This is Part 3 of a 3 part series on GNUCash. In Part 1 we discussed installing GNUCash in Windows, setting up your initial accounts, and importing data from your bank. Part 2 covered setting up investment accounts and configuring the update services, Today we will discuss other tips, tricks, and hacks to get the most out of your GNUCash installation.
Under the actions menu you can find the Scheduled Transaction Editor. This editor allows you to schedule future transactions to be entered into your registers at a later date. Each transaction has three option tabs, the first allows you to set how far ahead you want to be notified of the transaction, how far ahead you want it entered in the register, whether or not you want it entered automatically, and how long you want the transaction to continue to be repeated. The second tab allows you to set the frequency of occurrence, and the third is for the template transaction. Typically I use this to setup recurring bills and paychecks, I configure it to automatically enter it in my register five days ahead of the the actual date. This allows me to make sure it really gets paid and account for that bill early to ensure there is money to pay it.
Budgeting in GNUCash
GNUCash has a built in budgeting feature, you can create a new budget under the File->New->New Budget option. This will allow you to enter budgeted amounts for each category of expenses on a month by month basis. You can then compare your budget to your actual spending by using the Budget Report under the Reports->Income&Expense->Budget Report option. Personally I don’t use this functionality because it just doesn’t work well for me, I like to see the variance’s in red and it doesn’t track my loan expenses the way I want. The best method I have found for budgeting in GNUCash is to create a custom CashFlow report which shows me all moneys in and all moneys out of my accounts for the month, I then plug those numbers into a spreadsheet which acts as my budget.
Mortgage and Loan Repayment Druid
GNUCash includes a mortgage and loan repayment druid. This druid, or wizard for windows folks, allows you to enter the parameters of your loan, i.e. term, amount, and interest rate, and automatically have GNUCash create the scheduled transactions to payoff your loan, including the interest calculations for each payment. I haven’t personally tried this but I am sure it could be useful.
Other Useful GNUCash Tools
GNUCash includes many other useful tools, including a financial calculator which will allow you to calculate your earnings to your hearts content. One major feature of GNUCash that I have not touched on is the abilitiy to manage business expenses and income using the business tools provided. You can manage invoices and customers, AR and AP, etc etc. This program is a great tool for the individual but can also be used to manage the accounting for a small business as well.
One of the best things about GNUCash is it is free, it is maintained, and you don’t have to RENEW or buy new software every few years. So if you are looking for robust method of mainting your personal or business accoutning, check it out and give a try.