I have been tracking my finances with GnuCash since the beginning of this year. All was good until summer hit and I spent more than two months traveling, but I'd like to get back to it without the time it would take to categorize and reconcile ten weeks of transactions.

Is there a clean way to make a few bookkeeping entries to time-warp my records to their current state?


3 Answers 3


I'd say you have a couple options that differ by the amount of time required.

Option 1: Export your checking/credit card ledgers from your banks for the unaccounted for periods you mention then import them into GNUcash. They won't be categorized, but it's a fairly simple task to go through and categorize the main ones. Anything else can be categorized in an 'unaccounted for' account and either properly categorized over time at a later date or just left unaccounted for.

Option 2: Make one entry in each of your liabilities and assets that is also part of the 'unaccounted for' expense account, but contains the number required to balance your accounts now. This is by far the easiest and will allow you to start with a clean slate now but keep your prior records in the same ledger.

Option 3: Start a new ledger with the same account/expense structure as your previous ledger. From here on out, you'd open this GNUCash file and start fresh. Also quick and easy but there is no way to look at the old ledger and run reports unless you open that separately. I actually do this every couple of years as a way to force me to clear out obsolete accounts and trim the fat since GNUcash can take a long time to open when the ledger contains many years of transactions.

  • 2
    Depending on your spending habits, you may be able to get most of the benefit by categorizing the largest transactions. It will be harder if your spending is spread over many small expenditures.
    – BrenBarn
    Sep 1, 2017 at 20:37

You can take a shortcut and make a few cumulative transactions, maybe just estimate how much of your spending landed in each of your budget categories, but you will lose a lot of the value that you were building for yourself by tracking your spending during the earlier months.

I reconcile my budget and categorize my spending on a monthly basis. It's always a chore to pull out the big stack of receipts and plow through them, but I've learned the value of having an accurate picture of where all my money went. There is no clean way to fake it. You can either take the time and reconcile your spending, or you can take a short cut. It probably renders your efforts to track everything from the beginning of the year invalid though. If you want to start over this month (as you did at the beginning of the year) that would probably be a cleaner way to reconcile things.


If you want to keep any consistent standard, you need to knuckle down and make those transaction entries. Honestly, this is a lot faster doing in bulk than doing day-by-day. But change how you account so it isn't annoying.

I minimize my bookable transactions. For instance I deposit all income whole (for tracking) but stop tracking when the money is converted to cash or gift card money - I log adding $50 to a McDonalds gift card, but not the individual meals. I only use cash for the myriad small things I do not want to track - fast food, parking meters, etc. Anything big or that I want to track goes on a credit card. Then it's easy to reconcile credit cards to accounting system.

(Cathy) Ryan's Law: if it wasn't written down, it didn't happen.

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