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Personal Finance Software for Unix? 322

Posted by Cliff
from the free-the-quickening dept.
pstreck asks: "I'm trying to find the best personal finance software for Unix. I've been using Quicken for a while, but unfortuantlly it won't run under Wine. I've tried gnucash but it just isn't up to par with what Quicken offers. What do you guys use?" While the free software versions may not quite be up to par with the current commercial offerings, it won't always be the case. The turning point can start now, of course. What finance software are you using now, what features do you like and what features do you think these software packages need?
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Personal Finance Software for Unix?

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  • by ColGraff (454761) <maron1.mindspring@com> on Sunday May 19, 2002 @11:22AM (#3545837) Homepage Journal
    "What finance software are you using now?"

    Doesn't this question assume that we have money? Considering the huge numbers of high school and college students on slashdot, that seems like an unfounded assumption.

    That said, I currently use a free-as-in-beer napkin, which I scrawl down my balance on periodically.
    • Doesn't this question assume that we have money? Considering the huge numbers of high school and college students on slashdot, that seems like an unfounded assumption.
      The amount of money is irrelevant. I'm a college student and I have a part-time job, tuition payments, an investment fund, a bank account, car insurance payments and taxes to keep track of.
      • Use just a text file like everyone else. That also makes it easier to encrypt if you don't have PGPDisk (it's all in the one file).

        Use Gnumeric to do your calculations (and always have a worksheet open when you're on the phone to your bank to write notes in) but it's a lot easier to find things if you put the results back into the text file when you're finished.

        The alternative (one spreadsheet for each thing) looks pretty for a while, until the next time you change software and find that copies of OpenOffice or Excel at university or on your windows partition can't read them.

        This sort of data is what the "platform independance" argument is all about (c.f. Peru). It's stuff you'll still need to access long after your current software, computer, and operating system no longer exist. Need I even say that proprietry accounting software is out of the question.

    • by bwatt (539551) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @11:47AM (#3545928) Homepage
      Er, I might point out that it is when you don't have buckets of cash, that you should be most concerned with tracking how much you have and what you spend it on...

      [Gak! That sounds highly responsible, no?]
  • I want (Score:5, Insightful)

    by finkployd (12902) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @11:23AM (#3545846) Homepage
    I want the ability to link up to my bank, credit card companies, morgage companies, retirement fund, etc. and download the latest data like I can with Quicken. This is the only reason I keep windows (and quicken) around, and it is hard to live without once you get used to it. Gnucash is quite nice, but until it can do that, it is ultimatly not much more than a spreadsheet all set up for financial data.

    Unfortunatly, there isn't a simple programming solution for this, it requires partnerships with all of these financial institutions. That is something I imagine would be difficult for an open source project.

    Finkployd
    • Re:I want (Score:5, Informative)

      by g4dget (579145) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @11:28AM (#3545867)
      The protocol is open and standardized now: OFX [ofx.net] (link down right now). It's based on XML. In theory, it should not require relations between the software vendor and the bank; the end user should be able to get all the necessary information. Reality may be different, however.
      • One hitch (Score:5, Informative)

        by rakeswell (538134) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @12:55PM (#3546134) Homepage

        Exactly right.OFX is slated for inclusion into Gnucash.

        There is one hitch, however: download method. Some financial institutions require your application (MS Money/Quicken) to download the information from your bank, while others provide a browser-based hyperlink download of the qif/ofx file for you to import into your application. As long as your app supports the file formats provided, no vendor/financial institution is needed.You can curently import qif files into Gnucash.

        The setup in which you download the files with your fincance application requires your app to first connect to the vendor's "branding" server, which then redirects you to your financial institution to begin the download -- this is where vendor involvement with the financial institution gets involved.

        I suppose that if someone knew the address to their FI's download servlet, their application could be written to go directly there and bypass the branding servers. However, I don't think that FI's usually publish the URI for their download servlets so getting this info could be a challenge (though tech support should be able to tell you).

        I've found that this interactive download method is more error-prone and resource-intensive (for the FI) than the browser-based options.

        Here's a comment on building an OFX parser found on the Gnucash project goals pags [linas.org]:

        There are two ways to build an OFX parser. One way is to build a compile-time DTD parser that treats the DTD as if it were an IDL, and generates C language stubs for a parser. This approach was attempted and abandoned because it leads to fragile C code and a very large binary.

        • The parser is fragile because minor DTD non-compliances are hard to parse, handle and recover from.
        • The parser is huge because the DTD results in hundreds of (C++) objects being generated.

        The other method would be to perform run-time DTD parsing. This is attractive particularly because it is a more commonly-used approach; there are a variety of XML tools available that provide this function.

        • Re:One hitch (Score:3, Informative)

          by stevey (64018)
          The code was big ? LOL!

