hledger

Fast, accurate, robust
plain text accounting.

What is hledger?

hledger is fast, reliable, free, multicurrency double-entry accounting software that runs on unix, mac, windows, and the web. With it you can track money, investments, cryptocurrencies, time, or any other quantifiable commodity; with a future-proof plain text file format, version control for your changes, and without needing any cloud service or vendor.

Developed continuously since 2007, hledger is licensed under GNU GPLv3+, written in Haskell, and thoroughly tested, with $100 bounties for regressions reported.

This page gives a general introduction, before moving on to Installing and Getting started. There is also a FAQ, some videos, various support/discussion fora, and Developer docs.

github

What does it look like?

Currently, three user interfaces are provided out of the box: a powerful command line UI (hledger), a quick terminal UI (hledger-ui), and a simple web UI (hledger-web).

Plain text accounting?

Plain Text Accounting (plaintextaccounting.org) means:

  • Data is stored in plain text files, which can be easily read by humans, tracked with version control software such as Git, and maintained with text processing tools. This facilitates portability, longevity and privacy for your valuable accounting data.

  • The data format is flexible and easy to write or generate, but hledger can check it and prevent many kinds of error. This, plus the auditability provided by version control, provides confidence in your data and reports.

  • There is a fast command-line interface, which makes the tool flexible and easy to integrate into custom workflows.

hledger is a robust, largely compatible reimplementation of the original PTA app, Ledger CLI. See also: hledger for Ledger users,

What can you use it for?

Tracking finances

For yourself, your business, or other organisations, track and report on:

  • Assets and liabilities
  • Billables, receivables and payables
  • Revenues and expenses
  • Cashflow
  • Budgets
  • Forecasts
  • Investments
  • Cryptocurrencies or NFTs

Learning accounting

With the readable data format and lightweight software, hledger and PTA users tend to rapidly improve their understanding of double-entry bookkeeping and accounting.

Here's an example of the main journal format. This represents an accounting General Journal. Positive amounts are debits, negatives are credits, but all you need to remember is that each transaction is balanced, summing to zero. (One amount may optionally be omitted to save typing.)

# 2022.journal

2022-01-01 opening balances as of this date
    assets:bank:checking                $1000
    assets:bank:savings                 $2000
    assets:cash                          $100
    liabilities:creditcard               $-50
    equity:opening/closing balances

2022-02-01 GOODWORKS CORP
    assets:bank:checking           $1000
    income:salary                 $-1000

2022-02-15 market
    expenses:food             $50
    assets:cash

Tracking time

Support for two time logging formats is built in: timeclock format, for clockin/clockout time tracking:

# 2009.timeclock

i 2009/03/27 09:00:00 projects:a
o 2009/03/27 17:00:34
i 2009/03/31 22:21:45 personal:reading:online
o 2009/04/01 02:00:34
i 2009/04/02 09:00:00 projects:b
o 2009/04/02 17:00:34

And timedot format, for approximate/retroactive time tracking:

# 2016.timedot

2016/2/1
fos:haskell   ....
biz:research  .
inc:client1   .... .... .... .... .... ....

2016/2/2
biz:research  .... ..
fos:hledger   .... .... ....
fos:ledger    0.25
fos:haskell   .5
inc:client1   2

Why use hledger?

hledger's General FAQ or the plaintextaccounting.org site discuss the benefits of Plain Text Accounting.

Among the PTA apps, hledger has a strong focus on ease of use and practicality for day-to-day accounting. It supports most Ledger and Beancount features but omits some of the more complex ones (value expression language, implicit lot matching). It prioritises "just works", accessible documentation, and is actively maintained, with a lively chat.

Non-programmers will enjoy hledger's built-in financial statements, multi-period reports, choice of user interfaces, easy CSV import system and general robustness.

Programmers may appreciate its speed (25k txn/s on a macbook air m1), accuracy (up to 255 decimal places), reliability (1100+ tests, $100 bounty for regressions), powerful scriptability/embeddability and clean statically-typed Haskell implementation.

Read more: Why hledger ?

And why might you not choose hledger ?

  • If you need a rich GUI above all, you might prefer GnuCash, KMyMoney, or Quickbooks.
  • If you like spreadsheets and don't have a ton of data, you might find those quicker.
  • If you do a lot of advanced trading, or want to hack a lot with Python, also look at Beancount.
  • If you want to mix more code in your financial data, or hack on C++, evaluate Ledger.
  • If you like minimalist unix tools and think all the above are bloat, see pta.
  • If you are mobile-only and don't need version control or flexibility, maybe a phone app will do.
  • If you don't need version control or privacy, but do need friction-free collaboration with financial professionals and institutions, you might prefer a commercial web-based system.

How is the project organised and funded ?

I'm Simon Michael, hledger project founder and PTA fan. Welcome!

I have been building and relying on this project since 2007, together with 140+ contributors.

We hope you too will find hledger/PTA useful in transforming your relationship with money and time. After enjoying some personal or organisational success with it, you might want to become one of the generous sponsors to help sustain this work.

How to get started?

Install, then see Getting Started.

Site tips

The main site contents are listed in the sidebar to your left. If it's not visible, click/tap the horizontal-lines icon at top left, or press the s access key.

You can search this site quickly for any topic by using the magnifying-glass icon at top left, or the / access key.

Other access keys are: t change theme, 1 home page, 2 recent changes, < previous page, > next page.

General FAQ

General FAQ | User FAQ | Developer FAQ

Welcome! This FAQ is for you if you are hearing about hledger or Plain Text Accounting for the first time, or if you are comparing hledger with other PTA tools. If you're already using hledger, see the User FAQ, and if you're contributing see the Developer FAQ.

(If you'd like to help improve these FAQs we'd sure appreciate it. Click the "edit this page" link at the bottom, or chat with us.)

Plain Text Accounting

What's accounting ?

Accounting means keeping track of the flow and whereabouts of things you value, such as money or time, and using this information for insight, planning and decision-making. Here's hledger's Accounting concepts page and Accounting links.

Why might I want to do accounting ?

For clarity, control, planning, accountability, compliance, tax reporting, tax audits. It clarifies activity, priorities, obligations, opportunities.

What's double-entry accounting ?

Double-entry bookkeeping is the traditional method for keeping accounting records reliably. For every movement of value (a transaction), both the source and destination are recorded. These are labelled "Credit" and "Debit", to minimise working with negative numbers. Simple arithmetic invariants help prevent errors.

What's plain text accounting ?

Plain Text Accounting, or PTA, is a modern way of doing double entry accounting on a computer:

  • It uses simple text files and "small" tools rather than databases and big applications.
  • It substitutes minus and plus signs for Credit and Debit notation (usually), which many people find easier.
  • It makes financial data easy to version-control, audit, and collaborate on.
  • It is flexible, programmable, portable, durable, and private.

You can read more about it at https://plaintextaccounting.org. Currently this FAQ overlaps a bit with that one.

hledger and PTA

What's hledger ?

One of the best tools for doing Plain Text Accounting. It's free and you can read all about it at the https://hledger.org home page.

We use another system, we don't need this ?

Every tool has strengths and weaknesses. hledger is lightweight, flexible and relatively easy to glue into other systems; it might be worth exploring as a complementary tool.

How do you collaborate with accountants and the non-PTA world ?

Depending on their needs, you send them a few standard reports (balance sheet, income statement, itemized account registers or a full transaction journal)

  • as plain text (optionally spruced up with your own templates)
  • or as HTML
  • or as PDF
  • or as CSV they can import into Excel and elsewhere

Must I enter data in a text editor ??

No. A good text editor can be a very efficient way to work on your data, but there are other ways:

  • use a terminal-based data entry tool like hledger add or hledger-iadd
  • use a web-based data entry tool like hledger-web
  • use a phone-based data entry app like MoLe
  • import CSV data, avoiding manual data entry.

What account names do I use? Why isn't a default list provided ?

Any standard set of account names you're familiar with. Feel free to copy list from any other software. A default list is a good idea, but right now we don't really provide one because

  • hledger aims to be useful for many needs and in many languages, so a single list won't do
  • we are not that large and organised yet
  • no-one has stepped up and worked on it.

What can hledger do for me ?

hledger is a suite of reporting tools which can provide clarity and insight into your personal or business finances, time logs, or other dated quantitative data, with relatively little effort on your part.

You need only provide a list of transactions, as a plain text file in a simple human-readable format. (Or a time log, or a CSV file with conversion rules.) From this hledger can generate a variety of useful reports and interactive views:

  • list your transactions, payees, currencies/commodities, accounts, statistics
  • show the hierarchy of accounts and subaccounts
  • show the transactions affecting any account, and calculate its running balance
  • make a balance sheet, showing your asset and liability account balances
  • make a cashflow report, showing changes in your cash assets
  • make an income statement, showing your revenues and expenses
  • show a bar chart of transaction activity by period
  • show purchase costs/selling prices
  • show market values in any currency at any valuation date
  • calculate the rate of return of a savings account or investment
  • make reports from timeclock or timedot time logs
  • make reports from any CSV file

It can slice, dice, and present your data in different ways:

  • filter out just the items or time period you're interested in
  • show multiple periods side by side
  • summarise accounts to give the big picture
  • rewrite or pivot account names to give different views
  • output reports as plain text, HTML, or CSV
  • run as a live-updating terminal UI, for fast interactive exploration
  • run as a web app, allowing remote/multi-user browsing and data entry
  • run as a JSON web API, for integrating with custom apps

If you add a few directives to the file, hledger can:

  • include multiple data sets
  • generate recurring transactions by rule
  • add extra postings (splits) to transactions by rule
  • show a forecast of future activity, eg to help with cashflow planning
  • make a budget report, showing your budget goals and status by account and period

Also, it can:

  • generate interest transactions by rule
  • help you enter new transactions with prompts or a terminal UI
  • help you convert and import new transactions from external sources, eg banks
  • be used as a library in a quick Haskell script or compiled program

How could that help me ?

  • More clarity, transparency and accountability, for yourself or others
  • Know what you owe, or who owes you
  • Know where the money went; steer your spending
  • Know how you spent your time; easy client invoicing
  • More foresight and ability to plan; avoid overdrafts, late fees, cashflow crunches
  • Know all the numbers you need for tax reporting; know how much to save for estimated taxes
  • Less stress, fear or overwhelm
  • More satisfaction, empowerment, and prosperity!

Isn't manual data entry a pain ?

  • Not if you spend a few minutes every day.
  • Not if the benefits are worth it to you.
  • Not if you use a comfortable editor and copy/paste a lot.
  • Not if you use tools to help (editor modes, hledger add, hledger-iadd, hledger-web..)
  • Not if you use rules to generate your recurring transactions.

Isn't importing from banks a pain ?

Not once you have set up a manual or automated routine for it. The possibilities vary by bank and country, but here are two simple workflows that are almost always possible:

Manual CSV import:

  1. Manually download CSV from your bank's website.
  2. hledger import BANK.csv
  3. Review/clean up the new journal entries.

Automated CSV import:

  1. Review/clean up the new journal entries. (CSV was downloaded and imported overnight by a cron job.)

Ask us for help setting this up. See also How could I import/migrate from....

Isn't plain text ugly and hard to use ?

No way, it's great, honest. We love it. You'll love it. It's fast. It's cheap. It's non-distracting. It keeps you focussed on the content. It's copy-pasteable. It's accessible to screen readers. It's resizable. You can pick the font and colours. You do not need "Plaintext Reader, Trial Version" to read it. you do not need "Plaintext Studio Pro" to write it. You can use your favorite editor and skills you already have. You can search in it! You can version control it. It works well over remote/slow connections. It's future-proof. It will be just as usable in 15 or 50 years. You can still read it even without the right software or (if you print it) a working computer.

Accounting data is valuable; we want to know that it will be accessible for ever - even without software. We want to know when it changes, and revision-control it. We want to search and manipulate it efficiently. So, we store it as human-readable plain text. --http://plaintextaccounting.org

Isn't this too weird for my family, business partners, tax accountant to use ?

Maybe. You can ask them to enter data via hledger-web, or import from their mobile expenses app or a shared spreadsheet. You can show them the hledger-web UI, or HTML reports, or give them CSV to open in a spreadsheet.

Why are revenues, liabilities, equity negative ?

It's characterisic of plain text accounting tools that balances of revenue, liability and equity accounts normally appear as negative numbers. (And if they have a contra-balance, as with a temporarily overpaid credit card, this would appear as a positive number.)

This is because we use negative and positive sign as an alternative to traditional Credit/Debit notation. (Negative amounts are credits, positives are debits.)

Think of each transaction as a movement of money from one place to another. The "from" amounts are negative (money removed from somewhere) and the "to" amounts are positive (money added to somewhere):

2021-01-01 receive salary
    revenues:salary    $-1000
    assets:checking     $1000

To ensure that no money is lost or created out of thin air, we simply require that a transaction's amounts add up to zero.

See also Ledger's discussion of this.

If you're new to plain text accounting, you'll get used to reading these negative numbers pretty quickly. But when you want to see revenues/liabilities/equity as positive numbers, you can use the higher level reports like balancesheet, cashflow and incomestatement. Or, use --invert to flip all signs.

hledger and other things

Why did you start hledger ? How does it relate to Ledger ?

See hledger and Ledger.

How is hledger different from / interoperable with... ?

See https://hledger.org/cookbook.html#interoperating-with-other-software. Eg:

See also:

What is ledger4 ?

In 2012 John Wiegley made a start at rewriting parts of Ledger 3, eg the parser, in Haskell: ledger4. I included this in hledger for a while as an additional file format, hoping to attract help to improve this "bridge" between the hledger and Ledger projects, and improving our compatibility with Ledger's files. This didn't happen, and would have required a ton of work, so I removed it.

Why hledger ?

See also: hledger and Ledger

Plain text accounting

hledger is a Plain Text Accounting system, where your accounting data is stored in a readable plain text file, often version-controlled. Some strengths of the PTA approach:

  • Runs on your local computer, keeping your financial data private and under your control
  • Simple model of operation: put a log of transactions in, get reports out
  • Simple, expressive, human-readable, future-proof plain text format
  • Can be version controlled, eg with Git, to safeguard your data, track changes, or collaborate
  • Edit with your favourite text editor, or a data entry UI, or import from other formats
  • Easy to script, automate, and integrate into custom workflows
  • Lightweight, fast, non-distracting to use
  • Great for learning more of double-entry bookkeeping and accounting.

Batteries included

hledger comes with multiple user interfaces that just work:

A command-line tool (CLI). Transactions are stored in a journal file which you can edit with a text editor. From this hledger produces various reports, without changing your data.

A live-updating terminal interface (TUI), that lets you review account balances and transactions quickly. (screencast)

A zero-setup web interface (WUI), allowing terminal-free, point-and-click usage. Run it privately on your local machine, or on a server to collaborate with others. (demo).

A haskell library. You can write scripts, add-on commands, or financial applications as powerful as hledger itself.

Fast

  • Reports normally take a fraction of a second.
  • hledger-ui --watch normally updates instantly as you edit.
  • On a 2021 macbook air m1, hledger parses and analyses about 25000 transactions per second.

Easy

Within its scope of Plain Text Accounting, hledger aims to be intuitive, learnable and highly usable, taking only the best from other PTA tools and leaving the rest. Here are some things it provides out of the box:

Dependable

hledger strives to be comfortable to use, to be absolutely reliable, to provide real-world value, and to never waste your time. It provides:

  • Robust installation: multiple options are provided for binary and source installation. Building from source is reliable and consistent across platforms.

  • Robust execution: hledger is written in Haskell, a modern, highly-regarded programming language. Runtime failures are minimised by Haskell's memory management and strong compile-time type checking. Failures caused by user input are reported clearly and promptly.

  • Robust testing: The software is continually tested by extensive automated tests.

  • Robust features: built-in commands and options combine well with one another, and are expected to do something sensible in all cases, with all kinds of input.

  • Robust calculation: results are expected to always perfectly match what you would calculate on paper, up to 255 decimal places.

  • Robust parsing: dated items, such as balance assertions and balance assignments, are processed in date order. Assertions/assignments with the same date are processed in parse order. Multiple assertions/assignments within a single transaction work as you would expect.

  • Robust reporting: reports are deterministic and not affected by the order of input files or data items except where that is part of their spec.

  • Robust documentation: all functionality is documented precisely, with a mnemonic permalink. User manuals for your hledger version are available online, and built in for offline viewing. General and command-specific command line help is provided. We favour documentation-driven development.

Compatible

hledger is a rewrite of the pioneering Ledger CLI, aiming to build out the same core features to a higher level of quality, and to add new ones making it useful to more people. Ledger users will find the file formats and commands familiar, and with a little care can run both tools on the same data files. (You can read more about the origins and differences.)

hledger can read Beancount files, or vice versa, by converting them with the beancount2ledger and ledger2beancount tools.

Many tools exist for importing from other applications. Data can be exported as CSV, JSON or basic SQL.

Free Software

github hledger CI on hackage

hledger is free software, with no purchase price or monthly fees. It is licensed under GNU GPLv3, providing the strongest guarantee that you will always have the right to run, inspect, modify, or share it. It is actively maintained, with regular releases and a large chat room and other support resources.

Limitations

What are some current limitations of hledger and Plain Text Accounting ?

  • The "GUIs" are minimalist; there is no rich GUI competitive with Quicken or GNUCash.

  • As a beginner you might feel there's too much choice, too much to read, yet not enough clear opinionated guidance. (We're working on it. A request in the chat will produce quick help.)

Videos, Talks

hledger-related videos:

Audio only:

See also:

Support / Discussion

Chat: #hledger:matrix.org or #hledger:libera.chat
Active hledger chat, via Matrix or IRC, ~140 chatters.
See also:
#plaintextaccounting:matrix.org or #plaintextaccounting:libera.chat
General PTA chat, ~100 chatters.
Mail list: Archives: list.hledger.org
Send: [email protected]
Subscribe: [email protected]
Low traffic mail list with ~200 subscribers.
Twitter: #hledger and #plaintextaccounting
@LedgerTips (2014-2018)
Reddit: /r/plaintextaccounting
Stack Exchange: [hledger] on money.stackexchange.com
Hacker News: stories and comments
LibHunt: reviews and mentions
Issues: bugs.hledger.org (bugs only)
issues.hledger.org (all issues)
open issues by category
website issues
Private email: [email protected] (for security issues, eg)
plaintextaccounting site: plaintextaccounting.org
Portal website and wiki covering all PTA tools and topics.

Sponsoring hledger

Building and supporting good software and documentation is very costly; hledger comes from many thousands of skilled person-hours, sustained over 15+ years. Your support is invaluable and greatly appreciated! Is it the right time for you to help ? Consider:

  • Has this project been helpful to you or your organisation ?
  • Have you achieved enough financial success to be able to donate a little (or a lot) ?
  • Would you like to cultivate the psychological and spiritual benefits of giving back / paying forward ?
  • Would you like hledger to be around for a long time ? To remain actively supported ? To improve faster ?
  • Would you like to support our core mission ? Which is:

    To help more people achieve financial literacy, discipline and freedom, and to help grow a shared global culture of accountability and solvency.
    (See also: the Solarpunk manifesto!)

How to sponsor

It's easy, even if not yet as efficient as we'd like. Neither hledger project nor our fiscal host is a registered charity, so your donations may not be tax-deductible, and the CFO (Simon) pays US and state income tax on all donations, in addition to the fees below.

Our fiscal host on Open Collective is The Open Source Collective, "a non-profit umbrella organisation providing financial and legal infrastructure for thousands of open source projects". So their fee is at least a sort of donation to support free/open-source software.

These donations are private and help support Simon. You can also support by offering me bounties or consulting gigs.

  • github (Fees: 0%)
  • liberapay (Fees: ~3%)
  • paypal (Fees: ~3%)
  • You can find their names at CREDITS, check their website/Github profile, and offer donations, bounties or paid work.

These donations are public and reported with hledger. They are deployed by the CFO (Simon), with input from the hledger team and community. So far, project funds have been used for project expenses, regression bounties, and one social good donation.

  • liberapay (Fees: ~3%)
  • opencollective (Fees: ~3% payment processor + 10% fiscal host)
  • issue bounty (simplest)
    • post a bounty pledge on an open issue
    • when resolved, pay the claimant directly (honour system).
  • bountysource bounty
    • search for the issue you want to sponsor
    • add some bounty to it
    • post a comment on the issue announcing the bounty
    • when resolved, pay through Bountysource.
  • opencollective bounty

Sponsors

We thank the following generous sponsors for their support:

Organisational sponsors

Individual sponsors

If your logo/avatar needs to be added, let me know!

Installing

The current hledger release is 1.27.1. (Release notes)

Here are lots of ways to install hledger:

After downloading binaries or building from source, please check that the run requirements (PATH and locale) are satisfied.

And finally please share any feedback so we can make this process smoother!


Binary packages

Mac

hledger CI binaries
Homebrew
brew install hledger

Windows

hledger CI binaries
scoop install hledger
choco install hledger -y

GNU/Linux

hledger CI binaries
Gentoo
sudo layman -a haskell && sudo emerge hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
Arch
pacman -Sy hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
Alpine edge
doas apk add hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
Void Linux x86_64
xbps-install -S hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
sudo dnf install hledger
sudo apt install hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
sudo apt install hledger hledger-ui hledger-web

Raspberry Pi

hledger CI binaries
Contributed binaries
Note: unaudited third party binaries

BSD

openbsd ports
pkg_add hledger
netbsd package
pkg_add hledger
freebsd ports
pkg install hs-hledger hs-hledger-ui hs-hledger-web

Other

docker pull dastapov/hledger
Nix
nix-env -f https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/86378514.tar.gz -iA hledger_1_26 hledger-ui_1_26 hledger-web_1_26
Install command untested, success/failure reports welcome.
Nix binaries may not yet be fully cached for your platform, try with --dry-run to estimate how much building will be required.
On Linux, note #1030, #1033.
Sandstorm

Preview releases

hledger CI binaries
Previews of the next major release, for testers & early adopters.

Build the current release

Release source
  1. Check build requirements
  2. Use one of the build methods

Build requirements

Hardware

  • A machine where the Haskell build tools are available.
  • 4G of RAM is recommended.
  • 2G of free disk space will be needed if this is your first Haskell build.

GHC, stack, cabal

These are the Haskell build tools. If you choose the "Build with hledger-install" method below, they will be installed automatically. If you choose the "Build with stack" method, you will need to have stack installed. If you choose the "Build with cabal" method, you will need to have cabal and GHC installed.

You can probably install these tools with your local packaging system. They need not be the latest versions (but later versions are better):

  • GHC should be >=8.8. On Arch GNU/Linux, the packaged GHC is non-standard and may be troublesome.
  • cabal (ie cabal-install) should be >=3.2.
  • stack should be >=2.7. You can often upgrade an existing stack installation quickly with stack upgrade. On Windows, prefer the 64-bit version of stack.

Or, you can install them with ghcup.

If you don't have any preference, I recommend this setup, which is the most reliable and platform-independent as of 2022:

  1. Install ghcup
  2. Install a recent version of ghc and stack
    ghcup install ghc
    ghcup install stack
  3. Configure stack to use ghcup's GHCs, saving disk space:
    # add to ~/.stack/config.yaml:
    system-ghc: true
    install-ghc: false
    

C libraries

On unix systems, you may need to install additional C libraries to avoid errors like "cannot find -ltinfo" when building hledger. Install them with a command like the below:

Debian, Ubuntu & co.:
sudo apt install libgmp-dev libtinfo-dev zlib1g-dev
Fedora, RHEL:
sudo dnf install gmp-devel ncurses-devel zlib-devel

(Please send updates for this list.)

UTF-8 locale

On unix systems, when building hledger the LANG environment variable must be set to a UTF-8-aware locale. See Check your locale.

Known build issues

More build tips

  • Building the hledger tools and possibly all their dependencies could take anywhere from a minute to an hour.

  • On machines with less than 4G of RAM, the build may use swap space and take much longer (overnight), or die part-way through. In such low memory situations, try adding -j1 to the stack/cabal install command, and retry a few times, or ask for more tips.

  • You could build just hledger CLI to use less time and space, by omitting hledger-ui and hledger-web from the commands below.

  • It's ok to kill a build and rerun the command later; you won't lose progress.

  • You can add --dry-run to the stack/cabal/nix install commands to see how much building remains.

  • If you have previously installed the hledger tools, they will usually be overwritten by the new version. If you have them installed in multiple places in your PATH, you may see a warning, reminding you to remove or rename the old executables.

Build methods

Use any of the following methods:

Build with hledger-install

The hledger-install.sh script builds the current release of the hledger tools, plus some add-ons, in a relatively reliable way, requiring bash but not any Haskell build tools. It uses stack or cabal if you have them (installing stack in ~/.local/bin otherwise), and installs the hledger tools in ~/.local/bin or ~/.cabal/bin respectively. This can be a good choice if you are new to Haskell.

curl -sO https://raw.githubusercontent.com/simonmichael/hledger/master/hledger-install/hledger-install.sh
less hledger-install.sh # <- good security practice: inspect downloaded scripts before running
bash hledger-install.sh

Build with stack

If you have stack installed, you can run it to install the main hledger tools in ~/.local/bin:

stack update
stack install --resolver=lts-19 hledger-lib-1.27.1 hledger-1.27.1 hledger-ui-1.27.1 hledger-web-1.27.1 --silent

On Windows, omit hledger-ui from this command (unless you are in WSL).

Build with cabal

If you have GHC and cabal, you can run cabal to install the main hledger tools in ~/.cabal/bin:

cabal update
cabal install alex happy
cabal install hledger-1.27.1 hledger-ui-1.27.1 hledger-web-1.27.1

On Windows, omit hledger-ui from this command (unless you are in WSL).

Build with nix

If you have nix, you can use nix-env to build hledger from source (but we try to provide a nix command that installs already-cached binaries, see above).

Build on Android

Here's how to build hledger on Android with Termux (if your phone has plenty of memory).

Build the development version

Latest source

If you want the very latest improvements, our master branch on github is suitable for daily use.

  1. Check build requirements above

  2. Get the source with git and enter the source directory:

    git clone https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger
    cd hledger
  3. Build and install executables (to ~/.local/bin) with stack:

    stack update
    stack install

    or (to ~/.cabal/bin) with cabal:

    cabal update
    cabal install alex happy
    cabal install all:exes

    or you can build in a Docker container which includes the necessary tools and dependencies:

    git clone https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger
    cd hledger/docker
    ./build.sh

    (This will build the image tagged hledger with just the latest binaries inside. If you want to keep all the build artifacts and use the resulting image for hledger development, run ./build-dev.sh instead.)

Run requirements

After installing whether from binaries or from source,

by downloading binaries or by building from source, please check that the run requirements (PATH and locale) are satisfied.

by any of the methods above, run the hledger tools and verify that their versions are what you just installed (and not older versions from a previous install). Eg:

$ hledger --version
hledger 1.27.1-gaa327b7a4-20220918, mac-aarch64

$ hledger-ui --version
hledger-ui 1.27.1-gaa327b7a4-20220918, mac-aarch64

$ hledger web --version
hledger-web 1.27.1-gaa327b7a4-20220918, mac-aarch64

If you like, you can also run the unit tests:

$ hledger test
...
All 217 tests passed (0.10s)

or the more extensive functional tests, if you are in hledger's source directory:

$ make functest
...
Total 934 ...
functest PASSED

If things are not yet working, then:

Check your PATH

After building/installing, you may see a message about where the executables were installed. Eg:

  • with stack: $HOME/.local/bin (on Windows, %APPDATA%\local\bin)
  • with cabal: $HOME/.cabal/bin (on Windows, %APPDATA%\cabal\bin)
  • with nix: $HOME/.nix-profile/bin

Make sure that this install directory is included in your shell's $PATH (preferably near the start, to preempt any old hledger binaries you might have lying around). How to configure this depends on your platform and shell. Eg if you are using bash, this will show $PATH:

echo $PATH

and this will add the stack and cabal install dirs to it permanently:

echo "export PATH=~/.local/bin:~/.cabal/bin:$PATH" >> ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

Here's how to set environment variables on Windows.

Check your locale

On unix systems, when running hledger (and other GHC-compiled programs, like GHC, cabal & stack), the LANG environment variable must be set to a UTF-8-aware locale to avoid errors like "invalid byte sequence" or "mkTextEncoding: invalid argument" when processing non-ascii text.

Check that LANG's value mentions UTF-8, and if not, change it:

$ echo $LANG
C
$ export LANG=C.UTF-8    # or en_US.UTF-8, fr_FR.utf8, etc.
$ echo $LANG
C.UTF-8

In some cases the locale may need to be installed with your system package manager first. See hledger: Troubleshooting for more help.

If you see similar problems on Microsoft Windows, perhaps this doc can help with configuring it.

Next steps

Nicely done! Now see Getting started, or come to the #hledger chat where we'll gladly share tips or receive your feedback.


Getting Started

Starting out with hledger or Plain Text Accounting, not to mention setting up a new accounting system, can be overwhelming. This page aims to help! It is work in progress, all help and feedback is welcome in chat.

Here is a list of practical getting started docs. After installing hledger, reading one or more of these should be helpful:

Or, you could watch these gentle beginner videos:

To learn accounting basics and more, see:

When you want to know exactly what's in hledger and what it does, go to the official reference docs, the hledger manual:

Do at least read its table of contents to get an idea of what's in there. You can also view it by running hledger help. If you're using hledger-ui or hledger-web, see also:

Practical advice and examples for real-world tasks are gathered at:

There is also:

How to approach hledger and accounting

Little and often

Remember that accounting is an ongoing activity, best done in regular small doses.

The more often you do it, the easier it is, because less has happened and you can remember it. Ten minutes daily can achieve a lot. (Or less, once you get a routine going.)

Small steps

Good news: you can start using hledger in very simple ways, and get immediate benefit. A good way to prioritise is to think about your most pressing needs and what kind of report would help. For example,

  • Take inventory of your debts, loans and assets; write down the names and numbers.
  • Record these as journal transactions ("opening balances" transactions - see example below).
  • Make corrections until hledger shows your balances accurately.

Or:

  • Start recording changes to the cash in your wallet, starting with today's balance.
  • Then start reconciling daily (comparing the reported and actual balance, and troubleshooting any disagreements).
  • Then start tracking the balance in your checking account.
  • Then start tracking your other bank accounts.
  • Then start categorising your incomes and expenses.
  • Then find your bank transaction history and manually enter the transactions from the previous week.
  • Then manually download your bank transactions as CSV and develop CSV rules so that you can print the CSV as journal entries.
  • Then try downloading and importing this CSV into your journal daily for a while. (Only if you wish. Many people stick to manual data entry for the increased awareness it brings.)

If the task feels unclear or overwhelming, I recommend this small steps, verifiable reports approach.

If not, of course feel free to blaze away and do it all on day one. But I would still recommend establishing a frequent reconciling routine. It is surprising how quickly small events can slip through the cracks and create chaos, and it takes a little time to develop the troubleshooting skills. Reconciling often will save you time.

Imperfection

Your bookkeeping does not have to be perfect or even very accurate [1]. As you practice, you will naturally learn more about the tools and about double-entry accounting, such as how to organise your account categories, and how to write effective journal entries for various real-world events (transactions).

Later you can come back and improve your old journal entries if you wish. You can decide what level of accuracy you need.

[1] Though if you really catch the PTA bug, you may find that nothing less than perfection will do!

hledger

Quick links: Commands, Queries, Regular expressions, Period expressions, Journal, Directives, CSV, Timeclock, Timedot, Valuation, Common tasks

This is the command-line interface (CLI) for the hledger accounting tool. Here we also describe hledger's concepts and file formats. This manual is for hledger 1.27.

hledger

hledger [-f FILE] COMMAND [OPTIONS] [ARGS]

hledger [-f FILE] ADDONCMD -- [OPTIONS] [ARGS]

hledger is a reliable, cross-platform set of programs for tracking money, time, or any other commodity, using double-entry accounting and a simple, editable file format. hledger is inspired by and largely compatible with ledger(1).

The basic function of the hledger CLI is to read a plain text file describing financial transactions (in accounting terms, a general journal) and print useful reports on standard output, or export them as CSV. hledger can also read some other file formats such as CSV files, translating them to journal format. Additionally, hledger lists other hledger-* executables found in the user's $PATH and can invoke them as subcommands.

hledger reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal). If using $LEDGER_FILE, note this must be a real environment variable, not a shell variable. You can specify standard input with -f-.

Transactions are dated movements of money between two (or more) named accounts, and are recorded with journal entries like this:

2015/10/16 bought food
 expenses:food          $10
 assets:cash

Most users use a text editor to edit the journal, usually with an editor mode such as ledger-mode for added convenience. hledger's interactive add command is another way to record new transactions. hledger never changes existing transactions.

To get started, you can either save some entries like the above in ~/.hledger.journal, or run hledger add and follow the prompts. Then try some commands like hledger print or hledger balance. Run hledger with no arguments for a list of commands.

OPTIONS

General options

To see general usage help, including general options which are supported by most hledger commands, run hledger -h.

General help options:

-h --help : show general or COMMAND help

--man : show general or COMMAND user manual with man

--info : show general or COMMAND user manual with info

--version : show general or ADDONCMD version

--debug[=N] : show debug output (levels 1-9, default: 1)

General input options:

-f FILE --file=FILE : use a different input file. For stdin, use - (default: $LEDGER_FILE or $HOME/.hledger.journal)

--rules-file=RULESFILE : Conversion rules file to use when reading CSV (default: FILE.rules)

--separator=CHAR : Field separator to expect when reading CSV (default: ',')

--alias=OLD=NEW : rename accounts named OLD to NEW

--anon : anonymize accounts and payees

--pivot FIELDNAME : use some other field or tag for the account name

-I --ignore-assertions : disable balance assertion checks (note: does not disable balance assignments)

-s --strict : do extra error checking (check that all posted accounts are declared)

General reporting options:

-b --begin=DATE : include postings/txns on or after this date (will be adjusted to preceding subperiod start when using a report interval)

-e --end=DATE : include postings/txns before this date (will be adjusted to following subperiod end when using a report interval)

-D --daily : multiperiod/multicolumn report by day

-W --weekly : multiperiod/multicolumn report by week

-M --monthly : multiperiod/multicolumn report by month

-Q --quarterly : multiperiod/multicolumn report by quarter

-Y --yearly : multiperiod/multicolumn report by year

-p --period=PERIODEXP : set start date, end date, and/or reporting interval all at once using period expressions syntax

--date2 : match the secondary date instead (see command help for other effects)

--today=DATE : override today's date (affects relative smart dates, for tests/examples)

-U --unmarked : include only unmarked postings/txns (can combine with -P or -C)

-P --pending : include only pending postings/txns

-C --cleared : include only cleared postings/txns

-R --real : include only non-virtual postings

-NUM --depth=NUM : hide/aggregate accounts or postings more than NUM levels deep

-E --empty : show items with zero amount, normally hidden (and vice-versa in hledger-ui/hledger-web)

-B --cost : convert amounts to their cost/selling amount at transaction time

-V --market : convert amounts to their market value in default valuation commodities

-X --exchange=COMM : convert amounts to their market value in commodity COMM

--value : convert amounts to cost or market value, more flexibly than -B/-V/-X

--infer-market-prices : use transaction prices (recorded with @ or @@) as additional market prices, as if they were P directives

--auto : apply automated posting rules to modify transactions.

--forecast : generate future transactions from periodic transaction rules, for the next 6 months or till report end date. In hledger-ui, also make ordinary future transactions visible.

--commodity-style : Override the commodity style in the output for the specified commodity. For example 'EUR1.000,00'.

--color=WHEN (or --colour=WHEN) : Should color-supporting commands use ANSI color codes in text output. : 'auto' (default): whenever stdout seems to be a color-supporting terminal. : 'always' or 'yes': always, useful eg when piping output into 'less -R'. : 'never' or 'no': never. : A NO_COLOR environment variable overrides this.

--pretty[=WHEN] : Show prettier output, e.g. using unicode box-drawing characters. : Accepts 'yes' (the default) or 'no' ('y', 'n', 'always', 'never' also work). : If you provide an argument you must use '=', e.g. '--pretty=yes'.

When a reporting option appears more than once in the command line, the last one takes precedence.

Some reporting options can also be written as query arguments.

Command options

To see options for a particular command, including command-specific options, run: hledger COMMAND -h.

Command-specific options must be written after the command name, eg: hledger print -x.

Additionally, if the command is an add-on, you may need to put its options after a double-hyphen, eg: hledger ui -- --watch. Or, you can run the add-on executable directly: hledger-ui --watch.

Command arguments

Most hledger commands accept arguments after the command name, which are often a query, filtering the data in some way.

You can save a set of command line options/arguments in a file, and then reuse them by writing @FILENAME as a command line argument. Eg: hledger bal @foo.args. (To prevent this, eg if you have an argument that begins with a literal @, precede it with --, eg: hledger bal -- @ARG).

Inside the argument file, each line should contain just one option or argument. Avoid the use of spaces, except inside quotes (or you'll see a confusing error). Between a flag and its argument, use = (or nothing). Bad:

assets depth:2
-X USD

Good:

assets
depth:2
-X=USD

For special characters (see below), use one less level of quoting than you would at the command prompt. Bad:

-X"$"

Good:

-X$

See also: Save frequently used options.

Special characters

Single escaping (shell metacharacters)

In shell command lines, characters significant to your shell - such as spaces, <, >, (, ), |, $ and \ - should be "shell-escaped" if you want hledger to see them. This is done by enclosing them in single or double quotes, or by writing a backslash before them. Eg to match an account name containing a space:

$ hledger register 'credit card'

or:

$ hledger register credit\ card

Windows users should keep in mind that cmd treats single quote as a regular character, so you should be using double quotes exclusively. PowerShell treats both single and double quotes as quotes.

