Giving up on Gnucash

Robert Heller heller at
Fri Apr 22 12:01:07 EDT 2005

  Rod Engelsman <rodengelsman at>,
  In a message on Fri, 22 Apr 2005 09:35:52 -0500, wrote :

RE> Josh Sled wrote:
RE> > On Fri, 2005-04-22 at 01:12, Rod Engelsman wrote:
RE> > 
RE> >>I'm in just that situation now with Gnucash! I'm a lot more locked into 
RE> >>this than I was into MSMoney. When I switched over in January I just 
RE> >>exported my Money accounts as QIF files and imported into GC. But GC 
RE> >>doesn't have any kind of export function that I can find. So how do I 
RE> >>get my data back out of this thing in a useful form?
RE> > 
RE> > 
RE> > There's also `gnucash-to-qif` --
RE> > 
RE> > ...jsled
RE> > 
RE> Thanks, I'll give that a shot.
RE> And I know I sounded like an ungrateful ***hole, that wasn't really my 
RE> intent. I really *do* appreciate all the hard, unpaid, labor that's gone 
RE> into this program. It's just not what I was looking for.
RE> And I'm dead serious about the need for someone to take this and fork it 
RE> into a product that's more friendly for home users migrating from 
RE> Quicken, Money, etc. The UI paradigm is squarely aimed at accountants 
RE> and that's fine, although the strict double-entry, debit & credit, 
RE> scheme is little more than an unneccessary anachronism. Banks don't even 
RE> use it any more, not in that way at least.  My bank statement has a 
RE> single column with checks shown as negative amounts and deposits as 
RE> positive amounts. The debit/credit, left column/right column business is 
RE> simply a computational device intended to minimize mistakes by clerks. 

A bank statement is not anything like a ledger -- it is not an
accounting report either.  The bank has no 'knowledge' that check #1234
is your electric bill payment (and thus is an expense item of the
utility category) and that check #1238 is your mortgage payment (and
thus is an expense item of housing or part of paying off a liability of
type mortgage).  A bank statement is just a running chronological record
of money in (credits and deposits) and money out (checks, ATM withdrawals,
debit card charges, and fees).  There is no attempt (on the part of the
bank) to match any of these transactions to specific 'accounts'
(specific sinks or sources of money).

I am pretty sure that for *internal* accounting, banks very much use
double-entry bookkeeping.  I most certainly would not want a bank
account at a bank that did not use double-entry bookkeeping. You should
not confuse a bank statement with any kind of accounting tool.

RE> My computer isn't prone to math mistakes so it isn't needed.  

The 'strict double-entry, debit & credit, scheme' is not just 'a
computational device intended to minimize mistakes by clerks'.  Yes,
sometimes it is a pain in the butt to deal with sometimes -- many of us
do things like take cash out of the bank and then spend it on a whole
pile of *different* things (many different accounts) and it is a pain to
do something like split the transaction a zillion ways: $40.00 cash from
checking to: $1.50 for candy bar, $1.00 for bus fare, $2.00 for lottery
ticket, etc., where 'candy bar' is in the 'snack' account, the 'bus
fare' is in the 'transportation' account, and the 'lottery ticket' is
in the 'gambling' account, etc.  It serves other purposes as well. 
It helps *anyone* who is managing their money. Money is meaningless as
an abstraction -- it is itself a 'bookkeeping' tool representing your
'wealth' (what you own) and your 'liabilities' (what you owe).  People
use their 'wealth' to 'pay' for their living expenses (food, clothing,
utilities, housing, travel, and entertainment).  Keeping track of what
you spend on your various living expenses helps you get a deeper
understanding of just where you are WRT to your wealth and whether you
are living within your means or not and whether you can or cannot
afford some new 'toy' or something.  Just having a running balance
tells you very little.

RE> So, thanks, but see you later. Take care and I wish you the best.
RE> Rod
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Robert Heller                        ||InterNet:   heller at  ||            heller at              /\FidoNet:    1:321/153


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