          I've been meaning to get organized and look at putting my finances, mortgage, bills, etc online - I keep them all for years so I'd be able to see where my money goes
          After reading this I decided to download GNUCash - imagine my suprize: 15Mb!

          root@hell:/home/skx# apt-get install gnucash
          Reading Package Lists... Done
          Building Dependency Tree... Done
          The following extra packages will be installed:
          bonobo defoma dialog gs gs-common gsfonts guile-common guile1.4
          guile1.4-slib libbonobo2 libdate-manip-perl libdigest-md5-perl libefs1
          libfinance-quote-perl libgal19 libgdk-pixbuf-gnome2 libghttp1 libgimpprint1
          libgnomeprint-bin libgnomeprint-data libgnomeprint15 libgtkhtml20 libguile9
          libguppi16 libgwrapguile1 libhtml-parser-perl libhtml-tableextract-perl
          libhtml-tagset-perl libhtml-tree-perl libltdl3 libmime-base64-perl liboaf0
          liburi-perl libwww-perl libzvt2 oaf slib
          The following NEW packages will be installed:
          bonobo defoma dialog gnucash gs gs-common gsfonts guile-common guile1.4
          guile1.4-slib libbonobo2 libdate-manip-perl libdigest-md5-perl libefs1
          libfinance-quote-perl libgal19 libgdk-pixbuf-gnome2 libghttp1 libgimpprint1
          libgnomeprint-bin libgnomeprint-data libgnomeprint15 libgtkhtml20 libguile9
          libguppi16 libgwrapguile1 libhtml-parser-perl libhtml-tableextract-perl
          libhtml-tagset-perl libhtml-tree-perl libltdl3 libmime-base64-perl liboaf0
          liburi-perl libwww-perl libzvt2 oaf slib
          0 packages upgraded, 38 newly installed, 0 to remove and 1 not upgraded.
          Need to get 15.7MB of archives. After unpacking 47.2MB will be used.
          Do you want to continue? [Y/n] n
          Abort.
          • Are you some poor mofo from bangladesh? Jesus christ, that 47MB of uncrompressed space is just too damned much!!

            Wait.

            I know.

            I'll erase that Chumbawumba album I got and then hated.

            # du -s Chumbawamba\ -\ Tubthumper/
            61589 Chumbawamba - Tubthumper
        • OFX seems like a good offering, but problematic. Why not offer users a choice of how to sync their data with financial institutions?

          It wouldn't be too difficult to simulate a user logging in and screen scape the needed data. It's be pretty easy to do in Perl actually, where there are already a ton of moudules doing some similiar. Granted it's a bit hackey, but for cases where the FI won't cooperate with the Gnucash project and set up OFX, it's preferable to having nothing.

          The Gnucash project is also in a good position to define an abstract class for how the interface to each institution should work. Then different programmers could go about implementing that class for different institutions. (Much like how DBI or ODBC establishes an generic database interface each database drivers handles the specific for each type of db.)

          Anyway, my two cents.

          -Bill
    • Re:I want (Score:2, Interesting)

      by HawkinsD (267367)
      An open-source version of Quicken or MS Money might address something that I hate about both of them: the constant advertising. It's annoying to be "warned" by MS Money: "Warning! You haven't registered to receive free money-saving offers!" "Click here to save on life insurance!"

      I'd feel better if I were running a bootleg copy. But I stupidly paid retail for it.

      • Re:I want (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mike_the_kid (58164)
        In MS Money 2002, under Tools / Options, there is a checkbox in the "Display" set of options on the default options page called "Turn off sponsorship and shopping links." If you do go onto some of the MSN services, such as the home finder, you will see some ads, but if you wait 5 seconds, they go away. Checking "Turn off sponsorship and shopping links" removes all ads and special offers from the core program, as far as I can tell.
    • Re:I want (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gosand (234100)
      I use GnuCash, and it has the ability to import QIF files (Quicken). I don't use it, so I can't comment on how well it works.

      But it sounds to me like you are looking for a convenience. If the only reason you aren't using GnuCash is because you can't directly link to all those sources (401k, bank, CC), then it would seem that you are just a little lazy. Can't you just manually enter it? Yeah, I know, computers make things easier, and once you get used to them (lazy) then it is harder to do things for yourself. But I suppose that is why Windows is so popular.
      • Re:I want (Score:2, Redundant)

        by finkployd (12902)
        If the only reason you aren't using GnuCash is because you can't directly link to all those sources (401k, bank, CC), then it would seem that you are just a little lazy. Can't you just manually enter it?

        Why use GnuCash at all? Why not just manually write down your finances in in your checkbook and do the math in your head? This is exactly the type of thing that Quicken is good for, eliminating worthless "grunt work" like manually entering numbers.

        Yeah, I know, computers make things easier, and once you get used to them (lazy) then it is harder to do things for yourself.

