................................. 48 Additional Transaction Examples ......................................................................... 49 Save file .......................................................................................................... 50 Reports ........................................................................................................... 50 5. Checkbook ................................................................................................................... 53 Setting up Accounts .................................................................................................. 53 Entering Deposits ..................................................................................................... 53 Withdrawals ................................................................................................ 54 ATM/Cash Withdrawals ..................................................................................... 54 Reconciling Your Accounts ........................................................................................ 55 Putting It All Together .............................................................................................. 55 Opening Balances ............................................................................................. 55 Add some transactions ....................................................................................... 56 Opening Balances ............................................................................................. 57 Save file .......................................................................................................... 58 Reports ........................................................................................................... 59 6. Credit Cards ................................................................................................................. 62 Concepts ................................................................................................................. 62 Setting Up Accounts ................................................................................................. 62 Simple Setup .................................................................................................... 62 Complete Setup ................................................................................................ 63 Entering Charges ...................................................................................................... 63 Payments .................................................................................................... 64 Putting It All Together .............................................................................................. 65 Open GnuCash file ........................................................................................... 65 Purchases ........................................................................................................ 66 Refund ............................................................................................................ 67 Interest Charge ................................................................................................. 67 Reconciliation .................................................................................................. 67 Payment .......................................................................................................... 68 Save file .......................................................................................................... 70 Reports ........................................................................................................... 70 7. Loans .......................................................................................................................... 72 Basic Concepts ......................................................................................................... 72 Terminology .................................................................................................... 72 Setting Up Accounts ................................................................................................. 72 iv GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide Calculations ............................................................................................................. 73 Example: Monthly Payments .............................................................................. 74 Length of Loan ................................................................................... 74 Advanced: Calculation Details ............................................................................ 74 House Mortgage (How-To) ......................................................................................... 76 A Personal Loan to a friend (How-To) ......................................................................... 78 Loan Specifications ........................................................................................... 78 Accounts for the loan ........................................................................................ 79 Lending the money ........................................................................................... 79 Receiving first payment ..................................................................................... 80 second ................................................................................. 81 Automobile Loan (How-To) ....................................................................................... 82 Reconciling with the Loan Statements (How-To) ............................................................ 82 Selling a house or a car (How-To) ............................................................................... 82 Simple Transaction ............................................................................................ 83 A More Complex Transaction ............................................................................. 84 Missing Loan Documentation ...................................................................................... 85 8. Investments .................................................................................................................. 86 Basic Concepts ......................................................................................................... 86 Terminology .................................................................................................... 86 Types of Investments ......................................................................................... 87 Setting Up Accounts ................................................................................................. 88 Predefined Accounts .......................................................................................... 88 Custom Example ................................................................................. 88 Interest Bearing Accounts .......................................................................................... 90 Account Setup .................................................................................................. 90 Example .......................................................................................................... 90 Setup Investment Portfolio ......................................................................................... 92 Setup Accounts for Stocks and Mutual Funds ........................................................ 92 Example Stock Account ..................................................................................... 93 Buying Shares .......................................................................................................... 95 Entering Preexisting Shares ................................................................................ 95 Buying New Shares ........................................................................................... 96 Setting Share Price .................................................................................................... 96 Initial Price Editor Setup .................................................................................... 96 Setting Stock Price Manually .............................................................................. 97 Configuring for Automatic Retrieval of Quotes ...................................................... 97 Displaying Share Value ..................................................................................... 99 Selecting “Price Source” in Stock Value Reports .................................................... 99 Selling Shares ......................................................................................................... 101 Example - Sale of stock with profit .................................................................... 101 - Sale of stock with loss ...................................................................... 102 Dividends .............................................................................................................. 103 Dividends in Cash ........................................................................................... 103 Re-Invested ..................................................................................... 104 Splits and Mergers .................................................................................................. 105 Simple Stock Split ........................................................................................... 105 Moderately Complex Stock Merger .................................................................... 108 9. Capital Gains .............................................................................................................. 111 Basic Concepts ....................................................................................................... 111 Estimating Valuation ............................................................................................... 111 Account Setup ........................................................................................................ 112 Example ................................................................................................................ 