The first step in managing your checkbook is to set up the necessary
accounts. You can either use the default
GnuCash accounts or set up your
own. For more detail on how to set up a new account, refer to
Section 3.3.2, “The Basic Top Level Accounts”.
For instructions on importing your accounts from another program, refer to the
Let’s start with the bank accounts you’ll need. You need one
bank type account for each physical bank account you wish to track. If you
are setting up your own accounts or using the default
make sure that you have an opening balance transaction for each bank
account you own. The easiest way to get this number is to use the balance
from your last bank statement as your opening balance. You can enter this
in the account information window automatically as part of the
New Account Hierarchy Setup assistant, or you can enter a
manual transaction directly in the account. To enter the transaction
manually, enter a transfer from an Opening Balances
account (type equity) to the bank account.
The typical bank accounts you might track include:
Checking - any institutional account that provides check-writing privileges.
Savings - an interest-bearing institutional account usually used to hold money for a longer term than checking accounts.
Common transactions that affect these bank accounts are payments and deposits. Payments are transfers of money out of the bank account, usually to an expense account. Deposits are transfers of money into the bank account, usually from an income account. You will need to set up income and expense accounts to track where that money comes from and where it goes. Remember that a balanced transaction requires a transfer of an equal sum of money from at least one account to at least one other account. So if you deposit money in your checking account, you must also enter the account that money comes from. If you pay a bill from your checking account, you must also enter the account where that money goes.