        I have no fear that I will someday forget how to manually enter numbers into a computer.
        You use GnuCash, I use Quicken. Both of us use a computer to do our math and bookeeping for us, the only difference is I don't have to type it in. I completly fail to see the point of your arguement unless you are against both GnuCash and Quicken...

        Finkployd
      • by finkployd (12902) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @12:39PM (#3546083) Homepage
        If the only reason you aren't using GnuCash is because you can't directly link to all those sources (401k, bank, CC), then it would seem that you are just a little lazy. Can't you just manually enter it?

        Why use GnuCash at all? Why not just manually write down your finances in in your checkbook and do the math in your head? This is exactly the type of thing that Quicken is good for, eliminating worthless "grunt work" like manually entering numbers.

        Yeah, I know, computers make things easier, and once you get used to them (lazy) then it is harder to do things for yourself.

        I have no fear that I will someday forget how to manually enter numbers into a computer.
        You use GnuCash, I use Quicken. Both of us use a computer to do our math and bookeeping for us, the only difference is I don't have to type it in. I completly fail to see the point of your arguement unless you are against both GnuCash and Quicken...

        Finkployd
        • Reporting is what makes these programs useful. I've used Quicken in the past to generate reports to see where money is going and whatnot and then compare between months and years.

          The real problem is entering the data, and not all banks record enough information about the transaction. When you download the data, the transactions might report the company processing the transaction for the company you actually purchased from.

        • Why use GnuCash at all? Why not just manually write down your finances in in your checkbook and do the math in your head? This is exactly the type of thing that Quicken is good for, eliminating worthless "grunt work" like manually entering numbers.

          Having been a Quicken user since version 2.0 (no that's not a typo, that's really version 2.0), I can tell you that Quicken didn't always do all this direct linking stuff.

          So to answer your question, 'Why use GnuCash at all?' Because it does do all the reporting functions so that you can make a sensible budget, because it does make reconciliation a LOT easier, and because it helps you fill out your taxes easier. (Which is another point in favor of Quicken, it has links to TurboTax :).

          So you could say GnuCash is where Quicken used to be and is playing catchup. The latest versions of Quicken are nice, but not entirely a necessity. Personally, I'd rather do a little extra typing using an application that I have the source code to and can modify and recompile to my whims than a closed-source program like Quicken, even with all of its extras. (Which is precisely why I stopped using Quicken the minute GnuCash got to a usuable state).

          That's of course my choice... you made your choice already. But you asked why, so I told you. :)
          • Replying to myself yes...

            2.0 for DOS, that is. :)

            I'm typing this really really slow to avoid the stupid 2 minute rule, btw.
            • 2.0 for DOS, that is. :)

              <AOL>
              Me Too! :-)
              </AOL>

              There's another reason... so what if it doesn't link your accounts, it does the ONE THING that computers are good at... MATH! Checkbook reconciliation became soooooooo much easier when I didn't have to worry about errors in kitchen arithmetic...

              • it does the ONE THING that computers are good at... MATH

                Argh! It's NOT math...it's arithmetic.

                Most of us stopped calling spelling "english" when we were in grade 5. Why do people still call arithmetic "math" ??

                • Most of us stopped calling spelling "english" when we were in grade 5. Why do people still call arithmetic "math" ??

                  Because I took Advanced Mathematics 1 and 2 in high school? Because I took MATH 166, MATH 167, MATH 266, MATH 267, MATH 312, and MATH 314 in college?
                • That's the nicest thing I've heard in a long time, enough to make a mathematician cry with joy. A sharp line between arithmetic (more-or-less algorithms for basic computation) and mathematics (thinking about what the hell you are doing).

                  Furthermore, computers are absolutely lousy at both. Sure they can compute with integers and approximations to floating point numbers, but the limits are appalling. Or maybe I'm just bitter, because I have to fight these stupid limits every day to get my work done (I'm a math/cs grad student studying AI).

                  -Paul Komarek
              • >>2.0 for DOS, that is. :)


                > Me Too! :-)


                Newbies!


                I started with the original version of checkfree. What a disaster--it sent payments to the wrong place more than once (I got a call from the wall street journal asking why I'd sent them a $500 check. Fortunately, it came in time to pay the office rent manually!).


                Then I got quicken. I think I skipped version 2 of quicken and upgraded to 3, but it's been a lon time . . .


                My taxes got to the point where it became easier to use a spreadsheet than to wait for final versions of the tax programs that imported from quicken. Eventually, I dropped back entirely to pen, paper, and spreadsheet. I'm sure I *could* run my old versions of quicken on one of my old macs (assuming I find both), at last if I lied about the dates, but my finances just aren't complicated enough to bother any more.


                hawk

          • I'm not saying I have decided to never use GnuCash, It is just that right now I cannot justify it. All it would probably take is Quicken pissing me off just a little more or GnuCash getting a little better and I'll probably switch. I'm of the belief that OSS is a better development model for most applications and will eventually win out in the end, just that GnuCash isn't quite there yet. It HAS however improved at a much faster rate than I remember Quicken doing.

