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4 home finance programs for Linux

Although many people use online banking to monitor their accounts, move money around and pay bills, it is impossible to get an overall picture of your net worth when your money is at several different institutions. You can see your savings, you can see your cheque account, you can see your credit card account, and so on, but you really need an offline program to bring all the information together to show you your total net worth. You also need software to enable you to set budgets and to show whether you are sticking to them or spending too much. Until there's some way of pulling all your data together online, these traditional home finance programs are indispensible.


jGnash

jGnashjGnash is a free home finance program that is written in Java, so you need to make sure you have that installed before you start. It can be run from the command line, but it starts up OK even if you just double click the .jar file. The software is slightly confusing at first and this is mainly because of the interface, which could be a lot better. The main screen lists bank accounts, expense accounts, income accounts, and opening balances. They aren't all accounts and expense accounts are really categories. These have subcategories for car fuel and insurance, health insurance, food dining and groceries, recreation hobbies, books/magazines and concerts/movies. Income is split into subcategories like interest, salary and so on. Clicking the Register button divides the window into an accounts pane and account register pane. This is more straightforward to use and you can select an account (what everyone else calls an income or expense category), and enter a transaction. Recurring transactions like salary and bills can be created. It will also import OFX, MT940 and QIF file formats, so you can download the latest transactions from your online bank. Once you get used to jGnash, it is quite good and there is a useful range of reports that show your monthly balance, income/expense pie chart, your profit and loss, and so on.

Price: Free.


Buddi

BuddiBuddi is a personal finance program that is available for various Linux distros, Apple Mac and Windows. As with some of the other home accounts programs, the interface can be a bit strange and confusing in places and this doesn't help when you are trying to learn a new program. I don't know why it has to be so hard, but once you get used to it, it's a reasonably good program. The home screen shows your accounts and the balance for each one. You can create cheque accounts, credit card accounts, savings accounts and so on. You'd think you would be able to double click an account to open it, but instead you go to the Edit menu and select Edit Transactions - even when there aren't any! This opens a second window with its own menus, some of which duplicate the first window. Once past this weirdness, it's not so bad and you can enter transactions, choose categories and set budgets. Reports are available and these are quite good and show pie charts of income and expenses, your net worth and so on. A nice feature is the ability to extend the program with plug-ins. Buddi is OK once you get used to it, but not as good as jGnash or Eqonomize.

Price: Free.


Eqonomize

EqonomizeEqonomize is a KDE program, but it runs fine on Ubuntu with Gnome too. You'll find it in Ubuntu's Synaptic Package Manager and it's best installed from there, but if it's not in your distro's repository, try the website. Some programs haven't a clue when it comes to user friendly interfaces, but this one tries hard to make home finances easy. It's not quite perfect, but it is one of the best programs here and a bonus us that it comes with good documentation. The home screen lists your accounts, income categories and expense categories. You can easily add cheque accounts, savings, bills you regularly pay, salary and so on. There is even a securities account and you can record share dealings. The program imports QIF and CSV, so you can import transactions from your online bank. Manually entering transactions is straightforward too, although they are displayed in a separate window instead of in the main program window. There are some simple reports that are useful, but one irritating feature of the program is that you can't change the currency symbol. This doesn't affect how the program works, it just looks nice if you can set your currency. It's as good as, if not better than jGnash and it's much better than Buddi or GFP.

Price: Free.


Other accounts programs

  • GFP Personal Finance Manager: At first sight, this looks like it might be a good program, but when you try to use it you realise it's weird. It's really confusing and I didn't get on with it at all. I didn't know what I was doing and while it might make sense to the programmer, it doesn't make sense to me. It requires Java and you have to start it from the Terminal. It needs rewriting with novices in mind.

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