Double escaping (regular expression metacharacters)

Characters significant in regular expressions (described below) - such as ., ^, $, [, ], (, ), |, and \ - may need to be "regex-escaped" if you don't want them to be interpreted by hledger's regular expression engine. This is done by writing backslashes before them, but since backslash is typically also a shell metacharacter, both shell-escaping and regex-escaping will be needed. Eg to match a literal $ sign while using the bash shell:

$ hledger balance cur:'\$'

or:

$ hledger balance cur:\\$

Triple escaping (for add-on commands)

When you use hledger to run an external add-on command (described below), one level of shell-escaping is lost from any options or arguments intended for by the add-on command, so those need an extra level of shell-escaping. Eg to match a literal $ sign while using the bash shell and running an add-on command (ui):

$ hledger ui cur:'\\$'

or:

$ hledger ui cur:\\\\$

If you wondered why four backslashes, perhaps this helps:

unescaped:$
escaped:\$
double-escaped:\\$
triple-escaped:\\\\$

Or, you can avoid the extra escaping by running the add-on executable directly:

$ hledger-ui cur:\\$

Less escaping

Options and arguments are sometimes used in places other than the shell command line, where shell-escaping is not needed, so there you should use one less level of escaping. Those places include:

  • an @argumentfile
  • hledger-ui's filter field
  • hledger-web's search form
  • GHCI's prompt (used by developers).

Unicode characters

hledger is expected to handle non-ascii characters correctly:

  • they should be parsed correctly in input files and on the command line, by all hledger tools (add, iadd, hledger-web's search/add/edit forms, etc.)

  • they should be displayed correctly by all hledger tools, and on-screen alignment should be preserved.

This requires a well-configured environment. Here are some tips:

  • A system locale must be configured, and it must be one that can decode the characters being used. In bash, you can set a locale like this: export LANG=en_US.UTF-8. There are some more details in Troubleshooting. This step is essential - without it, hledger will quit on encountering a non-ascii character (as with all GHC-compiled programs).

  • your terminal software (eg Terminal.app, iTerm, CMD.exe, xterm..) must support unicode

  • the terminal must be using a font which includes the required unicode glyphs

  • the terminal should be configured to display wide characters as double width (for report alignment)

  • on Windows, for best results you should run hledger in the same kind of environment in which it was built. Eg hledger built in the standard CMD.EXE environment (like the binaries on our download page) might show display problems when run in a cygwin or msys terminal, and vice versa. (See eg #961).

Regular expressions

hledger uses regular expressions in a number of places:

  • query terms, on the command line and in the hledger-web search form: REGEX, desc:REGEX, cur:REGEX, tag:...=REGEX
  • CSV rules conditional blocks: if REGEX ...
  • account alias directives and options: alias /REGEX/ = REPLACEMENT, --alias /REGEX/=REPLACEMENT

hledger's regular expressions come from the regex-tdfa library. If they're not doing what you expect, it's important to know exactly what they support:

  1. they are case insensitive
  2. they are infix matching (they do not need to match the entire thing being matched)
  3. they are POSIX ERE (extended regular expressions)
  4. they also support GNU word boundaries (\b, \B, \<, \>)
  5. they do not support backreferences; if you write \1, it will match the digit 1. Except when doing text replacement, eg in account aliases, where backreferences can be used in the replacement string to reference capturing groups in the search regexp.
  6. they do not support mode modifiers ((?s)), character classes (\w, \d), or anything else not mentioned above.

Some things to note:

  • In the alias directive and --alias option, regular expressions must be enclosed in forward slashes (/REGEX/). Elsewhere in hledger, these are not required.

  • In queries, to match a regular expression metacharacter like $ as a literal character, prepend a backslash. Eg to search for amounts with the dollar sign in hledger-web, write cur:\$.

  • On the command line, some metacharacters like $ have a special meaning to the shell and so must be escaped at least once more. See Special characters.

ENVIRONMENT

LEDGER_FILE The journal file path when not specified with -f.

On unix computers, the default value is: ~/.hledger.journal.

A more typical value is something like ~/finance/YYYY.journal, where ~/finance is a version-controlled finance directory and YYYY is the current year. Or, ~/finance/current.journal, where current.journal is a symbolic link to YYYY.journal.

The usual way to set this permanently is to add a command to one of your shell's startup files (eg ~/.profile):

export LEDGER_FILE=~/finance/current.journal`

On some Mac computers, there is a more thorough way to set environment variables, that will also affect applications started from the GUI (eg, Emacs started from a dock icon): In ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist, add an entry like:

{
  "LEDGER_FILE" : "~/finance/current.journal"
}

For this to take effect you might need to killall Dock, or reboot.

On Windows computers, the default value is probably C:\Users\YOURNAME\.hledger.journal. You can change this by running a command like this in a powershell window (let us know if you need to be an Administrator, and if this persists across a reboot):

> setx LEDGER_FILE "C:\Users\MyUserName\finance\2021.journal"

Or, change it in settings: see https://www.java.com/en/download/help/path.html.

COLUMNS The screen width used by the register command. Default: the full terminal width.

NO_COLOR If this variable exists with any value, hledger will not use ANSI color codes in terminal output. This is overriden by the --color/--colour option.

DATA FILES

hledger reads transactions from one or more data files. The default data file is $HOME/.hledger.journal (or on Windows, something like C:\Users\YOURNAME\.hledger.journal).

You can override this with the $LEDGER_FILE environment variable:

$ setenv LEDGER_FILE ~/finance/2016.journal
$ hledger stats

or with one or more -f/--file options:

$ hledger -f /some/file -f another_file stats

The file name - means standard input:

$ cat some.journal | hledger -f-

Data formats

Usually the data file is in hledger's journal format, but it can be in any of the supported file formats, which currently are:

Reader:Reads:Used for file extensions:
journalhledger journal files and some Ledger journals, for transactions.journal .j .hledger .ledger
timeclocktimeclock files, for precise time logging.timeclock
timedottimedot files, for approximate time logging.timedot
csvcomma/semicolon/tab/other-separated values, for data import.csv .ssv .tsv

These formats are described in their own sections, below.

hledger detects the format automatically based on the file extensions shown above. If it can't recognise the file extension, it assumes journal format. So for non-journal files, it's important to use a recognised file extension, so as to either read successfully or to show relevant error messages.

You can also force a specific reader/format by prefixing the file path with the format and a colon. Eg, to read a .dat file as csv format:

$ hledger -f csv:/some/csv-file.dat stats

Or to read stdin (-) as timeclock format:

$ echo 'i 2009/13/1 08:00:00' | hledger print -ftimeclock:-

Multiple files

You can specify multiple -f options, to read multiple files as one big journal. There are some limitations with this:

If you need either of those things, you can

  • use a single parent file which includes the others
  • or concatenate the files into one before reading, eg: cat a.journal b.journal | hledger -f- CMD.

Strict mode

hledger checks input files for valid data. By default, the most important errors are detected, while still accepting easy journal files without a lot of declarations:

  • Are the input files parseable, with valid syntax ?
  • Are all transactions balanced ?
  • Do all balance assertions pass ?

With the -s/--strict flag, additional checks are performed:

You can use the check command to run individual checks -- the ones listed above and some more.

TIME PERIODS

Smart dates

hledger's user interfaces accept a flexible "smart date" syntax. Smart dates allow some english words, can be relative to today's date, and can have less-significant date parts omitted (defaulting to 1).

Examples:

2004/10/1, 2004-01-01, 2004.9.1exact date, several separators allowed. Year is 4+ digits, month is 1-12, day is 1-31
2004start of year
2004/10start of month
10/1month and day in current year
21day in current month
october, octstart of month in current year
yesterday, today, tomorrow-1, 0, 1 days from today
last/this/next day/week/month/quarter/year-1, 0, 1 periods from the current period
in n days/weeks/months/quarters/yearsn periods from the current period
n days/weeks/months/quarters/years aheadn periods from the current period
n days/weeks/months/quarters/years ago-n periods from the current period
201812018 digit YYYYMMDD with valid year month and day
2018126 digit YYYYMM with valid year and month

Counterexamples - malformed digit sequences might give surprising results:

2018136 digits with an invalid month is parsed as start of 6-digit year
201813018 digits with an invalid month is parsed as start of 8-digit year
201812328 digits with an invalid day gives an error
2018010129+ digits beginning with a valid YYYYMMDD gives an error

Note "today's date" can be overridden with the --today option, in case it's needed for testing or for recreating old reports. (Except for periodic transaction rules; those are not affected by --today.)

Report start & end date

By default, most hledger reports will show the full span of time represented by the journal data. The report start date will be the earliest transaction or posting date, and the report end date will be the latest transaction, posting, or market price date.

Often you will want to see a shorter time span, such as the current month. You can specify a start and/or end date using -b/--begin, -e/--end, -p/--period or a date: query (described below). All of these accept the smart date syntax.

Some notes:

  • End dates are exclusive, as in Ledger, so you should write the date after the last day you want to see in the report.
  • As noted in reporting options: among start/end dates specified with options, the last (i.e. right-most) option takes precedence.
  • The effective report start and end dates are the intersection of the start/end dates from options and that from date: queries. That is, date:2019-01 date:2019 -p'2000 to 2030' yields January 2019, the smallest common time span.
  • A report interval (see below) will adjust start/end dates, when needed, so that they fall on subperiod boundaries.

Examples:

-b 2016/3/17begin on St. Patrick's day 2016
-e 12/1end at the start of december 1st of the current year (11/30 will be the last date included)
-b thismonthall transactions on or after the 1st of the current month
-p thismonthall transactions in the current month
date:2016/3/17..the above written as queries instead (.. can also be replaced with -)
date:..12/1
date:thismonth..
date:thismonth

Report intervals

A report interval can be specified so that commands like register, balance and activity become multi-period, showing each subperiod as a separate row or column.

The following "standard" report intervals can be enabled by using their corresponding flag:

  • -D/--daily
  • -W/--weekly
  • -M/--monthly
  • -Q/--quarterly
  • -Y/--yearly

These standard intervals always start on natural interval boundaries: eg --weekly starts on mondays, --monthly starts on the first of the month, --yearly always starts on January 1st, etc.

Certain more complex intervals, and more flexible boundary dates, can be specified by -p/--period. These are described in period expressions, below.

Report intervals can only be specified by the flags above, and not by query arguments, currently.

Report intervals have another effect: multi-period reports are always expanded to fill a whole number of subperiods. So if you use a report interval (other than --daily), and you have specified a start or end date, you may notice those dates being overridden (ie, the report starts earlier than your requested start date, or ends later than your requested end date). This is done to ensure "full" first and last subperiods, so that all subperiods' numbers are comparable.

To summarise:

  • In multiperiod reports, all subperiods are forced to be the same length, to simplify reporting.
  • Reports with the standard --weekly/--monthly/--quarterly/--yearly intervals are required to start on the first day of a week/month/quarter/year. We'd like more flexibility here but it isn't supported yet.
  • --period (below) can specify more complex intervals, starting on any date.

Period expressions

The -p/--period option accepts period expressions, a shorthand way of expressing a start date, end date, and/or report interval all at once.

Here's a basic period expression specifying the first quarter of 2009. Note, hledger always treats start dates as inclusive and end dates as exclusive:

-p "from 2009/1/1 to 2009/4/1"

Keywords like "from" and "to" are optional, and so are the spaces, as long as you don't run two dates together. "to" can also be written as ".." or "-". These are equivalent to the above:

-p "2009/1/1 2009/4/1"
-p2009/1/1to2009/4/1
-p2009/1/1..2009/4/1

Dates are smart dates, so if the current year is 2009, the above can also be written as:

-p "1/1 4/1"
-p "january-apr"
-p "this year to 4/1"

If you specify only one date, the missing start or end date will be the earliest or latest transaction in your journal:

-p "from 2009/1/1"everything after january 1, 2009
-p "from 2009/1"the same
-p "from 2009"the same
-p "to 2009"everything before january 1, 2009

A single date with no "from" or "to" defines both the start and end date like so:

-p "2009"the year 2009; equivalent to "2009/1/1 to 2010/1/1"
-p "2009/1"the month of jan; equivalent to "2009/1/1 to 2009/2/1"
-p "2009/1/1"just that day; equivalent to "2009/1/1 to 2009/1/2"

Or you can specify a single quarter like so:

-p "2009Q1"first quarter of 2009, equivalent to "2009/1/1 to 2009/4/1"
-p "q4"fourth quarter of the current year

Period expressions with a report interval

-p/--period's argument can also begin with, or entirely consist of, a report interval. This should be separated from the start/end dates (if any) by a space, or the word in. The basic intervals (which can also be written as command line flags) are daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. Some examples:

-p "weekly from 2009/1/1 to 2009/4/1"
-p "monthly in 2008"
-p "quarterly"

As mentioned above, the weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly intervals require a report start date that is the first day of a week, month, quarter or year. And, report start/end dates will be expanded if needed to span a whole number of intervals.

For example:

-p "weekly from 2009/1/1 to 2009/4/1"starts on 2008/12/29, closest preceding Monday
-p "monthly in 2008/11/25"starts on 2018/11/01
-p "quarterly from 2009-05-05 to 2009-06-01"starts on 2009/04/01, ends on 2009/06/30, which are first and last days of Q2 2009
-p "yearly from 2009-12-29"starts on 2009/01/01, first day of 2009

More complex report intervals

Some more complex kinds of interval are also supported in period expressions:

  • biweekly
  • fortnightly
  • bimonthly
  • every day|week|month|quarter|year
  • every N days|weeks|months|quarters|years

These too will cause report start/end dates to be expanded, if needed, to span a whole number of intervals. Examples:

-p "bimonthly from 2008"periods will have boundaries on 2008/01/01, 2008/03/01, ...
-p "every 2 weeks"starts on closest preceding Monday
-p "every 5 months from 2009/03"periods will have boundaries on 2009/03/01, 2009/08/01, ...

Intervals with custom start date

All intervals mentioned above are required to start on their natural calendar boundaries, but the following intervals can start on any date:

Weekly on custom day:

  • every Nth day of week (th, nd, rd, or st are all accepted after the number)
  • every WEEKDAYNAME (full or three-letter english weekday name, case insensitive)

Monthly on custom day:

  • every Nth day [of month]
  • every Nth WEEKDAYNAME [of month]

Yearly on custom day:

  • every MM/DD [of year] (month number and day of month number)
  • every MONTHNAME DDth [of year] (full or three-letter english month name, case insensitive, and day of month number)
  • every DDth MONTHNAME [of year] (equivalent to the above)

Examples:

-p "every 2nd day of week"periods will go from Tue to Tue
-p "every Tue"same
-p "every 15th day"period boundaries will be on 15th of each month
-p "every 2nd Monday"period boundaries will be on second Monday of each month
-p "every 11/05"yearly periods with boundaries on 5th of November
-p "every 5th November"same
-p "every Nov 5th"same

Show historical balances at end of the 15th day of each month (N is an end date, exclusive as always):

$ hledger balance -H -p "every 16th day"

Group postings from the start of wednesday to end of the following tuesday (N is both (inclusive) start date and (exclusive) end date):

$ hledger register checking -p "every 3rd day of week"

Periods or dates ?

Report intervals like the above are most often used with -p|--period, to divide reports into multiple subperiods - each generated date marks a subperiod boundary. Here, the periods between the dates are what's important.

But report intervals can also be used with --forecast to generate future transactions, or with balance --budget to generate budget goal-setting transactions. For these, the dates themselves are what matters.

Events on multiple weekdays

The every WEEKDAYNAME form has a special variant with multiple day names, comma-separated. Eg: every mon,thu,sat. Also, weekday and weekendday are shorthand for mon,tue,wed,thu,fri and sat,sun respectively.

This form is mainly intended for use with --forecast, to generate periodic transactions on arbitrary days of the week. It may be less useful with -p, since it divides each week into subperiods of unequal length. (Because gaps between periods are not allowed; if you'd like to change this, see #1632.)

Examples:

-p "every mon,wed,fri"dates will be Mon, Wed, Fri;
periods will be Mon-Tue, Wed-Thu, Fri-Sun
-p "every weekday"dates will be Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri;
periods will be Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri-Sun
-p "every weekendday"dates will be Sat, Sun;
periods will be Sat, Sun-Fri

DEPTH

With the --depth NUM option (short form: -NUM), commands like account, balance and register will show only the uppermost accounts in the account tree, down to level NUM. Use this when you want a summary with less detail. This flag has the same effect as a depth: query argument: depth:2, --depth=2 or -2 are equivalent.

QUERIES

One of hledger's strengths is being able to quickly report on a precise subset of your data. Most hledger commands accept optional query arguments to restrict their scope. The syntax is as follows:

  • Zero or more space-separated query terms. These are most often account name substrings:

    utilities food:groceries

  • Terms with spaces or other special characters should be enclosed in quotes:

    "personal care"

  • Regular expressions are also supported:

    "^expenses\b" "accounts (payable|receivable)"

  • Add a query type prefix to match other parts of the data:

    date:202012- desc:amazon cur:USD amt:">100" status:

  • Add a not: prefix to negate a term:

    not:cur:USD

Query types

Here are the types of query term available. Remember these can also be prefixed with not: to convert them into a negative match.

acct:REGEX, REGEX
Match account names containing this (case insensitive) regular expression. This is the default query type when there is no prefix, and regular expression syntax is typically not needed, so usually we just write an account name substring, like expenses or food.

amt:N, amt:<N, amt:<=N, amt:>N, amt:>=N
Match postings with a single-commodity amount equal to, less than, or greater than N. (Postings with multi-commodity amounts are not tested and will always match.) The comparison has two modes: if N is preceded by a + or - sign (or is 0), the two signed numbers are compared. Otherwise, the absolute magnitudes are compared, ignoring sign.

code:REGEX
Match by transaction code (eg check number).

cur:REGEX
Match postings or transactions including any amounts whose currency/commodity symbol is fully matched by REGEX. (For a partial match, use .*REGEX.*). Note, to match special characters which are regex-significant, you need to escape them with \. And for characters which are significant to your shell you may need one more level of escaping. So eg to match the dollar sign:
hledger print cur:\\$.

desc:REGEX
Match transaction descriptions.

date:PERIODEXPR
Match dates (or with the --date2 flag, secondary dates) within the specified period. PERIODEXPR is a period expression with no report interval. Examples:
date:2016, date:thismonth, date:2/1-2/15, date:2021-07-27..nextquarter.

date2:PERIODEXPR
Match secondary dates within the specified period (independent of the --date2 flag).

depth:N
Match (or display, depending on command) accounts at or above this depth.

note:REGEX
Match transaction notes (the part of the description right of |, or the whole description if there's no |).

payee:REGEX
Match transaction payee/payer names (the part of the description left of |, or the whole description if there's no |).

real:, real:0
Match real or virtual postings respectively.

status:, status:!, status:*
Match unmarked, pending, or cleared transactions respectively.

type:TYPECODES
Match by account type (see Declaring accounts > Account types). TYPECODES is one or more of the single-letter account type codes ALERXCV, case insensitive. Note type:A and type:E will also match their respective subtypes C (Cash) and V (Conversion). Certain kinds of account alias can disrupt account types, see Rewriting accounts > Aliases and account types.

tag:REGEX[=REGEX]
Match by tag name, and optionally also by tag value. (To match only by value, use tag:.=REGEX.)

When querying by tag, note that:

  • Accounts also inherit the tags of their parent accounts
  • Postings also inherit the tags of their account and their transaction
  • Transactions also acquire the tags of their postings.

(inacct:ACCTNAME
A special query term used automatically in hledger-web only: tells hledger-web to show the transaction register for an account.)

Combining query terms

Most commands select things which match:

  • any of the description terms AND
  • any of the account terms AND
  • any of the status terms AND
  • all the other terms.

while the print command shows transactions which:

  • match any of the description terms AND
  • have any postings matching any of the positive account terms AND
  • have no postings matching any of the negative account terms AND
  • match all the other terms.

You can do more powerful queries (such as AND-ing two like terms) by running a first query with print, and piping the result into a second hledger command. Eg: how much of food expenses was paid with cash ?

$ hledger print assets:cash | hledger -f- -I balance expenses:food

If you are interested in full boolean expressions for queries, see #203.

Queries and command options

Some queries can also be expressed as command-line options: depth:2 is equivalent to --depth 2, date:2020 is equivalent to -p 2020, etc. When you mix command options and query arguments, generally the resulting query is their intersection.

Queries and account aliases

When account names are rewritten with --alias or alias, acct: will match either the old or the new account name.

Queries and valuation

When amounts are converted to other commodities in cost or value reports, cur: and amt: match the old commodity symbol and the old amount quantity, not the new ones (except in hledger 1.22.0 where it's reversed, see #1625).

Querying with account aliases

When account names are rewritten with --alias or alias, note that acct: will match either the old or the new account name.

Querying with cost or value

When amounts are converted to other commodities in cost or value reports, note that cur: matches the new commodity symbol, and not the old one, and amt: matches the new quantity, and not the old one. Note: this changed in hledger 1.22, previously it was the reverse, see the discussion at #1625.

COST

This section is about recording the cost of things, in transactions where one commodity is exchanged for another. Eg an exchange of currency, or a stock purchase or sale. First, a quick glossary:

  • Conversion - an exchange of one currency or commodity for another. Eg a foreign currency exchange, or a purchase or sale of stock or cryptocurrency.

  • Conversion transaction - a transaction involving one or more conversions.

  • Conversion rate - the cost per unit of one commodity in the other, ie the exchange rate.

  • Cost - how much of one commodity was paid to acquire the other. And more generally, in hledger docs: the amount exchanged in the "secondary" commodity (usually your base currency), whether in a purchase or a sale, and whether expressed per unit or in total. Or, the @/@@ notation used to represent this.

  • Transaction price - another name for the cost expressed with hledger's cost notation.

-B: Convert to cost

As discussed a little further on in Transaction prices, when recording a transaction you can also record the amount's cost in another commodity, by adding @ UNITPRICE or @@ TOTALPRICE.

Then you can see a report with amounts converted to cost, by adding the -B/--cost flag. (Mnemonic: "B" from "cost Basis", as in Ledger). Eg:

2022-01-01
  assets:dollars  $-135          ; 135 dollars is exchanged for..
  assets:euros     €100 @ $1.35  ; one hundred euros purchased at $1.35 each
$ hledger bal -N
               $-135  assets:dollars
                €100  assets:euros
$ hledger bal -N -B
               $-135  assets:dollars
                $135  assets:euros    # <- the euros' cost

Notes:

-B is sensitive to the order of postings when a transaction price is inferred: the inferred price will be in the commodity of the last amount. So if example 3's postings are reversed, while the transaction is equivalent, -B shows something different:

2022-01-01
  assets:dollars  $-135              ; 135 dollars sold
  assets:euros     €100              ; for 100 euros
$ hledger bal -N -B
               €-100  assets:dollars  # <- the dollars' selling price
                €100  assets:euros

The @/@@ cost notation is convenient, but has some drawbacks: it does not truly balance the transaction, so it disrupts the accounting equation and tends to causes a non-zero total in balance reports.

Equity conversion postings

By contrast, conventional double entry bookkeeping (DEB) uses a different notation: an extra pair of equity postings to balance conversion transactions. In this style, the above entry might be written:

2022-01-01 one hundred euros purchased at $1.35 each
    assets:dollars      $-135
    equity:conversion    $135
    equity:conversion   €-100
    assets:euros         €100

This style is more correct, but it's also more verbose and makes cost reporting more difficult for PTA tools.

Happily, current hledger can read either notation, or convert one to the other when needed, so you can use the one you prefer.

Inferring equity postings from cost

With --infer-equity, hledger detects transactions written with PTA cost notation and adds equity conversion postings to them (and temporarily permits the coexistence of equity conversion postings and cost notation, which normally would cause an unbalanced transaction error). Eg:

2022-01-01
  assets:dollars  -$135
  assets:euros     €100 @ $1.35
$ hledger print --infer-equity
2022-01-01
    assets:dollars                    $-135
    assets:euros               €100 @ $1.35
    equity:conversion:$-€:€           €-100  ; generated-posting:
    equity:conversion:$-€:$         $135.00  ; generated-posting:

The conversion account names can be changed with the conversion account type declaration.

--infer-equity is useful when when transactions have been recorded using PTA cost notation, to help preserve the accounting equation and balance reports' zero total, or to produce more conventional journal entries for sharing with non-PTA-users.

Experimental

Inferring cost from equity postings

The reverse operation is possible using --infer-costs, which detects transactions written with equity conversion postings and adds PTA cost notation to them (and temporarily permits the coexistence of equity conversion postings and cost notation). Eg:

2022-01-01
    assets:dollars            $-135
    equity:conversion          $135
    equity:conversion         €-100
    assets:euros               €100
$ hledger print --infer-costs
2022-01-01
    assets:dollars       $-135 @@ €100
    equity:conversion             $135
    equity:conversion            €-100
    assets:euros                  €100

--infer-costs is useful when combined with -B/--cost, allowing cost reporting even when transactions have been recorded using equity postings:

$ hledger print --infer-costs -B
2009-01-01
    assets:dollars           €-100
    assets:euros              €100

Notes:

Postings will be recognised as equity conversion postings if they are 1. to account(s) declared with type V (Conversion; or if no such accounts are declared, accounts named equity:conversion, equity:trade, equity:trading, or subaccounts of these) 2. adjacent 3. and exactly matching the amounts of two non-conversion postings.

The total cost is appended to the first matching posting in the transaction. If you need to assign it to a different posting, or if you have several different sets of conversion postings in one transaction, you may need to write the costs explicitly yourself. Eg:

2022-01-01
    assets:dollars                    $-135
    equity:conversion                 €-100
    equity:conversion                  $135
    assets:euros               €100 @@ $135

or:

2022-01-01
    assets:dollars                    $-235
    assets:euros               €100 @ $1.35  ; 100 euros bought for $1.35 each
    equity:conversion                 €-100
    equity:conversion                  $135
    assets:pounds               £80 @@ $100  ; 80 pounds bought for $100 total
    equity:conversion                  £-80
    equity:conversion                  $100

--infer-equity and --infer-costs can be used together, eg if you have a mixture of both notations.

Experimental

When to infer cost/equity

Inferring equity postings or costs is still fairly new, so not enabled by default. We're not sure yet if that should change. Here are two suggestions to try, experience reports welcome:

  1. When you use -B, always use --infer-costs as well. Eg: hledger bal -B --infer-costs

  2. Always run hledger with both flags enabled. Eg: alias hl="hledger --infer-equity --infer-costs"

How to record conversions

Essentially there are four ways to record a conversion transaction in hledger. Here are all of them, with pros and cons.

Conversion with implicit cost

Let's assume 100 EUR is converted to 120 USD. You can just record the outflow (100 EUR) and inflow (120 USD) in the appropriate asset account:

2021-01-01
    assets:cash    -100 EUR
    assets:cash     120 USD

hledger will assume this transaction is balanced, inferring that the conversion rate must be 1 EUR = 1.20 USD. You can see the inferred rate by using hledger print -x.

Pro:

  • Concise, easy

Con:

  • Less error checking - typos in amounts or commodity symbols may not be detected
  • Conversion rate is not clear
  • Disturbs the accounting equation, unless you add the --infer-equity flag

You can prevent accidental implicit conversions due to a mistyped commodity symbol, by using hledger check commodities.

You can prevent implicit conversions entirely, by using hledger check balancednoautoconversion, or -s/--strict.

Conversion with explicit cost

You can add the conversion rate using @ notation:

2021-01-01
    assets:cash        -100 EUR @ 1.20 USD
    assets:cash         120 USD

Now hledger will check that 100 * 1.20 = 120, and would report an error otherwise.

Pro:

  • Still concise
  • Makes the conversion rate clear
  • Provides more error checking

Con:

  • Disturbs the accounting equation, unless you add the --infer-equity flag

Conversion with equity postings

In strict double entry bookkeeping, the above transaction is not balanced in EUR or in USD, since some EUR disappears, and some USD appears. This violates the accounting equation (A+L+E=0), and prevents reports like balancesheetequity from showing a zero total.

The proper way to make it balance is to add a balancing posting for each commodity, using an equity account:

2021-01-01
    assets:cash        -100 EUR
    equity:conversion   100 EUR
    equity:conversion  -120 USD
    assets:cash         120 USD

Pro:

  • Preserves the accounting equation
  • Keeps track of conversions and related gains/losses in one place
  • Standard, works in any double entry accounting system

Con:

  • More verbose
  • Conversion rate is not obvious
  • Cost reporting requires adding the --infer-costs flag

Conversion with equity postings and explicit cost

Here both equity postings and @ notation are used together. hledger will usually complain about this redundancy, but when using the --infer-costs flag it is accepted.

2021-01-01
    assets:cash        -100 EUR @ 1.20 USD
    equity:conversion   100 EUR
    equity:conversion  -120 USD
    assets:cash         120 USD

Pro:

  • Preserves the accounting equation
  • Keeps track of conversions and related gains/losses in one place
  • Makes the conversion rate clear
  • Provides more error checking

Con:

  • Most verbose
  • Requires the --infer-costs flag
  • Not compatible with ledger

Cost tips

  • Recording the conversion rate explicitly is good because it makes that clear and helps detect errors.
  • Recording equity postings is good because it is correct bookkeeping and preserves the accounting equation.
  • Combining these is possible by using the --infer-costs flag (which requires well-ordered postings).
  • When you want to see the cost (or sale proceeds) of things, use -B (or --cost). If you use equity conversion postings notation, use -B --infer-costs.
  • If you use PTA cost notation, and you want to see a balanced balance sheet or print correct journal entries, use --infer-equity.
  • Conversion to cost is performed before valuation (described next).

VALUATION

Instead of reporting amounts in their original commodity, hledger can convert them to cost/sale amount (using the conversion rate recorded in the transaction), and/or to market value (using some market price on a certain date). This is controlled by the --value=TYPE[,COMMODITY] option, which will be described below. We also provide the simpler -V and -X COMMODITY options, and often one of these is all you need:

-V: Value

The -V/--market flag converts amounts to market value in their default valuation commodity, using the market prices in effect on the valuation date(s), if any. More on these in a minute.

-X: Value in specified commodity

The -X/--exchange=COMM option is like -V, except you tell it which currency you want to convert to, and it tries to convert everything to that.

Valuation date

Since market prices can change from day to day, market value reports have a valuation date (or more than one), which determines which market prices will be used.

For single period reports, if an explicit report end date is specified, that will be used as the valuation date; otherwise the valuation date is the journal's end date.

For multiperiod reports, each column/period is valued on the last day of the period, by default.

Market prices

To convert a commodity A to its market value in another commodity B, hledger looks for a suitable market price (exchange rate) as follows, in this order of preference :

  1. A declared market price or inferred market price: A's latest market price in B on or before the valuation date as declared by a P directive, or (with the --infer-market-prices flag) inferred from transaction prices.

  2. A reverse market price: the inverse of a declared or inferred market price from B to A.

  3. A forward chain of market prices: a synthetic price formed by combining the shortest chain of "forward" (only 1 above) market prices, leading from A to B.

  4. Any chain of market prices: a chain of any market prices, including both forward and reverse prices (1 and 2 above), leading from A to B.

There is a limit to the length of these price chains; if hledger reaches that length without finding a complete chain or exhausting all possibilities, it will give up (with a "gave up" message visible in --debug=2 output). That limit is currently 1000.

Amounts for which no suitable market price can be found, are not converted.

--infer-market-prices: market prices from transactions

Normally, market value in hledger is fully controlled by, and requires, P directives in your journal. Since adding and updating those can be a chore, and since transactions usually take place at close to market value, why not use the recorded transaction prices as additional market prices (as Ledger does) ? We could produce value reports without needing P directives at all.

Adding the --infer-market-prices flag to -V, -X or --value enables this. So for example, hledger bs -V --infer-market-prices will get market prices both from P directives and from transactions. (And if both occur on the same day, the P directive takes precedence).

There is a downside: value reports can sometimes be affected in confusing/undesired ways by your journal entries. If this happens to you, read all of this Valuation section carefully, and try adding --debug or --debug=2 to troubleshoot.

--infer-market-prices can infer market prices from:

  • multicommodity transactions with explicit prices (@/@@)

  • multicommodity transactions with implicit prices (no @, two commodities, unbalanced). (With these, the order of postings matters. hledger print -x can be useful for troubleshooting.)

  • but not, currently, from "more correct" multicommodity transactions (no @, multiple commodities, balanced).

There is another limitation (bug) currently: when a valuation commodity is not specified, prices inferred with --infer-market-prices do not help select a default valuation commodity, as P prices would. So conversion might not happen because no valuation commodity was detected (--debug=2 will show this). To be safe, specify the valuation commmodity, eg:

  • -X EUR --infer-market-prices, not -V --infer-market-prices
  • --value=then,EUR --infer-market-prices, not --value=then --infer-market-prices

Valuation commodity

When you specify a valuation commodity (-X COMM or --value TYPE,COMM):
hledger will convert all amounts to COMM, wherever it can find a suitable market price (including by reversing or chaining prices).

When you leave the valuation commodity unspecified (-V or --value TYPE):
For each commodity A, hledger picks a default valuation commodity as follows, in this order of preference:

  1. The price commodity from the latest P-declared market price for A on or before valuation date.

  2. The price commodity from the latest P-declared market price for A on any date. (Allows conversion to proceed when there are inferred prices before the valuation date.)

  3. If there are no P directives at all (any commodity or date) and the --infer-market-prices flag is used: the price commodity from the latest transaction-inferred price for A on or before valuation date.

This means:

  • If you have P directives, they determine which commodities -V will convert, and to what.

  • If you have no P directives, and use the --infer-market-prices flag, transaction prices determine it.

Amounts for which no valuation commodity can be found are not converted.

Simple valuation examples

Here are some quick examples of -V:

; one euro is worth this many dollars from nov 1
P 2016/11/01 € $1.10

; purchase some euros on nov 3
2016/11/3
    assets:euros        €100
    assets:checking

; the euro is worth fewer dollars by dec 21
P 2016/12/21 € $1.03

How many euros do I have ?

$ hledger -f t.j bal -N euros
                €100  assets:euros

What are they worth at end of nov 3 ?

$ hledger -f t.j bal -N euros -V -e 2016/11/4
             $110.00  assets:euros

What are they worth after 2016/12/21 ? (no report end date specified, defaults to today)

$ hledger -f t.j bal -N euros -V
             $103.00  assets:euros

--value: Flexible valuation

-V and -X are special cases of the more general --value option:

 --value=TYPE[,COMM]  TYPE is then, end, now or YYYY-MM-DD.
                      COMM is an optional commodity symbol.
                      Shows amounts converted to:
                      - default valuation commodity (or COMM) using market prices at posting dates
                      - default valuation commodity (or COMM) using market prices at period end(s)
                      - default valuation commodity (or COMM) using current market prices
                      - default valuation commodity (or COMM) using market prices at some date

The TYPE part selects cost or value and valuation date:

--value=then : Convert amounts to their value in the default valuation commodity, using market prices on each posting's date.

--value=end : Convert amounts to their value in the default valuation commodity, using market prices on the last day of the report period (or if unspecified, the journal's end date); or in multiperiod reports, market prices on the last day of each subperiod.

--value=now : Convert amounts to their value in the default valuation commodity using current market prices (as of when report is generated).

--value=YYYY-MM-DD : Convert amounts to their value in the default valuation commodity using market prices on this date.

To select a different valuation commodity, add the optional ,COMM part: a comma, then the target commodity's symbol. Eg: --value=now,EUR. hledger will do its best to convert amounts to this commodity, deducing market prices as described above.

More valuation examples

Here are some examples showing the effect of --value, as seen with print:

P 2000-01-01 A  1 B
P 2000-02-01 A  2 B
P 2000-03-01 A  3 B
P 2000-04-01 A  4 B

2000-01-01
  (a)      1 A @ 5 B

2000-02-01
  (a)      1 A @ 6 B

2000-03-01
  (a)      1 A @ 7 B

Show the cost of each posting:

$ hledger -f- print --cost
2000-01-01
    (a)             5 B

2000-02-01
    (a)             6 B

2000-03-01
    (a)             7 B

Show the value as of the last day of the report period (2000-02-29):

$ hledger -f- print --value=end date:2000/01-2000/03
2000-01-01
    (a)             2 B

2000-02-01
    (a)             2 B

With no report period specified, that shows the value as of the last day of the journal (2000-03-01):

$ hledger -f- print --value=end
2000-01-01
    (a)             3 B

2000-02-01
    (a)             3 B

2000-03-01
    (a)             3 B

Show the current value (the 2000-04-01 price is still in effect today):

$ hledger -f- print --value=now
2000-01-01
    (a)             4 B

2000-02-01
    (a)             4 B

2000-03-01
    (a)             4 B

Show the value on 2000/01/15:

$ hledger -f- print --value=2000-01-15
2000-01-01
    (a)             1 B

2000-02-01
    (a)             1 B

2000-03-01
    (a)             1 B

You may need to explicitly set a commodity's display style, when reverse prices are used. Eg this output might be surprising:

P 2000-01-01 A 2B

2000-01-01
  a  1B
  b
$ hledger print -x -X A
2000-01-01
    a               0
    b               0

Explanation: because there's no amount or commodity directive specifying a display style for A, 0.5A gets the default style, which shows no decimal digits. Because the displayed amount looks like zero, the commodity symbol and minus sign are not displayed either. Adding a commodity directive sets a more useful display style for A:

P 2000-01-01 A 2B
commodity 0.00A

2000-01-01
  a  1B
  b
$ hledger print -X A
2000-01-01
    a           0.50A
    b          -0.50A

Interaction of valuation and queries

When matching postings based on queries in the presence of valuation, the following happens.

  1. The query is separated into two parts:
    1. the currency (cur:) or amount (amt:).
    2. all other parts.
  2. The postings are matched to the currency and amount queries based on pre-valued amounts.
  3. Valuation is applied to the postings.
  4. The postings are matched to the other parts of the query based on post-valued amounts.

See: 1625

Effect of valuation on reports

Here is a reference for how valuation is supposed to affect each part of hledger's reports (and a glossary). (It's wide, you'll have to scroll sideways.) It may be useful when troubleshooting. If you find problems, please report them, ideally with a reproducible example. Related: #329, #1083.