            Actually, this seems true with most OSS software, I remember not too long ago AbiWord and OpenOffice (well, StarOffice) were complete crap. Look how far they have come in such a short time. I don't remember Word moving that fast :)

            Finkployd
    • Re:I want (Score:2, Insightful)

      by yota (165006)
      I want the ability to link up to my bank, credit card companies, morgage companies, retirement fund, etc. and download the latest data like I can with Quicken.

      Has anybody tried to run Quicken with WINE? How does it work?

      Adding Quicken support to CrossOver Office could make it more interessant since there's no equivalent in Linux. Anybody from CodeWeavers here?

      Andrea

    • I want the ability to link up to my bank, credit card companies, morgage companies, retirement fund, etc.
      That's one degree of separation. That's business with... oops, sorry. :)

    • This shouldn't take too long: Quicken already works with Codeweaver's Crossover Office - except for the Internet connectivity bit. I have been told this is on their priority list, since so many people have been asking for it...
    • I download all of my financial data and import it into Gnucash without any problems, using that broken Quicken format (QIF). Granted, it takes *two whole steps*: 1) download, 2) import.

      Maybe I'm just lucky, though.

      -Paul Komarek
  • Check out MoneyDance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jockm (233372) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @11:23AM (#3545847) Homepage
    I use MoneyDance [moneydance.com]. It's Java based, so it runs on Linux, Win32, MacOS X, etc...
    • Too bad the primary developer left the MoneyDance project a while back. AppGen is currently debating on the future of the project as we speak, and has been rather mute on what they're planning.

      But I second that MoneyDance has been a good product up until this point, with the notable exception of the Java headache it imposes. I'm still looking for a decent way to take my data from MoneyDance and input it into something like GnuCash, but haven't had much luck with it.

  • generally... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dollargonzo (519030)
    most people and businesses are using finance applications where a simple paper record or a digital one would MORE than suffice. you have a number of records, they are stored, once every year / quarter or whenever u do your finances you tally them up, and sit down for a day or so and calculate everything. the thing about finance applications is that in general, it takes more time for people to USE them then to just do it by hand. people have forgotten how to do simple maths :-(

    now not only do they not know how to use a pencil and paper, they cant even use a CALCULATOR! they need special software to do EVERYTHING for them

    QED
    • Re:generally... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by danheskett (178529)
      Yeah, thats great until you want to do analysis of how the best way to spend your money is, for example.

      I know many people who do some very sophisticated tracking of how well their (limited) amounts of mone yare working for them, going as far to anaylze which debt should be accelerated, decelerated, consolidated, etc. It may seem basic on the surface, but in fact, alot of it you and I (non-trained accountants) would miss at first glance. One friend is specific showed me specifically how he save like $1200 in like six months just by adjusting the way he pays his bills.

      Sure, if you have one checking account or something you can probably just take an excel spreadsheet and make some enteries (thats what the first version of Quicken really were anyways).

      Throw in a few bank accounts, a few credit accounts, an IRA or 401k, some investments maybe, automated banking, etc and that $30 piece of software doesn't seem like such a waste.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's no wonder the submitter posits the question, "Are there any personal finance tools for Linux" -- he's obviously involved in fundraising efforts for terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda. He mungs his e-mail address (got something to hide ``pstreck''), uses Linux (free downloadable from the 'net, no audit trail or software license with personal contact information).

    I urge the Right Honourable President George Washington Bush to pass a bill outlawing the use of Linux as tools of terror.

    Thank you for your support.
  • Try Kapital (Score:4, Informative)

    by motorsabbath (243336) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @11:27AM (#3545865) Homepage
    Try kapital:

    http://www.thekompany.com/products/kapital

    My girfriend loves it, I prefer a good spreadsheet (Applix)...

    JB
  • *Grumble* (Score:5, Informative)

    by jsse (254124) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @11:29AM (#3545877) Homepage Journal
    Do you really care to do a little research, before Ask:Slashdot?!

    The main page of Christopher Browne's "Finances, Linux, and Stuff" is here! [hex.net]

    Click to that little "2. Linux-based Financial Software" you can find what you need.

    *grumble*
    • by bihoy (100694) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @12:53PM (#3546128)
      On the one hand I too feel that sometimes folks do not always do their homework. On the other hand I actually learned something from some of the replies to this post.

      This is an area that I am interested in, but not so much that I would have spent my own time researching them. I too would like a open source offering that is like quicken and that runs on Linux.

