Account Types

Ken kmailuk at
Fri Sep 12 13:20:05 EDT 2008

Thanks for the reply Charles.  However, implicitly a bank account is
like a stock account except that a bank is denominated in a particular
asset (i.e. a given currency) and its price does not change (ie is
always one).  You could simply use a stock account for all of your
banking by using an asset called, say, dollar, and the price is always
1, right?  I wasn't sure if there was more of a distinction between
the types than that or not.
Anyway, thanks for the reply. I'll just keep using GnuCash and will
probably get a better feel for it with time.

2008/9/12 Charles Day <cedayiv at>:
> On Fri, Sep 12, 2008 at 2:01 AM, Ken <kmailuk at> wrote:
>> Hi. I am new to GnuCash (recently switched over as Quicken has
>> withdrawn their product from the UK) and it looks like a great program
>> (although I do have a couple of GUI issues in Windows).
>> The question I have which I can't seem to find an answer to is: Why
>> does GnuCash have so many different account types?  What are the
>> fundamental differences between cash, bank, stock, mutual fund,
>> account receivable, credit card, liability, etc.  Why not simply 4:
>> Asset, Liability, Income, Expense. And then let the user create
>> sub-accounts depending on the nature/liquidity of the account?
> Generally the top level of your chart of accounts (account tree) contains
> only those four account types. But why make the user build the most common
> account types themselves? GnuCash just has them already built for you (like
> Quicken). Besides, there isn't currently an option to add your own account
> types anyway. Also, there are some differences in the way account types are
> treated. I'm not familiar with the exact differences between all of them.
> For example, stock and mutual fund types get a "price" column in their
> registers, and can be denominated in non-currencies. However these two
> account types are currently identical in all but name. So the distinction
> between "stock" and "mutual fund" assets are unknown to the software, and in
> fact these account types could be used to track any asset at all that needs
> a price column. These two account types could be made distinct and more
> useful if the GUI treated them differently. (For instance, options to
> distribute capital gains could be enabled for mutual fund accounts, but
> disabled for stock accounts.)  There is lots more work to be done in the
> investments area.
> I can't speak to the other account types. Some of them might be the same in
> all but name, too.
>> I may not have been using GnuCash long enough to appreciate the
>> differences, but it would enhance my understanding of the product if I
>> had a better idea as to why these distinctions are made.
>> Thanks,
>> Ken
> -Charles

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