Personal accounting with HomeBank

Those of you who know me, know how much I suck at accounting. Those of you who don’t know me, can’t even imagine. I am the worst accounting person on this planet. Probably, I am the second worst in human history, but the jury on that one is still out there.

My problem with accounting grows roots from two separate issues. First, I suck at math. And that includes all the math, from arithmetics through calculus to linear algebra. You name the math area, and I suck at it. Second, I suck at managing money. Give a dollar, lock me in the empty room, and I will still be able to spend it on something, without getting anything in return. That’s me.

Obviously, with such a good start, my accounting skills weren’t just free falling down. They were boosted and rocket-pushed. Need an example? Here’s one: I’ve heard those two base termins – credit and debit – and I’ve heard them a billion times, and I had them explained to me a few million times, but I still confuse which one of them is minus and which one is a plus. I’ve heard that credit and debit should always come down to zero, but I don’t know if that’s true and if it is, how to make that happen. You get the picture.

My accounting needs were either too simple to confuse (even for me), or were handled by my wife (who is way too good at it). Unfortunately, the dynamics of our home economics have increased recently, and I have to participate to the best of my skills.

Being a technology person, I went for a quest to find that one perfect software piece that will do all the job for me with a few easy clicks here and there. Before I did so, I tried a simple text file with line-by-line entries. It didn’t work very well, because I kept confusing things and naming them differently all the time.

After that I tried about a dozen different applications, ranging from Excel-style tables to full featured financial applications. Nothing worked very good for me, so I settled for something very simple that could run on my Sony Ericsson smartphone. The bonus was that the software was always with me and I could update it on the spot. But it didn’t have enough features for my needs (multiple accounts, statistics, reports) and I couldn’t easily export the data.

Finally, it looks like my search is over. I came across an excellent piece of software called HomeBank. It used to run only on Amiga, but recent version 3.2 was rewritten with GTK+ 2.0 for Linux operating system.

It works like a charm.

It does everything I want, and not only that, but it does so in the way I can understand and work with. I can have multiple accounts of different types, transfer money between them, do this and that, and have reports and stats for anything I wish to investigate.

I’ve been using it for only about a week now, but I am sure this is exactly what I needed. If you’re still thinking wheather or not you should give it a try, look at the screenshots.

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