      It would be nice if there was a topic here on slashdot for folks to share information on specific topics that they have researched. Not with the intent or pretext of asking a question but with the intent of generating further discussion on the topic. Or perhaps all that is needed is a new name or subtitle for "Ask Slashdot".

      Hopefully this would allow everyone involved to expand their horizons in a collaborative fashion.
      • On the one hand...

        I'm with you. You can find anything in the world via google, as the first few posts in an Ask Slashdot usually tell everyone, but that doesn't always help. Discussion, experiences, insights. Getting the feel of the /. attitude on something. It makes it a little more of a community.

    • Re:*Grumble* (Score:2, Interesting)

      by pstreck (558593)
      Well i did do research before a posted the question. and i never ran across Chritopher Browne's page in my searches. I went through the typical routes, google, freshmeat, sf. And i didnt find anything that was up to par. I had been using GNUCash for about 3 months and found it seriously lacking. So stop your grumbling, and thanks for the link.
  • by vkg (158234) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @11:31AM (#3545883) Homepage
    I recon you can't beat MySQL and Perl for all of your financial needs :-)
  • by xonker (29382)
    if you would have specified what it is that Gnucash won't do that Quicken does. "Isn't up to par..." doesn't really cut it. I've used Gnucash a little bit, and it seems to have everything that I would want - but my personal finances aren't so complicated that I can't manage them in my check register and savings book. I'm not really disciplined enough to enter every little thing into Gnucash often enough to make it worthwhile. My personal theory of finance is to earn way more money than I spend and always have enough in the bank to cover purchases, and not to have to rely on credit cards.

    If there are specific features you're looking for, you should have mentioned them. Right now this is just another in a series of useless "Ask Slashdot" questions that indicate the poster didn't do any footwork on their own or even think very hard about the question.
  • I tried Quicken and thought that it was a little overkill for what I wanted to use it for. I only need to keep a register of what my account ballances are and want to be able to quickly and easily look up how much money I have and enter new transactions with the same ease. So, I ditched the personal finance software and fired up my favorite spreadsheet application. All I needed to do was to set up the worksheet so that the first collumn was the check number, the second was the date, the third the payee, the fourth the amount of the transaction, and the fifth my ending balance. The balance is taken from adding (or subtracting) the amount of the transaction from the ending balance of the line from above. Very simple and I don't need to wade through the excess features that I don't want or need.

    Personal finance software brings several tool together into one package. But most of those you can easily recreate with other software.
  • I've been using ChecFree's old DOS program under dosemu for a number of years. Its even is happy calling the old compuserve data network to transfer payments.

    I've been using the program since about '92 or so and its quite happy except for a few stupid questions about thinking the date is set very far ahead and a few y2k sorting bugs.

    I looked into the data format of the file and it looks very easy so if someone is looking at writing a program that talks to chcekfree, I might be able to dig up the code that decodes their packets. They build a small file and then xmodem it off to some connecion on the old CIS network so its not big on security but at least it works unlike my banks payment system (which uses some new shiny interface to the same backend and might just use the same CIS interface)
  • Kapital (Score:5, Informative)

    by Michael Wardle (50363) <mikel@mikelwa[ ]com ['rd.' in gap]> on Sunday May 19, 2002 @11:39AM (#3545912) Homepage
    I asked myself the same question only a few weeks ago. I came to the conclusion that Kapital [thekompany.com] from theKompany [thekompany.com] was the best option. You'll probably need KDE and Linux or FreeBSD to run it.

    Somewhat ironically, I'm using GnuCash [gnucash.org] until I can afford to buy it. :-/

    Both Kapital and GnuCash claim to be able to import Quicken data files, which is a very handy feature.

    Kapital is reviewed here [linuxplanet.com].

    Freshmeat also has a brief review [freshmeat.net] that compares many Linux/Unix financial products.

    If none of these seems sufficient, maybe Quicken runs under WINE. Has anybody tried doing so?

    • Re:Kapital (Score:4, Informative)

      by Dr. Cam (20341) <camNO@SPAMellisonpsychology.ca> on Sunday May 19, 2002 @12:01PM (#3545967) Homepage
      Quicken is reported to run _very well_ under Wine. I cannot verify this myself, as I switched to Gnucash. It lacks a little bit of the functionality of Quicken, but it offers a good deal more.

      Because my wife and I have some real estate investments, and she runs a sole proprietorship, we need to make use of a "real" financial package. Quicken's use of single-entry bookkeeping used to drive me nuts at times, because some things were very complicated to set up. Gnucash is a true double-entry system.

      As for getting your bank statements, unless the bank is using the newer Quicken format, downloading is trivially easy. Quicken developed the QIF format, and this is used still by a large number of financial institutions. Gnucash will sort out the duplications for you, and allow you to classify entries it cannot identify.

      I won't go back.

      • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @02:19PM (#3546410)
        Quickbooks does corporate/business accounting. If you want double-entry accounting, buy Quickbooks. You don't need the Pro version for real estate and most small businesses.

        Complaining about Quicken's single-entry bookkeeping is the most retarded complaint, no offense. You're complaining that the personal finance stuff doesn't do business style accounting? That would be a valid complaint except the SAME company offers a business version cheaply (it's less than $200) that does what you want.

        I use Quicken Deluxe for my personal finances where I don't want double-entry and other garbage. I use Quickbooks for my corporate accounting where I need to do invoicing, credit memos, various accounts, etc.

        My personal accounting consists of a checking account, investment account, and some credit cards. My corporate accounting is more complicated and needs to be more complicated.

        Alex
        • Quickbooks does corporate/business accounting. If you want double-entry accounting, buy Quickbooks. You don't need the Pro version for real estate and most small businesses.

          Has that changed in the last few years? ISTR my CPA sister ranting about people who used Quickbooks (not merely Quicken, definitely Quickbooks) instead of a real double-entry system like Peachtree.
  • What do you guys use?

    A Pilot fine point pen and my checkbook.

    Hah! Finally being poor is advantageous and saves me hassle!

    --saint
  • Quicken (Score:5, Informative)

    by JDeFontes (134194) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @11:49AM (#3545932) Homepage
    Quicken 2002 on OS X. *wink*

    But seriously...

    I used to work for Intuit, and at one time there was an initiative to do an online version of Quicken. Some of that work seems to have shown up in their My Finances [quicken.com] offering:

    "Track checking, savings and cash accounts here. You can download balances from your financial institution..."
  • And when the debt collectors call I say I'm not in but I will take a message. My suggestion for the pman is that he make a healthy contribution to the GNUCASH project, this will both simplify his financial situation and encourage improvements to the source code.
  • I run Quicken on Unix. I use Mac OS X.
    • I run Quicken on Unix. I use Mac OS X.

      So you use Mac OS X. That operating system may implement most of the Single UNIX Spec, but I don't see it listed as a UNIX system [opengroup.org].

      Either way, I don't see "go out and buy a Mac" as a cost-effective solution to the personal finance software problem. The original poster (pstreck) mentioned Wine, implying that (s)he used an x86 computer. For the price of Mac OS X (and its $799 hardware key [apple.com]), pstreck could just go out and buy a hard drive and a copy of Windows XP Professional and install Quicken on that.

  • by slide-rule (153968) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @12:15PM (#3546000)
    I have actually poked at each release of GnuCash, but consistently it lacks one feature that I am rather addicted to: scheduling income and expenses, and combining this into a budget forecast for the next N months. With something like this, correctly setup, I not only know how much money I have an any account *right now*, but I will have a reasonable ball-park figure for how much money I will have in three months, six months, etc. A nifty line-plot is handy to see where, when, and how bad the next "low point" is going to be, and as necessary I can adjust funds to deal with it gracefully before it has a chance to bite my sorry a$$. Very useful planning tool that, now, I cannot do without. This is the one single feature keeping a '98 partition hanging around my house.

    Now, I'm not too bad writing bits of code and what-not (it's a tangential part of my day job), and I appreciate that, to some extent, linux money applications can be scripted and stuff; maybe I could roll my own forecaster this way, but I really don't want to feel like I need to kludge together such a relatively 'big' feature when I don't have the time and interest after getting home. (Maybe it's just me, and, yes, I'm a bit lazy once I'm off the clock. ;)

    I probably haven't looked into all possible alternatives for a linux-based financial program, but so far I haven't noticed one that really handles this.
  • is what the bank typically gives you at the end of each month. Thats right. I use my credit card for almost everything.

    When tax time, submissions for refunds from my employer, etc. come around I simply photocopy my statement, black out the lines they shouldn't see. For the truely paranoid photocopy it again (so you can read through the page).

    The only item that doesn't appear on that statement is rent. But if I could, I'd do that too.
  • Oracle Small Business Suite, powered by NetLedger, works well from Linux based browsers.

    They provide a complete small business package which includes accounting, sfa, cms, employee expenses, time and billing, scheduling and clandars, online file cabinets, payroll, online bill payment, web store/site, and customer care features in their product.

    See them @ Oracle Small Business Suite [oraclesmallbusiness.com]
  • Give KMyMoney2 a try (Score:2, Informative)

    by EconomyGuy (179008)
    I found this a couple of weeks ago in the Debian package archives. If your not running Debian, it can be downloaded from sourceforge [sourceforge.net]. Overall the program is looking to be real solid. Its still in development in a lot of ways, but from my brief experiements, it looks like it has lots of nifty features and a very good ledger system.
  • by vegetablespork (575101) <vegetablespork@gmail.com> on Sunday May 19, 2002 @12:39PM (#3546082) Homepage
    Even if Intuit released a version of Quicken for Linux today, I wouldn't use it.

