Managing your finances with GNUCash

Managing one’s finances is an unavoidable chore in life. You will need to employ it sooner or later — the sooner you try it, the better. Luckily, there is a great open source tool available for all your budgeting needs – GNUCash. It is available in Fedora’s repositories. You can install it using Gnome Software or through the command line.

sudo yum install gnucash

GNUCash includes a “New accounts wizard” that helps users pick what they need. It even boasts a list of common accounts to help you get started:


If you are looking for something more complicated, such as loans or investments, you can track them using GNUCash as well. It is full of useful features.

Maintaining your accounts requires some knowledge of the double ledger system. If you have not taken a finance related course, or have forgotten how the system worked, the GNUCash documentation provides an excellent starting point. “The Basics” is a chapter you’d probably like to read. Once you get the gist, it becomes simple:

  • the money you earn is credited to your Assets – your Current Account or Savings Account (wherever your earnings are deposited).
  • the money you spend is debited from the required assets account and credited to the Expense account Expenses:Dining, or Expenses:Groceries for example.

As an example, this is what my somewhat depressing “Cash in wallet” panel looks like:

GNUCash is feature-rich, allowing you to…

  • Schedule future transactions – such as the rent or car insurance premium
  • Generate reports, graphs, allowing you to analyse where you spend your money and if you need to cut back
  • Import statements from your banks to reconcile and check if your budgeting is correct
  • …and much more

Some might feel using software for budgeting is overkill, but if we use software for calendars, todo lists, recipes,  and even reminders, why not use one for budgeting too? Give it a try and let the GNUCash developers know what you think!

Using Software


  1. Josh B.

    I like the feature set that gnucash offers, but there are a few major drawbacks that render it unusable for me.

    1. No cloud. Sometimes budgets require more than a one man effort, on multiple devices, at different locations.
    2. Poor automation with bank reconciliation.
    3. Development on this project really seems to have stalled.

    • Geert Janssens

      Thanks for your feedback. Regarding the drawbacks:

      1. “Cloud” is an elastic term. And this issue can partially be worked around in several ways: you can store the gnucash dataset on a network drive accessible to multiple users on different locations. Or you could store your data in a mysql or postgresql database which is accessible from multiple locations. The main drawback of the current software is that it won’t allow simultaneous multi-user access. One could live with this if one is careful.
      I agree good support on tablets and smartphones would be a great improvement.

      3. The project is still active. GnuCash has always been on long, slow release cycles. Normally by the end of this month a new bugfix release is expected. The longer term priority goals are
      a. a rewrite of the core to c++, to get rid of a large legacy code base that is holding things back
      b. true simultaneous multi-user support (which opens up the way to better cloud support).
      These goals will take a lot of time though. Any help is welcome 🙂

  2. Eric

    I’ve been using GNUCash for about a year and a half. I don’t use it for budgeting, but I do use it to track all my expenses and for reporting.

    Things I like:
    1. Double entry book keeping and split transactions
    2. Not in the cloud – I don’t like sharing my data
    3. FOSS
    4. Reports – though they could be a lot better
    5. Auto Backup files make it easy to revert (which I haven’t needed to use)

    Things that could be better:
    1. The mobile app – the workflow is cumbersome
    2. Data imports – they’re not that intuitive and they don’t make it clear what they’re doing.

    A tip for using the mobile app:
    I use the mobile app just to track cash transactions (things that aren’t pulled in when I import my accounts).
    I use Syncthing on my laptop and phone to share a directory. I export transactions from the android app to the shared folder on my phone as an OFX file, then import them from the shared folder on my laptop.

  3. Andrew W

    I just started using GnuCash since my favorite Cloud-based budgeting tool does not allow me to plan in the future (A feature requested ~3 years ago).

    I save my .gnucash files in my dropbox folder – this enables me to open this file on every computer I access regularly. The android app allows me to view the file if I am in a pinch to do so while on the go.

    • Henk

      could you explain me how you store data from gnucash in dropbox?
      I did the same but there are so many files generated in dropbox that I don’t know which one to choose.

  4. Ti-Paul

    Personally, i’m using HomeBank which i find it simpler to use.
    Couple years ago i tried using gnucash but got little bit lost.

  5. Cory Hilliard

    I have been using Moneydance and Grisbi. I paid for Moneydance, but installation is difficult and I keep having to re-install every 6 months because I’m using Fedora. Lately I’ve been using Grisbi, but the updates are always out-dated.

    I find GNUcash to be ugly and lacks intuitive functionality. Seriously this program needs a current facelift from its 1983 – netscape navigator ugliness. One window/tree-like operation would be brilliant.

    • Geert Janssens

      I totally agree the interface is badly outdated.

      Can you explain a bit more what you mean with “one window/tree-like operation” ?

  6. Sachin

    Been using GnuCash since March 2012 so 3 years now. It is the first personal finance software I have used and even though it takes little getting used to, I find it is fantastic at tracking transactions across many different accounts/pots of gold. The basic look of the software makes it favourable to me over the others that I have trialled e.g. Grisbi, Homebank, MS Money, MoneyManagerEx

    For security and portability I have been using the portable version which is up to date with the latest version and usually are available a couple of days after the official version is released. I keep the installation and the backing .gnucash file on a encrypted partition of a USB key.

    The much requested file attachment to a transaction feature was delivered last year but the UI makes it difficult to see which transactions have a attachment associated with them. Also missing is the feature is to remove an attachment from a transaction.

    All in all I think it is a fantastic piece of software for personal use (as well as business use for those who use it). I would like to contribute to the development but my background is not in C/C++ and I find the development workflow and environment complex to understand e.g. which IDE can b used for a beginner who wants to start by reading the source code and understand the structure of the project.

  7. Cory Hilliard

    I’ve been trying to respond, but none of my responses are showing up!

  8. Cory Hilliard

    Oh great! That one does!

  9. Cory Hilliard

    Basically it’s having an interface like an file manager where you have a “directories or accounts” on the left pane, and a larger pane on the right that all your transactions are listed in for the selected account. That way you don’t have 1000 tabs open all the time. It allows for better organization of what you’re doing. If you click the left item, the right will focus to the selected item. This style of interface has been used for file management, accounting programs like Quicken… basically anything that has a lot of data involved.

    • Sachin

      I agree with clicking on an item in the left pane focuses to that item in the right pane except that having multiple tabs actually helps when you have lots of accounts e.g. if you have more than 20 accounts in the left pane, switching between open ones through tabs is easier than only allowing focus on one at a time and possibly having to scroll up/down the left pane when switching back and forth between two or more accounts.

      What GnuCash feature I would like to see is a export to spreadsheet button from an account page which allows you to select which fields to include in the export as well as a preview.

  10. Cory Hilliard

    | GNUCash Title |
    | Home | |
    | Bank Accounts | 1 Fish dinner $10.99 |
    | 9837221 | 2 Fuel $40.00 |
    | 4882767 | 3 Shopping $200.00 |
    | | 4 Mexican Hat Store $40.00 |
    | Expenses | 5 Refund Mexican Hat Store $-40.00 |
    | Heat | 6 Shoes with the Pump $299.50 |
    | Electricity | 7 |
    | whatever | 8 |
    | | 9 |
    | | 10 |
    | | 11 |
    | | 12 |
    | | |
    | | |
    | | |
    | | |
    | | |

    If this doesn’t monospace properly, you can copy and paste it into a code editor so that you can see what it is supposed to look like. The code tags aren’t letting me post.

  11. Cory Hilliard

    I tried to draw an ASCII version of it, but for some reason including that wouldn’t show up.

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