16

Can anyone recommend a good program (or web app, I guess) for keeping one's books?

I've tried GnuCash, but I find it so complex, that I'm sure I'm appropriating credits to credits. As a minimum, I need the advantages of double-entry.

  • 2
    personal or business? What OS? – Vitalik May 13 '11 at 20:00
  • 1
    @Vitalik - good call. Windows, for a small business. – Marcin May 13 '11 at 21:15
  • I use GnuCash myself. I found it useful to get a Dummies/Idiots book on accounting (to help with basic concepts and terminology) and start off small, and then gradually increase the scope of what I used it for. Now I have more complex things in place like crediting expense accounts and tracking my 401(k) value, but I started out very simply (credit card and bank statement, with basic expense/income accounts). – Stephen Cleary Jun 15 '11 at 17:58
  • @Stephen Cleary: I'm familiar with accounting, which is why I know I'm able to say I think I'm using it incorrectly. My accounting knowledge is not the problem, Gnu Cash's UI is. – Marcin Jun 15 '11 at 23:30

10 Answers 10

5

You can try Wave Accounting. Its a free software for Small Business and web-based.

http://waveaccounting.com/

  • Hurrah! Double-entry, convenient, and free. Also supports reporting standard accounting reports as of specific dates. – Marcin Jan 16 '13 at 20:16
6

The short answer is that there are no great personal finance programs out there any more. In the past, I found Microsoft Money to be slick and feature rich but unfortunately it has been discontinued a few years ago.

Your choices now are Quicken and Mint along with the several open-source programs that have been listed by others. In the past, I found the open source programs to be both clunky and not feature-complete for my every day use. It's possible they have improved significantly since I had last looked at them. The biggest limitation I saw with them is weakness of integration with financial service providers (banks, credit card companies, brokerage accounts, etc.)

Let's start with Mint. Mint is a web-based tool (owned by the same company as Quicken) whose main feature is its ability to connect to nearly every financial institution you're likely to use. Mint aggregates that data for you and presents it on the homepage. This makes it very easy to see your net worth and changes to it over time, spending trends, track your progress on budgets and long-term goals, etc. Mint allows you to do all of this with little or no data entry. It has support for your investments but does not allow for deep analysis of them.

Quicken is a desktop program. It is extremely feature rich in terms of supporting different types of accounts, transactions, reports, reconciliation, etc. One could use Quicken to do everything that I just described about Mint, but the power of Quicken is in its more manual features. For example, while Mint is centred on showing you your status, Quicken allows you to enter transactions in real-time (as you're writing a check, initiating a transfer, etc) and later reconciles them with data from your financial institutions. Link Mint, Quicken has good integration with financial companies so you can generally get away with as little or as much data entry as you want. For example, you can manually enter large checks and transfers (and later match to automatically-downloaded data) but allow small entries like credit card purchases to download automatically.

Bottom line, if you're just looking to keep track of where you are at, try Mint. It's very simple and free. If you need more power and want to manage your finances on a more transactional level, try Quicken (though I believe they do not have a trial version, I don't understand why). The learning curve is steep although probably gentler than that of GnuCash.

Last note on why Mint.com is free: it's the usual ad-supported model, plus Mint sells aggregated consumer behaviour reports to other institutions (since Mint has everyone's transactions, it can identify consumer trends). If you're not comfortable with that, or with the idea of giving a website passwords to all your financial accounts, you will find Quicken easier to accept.

Hope this helps.

  • Thanks, I'm not looking for personal finance software. – Marcin Jun 15 '11 at 23:29
  • Money is still available as the Home and Business Sunset (US) or QFE (UK) editions. – gbjbaanb May 18 '14 at 22:45
5

I like Quicken for personal use, and they have a small business edition if you don't want to move into QuickBooks.

  • 2
    Quickbooks is the most popular for small businesses, however it's not a double entry system. in fact i think that's how they became popular but not teaching mom and pop shops about double entry. – Vitalik May 14 '11 at 12:28
  • My answer isn't good because I though Quickbooks did double entry. Shows what I know. – MrChrister May 15 '11 at 18:28
3

Best Linux software is PostBooks. It is full double entry, but there is definitely a learning curve.

For platform-agnostic, my favorite is Xero, which is web-based. It is full double entry balance sheet, the bank reconciliation is a pleasure to use, and they are coming out with a US version this summer. Easy to use and does everything I need.

2

I like using Mint.com to track my expenses. It makes it very easy to watch my budget and monitor my spending.

2

I think Peachtree is a double entry system

2

Xero and WaveAccounting can make things easy, but they also have their limitations. I've used both for short periods of time but found both of them to be lacking. While the "ease" is appealing, the ability to drill into the details and get good reports is the downfall of both of these accounting systems. QuickBooks may seem like the easy answer here, but it really is the best for getting the power you want without getting too complicated.

1

You should consider Turbocash. It's a mature open-source project, installed locally (thick client).

1

I'm not directly affiliated with the company (I work for one of the add-on partners) but I can wholeheartedly recommend Xero for both personal and business finances. Their basis is to make accounting simple and clean, without sacrificing any of the power behind having the figures there in the first place.

1

You can try manager.io.

enter image description here

It has a desktop, cloud and server edition that should fit your needs.

protected by Community Sep 29 '15 at 19:55

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.