Report type-B, --cost-V, -X--value=then--value=end--value=DATE, --value=now
print
posting amountscostvalue at report end or todayvalue at posting datevalue at report or journal endvalue at DATE/today
balance assertions/assignmentsunchangedunchangedunchangedunchangedunchanged

register
starting balance (-H)costvalue at report or journal endvalued at day each historical posting was madevalue at report or journal endvalue at DATE/today
starting balance (-H) with report intervalcostvalue at day before report or journal startvalued at day each historical posting was madevalue at day before report or journal startvalue at DATE/today
posting amountscostvalue at report or journal endvalue at posting datevalue at report or journal endvalue at DATE/today
summary posting amounts with report intervalsummarised costvalue at period endssum of postings in interval, valued at interval startvalue at period endsvalue at DATE/today
running total/averagesum/average of displayed valuessum/average of displayed valuessum/average of displayed valuessum/average of displayed valuessum/average of displayed values

balance (bs, bse, cf, is)
balance changessums of costsvalue at report end or today of sums of postingsvalue at posting datevalue at report or journal end of sums of postingsvalue at DATE/today of sums of postings
budget amounts (--budget)like balance changeslike balance changeslike balance changeslike balanceslike balance changes
grand totalsum of displayed valuessum of displayed valuessum of displayed valuedsum of displayed valuessum of displayed values

balance (bs, bse, cf, is) with report interval
starting balances (-H)sums of costs of postings before report startvalue at report start of sums of all postings before report startsums of values of postings before report start at respective posting datesvalue at report start of sums of all postings before report startsums of postings before report start
balance changes (bal, is, bs --change, cf --change)sums of costs of postings in periodsame as --value=endsums of values of postings in period at respective posting datesbalance change in each period, valued at period endsvalue at DATE/today of sums of postings
end balances (bal -H, is --H, bs, cf)sums of costs of postings from before report start to period endsame as --value=endsums of values of postings from before period start to period end at respective posting datesperiod end balances, valued at period endsvalue at DATE/today of sums of postings
budget amounts (--budget)like balance changes/end balanceslike balance changes/end balanceslike balance changes/end balanceslike balanceslike balance changes/end balances
row totals, row averages (-T, -A)sums, averages of displayed valuessums, averages of displayed valuessums, averages of displayed valuessums, averages of displayed valuessums, averages of displayed values
column totalssums of displayed valuessums of displayed valuessums of displayed valuessums of displayed valuessums of displayed values
grand total, grand averagesum, average of column totalssum, average of column totalssum, average of column totalssum, average of column totalssum, average of column totals

--cumulative is omitted to save space, it works like -H but with a zero starting balance.

Glossary:

cost : calculated using price(s) recorded in the transaction(s).

value : market value using available market price declarations, or the unchanged amount if no conversion rate can be found.

report start : the first day of the report period specified with -b or -p or date:, otherwise today.

report or journal start : the first day of the report period specified with -b or -p or date:, otherwise the earliest transaction date in the journal, otherwise today.

report end : the last day of the report period specified with -e or -p or date:, otherwise today.

report or journal end : the last day of the report period specified with -e or -p or date:, otherwise the latest transaction date in the journal, otherwise today.

report interval : a flag (-D/-W/-M/-Q/-Y) or period expression that activates the report's multi-period mode (whether showing one or many subperiods).

PIVOTING

Normally hledger sums amounts, and organizes them in a hierarchy, based on account name. The --pivot FIELD option causes it to sum and organize hierarchy based on the value of some other field instead. FIELD can be: status, code, description, payee, note, or the full name (case insensitive) of any tag. As with account names, values containing colon:separated:parts will be displayed hierarchically in reports.

--pivot is a general option affecting all reports; you can think of hledger transforming the journal before any other processing, replacing every posting's account name with the value of the specified field on that posting, inheriting it from the transaction or using a blank value if it's not present.

An example:

2016/02/16 Member Fee Payment
    assets:bank account                    2 EUR
    income:member fees                    -2 EUR  ; member: John Doe

Normal balance report showing account names:

$ hledger balance
               2 EUR  assets:bank account
              -2 EUR  income:member fees
--------------------
                   0

Pivoted balance report, using member: tag values instead:

$ hledger balance --pivot member
               2 EUR
              -2 EUR  John Doe
--------------------
                   0

One way to show only amounts with a member: value (using a query, described below):

$ hledger balance --pivot member tag:member=.
              -2 EUR  John Doe
--------------------
              -2 EUR

Another way (the acct: query matches against the pivoted "account name"):

$ hledger balance --pivot member acct:.
              -2 EUR  John Doe
--------------------
              -2 EUR

OUTPUT

Output destination

hledger commands send their output to the terminal by default. You can of course redirect this, eg into a file, using standard shell syntax:

$ hledger print > foo.txt

Some commands (print, register, stats, the balance commands) also provide the -o/--output-file option, which does the same thing without needing the shell. Eg:

$ hledger print -o foo.txt
$ hledger print -o -        # write to stdout (the default)

hledger can optionally produce debug output (if enabled with --debug=N); this goes to stderr, and is not affected by -o/--output-file. If you need to capture it, use shell redirects, eg: hledger bal --debug=3 >file 2>&1.

Output styling

hledger commands can produce colour output when the terminal supports it. This is controlled by the --color/--colour option: - if the --color/--colour option is given a value of yes or always (or no or never), colour will (or will not) be used; - otherwise, if the NO_COLOR environment variable is set, colour will not be used; - otherwise, colour will be used if the output (terminal or file) supports it.

hledger commands can also use unicode box-drawing characters to produce prettier tables and output. This is controlled by the --pretty option:

  • if the --pretty option is given a value of yes or always (or no or never), unicode characters will (or will not) be used; - otherwise, unicode characters will not be used.

Output format

Some commands offer additional output formats, other than the usual plain text terminal output. Here are those commands and the formats currently supported:

-txtcsvhtmljsonsql
aregisterYYY
balanceY 1Y 1Y 1,2Y
balancesheetY 1Y 1Y 1Y
balancesheetequityY 1Y 1Y 1Y
cashflowY 1Y 1Y 1Y
incomestatementY 1Y 1Y 1Y
printYYYY
registerYYY
  • 1 Also affected by the balance commands' --layout option.
  • 2 balance does not support html output without a report interval or with --budget.

The output format is selected by the -O/--output-format=FMT option:

$ hledger print -O csv    # print CSV on stdout

or by the filename extension of an output file specified with the -o/--output-file=FILE.FMT option:

$ hledger balancesheet -o foo.csv    # write CSV to foo.csv

The -O option can be combined with -o to override the file extension, if needed:

$ hledger balancesheet -o foo.txt -O csv    # write CSV to foo.txt

CSV output

  • In CSV output, digit group marks (such as thousands separators) are disabled automatically.

HTML output

  • HTML output can be styled by an optional hledger.css file in the same directory.

JSON output

  • hledger represents quantities as Decimal values storing up to 255 significant digits, eg for repeating decimals. Such numbers can arise in practice (from automatically-calculated transaction prices), and would break most JSON consumers. So in JSON, we show quantities as simple Numbers with at most 10 decimal places. We don't limit the number of integer digits, but that part is under your control. We hope this approach will not cause problems in practice; if you find otherwise, please let us know. (Cf #1195)

SQL output

  • Not yet much used; real-world feedback is welcome.

  • SQL output is expected to work with sqlite, MySQL and PostgreSQL

  • SQL output is structured with the expectations that statements will be executed in the empty database. If you already have tables created via SQL output of hledger, you would probably want to either clear tables of existing data (via delete or truncate SQL statements) or drop tables completely as otherwise your postings will be duped.

Commodity styles

The display style of a commodity/currency is inferred according to the rules described in Commodity display style. The inferred display style can be overridden by an optional -c/--commodity-style option (Exceptions: as is the case for inferred styles, price amounts, and all amounts displayed by the print command, will be displayed with all of their decimal digits visible, regardless of the specified precision). For example, the following will override the display style for dollars.

$ hledger print -c '$1.000,0'

The format specification of the style is identical to the commodity display style specification for the commodity directive. The command line option can be supplied repeatedly to override the display style for multiple commodity/currency symbols.

COMMANDS

hledger provides a number of commands for producing reports and managing your data. Run hledger with no arguments to list the commands available, and hledger CMD to run a command. CMD can be the full command name, or its standard abbreviation shown in the commands list, or any unambiguous prefix of the name. Eg: hledger bal.

Here are the built-in commands, with the most often-used in bold:

Data entry:

These data entry commands are the only ones which can modify your journal file.

  • add - add transactions using guided prompts
  • import - add any new transactions from other files (eg csv)

Data management:

  • check - check for various kinds of issue in the data
  • close (equity) - generate balance-resetting transactions
  • diff - compare account transactions in two journal files
  • rewrite - generate extra postings, similar to print --auto

Financial statements:

Miscellaneous reports:

  • accounts - show account names
  • activity - show postings-per-interval bar charts
  • balance (bal) - show balance changes/end balances/budgets in any accounts
  • codes - show transaction codes
  • commodities - show commodity/currency symbols
  • descriptions - show unique transaction descriptions
  • files - show input file paths
  • help - show hledger user manuals in several formats
  • notes - show unique note segments of transaction descriptions
  • payees - show unique payee segments of transaction descriptions
  • prices - show market price records
  • print - show transactions (journal entries)
  • print-unique - show only transactions with unique descriptions
  • register (reg) - show postings in one or more accounts & running total
  • register-match - show a recent posting that best matches a description
  • stats - show journal statistics
  • tags - show tag names
  • test - run self tests

Add-on commands:

Programs or scripts named hledger-SOMETHING in your PATH are add-on commands; these appear in the commands list with a + mark. The following add-on commands can be installed, eg by the hledger-install script:

  • ui - hledger's official curses-style TUI
  • web - hledger's official web UI
  • iadd - a popular alternative to hledger's add command.
  • interest - generates interest transactions
  • stockquotes - downloads market prices. (Alpha quality, needs your help.)

Next, the detailed command docs, in alphabetical order.

accounts

accounts
Show account names.

This command lists account names, either declared with account directives (--declared), posted to (--used), or both (the default). With query arguments, only matched account names and account names referenced by matched postings are shown.

It shows a flat list by default. With --tree, it uses indentation to show the account hierarchy. In flat mode you can add --drop N to omit the first few account name components. Account names can be depth-clipped with depth:N or --depth N or -N.

With --types, it also shows each account's type, if it's known. (See Declaring accounts > Account types.)

With --positions, it also shows the file and line number of each account's declaration, if any, and the account's overall declaration order; these may be useful when troubleshooting account display order.

With --directives, it adds the account keyword, showing valid account directives which can be pasted into a journal file.

Examples:

$ hledger accounts
assets:bank:checking
assets:bank:saving
assets:cash
expenses:food
expenses:supplies
income:gifts
income:salary
liabilities:debts

activity

activity
Show an ascii barchart of posting counts per interval.

The activity command displays an ascii histogram showing transaction counts by day, week, month or other reporting interval (by day is the default). With query arguments, it counts only matched transactions.

Examples:

$ hledger activity --quarterly
2008-01-01 **
2008-04-01 *******
2008-07-01 
2008-10-01 **

add

add
Prompt for transactions and add them to the journal. Any arguments will be used as default inputs for the first N prompts.

Many hledger users edit their journals directly with a text editor, or generate them from CSV. For more interactive data entry, there is the add command, which prompts interactively on the console for new transactions, and appends them to the main journal file (which should be in journal format). Existing transactions are not changed. This is one of the few hledger commands that writes to the journal file (see also import).

To use it, just run hledger add and follow the prompts. You can add as many transactions as you like; when you are finished, enter . or press control-d or control-c to exit.

Features:

  • add tries to provide useful defaults, using the most similar (by description) recent transaction (filtered by the query, if any) as a template.
  • You can also set the initial defaults with command line arguments.
  • Readline-style edit keys can be used during data entry.
  • The tab key will auto-complete whenever possible - accounts, descriptions, dates (yesterday, today, tomorrow). If the input area is empty, it will insert the default value.
  • If the journal defines a default commodity, it will be added to any bare numbers entered.
  • A parenthesised transaction code may be entered following a date.
  • Comments and tags may be entered following a description or amount.
  • If you make a mistake, enter < at any prompt to go one step backward.
  • Input prompts are displayed in a different colour when the terminal supports it.

Example (see the tutorial for a detailed explanation):

$ hledger add
Adding transactions to journal file /src/hledger/examples/sample.journal
Any command line arguments will be used as defaults.
Use tab key to complete, readline keys to edit, enter to accept defaults.
An optional (CODE) may follow transaction dates.
An optional ; COMMENT may follow descriptions or amounts.
If you make a mistake, enter < at any prompt to go one step backward.
To end a transaction, enter . when prompted.
To quit, enter . at a date prompt or press control-d or control-c.
Date [2015/05/22]: 
Description: supermarket
Account 1: expenses:food
Amount  1: $10
Account 2: assets:checking
Amount  2 [$-10.0]: 
Account 3 (or . or enter to finish this transaction): .
2015/05/22 supermarket
    expenses:food             $10
    assets:checking        $-10.0

Save this transaction to the journal ? [y]: 
Saved.
Starting the next transaction (. or ctrl-D/ctrl-C to quit)
Date [2015/05/22]: <CTRL-D> $

On Microsoft Windows, the add command makes sure that no part of the file path ends with a period, as that would cause problems (#1056).

aregister

aregister, areg

Show the transactions and running historical balance of a single account, with each transaction displayed as one line.

aregister shows the overall transactions affecting a particular account (and any subaccounts). Each report line represents one transaction in this account. Transactions before the report start date are always included in the running balance (--historical mode is always on).

This is a more "real world", bank-like view than the register command (which shows individual postings, possibly from multiple accounts, not necessarily in historical mode). As a quick rule of thumb: - use aregister for reviewing and reconciling real-world asset/liability accounts - use register for reviewing detailed revenues/expenses.

aregister requires one argument: the account to report on. You can write either the full account name, or a case-insensitive regular expression which will select the alphabetically first matched account. (Eg if you have assets:aaa:checking and assets:bbb:checking accounts, hledger areg checking would select assets:aaa:checking.)

Transactions involving subaccounts of this account will also be shown. aregister ignores depth limits, so its final total will always match a balance report with similar arguments.

Any additional arguments form a query which will filter the transactions shown. Note some queries will disturb the running balance, causing it to be different from the account's real-world running balance.

An example: this shows the transactions and historical running balance during july, in the first account whose name contains "checking":

$ hledger areg checking date:jul

Each aregister line item shows:

  • the transaction's date (or the relevant posting's date if different, see below)
  • the names of all the other account(s) involved in this transaction (probably abbreviated)
  • the total change to this account's balance from this transaction
  • the account's historical running balance after this transaction.

Transactions making a net change of zero are not shown by default; add the -E/--empty flag to show them.

For performance reasons, column widths are chosen based on the first 1000 lines; this means unusually wide values in later lines can cause visual discontinuities as column widths are adjusted. If you want to ensure perfect alignment, at the cost of more time and memory, use the --align-all flag.

This command also supports the output destination and output format options. The output formats supported are txt, csv, and json.

aregister and custom posting dates

Transactions whose date is outside the report period can still be shown, if they have a posting to this account dated inside the report period. (And in this case it's the posting date that is shown.) This ensures that aregister can show an accurate historical running balance, matching the one shown by register -H with the same arguments.

To filter strictly by transaction date instead, add the --txn-dates flag. If you use this flag and some of your postings have custom dates, it's probably best to assume the running balance is wrong.

balance

balance, bal
Show accounts and their balances.

balance is one of hledger's oldest and most versatile commands, for listing account balances, balance changes, values, value changes and more, during one time period or many. Generally it shows a table, with rows representing accounts, and columns representing periods.

Note there are some higher-level variants of the balance command with convenient defaults, which can be simpler to use: balancesheet, balancesheetequity, cashflow and incomestatement. When you need more control, then use balance.

balance features

Here's a quick overview of the balance command's features, followed by more detailed descriptions and examples. Many of these work with the higher-level commands as well.

balance can show..

..and their..

  • balance changes (the default)
  • or actual and planned balance changes (--budget)
  • or value of balance changes (-V)
  • or change of balance values (--valuechange)
  • or unrealised capital gain/loss (--gain)

..in..

..either..

  • per period (the default)
  • or accumulated since report start date (--cumulative)
  • or accumulated since account creation (--historical/-H)

..possibly converted to..

..with..

  • totals (-T), averages (-A), percentages (-%), inverted sign (--invert)
  • rows and columns swapped (--transpose)
  • another field used as account name (--pivot)
  • custom-formatted line items (single-period reports only) (--format)
  • commodities displayed on the same line or multiple lines (--layout)

This command supports the output destination and output format options, with output formats txt, csv, json, and (multi-period reports only:) html. In txt output in a colour-supporting terminal, negative amounts are shown in red.

The --related/-r flag shows the balance of the other postings in the transactions of the postings which would normally be shown.

Simple balance report

With no arguments, balance shows a list of all accounts and their change of balance - ie, the sum of posting amounts, both inflows and outflows - during the entire period of the journal. For real-world accounts, this should also match their end balance at the end of the journal period (more on this below).

Accounts are sorted by declaration order if any, and then alphabetically by account name. For instance (using examples/sample.journal):

$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal bal
                  $1  assets:bank:saving
                 $-2  assets:cash
                  $1  expenses:food
                  $1  expenses:supplies
                 $-1  income:gifts
                 $-1  income:salary
                  $1  liabilities:debts
--------------------
                   0  

Accounts with a zero balance (and no non-zero subaccounts, in tree mode

  • see below) are hidden by default. Use -E/--empty to show them (revealing assets:bank:checking here):
$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal bal  -E
                   0  assets:bank:checking
                  $1  assets:bank:saving
                 $-2  assets:cash
                  $1  expenses:food
                  $1  expenses:supplies
                 $-1  income:gifts
                 $-1  income:salary
                  $1  liabilities:debts
--------------------
                   0  

The total of the amounts displayed is shown as the last line, unless -N/--no-total is used.

Filtered balance report

You can show fewer accounts, a different time period, totals from cleared transactions only, etc. by using query arguments or options to limit the postings being matched. Eg:

$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal bal --cleared assets date:200806
                 $-2  assets:cash
--------------------
                 $-2  

List or tree mode

By default, or with -l/--flat, accounts are shown as a flat list with their full names visible, as in the examples above.

With -t/--tree, the account hierarchy is shown, with subaccounts' "leaf" names indented below their parent:

$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal balance
                 $-1  assets
                  $1    bank:saving
                 $-2    cash
                  $2  expenses
                  $1    food
                  $1    supplies
                 $-2  income
                 $-1    gifts
                 $-1    salary
                  $1  liabilities:debts
--------------------
                   0

Notes:

  • "Boring" accounts are combined with their subaccount for more compact output, unless --no-elide is used. Boring accounts have no balance of their own and just one subaccount (eg assets:bank and liabilities above).

  • All balances shown are "inclusive", ie including the balances from all subaccounts. Note this means some repetition in the output, which requires explanation when sharing reports with non-plaintextaccounting-users. A tree mode report's final total is the sum of the top-level balances shown, not of all the balances shown.

  • Each group of sibling accounts (ie, under a common parent) is sorted separately.

Depth limiting

With a depth:NUM query, or --depth NUM option, or just -NUM (eg: -3) balance reports will show accounts only to the specified depth, hiding the deeper subaccounts. This can be useful for getting an overview without too much detail.

Account balances at the depth limit always include the balances from any deeper subaccounts (even in list mode). Eg, limiting to depth 1:

$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal balance -1
                 $-1  assets
                  $2  expenses
                 $-2  income
                  $1  liabilities
--------------------
                   0  

Dropping top-level accounts

You can also hide one or more top-level account name parts, using --drop NUM. This can be useful for hiding repetitive top-level account names:

$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal bal expenses --drop 1
                  $1  food
                  $1  supplies
--------------------
                  $2  

Multi-period balance report

With a report interval (set by the -D/--daily, -W/--weekly, -M/--monthly, -Q/--quarterly, -Y/--yearly, or -p/--period flag), balance shows a tabular report, with columns representing successive time periods (and a title):

$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal bal --quarterly income expenses -E
Balance changes in 2008:

                   ||  2008q1  2008q2  2008q3  2008q4 
===================++=================================
 expenses:food     ||       0      $1       0       0 
 expenses:supplies ||       0      $1       0       0 
 income:gifts      ||       0     $-1       0       0 
 income:salary     ||     $-1       0       0       0 
-------------------++---------------------------------
                   ||     $-1      $1       0       0 

Notes:

  • The report's start/end dates will be expanded, if necessary, to fully encompass the displayed subperiods (so that the first and last subperiods have the same duration as the others).
  • Leading and trailing periods (columns) containing all zeroes are not shown, unless -E/--empty is used.
  • Accounts (rows) containing all zeroes are not shown, unless -E/--empty is used.
  • Amounts with many commodities are shown in abbreviated form, unless --no-elide is used. (experimental)
  • Average and/or total columns can be added with the -A/--average and -T/--row-total flags.
  • The --transpose flag can be used to exchange rows and columns.
  • The --pivot FIELD option causes a different transaction field to be used as "account name". See PIVOTING.

Multi-period reports with many periods can be too wide for easy viewing in the terminal. Here are some ways to handle that:

  • Hide the totals row with -N/--no-total
  • Convert to a single currency with -V
  • Maximize the terminal window
  • Reduce the terminal's font size
  • View with a pager like less, eg: hledger bal -D --color=yes | less -RS
  • Output as CSV and use a CSV viewer like visidata (hledger bal -D -O csv | vd -f csv), Emacs' csv-mode (M-x csv-mode, C-c C-a), or a spreadsheet (hledger bal -D -o a.csv && open a.csv)
  • Output as HTML and view with a browser: hledger bal -D -o a.html && open a.html

Showing declared accounts

With --declared, accounts which have been declared with an account directive will be included in the balance report, even if they have no transactions. (Since they will have a zero balance, you will also need -E/--empty to see them.)

More precisely, leaf declared accounts (with no subaccounts) will be included, since those are usually the more useful in reports.

The idea of this is to be able to see a useful "complete" balance report, even when you don't have transactions in all of your declared accounts yet.

Data layout

The --layout option affects how multi-commodity amounts are displayed, and some other things, influencing the overall layout of the report data:

  • --layout=wide[,WIDTH]: commodities are shown on a single line, possibly elided to the specified width
  • --layout=tall: each commodity is shown on a separate line
  • --layout=bare: amounts are shown as bare numbers, with commodity symbols in a separate column
  • --layout=tidy: data is normalised to tidy form, with one row per data value. We currently support this with CSV output only. In tidy mode, totals and row averages are disabled (-N/--no-total is implied and -T/--row-total and -A/--average will be ignored).

These --layout modes are supported with some but not all of the output formats:

-txtcsvhtmljsonsql
wideYYY
tallYYY
bareYYY
tidyY

Examples:

  • Wide layout. With many commodities, reports can be very wide:

    $ hledger -f examples/bcexample.hledger bal assets:us:etrade -3 -T -Y --layout=wide
    Balance changes in 2012-01-01..2014-12-31:
    
                      ||                                          2012                                                     2013                                             2014                                                      Total 
    ==================++====================================================================================================================================================================================================================
     Assets:US:ETrade || 10.00 ITOT, 337.18 USD, 12.00 VEA, 106.00 VHT  70.00 GLD, 18.00 ITOT, -98.12 USD, 10.00 VEA, 18.00 VHT  -11.00 ITOT, 4881.44 USD, 14.00 VEA, 170.00 VHT  70.00 GLD, 17.00 ITOT, 5120.50 USD, 36.00 VEA, 294.00 VHT 
    ------------------++--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      || 10.00 ITOT, 337.18 USD, 12.00 VEA, 106.00 VHT  70.00 GLD, 18.00 ITOT, -98.12 USD, 10.00 VEA, 18.00 VHT  -11.00 ITOT, 4881.44 USD, 14.00 VEA, 170.00 VHT  70.00 GLD, 17.00 ITOT, 5120.50 USD, 36.00 VEA, 294.00 VHT 
    
  • Limited wide layout. A width limit reduces the width, but some commodities will be hidden:

    $ hledger -f examples/bcexample.hledger bal assets:us:etrade -3 -T -Y --layout=wide,32
    Balance changes in 2012-01-01..2014-12-31:
    
                      ||                             2012                             2013                   2014                            Total 
    ==================++===========================================================================================================================
     Assets:US:ETrade || 10.00 ITOT, 337.18 USD, 2 more..  70.00 GLD, 18.00 ITOT, 3 more..  -11.00 ITOT, 3 more..  70.00 GLD, 17.00 ITOT, 3 more.. 
    ------------------++---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      || 10.00 ITOT, 337.18 USD, 2 more..  70.00 GLD, 18.00 ITOT, 3 more..  -11.00 ITOT, 3 more..  70.00 GLD, 17.00 ITOT, 3 more.. 
    
  • Tall layout. Each commodity gets a new line (may be different in each column), and account names are repeated:

    $ hledger -f examples/bcexample.hledger bal assets:us:etrade -3 -T -Y --layout=tall
    Balance changes in 2012-01-01..2014-12-31:
    
                      ||       2012        2013         2014        Total 
    ==================++==================================================
     Assets:US:ETrade || 10.00 ITOT   70.00 GLD  -11.00 ITOT    70.00 GLD 
     Assets:US:ETrade || 337.18 USD  18.00 ITOT  4881.44 USD   17.00 ITOT 
     Assets:US:ETrade ||  12.00 VEA  -98.12 USD    14.00 VEA  5120.50 USD 
     Assets:US:ETrade || 106.00 VHT   10.00 VEA   170.00 VHT    36.00 VEA 
     Assets:US:ETrade ||              18.00 VHT                294.00 VHT 
    ------------------++--------------------------------------------------
                      || 10.00 ITOT   70.00 GLD  -11.00 ITOT    70.00 GLD 
                      || 337.18 USD  18.00 ITOT  4881.44 USD   17.00 ITOT 
                      ||  12.00 VEA  -98.12 USD    14.00 VEA  5120.50 USD 
                      || 106.00 VHT   10.00 VEA   170.00 VHT    36.00 VEA 
                      ||              18.00 VHT                294.00 VHT 
    
  • Bare layout. Commodity symbols are kept in one column, each commodity gets its own report row, account names are repeated:

    $ hledger -f examples/bcexample.hledger bal assets:us:etrade -3 -T -Y --layout=bare
    Balance changes in 2012-01-01..2014-12-31:
    
                      || Commodity    2012    2013     2014    Total 
    ==================++=============================================
     Assets:US:ETrade || GLD             0   70.00        0    70.00 
     Assets:US:ETrade || ITOT        10.00   18.00   -11.00    17.00 
     Assets:US:ETrade || USD        337.18  -98.12  4881.44  5120.50 
     Assets:US:ETrade || VEA         12.00   10.00    14.00    36.00 
     Assets:US:ETrade || VHT        106.00   18.00   170.00   294.00 
    ------------------++---------------------------------------------
                      || GLD             0   70.00        0    70.00 
                      || ITOT        10.00   18.00   -11.00    17.00 
                      || USD        337.18  -98.12  4881.44  5120.50 
                      || VEA         12.00   10.00    14.00    36.00 
                      || VHT        106.00   18.00   170.00   294.00 
    
  • Bare layout also affects CSV output, which is useful for producing data that is easier to consume, eg when making charts:

    $ hledger -f examples/bcexample.hledger bal assets:us:etrade -3 -O csv --layout=bare
    "account","commodity","balance"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","GLD","70.00"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","ITOT","17.00"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","USD","5120.50"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","VEA","36.00"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","VHT","294.00"
    "total","GLD","70.00"
    "total","ITOT","17.00"
    "total","USD","5120.50"
    "total","VEA","36.00"
    "total","VHT","294.00"
    
  • Tidy layout produces normalised "tidy data", where every variable is a column and each row represents a single data point (see https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/tidyr/vignettes/tidy-data.html). This kind of data is the easiest to process with other software:

    $ hledger -f examples/bcexample.hledger bal assets:us:etrade -3 -Y -O csv --layout=tidy
    "account","period","start_date","end_date","commodity","value"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2012","2012-01-01","2012-12-31","GLD","0"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2012","2012-01-01","2012-12-31","ITOT","10.00"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2012","2012-01-01","2012-12-31","USD","337.18"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2012","2012-01-01","2012-12-31","VEA","12.00"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2012","2012-01-01","2012-12-31","VHT","106.00"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2013","2013-01-01","2013-12-31","GLD","70.00"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2013","2013-01-01","2013-12-31","ITOT","18.00"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2013","2013-01-01","2013-12-31","USD","-98.12"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2013","2013-01-01","2013-12-31","VEA","10.00"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2013","2013-01-01","2013-12-31","VHT","18.00"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2014","2014-01-01","2014-12-31","GLD","0"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2014","2014-01-01","2014-12-31","ITOT","-11.00"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2014","2014-01-01","2014-12-31","USD","4881.44"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2014","2014-01-01","2014-12-31","VEA","14.00"
    "Assets:US:ETrade","2014","2014-01-01","2014-12-31","VHT","170.00"
    

Sorting by amount

With -S/--sort-amount, accounts with the largest (most positive) balances are shown first. Eg: hledger bal expenses -MAS shows your biggest averaged monthly expenses first. When more than one commodity is present, they will be sorted by the alphabetically earliest commodity first, and then by subsequent commodities (if an amount is missing a commodity, it is treated as 0).

Revenues and liability balances are typically negative, however, so -S shows these in reverse order. To work around this, you can add --invert to flip the signs. (Or, use one of the higher-level reports, which flip the sign automatically. Eg: hledger incomestatement -MAS).

Percentages

With -%/--percent, balance reports show each account's value expressed as a percentage of the (column) total:

$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal bal expenses -Q -%
Balance changes in 2008:

                   || 2008Q1   2008Q2  2008Q3  2008Q4 
===================++=================================
 expenses:food     ||      0   50.0 %       0       0 
 expenses:supplies ||      0   50.0 %       0       0 
-------------------++---------------------------------
                   ||      0  100.0 %       0       0 

Note it is not useful to calculate percentages if the amounts in a column have mixed signs. In this case, make a separate report for each sign, eg:

$ hledger bal -% amt:`>0`
$ hledger bal -% amt:`<0`

Similarly, if the amounts in a column have mixed commodities, convert them to one commodity with -B, -V, -X or --value, or make a separate report for each commodity:

$ hledger bal -% cur:\\$
$ hledger bal -% cur:€

Balance change, end balance

It's important to be clear on the meaning of the numbers shown in balance reports. Here is some terminology we use:

A balance change is the net amount added to, or removed from, an account during some period.

An end balance is the amount accumulated in an account as of some date (and some time, but hledger doesn't store that; assume end of day in your timezone). It is the sum of previous balance changes.

We call it a historical end balance if it includes all balance changes since the account was created. For a real world account, this means it will match the "historical record", eg the balances reported in your bank statements or bank web UI. (If they are correct!)

In general, balance changes are what you want to see when reviewing revenues and expenses, and historical end balances are what you want to see when reviewing or reconciling asset, liability and equity accounts.

balance shows balance changes by default. To see accurate historical end balances:

  1. Initialise account starting balances with an "opening balances" transaction (a transfer from equity to the account), unless the journal covers the account's full lifetime.

  2. Include all of of the account's prior postings in the report, by not specifying a report start date, or by using the -H/--historical flag. (-H causes report start date to be ignored when summing postings.)

Balance report types

For more flexible reporting, there are three important option groups:

hledger balance [CALCULATIONTYPE] [ACCUMULATIONTYPE] [VALUATIONTYPE] ...

The first two are the most important: calculation type selects the basic calculation to perform for each table cell, while accumulation type says which postings should be included in each cell's calculation. Typically one or both of these are selected by default, so you don't need to write them explicitly. A valuation type can be added if you want to convert the basic report to value or cost.

Calculation type:
The basic calculation to perform for each table cell. It is one of:

  • --sum : sum the posting amounts (default)
  • --budget : like --sum but also show a goal amount
  • --valuechange : show the change in period-end historical balance values (caused by deposits, withdrawals, and/or market price fluctuations)
  • --gain : show the unrealised capital gain/loss, (the current valued balance minus each amount's original cost)

Accumulation type:
Which postings should be included in each cell's calculation. It is one of:

  • --change : postings from column start to column end, ie within the cell's period. Typically used to see revenues/expenses. (default for balance, incomestatement)

  • --cumulative : postings from report start to column end, eg to show changes accumulated since the report's start date. Rarely used.

  • --historical/-H : postings from journal start to column end, ie all postings from account creation to the end of the cell's period. Typically used to see historical end balances of assets/liabilities/equity. (default for balancesheet, balancesheetequity, cashflow)

Valuation type:
Which kind of valuation, valuation date(s) and optionally a target valuation commodity to use. It is one of:

  • no valuation, show amounts in their original commodities (default)
  • --value=cost[,COMM] : no valuation, show amounts converted to cost
  • --value=then[,COMM] : show value at transaction dates
  • --value=end[,COMM] : show value at period end date(s) (default with --valuechange, --gain)
  • --value=now[,COMM] : show value at today's date
  • --value=YYYY-MM-DD[,COMM] : show value at another date

or one of their aliases: --cost/-B, --market/-V or --exchange/-X.

Most combinations of these options should produce reasonable reports, but if you find any that seem wrong or misleading, let us know. The following restrictions are applied:

  • --valuechange implies --value=end
  • --valuechange makes --change the default when used with the balancesheet/balancesheetequity commands
  • --cumulative or --historical disables --row-total/-T

For reference, here is what the combinations of accumulation and valuation show:

Valuation: >
Accumulation: v
no valuation--value= then--value= end--value= YYYY-MM-DD /now
--changechange in periodsum of posting-date market values in periodperiod-end value of change in periodDATE-value of change in period
--cumulativechange from report start to period endsum of posting-date market values from report start to period endperiod-end value of change from report start to period endDATE-value of change from report start to period end
--historical /-Hchange from journal start to period end (historical end balance)sum of posting-date market values from journal start to period endperiod-end value of change from journal start to period endDATE-value of change from journal start to period end

Useful balance reports

Some frequently used balance options/reports are:

  • bal -M revenues expenses
    Show revenues/expenses in each month. Also available as the incomestatement command.

  • bal -M -H assets liabilities
    Show historical asset/liability balances at each month end. Also available as the balancesheet command.

  • bal -M -H assets liabilities equity
    Show historical asset/liability/equity balances at each month end. Also available as the balancesheetequity command.

  • bal -M assets not:receivable
    Show changes to liquid assets in each month. Also available as the cashflow command.

Also:

  • bal -M expenses -2 -SA
    Show monthly expenses summarised to depth 2 and sorted by average amount.

  • bal -M --budget expenses
    Show monthly expenses and budget goals.

  • bal -M --valuechange investments
    Show monthly change in market value of investment assets.

  • bal investments --valuechange -D date:lastweek amt:'>1000' -STA [--invert]
    Show top gainers [or losers] last week

Budget report

The --budget report type activates extra columns showing any budget goals for each account and period. The budget goals are defined by periodic transactions. This is very useful for comparing planned and actual income, expenses, time usage, etc.

For example, you can take average monthly expenses in the common expense categories to construct a minimal monthly budget:

;; Budget
~ monthly
  income  $2000
  expenses:food    $400
  expenses:bus     $50
  expenses:movies  $30
  assets:bank:checking

;; Two months worth of expenses
2017-11-01
  income  $1950
  expenses:food    $396
  expenses:bus     $49
  expenses:movies  $30
  expenses:supplies  $20
  assets:bank:checking

2017-12-01
  income  $2100
  expenses:food    $412
  expenses:bus     $53
  expenses:gifts   $100
  assets:bank:checking

You can now see a monthly budget report:

$ hledger balance -M --budget
Budget performance in 2017/11/01-2017/12/31:

                      ||                      Nov                       Dec 
======================++====================================================
 assets               || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [ 107% of $-2480] 
 assets:bank          || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [ 107% of $-2480] 
 assets:bank:checking || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [ 107% of $-2480] 
 expenses             ||   $495 [ 103% of   $480]    $565 [ 118% of   $480] 
 expenses:bus         ||    $49 [  98% of    $50]     $53 [ 106% of    $50] 
 expenses:food        ||   $396 [  99% of   $400]    $412 [ 103% of   $400] 
 expenses:movies      ||    $30 [ 100% of    $30]       0 [   0% of    $30] 
 income               ||  $1950 [  98% of  $2000]   $2100 [ 105% of  $2000] 
----------------------++----------------------------------------------------
                      ||      0 [              0]       0 [              0] 

This is different from a normal balance report in several ways:

  • Only accounts with budget goals during the report period are shown, by default.

  • In each column, in square brackets after the actual amount, budget goal amounts are shown, and the actual/goal percentage. (Note: budget goals should be in the same commodity as the actual amount.)

  • All parent accounts are always shown, even in list mode. Eg assets, assets:bank, and expenses above.

  • Amounts always include all subaccounts, budgeted or unbudgeted, even in list mode.

This means that the numbers displayed will not always add up! Eg above, the expenses actual amount includes the gifts and supplies transactions, but the expenses:gifts and expenses:supplies accounts are not shown, as they have no budget amounts declared.

This can be confusing. When you need to make things clearer, use the -E/--empty flag, which will reveal all accounts including unbudgeted ones, giving the full picture. Eg:

$ hledger balance -M --budget --empty
Budget performance in 2017/11/01-2017/12/31:

                      ||                      Nov                       Dec 
======================++====================================================
 assets               || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [ 107% of $-2480] 
 assets:bank          || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [ 107% of $-2480] 
 assets:bank:checking || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [ 107% of $-2480] 
 expenses             ||   $495 [ 103% of   $480]    $565 [ 118% of   $480] 
 expenses:bus         ||    $49 [  98% of    $50]     $53 [ 106% of    $50] 
 expenses:food        ||   $396 [  99% of   $400]    $412 [ 103% of   $400] 
 expenses:gifts       ||      0                      $100                   
 expenses:movies      ||    $30 [ 100% of    $30]       0 [   0% of    $30] 
 expenses:supplies    ||    $20                         0                   
 income               ||  $1950 [  98% of  $2000]   $2100 [ 105% of  $2000] 
----------------------++----------------------------------------------------
                      ||      0 [              0]       0 [              0] 

You can roll over unspent budgets to next period with --cumulative:

$ hledger balance -M --budget --cumulative
Budget performance in 2017/11/01-2017/12/31:

                      ||                      Nov                       Dec 
======================++====================================================
 assets               || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-5110 [ 103% of $-4960] 
 assets:bank          || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-5110 [ 103% of $-4960] 
 assets:bank:checking || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-5110 [ 103% of $-4960] 
 expenses             ||   $495 [ 103% of   $480]   $1060 [ 110% of   $960] 
 expenses:bus         ||    $49 [  98% of    $50]    $102 [ 102% of   $100] 
 expenses:food        ||   $396 [  99% of   $400]    $808 [ 101% of   $800] 
 expenses:movies      ||    $30 [ 100% of    $30]     $30 [  50% of    $60] 
 income               ||  $1950 [  98% of  $2000]   $4050 [ 101% of  $4000] 
----------------------++----------------------------------------------------
                      ||      0 [              0]       0 [              0] 

For more examples and notes, see Budgeting.

