GNU Cash: Personal and Small Business Accounting Software
Whether you are running a business or thinking of starting one, it is essential to keep proper financial records. Maintaining proper accounting records has several advantages regardless of whether the records you are keeping are for your own personal use or for your business.
Keeping financial records becomes essential particularly when you run a business in which case there is a strong requirement to separate concerns between your personal life and the business activities. As the tax man will tell you, it is not a good idea to mix the two. Despite the necessity of the task of keeping financial records, it is a chore that a lot of people usually grimace at just by thinking about it and a great software package goes a long way in simplifying and making this seemingly complicated task manageable. This week’s post is a review of GNUCash, an excellent free and open source accounting software package which I use personally and for business.
GNUCash is personal and small-business financial accounting software that is freely licensed under the GNU GPL software license. This means that there are no direct financial costs associated with your use of the software. GNUCash is cross-platform and available on GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows which makes you a likely candidate whatever your operating system of choice. The software is designed for ease of use but is at the same time powerful and flexible. In GNUCash, you can track bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses using professional accounting principles based on the double accounting system.
GNUCash Core Features
By requiring that every account has one account being debited for each transaction and one or more are credited, GNUCash guarantees that the books are balanced. This ensures that the difference between income and expenses exactly equals the sum of assets and liabilities.
The GnuCash checkbook-style register provides a custom, convenient and familiar interface to entering financial transactions.
The register supports common checking and credit-card transactions, as well as income, stock and currency transactions. The following features are also provided:
- The ability to enter split transactions
- The ability to mark a transaction as cleared or reconciled
- Autofill of entered transactions
- The ability to display multiple accounts in a single register window
- A summary bar that displays all of the relevant account's balance information
- Many options to customize the appearance and the display style
Recurring transactions can be created with a high level of customization of amounts and timeline. There is also an option to set an automatic reminder when a transaction is due. An assistant that runs when GNUCash is started allows scheduled transactions to be postponed without cancelling or entering them before the due date.
GnuCash has an integrated module to display graphs of your financial data in the form of:
- Scatter plots
GnuCash also comes complete with a full suite of standard and customizable reports, such as:
- Balance Sheet
- Profit & Loss
- Portfolio Valuation
- and many others
Graphs and reports can be highly and easily customized in appearance and contents, in order to fulfil every user's need.
Account reconciliation allows the user to compare the transactions entered in an account against a bank statement. This operation is very useful to spot untracked transactions or data entry errors and ensure that your books match the bank's. The GnuCash reconcile tool with running reconciled and cleared balances makes reconciling against bank statements an easy task.
Income/Expense Account Types
Income/Expense Account Types (Categories) allow you to categorize your cash flow. When used properly with the double-entry feature and equity accounts, these enable you to generate reports, such as Profit & Loss, that plain-vanilla systems cannot handle.
The Following advanced and specialised features are also available in GNUCash
- Small Business Accounting Features
- Multiple Currencies
- Stock/Mutual Fund Portfolios
- Online Stock & Mutual Fund Quotes
- QIF and OFX Import
- HBCI Support
Download GNU Cash
Why not try out GNUCash and see if it works for you. The software can be downloaded for free here.