Felix Crux

Technology & Miscellanea 

Tags: ,

One of the big differences between how most people start out with accounting, and how professionals and big companies do it, lies in the distinction between cash basis and accrual basis accounting. Cash basis accounting is the simple, obvious, kind: we record transactions as they happen, and our ledger account balances reflect how much money is really present (or owed) right now in various accounts.

It might seem at first like this is the only possible or sensible way of tracking things, but accrual basis methods also have an intuitive appeal of their own, despite being rather different.

Consider, for example, a scenario where you complete some contract work but haven’t been paid yet; or are at a job a week before your latest pay-cheque is due. Naturally, you’d consider that you’re owed your wages, even if you don’t have anything written down in your cash basis accounting ledger. Or, to flip it around, if you receive a bill for this past month’s utilities, you know you owe that money even if it too isn’t in your ledger yet. Accrual basis accounting just means writing down these obligations at the time they’re incurred, rather than at the time they’re paid.

(This post is part of a series describing how I use the Ledger accounting system. For an introduction to ledger and this series, or to see all the entries, have a look at the first post).


Tags: ,

Sometimes you have to pay for something for which you will be reimbursed later, whether it’s a business travel expense or just spotting a friend some cash. Ledger makes it easy to not just track these expenses, but to know whether they’ve been paid back yet or not.

(This post is part of a series describing how I use the Ledger accounting system. For an introduction to ledger and this series, or to see all the entries, have a look at the first post).


Tags: ,

If you keep all your ledger transactions in one big file, it can quickly become messy and unwieldy. Fortunately, ledger has a feature that allows for easily separating different accounts into different files, without losing the ability to report on them all at once.

(This post is part of a series describing how I use the Ledger accounting system. For an introduction to ledger and this series, or to see all the entries, have a look at the first post).


Tags: ,

When trying to budget or understand regular baseline spending, special events like travel or large one-off purchases can distort the picture. Fortunately, ledger's tagging system allows us to report on these transactions separately, giving us better insight both into everyday expenses and the real cost of unusual events.

(This post is part of a series describing how I use the Ledger accounting system. For an introduction to ledger and this series, or to see all the entries, have a look at the first post).


Tags: ,

Instead of typing out the same half-dozen options every time you want a ledger report, you can define them once up front in a .ledgerrc file. This does make it annoying when you don't want those specific options, but there are ways around that.

(This post is part of a series describing how I use the Ledger accounting system. For an introduction to ledger and this series, or to see all the entries, have a look at the first post).


Tags: , ,

The Ledger accounting system is a powerful (but not very easy to adopt) software tool for double-entry bookkeeping. It can be used for far more than just basic finances: tracking billable hours, calculating taxes and tithes, reporting on the asset class balance of your investment portfolio… almost anything you can think of — if you can figure out how to do it.

Most of the information I could find just presented a basic overview of the simplest possible use of the tool. The official documentation, on the other hand, is very comprehensive, but it's like being given a pile of logs and some nails when you're trying to find out how to build a house.

I therefore will be writing up a series of posts on “Ledger Practices”, describing how I actually use the system for intermediate-complexity personal accounting. These should be “recipes” for solving real problems or answering real questions using ledger.