Budget report start date

This might be a bug, but for now: when making budget reports, it's a good idea to explicitly set the report's start date to the first day of a reporting period, because a periodic rule like ~ monthly generates its transactions on the 1st of each month, and if your journal has no regular transactions on the 1st, the default report start date could exclude that budget goal, which can be a little surprising. Eg here the default report period is just the day of 2020-01-15:

~ monthly in 2020
  (expenses:food)  $500

2020-01-15
  expenses:food    $400
  assets:checking
$ hledger bal expenses --budget
Budget performance in 2020-01-15:

              || 2020-01-15 
==============++============
 <unbudgeted> ||       $400 
--------------++------------
              ||       $400 

To avoid this, specify the budget report's period, or at least the start date, with -b/-e/-p/date:, to ensure it includes the budget goal transactions (periodic transactions) that you want. Eg, adding -b 2020/1/1 to the above:

$ hledger bal expenses --budget -b 2020/1/1
Budget performance in 2020-01-01..2020-01-15:

               || 2020-01-01..2020-01-15 
===============++========================
 expenses:food ||     $400 [80% of $500] 
---------------++------------------------
               ||     $400 [80% of $500] 
Budgets and subaccounts

You can add budgets to any account in your account hierarchy. If you have budgets on both parent account and some of its children, then budget(s) of the child account(s) would be added to the budget of their parent, much like account balances behave.

In the most simple case this means that once you add a budget to any account, all its parents would have budget as well.

To illustrate this, consider the following budget:

~ monthly from 2019/01
    expenses:personal             $1,000.00
    expenses:personal:electronics    $100.00
    liabilities

With this, monthly budget for electronics is defined to be $100 and budget for personal expenses is an additional $1000, which implicitly means that budget for both expenses:personal and expenses is $1100.

Transactions in expenses:personal:electronics will be counted both towards its $100 budget and $1100 of expenses:personal , and transactions in any other subaccount of expenses:personal would be counted towards only towards the budget of expenses:personal.

For example, let's consider these transactions:

~ monthly from 2019/01
    expenses:personal             $1,000.00
    expenses:personal:electronics    $100.00
    liabilities

2019/01/01 Google home hub
    expenses:personal:electronics          $90.00
    liabilities                           $-90.00

2019/01/02 Phone screen protector
    expenses:personal:electronics:upgrades          $10.00
    liabilities

2019/01/02 Weekly train ticket
    expenses:personal:train tickets       $153.00
    liabilities

2019/01/03 Flowers
    expenses:personal          $30.00
    liabilities

As you can see, we have transactions in expenses:personal:electronics:upgrades and expenses:personal:train tickets, and since both of these accounts are without explicitly defined budget, these transactions would be counted towards budgets of expenses:personal:electronics and expenses:personal accordingly:

$ hledger balance --budget -M
Budget performance in 2019/01:

                               ||                           Jan 
===============================++===============================
 expenses                      ||  $283.00 [  26% of  $1100.00] 
 expenses:personal             ||  $283.00 [  26% of  $1100.00] 
 expenses:personal:electronics ||  $100.00 [ 100% of   $100.00] 
 liabilities                   || $-283.00 [  26% of $-1100.00] 
-------------------------------++-------------------------------
                               ||        0 [                 0] 

And with --empty, we can get a better picture of budget allocation and consumption:

$ hledger balance --budget -M --empty
Budget performance in 2019/01:

                                        ||                           Jan 
========================================++===============================
 expenses                               ||  $283.00 [  26% of  $1100.00] 
 expenses:personal                      ||  $283.00 [  26% of  $1100.00] 
 expenses:personal:electronics          ||  $100.00 [ 100% of   $100.00] 
 expenses:personal:electronics:upgrades ||   $10.00                      
 expenses:personal:train tickets        ||  $153.00                      
 liabilities                            || $-283.00 [  26% of $-1100.00] 
----------------------------------------++-------------------------------
                                        ||        0 [                 0] 
Selecting budget goals

The budget report evaluates periodic transaction rules to generate special "goal transactions", which generate the goal amounts for each account in each report subperiod. When troubleshooting, you can use the print command to show these as forecasted transactions:

$ hledger print --forecast=BUDGETREPORTPERIOD tag:generated

By default, the budget report uses all available periodic transaction rules to generate goals. This includes rules with a different report interval from your report. Eg if you have daily, weekly and monthly periodic rules, all of these will contribute to the goals in a monthly budget report.

You can select a subset of periodic rules by providing an argument to the --budget flag. --budget=DESCPAT will match all periodic rules whose description contains DESCPAT, a case-insensitive substring (not a regular expression or query). This means you can give your periodic rules descriptions (remember that two spaces are needed), and then select from multiple budgets defined in your journal.

Customising single-period balance reports

For single-period balance reports displayed in the terminal (only), you can use --format FMT to customise the format and content of each line. Eg:

$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal balance --format "%20(account) %12(total)"
              assets          $-1
         bank:saving           $1
                cash          $-2
            expenses           $2
                food           $1
            supplies           $1
              income          $-2
               gifts          $-1
              salary          $-1
   liabilities:debts           $1
---------------------------------
                                0

The FMT format string (plus a newline) specifies the formatting applied to each account/balance pair. It may contain any suitable text, with data fields interpolated like so:

%[MIN][.MAX](FIELDNAME)

  • MIN pads with spaces to at least this width (optional)

  • MAX truncates at this width (optional)

  • FIELDNAME must be enclosed in parentheses, and can be one of:

    • depth_spacer - a number of spaces equal to the account's depth, or if MIN is specified, MIN * depth spaces.
    • account - the account's name
    • total - the account's balance/posted total, right justified

Also, FMT can begin with an optional prefix to control how multi-commodity amounts are rendered:

  • %_ - render on multiple lines, bottom-aligned (the default)
  • %^ - render on multiple lines, top-aligned
  • %, - render on one line, comma-separated

There are some quirks. Eg in one-line mode, %(depth_spacer) has no effect, instead %(account) has indentation built in. Experimentation may be needed to get pleasing results.

Some example formats:

  • %(total) - the account's total
  • %-20.20(account) - the account's name, left justified, padded to 20 characters and clipped at 20 characters
  • %,%-50(account) %25(total) - account name padded to 50 characters, total padded to 20 characters, with multiple commodities rendered on one line
  • %20(total) %2(depth_spacer)%-(account) - the default format for the single-column balance report

balancesheet

balancesheet, bs
This command displays a balance sheet, showing historical ending balances of asset and liability accounts. (To see equity as well, use the balancesheetequity command.) Amounts are shown with normal positive sign, as in conventional financial statements.

This report shows accounts declared with the Asset, Cash or Liability type (see account types). Or if no such accounts are declared, it shows top-level accounts named asset or liability (case insensitive, plurals allowed) and their subaccounts.

Example:

$ hledger balancesheet
Balance Sheet

Assets:
                 $-1  assets
                  $1    bank:saving
                 $-2    cash
--------------------
                 $-1

Liabilities:
                  $1  liabilities:debts
--------------------
                  $1

Total:
--------------------
                   0

This command is a higher-level variant of the balance command, and supports many of that command's features, such as multi-period reports. It is similar to hledger balance -H assets liabilities, but with smarter account detection, and liabilities displayed with their sign flipped.

This command also supports the output destination and output format options The output formats supported are txt, csv, html, and (experimental) json.

balancesheetequity

balancesheetequity, bse
This command displays a balance sheet, showing historical ending balances of asset, liability and equity accounts. Amounts are shown with normal positive sign, as in conventional financial statements.

This report shows accounts declared with the Asset, Cash, Liability or Equity type (see account types). Or if no such accounts are declared, it shows top-level accounts named asset, liability or equity (case insensitive, plurals allowed) and their subaccounts.

Example:

$ hledger balancesheetequity
Balance Sheet With Equity

Assets:
                 $-2  assets
                  $1    bank:saving
                 $-3    cash
--------------------
                 $-2

Liabilities:
                  $1  liabilities:debts
--------------------
                  $1

Equity:
          $1  equity:owner
--------------------
          $1

Total:
--------------------
                   0

This command is a higher-level variant of the balance command, and supports many of that command's features, such as multi-period reports. It is similar to hledger balance -H assets liabilities equity, but with smarter account detection, and liabilities/equity displayed with their sign flipped.

This command also supports the output destination and output format options The output formats supported are txt, csv, html, and (experimental) json.

cashflow

cashflow, cf
This command displays a cashflow statement, showing the inflows and outflows affecting "cash" (ie, liquid, easily convertible) assets. Amounts are shown with normal positive sign, as in conventional financial statements.

This report shows accounts declared with the Cash type (see account types). Or if no such accounts are declared, it shows accounts

  • under a top-level account named asset (case insensitive, plural allowed)
  • whose name contains some variation of cash, bank, checking or saving.

More precisely: all accounts matching this case insensitive regular expression:

^assets?(:.+)?:(cash|bank|che(ck|que?)(ing)?|savings?|currentcash)(:|$)

and their subaccounts.

An example cashflow report:

$ hledger cashflow
Cashflow Statement

Cash flows:
                 $-1  assets
                  $1    bank:saving
                 $-2    cash
--------------------
                 $-1

Total:
--------------------
                 $-1

This command is a higher-level variant of the balance command, and supports many of that command's features, such as multi-period reports. It is similar to hledger balance assets not:fixed not:investment not:receivable, but with smarter account detection.

This command also supports the output destination and output format options The output formats supported are txt, csv, html, and (experimental) json.

check

check
Check for various kinds of errors in your data.

hledger provides a number of built-in error checks to help prevent problems in your data. Some of these are run automatically; or, you can use this check command to run them on demand, with no output and a zero exit code if all is well. Specify their names (or a prefix) as argument(s).

Some examples:

hledger check      # basic checks
hledger check -s   # basic + strict checks
hledger check ordereddates payees  # basic + two other checks

If you are an Emacs user, you can also configure flycheck-hledger to run these checks, providing instant feedback as you edit the journal.

Here are the checks currently available:

Basic checks

These checks are always run automatically, by (almost) all hledger commands, including check:

  • parseable - data files are well-formed and can be successfully parsed

  • balancedwithautoconversion - all transactions are balanced, inferring missing amounts where necessary, and possibly converting commodities using transaction prices or automatically-inferred transaction prices

  • assertions - all balance assertions in the journal are passing. (This check can be disabled with -I/--ignore-assertions.)

Strict checks

These additional checks are run when the -s/--strict (strict mode) flag is used. Or, they can be run by giving their names as arguments to check:

  • accounts - all account names used by transactions have been declared

  • commodities - all commodity symbols used have been declared

  • balancednoautoconversion - transactions are balanced, possibly using explicit transaction prices but not inferred ones

Other checks

These checks can be run only by giving their names as arguments to check. They are more specialised and not desirable for everyone, therefore optional:

  • ordereddates - transactions are ordered by date within each file

  • payees - all payees used by transactions have been declared

  • recentassertions - all accounts with balance assertions have a balance assertion no more than 7 days before their latest posting

  • uniqueleafnames - all account leaf names are unique

Custom checks

A few more checks are are available as separate add-on commands, in https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger/tree/master/bin:

  • hledger-check-tagfiles - all tag values containing / (a forward slash) exist as file paths

  • hledger-check-fancyassertions - more complex balance assertions are passing

You could make similar scripts to perform your own custom checks. See: Cookbook -> Scripting.

More about specific checks

hledger check recentassertions will complain if any balance-asserted account does not have a balance assertion within 7 days before its latest posting. This aims to prevent the situation where you are regularly updating your journal, but forgetting to check your balances against the real world, then one day must dig back through months of data to find an error. It assumes that adding a balance assertion requires/reminds you to check the real-world balance. That may not be true if you auto-generate balance assertions from bank data; in that case, I recommend to import transactions uncleared, then use the manual-review-and-mark-cleared phase as a reminder to check the latest assertions against real-world balances.

close

close, equity
Prints a sample "closing" transaction bringing specified account balances to zero, and an inverse "opening" transaction restoring the same account balances.

If like most people you split your journal files by time, eg by year: at the end of the year you can use this command to "close out" your asset and liability (and perhaps equity) balances in the old file, and reinitialise them in the new file. This helps ensure that report balances remain correct whether you are including old files or not. (Because all closing/opening transactions except the very first will cancel out - see example below.)

Some people also use this command to close out revenue and expense balances at the end of an accounting period. This properly records the period's profit/loss as "retained earnings" (part of equity), and allows the accounting equation (A-L=E) to balance, which you could then check by the bse report's zero total.

You can print just the closing transaction by using the --close flag, or just the opening transaction with the --open flag.

Their descriptions are closing balances and opening balances by default; you can customise these with the --close-desc and --open-desc options.

Just one balancing equity posting is used by default, with the amount left implicit. The default account name is equity:opening/closing balances. You can customise the account name(s) with --close-acct and --open-acct. (If you specify only one of these, it will be used for both.)

With --x/--explicit, the equity posting's amount will be shown explicitly, and if it involves multiple commodities, there will be a separate equity posting for each commodity (as in the print command).

With --interleaved, each equity posting is shown next to the posting it balances (good for troubleshooting).

close and prices

Transaction prices are ignored (and discarded) by closing/opening transactions, by default. With --show-costs, they are preserved; there will be a separate equity posting for each cost in each commodity. This means balance -B reports will look the same after the transition. Note if you have many foreign currency or investment transactions, this will generate very large journal entries.

close date

The default closing date is yesterday, or the journal's end date, whichever is later.

Unless you are running close on exactly the first day of the new period, you'll want to override the closing date. This is done by specifying a report end date, where "last day of the report period" will be the closing date. The opening date is always the following day. So to close on (end of) 2020-12-31 and open on (start of) 2021-01-01, any of these will work:

end date argumentexplanation
-e 2021-01-01end dates are exclusive
-e 2021equivalent, per smart dates
-p 2020equivalent, the period's begin date is ignored
date:2020equivalent query

Example: close asset/liability accounts for file transition

Carrying asset/liability balances from 2020.journal into a new file for 2021:

$ hledger close -f 2020.journal -p 2020 assets liabilities
# copy/paste the closing transaction to the end of 2020.journal
# copy/paste the opening transaction to the start of 2021.journal

Or:

$ hledger close -f 2020.journal -p 2020 assets liabilities --open  >> 2021.journal  # add 2021's first transaction
$ hledger close -f 2020.journal -p 2020 assets liabilities --close >> 2020.journal  # add 2020's last transaction

Now,

$ hledger bs -f 2021.journal                   # just new file - balances correct
$ hledger bs -f 2020.journal -f 2021.journal   # old and new files - balances correct
$ hledger bs -f 2020.journal                   # just old files - balances are zero ?
                                               # (exclude final closing txn, see below)

Hiding opening/closing transactions

Although the closing/opening transactions cancel out, they will be visible in reports like print and register, creating some visual clutter. You can exclude them all with a query, like:

$ hledger print not:desc:'opening|closing'             # less typing
$ hledger print not:'equity:opening/closing balances'  # more precise

But when reporting on multiple files, this can get a bit tricky; you may need to keep the earliest opening balances, for a historical register report; or you may need to suppress a closing transaction, to see year-end balances. If you find yourself needing more precise queries, here's one solution: add more easily-matched tags to opening/closing transactions, like this:

; 2019.journal
2019-01-01 opening balances  ; earliest opening txn, no tag here
...
2019-12-31 closing balances  ; clopen:2020
...
; 2020.journal
2020-01-01 opening balances  ; clopen:2020
...
2020-12-31 closing balances  ; clopen:2021
...
; 2021.journal
2021-01-01 opening balances  ; clopen:2021
...

Now with

; all.journal
include 2019.journal
include 2020.journal
include 2021.journal

you could do eg:

$ hledger -f all.journal reg -H checking not:tag:clopen
    # all years checking register, hiding non-essential opening/closing txns

$ hledger -f all.journal bs -p 2020 not:tag:clopen=2020
    # 2020 year end balances, suppressing 2020 closing txn

close and balance assertions

The closing and opening transactions will include balance assertions, verifying that the accounts have first been reset to zero and then restored to their previous balance. These provide valuable error checking, alerting you when things get out of line, but you can ignore them temporarily with -I or just remove them if you prefer.

You probably shouldn't use status or realness filters (like -C or -R or status:) with close, or the generated balance assertions will depend on these flags. Likewise, if you run this command with --auto, the balance assertions would probably always require --auto.

Multi-day transactions (where some postings have a different date) break the balance assertions, because the money is temporarily "invisible" while in transit:

2020/12/30 a purchase made in december, cleared in the next year
    expenses:food          5
    assets:bank:checking  -5  ; date: 2021/1/2

To fix the assertions, you can add a temporary account to track such in-transit money (splitting the multi-day transaction into two single-day transactions):

; in 2020.journal:
2020/12/30 a purchase made in december, cleared in the next year
    expenses:food          5
    liabilities:pending

; in 2021.journal:
2021/1/2 clearance of last year's pending transactions
    liabilities:pending    5 = 0
    assets:bank:checking

Example: close revenue/expense accounts to retained earnings

For this, use --close to suppress the opening transaction, as it's not needed. Also you'll want to change the equity account name to your equivalent of "equity:retained earnings".

Closing 2021's first quarter revenues/expenses:

$ hledger close -f 2021.journal --close revenues expenses -p 2021Q1 \
    --close-acct='equity:retained earnings' >> 2021.journal

The same, using the default journal and current year:

$ hledger close --close revenues expenses -p Q1 \
    --close-acct='equity:retained earnings' >> $LEDGER_FILE

Now, the first quarter's balance sheet should show a zero (unless you are using @/@@ notation without equity postings):

$ hledger bse -p Q1

And we must suppress the closing transaction to see the first quarter's income statement (using the description; not:'retained earnings' won't work here):

$ hledger is -p Q1 not:desc:'closing balances'

codes

codes
List the codes seen in transactions, in the order parsed.

This command prints the value of each transaction's code field, in the order transactions were parsed. The transaction code is an optional value written in parentheses between the date and description, often used to store a cheque number, order number or similar.

Transactions aren't required to have a code, and missing or empty codes will not be shown by default. With the -E/--empty flag, they will be printed as blank lines.

You can add a query to select a subset of transactions.

Examples:

1/1 (123)
 (a)  1

1/1 ()
 (a)  1

1/1
 (a)  1

1/1 (126)
 (a)  1
$ hledger codes
123
124
126
$ hledger codes -E
123
124


126

commodities

commodities
List all commodity/currency symbols used or declared in the journal.

descriptions

descriptions
List the unique descriptions that appear in transactions.

This command lists the unique descriptions that appear in transactions, in alphabetic order. You can add a query to select a subset of transactions.

Example:

$ hledger descriptions
Store Name
Gas Station | Petrol
Person A

diff

diff
Compares a particular account's transactions in two input files. It shows any transactions to this account which are in one file but not in the other.

More precisely, for each posting affecting this account in either file, it looks for a corresponding posting in the other file which posts the same amount to the same account (ignoring date, description, etc.) Since postings not transactions are compared, this also works when multiple bank transactions have been combined into a single journal entry.

This is useful eg if you have downloaded an account's transactions from your bank (eg as CSV data). When hledger and your bank disagree about the account balance, you can compare the bank data with your journal to find out the cause.

Examples:

$ hledger diff -f $LEDGER_FILE -f bank.csv assets:bank:giro 
These transactions are in the first file only:

2014/01/01 Opening Balances
    assets:bank:giro              EUR ...
    ...
    equity:opening balances       EUR -...

These transactions are in the second file only:

files

files
List all files included in the journal. With a REGEX argument, only file names matching the regular expression (case sensitive) are shown.

help

help
Show the hledger user manual in the terminal, with info, man, or a pager. With a TOPIC argument, open it at that topic if possible. TOPIC can be any heading in the manual, or a heading prefix, case insensitive. Eg: commands, print, forecast, journal, amount, "auto postings".

This command shows the hledger manual built in to your hledger version. It can be useful when offline, or when you prefer the terminal to a web browser, or when the appropriate hledger manual or viewing tools are not installed on your system.

By default it chooses the best viewer found in $PATH (preferring info since the hledger manual is large). You can select a particular viewer with the -i, -m, or -p flags.

Examples

$ hledger help --help    # show how the help command works
$ hledger help           # show the hledger manual with info, man or $PAGER
$ hledger help journal   # show the journal topic in the hledger manual

import

import
Read new transactions added to each FILE since last run, and add them to the journal. Or with --dry-run, just print the transactions that would be added. Or with --catchup, just mark all of the FILEs' transactions as imported, without actually importing any.

This command may append new transactions to the main journal file (which should be in journal format). Existing transactions are not changed. This is one of the few hledger commands that writes to the journal file (see also add).

Unlike other hledger commands, with import the journal file is an output file, and will be modified, though only by appending (existing data will not be changed). The input files are specified as arguments, so to import one or more CSV files to your main journal, you will run hledger import bank.csv or perhaps hledger import *.csv.

Note you can import from any file format, though CSV files are the most common import source, and these docs focus on that case.

Deduplication

As a convenience import does deduplication while reading transactions. This does not mean "ignore transactions that look the same", but rather "ignore transactions that have been seen before". This is intended for when you are periodically importing foreign data which may contain already-imported transactions. So eg, if every day you download bank CSV files containing redundant data, you can safely run hledger import bank.csv and only new transactions will be imported. (import is idempotent.)

Since the items being read (CSV records, eg) often do not come with unique identifiers, hledger detects new transactions by date, assuming that:

  1. new items always have the newest dates
  2. item dates do not change across reads
  3. and items with the same date remain in the same relative order across reads.

These are often true of CSV files representing transactions, or true enough so that it works pretty well in practice. 1 is important, but violations of 2 and 3 amongst the old transactions won't matter (and if you import often, the new transactions will be few, so less likely to be the ones affected).

hledger remembers the latest date processed in each input file by saving a hidden ".latest" state file in the same directory. Eg when reading finance/bank.csv, it will look for and update the finance/.latest.bank.csv state file. The format is simple: one or more lines containing the same ISO-format date (YYYY-MM-DD), meaning "I have processed transactions up to this date, and this many of them on that date." Normally you won't see or manipulate these state files yourself. But if needed, you can delete them to reset the state (making all transactions "new"), or you can construct them to "catch up" to a certain date.

Note deduplication (and updating of state files) can also be done by print --new, but this is less often used.

Import testing

With --dry-run, the transactions that will be imported are printed to the terminal, without updating your journal or state files. The output is valid journal format, like the print command, so you can re-parse it. Eg, to see any importable transactions which CSV rules have not categorised:

$ hledger import --dry bank.csv | hledger -f- -I print unknown

or (live updating):

$ ls bank.csv* | entr bash -c 'echo ====; hledger import --dry bank.csv | hledger -f- -I print unknown'

Importing balance assignments

Entries added by import will have their posting amounts made explicit (like hledger print -x). This means that any balance assignments in imported files must be evaluated; but, imported files don't get to see the main file's account balances. As a result, importing entries with balance assignments (eg from an institution that provides only balances and not posting amounts) will probably generate incorrect posting amounts. To avoid this problem, use print instead of import:

$ hledger print IMPORTFILE [--new] >> $LEDGER_FILE

(If you think import should leave amounts implicit like print does, please test it and send a pull request.)

Commodity display styles

Imported amounts will be formatted according to the canonical commodity styles (declared or inferred) in the main journal file.

incomestatement

incomestatement, is
This command displays an income statement, showing revenues and expenses during one or more periods. Amounts are shown with normal positive sign, as in conventional financial statements.

This report shows accounts declared with the Revenue or Expense type (see account types). Or if no such accounts are declared, it shows top-level accounts named revenue or income or expense (case insensitive, plurals allowed) and their subaccounts.

Example:

$ hledger incomestatement
Income Statement

Revenues:
                 $-2  income
                 $-1    gifts
                 $-1    salary
--------------------
                 $-2

Expenses:
                  $2  expenses
                  $1    food
                  $1    supplies
--------------------
                  $2

Total:
--------------------
                   0

This command is a higher-level variant of the balance command, and supports many of that command's features, such as multi-period reports. It is similar to hledger balance '(revenues|income)' expenses, but with smarter account detection, and revenues/income displayed with their sign flipped.

This command also supports the output destination and output format options The output formats supported are txt, csv, html, and (experimental) json.

notes

notes
List the unique notes that appear in transactions.

This command lists the unique notes that appear in transactions, in alphabetic order. You can add a query to select a subset of transactions. The note is the part of the transaction description after a | character (or if there is no |, the whole description).

Example:

$ hledger notes
Petrol
Snacks

payees

payees
List the unique payee/payer names that appear in transactions.

This command lists unique payee/payer names which have been declared with payee directives (--declared), used in transaction descriptions (--used), or both (the default).

The payee/payer is the part of the transaction description before a | character (or if there is no |, the whole description).

You can add query arguments to select a subset of transactions. This implies --used.

Example:

$ hledger payees
Store Name
Gas Station
Person A

prices

prices
Print market price directives from the journal. With --infer-market-prices, generate additional market prices from transaction prices. With --infer-reverse-prices, also generate market prices by inverting transaction prices. Prices (and postings providing transaction prices) can be filtered by a query. Price amounts are displayed with their full precision.

print

print
Show transaction journal entries, sorted by date.

The print command displays full journal entries (transactions) from the journal file, sorted by date (or with --date2, by secondary date).

Amounts are shown mostly normalised to commodity display style, eg the placement of commodity symbols will be consistent. All of their decimal places are shown, as in the original journal entry (with one alteration: in some cases trailing zeroes are added.)

Amounts are shown right-aligned within each transaction (but not across all transactions).

Directives and inter-transaction comments are not shown, currently. This means the print command is somewhat lossy, and if you are using it to reformat your journal you should take care to also copy over the directives and file-level comments.

Eg:

$ hledger print
2008/01/01 income
    assets:bank:checking            $1
    income:salary                  $-1

2008/06/01 gift
    assets:bank:checking            $1
    income:gifts                   $-1

2008/06/02 save
    assets:bank:saving              $1
    assets:bank:checking           $-1

2008/06/03 * eat & shop
    expenses:food                $1
    expenses:supplies            $1
    assets:cash                 $-2

2008/12/31 * pay off
    liabilities:debts               $1
    assets:bank:checking           $-1

print's output is usually a valid hledger journal, and you can process it again with a second hledger command. This can be useful for certain kinds of search, eg:

# Show running total of food expenses paid from cash.
# -f- reads from stdin. -I/--ignore-assertions is sometimes needed.
$ hledger print assets:cash | hledger -f- -I reg expenses:food

There are some situations where print's output can become unparseable:

Normally, the journal entry's explicit or implicit amount style is preserved. For example, when an amount is omitted in the journal, it will not appear in the output. Similarly, when a transaction price is implied but not written, it will not appear in the output. You can use the -x/--explicit flag to make all amounts and transaction prices explicit, which can be useful for troubleshooting or for making your journal more readable and robust against data entry errors. -x is also implied by using any of -B,-V,-X,--value.

Note, -x/--explicit will cause postings with a multi-commodity amount (these can arise when a multi-commodity transaction has an implicit amount) to be split into multiple single-commodity postings, keeping the output parseable.

With -B/--cost, amounts with transaction prices are converted to cost using that price. This can be used for troubleshooting.

With -m/--match and a STR argument, print will show at most one transaction: the one one whose description is most similar to STR, and is most recent. STR should contain at least two characters. If there is no similar-enough match, no transaction will be shown.

With --new, hledger prints only transactions it has not seen on a previous run. This uses the same deduplication system as the import command. (See import's docs for details.)

This command also supports the output destination and output format options The output formats supported are txt, csv, and (experimental) json and sql.

Here's an example of print's CSV output:

$ hledger print -Ocsv
"txnidx","date","date2","status","code","description","comment","account","amount","commodity","credit","debit","posting-status","posting-comment"
"1","2008/01/01","","","","income","","assets:bank:checking","1","$","","1","",""
"1","2008/01/01","","","","income","","income:salary","-1","$","1","","",""
"2","2008/06/01","","","","gift","","assets:bank:checking","1","$","","1","",""
"2","2008/06/01","","","","gift","","income:gifts","-1","$","1","","",""
"3","2008/06/02","","","","save","","assets:bank:saving","1","$","","1","",""
"3","2008/06/02","","","","save","","assets:bank:checking","-1","$","1","","",""
"4","2008/06/03","","*","","eat & shop","","expenses:food","1","$","","1","",""
"4","2008/06/03","","*","","eat & shop","","expenses:supplies","1","$","","1","",""
"4","2008/06/03","","*","","eat & shop","","assets:cash","-2","$","2","","",""
"5","2008/12/31","","*","","pay off","","liabilities:debts","1","$","","1","",""
"5","2008/12/31","","*","","pay off","","assets:bank:checking","-1","$","1","","",""
  • There is one CSV record per posting, with the parent transaction's fields repeated.
  • The "txnidx" (transaction index) field shows which postings belong to the same transaction. (This number might change if transactions are reordered within the file, files are parsed/included in a different order, etc.)
  • The amount is separated into "commodity" (the symbol) and "amount" (numeric quantity) fields.
  • The numeric amount is repeated in either the "credit" or "debit" column, for convenience. (Those names are not accurate in the accounting sense; it just puts negative amounts under credit and zero or greater amounts under debit.)

print-unique
Print transactions which do not reuse an already-seen description.

Example:

$ cat unique.journal
1/1 test
 (acct:one)  1
2/2 test
 (acct:two)  2
$ LEDGER_FILE=unique.journal hledger print-unique
(-f option not supported)
2015/01/01 test
    (acct:one)             1

register

register, reg
Show postings and their running total.

The register command displays matched postings, across all accounts, in date order, with their running total or running historical balance. (See also the aregister command, which shows matched transactions in a specific account.)

register normally shows line per posting, but note that multi-commodity amounts will occupy multiple lines (one line per commodity).

It is typically used with a query selecting a particular account, to see that account's activity:

$ hledger register checking
2008/01/01 income               assets:bank:checking            $1           $1
2008/06/01 gift                 assets:bank:checking            $1           $2
2008/06/02 save                 assets:bank:checking           $-1           $1
2008/12/31 pay off              assets:bank:checking           $-1            0

With --date2, it shows and sorts by secondary date instead.

For performance reasons, column widths are chosen based on the first 1000 lines; this means unusually wide values in later lines can cause visual discontinuities as column widths are adjusted. If you want to ensure perfect alignment, at the cost of more time and memory, use the --align-all flag.

The --historical/-H flag adds the balance from any undisplayed prior postings to the running total. This is useful when you want to see only recent activity, with a historically accurate running balance:

$ hledger register checking -b 2008/6 --historical
2008/06/01 gift                 assets:bank:checking            $1           $2
2008/06/02 save                 assets:bank:checking           $-1           $1
2008/12/31 pay off              assets:bank:checking           $-1            0

The --depth option limits the amount of sub-account detail displayed.

The --average/-A flag shows the running average posting amount instead of the running total (so, the final number displayed is the average for the whole report period). This flag implies --empty (see below). It is affected by --historical. It works best when showing just one account and one commodity.

The --related/-r flag shows the other postings in the transactions of the postings which would normally be shown.

The --invert flag negates all amounts. For example, it can be used on an income account where amounts are normally displayed as negative numbers. It's also useful to show postings on the checking account together with the related account:

$ hledger register --related --invert assets:checking

With a reporting interval, register shows summary postings, one per interval, aggregating the postings to each account:

$ hledger register --monthly income
2008/01                 income:salary                          $-1          $-1
2008/06                 income:gifts                           $-1          $-2

Periods with no activity, and summary postings with a zero amount, are not shown by default; use the --empty/-E flag to see them:

$ hledger register --monthly income -E
2008/01                 income:salary                          $-1          $-1
2008/02                                                          0          $-1
2008/03                                                          0          $-1
2008/04                                                          0          $-1
2008/05                                                          0          $-1
2008/06                 income:gifts                           $-1          $-2
2008/07                                                          0          $-2
2008/08                                                          0          $-2
2008/09                                                          0          $-2
2008/10                                                          0          $-2
2008/11                                                          0          $-2
2008/12                                                          0          $-2

Often, you'll want to see just one line per interval. The --depth option helps with this, causing subaccounts to be aggregated:

$ hledger register --monthly assets --depth 1h
2008/01                 assets                                  $1           $1
2008/06                 assets                                 $-1            0
2008/12                 assets                                 $-1          $-1

Note when using report intervals, if you specify start/end dates these will be adjusted outward if necessary to contain a whole number of intervals. This ensures that the first and last intervals are full length and comparable to the others in the report.

Custom register output

register uses the full terminal width by default, except on windows. You can override this by setting the COLUMNS environment variable (not a bash shell variable) or by using the --width/-w option.

The description and account columns normally share the space equally (about half of (width - 40) each). You can adjust this by adding a description width as part of --width's argument, comma-separated: --width W,D . Here's a diagram (won't display correctly in --help):

<--------------------------------- width (W) ---------------------------------->
date (10)  description (D)       account (W-41-D)     amount (12)   balance (12)
DDDDDDDDDD dddddddddddddddddddd  aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa  AAAAAAAAAAAA  AAAAAAAAAAAA

and some examples:

$ hledger reg                     # use terminal width (or 80 on windows)
$ hledger reg -w 100              # use width 100
$ COLUMNS=100 hledger reg         # set with one-time environment variable
$ export COLUMNS=100; hledger reg # set till session end (or window resize)
$ hledger reg -w 100,40           # set overall width 100, description width 40
$ hledger reg -w $COLUMNS,40      # use terminal width, & description width 40

This command also supports the output destination and output format options The output formats supported are txt, csv, and (experimental) json.

register-match

register-match
Print the one posting whose transaction description is closest to DESC, in the style of the register command. If there are multiple equally good matches, it shows the most recent. Query options (options, not arguments) can be used to restrict the search space. Helps ledger-autosync detect already-seen transactions when importing.

rewrite

rewrite
Print all transactions, rewriting the postings of matched transactions. For now the only rewrite available is adding new postings, like print --auto.

This is a start at a generic rewriter of transaction entries. It reads the default journal and prints the transactions, like print, but adds one or more specified postings to any transactions matching QUERY. The posting amounts can be fixed, or a multiplier of the existing transaction's first posting amount.

Examples:

$ hledger-rewrite.hs ^income --add-posting '(liabilities:tax)  *.33  ; income tax' --add-posting '(reserve:gifts)  $100'
$ hledger-rewrite.hs expenses:gifts --add-posting '(reserve:gifts)  *-1"'
$ hledger-rewrite.hs -f rewrites.hledger

rewrites.hledger may consist of entries like:

= ^income amt:<0 date:2017
  (liabilities:tax)  *0.33  ; tax on income
  (reserve:grocery)  *0.25  ; reserve 25% for grocery
  (reserve:)  *0.25  ; reserve 25% for grocery

Note the single quotes to protect the dollar sign from bash, and the two spaces between account and amount.

More:

$ hledger rewrite -- [QUERY]        --add-posting "ACCT  AMTEXPR" ...
$ hledger rewrite -- ^income        --add-posting '(liabilities:tax)  *.33'
$ hledger rewrite -- expenses:gifts --add-posting '(budget:gifts)  *-1"'
$ hledger rewrite -- ^income        --add-posting '(budget:foreign currency)  *0.25 JPY; diversify'

Argument for --add-posting option is a usual posting of transaction with an exception for amount specification. More precisely, you can use '*' (star symbol) before the amount to indicate that that this is a factor for an amount of original matched posting. If the amount includes a commodity name, the new posting amount will be in the new commodity; otherwise, it will be in the matched posting amount's commodity.

Re-write rules in a file

During the run this tool will execute so called "Automated Transactions" found in any journal it process. I.e instead of specifying this operations in command line you can put them in a journal file.

$ rewrite-rules.journal

Make contents look like this:

= ^income
    (liabilities:tax)  *.33

= expenses:gifts
    budget:gifts  *-1
    assets:budget  *1

Note that '=' (equality symbol) that is used instead of date in transactions you usually write. It indicates the query by which you want to match the posting to add new ones.

$ hledger rewrite -- -f input.journal -f rewrite-rules.journal > rewritten-tidy-output.journal

This is something similar to the commands pipeline:

$ hledger rewrite -- -f input.journal '^income' --add-posting '(liabilities:tax)  *.33' \
  | hledger rewrite -- -f - expenses:gifts      --add-posting 'budget:gifts  *-1'       \
                                                --add-posting 'assets:budget  *1'       \
  > rewritten-tidy-output.journal

It is important to understand that relative order of such entries in journal is important. You can re-use result of previously added postings.

Diff output format

To use this tool for batch modification of your journal files you may find useful output in form of unified diff.

$ hledger rewrite -- --diff -f examples/sample.journal '^income' --add-posting '(liabilities:tax)  *.33'

Output might look like:

--- /tmp/examples/sample.journal
+++ /tmp/examples/sample.journal
@@ -18,3 +18,4 @@
 2008/01/01 income
-    assets:bank:checking  $1
+    assets:bank:checking            $1
     income:salary
+    (liabilities:tax)                0
@@ -22,3 +23,4 @@
 2008/06/01 gift
-    assets:bank:checking  $1
+    assets:bank:checking            $1
     income:gifts
+    (liabilities:tax)                0

If you'll pass this through patch tool you'll get transactions containing the posting that matches your query be updated. Note that multiple files might be update according to list of input files specified via --file options and include directives inside of these files.

Be careful. Whole transaction being re-formatted in a style of output from hledger print.

See also:

https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger/issues/99

rewrite vs. print --auto

This command predates print --auto, and currently does much the same thing, but with these differences:

  • with multiple files, rewrite lets rules in any file affect all other files. print --auto uses standard directive scoping; rules affect only child files.

  • rewrite's query limits which transactions can be rewritten; all are printed. print --auto's query limits which transactions are printed.

  • rewrite applies rules specified on command line or in the journal. print --auto applies rules specified in the journal.

roi

roi
Shows the time-weighted (TWR) and money-weighted (IRR) rate of return on your investments.

