Create a journal

See also: Input and Setting LEDGER_FILE and Starting a journal file in the hledger manual.

There are lots of ways to start and update a journal file:

with touch

The simplest possible journal is just an empty file:

$ touch 2023.journal

The name doesn't matter much and can be changed later. One file per year is common, and so is a .journal or .hledger extension.

with cat

$ cat >>2023.journal
    expenses:food     $10

Account names can be anything and you can change them later by search and replace. If you don't know what to choose, start with these five:
expenses, income, assets, liabilities, and equity,
perhaps with one extra subcategory as above.

with a text editor

Write transactions in a text editor, optionally using an editor mode, and save the file.

with hledger add

Use the interactive add command and follow the prompts:

$ hledger add

with hledger-iadd

  • ensure $LEDGER_FILE exists
  • hledger iadd
  • enter one or more transactions

with hledger-web

  • ensure $LEDGER_FILE exists
  • hledger web
  • wait for web browser to open
  • click "add transaction" or press "a"
  • enter a transaction, click ok or press enter