gnucash newbie question.

Thomas Vander Stichele
Mon, 20 Aug 2001 22:19:34 +0200 (CEST)


I'm new to gnucash, but I have been experimenting with it all weekend and
I have a few questions.  I hope this is the right place, as I have no
complaints about gnucash in itself (great program !) and a few questions
re: basic accounting stuff.

First off, I'm running gnucash 1.4.9, since my laptop runs Redhat 6.2 and
I'm not really in the mood to upgrade all of the libraries gnucash 1.6
needs ;)

Second, I'm using gnucash at the moment to manage finances of four people
living in a house.  I want to keep track of basic stuff like rent,
utilities, phone bills, collective buys, ...

I'm running into a few basic problems.

First off, it is my understanding that you cannot have different types of
accounts (ie. bank and cash) in a tree.  I would like to be able to group
accounts according to function; for example "small living expenses", which
could be food and stuff.  This could be paid for either by cash or from a
bank account, and I'd like to combine that.  Is that a bad way of working

Maybe this particular problem is solved by my second question.

In one of the examples, an ATM account is considered cash, why I would
consider that a bank account.  How should such an account be treated ? If
it is cash, what is meant by a bank account ? Money that is locked in the
account for a period of time ?

Finally, a more difficult question.  I'm having a hard time in deciding
what kinds of accounts to create for certain things.  The main thing I
want to be able to do is to check if each of the four persons has paid all
of the money he's due in comparison to the other people pertaining to
rent. But sometimes
the money comes from different sources (they could pay in cash, they could
transfer it from one or another account, or have a parent pay for it from
their account ;) ) So I think I should, for example, make a virtual rent
money account for each of the persons.

Maybe an example might clarify stuff.  After deciding on renting our
house, we had to pay an option of 5000 BEF, and in the next week 31000
BEF, which equals one month rent.  I paid both personally in cash.

Then we had to pay three month's rent as renting insurance.  One friend
didn't have the money at the time, so we advanced it to him and he re-paid
us half a year later.  Two other friends each paid a third of what they
were due (36000 BEF), but they paid more to cover for other starting
expenses (totalling 50000 BEF each), using their ATM accounts.
They transfered these sums to the house ATM account we opened.

Finally, I myself transferred 14000 BEF (to total 50000 BEF together with
what I advance-paid in cash) from my ATM account, so I was on par with the
other two.  Only I made a mistake and also transfered 14000 BEF from my
bank savings account, which I later used to cover up for part of the first
two months.  Both payments were made to the house ATM account as well.

Phew ! This kind of situation happens regularly; for example, people buy
collective stuff from their own money, and once every month we might add
up totals and then work out how much each has to pay in total to even the

Ok, so I want to trace all of this using gnucash.

Looking at the above example, I'm inclined to create the following tree
using virtual accounts to transfer money through to keep
track of what each of the persons pay :



	House ATM account
	House cash account
	Rent Money
	Renting Insurance


How would I use this ? Taking my first cash payment of 36000 as an
example, combined with the two times 14000 I paid :
36000 would go from Thomas:cash to Virtual:Start:Thomas
14000 would go from Thomas:ATM to House:House ATM account, to reflect
the actual situation that is marked in my ATM account statements.
>From this, 14000 would then go to Virtual:Start:Thomas as well.
The second 14000 would take the same path, putting 64000 in the
Virtual:Start:Thomas account.

>From Virtual:Start:Thomas, I would pay
a) 9500 (being my share in rent) for the first month, to
b) 3 x 9500, or 28500, for the house insurance, to House:Rent insurance
c) 9500 for the second month, to House:Rent:Thomas
d) 4500 for the third month, to "

This would leave 12000 there, which is the same as is left on
House:Rent:Jeremy and House:Rent:Jeroen after they both pay for four
months of rent.  So this would mean each of us three put in equal amounts
of money.

So, when the fourth guy pays back some of the money half a year later, I
just have to make sure he also has 12000 open on his Virtual Start
account.  Later on, I could then transfer this left-over to finance a
general expenses account.

Ok, I hope this example isn't too confusing.

Basically, the main rules I would stick to would be :

1) each of the amounts transfered to the house ATM account should first
have to be registered on that account.  This is so that
a) I can track all of my bank statements on this account
b) It would allow me to check the running total at each point to make sure
I made no errors.

2) From that, money should be
transfered to a virtual account which would state it's destination.

3) compounded amounts (for example, we buy a washing machine and each of
the persons has to pay back a certain amount to one of the four) would get
a virtual account which would track all of the amounts transfered, so that
we can check if everyone paid their share.

Ok, if you've read this far, thanks for reading and please share any
opinions on the ideas I have, either good or bad.  I'm really willing to
put some effort into making this work.  I don't have a financial
background, I'm an engineer ;)


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