I am keeping all my daily money transactions in GnuCash and I am loving it.

I started to use it also to keep the records of my new small business at home.

I'd like to have all kinds of accounts of my business (Income, Expenses, Liabilities, ...etc) be under one placeholder account to give an outlook of my business value. Unfortunately, GnuCash does not allow a placeholder account to have child account of other types. Details can be found here.

How can I achieve this?

I assume that there cannot be any cross transactions between two GnuCash workbook files if I chose to make a separate GnuCash file for my business

Thank you!

  • 1
    I would have thought "an outlook of my business value" would be something there's reporting functionality for, rather than having to put all the accounts under one virtual parent account?
    – AakashM
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 7:45
  • Actually I prefer having a glance to my accounts much more than opening reports
    – mmonem
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 7:51
  • What do you mean by "my business value"? You can have all of your Assets and Liabilities under one account to give your Net Worth. Suppose you have income of £10000, expenses of £9000, assets of £20000 and liabilities of £15000, what do you want to see? Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 11:04
  • I'd like to to have the value of "My Business Income" - "My Business Expenses" - "My Business Liabilities" at a glance by putting them under a placeholder account that can accepts as child accounts both income/expense and liabilities subaccount types
    – mmonem
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


You may want to try keeping them separate

I think the "right" way to approach this is for your personal books and your business's books to be completely separate. You would need to really think of them as separate things, such that rather than being disappointed that there's no "cross transactions" between files, you think of it as "In my personal account I invested in a new business like any other investment" with a transfer from your personal account to a Stock or other investment account in your company, and "This business received some additional capital" which one handles with a transfer (probably from Equity) to its checking account or the like.

Yes, you don't get the built-in checks that you entered the same dollar amount in each, but (1) you need to reconcile your books against reality anyway occasionally, so errors should get caught, and (2) the transactions really are separate things from each entity's perspective.

But if you really want to put everything in one set of books

The main way to "hack it" would be to have separate top-level placeholder accounts for the business's Equity, Income, Expenses, and Assets/Liabilities. That is, your top-level accounts would be "Personal Equity", "Business Equity", "Personal Income", "Business Income", and so on. You can combine Assets and Liabilities within a single top-level account if you want, which may help you with that "outlook of my business value" you're looking for. (In fact, in my personal books, I have in the "Current Assets" account both normal things like my Checking account, but also my credit cards, because once I spend the money on my credit card I want to think of the money as being gone, since it is. Obviously this isn't "standard accounting" in any way, but it works well for what I use it for.)

You could also just have within each "normal" top-level placeholder account, a placeholder account for both "Personal" and "My Business", to at least have a consistent structure. Depending on how your business is getting taxed in your jurisdiction, this may even be closer to how your taxing authorities treat things (if, for instance, the business income all goes on your personal tax return, but on a separate form).

Regardless of how you set up the accounts, you can then create reports and filter them to include just that set of business accounts. I can see how just looking at the account list and transaction registers can be useful for many things, but the reporting does let you look at everything you need and handles much better when you want to look through a filter to just part of your financial picture. Once you set up the reporting (and you can report on lists of account balances, as well as transaction lists, and lots of other things), you can save them as Custom Reports, and then open them up whenever you want. You can even just leave a report tab (or several) open, and switch to it (refreshing it if needed) just like you might switch to the main Account List tab. I suspect once you got it set up and tried it for a while you'd find it quite satisfactory.

  • Second, I tried to make a new toplevel placeholder account but it must take an account type and when I choose the type of that top level placeholder account all child account types rules apply :(
    – mmonem
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 14:16
  • @mmonem: I tried to clarify what I was saying. Yes, Gnucash requires either separate top-level placeholder accounts for your Personal and Business expenses, or you to split it out under the normal top-level placeholders, if you want to do it all in one book. I tried to present what I think are the ways of using that or working around it (via either having separate books or using reports).
    – user42405
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 14:22
  • OK, regarding the one book solution... The question now is: Does GnuCash support by any way having a top-level placeholder account to have sub accounts of various types?
    – mmonem
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 14:27
  • @mmonem: Not based on that documentation page you linked, though I haven't played around with doing so myself. If it's that important to you to actually have the accounts grouped that way, I don't know if how hard it'd be to implement and compile it yourself or if the restrictions are there baked deep into the code. Depending on what you're looking for, it may be easier for you to have all the business accounts be marked as a single type and just keep track of reversing signs yourself, though that may lead to further confusion in reporting and the like.
    – user42405
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 14:34
  • OK, I'll try to be normal and try to adopt the two-books concept. How in this case can I have my current account at the bank (which is used by my personal use and for my business) be accessed from the two books? I'd repeat the transactions in this case which may (and it eventually will) lead too a big inconsistency
    – mmonem
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 14:40

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