At a minimum, you need to supply a query (which could be just an account name) to select your investment(s) with --inv, and another query to identify your profit and loss transactions with --pnl.

If you do not record changes in the value of your investment manually, or do not require computation of time-weighted return (TWR), --pnl could be an empty query (--pnl "" or --pnl STR where STR does not match any of your accounts).

This command will compute and display the internalized rate of return (IRR) and time-weighted rate of return (TWR) for your investments for the time period requested. Both rates of return are annualized before display, regardless of the length of reporting interval.

Price directives will be taken into account if you supply appropriate --cost or --value flags (see VALUATION).

Note, in some cases this report can fail, for these reasons:

  • Error (NotBracketed): No solution for Internal Rate of Return (IRR). Possible causes: IRR is huge (>1000000%), balance of investment becomes negative at some point in time.
  • Error (SearchFailed): Failed to find solution for Internal Rate of Return (IRR). Either search does not converge to a solution, or converges too slowly.

Examples:

Spaces and special characters in --inv and --pnl

Note that --inv and --pnl's argument is a query, and queries could have several space-separated terms (see QUERIES).

To indicate that all search terms form single command-line argument, you will need to put them in quotes (see Special characters):

$ hledger roi --inv 'term1 term2 term3 ...'

If any query terms contain spaces themselves, you will need an extra level of nested quoting, eg:

$ hledger roi --inv="'Assets:Test 1'" --pnl="'Equity:Unrealized Profit and Loss'"

Semantics of --inv and --pnl

Query supplied to --inv has to match all transactions that are related to your investment. Transactions not matching --inv will be ignored.

In these transactions, ROI will conside postings that match --inv to be "investment postings" and other postings (not matching --inv) will be sorted into two categories: "cash flow" and "profit and loss", as ROI needs to know which part of the investment value is your contributions and which is due to the return on investment.

  • "Cash flow" is depositing or withdrawing money, buying or selling assets, or otherwise converting between your investment commodity and any other commodity. Example:

    2019-01-01 Investing in Snake Oil
      assets:cash          -$100
      investment:snake oil
    
    2020-01-01 Selling my Snake Oil
      assets:cash           $10
      investment:snake oil  = 0
    
  • "Profit and loss" is change in the value of your investment:

    2019-06-01 Snake Oil falls in value
      investment:snake oil  = $57
      equity:unrealized profit or loss
    

All non-investment postings are assumed to be "cash flow", unless they match --pnl query. Changes in value of your investment due to "profit and loss" postings will be considered as part of your investment return.

Example: if you use --inv snake --pnl equity:unrealized, then postings in the example below would be classifed as:

2019-01-01 Snake Oil #1
  assets:cash          -$100   ; cash flow posting
  investment:snake oil         ; investment posting

2019-03-01 Snake Oil #2
  equity:unrealized pnl  -$100 ; profit and loss posting
  snake oil                    ; investment posting

2019-07-01 Snake Oil #3
  equity:unrealized pnl        ; profit and loss posting
  cash          -$100          ; cash flow posting
  snake oil     $50            ; investment posting

IRR and TWR explained

"ROI" stands for "return on investment". Traditionally this was computed as a difference between current value of investment and its initial value, expressed in percentage of the initial value.

However, this approach is only practical in simple cases, where investments receives no in-flows or out-flows of money, and where rate of growth is fixed over time. For more complex scenarios you need different ways to compute rate of return, and this command implements two of them: IRR and TWR.

Internal rate of return, or "IRR" (also called "money-weighted rate of return") takes into account effects of in-flows and out-flows. Naively, if you are withdrawing from your investment, your future gains would be smaller (in absolute numbers), and will be a smaller percentage of your initial investment, and if you are adding to your investment, you will receive bigger absolute gains (but probably at the same rate of return). IRR is a way to compute rate of return for each period between in-flow or out-flow of money, and then combine them in a way that gives you a compound annual rate of return that investment is expected to generate.

As mentioned before, in-flows and out-flows would be any cash that you personally put in or withdraw, and for the "roi" command, these are the postings that match the query in the--inv argument and NOT match the query in the--pnl argument.

If you manually record changes in the value of your investment as transactions that balance them against "profit and loss" (or "unrealized gains") account or use price directives, then in order for IRR to compute the precise effect of your in-flows and out-flows on the rate of return, you will need to record the value of your investement on or close to the days when in- or out-flows occur.

In technical terms, IRR uses the same approach as computation of net present value, and tries to find a discount rate that makes net present value of all the cash flows of your investment to add up to zero. This could be hard to wrap your head around, especially if you haven't done discounted cash flow analysis before. Implementation of IRR in hledger should produce results that match the XIRR formula in Excel.

Second way to compute rate of return that roi command implements is called "time-weighted rate of return" or "TWR". Like IRR, it will also break the history of your investment into periods between in-flows, out-flows and value changes, to compute rate of return per each period and then a compound rate of return. However, internal workings of TWR are quite different.

TWR represents your investment as an imaginary "unit fund" where in-flows/ out-flows lead to buying or selling "units" of your investment and changes in its value change the value of "investment unit". Change in "unit price" over the reporting period gives you rate of return of your investment.

References:

stats

stats
Show journal and performance statistics.

The stats command displays summary information for the whole journal, or a matched part of it. With a reporting interval, it shows a report for each report period.

At the end, it shows (in the terminal) the overall run time and number of transactions processed per second. Note these are approximate and will vary based on machine, current load, data size, hledger version, haskell lib versions, GHC version.. but they may be of interest. The stats command's run time is similar to that of a single-column balance report.

Example:

$ hledger stats -f examples/1000x1000x10.journal
Main file                : /Users/simon/src/hledger/examples/1000x1000x10.journal
Included files           : 
Transactions span        : 2000-01-01 to 2002-09-27 (1000 days)
Last transaction         : 2002-09-26 (6995 days ago)
Transactions             : 1000 (1.0 per day)
Transactions last 30 days: 0 (0.0 per day)
Transactions last 7 days : 0 (0.0 per day)
Payees/descriptions      : 1000
Accounts                 : 1000 (depth 10)
Commodities              : 26 (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z)
Market prices            : 1000 (A)

Run time                 : 0.12 s
Throughput               : 8342 txns/s

This command also supports output destination and output format selection.

tags

tags
List the tags used in the journal, or their values.

This command lists the tag names used in the journal, whether on transactions, postings, or account declarations.

With a TAGREGEX argument, only tag names matching this regular expression (case insensitive, infix matched) are shown.

With QUERY arguments, only transactions and accounts matching this query are considered. If the query involves transaction fields (date:, desc:, amt:, ...), the search is restricted to the matched transactions and their accounts.

With the --values flag, the tags' unique non-empty values are listed instead. With -E/--empty, blank/empty values are also shown.

With --parsed, tags or values are shown in the order they were parsed, with duplicates included. (Except, tags from account declarations are always shown first.)

Tip: remember, accounts also acquire tags from their parents, postings also acquire tags from their account and transaction, transactions also acquire tags from their postings.

test

test
Run built-in unit tests.

This command runs the unit tests built in to hledger and hledger-lib, printing the results on stdout. If any test fails, the exit code will be non-zero.

This is mainly used by hledger developers, but you can also use it to sanity-check the installed hledger executable on your platform. All tests are expected to pass - if you ever see a failure, please report as a bug!

This command also accepts tasty test runner options, written after a -- (double hyphen). Eg to run only the tests in Hledger.Data.Amount, with ANSI colour codes disabled:

$ hledger test -- -pData.Amount --color=never

For help on these, see https://github.com/feuerbach/tasty#options (-- --help currently doesn't show them).

Add-on commands

Add-on commands are programs or scripts in your PATH

  • whose name starts with hledger-
  • whose name ends with a recognised file extension: .bat,.com,.exe, .hs,.lhs,.pl,.py,.rb,.rkt,.sh or none
  • and (on unix, mac) which are executable by the current user.

Add-ons are a relatively easy way to add local features or experiment with new ideas. They can be written in any language, but haskell scripts have a big advantage: they can use the same hledger library functions that built-in commands use for command-line options, parsing and reporting. Some experimental/example add-on scripts can be found in the hledger repo's bin/ directory.

Note in a hledger command line, add-on command flags must have a double dash (--) preceding them. Eg you must write:

$ hledger web -- --serve

and not:

$ hledger web --serve

(because the --serve flag belongs to hledger-web, not hledger).

The -h/--help and --version flags don't require --.

If you have any trouble with this, remember you can always run the add-on program directly, eg:

$ hledger-web --serve

JOURNAL FORMAT

hledger's default file format, representing a General Journal.

hledger's usual data source is a plain text file containing journal entries in hledger journal format. This file represents a standard accounting general journal. I use file names ending in .journal, but that's not required. The journal file contains a number of transaction entries, each describing a transfer of money (or any commodity) between two or more named accounts, in a simple format readable by both hledger and humans.

hledger's journal format is a compatible subset, mostly, of ledger's journal format, so hledger can work with compatible ledger journal files as well. It's safe, and encouraged, to run both hledger and ledger on the same journal file, eg to validate the results you're getting.

You can use hledger without learning any more about this file; just use the add or web or import commands to create and update it.

Many users, though, edit the journal file with a text editor, and track changes with a version control system such as git. Editor addons such as ledger-mode or hledger-mode for Emacs, vim-ledger for Vim, and hledger-vscode for Visual Studio Code, make this easier, adding colour, formatting, tab completion, and useful commands. See Editor configuration at hledger.org for the full list.

Here's a description of each part of the file format (and hledger's data model). These are mostly in the order you'll use them, but in some cases related concepts have been grouped together for easy reference, or linked before they are introduced, so feel free to skip over anything that looks unnecessary right now.

Transactions

Transactions are the main unit of information in a journal file. They represent events, typically a movement of some quantity of commodities between two or more named accounts.

Each transaction is recorded as a journal entry, beginning with a simple date in column 0. This can be followed by any of the following optional fields, separated by spaces:

  • a status character (empty, !, or *)
  • a code (any short number or text, enclosed in parentheses)
  • a description (any remaining text until end of line or a semicolon)
  • a comment (any remaining text following a semicolon until end of line, and any following indented lines beginning with a semicolon)
  • 0 or more indented posting lines, describing what was transferred and the accounts involved (indented comment lines are also allowed, but not blank lines or non-indented lines).

Here's a simple journal file containing one transaction:

2008/01/01 income
  assets:bank:checking   $1
  income:salary         $-1

Dates

Simple dates

Dates in the journal file use simple dates format: YYYY-MM-DD or YYYY/MM/DD or YYYY.MM.DD, with leading zeros optional. The year may be omitted, in which case it will be inferred from the context: the current transaction, the default year set with a default year directive, or the current date when the command is run. Some examples: 2010-01-31, 2010/01/31, 2010.1.31, 1/31.

(The UI also accepts simple dates, as well as the more flexible smart dates documented in the hledger manual.)

Secondary dates

Real-life transactions sometimes involve more than one date - eg the date you write a cheque, and the date it clears in your bank. When you want to model this, for more accurate daily balances, you can specify individual posting dates.

Or, you can use the older secondary date feature (Ledger calls it auxiliary date or effective date). Note: we support this for compatibility, but I usually recommend avoiding this feature; posting dates are almost always clearer and simpler.

A secondary date is written after the primary date, following an equals sign. If the year is omitted, the primary date's year is assumed. When running reports, the primary (left) date is used by default, but with the --date2 flag (or --aux-date or --effective), the secondary (right) date will be used instead.

The meaning of secondary dates is up to you, but it's best to follow a consistent rule. Eg "primary = the bank's clearing date, secondary = date the transaction was initiated, if different", as shown here:

2010/2/23=2/19 movie ticket
  expenses:cinema                   $10
  assets:checking
$ hledger register checking
2010-02-23 movie ticket         assets:checking                $-10         $-10
$ hledger register checking --date2
2010-02-19 movie ticket         assets:checking                $-10         $-10

Posting dates

You can give individual postings a different date from their parent transaction, by adding a posting comment containing a tag (see below) like date:DATE. This is probably the best way to control posting dates precisely. Eg in this example the expense should appear in May reports, and the deduction from checking should be reported on 6/1 for easy bank reconciliation:

2015/5/30
    expenses:food     $10  ; food purchased on saturday 5/30
    assets:checking        ; bank cleared it on monday, date:6/1
$ hledger -f t.j register food
2015-05-30                      expenses:food                  $10           $10
$ hledger -f t.j register checking
2015-06-01                      assets:checking               $-10          $-10

DATE should be a simple date; if the year is not specified it will use the year of the transaction's date. You can set the secondary date similarly, with date2:DATE2. The date: or date2: tags must have a valid simple date value if they are present, eg a date: tag with no value is not allowed.

Ledger's earlier, more compact bracketed date syntax is also supported: [DATE], [DATE=DATE2] or [=DATE2]. hledger will attempt to parse any square-bracketed sequence of the 0123456789/-.= characters in this way. With this syntax, DATE infers its year from the transaction and DATE2 infers its year from DATE.

Status

Transactions, or individual postings within a transaction, can have a status mark, which is a single character before the transaction description or posting account name, separated from it by a space, indicating one of three statuses:

mark  status
 unmarked
!pending
*cleared

When reporting, you can filter by status with the -U/--unmarked, -P/--pending, and -C/--cleared flags; or the status:, status:!, and status:* queries; or the U, P, C keys in hledger-ui.

Note, in Ledger and in older versions of hledger, the "unmarked" state is called "uncleared". As of hledger 1.3 we have renamed it to unmarked for clarity.

To replicate Ledger and old hledger's behaviour of also matching pending, combine -U and -P.

Status marks are optional, but can be helpful eg for reconciling with real-world accounts. Some editor modes provide highlighting and shortcuts for working with status. Eg in Emacs ledger-mode, you can toggle transaction status with C-c C-e, or posting status with C-c C-c.

What "uncleared", "pending", and "cleared" actually mean is up to you. Here's one suggestion:

statusmeaning
unclearedrecorded but not yet reconciled; needs review
pendingtentatively reconciled (if needed, eg during a big reconciliation)
clearedcomplete, reconciled as far as possible, and considered correct

With this scheme, you would use -PC to see the current balance at your bank, -U to see things which will probably hit your bank soon (like uncashed checks), and no flags to see the most up-to-date state of your finances.

Code

After the status mark, but before the description, you can optionally write a transaction "code", enclosed in parentheses. This is a good place to record a check number, or some other important transaction id or reference number.

Description

A transaction's description is the rest of the line following the date and status mark (or until a comment begins). Sometimes called the "narration" in traditional bookkeeping, it can be used for whatever you wish, or left blank. Transaction descriptions can be queried, unlike comments.

Payee and note

You can optionally include a | (pipe) character in descriptions to subdivide the description into separate fields for payee/payer name on the left (up to the first |) and an additional note field on the right (after the first |). This may be worthwhile if you need to do more precise querying and pivoting by payee or by note.

Comments

Lines in the journal beginning with a semicolon (;) or hash (#) or star (*) are comments, and will be ignored. (Star comments cause org-mode nodes to be ignored, allowing emacs users to fold and navigate their journals with org-mode or orgstruct-mode.)

You can attach comments to a transaction by writing them after the description and/or indented on the following lines (before the postings). Similarly, you can attach comments to an individual posting by writing them after the amount and/or indented on the following lines. Transaction and posting comments must begin with a semicolon (;).

Some examples:

# a file comment
; another file comment
* also a file comment, useful in org/orgstruct mode

comment
A multiline file comment, which continues
until a line containing just "end comment"
(or end of file).
end comment

2012/5/14 something  ; a transaction comment
    ; the transaction comment, continued
    posting1  1  ; a comment for posting 1
    posting2
    ; a comment for posting 2
    ; another comment line for posting 2
; a file comment (because not indented)

You can also comment larger regions of a file using comment and end comment directives.

Tags

Tags are a way to add extra labels or labelled data to transactions, postings, or accounts, which you can then search or pivot on.

They are written as a (optionally hyphenated) word immediately followed by a full colon within a transaction or posting or account directive's comment:

account assets:checking     ; accounttag:

2017/1/16 bought groceries  ; transaction-tag:
    ; another-transaction-tag:
    assets:checking   $-1
    expenses:food      $1     ; posting-tag:

Tags are inherited, as follows:

  • Tags on a transaction affect the transaction and all of its postings
  • Tags on an account affect all postings to that account.

So in the example above, - the assets:checking account has one tag (accounttag) - the transaction has two tags (transaction-tag, another-transaction-tag) - the assets:checking posting has three tags (transaction-tag, another-transaction-tag, accounttag) - the expenses:food posting has three tags (transaction-tag, another-transaction-tag, posting-tag).

Tags can have a value, which is the text after the colon, until the next comma or end of line, with surrounding whitespace stripped. So here a-posting-tag's value is "the tag value", tag2's value is "foo", and tag3's value is "" (the empty string):

    expenses:food    $10 
      ; some text, a-posting-tag:the tag value, tag2: foo , tag3: , other text

A hledger tag value may not contain a comma.

Postings

A posting is an addition of some amount to, or removal of some amount from, an account. Each posting line begins with at least one space or tab (2 or 4 spaces is common), followed by:

  • (optional) a status character (empty, !, or *), followed by a space
  • (required) an account name (any text, optionally containing single spaces, until end of line or a double space)
  • (optional) two or more spaces or tabs followed by an amount.

Positive amounts are being added to the account, negative amounts are being removed.

The amounts within a transaction must always sum up to zero. As a convenience, one amount may be left blank; it will be inferred so as to balance the transaction.

Be sure to note the unusual two-space delimiter between account name and amount. This makes it easy to write account names containing spaces. But if you accidentally leave only one space (or tab) before the amount, the amount will be considered part of the account name.

Virtual postings

A posting with a parenthesised account name is called a virtual posting or unbalanced posting, which means it is exempt from the usual rule that a transaction's postings must balance add up to zero.

This is not part of double entry accounting, so you might choose to avoid this feature. Or you can use it sparingly for certain special cases where it can be convenient. Eg, you could set opening balances without using a balancing equity account:

1/1 opening balances
  (assets:checking)   $1000
  (assets:savings)    $2000

A posting with a bracketed account name is called a balanced virtual posting. The balanced virtual postings in a transaction must add up to zero (separately from other postings). Eg:

1/1 buy food with cash, update budget envelope subaccounts, & something else
  assets:cash                    $-10 ; <- these balance
  expenses:food                    $7 ; <-
  expenses:food                    $3 ; <-
  [assets:checking:budget:food]  $-10    ; <- and these balance
  [assets:checking:available]     $10    ; <-
  (something:else)                 $5       ; <- not required to balance

Ordinary non-parenthesised, non-bracketed postings are called real postings. You can exclude virtual postings from reports with the -R/--real flag or real:1 query.

Account names

Account names typically have several parts separated by a full colon, from which hledger derives a hierarchical chart of accounts. They can be anything you like, but in finance there are traditionally five top-level accounts: assets, liabilities, revenue, expenses, and equity.

Account names may contain single spaces, eg: assets:accounts receivable. Because of this, they must always be followed by two or more spaces (or newline).

Account names can be aliased.

Amounts

After the account name, there is usually an amount. (Important: between account name and amount, there must be two or more spaces.)

hledger's amount format is flexible, supporting several international formats. Here are some examples. Amounts have a number (the "quantity"):

1

..and usually a currency symbol or commodity name (more on this below), to the left or right of the quantity, with or without a separating space:

$1
4000 AAPL
3 "green apples"

Amounts can be preceded by a minus sign (or a plus sign, though plus is the default), The sign can be written before or after a left-side commodity symbol:

-$1
$-1

One or more spaces between the sign and the number are acceptable when parsing (but they won't be displayed in output):

+ $1
$-      1

Scientific E notation is allowed:

1E-6
EUR 1E3

Decimal marks, digit group marks

A decimal mark can be written as a period or a comma:

1.23
1,23456780000009

In the integer part of the quantity (left of the decimal mark), groups of digits can optionally be separated by a digit group mark - a space, comma, or period (different from the decimal mark):

     $1,000,000.00
  EUR 2.000.000,00
INR 9,99,99,999.00
      1 000 000.9455

Note, a number containing a single digit group mark and no decimal mark is ambiguous. Are these digit group marks or decimal marks ?

1,000
1.000

If you don't tell it otherwise, hledger will assume both of the above are decimal marks, parsing both numbers as 1.

To prevent confusing parsing mistakes and undetected typos, especially if your data contains digit group marks (eg, thousands separators), we recommend explicitly declaring the decimal mark character in each journal file, using a directive at the top of the file. The decimal-mark directive is best, otherwise commodity directives will also work. These are described detail below.

Commodity

Amounts in hledger have both a "quantity", which is a signed decimal number, and a "commodity", which is a currency symbol, stock ticker, or any word or phrase describing something you are tracking.

If the commodity name contains non-letters (spaces, numbers, or punctuation), you must always write it inside double quotes ("green apples", "ABC123").

If you write just a bare number, that too will have a commodity, with name ""; we call that the "no-symbol commodity".

Actually, hledger combines these single-commodity amounts into more powerful multi-commodity amounts, which are what it works with most of the time. A multi-commodity amount could be, eg: 1 USD, 2 EUR, 3.456 TSLA. In practice, you will only see multi-commodity amounts in hledger's output; you can't write them directly in the journal file.

(If you are writing scripts or working with hledger's internals, these are the Amount and MixedAmount types.)

Directives influencing number parsing and display

You can add decimal-mark and commodity directives to the journal, to declare and control these things more explicitly and precisely. These are described below, in JOURNAL FORMAT -> Declaring commodities. Here's a quick example:

# the decimal mark character used by all amounts in this file (all commodities)
decimal-mark .

# display styles for the $, EUR, INR and no-symbol commodities:
commodity $1,000.00
commodity EUR 1.000,00
commodity INR 9,99,99,999.00
commodity 1 000 000.9455

Commodity display style

For the amounts in each commodity, hledger chooses a consistent display style to use in most reports. (Exceptions: price amounts, and all amounts displayed by the print command, are displayed with all of their decimal digits visible.)

A commodity's display style is inferred as follows.

First, if a default commodity is declared with D, this commodity and its style is applied to any no-symbol amounts in the journal.

Then each commodity's style is inferred from one of the following, in order of preference:

  • The commodity directive for that commodity (including the no-symbol commodity), if any.
  • The amounts in that commodity seen in the journal's transactions. (Posting amounts only; prices and periodic or auto rules are ignored, currently.)
  • The built-in fallback style, which looks like this: $1000.00. (Symbol on the left, period decimal mark, two decimal places.)

A style is inferred from journal amounts as follows:

  • Use the general style (decimal mark, symbol placement) of the first amount
  • Use the first-seen digit group style (digit group mark, digit group sizes), if any
  • Use the maximum number of decimal places of all.

Transaction price amounts don't affect the commodity display style directly, but occasionally they can do so indirectly (eg when a posting's amount is inferred using a transaction price). If you find this causing problems, use a commodity directive to fix the display style.

To summarise: each commodity's amounts will be normalised to (a) the style declared by a commodity directive, or (b) the style of the first posting amount in the journal, with the first-seen digit group style and the maximum-seen number of decimal places. So if your reports are showing amounts in a way you don't like, eg with too many decimal places, use a commodity directive. Some examples:

# declare euro, dollar, bitcoin and no-symbol commodities and set their 
# input number formats and output display styles:
commodity EUR 1.000,
commodity $1000.00
commodity 1000.00000000 BTC
commodity 1 000.

The inferred commodity style can be overridden by supplying a command line option.

Rounding

Amounts are stored internally as decimal numbers with up to 255 decimal places, and displayed with the number of decimal places specified by the commodity display style. Note, hledger uses banker's rounding: it rounds to the nearest even number, eg 0.5 displayed with zero decimal places is "0"). (Guaranteed since hledger 1.17.1; in older versions this could vary if hledger was built with Decimal < 0.5.1.)

Transaction prices

(AKA Costs)

After a posting amount, you can note its cost or selling price in another commodity, by writing either @ UNITPRICE or @@ TOTALPRICE after it. This indicates a conversion transaction, where one commodity is exchanged for another.

hledger docs have historically called this a "transaction price" because it is specific to one transaction, unlike market prices which are not. "Cost" is shorter and might be preferable; just remember this feature can represent either a buyer's cost, or a seller's price.

Costs are usually written explicitly with @ or @@, but can also be inferred automatically for simple multi-commodity transactions.
As an example, here are several ways to record purchases of a foreign currency in hledger, using the cost notation either explicitly or implicitly:

  1. Write the price per unit, as @ UNITPRICE after the amount:

    2009/1/1
      assets:euros     €100 @ $1.35  ; one hundred euros purchased at $1.35 each
      assets:dollars                 ; balancing amount is -$135.00
    
  2. Write the total price, as @@ TOTALPRICE after the amount:

    2009/1/1
      assets:euros     €100 @@ $135  ; one hundred euros purchased at $135 for the lot
      assets:dollars
    
  3. Specify amounts for all postings, using exactly two commodities, and let hledger infer the price that balances the transaction:

    2009/1/1
      assets:euros     €100          ; one hundred euros purchased
      assets:dollars  $-135          ; for $135
    
  4. Like 1, but the @ is parenthesised, i.e. (@); this is for compatibility with Ledger journals (Virtual posting costs), and is equivalent to 1 in hledger.

  5. Like 2, but as in 4 the @@ is parenthesised, i.e. (@@); in hledger, this is equivalent to 2.

Amounts can be converted to cost at report time using the -B/--cost flag; this is discussed more in the COST section.

Lot prices, lot dates

Ledger allows another kind of price, lot price (four variants: {UNITPRICE}, {{TOTALPRICE}}, {=FIXEDUNITPRICE}, {{=FIXEDTOTALPRICE}}), and/or a lot date ([DATE]) to be specified. These are normally used to select a lot when selling investments. hledger will parse these, for compatibility with Ledger journals, but currently ignores them. A transaction price, lot price and/or lot date may appear in any order, after the posting amount and before the balance assertion if any.

Balance assertions

hledger supports Ledger-style balance assertions in journal files. These look like, for example, = EXPECTEDBALANCE following a posting's amount. Eg here we assert the expected dollar balance in accounts a and b after each posting:

2013/1/1
  a   $1  =$1
  b       =$-1

2013/1/2
  a   $1  =$2
  b  $-1  =$-2

After reading a journal file, hledger will check all balance assertions and report an error if any of them fail. Balance assertions can protect you from, eg, inadvertently disrupting reconciled balances while cleaning up old entries. You can disable them temporarily with the -I/--ignore-assertions flag, which can be useful for troubleshooting or for reading Ledger files. (Note: this flag currently does not disable balance assignments, below).

Assertions and ordering

hledger sorts an account's postings and assertions first by date and then (for postings on the same day) by parse order. Note this is different from Ledger, which sorts assertions only by parse order. (Also, Ledger assertions do not see the accumulated effect of repeated postings to the same account within a transaction.)

So, hledger balance assertions keep working if you reorder differently-dated transactions within the journal. But if you reorder same-dated transactions or postings, assertions might break and require updating. This order dependence does bring an advantage: precise control over the order of postings and assertions within a day, so you can assert intra-day balances.

Assertions and multiple included files

Multiple files included with the include directive are processed as if concatenated into one file, preserving their order and the posting order within each file. It means that balance assertions in later files will see balance from earlier files.

And if you have multiple postings to an account on the same day, split across multiple files, and you want to assert the account's balance on that day, you'll need to put the assertion in the right file - the last one in the sequence, probably.

Assertions and multiple -f files

Unlike include, when multiple files are specified on the command line with multiple -f/--file options, balance assertions will not see balance from earlier files. This can be useful when you do not want problems in earlier files to disrupt valid assertions in later files.

If you do want assertions to see balance from earlier files, use include, or concatenate the files temporarily.

Assertions and commodities

The asserted balance must be a simple single-commodity amount, and in fact the assertion checks only this commodity's balance within the (possibly multi-commodity) account balance. This is how assertions work in Ledger also. We could call this a "partial" balance assertion.

To assert the balance of more than one commodity in an account, you can write multiple postings, each asserting one commodity's balance.

You can make a stronger "total" balance assertion by writing a double equals sign (== EXPECTEDBALANCE). This asserts that there are no other commodities in the account besides the asserted one (or at least, that their balance is 0).

2013/1/1
  a   $1
  a    1€
  b  $-1
  c   -1€

2013/1/2  ; These assertions succeed
  a    0  =  $1
  a    0  =   1€
  b    0 == $-1
  c    0 ==  -1€

2013/1/3  ; This assertion fails as 'a' also contains 1€
  a    0 ==  $1

It's not yet possible to make a complete assertion about a balance that has multiple commodities. One workaround is to isolate each commodity into its own subaccount:

2013/1/1
  a:usd   $1
  a:euro   1€
  b

2013/1/2
  a        0 ==  0
  a:usd    0 == $1
  a:euro   0 ==  1€

Assertions and prices

Balance assertions ignore transaction prices, and should normally be written without one:

2019/1/1
  (a)     $1 @ €1 = $1

We do allow prices to be written there, however, and print shows them, even though they don't affect whether the assertion passes or fails. This is for backward compatibility (hledger's close command used to generate balance assertions with prices), and because balance assignments do use them (see below).

Assertions and subaccounts

The balance assertions above (= and ==) do not count the balance from subaccounts; they check the account's exclusive balance only. You can assert the balance including subaccounts by writing =* or ==*, eg:

2019/1/1
  equity:opening balances
  checking:a       5
  checking:b       5
  checking         1  ==* 11

Assertions and virtual postings

Balance assertions always consider both real and virtual postings; they are not affected by the --real/-R flag or real: query.

Assertions and auto postings

Balance assertions are affected by the --auto flag, which generates auto postings, which can alter account balances. Because auto postings are optional in hledger, accounts affected by them effectively have two balances. But balance assertions can only test one or the other of these. So to avoid making fragile assertions, either:

  • assert the balance calculated with --auto, and always use --auto with that file
  • or assert the balance calculated without --auto, and never use --auto with that file
  • or avoid balance assertions on accounts affected by auto postings (or avoid auto postings entirely).

Assertions and precision

Balance assertions compare the exactly calculated amounts, which are not always what is shown by reports. Eg a commodity directive may limit the display precision, but this will not affect balance assertions. Balance assertion failure messages show exact amounts.

Balance assignments

Ledger-style balance assignments are also supported. These are like balance assertions, but with no posting amount on the left side of the equals sign; instead it is calculated automatically so as to satisfy the assertion. This can be a convenience during data entry, eg when setting opening balances:

; starting a new journal, set asset account balances
2016/1/1 opening balances
  assets:checking            = $409.32
  assets:savings             = $735.24
  assets:cash                 = $42
  equity:opening balances

or when adjusting a balance to reality:

; no cash left; update balance, record any untracked spending as a generic expense
2016/1/15
  assets:cash    = $0
  expenses:misc

The calculated amount depends on the account's balance in the commodity at that point (which depends on the previously-dated postings of the commodity to that account since the last balance assertion or assignment). Note that using balance assignments makes your journal a little less explicit; to know the exact amount posted, you have to run hledger or do the calculations yourself, instead of just reading it.

Balance assignments and prices

A transaction price in a balance assignment will cause the calculated amount to have that price attached:

2019/1/1
  (a)             = $1 @ €2
$ hledger print --explicit
2019-01-01
    (a)         $1 @ €2 = $1 @ €2

Directives

A directive is a line in the journal beginning with a special keyword, that influences how the journal is processed, how things are displayed, and so on. hledger's directives are based on (a subset of) Ledger's, but there are many differences, and also some differences between hledger versions. Here are some more definitions:

  • subdirective - Some directives support subdirectives, written indented below the parent directive.

  • decimal mark - The character to interpret as a decimal mark (period or comma) when parsing amounts of a commodity.

  • display style - How to display amounts of a commodity in output: symbol side and spacing, digit groups, decimal mark, and number of decimal places.

Directives are not required when starting out with hledger, but you will probably add some as your needs grow. Here is an overview of directives by purpose:

purposedirectivescommand line options with similar effect
READING/GENERATING DATA:
Declare a commodity's or file's decimal mark to help parse amounts accuratelycommodity, D, decimal-mark
Apply changes to the data while parsingalias, apply account, comment, D, Y--alias
Inline extra data filesincludemultiple -f/--file's
Generate extra transactions or budget goals~
Generate extra postings=
CHECKING FOR ERRORS:
Define valid entities to allow stricter error checkingaccount, commodity, payee
DISPLAYING REPORTS:
Declare accounts' display order and accounting typeaccount
Declare commodity display stylescommodity, D-c/--commodity-style

And here are all the directives and their precise effects:

directiveeffectsends at file end?
accountDeclares an account, for checking all entries in all files;
and its display order and type, for reports.
Subdirectives: any text, ignored.
aliasRewrites account names, in following entries until end of current file or end aliases.Y
apply accountPrepends a common parent account to all account names, in following entries until end of current file or end apply account.Y
commentIgnores part of the journal file, until end of current file or end comment.Y
commodityDeclares a commodity, for checking all entries in all files;
the decimal mark for parsing amounts of this commodity, for following entries until end of current file;
and its display style, for reports. Takes precedence over D.
Subdirectives: format (alternate syntax).
N,
Y

DSets a default commodity to use for no-symbol amounts,
and its decimal mark for parsing amounts of this commodity in following entries until end of current file;
and its display style, for reports.
Y
decimal-markDeclares the decimal mark, for parsing amounts of all commodities in following entries until next decimal-mark or end of current file. Included files can override. Takes precedence over commodity and D.Y
includeIncludes entries and directives from another file, as if they were written inline.
payeeDeclares a payee name, for checking all entries in all files.
PDeclares a market price for a commodity on some date, for valuation reports.
YDeclares a year for yearless dates, for following entries until end of current file.Y
~ (tilde)Declares a periodic transaction rule that generates future transactions with --forecast and budget goals with balance --budget.
= (equals)Declares an auto posting rule that generates extra postings on matched transactions with --auto, in current, parent, and child files (but not sibling files, see #1212).partly

Directives and multiple files

If you use multiple -f/--file options, or the include directive, hledger will process multiple input files. But directives which affect input typically have effect only until the end of the file in which they occur (and on any included files in that region).

This may seem inconvenient, but it's intentional; it makes reports stable and deterministic, independent of the order of input. Otherwise you could see different numbers if you happened to write -f options in a different order, or if you moved includes around while cleaning up your files.

It can be surprising though; for example, it means that alias directives do not affect parent or sibling files (see below).

Comment blocks

A line containing just comment starts a commented region of the file, and a line containing just end comment (or the end of the current file) ends it. See also comments.

Including other files

You can pull in the content of additional files by writing an include directive, like this:

include FILEPATH

Only journal files can include, and only journal, timeclock or timedot files can be included (not CSV files, currently).

If the file path does not begin with a slash, it is relative to the current file's folder.

A tilde means home directory, eg: include ~/main.journal.

The path may contain glob patterns to match multiple files, eg: include *.journal.

There is limited support for recursive wildcards: **/ (the slash is required) matches 0 or more subdirectories. It's not super convenient since you have to avoid include cycles and including directories, but this can be done, eg: include */**/*.journal.

The path may also be prefixed to force a specific file format, overriding the file extension (as described in hledger.1 -> Input files): include timedot:~/notes/2020*.md.

Default year

You can set a default year to be used for subsequent dates which don't specify a year. This is a line beginning with Y followed by the year. Eg:

Y2009  ; set default year to 2009

12/15  ; equivalent to 2009/12/15
  expenses  1
  assets

Y2010  ; change default year to 2010

2009/1/30  ; specifies the year, not affected
  expenses  1
  assets

1/31   ; equivalent to 2010/1/31
  expenses  1
  assets

Declaring payees

The payee directive can be used to declare a limited set of payees which may appear in transaction descriptions. The "payees" check will report an error if any transaction refers to a payee that has not been declared. Eg:

payee Whole Foods

Declaring the decimal mark

You can use a decimal-mark directive - usually one per file, at the top of the file - to declare which character represents a decimal mark when parsing amounts in this file. It can look like

decimal-mark .

or

decimal-mark ,

This prevents any ambiguity when parsing numbers in the file, so we recommend it, especially if the file contains digit group marks (eg thousands separators).

Declaring commodities

You can use commodity directives to declare your commodities. In fact the commodity directive performs several functions at once:

  1. It declares commodities which may be used in the journal. This can optionally be enforced, providing useful error checking. (Cf Commodity error checking)

  2. It declares which decimal mark character (period or comma), to expect when parsing input - useful to disambiguate international number formats in your data. Without this, hledger will parse both 1,000 and 1.000 as 1. (Cf Amounts)

  3. It declares how to render the commodity's amounts when displaying output - the decimal mark, any digit group marks, the number of decimal places, symbol placement and so on. (Cf Commodity display style)

You will run into one of the problems solved by commodity directives sooner or later, so we recommend using them, for robust and predictable parsing and display.

Generally you should put them at the top of your journal file (since for function 2, they affect only following amounts, cf #793).

A commodity directive is just the word commodity followed by a sample amount, like this:

;commodity SAMPLEAMOUNT

commodity $1000.00
commodity 1,000.0000 AAAA  ; optional same-line comment

It may also be written on multiple lines, and use the format subdirective, as in Ledger. Note in this case the commodity symbol appears twice; it must be the same in both places:

;commodity SYMBOL
;  format SAMPLEAMOUNT

; display indian rupees with currency name on the left,
; thousands, lakhs and crores comma-separated,
; period as decimal point, and two decimal places.
commodity INR
  format INR 1,00,00,000.00

Remember that if the commodity symbol contains spaces, numbers, or punctuation, it must be enclosed in double quotes (cf Commodity).

The amount's quantity does not matter; only the format is significant. It must include a decimal mark - either a period or a comma - followed by 0 or more decimal digits.

A few more examples:

# number formats for $, EUR, INR and the no-symbol commodity:
commodity $1,000.00
commodity EUR 1.000,00
commodity INR 9,99,99,999.0
commodity 1 000 000.

Note hledger normally uses banker's rounding, so 0.5 displayed with zero decimal digits is "0". (More at Commodity display style.)

Even in the presence of commodity directives, the commodity display style can still be overridden by supplying a command line option.

