Track investments

You can use hledger to track stock investments. In fact, the double-entry accounting is flexible enough to support most constellations you will come across. However, you may find that some transactions could be better supported. Caveats are: - hledger does not validate the cost basis during a sale. - historical mark-to-market performance is not supported (but the market value at one instant, like today, can be calculated)

Example

Buying a stock

Let's go over a simple example using prices:

2017/1/1 opening balance
  (assets:depot)  $3000

2017/1/2 buy shares at $200
  ; let's assume no fees
  assets:shares   10 TSLA @ $200  ; transaction/purchase price
  assets:depot

Some reports. We start with $3000. After the 1/2 purchase, we have $1000 remaining and 10 TSLA shares:

$ hledger -f t.j bal --flat -HD
Ending balances (historical) in 2017/01/01-2017/01/02:

               ||  2017/01/01     2017/01/02
===============++============================
 assets:depot  ||       $3000          $1000
 assets:shares ||           0        10 TSLA
---------------++----------------------------
               ||       $3000 $1000, 10 TSLA

Show the shares' value at cost, with -B/--cost:

$ hledger -f t.j bal --flat -HD -B
Ending balances (historical) in 2017/01/01-2017/01/02:

               ||  2017/01/01  2017/01/02
===============++=========================
 assets:depot  ||       $3000       $1000
 assets:shares ||           0       $2000
---------------++-------------------------
               ||       $3000       $3000

Value reporting

Add the following to the journal file.

; market price, has jumped since yesterday's purchase!
P 2017/1/3 TSLA $250

Show the shares's value using the latest applicable market price, with -V/--value. A $500 capital gain is apparent in the totals:

$ hledger -f t.j bal --flat -HD -V
Ending balances (historical) in 2017/01/01-2017/01/02:

               ||  2017/01/01  2017/01/02
===============++=========================
 assets:depot  ||       $3000       $1000
 assets:shares ||           0       $2500
---------------++-------------------------
               ||       $3000       $3500

There are still limitations in the value reporting that hledger can currently do. More information can be found in Github issue #131 and Github issue #329.

You may want to investigate the output after adding more prices to the journal file.

P 2017/1/1 TSLA $210
P 2017/1/4 TSLA $250
P 2017/1/8 TSLA $270

Selling a stock and tracking capital gains

At some point you will probably sell shares. It may seem intuitive to model such a sale as follows.

2017/1/4 sell shares at $250      ; NOTE: You probably want to model capital gains too; see below
  assets:shares   -10 TSLA @ $250  ; sell price
  assets:depot

This leads to the following evolution

hledger -f t.j balance --flat -HD
Ending balances (historical) in 2017/01/01-2017/01/04:

               ||  2017/01/01     2017/01/02     2017/01/03  2017/01/04
===============++=======================================================
 assets:depot  ||       $3000          $1000          $1000       $3500
 assets:shares ||           0        10 TSLA        10 TSLA           0
---------------++-------------------------------------------------------
               ||       $3000 $1000, 10 TSLA $1000, 10 TSLA       $3500

You end up with the correct amount in your depot. At some point, however, you will have to report the capital gain that you realized with your sale. This gain is currently invisible. In fact, we have violated the double-entry principle and created money out of nowhere.

Let's report our sale in a different way.

2017/1/4 sell shares at $250
  assets:shares         -10 TSLA @ $200  ; cost basis (must be tracked by user!)
  assets:depot          $2500            ; cash proceeds
  revenue:capital_gains                  ; deduce profit

Now, the new $500 are correctly balanced with the capital gains account.

hledger -f t.j balance --flat -HD
Ending balances (historical) in 2017/01/01-2017/01/04:

                       ||  2017/01/01     2017/01/02     2017/01/03  2017/01/04
=======================++=======================================================
 assets:depot          ||       $3000          $1000          $1000       $3500
 assets:shares         ||           0        10 TSLA        10 TSLA           0
 revenue:capital_gains ||           0              0              0       $-500
-----------------------++-------------------------------------------------------
                       ||       $3000 $1000, 10 TSLA $1000, 10 TSLA       $3000

Further reading