GnuCash Free Personal Finance and Accounting Software

GnuCash screenshot
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 Shelley Elmblad

GnuCash is a free, open-source program anyone can use to manage their money. This financial software can be used to track personal finances and also works as small business accounting software. GnuCash tracks a variety of account types, stocks, income, and expenses. There's no iPhone app, but Android users will find a very simple and free GnuCash app in the Google Play app store.

Supports Multiple Operating Systems and Multiple Currencies

GnuCash runs on Windows, macOS, and GNU/Linux computer operating systems. The software has been translated into many languages and supports over 100 currencies .

Simple Setup

GnuCash walks you through setting up accounts. Transactions for checking, credit card, income, and investments are entered into an on-screen checkbook register, similar to most financial software applications. You can enter split transactions, display multiple accounts, and customize your view.

GnuCash Account Types

You can set up a variety of account types in GnuCash, suitable for personal finance and small business accounting. Choose from asset account types such as Cash, Bank (includes credit cards, brokerages, savings and loan institutions, and credit unions), Stock, Mutual Fund,​ Accounts Receivable and Asset accounts. Liability account types are Accounts Payable, Liability (long-term loans) and Credit Card. Income and Expense accounts will vary depending on your spending patterns. 

Automatic File Backups and Crash Recovery

GnuCash makes a backup copy of your data each time your data file is saved. Program preferences let you set how many in a series of backup files are saved. Keeping multiple backups never hurts, and definitely helps if you need to restore a file going back weeks. GnuCash saves log files to document changes made to data so it is possible to recover work in the event of a power outage or system crash.

Small Business Features

GnuCash is based on double-entry accounting, which is important for managing the financial books of a business.

The small business accounting features can also be used for personal finances, although if you've never used double-entry accounting, it may take some getting used to.

Some of the features perfect for small businesses include:

  • Depreciation
  • Accounts receivable
  • Accounts payable
  • Customer and vendor tracking
  • Invoicing
  • Bill payment
  • Tax and billing terms
  • Payroll management

Financial Reporting

A decent range of customizable financial reports for personal finance and small business finance are included with GnuCash, such as cash flow, income, and expense, equity, taxes, net worth, and register reports. Small business reporting includes income statements, trial balance, general ledger, journal, balance sheet, receivable aging, vendor reports, and payable aging.

Plus, since Gnu Cash uses double-entry accounting, you can generate profit and loss reports, too.

Downloading and Importing Transactions

GnuCash will import data from banks as well as other software packages using QIF (Quicken), OFX (Open Financial Exchange) and HBCI files. A transaction matching system matches transactions before import so you don't wind up with multiples.

Help Documentation

As far as customer support goes, you will find most of the GnuCash help offered via a user manual, online tutorials, and a how-to Help feature. There is also extensive documentation in the form of the GnuCash wiki and mailing lists. The Tutorial and Concepts Guide gives you information not only about the software but also about basic accounting concepts, showing you how they are implemented in the software and giving you help step by step.

Is GnuCash Right for You?

Since GnuCash works with double-entry accounting, it is perfect for small businesses, but the concept may be new to many personal finance software users. However, the documentation and user guide are easy to understand, and complete knowledge of double-entry accounting is not required.

To get an idea of how GnuCash works, check out the Help Manual.

GnuCash is worth a try as a personal finance software, but many home users may be confused about installing the software. For example, the GnuCash download page includes unstable testing versions as well as the stable version (you'll want the stable version). Windows, Linux, and other setup file downloads are specified with icons, so be sure to choose the correct download for your operating system.

Many small businesses do well with GnuCash but may consider consulting an accountant to ensure IRS reporting requirements are met.

Article Sources

  1. GnuCash Tutorial and Concepts Guide. "Chapter 12: Multiple Currencies." Accessed March 13, 2020.

  2. Gnu Cash. "Features." Accessed March 13, 2020.

  3. Gnu Cash Tutorial and Concepts Guide. "Accounts Receivable." Accessed March 13, 2020.

  4. Gnu Cash Tutorial and Concepts Guide. "The Basics." Accessed March 13, 2020.