Commodity error checking

In strict mode, enabled with the -s/--strict flag, hledger will report an error if a commodity symbol is used that has not been declared by a commodity directive. This works similarly to account error checking, see the notes there for more details.

Note, this disallows amounts without a commodity symbol, because currently it's not possible (?) to declare the "no-symbol" commodity with a directive. This is one exception for convenience: zero amounts are always allowed to have no commodity symbol.

Default commodity

The D directive sets a default commodity, to be used for any subsequent commodityless amounts (ie, plain numbers) seen while parsing the journal. This effect lasts until the next D directive, or the end of the journal.

For compatibility/historical reasons, D also acts like a commodity directive (setting the commodity's decimal mark for parsing and display style for output).

The syntax is D AMOUNT. As with commodity, the amount must include a decimal mark (either period or comma). Eg:

; commodity-less amounts should be treated as dollars
; (and displayed with the dollar sign on the left, thousands separators and two decimal places)
D $1,000.00

1/1
  a     5  ; <- commodity-less amount, parsed as $5 and displayed as $5.00
  b

If both commodity and D directives are found for a commodity, commodity takes precedence for setting decimal mark and display style.

If you are using D and also checking commodities, you will need to add a commodity directive similar to the D. (The hledger check commodities command expects commodity directives, and ignores D).

Declaring market prices

The P directive declares a market price, which is an exchange rate between two commodities on a certain date. (In Ledger, they are called "historical prices".) These are often obtained from a stock exchange, cryptocurrency exchange, or the foreign exchange market.

The format is:

P DATE COMMODITY1SYMBOL COMMODITY2AMOUNT

DATE is a simple date, COMMODITY1SYMBOL is the symbol of the commodity being priced, and COMMODITY2AMOUNT is the amount (symbol and quantity) of commodity 2 that one unit of commodity 1 is worth on this date. Examples:

# one euro was worth $1.35 from 2009-01-01 onward:
P 2009-01-01 € $1.35

# and $1.40 from 2010-01-01 onward:
P 2010-01-01 € $1.40

The -V, -X and --value flags use these market prices to show amount values in another commodity. See Valuation.

Declaring accounts

account directives can be used to declare accounts (ie, the places that amounts are transferred from and to). Though not required, these declarations can provide several benefits:

  • They can document your intended chart of accounts, providing a reference.
  • In strict mode, they restrict which accounts may be posted to by transactions, which helps detect typos.
  • They control account display order in reports, allowing non-alphabetic sorting (eg Revenues to appear above Expenses).
  • They help with account name completion (in hledger add, hledger-web, hledger-iadd, ledger-mode, etc.)
  • They can store additional account information as comments, or as tags which can be used to filter or pivot reports.
  • They can help hledger know your accounts' types (asset, liability, equity, revenue, expense), affecting reports like balancesheet and incomestatement.

They are written as the word account followed by a hledger-style account name, eg:

account assets:bank:checking

Account comments

Comments, beginning with a semicolon:

  • can be written on the same line, but only after two or more spaces (because ; is allowed in account names)
  • and/or on the next lines, indented
  • and may contain tags, such as the type: tag.

For example:

account assets:bank:checking    ; same-line comment, at least 2 spaces before the semicolon
  ; next-line comment
  ; some tags - type:A, acctnum:12345

Account subdirectives

Ledger-style indented subdirectives are also accepted, but currently ignored:

account assets:bank:checking
  format subdirective is ignored

Account error checking

By default, accounts need not be declared; they come into existence when a posting references them. This is convenient, but it means hledger can't warn you when you mis-spell an account name in the journal. Usually you'll find that error later, as an extra account in balance reports, or an incorrect balance when reconciling.

In strict mode, enabled with the -s/--strict flag, hledger will report an error if any transaction uses an account name that has not been declared by an account directive. Some notes:

  • The declaration is case-sensitive; transactions must use the correct account name capitalisation.
  • The account directive's scope is "whole file and below" (see directives). This means it affects all of the current file, and any files it includes, but not parent or sibling files. The position of account directives within the file does not matter, though it's usual to put them at the top.
  • Accounts can only be declared in journal files, but will affect included files of all types.
  • It's currently not possible to declare "all possible subaccounts" with a wildcard; every account posted to must be declared.

Account display order

The order in which account directives are written influences the order in which accounts appear in reports, hledger-ui, hledger-web etc. By default accounts appear in alphabetical order, but if you add these account directives to the journal file:

account assets
account liabilities
account equity
account revenues
account expenses

those accounts will be displayed in declaration order:

$ hledger accounts -1
assets
liabilities
equity
revenues
expenses

Any undeclared accounts are displayed last, in alphabetical order.

Sorting is done at each level of the account tree, within each group of sibling accounts under the same parent. And currently, this directive:

account other:zoo

would influence the position of zoo among other's subaccounts, but not the position of other among the top-level accounts. This means:

  • you will sometimes declare parent accounts (eg account other above) that you don't intend to post to, just to customize their display order
  • sibling accounts stay together (you couldn't display x:y in between a:b and a:c).

Account types

hledger knows that accounts come in several types: assets, liabilities, expenses and so on. This enables easy reports like balancesheet and incomestatement, and filtering by account type with the type: query.

As a convenience, hledger will detect these account types automatically if you are using common english-language top-level account names (described below). But generally we recommend you declare types explicitly, by adding a type: tag to your top-level account directives. Subaccounts will inherit the type of their parent. The tag's value should be one of the five main account types:

  • A or Asset (things you own)
  • L or Liability (things you owe)
  • E or Equity (investment/ownership; balanced counterpart of assets & liabilities)
  • R or Revenue (what you received money from, AKA income; technically part of Equity)
  • X or Expense (what you spend money on; technically part of Equity)

or, it can be (these are used less often):

  • C or Cash (a subtype of Asset, indicating liquid assets for the cashflow report)
  • V or Conversion (a subtype of Equity, for conversions (see COST).)

Here is a typical set of account type declarations:

account assets             ; type: A
account liabilities        ; type: L
account equity             ; type: E
account revenues           ; type: R
account expenses           ; type: X

account assets:bank        ; type: C
account assets:cash        ; type: C

account equity:conversion  ; type: V

Here are some tips for working with account types.

  • The rules for inferring types from account names are as follows. These are just a convenience that sometimes help new users get going; if they don't work for you, just ignore them and declare your account types. See also Regular expressions. Note the Cash regexp changed in hledger 1.24.99.2.

    If account's name contains this (CI) regular expression:            | its type is:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------|-------------
    ^assets?(:.+)?:(cash|bank|che(ck|que?)(ing)?|savings?|current)(:|$) | Cash
    ^assets?(:|$)                                                       | Asset
    ^(debts?|liabilit(y|ies))(:|$)                                      | Liability
    ^equity:(trad(e|ing)|conversion)s?(:|$)                             | Conversion
    ^equity(:|$)                                                        | Equity
    ^(income|revenue)s?(:|$)                                            | Revenue
    ^expenses?(:|$)                                                     | Expense
    
  • If you declare any account types, it's a good idea to declare an account for all of the account types, because a mixture of declared and name-inferred types can disrupt certain reports.

  • Certain uses of account aliases can disrupt account types. See Rewriting accounts > Aliases and account types.

  • As mentioned above, subaccounts will inherit a type from their parent account. More precisely, an account's type is decided by the first of these that exists:

    1. A type: declaration for this account.
    2. A type: declaration in the parent accounts above it, preferring the nearest.
    3. An account type inferred from this account's name.
    4. An account type inferred from a parent account's name, preferring the nearest parent.
    5. Otherwise, it will have no type.
  • For troubleshooting, you can list accounts and their types with:

    $ hledger accounts --types [ACCTPAT] [-DEPTH] [type:TYPECODES]
    

Rewriting accounts

You can define account alias rules which rewrite your account names, or parts of them, before generating reports. This can be useful for:

  • expanding shorthand account names to their full form, allowing easier data entry and a less verbose journal
  • adapting old journals to your current chart of accounts
  • experimenting with new account organisations, like a new hierarchy
  • combining two accounts into one, eg to see their sum or difference on one line
  • customising reports

Account aliases also rewrite account names in account directives. They do not affect account names being entered via hledger add or hledger-web.

Account aliases are very powerful. They are generally easy to use correctly, but you can also generate invalid account names with them; more on this below.

See also Rewrite account names.

Basic aliases

To set an account alias, use the alias directive in your journal file. This affects all subsequent journal entries in the current file or its included files (but note: not sibling or parent files). The spaces around the = are optional:

alias OLD = NEW

Or, you can use the --alias 'OLD=NEW' option on the command line. This affects all entries. It's useful for trying out aliases interactively.

OLD and NEW are case sensitive full account names. hledger will replace any occurrence of the old account name with the new one. Subaccounts are also affected. Eg:

alias checking = assets:bank:wells fargo:checking
; rewrites "checking" to "assets:bank:wells fargo:checking", or "checking:a" to "assets:bank:wells fargo:checking:a"

Regex aliases

There is also a more powerful variant that uses a regular expression, indicated by wrapping the pattern in forward slashes. (This is the only place where hledger requires forward slashes around a regular expression.)

Eg:

alias /REGEX/ = REPLACEMENT

or:

$ hledger --alias '/REGEX/=REPLACEMENT' ...

Any part of an account name matched by REGEX will be replaced by REPLACEMENT. REGEX is case-insensitive as usual.

If you need to match a forward slash, escape it with a backslash, eg /\/=:.

If REGEX contains parenthesised match groups, these can be referenced by the usual backslash and number in REPLACEMENT:

alias /^(.+):bank:([^:]+):(.*)/ = \1:\2 \3
; rewrites "assets:bank:wells fargo:checking" to  "assets:wells fargo checking"

REPLACEMENT continues to the end of line (or on command line, to end of option argument), so it can contain trailing whitespace.

Combining aliases

You can define as many aliases as you like, using journal directives and/or command line options.

Recursive aliases - where an account name is rewritten by one alias, then by another alias, and so on - are allowed. Each alias sees the effect of previously applied aliases.

In such cases it can be important to understand which aliases will be applied and in which order. For (each account name in) each journal entry, we apply:

  1. alias directives preceding the journal entry, most recently parsed first (ie, reading upward from the journal entry, bottom to top)
  2. --alias options, in the order they appeared on the command line (left to right).

In other words, for (an account name in) a given journal entry:

  • the nearest alias declaration before/above the entry is applied first
  • the next alias before/above that will be be applied next, and so on
  • aliases defined after/below the entry do not affect it.

This gives nearby aliases precedence over distant ones, and helps provide semantic stability - aliases will keep working the same way independent of which files are being read and in which order.

In case of trouble, adding --debug=6 to the command line will show which aliases are being applied when.

Aliases and multiple files

As explained at Directives and multiple files, alias directives do not affect parent or sibling files. Eg in this command,

hledger -f a.aliases -f b.journal

account aliases defined in a.aliases will not affect b.journal. Including the aliases doesn't work either:

include a.aliases

2020-01-01  ; not affected by a.aliases
  foo  1
  bar

This means that account aliases should usually be declared at the start of your top-most file, like this:

alias foo=Foo
alias bar=Bar

2020-01-01  ; affected by aliases above
  foo  1
  bar

include c.journal  ; also affected

end aliases

You can clear (forget) all currently defined aliases (seen in the journal so far, or defined on the command line) with this directive:

end aliases

Aliases can generate bad account names

Be aware that account aliases can produce malformed account names, which could cause confusing reports or invalid print output. For example, you could erase all account names:

2021-01-01
  a:aa     1
  b
$ hledger print --alias '/.*/='
2021-01-01
                   1

The above print output is not a valid journal. Or you could insert an illegal double space, causing print output that would give a different journal when reparsed:

2021-01-01
  old    1
  other
$ hledger print --alias old="new  USD" | hledger -f- print
2021-01-01
    new             USD 1
    other

Aliases and account types

If an account with a type declaration (see Declaring accounts > Account types) is renamed by an alias, normally the account type remains in effect.

However, renaming in a way that reshapes the account tree (eg renaming parent accounts but not their children, or vice versa) could prevent child accounts from inheriting the account type of their parents.

Secondly, if an account's type is being inferred from its name, renaming it by an alias could prevent or alter that.

If you are using account aliases and the type: query is not matching accounts as you expect, try troubleshooting with the accounts command, eg something like:

$ hledger accounts --alias assets=bassetts type:a

Default parent account

You can specify a parent account which will be prepended to all accounts within a section of the journal. Use the apply account and end apply account directives like so:

apply account home

2010/1/1
    food    $10
    cash

end apply account

which is equivalent to:

2010/01/01
    home:food           $10
    home:cash          $-10

If end apply account is omitted, the effect lasts to the end of the file. Included files are also affected, eg:

apply account business
include biz.journal
end apply account
apply account personal
include personal.journal

Prior to hledger 1.0, legacy account and end spellings were also supported.

A default parent account also affects account directives. It does not affect account names being entered via hledger add or hledger-web. If account aliases are present, they are applied after the default parent account.

Periodic transactions

Periodic transaction rules describe transactions that recur. They allow hledger to generate temporary future transactions to help with forecasting, so you don't have to write out each one in the journal, and it's easy to try out different forecasts.

Periodic transactions can be a little tricky, so before you use them, read this whole section - or at least these tips:

  1. Two spaces accidentally added or omitted will cause you trouble - read about this below.
  2. For troubleshooting, show the generated transactions with hledger print --forecast tag:generated or hledger register --forecast tag:generated.
  3. Forecasted transactions will begin only after the last non-forecasted transaction's date.
  4. Forecasted transactions will end 6 months from today, by default. See below for the exact start/end rules.
  5. period expressions can be tricky. Their documentation needs improvement, but is worth studying.
  6. Some period expressions with a repeating interval must begin on a natural boundary of that interval. Eg in weekly from DATE, DATE must be a monday. ~ weekly from 2019/10/1 (a tuesday) will give an error.
  7. Other period expressions with an interval are automatically expanded to cover a whole number of that interval. (This is done to improve reports, but it also affects periodic transactions. Yes, it's a bit inconsistent with the above.) Eg:
    ~ every 10th day of month from 2020/01, which is equivalent to
    ~ every 10th day of month from 2020/01/01, will be adjusted to start on 2019/12/10.

Periodic transaction rules also have a second meaning: they are used to define budget goals, shown in budget reports.

Periodic rule syntax

A periodic transaction rule looks like a normal journal entry, with the date replaced by a tilde (~) followed by a period expression (mnemonic: ~ looks like a recurring sine wave.):

~ monthly
    expenses:rent          $2000
    assets:bank:checking

There is an additional constraint on the period expression: the start date must fall on a natural boundary of the interval. Eg monthly from 2018/1/1 is valid, but monthly from 2018/1/15 is not.

Periodic rules and relative dates

Partial or relative dates (like 12/31, 25, tomorrow, last week, next quarter) are usually not recommended in periodic rules, since the results will change as time passes. If used, they will be interpreted relative to, in order of preference:

  1. the first day of the default year specified by a recent Y directive
  2. or the date specified with --today
  3. or the date on which you are running the report.

They will not be affected at all by report period or forecast period dates.

Two spaces between period expression and description!

If the period expression is followed by a transaction description, these must be separated by two or more spaces. This helps hledger know where the period expression ends, so that descriptions can not accidentally alter their meaning, as in this example:

; 2 or more spaces needed here, so the period is not understood as "every 2 months in 2020"
;               ||
;               vv
~ every 2 months  in 2020, we will review
    assets:bank:checking   $1500
    income:acme inc

So,

  • Do write two spaces between your period expression and your transaction description, if any.
  • Don't accidentally write two spaces in the middle of your period expression.

Forecasting with periodic transactions

The --forecast flag activates any periodic transaction rules in the journal. These will generate temporary additional transactions, usually recurring and in the future, which will appear in all reports. hledger print --forecast is a good way to see them.

This can be useful for estimating balances into the future, perhaps experimenting with different scenarios.

It could also be useful for scripted data entry: you could describe recurring transactions, and every so often copy the output of print --forecast into the journal.

The generated transactions will have an extra tag, like generated-transaction:~ PERIODICEXPR, indicating which periodic rule generated them. There is also a similar, hidden tag, named _generated-transaction:, which you can use to reliably match transactions generated "just now" (rather than printed in the past).

The forecast transactions are generated within a forecast period, which is independent of the report period. (Forecast period sets the bounds for generated transactions, report period controls which transactions are reported.) The forecast period begins on:

  • the start date provided within --forecast's argument, if any
  • otherwise, the later of
    • the report start date, if specified (with -b/-p/date:)
    • the day after the latest ordinary transaction in the journal, if any
  • otherwise today.

It ends on:

  • the end date provided within --forecast's argument, if any
  • otherwise, the report end date, if specified (with -e/-p/date:)
  • otherwise 180 days (6 months) from today.

Note, this means that ordinary transactions will suppress periodic transactions, by default; the periodic transactions will not start until after the last ordinary transaction. This is usually convenient, but you can get around it in two ways:

  • If you need to record some transactions in the future, make them periodic transactions (with a single occurrence, eg: ~ YYYY-MM-DD) rather than ordinary transactions. That way they won't suppress other periodic transactions.

  • Or give --forecast a period expression argument. A forecast period specified this way can overlap ordinary transactions, and need not be in the future. Some things to note:

    • You must use = between flag and argument; a space won't work.
    • The period expression can specify the forecast period's start date, end date, or both. See also Report start & end date.
    • The period expression should not specify a report interval. (Each periodic transaction rule specifies its own interval.)

Some examples: --forecast=202001-202004, --forecast=jan-, --forecast=2021.

Budgeting with periodic transactions

With the --budget flag, currently supported by the balance command, each periodic transaction rule declares recurring budget goals for the specified accounts. Eg the first example above declares a goal of spending $2000 on rent (and also, a goal of depositing $2000 into checking) every month. Goals and actual performance can then be compared in budget reports.

See also: Budgeting and Forecasting.

Auto postings

"Automated postings" or "auto postings" are extra postings which get added automatically to transactions which match certain queries, defined by "auto posting rules", when you use the --auto flag.

An auto posting rule looks a bit like a transaction:

= QUERY
    ACCOUNT  AMOUNT
    ...
    ACCOUNT  [AMOUNT]

except the first line is an equals sign (mnemonic: = suggests matching), followed by a query (which matches existing postings), and each "posting" line describes a posting to be generated, and the posting amounts can be:

  • a normal amount with a commodity symbol, eg $2. This will be used as-is.
  • a number, eg 2. The commodity symbol (if any) from the matched posting will be added to this.
  • a numeric multiplier, eg *2 (a star followed by a number N). The matched posting's amount (and total price, if any) will be multiplied by N.
  • a multiplier with a commodity symbol, eg *$2 (a star, number N, and symbol S). The matched posting's amount will be multiplied by N, and its commodity symbol will be replaced with S.

Any query term containing spaces must be enclosed in single or double quotes, as on the command line. Eg, note the quotes around the second query term below:

= expenses:groceries 'expenses:dining out'
    (budget:funds:dining out)                 *-1

Some examples:

; every time I buy food, schedule a dollar donation
= expenses:food
    (liabilities:charity)   $-1

; when I buy a gift, also deduct that amount from a budget envelope subaccount
= expenses:gifts
    assets:checking:gifts  *-1
    assets:checking         *1

2017/12/1
  expenses:food    $10
  assets:checking

2017/12/14
  expenses:gifts   $20
  assets:checking
$ hledger print --auto
2017-12-01
    expenses:food              $10
    assets:checking
    (liabilities:charity)      $-1

2017-12-14
    expenses:gifts             $20
    assets:checking
    assets:checking:gifts     -$20
    assets:checking            $20

Auto postings and multiple files

An auto posting rule can affect any transaction in the current file, or in any parent file or child file. Note, currently it will not affect sibling files (when multiple -f/--file are used - see #1212).

Auto postings and dates

A posting date (or secondary date) in the matched posting, or (taking precedence) a posting date in the auto posting rule itself, will also be used in the generated posting.

Auto postings and transaction balancing / inferred amounts / balance assertions

Currently, auto postings are added:

Note this means that journal entries must be balanced both before and after auto postings are added. This changed in hledger 1.12+; see #893 for background.

This also means that you cannot have more than one auto-posting with a missing amount applied to a given transaction, as it will be unable to infer amounts.

Auto posting tags

Automated postings will have some extra tags:

  • generated-posting:= QUERY - shows this was generated by an auto posting rule, and the query
  • _generated-posting:= QUERY - a hidden tag, which does not appear in hledger's output. This can be used to match postings generated "just now", rather than generated in the past and saved to the journal.

Also, any transaction that has been changed by auto posting rules will have these tags added:

  • modified: - this transaction was modified
  • _modified: - a hidden tag not appearing in the comment; this transaction was modified "just now".

CSV FORMAT

How hledger reads CSV data, and the CSV rules file format.

hledger can read CSV files (Character Separated Value - usually comma, semicolon, or tab) containing dated records as if they were journal files, automatically converting each CSV record into a transaction.

(To learn about writing CSV, see CSV output.)

We describe each CSV file's format with a corresponding rules file. By default this is named like the CSV file with a .rules extension added. Eg when reading FILE.csv, hledger also looks for FILE.csv.rules in the same directory as FILE.csv. You can specify a different rules file with the --rules-file option. If a rules file is not found, hledger will create a sample rules file, which you'll need to adjust.

This file contains rules describing the CSV data (header line, fields layout, date format etc.), and how to construct hledger journal entries (transactions) from it. Often there will also be a list of conditional rules for categorising transactions based on their descriptions. Here's an overview of the CSV rules; these are described more fully below, after the examples:

skipskip one or more header lines or matched CSV records
fields listname CSV fields, assign them to hledger fields
field assignmentassign a value to one hledger field, with interpolation
Field nameshledger field names, used in the fields list and field assignments
separatora custom field separator
if blockapply some rules to CSV records matched by patterns
if tableapply some rules to CSV records matched by patterns, alternate syntax
endskip the remaining CSV records
date-formathow to parse dates in CSV records
decimal-markthe decimal mark used in CSV amounts, if ambiguous
newest-firstdisambiguate record order when there's only one date
includeinline another CSV rules file
balance-typechoose which type of balance assignments to use

Note, for best error messages when reading CSV files, use a .csv, .tsv or .ssv file extension or file prefix - see File Extension below.

There's an introductory Importing CSV data tutorial on hledger.org.

Examples

Here are some sample hledger CSV rules files. See also the full collection at:
https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger/tree/master/examples/csv

Basic

At minimum, the rules file must identify the date and amount fields, and often it also specifies the date format and how many header lines there are. Here's a simple CSV file and a rules file for it:

Date, Description, Id, Amount
12/11/2019, Foo, 123, 10.23
# basic.csv.rules
skip         1
fields       date, description, _, amount
date-format  %d/%m/%Y
$ hledger print -f basic.csv
2019-11-12 Foo
    expenses:unknown           10.23
    income:unknown            -10.23

Default account names are chosen, since we didn't set them.

Bank of Ireland

Here's a CSV with two amount fields (Debit and Credit), and a balance field, which we can use to add balance assertions, which is not necessary but provides extra error checking:

Date,Details,Debit,Credit,Balance
07/12/2012,LODGMENT       529898,,10.0,131.21
07/12/2012,PAYMENT,5,,126
# bankofireland-checking.csv.rules

# skip the header line
skip

# name the csv fields, and assign some of them as journal entry fields
fields  date, description, amount-out, amount-in, balance

# We generate balance assertions by assigning to "balance"
# above, but you may sometimes need to remove these because:
#
# - the CSV balance differs from the true balance,
#   by up to 0.0000000000005 in my experience
#
# - it is sometimes calculated based on non-chronological ordering,
#   eg when multiple transactions clear on the same day

# date is in UK/Ireland format
date-format  %d/%m/%Y

# set the currency
currency  EUR

# set the base account for all txns
account1  assets:bank:boi:checking
$ hledger -f bankofireland-checking.csv print
2012-12-07 LODGMENT       529898
    assets:bank:boi:checking         EUR10.0 = EUR131.2
    income:unknown                  EUR-10.0

2012-12-07 PAYMENT
    assets:bank:boi:checking         EUR-5.0 = EUR126.0
    expenses:unknown                  EUR5.0

The balance assertions don't raise an error above, because we're reading directly from CSV, but they will be checked if these entries are imported into a journal file.

Amazon

Here we convert amazon.com order history, and use an if block to generate a third posting if there's a fee. (In practice you'd probably get this data from your bank instead, but it's an example.)

"Date","Type","To/From","Name","Status","Amount","Fees","Transaction ID"
"Jul 29, 2012","Payment","To","Foo.","Completed","$20.00","$0.00","16000000000000DGLNJPI1P9B8DKPVHL"
"Jul 30, 2012","Payment","To","Adapteva, Inc.","Completed","$25.00","$1.00","17LA58JSKRD4HDGLNJPI1P9B8DKPVHL"
# amazon-orders.csv.rules

# skip one header line
skip 1

# name the csv fields, and assign the transaction's date, amount and code.
# Avoided the "status" and "amount" hledger field names to prevent confusion.
fields date, _, toorfrom, name, amzstatus, amzamount, fees, code

# how to parse the date
date-format %b %-d, %Y

# combine two fields to make the description
description %toorfrom %name

# save the status as a tag
comment     status:%amzstatus

# set the base account for all transactions
account1    assets:amazon
# leave amount1 blank so it can balance the other(s).
# I'm assuming amzamount excludes the fees, don't remember

# set a generic account2
account2    expenses:misc
amount2     %amzamount
# and maybe refine it further:
#include categorisation.rules

# add a third posting for fees, but only if they are non-zero.
if %fees [1-9]
 account3    expenses:fees
 amount3     %fees
$ hledger -f amazon-orders.csv print
2012-07-29 (16000000000000DGLNJPI1P9B8DKPVHL) To Foo.  ; status:Completed
    assets:amazon
    expenses:misc          $20.00

2012-07-30 (17LA58JSKRD4HDGLNJPI1P9B8DKPVHL) To Adapteva, Inc.  ; status:Completed
    assets:amazon
    expenses:misc          $25.00
    expenses:fees           $1.00

Paypal

Here's a real-world rules file for (customised) Paypal CSV, with some Paypal-specific rules, and a second rules file included:

"Date","Time","TimeZone","Name","Type","Status","Currency","Gross","Fee","Net","From Email Address","To Email Address","Transaction ID","Item Title","Item ID","Reference Txn ID","Receipt ID","Balance","Note"
"10/01/2019","03:46:20","PDT","Calm Radio","Subscription Payment","Completed","USD","-6.99","0.00","-6.99","[email protected]","[email protected]","60P57143A8206782E","MONTHLY - $1 for the first 2 Months: Me - Order 99309. Item total: $1.00 USD first 2 months, then $6.99 / Month","","I-R8YLY094FJYR","","-6.99",""
"10/01/2019","03:46:20","PDT","","Bank Deposit to PP Account ","Pending","USD","6.99","0.00","6.99","","[email protected]","0TU1544T080463733","","","60P57143A8206782E","","0.00",""
"10/01/2019","08:57:01","PDT","Patreon","PreApproved Payment Bill User Payment","Completed","USD","-7.00","0.00","-7.00","[email protected]","[email protected]","2722394R5F586712G","Patreon* Membership","","B-0PG93074E7M86381M","","-7.00",""
"10/01/2019","08:57:01","PDT","","Bank Deposit to PP Account ","Pending","USD","7.00","0.00","7.00","","[email protected]","71854087RG994194F","Patreon* Membership","","2722394R5F586712G","","0.00",""
"10/19/2019","03:02:12","PDT","Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.","Subscription Payment","Completed","USD","-2.00","0.00","-2.00","[email protected]","[email protected]","K9U43044RY432050M","Monthly donation to the Wikimedia Foundation","","I-R5C3YUS3285L","","-2.00",""
"10/19/2019","03:02:12","PDT","","Bank Deposit to PP Account ","Pending","USD","2.00","0.00","2.00","","[email protected]","3XJ107139A851061F","","","K9U43044RY432050M","","0.00",""
"10/22/2019","05:07:06","PDT","Noble Benefactor","Subscription Payment","Completed","USD","10.00","-0.59","9.41","[email protected]","[email protected]","6L8L1662YP1334033","Joyful Systems","","I-KC9VBGY2GWDB","","9.41",""
# paypal-custom.csv.rules

# Tips:
# Export from Activity -> Statements -> Custom -> Activity download
# Suggested transaction type: "Balance affecting"
# Paypal's default fields in 2018 were:
# "Date","Time","TimeZone","Name","Type","Status","Currency","Gross","Fee","Net","From Email Address","To Email Address","Transaction ID","Shipping Address","Address Status","Item Title","Item ID","Shipping and Handling Amount","Insurance Amount","Sales Tax","Option 1 Name","Option 1 Value","Option 2 Name","Option 2 Value","Reference Txn ID","Invoice Number","Custom Number","Quantity","Receipt ID","Balance","Address Line 1","Address Line 2/District/Neighborhood","Town/City","State/Province/Region/County/Territory/Prefecture/Republic","Zip/Postal Code","Country","Contact Phone Number","Subject","Note","Country Code","Balance Impact"
# This rules file assumes the following more detailed fields, configured in "Customize report fields":
# "Date","Time","TimeZone","Name","Type","Status","Currency","Gross","Fee","Net","From Email Address","To Email Address","Transaction ID","Item Title","Item ID","Reference Txn ID","Receipt ID","Balance","Note"

fields date, time, timezone, description_, type, status_, currency, grossamount, feeamount, netamount, fromemail, toemail, code, itemtitle, itemid, referencetxnid, receiptid, balance, note

skip  1

date-format  %-m/%-d/%Y

# ignore some paypal events
if
In Progress
Temporary Hold
Update to
 skip

# add more fields to the description
description %description_ %itemtitle

# save some other fields as tags
comment  itemid:%itemid, fromemail:%fromemail, toemail:%toemail, time:%time, type:%type, status:%status_

# convert to short currency symbols
if %currency USD
 currency $
if %currency EUR
 currency E
if %currency GBP
 currency P

# generate postings

# the first posting will be the money leaving/entering my paypal account
# (negative means leaving my account, in all amount fields)
account1 assets:online:paypal
amount1  %netamount

# the second posting will be money sent to/received from other party
# (account2 is set below)
amount2  -%grossamount

# if there's a fee, add a third posting for the money taken by paypal.
if %feeamount [1-9]
 account3 expenses:banking:paypal
 amount3  -%feeamount
 comment3 business:

# choose an account for the second posting

# override the default account names:
# if the amount is positive, it's income (a debit)
if %grossamount ^[^-]
 account2 income:unknown
# if negative, it's an expense (a credit)
if %grossamount ^-
 account2 expenses:unknown

# apply common rules for setting account2 & other tweaks
include common.rules

# apply some overrides specific to this csv

# Transfers from/to bank. These are usually marked Pending,
# which can be disregarded in this case.
if
Bank Account
Bank Deposit to PP Account
 description %type for %referencetxnid %itemtitle
 account2 assets:bank:wf:pchecking
 account1 assets:online:paypal

# Currency conversions
if Currency Conversion
 account2 equity:currency conversion
# common.rules

if
darcs
noble benefactor
 account2 revenues:foss donations:darcshub
 comment2 business:

if
Calm Radio
 account2 expenses:online:apps

if
electronic frontier foundation
Patreon
wikimedia
Advent of Code
 account2 expenses:dues

if Google
 account2 expenses:online:apps
 description google | music
$ hledger -f paypal-custom.csv  print
2019-10-01 (60P57143A8206782E) Calm Radio MONTHLY - $1 for the first 2 Months: Me - Order 99309. Item total: $1.00 USD first 2 months, then $6.99 / Month  ; itemid:, fromemail:[email protected], toemail:[email protected], time:03:46:20, type:Subscription Payment, status:Completed
    assets:online:paypal          $-6.99 = $-6.99
    expenses:online:apps           $6.99

2019-10-01 (0TU1544T080463733) Bank Deposit to PP Account for 60P57143A8206782E  ; itemid:, fromemail:, toemail:[email protected], time:03:46:20, type:Bank Deposit to PP Account, status:Pending
    assets:online:paypal               $6.99 = $0.00
    assets:bank:wf:pchecking          $-6.99

2019-10-01 (2722394R5F586712G) Patreon Patreon* Membership  ; itemid:, fromemail:[email protected], toemail:[email protected], time:08:57:01, type:PreApproved Payment Bill User Payment, status:Completed
    assets:online:paypal          $-7.00 = $-7.00
    expenses:dues                  $7.00

2019-10-01 (71854087RG994194F) Bank Deposit to PP Account for 2722394R5F586712G Patreon* Membership  ; itemid:, fromemail:, toemail:[email protected], time:08:57:01, type:Bank Deposit to PP Account, status:Pending
    assets:online:paypal               $7.00 = $0.00
    assets:bank:wf:pchecking          $-7.00

2019-10-19 (K9U43044RY432050M) Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Monthly donation to the Wikimedia Foundation  ; itemid:, fromemail:[email protected], toemail:[email protected], time:03:02:12, type:Subscription Payment, status:Completed
    assets:online:paypal             $-2.00 = $-2.00
    expenses:dues                     $2.00
    expenses:banking:paypal      ; business:

2019-10-19 (3XJ107139A851061F) Bank Deposit to PP Account for K9U43044RY432050M  ; itemid:, fromemail:, toemail:[email protected], time:03:02:12, type:Bank Deposit to PP Account, status:Pending
    assets:online:paypal               $2.00 = $0.00
    assets:bank:wf:pchecking          $-2.00

2019-10-22 (6L8L1662YP1334033) Noble Benefactor Joyful Systems  ; itemid:, fromemail:[email protected], toemail:[email protected], time:05:07:06, type:Subscription Payment, status:Completed
    assets:online:paypal                       $9.41 = $9.41
    revenues:foss donations:darcshub         $-10.00  ; business:
    expenses:banking:paypal                    $0.59  ; business:

CSV rules

The following kinds of rule can appear in the rules file, in any order. Blank lines and lines beginning with # or ; are ignored.

skip

skip N

The word "skip" followed by a number (or no number, meaning 1) tells hledger to ignore this many non-empty lines preceding the CSV data. (Empty/blank lines are skipped automatically.) You'll need this whenever your CSV data contains header lines.

It also has a second purpose: it can be used inside if blocks to ignore certain CSV records (described below).

fields list

fields FIELDNAME1, FIELDNAME2, ...

A fields list (the word "fields" followed by comma-separated field names) is the quick way to assign CSV field values to hledger fields. (The other way is field assignments, see below.) A fields list does does two things:

  1. It names the CSV fields. This is optional, but can be convenient later for interpolating them.

  2. Whenever you use a standard hledger field name (defined below), the CSV value is assigned to that part of the hledger transaction.

Here's an example that says "use the 1st, 2nd and 4th fields as the transaction's date, description and amount; name the last two fields for later reference; and ignore the others":

fields date, description, , amount, , , somefield, anotherfield

Tips:

  • The fields list always use commas, even if your CSV data uses another separator character.
  • Currently there must be least two items in the list (at least one comma).
  • Field names may not contain spaces. Spaces before/after field names are optional.
  • Field names may contain _ (underscore) or - (hyphen).
  • If the CSV contains column headings, it's a good idea to use these, suitably modified, as the basis for your field names (eg lower-cased, with underscores instead of spaces).
  • If some heading names match standard hledger fields, but you don't want to set the hledger fields directly, alter those names, eg by appending an underscore.
  • Fields you don't care about can be given a dummy name (eg: _ ), or no name.

field assignment

HLEDGERFIELDNAME FIELDVALUE

Field assignments are the more flexible way to assign CSV values to hledger fields. They can be used instead of or in addition to a fields list (see above).

To assign a value to a hledger field, write the field name (any of the standard hledger field/pseudo-field names, defined below), a space, followed by a text value on the same line. This text value may interpolate CSV fields, referenced by their 1-based position in the CSV record (%N), or by the name they were given in the fields list (%CSVFIELDNAME).

Some examples:

# set the amount to the 4th CSV field, with " USD" appended
amount %4 USD

# combine three fields to make a comment, containing note: and date: tags
comment note: %somefield - %anotherfield, date: %1

Tips:

  • Interpolation strips outer whitespace (so a CSV value like " 1 " becomes 1 when interpolated) (#1051).
  • Interpolations always refer to a CSV field - you can't interpolate a hledger field. (See Referencing other fields below).

Field names

Here are the standard hledger field (and pseudo-field) names, which you can use in a fields list and in field assignments. For more about the transaction parts they refer to, see Transactions.

date field

Assigning to date sets the transaction date.

date2 field

date2 sets the transaction's secondary date, if any.

status field

status sets the transaction's status, if any.

code field

code sets the transaction's code, if any.

description field

description sets the transaction's description, if any.

comment field

comment sets the transaction's comment, if any.

commentN, where N is a number, sets the Nth posting's comment.

Tips:

  • You can assign multi-line comments by writing literal \n in the code. A comment starting with \n will begin on a new line.
  • Comments can contain tags, as usual.
account field

Assigning to accountN, where N is 1 to 99, sets the account name of the Nth posting, and causes that posting to be generated.

Most often there are two postings, so you'll want to set account1 and account2. Typically account1 is associated with the CSV file, and is set once with a top-level assignment, while account2 is set based on each transaction's description, and in conditional blocks.

If a posting's account name is left unset but its amount is set (see below), a default account name will be chosen (like "expenses:unknown" or "income:unknown").

amount field

amountN sets the amount of the Nth posting, and causes that posting to be generated. By assigning to amount1, amount2, ... etc. you can generate up to 99 postings.

amountN-in and amountN-out can be used instead, if the CSV uses separate fields for debits and credits (inflows and outflows). hledger assumes both of these CSV fields are unsigned, and will automatically negate the "-out" value. If they are signed, see "Setting amounts" below.

amount, or amount-in and amount-out are a legacy mode, to keep pre-hledger-1.17 CSV rules files working (and for occasional convenience). They are suitable only for two-posting transactions; they set both posting 1's and posting 2's amount. Posting 2's amount will be negated, and also converted to cost if there's a transaction price.

