As I've mentioned previously, we got our first "personal computer" back in 1995. It came with an array of pretty amazing software (or so I thought at the time) including Encarta, MS Money and MS Works.

Being fairly keen to put these software workhorses to the plough, I loaded up MS Money and proceeded to track our personal finances using it. The excitement grew thin after a while so MS Money was shelved.

Some time layer (early 2000s?) I purchased a copy of AceMoney. It came (and still does) with a trial version that allows you to track income and expenses in two bank accounts (the paid version is effectively unlimited). I used it religiously for around 5 years. Once you leave a task like entering financial transactions for a while, the effort required to catch up grows to the point where inertia wins just about every time.

Around 6 years ago I thought I'd give GnuCash a turn. I found it too cumbersome so rejected it and opted for a spreadsheet instead.

I've also tried You Need a Budget and, whilst that may be true, I don't need to keep it in YNAB. I liked some of the premises behind YNAB about carrying forward balances but also found it cumbersome.

In recent times I've become involved in helping our church record and report their finances. The solution they had been using was online and somewhat cumbersome so I spent some time revisiting old apps and looking for new ones. I've come across two that hold promise:

The first is KMyMoney which started out life as a linux-based K-desktop environment package but is now cross platform (linux and windows, at least). It's relatively simple, allows double-entry bookkeeping and tracks GST. Under Australian tax legislation 1 income and costs need to be reported net of GST (for GST-reporting entities) so the GST collected or paid needs to be held in a balance sheet account to not distort income and expenses. Unfortunately KMyMoney doesn't do this by default - only allowing tax reporting of profit and loss items. The GST can be collected in the right place, but can't be reported on. The workaround is to manually calculate income and expenses that are subject to GST by grossing up the GST amount collected. If you have collected $200 in your GST-paid account, then the total cost of the items must have been $2,200 ($200 x 11), and likewise with income. Inconvenient, but not a show-stopper.

The second program that has my attention is really an approach or a philosophy - being Plain Text Accounting which is really a set of reporting tools that access financial information that is held in plain text files. I love the simplicity, but don't know how well it would handle GST.

So my money is on KMyMoney at the moment, but plain text accounting is looming.

  1. Skip to the next paragraph if you have absolutely no interest in GST legislation and reporting requirements. 

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