    Strike 1: Intuit charges me for the software--then has the audacity to attempt to force me to give up personal information to use it (astalavista.box.sk to the rescue again).

    Strike 2: Intuit spams me with sales pitches based on information entered into the program. I already paid once, thank you.

    Strike 3: Using the online services requires me to go through Intuit as an intermediary, rather than keeping the relationship only between me and my financial institution. Given their proven propensity to bother me with ads, I don't exactly trust them with my financial details.

    Yer out!

  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @12:46PM (#3546099)
    On a somewhat related note, I have found that most people who purchase these programs want to decrease expenditures, feeling that if they organize their expenses, they will reduce them.

    In general I have found this not to be the case. If you simply want a category breakdown, your credit card should already provide it - mine does. Otherwise, a simple check of your accounts once a week should give you a simple idea of how your spending is going.

    Simply put, the only way to reduce expenditures is to not buy things. Also, watch for monthly fees you start incurring for this service or that - these monthly fees constitute a huge drain on most people's cash, and our economy is moving more and more to a rental model where it will be hugely important to control recurring service fees.

    Added to which, most banks charge for the pleasure of automagically syncing Quicken with your account (although you can still manually update Quicken with a download file for free with most banks). So you could be losing money while trying to save it.

    • I have found that most people who purchase these programs want to decrease expenditures

      Good post! Let me add:

      In general, if you're alreay not wasting money, it's better to focus on inceasing revenue rather than cutting expenses down to the bone. You can only cut expenses down to $0 - but your income, potentially, has no limit. I find it easier to make money, than to ferret out an extra penny by farting around with my expenses. YMMV.
    • Otherwise, a simple check of your accounts once a week should give you a simple idea of how your spending is going.

      So you are suggesting that instead of debugging his financial source line by line, he should do some run-time analysis using profiling? I suggest optimising some of those tight loops, for instance repeated withdrawals from the cash machine on a Friday night. I'd also run TrussFinance to locate any cash leaks, for example that AOL subscription they told you they had cancelled. I wouldn't, however, use a step-by-step debugger as this can be embarrassing for company in restaurants.

      Phillip.
    • Tracking does save (Score:3, Informative)

      by nuggz (69912)
      I disagree, knowing that I spent $400 last month on junk food DOES help me save money.

      Knowing where/how you spend your money is the first step on spending less.
    • I would definately have to disagree with nearly everything said with the exception of "the only way to reduce expenditures is to not buy things."

      I've been using Quicken/Money since 1994 and as a result on any given day I know exactly how much money I have in any one of my accounts, how much I owe on any one of my lines of credit, as well as a general estimate of what bills I will be expecting to pay over the next several weeks. It's nice to have an estimated loan payoff figure at your fingertips without having to call the bank.

      This allows me to forcast and budget appropriately.

      While I don't do the automagically syncing thing(I do prefer to enter transactions by hand), I am subscribed to my banks online banking and bill pay service. This is $6.95 a month, but considering that the service allows me to schedule payments to be sent for any bill I might have, the convenience more than pays for itself. On top of that is the cost savings of no longer having to buy checks, as well as no longer having to buy stamps. When you figure that it costs about 45 cents to mail a check(cost of stamp + cost of check)... sending 15 bills in a month using the automated service breaks even.

      Furthermore I no longer have late fees on credit cards because the bill is sitting in my pocket while I wait to find some time to hit the post office to buy a bloody stamp.

      While Quicken/Money is not going to be a substitute for good financial management, the automation that they provide makes the job a hell of a lot easier. I highly recommend either of these packages.

  • up to par (Score:2, Interesting)

    by h4x0r-3l337 (219532)
    While the free software versions may not quite be up to par with the current commercial offerings, it won't always be the case.

    Yes it will. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but writing software like that is BORING. Take a look at the best open source software out there and you'll see that it is "interesting" software: operating systems, window managers, development tools. Financial software is the kind of boring crud that nobody writes for fun, and so something like GNU cash will progress until the easy features are done, and then the authors will realize they don't want to spend any more time on such an uninteresting piece of software, and they will move on to something more interesting. Some software is just so utterly uninteresting or unprestigious that nobody works on it for fun, you have to PAY them to work on it.

  • I've never used finance software before, but when I started my business I knew I needed some way to keep track of finances. I've been using gnucash and it seems to fit the bill. Although I don't know if I'm missing anything by not using Quicken or whatever.

    I think people need an actual understanding of accounting to use gnucash, whereas with Quicken you can just answer all of the pretty questions. I've talked to some people who use Quicken to manage their finances and they really don't get accounting at all.

    What am I missing by only using gnucash?