If you have an existing rules file using the unnumbered form, you might want to use the numbered form in certain conditional blocks, without having to update and retest all the old rules. To facilitate this, posting 1 ignores amount/amount-in/amount-out if any of amount1/amount1-in/amount1-out are assigned, and posting 2 ignores them if any of amount2/amount2-in/amount2-out are assigned, avoiding conflicts.

currency field

currency sets a currency symbol, to be prepended to all postings' amounts. You can use this if the CSV amounts do not have a currency symbol, eg if it is in a separate column.

currencyN prepends a currency symbol to just the Nth posting's amount.

balance field

balanceN sets a balance assertion amount (or if the posting amount is left empty, a balance assignment) on posting N.

balance is a compatibility spelling for hledger <1.17; it is equivalent to balance1.

You can adjust the type of assertion/assignment with the balance-type rule (see below).

See Tips below for more about setting amounts and currency.

separator

You can use the separator rule to read other kinds of character-separated data. The argument is any single separator character, or the words tab or space (case insensitive). Eg, for comma-separated values (CSV):

separator ,

or for semicolon-separated values (SSV):

separator ;

or for tab-separated values (TSV):

separator TAB

If the input file has a .csv, .ssv or .tsv file extension (or a csv:, ssv:, tsv: prefix), the appropriate separator will be inferred automatically, and you won't need this rule.

if block

if MATCHER
 RULE

if
MATCHER
MATCHER
MATCHER
 RULE
 RULE

Conditional blocks ("if blocks") are a block of rules that are applied only to CSV records which match certain patterns. They are often used for customising account names based on transaction descriptions.

Matching the whole record

Each MATCHER can be a record matcher, which looks like this:

REGEX

REGEX is a case-insensitive regular expression that tries to match anywhere within the CSV record. It is a POSIX ERE (extended regular expression) that also supports GNU word boundaries (\b, \B, \<, \>), and nothing else. If you have trouble, be sure to check our doc: https://hledger.org/hledger.html#regular-expressions

Important note: the record that is matched is not the original record, but a synthetic one, with any enclosing double quotes (but not enclosing whitespace) removed, and always comma-separated (which means that a field containing a comma will appear like two fields). Eg, if the original record is 2020-01-01; "Acme, Inc."; 1,000, the REGEX will actually see 2020-01-01,Acme, Inc., 1,000).

Matching individual fields

Or, MATCHER can be a field matcher, like this:

%CSVFIELD REGEX

which matches just the content of a particular CSV field. CSVFIELD is a percent sign followed by the field's name or column number, like %date or %1.

Combining matchers

A single matcher can be written on the same line as the "if"; or multiple matchers can be written on the following lines, non-indented. Multiple matchers are OR'd (any one of them can match), unless one begins with an & symbol, in which case it is AND'ed with the previous matcher.

if
MATCHER
& MATCHER
 RULE
Rules applied on successful match

After the patterns there should be one or more rules to apply, all indented by at least one space. Three kinds of rule are allowed in conditional blocks:

  • field assignments (to set a hledger field)
  • skip (to skip the matched CSV record)
  • end (to skip all remaining CSV records).

Examples:

# if the CSV record contains "groceries", set account2 to "expenses:groceries"
if groceries
 account2 expenses:groceries
# if the CSV record contains any of these patterns, set account2 and comment as shown
if
monthly service fee
atm transaction fee
banking thru software
 account2 expenses:business:banking
 comment  XXX deductible ? check it

if table

if,CSVFIELDNAME1,CSVFIELDNAME2,...,CSVFIELDNAMEn
MATCHER1,VALUE11,VALUE12,...,VALUE1n
MATCHER2,VALUE21,VALUE22,...,VALUE2n
MATCHER3,VALUE31,VALUE32,...,VALUE3n
<empty line>

Conditional tables ("if tables") are a different syntax to specify field assignments that will be applied only to CSV records which match certain patterns.

MATCHER could be either field or record matcher, as described above. When MATCHER matches, values from that row would be assigned to the CSV fields named on the if line, in the same order.

Therefore if table is exactly equivalent to a sequence of of if blocks:

if MATCHER1
  CSVFIELDNAME1 VALUE11
  CSVFIELDNAME2 VALUE12
  ...
  CSVFIELDNAMEn VALUE1n

if MATCHER2
  CSVFIELDNAME1 VALUE21
  CSVFIELDNAME2 VALUE22
  ...
  CSVFIELDNAMEn VALUE2n

if MATCHER3
  CSVFIELDNAME1 VALUE31
  CSVFIELDNAME2 VALUE32
  ...
  CSVFIELDNAMEn VALUE3n

Each line starting with MATCHER should contain enough (possibly empty) values for all the listed fields.

Rules would be checked and applied in the order they are listed in the table and, like with if blocks, later rules (in the same or another table) or if blocks could override the effect of any rule.

Instead of ',' you can use a variety of other non-alphanumeric characters as a separator. First character after if is taken to be the separator for the rest of the table. It is the responsibility of the user to ensure that separator does not occur inside MATCHERs and values

  • there is no way to escape separator.

Example:

if,account2,comment
atm transaction fee,expenses:business:banking,deductible? check it
%description groceries,expenses:groceries,
2020/01/12.*Plumbing LLC,expenses:house:upkeep,emergency plumbing call-out

end

This rule can be used inside if blocks (only), to make hledger stop reading this CSV file and move on to the next input file, or to command execution. Eg:

# ignore everything following the first empty record
if ,,,,
 end

date-format

date-format DATEFMT

This is a helper for the date (and date2) fields. If your CSV dates are not formatted like YYYY-MM-DD, YYYY/MM/DD or YYYY.MM.DD, you'll need to add a date-format rule describing them with a strptime date parsing pattern, which must parse the CSV date value completely. Some examples:

# MM/DD/YY
date-format %m/%d/%y
# D/M/YYYY
# The - makes leading zeros optional.
date-format %-d/%-m/%Y
# YYYY-Mmm-DD
date-format %Y-%h-%d
# M/D/YYYY HH:MM AM some other junk
# Note the time and junk must be fully parsed, though only the date is used.
date-format %-m/%-d/%Y %l:%M %p some other junk

For the supported strptime syntax, see:
https://hackage.haskell.org/package/time/docs/Data-Time-Format.html#v:formatTime

Note that although you can parse date-times which include a time zone, that time zone is ignored; it will not change the date that is parsed. This means when reading CSV data with times not in your local time zone, dates can be "off by one".

decimal-mark

decimal-mark .

or:

decimal-mark ,

hledger automatically accepts either period or comma as a decimal mark when parsing numbers (cf Amounts). However if any numbers in the CSV contain digit group marks, such as thousand-separating commas, you should declare the decimal mark explicitly with this rule, to avoid misparsed numbers.

newest-first

hledger always sorts the generated transactions by date. Transactions on the same date should appear in the same order as their CSV records, as hledger can usually auto-detect whether the CSV's normal order is oldest first or newest first. But if all of the following are true:

  • the CSV might sometimes contain just one day of data (all records having the same date)
  • the CSV records are normally in reverse chronological order (newest at the top)
  • and you care about preserving the order of same-day transactions

then, you should add the newest-first rule as a hint. Eg:

# tell hledger explicitly that the CSV is normally newest first
newest-first

include

include RULESFILE

This includes the contents of another CSV rules file at this point. RULESFILE is an absolute file path or a path relative to the current file's directory. This can be useful for sharing common rules between several rules files, eg:

# someaccount.csv.rules

## someaccount-specific rules
fields   date,description,amount
account1 assets:someaccount
account2 expenses:misc

## common rules
include categorisation.rules

balance-type

Balance assertions generated by assigning to balanceN are of the simple = type by default, which is a single-commodity, subaccount-excluding assertion. You may find the subaccount-including variants more useful, eg if you have created some virtual subaccounts of checking to help with budgeting. You can select a different type of assertion with the balance-type rule:

# balance assertions will consider all commodities and all subaccounts
balance-type ==*

Here are the balance assertion types for quick reference:

=    single commodity, exclude subaccounts
=*   single commodity, include subaccounts
==   multi commodity,  exclude subaccounts
==*  multi commodity,  include subaccounts

Tips

Rapid feedback

It's a good idea to get rapid feedback while creating/troubleshooting CSV rules. Here's a good way, using entr from eradman.com/entrproject:

$ ls foo.csv* | entr bash -c 'echo ----; hledger -f foo.csv print desc:SOMEDESC'

A desc: query (eg) is used to select just one, or a few, transactions of interest. "bash -c" is used to run multiple commands, so we can echo a separator each time the command re-runs, making it easier to read the output.

Valid CSV

hledger accepts CSV conforming to RFC 4180. When CSV values are enclosed in quotes, note:

  • they must be double quotes (not single quotes)
  • spaces outside the quotes are not allowed

File Extension

To help hledger identify the format and show the right error messages, CSV/SSV/TSV files should normally be named with a .csv, .ssv or .tsv filename extension. Or, the file path should be prefixed with csv:, ssv: or tsv:. Eg:

$ hledger -f foo.ssv print

or:

$ cat foo | hledger -f ssv:- foo

You can override the file extension with a separator rule if needed. See also: Input files in the hledger manual.

Reading multiple CSV files

If you use multiple -f options to read multiple CSV files at once, hledger will look for a correspondingly-named rules file for each CSV file. But if you use the --rules-file option, that rules file will be used for all the CSV files.

Valid transactions

After reading a CSV file, hledger post-processes and validates the generated journal entries as it would for a journal file - balancing them, applying balance assignments, and canonicalising amount styles. Any errors at this stage will be reported in the usual way, displaying the problem entry.

There is one exception: balance assertions, if you have generated them, will not be checked, since normally these will work only when the CSV data is part of the main journal. If you do need to check balance assertions generated from CSV right away, pipe into another hledger:

$ hledger -f file.csv print | hledger -f- print

Deduplicating, importing

When you download a CSV file periodically, eg to get your latest bank transactions, the new file may overlap with the old one, containing some of the same records.

The import command will (a) detect the new transactions, and (b) append just those transactions to your main journal. It is idempotent, so you don't have to remember how many times you ran it or with which version of the CSV. (It keeps state in a hidden .latest.FILE.csv file.) This is the easiest way to import CSV data. Eg:

# download the latest CSV files, then run this command.
# Note, no -f flags needed here.
$ hledger import *.csv [--dry]

This method works for most CSV files. (Where records have a stable chronological order, and new records appear only at the new end.)

A number of other tools and workflows, hledger-specific and otherwise, exist for converting, deduplicating, classifying and managing CSV data. See:

Setting amounts

Some tips on using the amount-setting rules discussed above.

Here are the ways to set a posting's amount:

  1. If the CSV has a single amount field:
    Assign (via a fields list or a field assignment) to amountN. This sets the Nth posting's amount. N is usually 1 or 2 but can go up to 99.

  2. If the CSV has separate amount fields for debit & credit (in & out):

    a. If both fields are unsigned:
    Assign to amountN-in and amountN-out. This sets posting N's amount to whichever of these has a non-zero value, and negates the "-out" value.

    b. If either field is signed (can contain a minus sign):
    Use a conditional rule to flip the sign (of non-empty values). Since hledger always negates amountN-out, if it was already negative, we must undo that by negating once more (but only if the field is non-empty):

    fields date, description, amount1-in, amount1-out
    if %amount1-out [1-9]
     amount1-out -%amount1-out
    

    c. If both fields, or neither field, can contain a non-zero value:
    hledger normally expects exactly one of the fields to have a non-zero value. Eg, the amountN-in/amountN-out rules would reject value pairs like these:

    "",  ""
    "0", "0"
    "1", "none"
    

    So, use smarter conditional rules to set the amount from the appropriate field. Eg, these rules would make it use only the value containing non-zero digits, handling the above:

    fields date, description, in, out
    if %in [1-9]
     amount1 %in
    if %out [1-9]
     amount1 %out
    
  3. If you want posting 2's amount converted to cost:
    Assign to amount (or to amount-in and amount-out). (This is the legacy numberless syntax, which sets amount1 and amount2 and converts amount2 to cost.)

  4. If the CSV has the balance instead of the transaction amount:
    Assign to balanceN, which sets posting N's amount indirectly via a balance assignment. (Old syntax: balance, equivalent to balance1.)

    • If hledger guesses the wrong default account name:
      When setting the amount via balance assertion, hledger may guess the wrong default account name. So, set the account name explicitly, eg:

      fields date, description, balance1
      account1 assets:checking
      

Amount signs

There is some special handling for amount signs, to simplify parsing and sign-flipping:

  • If an amount value begins with a plus sign:
    that will be removed: +AMT becomes AMT

  • If an amount value is parenthesised:
    it will be de-parenthesised and sign-flipped: (AMT) becomes -AMT

  • If an amount value has two minus signs (or two sets of parentheses, or a minus sign and parentheses):
    they cancel out and will be removed: --AMT or -(AMT) becomes AMT

  • If an amount value contains just a sign (or just a set of parentheses):
    that is removed, making it an empty value. "+" or "-" or "()" becomes "".

Setting currency/commodity

If the currency/commodity symbol is included in the CSV's amount field(s):

2020-01-01,foo,$123.00

you don't have to do anything special for the commodity symbol, it will be assigned as part of the amount. Eg:

fields date,description,amount
2020-01-01 foo
    expenses:unknown         $123.00
    income:unknown          $-123.00

If the currency is provided as a separate CSV field:

2020-01-01,foo,USD,123.00

You can assign that to the currency pseudo-field, which has the special effect of prepending itself to every amount in the transaction (on the left, with no separating space):

fields date,description,currency,amount
2020-01-01 foo
    expenses:unknown       USD123.00
    income:unknown        USD-123.00

Or, you can use a field assignment to construct the amount yourself, with more control. Eg to put the symbol on the right, and separated by a space:

fields date,description,cur,amt
amount %amt %cur
2020-01-01 foo
    expenses:unknown        123.00 USD
    income:unknown         -123.00 USD

Note we used a temporary field name (cur) that is not currency - that would trigger the prepending effect, which we don't want here.

Amount decimal places

Like amounts in a journal file, the amounts generated by CSV rules like amount1 influence commodity display styles, such as the number of decimal places displayed in reports.

The original amounts as written in the CSV file do not affect display style (because we don't yet reliably know their commodity).

Referencing other fields

In field assignments, you can interpolate only CSV fields, not hledger fields. In the example below, there's both a CSV field and a hledger field named amount1, but %amount1 always means the CSV field, not the hledger field:

# Name the third CSV field "amount1"
fields date,description,amount1

# Set hledger's amount1 to the CSV amount1 field followed by USD
amount1 %amount1 USD

# Set comment to the CSV amount1 (not the amount1 assigned above)
comment %amount1

Here, since there's no CSV amount1 field, %amount1 will produce a literal "amount1":

fields date,description,csvamount
amount1 %csvamount USD
# Can't interpolate amount1 here
comment %amount1

When there are multiple field assignments to the same hledger field, only the last one takes effect. Here, comment's value will be be B, or C if "something" is matched, but never A:

comment A
comment B
if something
 comment C

How CSV rules are evaluated

Here's how to think of CSV rules being evaluated (if you really need to). First,

  • include - all includes are inlined, from top to bottom, depth first. (At each include point the file is inlined and scanned for further includes, recursively, before proceeding.)

Then "global" rules are evaluated, top to bottom. If a rule is repeated, the last one wins:

  • skip (at top level)
  • date-format
  • newest-first
  • fields - names the CSV fields, optionally sets up initial assignments to hledger fields

Then for each CSV record in turn:

  • test all if blocks. If any of them contain a end rule, skip all remaining CSV records. Otherwise if any of them contain a skip rule, skip that many CSV records. If there are multiple matched skip rules, the first one wins.
  • collect all field assignments at top level and in matched if blocks. When there are multiple assignments for a field, keep only the last one.
  • compute a value for each hledger field - either the one that was assigned to it (and interpolate the %CSVFIELDNAME references), or a default
  • generate a synthetic hledger transaction from these values.

This is all part of the CSV reader, one of several readers hledger can use to parse input files. When all files have been read successfully, the transactions are passed as input to whichever hledger command the user specified.

TIMECLOCK FORMAT

The time logging format of timeclock.el, as read by hledger.

hledger can read time logs in timeclock format. As with Ledger, these are (a subset of) timeclock.el's format, containing clock-in and clock-out entries as in the example below. The date is a simple date. The time format is HH:MM[:SS][+-ZZZZ]. Seconds and timezone are optional. The timezone, if present, must be four digits and is ignored (currently the time is always interpreted as a local time).

i 2015/03/30 09:00:00 some:account name  optional description after two spaces
o 2015/03/30 09:20:00
i 2015/03/31 22:21:45 another account
o 2015/04/01 02:00:34

hledger treats each clock-in/clock-out pair as a transaction posting some number of hours to an account. Or if the session spans more than one day, it is split into several transactions, one for each day. For the above time log, hledger print generates these journal entries:

$ hledger -f t.timeclock print
2015-03-30 * optional description after two spaces
    (some:account name)         0.33h

2015-03-31 * 22:21-23:59
    (another account)         1.64h

2015-04-01 * 00:00-02:00
    (another account)         2.01h

Here is a sample.timeclock to download and some queries to try:

$ hledger -f sample.timeclock balance                               # current time balances
$ hledger -f sample.timeclock register -p 2009/3                    # sessions in march 2009
$ hledger -f sample.timeclock register -p weekly --depth 1 --empty  # time summary by week

To generate time logs, ie to clock in and clock out, you could:

  • use emacs and the built-in timeclock.el, or the extended timeclock-x.el and perhaps the extras in ledgerutils.el

  • at the command line, use these bash aliases: shell alias ti="echo i `date '+%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S'` \$* >>$TIMELOG" alias to="echo o `date '+%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S'` >>$TIMELOG"

  • or use the old ti and to scripts in the ledger 2.x repository. These rely on a "timeclock" executable which I think is just the ledger 2 executable renamed.

TIMEDOT FORMAT

timedot format is hledger's human-friendly time logging format. Compared to timeclock format, it is

  • convenient for quick, approximate, and retroactive time logging
  • readable: you can see at a glance where time was spent.

A timedot file contains a series of day entries, which might look like this:

2021-08-04
hom:errands          .... ....
fos:hledger:timedot  ..         ; docs
per:admin:finance    

hledger reads this as three time transactions on this day, with each dot representing a quarter-hour spent:

$ hledger -f a.timedot print   # .timedot file extension activates the timedot reader
2021-08-04 *
    (hom:errands)            2.00

2021-08-04 *
    (fos:hledger:timedot)    0.50

2021-08-04 *
    (per:admin:finance)      0

A day entry begins with a date line:

Optionally this can be followed on the same line by

  • a common transaction description for this day
  • a common transaction comment for this day, after a semicolon (;).

After the date line are zero or more optionally-indented time transaction lines, consisting of:

  • an account name - any word or phrase, usually a hledger-style account name.
  • two or more spaces - a field separator, required if there is an amount (as in journal format).
  • a timedot amount - dots representing quarter hours, or a number representing hours.
  • an optional comment beginning with semicolon. This is ignored.

In more detail, timedot amounts can be:

  • dots: zero or more period characters, each representing one quarter-hour. Spaces are ignored and can be used for grouping. Eg: .... ..

  • a number, representing hours. Eg: 1.5

  • a number immediately followed by a unit symbol s, m, h, d, w, mo, or y, representing seconds, minutes, hours, days weeks, months or years. Eg 1.5h or 90m. The following equivalencies are assumed:
    60s = 1m, 60m = 1h, 24h = 1d, 7d = 1w, 30d = 1mo, 365d = 1y. (This unit will not be visible in the generated transaction amount, which is always in hours.)

There is some added flexibility to help with keeping time log data in the same file as your notes, todo lists, etc.:

  • Lines beginning with # or ;, and blank lines, are ignored.

  • Lines not ending with a double-space and amount are parsed as transactions with zero amount. (Most hledger reports hide these by default; add -E to see them.)

  • One or more stars (*) followed by a space, at the start of a line, is ignored. So date lines or time transaction lines can also be Org-mode headlines.

  • All Org-mode headlines before the first date line are ignored.

More examples:

# on this day, 6h was spent on client work, 1.5h on haskell FOSS work, etc.
2016/2/1
inc:client1   .... .... .... .... .... ....
fos:haskell   .... ..
biz:research  .

2016/2/2
inc:client1   .... ....
biz:research  .
2016/2/3
inc:client1   4
fos:hledger   3
biz:research  1
* Time log
** 2020-01-01
*** adm:time  .
*** adm:finance  .
* 2020 Work Diary
** Q1
*** 2020-02-29
**** DONE
0700 yoga
**** UNPLANNED
**** BEGUN
hom:chores
 cleaning  ...
 water plants
  outdoor - one full watering can
  indoor - light watering
**** TODO
adm:planning: trip
*** LATER

Reporting:

$ hledger -f a.timedot print date:2016/2/2
2016-02-02 *
    (inc:client1)          2.00

2016-02-02 *
    (biz:research)          0.25
$ hledger -f a.timedot bal --daily --tree
Balance changes in 2016-02-01-2016-02-03:

            ||  2016-02-01d  2016-02-02d  2016-02-03d 
============++========================================
 biz        ||         0.25         0.25         1.00 
   research ||         0.25         0.25         1.00 
 fos        ||         1.50            0         3.00 
   haskell  ||         1.50            0            0 
   hledger  ||            0            0         3.00 
 inc        ||         6.00         2.00         4.00 
   client1  ||         6.00         2.00         4.00 
------------++----------------------------------------
            ||         7.75         2.25         8.00 

Using period instead of colon as account name separator:

2016/2/4
fos.hledger.timedot  4
fos.ledger           ..
$ hledger -f a.timedot --alias /\\./=: bal --tree
                4.50  fos
                4.00    hledger:timedot
                0.50    ledger
--------------------
                4.50

A sample.timedot file.

COMMON TASKS

Here are some quick examples of how to do some basic tasks with hledger.

Getting help

Here's how to list commands and view options and command docs:

$ hledger                # show available commands
$ hledger --help         # show common options
$ hledger CMD --help     # show common options and CMD's options and documentation

You can also view your hledger version's manual in several formats by using the help command. Eg:

$ hledger help           # show the hledger manual with info, man or $PAGER (best available)
$ hledger help journal   # show the journal topic in the hledger manual
$ hledger help --help    # show how the help command works

To view manuals and introductory docs on the web, visit https://hledger.org. Chat and mail list support and discussion archives can be found at https://hledger.org/support.

Constructing command lines

hledger has an extensive and powerful command line interface. We strive to keep it simple and ergonomic, but you may run into one of the confusing real world details described in OPTIONS, below. If that happens, here are some tips that may help:

  • command-specific options must go after the command (it's fine to put all options there) (hledger CMD OPTS ARGS)
  • running add-on executables directly simplifies command line parsing (hledger-ui OPTS ARGS)
  • enclose "problematic" args in single quotes
  • if needed, also add a backslash to hide regular expression metacharacters from the shell
  • to see how a misbehaving command is being parsed, add --debug=2.

Starting a journal file

hledger looks for your accounting data in a journal file, $HOME/.hledger.journal by default:

$ hledger stats
The hledger journal file "/Users/simon/.hledger.journal" was not found.
Please create it first, eg with "hledger add" or a text editor.
Or, specify an existing journal file with -f or LEDGER_FILE.

You can override this by setting the LEDGER_FILE environment variable. It's a good practice to keep this important file under version control, and to start a new file each year. So you could do something like this:

$ mkdir ~/finance
$ cd ~/finance
$ git init
Initialized empty Git repository in /Users/simon/finance/.git/
$ touch 2020.journal
$ echo "export LEDGER_FILE=$HOME/finance/2020.journal" >> ~/.bashrc
$ source ~/.bashrc
$ hledger stats
Main file                : /Users/simon/finance/2020.journal
Included files           : 
Transactions span        :  to  (0 days)
Last transaction         : none
Transactions             : 0 (0.0 per day)
Transactions last 30 days: 0 (0.0 per day)
Transactions last 7 days : 0 (0.0 per day)
Payees/descriptions      : 0
Accounts                 : 0 (depth 0)
Commodities              : 0 ()
Market prices            : 0 ()

Setting opening balances

Pick a starting date for which you can look up the balances of some real-world assets (bank accounts, wallet..) and liabilities (credit cards..).

To avoid a lot of data entry, you may want to start with just one or two accounts, like your checking account or cash wallet; and pick a recent starting date, like today or the start of the week. You can always come back later and add more accounts and older transactions, eg going back to january 1st.

Add an opening balances transaction to the journal, declaring the balances on this date. Here are two ways to do it:

  • The first way: open the journal in any text editor and save an entry like this:

    2020-01-01 * opening balances
        assets:bank:checking                $1000   = $1000
        assets:bank:savings                 $2000   = $2000
        assets:cash                          $100   = $100
        liabilities:creditcard               $-50   = $-50
        equity:opening/closing balances
    

    These are start-of-day balances, ie whatever was in the account at the end of the previous day.

    The * after the date is an optional status flag. Here it means "cleared & confirmed".

    The currency symbols are optional, but usually a good idea as you'll be dealing with multiple currencies sooner or later.

    The = amounts are optional balance assertions, providing extra error checking.

  • The second way: run hledger add and follow the prompts to record a similar transaction:

    $ hledger add
    Adding transactions to journal file /Users/simon/finance/2020.journal
    Any command line arguments will be used as defaults.
    Use tab key to complete, readline keys to edit, enter to accept defaults.
    An optional (CODE) may follow transaction dates.
    An optional ; COMMENT may follow descriptions or amounts.
    If you make a mistake, enter < at any prompt to go one step backward.
    To end a transaction, enter . when prompted.
    To quit, enter . at a date prompt or press control-d or control-c.
    Date [2020-02-07]: 2020-01-01
    Description: * opening balances
    Account 1: assets:bank:checking
    Amount  1: $1000
    Account 2: assets:bank:savings
    Amount  2 [$-1000]: $2000
    Account 3: assets:cash
    Amount  3 [$-3000]: $100
    Account 4: liabilities:creditcard
    Amount  4 [$-3100]: $-50
    Account 5: equity:opening/closing balances
    Amount  5 [$-3050]: 
    Account 6 (or . or enter to finish this transaction): .
    2020-01-01 * opening balances
        assets:bank:checking                      $1000
        assets:bank:savings                       $2000
        assets:cash                                $100
        liabilities:creditcard                     $-50
        equity:opening/closing balances          $-3050
    
    Save this transaction to the journal ? [y]: 
    Saved.
    Starting the next transaction (. or ctrl-D/ctrl-C to quit)
    Date [2020-01-01]: .
    

If you're using version control, this could be a good time to commit the journal. Eg:

$ git commit -m 'initial balances' 2020.journal

Recording transactions

As you spend or receive money, you can record these transactions using one of the methods above (text editor, hledger add) or by using the hledger-iadd or hledger-web add-ons, or by using the import command to convert CSV data downloaded from your bank.

Here are some simple transactions, see the hledger_journal(5) manual and hledger.org for more ideas:

2020/1/10 * gift received
  assets:cash   $20
  income:gifts

2020.1.12 * farmers market
  expenses:food    $13
  assets:cash

2020-01-15 paycheck
  income:salary
  assets:bank:checking    $1000

Reconciling

Periodically you should reconcile - compare your hledger-reported balances against external sources of truth, like bank statements or your bank's website - to be sure that your ledger accurately represents the real-world balances (and, that the real-world institutions have not made a mistake!). This gets easy and fast with (1) practice and (2) frequency. If you do it daily, it can take 2-10 minutes. If you let it pile up, expect it to take longer as you hunt down errors and discrepancies.

A typical workflow:

  1. Reconcile cash. Count what's in your wallet. Compare with what hledger reports (hledger bal cash). If they are different, try to remember the missing transaction, or look for the error in the already-recorded transactions. A register report can be helpful (hledger reg cash). If you can't find the error, add an adjustment transaction. Eg if you have $105 after the above, and can't explain the missing $2, it could be:

    2020-01-16 * adjust cash
        assets:cash    $-2 = $105
        expenses:misc
    
  2. Reconcile checking. Log in to your bank's website. Compare today's (cleared) balance with hledger's cleared balance (hledger bal checking -C). If they are different, track down the error or record the missing transaction(s) or add an adjustment transaction, similar to the above. Unlike the cash case, you can usually compare the transaction history and running balance from your bank with the one reported by hledger reg checking -C. This will be easier if you generally record transaction dates quite similar to your bank's clearing dates.

  3. Repeat for other asset/liability accounts.

Tip: instead of the register command, use hledger-ui to see a live-updating register while you edit the journal: hledger-ui --watch --register checking -C

After reconciling, it could be a good time to mark the reconciled transactions' status as "cleared and confirmed", if you want to track that, by adding the * marker. Eg in the paycheck transaction above, insert * between 2020-01-15 and paycheck

If you're using version control, this can be another good time to commit:

$ git commit -m 'txns' 2020.journal

Reporting

Here are some basic reports.

Show all transactions:

$ hledger print
2020-01-01 * opening balances
    assets:bank:checking                      $1000
    assets:bank:savings                       $2000
    assets:cash                                $100
    liabilities:creditcard                     $-50
    equity:opening/closing balances          $-3050

2020-01-10 * gift received
    assets:cash              $20
    income:gifts

2020-01-12 * farmers market
    expenses:food             $13
    assets:cash

2020-01-15 * paycheck
    income:salary
    assets:bank:checking           $1000

2020-01-16 * adjust cash
    assets:cash               $-2 = $105
    expenses:misc

Show account names, and their hierarchy:

$ hledger accounts --tree
assets
  bank
    checking
    savings
  cash
equity
  opening/closing balances
expenses
  food
  misc
income
  gifts
  salary
liabilities
  creditcard

Show all account totals:

$ hledger balance
               $4105  assets
               $4000    bank
               $2000      checking
               $2000      savings
                $105    cash
              $-3050  equity:opening/closing balances
                 $15  expenses
                 $13    food
                  $2    misc
              $-1020  income
                $-20    gifts
              $-1000    salary
                $-50  liabilities:creditcard
--------------------
                   0

Show only asset and liability balances, as a flat list, limited to depth 2:

$ hledger bal assets liabilities -2
               $4000  assets:bank
                $105  assets:cash
                $-50  liabilities:creditcard
--------------------
               $4055

Show the same thing without negative numbers, formatted as a simple balance sheet:

$ hledger bs -2
Balance Sheet 2020-01-16

                        || 2020-01-16 
========================++============
 Assets                 ||            
------------------------++------------
 assets:bank            ||      $4000 
 assets:cash            ||       $105 
------------------------++------------
                        ||      $4105 
========================++============
 Liabilities            ||            
------------------------++------------
 liabilities:creditcard ||        $50 
------------------------++------------
                        ||        $50 
========================++============
 Net:                   ||      $4055 

The final total is your "net worth" on the end date. (Or use bse for a full balance sheet with equity.)

Show income and expense totals, formatted as an income statement:

hledger is 
Income Statement 2020-01-01-2020-01-16

               || 2020-01-01-2020-01-16 
===============++=======================
 Revenues      ||                       
---------------++-----------------------
 income:gifts  ||                   $20 
 income:salary ||                 $1000 
---------------++-----------------------
               ||                 $1020 
===============++=======================
 Expenses      ||                       
---------------++-----------------------
 expenses:food ||                   $13 
 expenses:misc ||                    $2 
---------------++-----------------------
               ||                   $15 
===============++=======================
 Net:          ||                 $1005 

The final total is your net income during this period.

Show transactions affecting your wallet, with running total:

$ hledger register cash
2020-01-01 opening balances     assets:cash                   $100          $100
2020-01-10 gift received        assets:cash                    $20          $120
2020-01-12 farmers market       assets:cash                   $-13          $107
2020-01-16 adjust cash          assets:cash                    $-2          $105

Show weekly posting counts as a bar chart:

$ hledger activity -W
2019-12-30 *****
2020-01-06 ****
2020-01-13 ****

Migrating to a new file

At the end of the year, you may want to continue your journal in a new file, so that old transactions don't slow down or clutter your reports, and to help ensure the integrity of your accounting history. See the close command.

If using version control, don't forget to git add the new file.

LIMITATIONS

The need to precede add-on command options with -- when invoked from hledger is awkward.

When input data contains non-ascii characters, a suitable system locale must be configured (or there will be an unhelpful error). Eg on POSIX, set LANG to something other than C.

In a Microsoft Windows CMD window, non-ascii characters and colours are not supported.

On Windows, non-ascii characters may not display correctly when running a hledger built in CMD in MSYS/CYGWIN, or vice-versa.

In a Cygwin/MSYS/Mintty window, the tab key is not supported in hledger add.

Not all of Ledger's journal file syntax is supported. See hledger and Ledger > Differences > journal format.

On large data files, hledger is slower and uses more memory than Ledger.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Here are some issues you might encounter when you run hledger (and remember you can also seek help from the IRC channel, mail list or bug tracker):

Successfully installed, but "No command 'hledger' found"
stack and cabal install binaries into a special directory, which should be added to your PATH environment variable. Eg on unix-like systems, that is ~/.local/bin and ~/.cabal/bin respectively.

I set a custom LEDGER_FILE, but hledger is still using the default file
LEDGER_FILE should be a real environment variable, not just a shell variable. The command env | grep LEDGER_FILE should show it. You may need to use export. Here's an explanation.

Getting errors like "Illegal byte sequence" or "Invalid or incomplete multibyte or wide character" or "commitAndReleaseBuffer: invalid argument (invalid character)"
Programs compiled with GHC (hledger, haskell build tools, etc.) need to have a UTF-8-aware locale configured in the environment, otherwise they will fail with these kinds of errors when they encounter non-ascii characters.

To fix it, set the LANG environment variable to some locale which supports UTF-8. The locale you choose must be installed on your system.

Here's an example of setting LANG temporarily, on Ubuntu GNU/Linux:

$ file my.journal
my.journal: UTF-8 Unicode text         # the file is UTF8-encoded
$ echo $LANG
C                                      # LANG is set to the default locale, which does not support UTF8
$ locale -a                            # which locales are installed ?
C
en_US.utf8                             # here's a UTF8-aware one we can use
POSIX
$ LANG=en_US.utf8 hledger -f my.journal print   # ensure it is used for this command

If available, C.UTF-8 will also work. If your preferred locale isn't listed by locale -a, you might need to install it. Eg on Ubuntu/Debian:

$ apt-get install language-pack-fr
$ locale -a
C
en_US.utf8
fr_BE.utf8
fr_CA.utf8
fr_CH.utf8
fr_FR.utf8
fr_LU.utf8
POSIX
$ LANG=fr_FR.utf8 hledger -f my.journal print

Here's how you could set it permanently, if you use a bash shell:

$ echo "export LANG=en_US.utf8" >>~/.bash_profile
$ bash --login

Exact spelling and capitalisation may be important. Note the difference on MacOS (UTF-8, not utf8). Some platforms (eg ubuntu) allow variant spellings, but others (eg macos) require it to be exact:

$ locale -a | grep -iE en_us.*utf
en_US.UTF-8
$ LANG=en_US.UTF-8 hledger -f my.journal print

hledger-ui

hledger-ui is a terminal interface (TUI) for the hledger accounting tool. This manual is for hledger-ui 1.27.

hledger-ui [OPTIONS] [QUERYARGS]
hledger ui -- [OPTIONS] [QUERYARGS]

hledger is a reliable, cross-platform set of programs for tracking money, time, or any other commodity, using double-entry accounting and a simple, editable file format. hledger is inspired by and largely compatible with ledger(1).

hledger-ui is hledger's terminal interface, providing an efficient full-window text UI for viewing accounts and transactions, and some limited data entry capability. It is easier than hledger's command-line interface, and sometimes quicker and more convenient than the web interface.

Like hledger, it reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal). For more about this see hledger(1), hledger_journal(5) etc.

Unlike hledger, hledger-ui hides all future-dated transactions by default. They can be revealed, along with any rule-generated periodic transactions, by pressing the F key (or starting with --forecast) to enable "forecast mode".

OPTIONS

Note: if invoking hledger-ui as a hledger subcommand, write -- before options as shown above.

Any QUERYARGS are interpreted as a hledger search query which filters the data.

-w --watch : watch for data and date changes and reload automatically

--theme=default|terminal|greenterm : use this custom display theme

--register=ACCTREGEX : start in the (first) matched account's register screen

--change : show period balances (changes) at startup instead of historical balances

-l --flat : show accounts as a flat list (default)

-t --tree : show accounts as a tree

hledger input options:

-f FILE --file=FILE : use a different input file. For stdin, use - (default: $LEDGER_FILE or $HOME/.hledger.journal)

--rules-file=RULESFILE : Conversion rules file to use when reading CSV (default: FILE.rules)

--separator=CHAR : Field separator to expect when reading CSV (default: ',')

--alias=OLD=NEW : rename accounts named OLD to NEW

--anon : anonymize accounts and payees

--pivot FIELDNAME : use some other field or tag for the account name

-I --ignore-assertions : disable balance assertion checks (note: does not disable balance assignments)

-s --strict : do extra error checking (check that all posted accounts are declared)

hledger reporting options:

-b --begin=DATE : include postings/txns on or after this date (will be adjusted to preceding subperiod start when using a report interval)

-e --end=DATE : include postings/txns before this date (will be adjusted to following subperiod end when using a report interval)

-D --daily : multiperiod/multicolumn report by day

-W --weekly : multiperiod/multicolumn report by week

-M --monthly : multiperiod/multicolumn report by month

-Q --quarterly : multiperiod/multicolumn report by quarter

-Y --yearly : multiperiod/multicolumn report by year

-p --period=PERIODEXP : set start date, end date, and/or reporting interval all at once using period expressions syntax

--date2 : match the secondary date instead (see command help for other effects)

--today=DATE : override today's date (affects relative smart dates, for tests/examples)

-U --unmarked : include only unmarked postings/txns (can combine with -P or -C)

-P --pending : include only pending postings/txns

-C --cleared : include only cleared postings/txns

-R --real : include only non-virtual postings

-NUM --depth=NUM : hide/aggregate accounts or postings more than NUM levels deep

-E --empty : show items with zero amount, normally hidden (and vice-versa in hledger-ui/hledger-web)

-B --cost : convert amounts to their cost/selling amount at transaction time

-V --market : convert amounts to their market value in default valuation commodities

-X --exchange=COMM : convert amounts to their market value in commodity COMM

--value : convert amounts to cost or market value, more flexibly than -B/-V/-X

--infer-market-prices : use transaction prices (recorded with @ or @@) as additional market prices, as if they were P directives

--auto : apply automated posting rules to modify transactions.