113 Unrealized Gains ............................................................................................. 113 v GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide Selling ........................................................................................................... 114 Caution about Valuation ................................................................................... 116 Taxation ................................................................................................................ 116 10. Multiple Currencies .................................................................................................... 118 Basic Concepts ....................................................................................................... 118 Account Setup ........................................................................................................ 118 User-Defined Currencies ................................................................................... 119 Recording/Updating Currency Exchange (How-To) ....................................................... 120 Manually Updating Exchange Rates ................................................................... 121 Automatic Rates (How-To) .................................................... 122 Disabling Exchange Rate Retrieval ..................................................................... 123 Recording Purchases in a Foreign Currency (How-To) ................................................... 124 Purchase of an asset with foreign currency ........................................................... 124 Purchasing foreign stocks ................................................................................. 127 Tracking Currency Investments (How-To) ................................................................... 130 Purchasing a currency investment ....................................................................... 130 Selling a currency ............................................................................ 131 Reconciling Statements in a Foreign Currency (How-To) ................................................ 131 Putting It All Together (Examples) ............................................................................. 131 Basic scenario ................................................................................................ 131 Configure Accounts ......................................................................................... 132 Opening Balance ............................................................................................. 132 Purchase a house ............................................................................................. 133 Stock Purchasing ............................................................................................. 134 Get the online quotes ....................................................................................... 135 Lending money to a friend ................................................................................ 135 Buying property in New Zealand with a loan from Japan ........................................ 136 Whats next? ................................................................................................... 136 11. Depreciation .............................................................................................................. 137 Basic Concepts ....................................................................................................... 137 Personal Finances ............................................................................................ 137 Business ........................................................................................................ 137 Estimating Valuation ............................................................................................... 138 Depreciation Schemes ...................................................................................... 138 Account Setup ........................................................................................................ 140 Example ................................................................................................................ 141 12. Accounts Receivable .................................................................................................. 143 Overview of Business Features .................................................................................. 143 Basic Concepts ....................................................................................................... 143 Initial Setup ........................................................................................................... 143 Account Setup ................................................................................................ 143 Company Registration ...................................................................................... 144 System Components ................................................................................................ 144 Customers .............................................................................................................. 144 New .............................................................................................................. 144 Find and Edit ................................................................................................. 146 Invoices ................................................................................................................. 147 New .............................................................................................................. 147 Edit .............................................................................................................. 148 Post .............................................................................................................. 149 Find .............................................................................................................. 150 Print .............................................................................................................. 151 Assign Starting Invoice Number ........................................................................ 151 Customer Jobs ........................................................................................................ 152 vi GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide Process Payment ..................................................................................................... 153 Changing the Invoice Appearance .............................................................................. 154 13. Accounts Payable ....................................................................................................... 156 Basic Concepts ....................................................................................................... 156 Initial Setup ........................................................................................................... 156 Account Setup ................................................................................................ 156 Company Registration ...................................................................................... 156 System Components ................................................................................................ 157 Vendors ................................................................................................................. 157 New .............................................................................................................. 157 Find and Edit ................................................................................................. 158 Bills ...................................................................................................................... 159 New .............................................................................................................. 159 Edit .............................................................................................................. 160 Post .............................................................................................................. 161 Find .............................................................................................................. 162 Vendor Jobs ........................................................................................................... 162 Process Payment ..................................................................................................... 163 14. Payroll ..................................................................................................................... 165 Basic Concepts ....................................................................................................... 165 Account Setup ........................................................................................................ 165 Protocol ................................................................................................................. 166 Step 1: Deductions list ..................................................................................... 166 Step 2: Create the Transaction Map .................................................................... 166 Step 3: Pay the Employee ................................................................................. 167 Step 4: Pay the Government .............................................................................. 167 Example ................................................................................................................ 167 Build Protocol ................................................................................................ 168 Pay an Employee ............................................................................................ 169 Pay the Government ........................................................................................ 170 15. Budgets .................................................................................................................... 