  • You can run Quicken; you just need the right shell [apple.com].
  • I use SQL-Ledger [sql-ledger.org] :)
  • What about web-based services, like Netledger, Quicken online, or e-Peachtree? The downside is the cost, starting at $10/month. But you can access them from any net-connected computer with a decent web browser.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I came to Linux directly from the MS-DOS world, where Quicken 7.0 for DOS handled all my account tracking and balancing needs. I found Check Book Balancer (CBB) to be the equivalent Linux program. Simple. Straightforward. Keeps all your accounts balanced. Reads QIF and writes a simple text output that's great for grepping.

    If you need features along the lines of online banking, mortgage finance calculators, etc. -- then go to the web. If you need the features of a business bookkeeping package, cbb won't fit the bill. But otherwise, do yourself a favor and keep it simple. Use CBB.
  • Try this Canadian software companies product called Quasar:

    http://www.linuxcanada.com/quasar.html

    I've installed on my Mandrake box but haven't really used it much yet.

  • by Laplace (143876) on Sunday May 19, 2002 @07:45PM (#3547380)
    At one point I tried to install and use GNUCash as my personal finance manager. The first problem that I ran in to was dependency hell. The program relies on tens of libraries. I went through quite a few ./configure --> download dependency --> install dependency --> ./configure until I was able to finally produce a build.

    Now, GNUCash works on a double entry accounting system. That means every time you take money away from one account it goes into another, and vice versa. In some sense, it depends upon the idea that money just can appear out of nowhere, and it just can't disappear into the void. Supposedly it is a very powerful system of accounting. However, the problem that I ran in to was setting my accounts up. I have several different debts (student loans), and several different investments (401K, personal investments), as well as the balances in my checking and savings accounts. I just couldn't figure out how to reasonably set up my initial finances, let alone creating special accounts for things like payroll and taxes. I have a degree in Mathematics, but GNUCash tries to be a serious accounting program. Quicken and the like are different, and single entry accounting is much easier for a beginner to use. Apparently it is much easier to lie, cheat, and make mistakes with single accounting systems.

    I finally settled on just keeping a sort of ledger. Pen and paper. I track spending in my budget with it, my current checking account levels, and I update the value of my savings and investments from time to time. It serves me well and keeps my finances on track, which is all I really need. It is also very portable, which makes it easier to account for things like grocery bills and ATM withdrawls.

    What GNUCash really needs is a _good_ step by step tutorial on how to set the software up, and I'm not refering to the ./configure dependency hell.
  • If you have WINE that indicates that you have a Windows license. Why not just use a dual boot with Windoze? Agreed, Micro$oft is highly evil and Linux should be used in most cases, but this is just one case where it makes more sense to use Windows than Linux. When you have specialty software that is high quality and the vendors aren't informed enough to port their programs to real OS's, if you want the software you should use the OS.

    Better yet, vote with your money. Don't buy Quicken, because it only works on a crappy OS.
    • If you have WINE that indicates that you have a Windows license.

      Early on, you needed bits from a real Windows installation to get WINE to work. Last time I looked, you could get many Windows applications to run in WINE without any part of real Windows. Remember, WINE is a reimplementation of the Windows API, not an emulator under which Windows runs.

      So, no, running WINE doesn't imply that you have a Windows license, nor that you should have one.
  • Money (Score:2, Informative)

    by jadenjahner (529182)
    MS Money works via Wine also. It is not the best, but it does work. GnuCash still needs refinement. You'd think Intuit would release a Linux version of Quicken.
  • Expertise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m_evanchik (398143) <michel_evanchikATevanchik.net> on Sunday May 19, 2002 @11:48PM (#3548153) Homepage
    The real expertise in a program like quicken is not on the programming end. Balancing books is a pretty trivial algorithm.

    Where the real value of Quicken lies in the financial and legal expertise that it describes. For this they need the expertise of accountants and lawyers and economists etc..

    If you want to develop a good open-source personal finance program, you need to find some good accountants (and tax lawyers, and financial advisers, etc) to help out in distilling their expertise, working with the programmers.

    And because laws and finance are such ever-changing areas, especially at the margins, constant updating is necessary.

    One big hurdle with open-source financial programs (please keep responding flames articulate) is a lack of accountability as well. When I buy turbotax, I know there is a company behind it that must take some responsibility with the program. Just for that reason, a good lawyer or accountant may be hesitant to contribute on open-source. If the software fucks up, he may be professionally liable.

    I do wish at least a polished proprietary financial and tax software were available on Linux. My guess is that Linux just doesn't have the market penetration yet to justify the port.

    Because of the need for updates, I even think that proprietary software might have some viability on a limited, non-transfereable, open source basis.

    I haven't tried gnucash, but if intuit came out with quicken and turbotax for Linux, I would be one step closer to wiping my windows partition. Incidentally, I still wouldn't buy the linux version right away, because I still need the windows partition for other things, and my windows quicken works fine.

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis

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