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My wife and I have been keeping a check book by hand since 2004 when we where married. We would like to start using a piece of accounting software (GNUCash) to track our finances instead. How far back in time should I enter data into the program? I tried to go back to 2004 but the task seemed overwhelming.

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Welcome. Any reason you want to go back in time? How about just starting from today? – MrChrister Nov 17 '12 at 5:10
Does your bank have a way to export the data from your accounts? Check to see how far back it goes. – mhoran_psprep Nov 17 '12 at 15:06
Just start from current state and move on, why go back in time? Its good for analysis etc, I give you that, but is it worth the time spent on importing and reconciling all these years? Especially if you cannot automate the process.. – littleadv Nov 17 '12 at 23:49
I think I clearly have to go back at least 2 months to catch some uncleared checks. If I start with "now" which now should I start with? Maybe the end of my last statement? Jan 1, 2013, Before or after I spend $1000 to fix the car, or go Christmas shopping? I'd like at least some logic to choosing a "now." – John F. Miller Nov 18 '12 at 6:15
Now is November 20, 2012. Get a snapshot of your accounts as of today, and move forward. What's wrong with that? I think you're overthinking it. – littleadv Nov 21 '12 at 1:45
up vote 5 down vote accepted

As others have pointed out, now is the best time to start. I would suggest writing down all your open checks as they stand right now. And your current balances. Put these in the software as your starting position. For anything earlier you can refer to your existing notes, for anything later just keep entering in Gnucash and you'll be set.

A word of advice; backup, backup, backup. Computers are great but paper has the perfect advantage of being automatically saved. I usually backup every week in a separate file and then copy these over to a hard drive every month or so. I use Kmymoney and it has a menu option to take backups. I'm sure Gnucash has something like that too.

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Welcome to coldmug! Good first answer. – C. Ross Nov 29 '12 at 20:18

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