171 Basic Concepts ....................................................................................................... 171 Terminology ................................................................................................... 171 Creating a Budget ................................................................................................... 171 Choose Which Accounts To Budget For .............................................................. 171 Choosing a Budget Period ................................................................................ 172 Getting Started ................................................................................................ 172 Entering Budget Values .................................................................................... 172 Budget Reporting .................................................................................................... 172 16. Other Assets ............................................................................................................. 174 General Concepts .................................................................................................... 174 Other Assets Described ............................................................................................ 174 Current Assets ................................................................................................ 174 Long-term (Fixed) Assets ................................................................................. 174 Current Assets ........................................................................................................ 174 Short-term Receivables ..................................................................................... 175 Reimbursable Expenses .................................................................................... 175 Travel Advances ............................................................................................. 176 Prepaid Premiums or Prepaid Rent ..................................................................... 176 Suspense or Wash Accounts .............................................................................. 177 Short or Long-term Assets ........................................................................................ 178 Long-term (Fixed) ......................................................................................... 178 Land ............................................................................................................. 178 Buildings ....................................................................................................... 178 vii GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide Leasehold Improvements .................................................................................. 179 Vehicles or Equipment ..................................................................................... 179 Intangibles ..................................................................................................... 179 17. Python Extensions ...................................................................................................... 180 Import Bills or Invoices ........................................................................................... 180 Notes for Python authors .................................................................................. 182 A brief description of each field ........................................................................ 182 A. Migration Guide ......................................................................................................... 184 Using Accounts vs. Categories .................................................................................. 184 Organization of QIF Files (Discussion) ....................................................................... 184 Common Duplication Issues .................................................................... 184 Checking QIF Data (Discussion) ................................................................................ 184 Converting XML GnuCash File ................................................................................. 184 B. Frequently Asked Questions .......................................................................................... 186 Sources of Information ............................................................................................. 186 Q: Where’s the FAQ? ...................................................................................... 186 Q: Are there mailing lists for GnuCash? .............................................................. 186 Q: Is there a searchable archive for the mailing lists? ............................................. 186 Q: Are there other means of obtaining support for GnuCash? ................................... 186 General Information ................................................................................................. 186 Q: Can I run GnuCash on Windows? .................................................................. 186 Q: I heard it is too hard to compile GnuCash! ...................................................... 186 Q: Is there a batch mode (non-interactive) available for GnuCash, for building reports, etc? ............................................................................................................... 187 Q: Can multiple people access the same datafile in GnuCash? ................................. 187 Q: Why is GnuCash written in C? ...................................................................... 187 Q: Why don’t you rewrite GnuCash in programming language xyz so that I can contribute easily? ............................................................................................ 187 Q: I really want feature XYZ but GnuCash doesn’t have it. How do I get it added? ....... 187 Q: Is there a web interface available for GnuCash? ................................................ 188 Q: How can I provide security for GnuCash data using CFS, etc.) ............................. 188 Q: How can I contribute to the project? .................................................. 188 Q: I think I found a bug. How do I report it? ....................................................... 188 Using GnuCash ....................................................................................................... 188 Q: How can I move the transactions from account “A” into account “B”, thus combining them? ............................................................................................. 188 Q: Is it possible to merge two GnuCash files? ...................................................... 188 Q: How can I save a template of my account structure? .......................................... 189 Q: When I search for customers (or anything else for that matter), how can I return a list of everything? ........................................................................................... 189 Q: How can I record a transaction on different dates (actual date and bank date)? ......... 189 Accounting ............................................................................................................. 189 Q: How do I treat taxes? As an account payable or as an expense? ............................ 189 C. Contributed Account Trees ........................................................................................... 190 UK Vat ................................................................................................................. 190 D. Auxiliary File Formats ................................................................................................. 193 Check Format Files (*.chk) .................................................................................... 193 Overview ....................................................................................................... 193 Example file ................................................................................................... 193 Field Descriptions ........................................................................................... 194 Creating Check Format Files ............................................................................. 202 E. GNU Free Documentation License ................................................................................. 203 0. PREAMBLE ....................................................................................................... 203 1. APPLICABILITY AND DEFINITIONS .................................................................. 203 viii GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide 2. VERBATIM COPYING ....................................................................................... 204 3. COPYING IN QUANTITY ................................................................................... 204 4. MODIFICATIONS .............................................................................................. 205 5. COMBINING DOCUMENTS ................................................................................ 206 6. COLLECTIONS OF ....................................................................... 206 7. AGGREGATION WITH INDEPENDENT WORKS .................................................. 207 8. TRANSLATION ................................................................................................. 207 9. TERMINATION ................................................................................................. 207 10. FUTURE REVISIONS OF THIS LICENSE ........................................................... 207 Addendum ............................................................................................................. 207 ix List of Figures 2.1. The basic accounts relationships ..................................................................................... 9 2.2. Save screen when XML or sqlite3 is selected. .................................................................. 15 2.3. Save when mysql or postgres is ............................................................... 16 4.1. Entering a split transaction ........................................................................................... 32 x