Account Types

Charles Day cedayiv at
Fri Sep 12 14:12:28 EDT 2008

On Fri, Sep 12, 2008 at 10:20 AM, Ken <kmailuk at> wrote:

> 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.

Yes, I think you might theoretically be able use a stock account for all
assets, but it wouldn't be pretty. And it would pollute the portfolio
reports with non-investments.

> Anyway, thanks for the reply. I'll just keep using GnuCash and will
> probably get a better feel for it with time.

> Ken


> 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 withdrawn their product from the UK) and it looks like a great program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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