Open-Source money management software?
October 19, 2008 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Anyone have a good open-source alternative to Quicken?

So my parents use Quicken and love it, but I'm cheap (and a bit strapped for cash). Does anyone have open-source money management software they can recommend?

Specifically, I'm looking for something like Mint or Quicken Online (pulling data from my bank account and credit card and making it into a pie graph), but software-based, because no matter what it says in Mint's TOS I think submitting all my bank passwords to a website is ludicrous. That being said, I realize that doing the same thing for software is potentially just as risky, which why I'm hoping for something open source.

What I DON'T want is something that requires me submit daily data; I punched receipts into Expensr for a year and it was just too much darn work.

I understand such a thing may not exist, so I'll accept "just cough up for Quicken" if you actually use Quicken and think it's awesome.
posted by ®@ to Technology (19 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Have you looked at GnuCash? It's a Unix app, so you'd have to either have OS X/Linux installed or run Linux in a virtual machine, but it's quite good. I used it for a while when my finances were tighter, running in a VMWare instance of Debian on Windows XP. It supports QIF import, so it should work with online banking/investment services that can "export to Quicken." That won't get you automated import, but downloading statements once a month is less painful than entering manually, FWIW.
posted by Alterscape at 10:59 AM on October 19, 2008

Gnucash is the canonical choice.

Note that Quicken doesn't store enough data to construct a full double-entry booking setup from your accounts, so a little reconstruction may be necessary (according to what I've read). FAQ here.
posted by pharm at 11:03 AM on October 19, 2008

Alterscape: Gnucash runs just fine under Windows I believe.
posted by pharm at 11:04 AM on October 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Moneydance is what I use since switching away from Quicken. It might not have all the features of Quicken, but it is only $25 and doesn't force you to update at regular intervals. After Quicken started to lock in users and didn't give them an option to export, I decided it was time to switch to something more open. It is not open source but the best alternative to Quicken I have found.
posted by Brennus at 11:05 AM on October 19, 2008

GnuCash is the open source app. Last I used it, it was a great app if phrases like "double-entry" get your heart beating. Casual use? Not so much.

If you like the idea of web-hosted finance but don't want to give all your passwords to someone, you might like Wesabe. It was explicitly designed to let you preserve your privacy by keeping your passwords local and just uploading data.
posted by Nelson at 11:06 AM on October 19, 2008

Oh, and gnucash will happily talk to your online banking:
posted by pharm at 11:07 AM on October 19, 2008

Second MoneyDance. Not free, as mentioned, but "cheap enough" and when I started using it (2005), I didn't think gnucash was stable or featured enough to be a viable alternative.

All of my online accounts that "export to Quicken" are imported just fine in either QIF or OCX.
posted by devbrain at 11:16 AM on October 19, 2008

I use Money Manager EX (MMEX), which I switched to from MS Money. It's pretty simple and easy to use; for me the deciding feature was that you can utilise multiple currencies in the same portfolio of accounts (something I recognise won't be of huge interest to most).
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 11:27 AM on October 19, 2008

Gnucash is not that hard. I picked it up with no financial background about two years ago and have been happy with it.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:35 AM on October 19, 2008

I personally use GnuCash, and don't mind the double entry system once you wrap your head around it. Mostly what I do is write down transactions from my checking account and record where money comes and goes. It does use the various online banking systems, but not all banks are immediately available in GnuCash. For example, my regional bank is not in the list, and basic attempts to get the nessecary information have failed. I'd need to grab a quicken demo in order to determine the connection information, which I haven't done (yet).

One downside is that it isn't streamlined for personal finance. It seems for a long time the developers were more interested in business and investment than household budgeting, which I can understand -- the kind of people interested in spending time writing money software usually have the living expenses thing down pat. For example, there's a menu item called "Business" which has a Employee, Customer and Vendor stuff you and I probably won't need. None of the reports I've seen were particularly enlightening, but maybe that's just common in banking stuff.

If you're stipulating the open-source part because you care deeply about those principles, GnuCash seems to have finally resolved it's AqBanking problem (linking SSL libs without an exception to the GPL) and aqbanking 3.0 will be in Ubuntu 8.10.
posted by pwnguin at 12:10 PM on October 19, 2008

pharm: I yield to your more up-to-date info. I've been OS X only for about two years now, and back then I know gnucash on Windows wasn't a going concern. Glad to see its been ported!
posted by Alterscape at 12:21 PM on October 19, 2008

Yeah, I think it came along with the port to GTK2. Gnucash was really slow to bite the bullet and drop GTK1. Can't say I blame them particularly — who wants to go through all the faff of changing GUI toolkits for no obvious benefit after all? — but eventually even the Gnucash developers realised that GTK1 was holding them back.
posted by pharm at 12:47 PM on October 19, 2008

Response by poster: Wow, seems like GNUCash is the winner... I'll try it out and see how well it works. I'll update with results, thanks!
posted by ®@ at 1:19 PM on October 19, 2008

Just be aware that GnuCash == double entry bookkeeping ®@, which is a bit of a change from Quicken IIRC.
posted by pharm at 1:54 PM on October 19, 2008

Response by poster: what's double-entry bookkeeping? Can someone explain?
posted by ®@ at 9:23 PM on October 19, 2008

I use Homebank. It's free software and runs on Windows, OS X, or Linux. For me, Homebank was easy to learn whereas Gnucash felt impenetrable.
posted by PueExMachina at 10:06 PM on October 19, 2008

Double entry bookkeeping means that all your money is organized into accounts, and every dollar has to come from somewhere and every dollar has to go somewhere.

Here's the GNUcash explanation.

For a simple example, when you pay your credit card bill from your bank, you'll end up with two transactions:
1) Debit from your Banking account
2) Credit to your CC account

Within GNUcash, you'll have separate accounts for each category of Expenses you have. (for me, these are things like Utilities, Travel, Groceries, etc) As you import your bills, you'll assign each expenditure to an account

So, if I pay my phone bill from my checking account, there are two entries created:
1) Debit from checking account
2) Credit to the Expenses>Utilities account

(Don't worry - creating both only requires one action from you) There's a clear record now of how you've transferred money from your bank account to the Utilities account. Since the Utilities account is under Expenses, it counts as money going out.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:28 PM on October 19, 2008

This discussion has me thinking of switching from Quicken to GNUcash. I currently run an older version of Quicken to manage a business checking, credit card, and money market, then also a personal checking and credit card. Quicken has the newer Home and Business version and I had previously thought I would upgrade to that. Does GNUcash have a way to support the split between personal and business in a clean and clear way?
posted by Breav at 2:37 PM on October 20, 2008

Best answer: Does GNUcash have a way to support the split between personal and business in a clean and clear way?

Gnucash supports sub-accounts, so I imagine you could create a hierarchy that would accomplish this:

Income > Personal > (rent, utilities, groceries, etc)
Income > Work > (subcategories)
Expenses > Personal > (subcategories)
Expenses > Work > (subcategories)

Similarly, when you run reports or create graphs, you always have the option of choosing which accounts to pull data from. I don't see why it wouldn't work
posted by chrisamiller at 5:53 PM on October 20, 2008

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