Simple Budgeting for Personal Finances with Gnucash

Oliver Kiddle okiddle at
Sun Jun 16 09:29:54 EDT 2013

On 13 Jun, David Schmitt wrote:
> I've begun documenting my approach on this website:
>  It's still very much a work in
> progress, but the Overview->Minimal menu option should give you
> Gnucash veterans a good feel for what I'm doing.
> Constructive feedback is welcome!

Using the balance of the expense accounts as the budget is a nice idea.
I've never cared too much about the total amounts of income/expenses
since the start of my gnucash file anyway. You've also convinced my that
the zero sum approach is a better way to handle my personal budget. I
find the current gnucash budget frustrating for not allowing me to see
actual monthly outgoings against income - including things like mortgage
and pension repayments that are not expenses but do need to be allowed
for in my monthly budget.

The main problem with your system seems to relate to Gnucash reports not
handling it. How do you get a report of actual expenses and how does it
know the difference between a budget allocation and a rebate. I'm not
sure I've understood the effect of using Equity accounts entirely but am
guessing it is related to reporting.

Is the Equity:Adjustments account there to handle transfers between
"current" and "long term" accounts as you seem to term it in your
Limitations page. I think this would be better handled by having
explicit differences between "Tied Funds" (assets such as a car or
pension that you can't easily access), "Liquid Savings" (accessable
money) and "Loan Credit" (if you take out a loan, the credit gives you
allocatable budget without there being an existing asset or income). I
also get the impression that the Adjustments account allows you to have
expenses that don't require a budget. I'm not sure that's a great idea:
fixed costs tend to be easy to predict anyway.

Thanks for sharing your approach.


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