2022-08-15 Personal accounting in Ledger

As I mentioned a few times, I use Ledger to keep track of my personal (actually, family) finance. While I definitely do not use the full power of Ledger (I don’t really need to), I find the very basic concept of double-entry bookkeeping extremely simple and elegant (in a mathematical sense). So, when I saw this comment:

Ah, Ledger is way too complicated for what it’s worth. I’ve seen videos on YouTube about it, and every person who’s praised it is pretty much too smart enough to be able to explain it in simple terms.

I almost immediately decided to take up the gauntlet. See, I have an MSc in “finance and banking” (which involved a semester’s worth of financial accounting course – not very much, but enough to understand the basic tenets of the system), I am a Ledger fan and an educator. I wrote this in response:

Interesting - I’ve been using Ledger for many years now, and while I agree that it has its dark corners, it’s much like Org in that respect - you are not forced to use them at all. And the “core” is IMHO very simple - you just record your “transactions” (e.g., using the very nice Emacs ledger-mode) and look at a report.
Having said all that, would someone be interested in a blog post(s) with a Ledger basics crash course?

I got one firm “yes”, which I decided is enough, and set out to work. Soon I decided that a booklet may be a better choice than a blog post. And so, here it is.

I am happy now to announce my second book on Leanpub – Personal accounting in Ledger. It is much, much shorter than the Elisp one, and you can buy it at the lowest possible Leanpub price of $8. It is a very gentle intro to the basic concepts of accounting, most notably double-entry bookkeeping, chart of accounts, and basic types of reports. The booklet focuses on personal (or home, or family) finances – for example, a whole chapter is devoted to dealing with loans (credit cards, mortgages etc.), which can be treated in a different, simpler way than what companies (have to) do.

As before, I publish this version even before is complete (which Leanpub is designed for). In fact, I am going to write a chapter or two more – you can even see the beginning of one near the end. Still, the introduction to the basic ideas of double-entry bookkeeping is fairly complete.

So, try it out! You don’t risk much, since you can buy the book on Leanpub and if you don’t like it, get a refund with no questions asked within 60 days! (Though if you do, it would be great if you gave a reason – any such feedback is potentially very valuable to me!)

Note: this does not mean that I abandoned the Elisp book! In fact, it will get a minor update in a few days, and I am working on a major update, too. Stay tuned!

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