Earmark fixed percentage of income for charity

Aryeh Leib Taurog vim at aryehleib.com
Sat Jan 29 16:26:54 EST 2011

Hi all,

I'm just starting to use gnucash.  I want to make sure that I give 10%
(exactly) of my income to charity.  What's the best way to do this?

I like to think of it as a debt that I incur when I receive money for
my services, so my first thought was to create a liability account for
it, but I'm not sure at all how that would look, so maybe it's not the
right idea.

Another thought is to maintain a separate asset account for charity
money.  This at least I can picture:

+600	Income:Freelancing
+540	Assets:Checking:Personal
+ 60	Assets:Checking:Charity

and then

+ 60	Expenses:Charities:Soup Kitchen
- 60	Assets:Checking:Charity

but the problem with that is that I'd have to set up sub-accounts for
every asset account from which I give charity, which is at least
three, and then it seems to be I'd have to look at all three to know
how much I have on hand for charity.

I guess the "simple" solution would be just to set a budget on the
Expenses:Charities account, but if I were to do that, how would I
1. Adjust the budgeted amount properly each time my wife or I receive
2. Treat the budget amount as an absolute running total of 10% *
income - charitable contributions and not an arbitrary per-period
limit which will be reset at the end of that period
2. Verify that I actually spend the desired amount on charity for any
given period.

Extra credit: it would be really great if I could have the 10%
earmarked automatically when I enter income transactions or by some
regular automatic processing (I'm a programmer, so I'd be comfortable
coding that myself, and I'd prefer to do it in python if possible).

thanks much,
Aryeh Leib

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