Create a journal

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

with touch

The simplest possible journal is just an empty file:

touch 2018.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 >>2018.journal
2018/1/26
  expenses:food     $10
  assets:cash
<CTRL-D>

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 to enter one or more transactions:

hledger add -f 2018.journal

To avoid typing -f FILE every time, set the LEDGER_FILE environment variable. Eg:

echo "export LEDGER_FILE=~/finance/2018.journal" >> ~/.bash_profile && source ~/.bash_profile

Then it’s just

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