--forecast : generate future transactions from periodic transaction rules, for the next 6 months or till report end date. In hledger-ui, also make ordinary future transactions visible.

--commodity-style : Override the commodity style in the output for the specified commodity. For example 'EUR1.000,00'.

--color=WHEN (or --colour=WHEN) : Should color-supporting commands use ANSI color codes in text output. : 'auto' (default): whenever stdout seems to be a color-supporting terminal. : 'always' or 'yes': always, useful eg when piping output into 'less -R'. : 'never' or 'no': never. : A NO_COLOR environment variable overrides this.

--pretty[=WHEN] : Show prettier output, e.g. using unicode box-drawing characters. : Accepts 'yes' (the default) or 'no' ('y', 'n', 'always', 'never' also work). : If you provide an argument you must use '=', e.g. '--pretty=yes'.

When a reporting option appears more than once in the command line, the last one takes precedence.

Some reporting options can also be written as query arguments.

hledger help options:

-h --help : show general or COMMAND help

--man : show general or COMMAND user manual with man

--info : show general or COMMAND user manual with info

--version : show general or ADDONCMD version

--debug[=N] : show debug output (levels 1-9, default: 1)

A @FILE argument will be expanded to the contents of FILE, which should contain one command line option/argument per line. (To prevent this, insert a -- argument before.)

MOUSE

In most modern terminals, you can navigate through the screens with a mouse or touchpad:

  • Use mouse wheel or trackpad to scroll up and down
  • Click on list items to go deeper
  • Click on the left margin (column 0), or the blank area at bottom of screen, to go back.

KEYS

Keyboard gives more control.

? shows a help dialog listing all keys. (Some of these also appear in the quick help at the bottom of each screen.) Press ? again (or ESCAPE, or LEFT, or q) to close it. The following keys work on most screens:

The cursor keys navigate: RIGHT goes deeper, LEFT returns to the previous screen, UP/DOWN/PGUP/PGDN/HOME/END move up and down through lists. Emacs-style (CTRL-p/CTRL-n/CTRL-f/CTRL-b) movement keys are also supported (but not vi-style keys, since hledger-1.19, sorry!). A tip: movement speed is limited by your keyboard repeat rate, to move faster you may want to adjust it. (If you're on a mac, the karabiner app is one way to do that.)

With shift pressed, the cursor keys adjust the report period, limiting the transactions to be shown (by default, all are shown). SHIFT-DOWN/UP steps downward and upward through these standard report period durations: year, quarter, month, week, day. Then, SHIFT-LEFT/RIGHT moves to the previous/next period. T sets the report period to today. With the -w/--watch option, when viewing a "current" period (the current day, week, month, quarter, or year), the period will move automatically to track the current date. To set a non-standard period, you can use / and a date: query.

/ lets you set a general filter query limiting the data shown, using the same query terms as in hledger and hledger-web. While editing the query, you can use CTRL-a/e/d/k, BS, cursor keys; press ENTER to set it, or ESCAPEto cancel. There are also keys for quickly adjusting some common filters like account depth and transaction status (see below). BACKSPACE or DELETE removes all filters, showing all transactions.

As mentioned above, by default hledger-ui hides future transactions - both ordinary transactions recorded in the journal, and periodic transactions generated by rule. F toggles forecast mode, in which future/forecasted transactions are shown.

ESCAPE resets the UI state and jumps back to the top screen, restoring the app's initial state at startup. Or, it cancels minibuffer data entry or the help dialog.

CTRL-l redraws the screen and centers the selection if possible (selections near the top won't be centered, since we don't scroll above the top).

g reloads from the data file(s) and updates the current screen and any previous screens. (With large files, this could cause a noticeable pause.)

I toggles balance assertion checking. Disabling balance assertions temporarily can be useful for troubleshooting.

a runs command-line hledger's add command, and reloads the updated file. This allows some basic data entry.

A is like a, but runs the hledger-iadd tool, which provides a terminal interface. This key will be available if hledger-iadd is installed in $path.

E runs $HLEDGER_UI_EDITOR, or $EDITOR, or a default (emacsclient -a "" -nw) on the journal file. With some editors (emacs, vi), the cursor will be positioned at the current transaction when invoked from the register and transaction screens, and at the error location (if possible) when invoked from the error screen.

B toggles cost mode, showing amounts in their transaction price's commodity (like toggling the -B/--cost flag).

V toggles value mode, showing amounts' current market value in their default valuation commodity (like toggling the -V/--market flag). Note, "current market value" means the value on the report end date if specified, otherwise today. To see the value on another date, you can temporarily set that as the report end date. Eg: to see a transaction as it was valued on july 30, go to the accounts or register screen, press /, and add date:-7/30 to the query.

At most one of cost or value mode can be active at once.

There's not yet any visual reminder when cost or value mode is active; for now pressing b b v should reliably reset to normal mode.

q quits the application.

Additional screen-specific keys are described below.

SCREENS

Accounts screen

This is normally the first screen displayed. It lists accounts and their balances, like hledger's balance command. By default, it shows all accounts and their latest ending balances (including the balances of subaccounts). Accounts which have been declared with an account directive are also listed, even if not yet used (except for empty parent accounts). If you specify a query on the command line, it shows just the matched accounts and the balances from matched transactions.

Account names are shown as a flat list by default; press t to toggle tree mode. In list mode, account balances are exclusive of subaccounts, except where subaccounts are hidden by a depth limit (see below). In tree mode, all account balances are inclusive of subaccounts.

To see less detail, press a number key, 1 to 9, to set a depth limit. Or use - to decrease and +/= to increase the depth limit. 0 shows even less detail, collapsing all accounts to a single total. To remove the depth limit, set it higher than the maximum account depth, or press ESCAPE.

H toggles between showing historical balances or period balances. Historical balances (the default) are ending balances at the end of the report period, taking into account all transactions before that date (filtered by the filter query if any), including transactions before the start of the report period. In other words, historical balances are what you would see on a bank statement for that account (unless disturbed by a filter query). Period balances ignore transactions before the report start date, so they show the change in balance during the report period. They are more useful eg when viewing a time log.

U toggles filtering by unmarked status, including or excluding unmarked postings in the balances. Similarly, P toggles pending postings, and C toggles cleared postings. (By default, balances include all postings; if you activate one or two status filters, only those postings are included; and if you activate all three, the filter is removed.)

R toggles real mode, in which virtual postings are ignored.

z toggles nonzero mode, in which only accounts with nonzero balances are shown (hledger-ui shows zero items by default, unlike command-line hledger).

Press RIGHT to view an account's transactions register.

Register screen

This screen shows the transactions affecting a particular account, like a check register. Each line represents one transaction and shows:

  • the other account(s) involved, in abbreviated form. (If there are both real and virtual postings, it shows only the accounts affected by real postings.)

  • the overall change to the current account's balance; positive for an inflow to this account, negative for an outflow.

  • the running historical total or period total for the current account, after the transaction. This can be toggled with H. Similar to the accounts screen, the historical total is affected by transactions (filtered by the filter query) before the report start date, while the period total is not. If the historical total is not disturbed by a filter query, it will be the running historical balance you would see on a bank register for the current account.

Transactions affecting this account's subaccounts will be included in the register if the accounts screen is in tree mode, or if it's in list mode but this account has subaccounts which are not shown due to a depth limit. In other words, the register always shows the transactions contributing to the balance shown on the accounts screen. Tree mode/list mode can be toggled with t here also.

U toggles filtering by unmarked status, showing or hiding unmarked transactions. Similarly, P toggles pending transactions, and C toggles cleared transactions. (By default, transactions with all statuses are shown; if you activate one or two status filters, only those transactions are shown; and if you activate all three, the filter is removed.)

R toggles real mode, in which virtual postings are ignored.

z toggles nonzero mode, in which only transactions posting a nonzero change are shown (hledger-ui shows zero items by default, unlike command-line hledger).

Press RIGHT to view the selected transaction in detail.

Transaction screen

This screen shows a single transaction, as a general journal entry, similar to hledger's print command and journal format (hledger_journal(5)).

The transaction's date(s) and any cleared flag, transaction code, description, comments, along with all of its account postings are shown. Simple transactions have two postings, but there can be more (or in certain cases, fewer).

UP and DOWN will step through all transactions listed in the previous account register screen. In the title bar, the numbers in parentheses show your position within that account register. They will vary depending on which account register you came from (remember most transactions appear in multiple account registers). The #N number preceding them is the transaction's position within the complete unfiltered journal, which is a more stable id (at least until the next reload).

Error screen

This screen will appear if there is a problem, such as a parse error, when you press g to reload. Once you have fixed the problem, press g again to reload and resume normal operation. (Or, you can press escape to cancel the reload attempt.)

TIPS

Watch mode

One of hledger-ui's best features is the auto-reloading -w/--watch mode. With this flag, it will update the display automatically whenever changes are saved to the data files.

This is very useful when reconciling. A good workflow is to have your bank's online register open in a browser window, for reference; the journal file open in an editor window; and hledger-ui in watch mode in a terminal window, eg:

$ hledger-ui --watch --register checking -C

As you mark things cleared in the editor, you can see the effect immediately without having to context switch. This leaves more mental bandwidth for your accounting. Of course you can still interact with hledger-ui when needed, eg to toggle cleared mode, or to explore the history.

Watch mode limitations

There are situations in which it won't work, ie the display will not update when you save a change (because the underlying inotify library does not support it). Here are some that we know of:

  • Certain editors: saving with gedit, and perhaps any Gnome application, won't be detected (#1617). Jetbrains IDEs, such as IDEA, also may not work (#911).

  • Certain unusual filesystems might not be supported. (All the usual ones on unix, mac and windows are supported.)

In such cases, the workaround is to switch to the hledger-ui window and press g each time you want it to reload. (Actually, see #1617 for another workaround, and let us know if it works for you.)

If you leave hledger-ui --watch running for days, on certain platforms (?), perhaps with many transactions in your journal (?), perhaps with large numbers of other files present (?), you may see it gradually using more and more memory and CPU over time, as seen in top or Activity Monitor or Task Manager.

A workaround is to quit and restart it, or to suspend it (CTRL-z) and restart it (fg) if your shell supports that.

ENVIRONMENT

COLUMNS The screen width to use. Default: the full terminal width.

LEDGER_FILE The journal file path when not specified with -f.

On unix computers, the default value is: ~/.hledger.journal.

A more typical value is something like ~/finance/YYYY.journal, where ~/finance is a version-controlled finance directory and YYYY is the current year. Or, ~/finance/current.journal, where current.journal is a symbolic link to YYYY.journal.

The usual way to set this permanently is to add a command to one of your shell's startup files (eg ~/.profile):

export LEDGER_FILE=~/finance/current.journal`

On some Mac computers, there is a more thorough way to set environment variables, that will also affect applications started from the GUI (eg, Emacs started from a dock icon): In ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist, add an entry like:

{
  "LEDGER_FILE" : "~/finance/current.journal"
}

For this to take effect you might need to killall Dock, or reboot.

On Windows computers, the default value is probably C:\Users\YOURNAME\.hledger.journal. You can change this by running a command like this in a powershell window (let us know if you need to be an Administrator, and if this persists across a reboot):

> setx LEDGER_FILE "C:\Users\MyUserName\finance\2021.journal"

Or, change it in settings: see https://www.java.com/en/download/help/path.html.

FILES

Reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal).

BUGS

The need to precede options with -- when invoked from hledger is awkward.

-f- doesn't work (hledger-ui can't read from stdin).

-V affects only the accounts screen.

When you press g, the current and all previous screens are regenerated, which may cause a noticeable pause with large files. Also there is no visual indication that this is in progress.

--watch is not yet fully robust. It works well for normal usage, but many file changes in a short time (eg saving the file thousands of times with an editor macro) can cause problems at least on OSX. Symptoms include: unresponsive UI, periodic resetting of the cursor position, momentary display of parse errors, high CPU usage eventually subsiding, and possibly a small but persistent build-up of CPU usage until the program is restarted.

Also, if you are viewing files mounted from another machine, -w/--watch requires that both machine clocks are roughly in step.

hledger-web

hledger-web is a web interface (WUI) for the hledger accounting tool. This manual is for hledger-web 1.27.

hledger-web [OPTIONS]
hledger web -- [OPTIONS]

hledger is a reliable, cross-platform set of programs for tracking money, time, or any other commodity, using double-entry accounting and a simple, editable file format. hledger is inspired by and largely compatible with ledger(1).

hledger-web is hledger's web interface. It starts a simple web application for browsing and adding transactions, and optionally opens it in a web browser window if possible. It provides a more user-friendly UI than the hledger CLI or hledger-ui interface, showing more at once (accounts, the current account register, balance charts) and allowing history-aware data entry, interactive searching, and bookmarking.

hledger-web also lets you share a ledger with multiple users, or even the public web. There is no access control, so if you need that you should put it behind a suitable web proxy. As a small protection against data loss when running an unprotected instance, it writes a numbered backup of the main journal file (only ?) on every edit.

Like hledger, it reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal). For more about this see hledger(1).

OPTIONS

Command-line options and arguments may be used to set an initial filter on the data. These filter options are not shown in the web UI, but it will be applied in addition to any search query entered there.

Note: if invoking hledger-web as a hledger subcommand, write -- before options, as shown in the synopsis above.

--serve : serve and log requests, don't browse or auto-exit

--serve-api : like --serve, but serve only the JSON web API, without the server-side web UI

--host=IPADDR : listen on this IP address (default: 127.0.0.1)

--port=PORT : listen on this TCP port (default: 5000)

--socket=SOCKETFILE : use a unix domain socket file to listen for requests instead of a TCP socket. Implies --serve. It can only be used if the operating system can provide this type of socket.

--base-url=URL : set the base url (default: http://IPADDR:PORT). You would change this when sharing over the network, or integrating within a larger website.

--file-url=URL : set the static files url (default: BASEURL/static). hledger-web normally serves static files itself, but if you wanted to serve them from another server for efficiency, you would set the url with this.

--capabilities=CAP[,CAP..] : enable the view, add, and/or manage capabilities (default: view,add)

--capabilities-header=HTTPHEADER : read capabilities to enable from a HTTP header, like X-Sandstorm-Permissions (default: disabled)

--test : run hledger-web's tests and exit. hspec test runner args may follow a --, eg: hledger-web --test -- --help

hledger input options:

-f FILE --file=FILE : use a different input file. For stdin, use - (default: $LEDGER_FILE or $HOME/.hledger.journal)

--rules-file=RULESFILE : Conversion rules file to use when reading CSV (default: FILE.rules)

--separator=CHAR : Field separator to expect when reading CSV (default: ',')

--alias=OLD=NEW : rename accounts named OLD to NEW

--anon : anonymize accounts and payees

--pivot FIELDNAME : use some other field or tag for the account name

-I --ignore-assertions : disable balance assertion checks (note: does not disable balance assignments)

-s --strict : do extra error checking (check that all posted accounts are declared)

hledger reporting options:

-b --begin=DATE : include postings/txns on or after this date (will be adjusted to preceding subperiod start when using a report interval)

-e --end=DATE : include postings/txns before this date (will be adjusted to following subperiod end when using a report interval)

-D --daily : multiperiod/multicolumn report by day

-W --weekly : multiperiod/multicolumn report by week

-M --monthly : multiperiod/multicolumn report by month

-Q --quarterly : multiperiod/multicolumn report by quarter

-Y --yearly : multiperiod/multicolumn report by year

-p --period=PERIODEXP : set start date, end date, and/or reporting interval all at once using period expressions syntax

--date2 : match the secondary date instead (see command help for other effects)

--today=DATE : override today's date (affects relative smart dates, for tests/examples)

-U --unmarked : include only unmarked postings/txns (can combine with -P or -C)

-P --pending : include only pending postings/txns

-C --cleared : include only cleared postings/txns

-R --real : include only non-virtual postings

-NUM --depth=NUM : hide/aggregate accounts or postings more than NUM levels deep

-E --empty : show items with zero amount, normally hidden (and vice-versa in hledger-ui/hledger-web)

-B --cost : convert amounts to their cost/selling amount at transaction time

-V --market : convert amounts to their market value in default valuation commodities

-X --exchange=COMM : convert amounts to their market value in commodity COMM

--value : convert amounts to cost or market value, more flexibly than -B/-V/-X

--infer-market-prices : use transaction prices (recorded with @ or @@) as additional market prices, as if they were P directives

--auto : apply automated posting rules to modify transactions.

--forecast : generate future transactions from periodic transaction rules, for the next 6 months or till report end date. In hledger-ui, also make ordinary future transactions visible.

--commodity-style : Override the commodity style in the output for the specified commodity. For example 'EUR1.000,00'.

--color=WHEN (or --colour=WHEN) : Should color-supporting commands use ANSI color codes in text output. : 'auto' (default): whenever stdout seems to be a color-supporting terminal. : 'always' or 'yes': always, useful eg when piping output into 'less -R'. : 'never' or 'no': never. : A NO_COLOR environment variable overrides this.

--pretty[=WHEN] : Show prettier output, e.g. using unicode box-drawing characters. : Accepts 'yes' (the default) or 'no' ('y', 'n', 'always', 'never' also work). : If you provide an argument you must use '=', e.g. '--pretty=yes'.

When a reporting option appears more than once in the command line, the last one takes precedence.

Some reporting options can also be written as query arguments.

hledger help options:

-h --help : show general or COMMAND help

--man : show general or COMMAND user manual with man

--info : show general or COMMAND user manual with info

--version : show general or ADDONCMD version

--debug[=N] : show debug output (levels 1-9, default: 1)

A @FILE argument will be expanded to the contents of FILE, which should contain one command line option/argument per line. (To prevent this, insert a -- argument before.)

By default, hledger-web starts the web app in "transient mode" and also opens it in your default web browser if possible. In this mode the web app will keep running for as long as you have it open in a browser window, and will exit after two minutes of inactivity (no requests and no browser windows viewing it). With --serve, it just runs the web app without exiting, and logs requests to the console. With --serve-api, only the JSON web api (see below) is served, with the usual HTML server-side web UI disabled.

By default the server listens on IP address 127.0.0.1, accessible only to local requests. You can use --host to change this, eg --host 0.0.0.0 to listen on all configured addresses.

Similarly, use --port to set a TCP port other than 5000, eg if you are running multiple hledger-web instances.

Both of these options are ignored when --socket is used. In this case, it creates an AF_UNIX socket file at the supplied path and uses that for communication. This is an alternative way of running multiple hledger-web instances behind a reverse proxy that handles authentication for different users. The path can be derived in a predictable way, eg by using the username within the path. As an example, nginx as reverse proxy can use the variable $remote_user to derive a path from the username used in a HTTP basic authentication. The following proxy_pass directive allows access to all hledger-web instances that created a socket in /tmp/hledger/:

  proxy_pass http://unix:/tmp/hledger/${remote_user}.socket;

You can use --base-url to change the protocol, hostname, port and path that appear in hyperlinks, useful eg for integrating hledger-web within a larger website. The default is http://HOST:PORT/ using the server's configured host address and TCP port (or http://HOST if PORT is 80).

With --file-url you can set a different base url for static files, eg for better caching or cookie-less serving on high performance websites.

PERMISSIONS

By default, hledger-web allows anyone who can reach it to view the journal and to add new transactions, but not to change existing data.

You can restrict who can reach it by

  • setting the IP address it listens on (see --host above). By default it listens on 127.0.0.1, accessible to all users on the local machine.
  • putting it behind an authenticating proxy, using eg apache or nginx
  • custom firewall rules

You can restrict what the users who reach it can do, by

  • using the --capabilities=CAP[,CAP..] flag when you start it, enabling one or more of the following capabilities. The default value is view,add:
    • view - allows viewing the journal file and all included files
    • add - allows adding new transactions to the main journal file
    • manage - allows editing, uploading or downloading the main or included files
  • using the --capabilities-header=HTTPHEADER flag to specify a HTTP header from which it will read capabilities to enable. hledger-web on Sandstorm uses the X-Sandstorm-Permissions header to integrate with Sandstorm's permissions. This is disabled by default.

EDITING, UPLOADING, DOWNLOADING

If you enable the manage capability mentioned above, you'll see a new "spanner" button to the right of the search form. Clicking this will let you edit, upload, or download the journal file or any files it includes.

Note, unlike any other hledger command, in this mode you (or any visitor) can alter or wipe the data files.

Normally whenever a file is changed in this way, hledger-web saves a numbered backup (assuming file permissions allow it, the disk is not full, etc.) hledger-web is not aware of version control systems, currently; if you use one, you'll have to arrange to commit the changes yourself (eg with a cron job or a file watcher like entr).

Changes which would leave the journal file(s) unparseable or non-valid (eg with failing balance assertions) are prevented. (Probably. This needs re-testing.)

RELOADING

hledger-web detects changes made to the files by other means (eg if you edit it directly, outside of hledger-web), and it will show the new data when you reload the page or navigate to a new page. If a change makes a file unparseable, hledger-web will display an error message until the file has been fixed.

(Note: if you are viewing files mounted from another machine, make sure that both machine clocks are roughly in step.)

JSON API

In addition to the web UI, hledger-web also serves a JSON API that can be used to get data or add new transactions. If you want the JSON API only, you can use the --serve-api flag. Eg:

$ hledger-web -f examples/sample.journal --serve-api
...

You can get JSON data from these routes:

/version
/accountnames
/transactions
/prices
/commodities
/accounts
/accounttransactions/ACCOUNTNAME

Eg, all account names in the journal (similar to the accounts command). (hledger-web's JSON does not include newlines, here we use python to prettify it):

$ curl -s http://127.0.0.1:5000/accountnames | python -m json.tool
[
    "assets",
    "assets:bank",
    "assets:bank:checking",
    "assets:bank:saving",
    "assets:cash",
    "expenses",
    "expenses:food",
    "expenses:supplies",
    "income",
    "income:gifts",
    "income:salary",
    "liabilities",
    "liabilities:debts"
]

Or all transactions:

$ curl -s http://127.0.0.1:5000/transactions | python -m json.tool
[
    {
        "tcode": "",
        "tcomment": "",
        "tdate": "2008-01-01",
        "tdate2": null,
        "tdescription": "income",
        "tindex": 1,
        "tpostings": [
            {
                "paccount": "assets:bank:checking",
                "pamount": [
                    {
                        "acommodity": "$",
                        "aismultiplier": false,
                        "aprice": null,
...

Most of the JSON corresponds to hledger's data types; for details of what the fields mean, see the Hledger.Data.Json haddock docs and click on the various data types, eg Transaction. And for a higher level understanding, see the journal manual.

In some cases there is outer JSON corresponding to a "Report" type. To understand that, go to the Hledger.Web.Handler.MiscR haddock and look at the source for the appropriate handler to see what it returns. Eg for /accounttransactions it's getAccounttransactionsR, returning a "accountTransactionsReport ...". Looking up the haddock for that we can see that /accounttransactions returns an AccountTransactionsReport, which consists of a report title and a list of AccountTransactionsReportItem (etc).

You can add a new transaction to the journal with a PUT request to /add, if hledger-web was started with the add capability (enabled by default). The payload must be the full, exact JSON representation of a hledger transaction (partial data won't do). You can get sample JSON from hledger-web's /transactions or /accounttransactions, or you can export it with hledger-lib, eg like so:

.../hledger$ stack ghci hledger-lib
>>> writeJsonFile "txn.json" (head $ jtxns samplejournal)
>>> :q

Here's how it looks as of hledger-1.17 (remember, this JSON corresponds to hledger's Transaction and related data types):

{
    "tcomment": "",
    "tpostings": [
        {
            "pbalanceassertion": null,
            "pstatus": "Unmarked",
            "pamount": [
                {
                    "aprice": null,
                    "acommodity": "$",
                    "aquantity": {
                        "floatingPoint": 1,
                        "decimalPlaces": 10,
                        "decimalMantissa": 10000000000
                    },
                    "aismultiplier": false,
                    "astyle": {
                        "ascommodityside": "L",
                        "asdigitgroups": null,
                        "ascommodityspaced": false,
                        "asprecision": 2,
                        "asdecimalpoint": "."
                    }
                }
            ],
            "ptransaction_": "1",
            "paccount": "assets:bank:checking",
            "pdate": null,
            "ptype": "RegularPosting",
            "pcomment": "",
            "pdate2": null,
            "ptags": [],
            "poriginal": null
        },
        {
            "pbalanceassertion": null,
            "pstatus": "Unmarked",
            "pamount": [
                {
                    "aprice": null,
                    "acommodity": "$",
                    "aquantity": {
                        "floatingPoint": -1,
                        "decimalPlaces": 10,
                        "decimalMantissa": -10000000000
                    },
                    "aismultiplier": false,
                    "astyle": {
                        "ascommodityside": "L",
                        "asdigitgroups": null,
                        "ascommodityspaced": false,
                        "asprecision": 2,
                        "asdecimalpoint": "."
                    }
                }
            ],
            "ptransaction_": "1",
            "paccount": "income:salary",
            "pdate": null,
            "ptype": "RegularPosting",
            "pcomment": "",
            "pdate2": null,
            "ptags": [],
            "poriginal": null
        }
    ],
    "ttags": [],
    "tsourcepos": {
        "tag": "JournalSourcePos",
        "contents": [
            "",
            [
                1,
                1
            ]
        ]
    },
    "tdate": "2008-01-01",
    "tcode": "",
    "tindex": 1,
    "tprecedingcomment": "",
    "tdate2": null,
    "tdescription": "income",
    "tstatus": "Unmarked"
}

And here's how to test adding it with curl. This should add a new entry to your journal:

$ curl http://127.0.0.1:5000/add -X PUT -H 'Content-Type: application/json' --data-binary @txn.json

ENVIRONMENT

LEDGER_FILE The journal file path when not specified with -f.

On unix computers, the default value is: ~/.hledger.journal.

A more typical value is something like ~/finance/YYYY.journal, where ~/finance is a version-controlled finance directory and YYYY is the current year. Or, ~/finance/current.journal, where current.journal is a symbolic link to YYYY.journal.

The usual way to set this permanently is to add a command to one of your shell's startup files (eg ~/.profile):

export LEDGER_FILE=~/finance/current.journal`

On some Mac computers, there is a more thorough way to set environment variables, that will also affect applications started from the GUI (eg, Emacs started from a dock icon): In ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist, add an entry like:

{
  "LEDGER_FILE" : "~/finance/current.journal"
}

For this to take effect you might need to killall Dock, or reboot.

On Windows computers, the default value is probably C:\Users\YOURNAME\.hledger.journal. You can change this by running a command like this in a powershell window (let us know if you need to be an Administrator, and if this persists across a reboot):

> setx LEDGER_FILE "C:\Users\MyUserName\finance\2021.journal"

Or, change it in settings: see https://www.java.com/en/download/help/path.html.

FILES

Reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal).

BUGS

The need to precede options with -- when invoked from hledger is awkward.

-f- doesn't work (hledger-web can't read from stdin).

Query arguments and some hledger options are ignored.

Does not work in text-mode browsers.

Does not work well on small screens.

Scripts

This document is the README in the hledger repo's bin directory, and is also published as Scripts on hledger.org. Here we collect hledger scripts: additional small tools which complement hledger in some way. These can be:

  • shell aliases or functions, defined eg in your shell's startup file
  • shell script files
  • programs written in other languages, like Python or Haskell. Haskell scripts are the most powerful since they can call hledger's Haskell API (we'll call these hledger-integrated).
  • script files or programs named hledger-*, which show up in hledger's commands list as add-on commands.

The most common types of hledger script are:

  1. shell aliases/functions/scripts which run hledger with custom options and arguments, eg to produce a particular report
  2. Haskell add-on command scripts implementing variants of the built-in commands, or new kinds of report.

Scripting hledger has more on this general topic.

The current "bin scripts" are listed in the page contents and below, categorised by how they invoke hledger. They are either useful as is, or can be examples/inspiration for making your own. Contributions welcome! Following the list are install instructions and other tips.

hledger-running scripts

These run hledger via its command line interface, and perhaps process its output:

bashrc

bashrc contains many example bash aliases and functions. After installing the bin scripts: as a bash user,

# customise FINDIR and LEDGER_FILE at the top of bin/bashrc
$ . bin/bashrc
$ fin        # list the scripts available

hledger-simplebal

hledger-simplebal shows how to reliably report a single machine-readable number with hledger. This and the other "hledger-" scripts are add-on commands.

$ hledger simplebal

hledger-git

hledger-git provides easy version control for your journal files, using git. Run it with no arguments for help.

$ hledger git log
$ hledger git status
$ hledger git record [MSG]

hledger-pijul

hledger-pijul provides the same thing using the pijul version control system..

$ hledger pijul log
$ hledger pijul status
$ hledger pijul record [MSG]

hledger-integrated scripts

These call hledger as a Haskell library, and so must be written in Haskell. They can use hledger's internal data types and can do anything hledger's built-in commands can do:

hledger-addon-example

hledger-addon-example.hs is a starter template for a common type of script: a hledger-integrated add-on command. It has the same structure as most of the other add-ons here:

  • implemented as a stack script for robustness
  • provides command line help
  • accepts common hledger options

Further cleanup and documentation is ongoing.

hledger-print-location

hledger-print-location.hs is a variant of hledger's print command that adds the file and line number to every transaction, as a tag:

$ hledger print-location -f hledger/examples/sample.journal desc:eat
2008/06/03 * eat & shop
  ; location: /Users/simon/src/hledger/examples/sample.journal:30
  expenses:food                  $1
  expenses:supplies              $1
  assets:cash

hledger-swap-dates

hledger-swap-dates.hs prints transactions with their date and date2 fields swapped.

hledger-check-tagfiles

hledger-check-tagfiles.hs interprets all tag values containing a / (forward slash) as file paths, and checks that those files exist. hledger-check-tagfiles.cabal.hs is the same command implemented as a cabal script rather than a stack script.

hledger-check-postable

hledger-check-postable.hs check that no postings are made to accounts declared with a postable:n or postable:no tag. This can be used as a workaround when you must declare a parent account to control display order, but you don't want to allow postings to it. Eg, to allow postings to assets:cash but not assets (remember that account tags are inherited):

account assets         ; postable:n
account assets:cash    ; postable:

hledger-check-fancyassertions

hledger-check-fancyassertions.hs checks account balances over time in more complex ways than hledger's built-in balance assertions.

hledger-combine-balances

hledger-combine-balances.hs shows balance reports for two different periods side by side.

hledger-balance-as-budget

hledger-balance-as-budget.hs uses one balance report to set budget goals for another balance report.

hledger-smooth

hledger-smooth.hs is an incomplete attempt at automatically splitting infrequent/irregular transactions.

These don't run hledger, but are probably related to it in some way:

paypaljson

paypaljson downloads the last 30 days of Paypal transactions (requires a free developer account & API key).

paypaljson2csv

paypaljson2csv (python) converts paypaljson's output to CSV, with format similar to Paypal's manually-downloaded CSV.

More scripts

plaintextaccounting.org has a longer list of PTA tools, not hledger-specific.

Installing the bin scripts

These bin scripts are not automatically installed along with hledger; if you want them you must download them separately. Here's a suggested method:

# go to wherever you keep financial files
$ cd ~/finance

# get the hledger repo (the fast way, without version control)
$ curl -LOJ https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger/archive/refs/heads/master.zip && unzip hledger-master.zip && mv hledger-master hledger

# (or the slow way, with version control for easy diffing/updating/contributing)
# git clone https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger.git

# make a more convenient symlink to the bin directory
$ ln -s hledger/bin

# add the bin directory to your PATH. Eg as a bash user:
$ echo "export PATH=$PATH:$PWD/bin" >>~/.bash_profile"
$ export PATH=$PATH:$PWD/bin

# check that hledger's command list now shows the hledger-* scripts
# (they will be listed with a + prefix):
$ hledger

Scripts with no file extension are mostly bash scripts except where noted. if you don't want to install bash you might have to adapt them to your shell.

Scripts with a .hs file extension are usually stack scripts, requiring stack to run. If you don't want to install stack you can adapt them to be cabal scripts, or install their required libraries yourself and run/compile them with suitable runghc/ghc commands. See also Working with hledger-*.hs scripts below.

Working with hledger-*.hs scripts

The hledger-*.hs add-on commands are mostly implemented as stack runghc scripts. See the comments in hledger-check-fancyassertions.hs for more about how to run or compile them. Short version: run bin/compile.sh to compile all scripts, and add this directory to your $PATH so they show up in hledger's command list.

How to:

Install all add-on commands

$ git clone https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger
$ hledger/bin/compile.sh
$ export PATH=$PATH:$PWD/hledger/bin

$ hledger                           # scripts now appear in commands list
$ hledger-print-location --help     # run a script directly
$ hledger print-location -- --help  # or run it via hledger. -- is needed before script options

Create a new script

The example scripts follow a template that implements hledger's standard command line options and help, so it's a good idea to use one as your starting point. The hledger- naming is not required, but it causes scripts to show up in the hledger commands list. On unix, your new script should be marked executable. This should do it:

$ cd hledger
$ cp bin/hledger-swap-dates.hs bin/hledger-foo.hs  # and edit, at least the command name and help
$ stack install string-qq     # ensure any extra script deps are installed
$ bin/hledger-cmd.hs --help
foo [OPTIONS]
  My new foo command.
  ...
$ stack ghc bin/hledger-cmd.hs
$ hledger foo -- --help
foo [OPTIONS]
  My new foo command.
  ...

Run ghcid on a script

$ stack install string-qq     # ensure any extra script deps are installed
$ stack exec -- ghcid bin/hledger-foo.hs 
...
Ok, one module loaded.
All good (1 module, at 10:50:48)

Run ghci on a script

$ stack install string-qq     # ensure any extra script deps are installed
$ stack ghci bin/hledger-foo.hs 
...
Ok, one module loaded.
...
ghci> 

hledger User Cookbook

Goal for 2022: This page aims to become the comprehensive list of concrete, actionable, task-oriented advice for hledger users on how to tackle common real-world problems, using hledger where possible, but pointing to other tools if more effective, and including placeholders where we don't yet have a good answer.

See also:

The cookbook falls into two parts: the General usage of hledger, and Accounting and bookkeeping examples.

General usage

Data entry

Preserving your data

Checking for errors

Reporting techniques

Making charts

Customising

Setups and workflows

Other user interfaces

Interoperating with other software

Accounting and bookkeeping

Learning accounting and bookkeeping

Borrowing and lending

Budgeting

Eco accounting

Forecasting

Inventory tracking

Investing and trading

Invoicing

Multiple currencies

Non-profit accounting

Taxes

Time tracking

Trip expenses

Shared expenses

User FAQ

General FAQ | User FAQ | Developer FAQ

How do I report by financial year, not calendar year ?

-Y/--yearly, -p/--period 'every year', etc. show Gregorian calendar years, starting on January 1st. To show years starting with a different month, use every 12 months from DATE. Eg, to show years starting on April 1st (the register command is good for testing this):

hledger reg -p 'every 12 months from 2019-04-01'

To show years not starting on a month boundary, approximate it with every 365 days from DATE (this won't be exact for leap years):

hledger reg -p 'every 365 days from 2019-04-06'

Why does this entry give a "no amount" error even though I wrote an amount ?

2019-01-01
  a 1
  b

Because there's only a single space between a and 1, so this is parsed as an account named "a 1", with no amount. There must be at least two spaces between account name and amount.

Why do some directives not affect other files ? Why can't I put account aliases in an included file ?

This is documented at journal format: directives. (Also mentioned at hledger: Input files.) These docs could be improved.

Directives which affect parsing of data vary in their scope, ie the area of input data they affect. Eg, should they affect:

  • entries after the directive, in this file only ?
    • Eg: alias, apply account, comment, Y
  • entries before and after the directive, in this file only ?
  • entries and included files after the directive, until this file's end ?
  • all entries after the directive, in this and all included or subsequent files, including parent files ?
    • Eg: the number notation specified by D or commodity
  • all entries in all files ?
    • Eg: the default commodity specified by D, and account

The differences are partly due to historical accident, and partly by design. We would like to preserve these properties:

  • Reordering files does not change their meaning.
  • Adding a file does not change the meaning of the other files.

This is why some directives are designed to last only until the end of the current file. This can be annoying, but it seems worthwhile to ensure reports are robust, and not changed by simply moving include directives or -f options around.

For alias directives, when you have multiple files, the workaround is to put them inline in a top-level file, before including the other files that the aliases should affect. See #1007.

See also: #510, #217

Why am I seeing some amounts without an account name in reports ?

Some of hledger's older commands (balance, print, register) show a multi-commodity amount with each commodity on its own line, by default (like Ledger).

Here are some examples. In the following journal entry, the implicit balancing amount drawn from the b account will be a multicommodity amount (a euro and a dollar):

2015/1/1
    a         EUR 1
    a         USD 1
    b

the print command shows the b posting's amount on two lines, bottom-aligned:

$ hledger -f t.j print
2015/01/01
    a         USD 1
    a         EUR 1
             EUR -1  ; <-
    b        USD -1  ; <- a euro and a dollar is drawn from b

the balance command shows that both a and b have a multi-commodity balance (again, bottom-aligned):

$ hledger -f t.j balance
               EUR 1     ; <-
               USD 1  a  ; <- a's balance is a euro and a dollar
              EUR -1     ; <-
              USD -1  b  ; <- b's balance is a negative euro and dollar
--------------------
                   0

while the register command shows (top-aligned, this time!) a multi-commodity running total after the second posting, and a multi-commodity amount in the third posting:

$ hledger -f t.j register --width 50
2015/01/01       a             EUR 1         EUR 1
                 a             USD 1         EUR 1  ; <- the running total is now a euro and a dollar        
                                             USD 1  ;                                                        
                 b            EUR -1                ; <- the amount posted to b is a negative euro and dollar
                              USD -1             0  ;

Newer reports like multi-column balance reports show multi-commodity amounts on one line instead, comma-separated. Although wider, this seems clearer and we should probably use it more:

$ hledger -f t.j balance --yearly
Balance changes in 2015:

   ||           2015 
===++================
 a ||   EUR 1, USD 1 
 b || EUR -1, USD -1 
---++----------------
   ||              0 

You will also see amounts without a corresponding account name if you remove too many account name segments with --drop (a bug, which we'd like to see fixed):

$ hledger -f t.j balance --drop 1
               EUR 1  
               USD 1  
              EUR -1  
              USD -1  
--------------------
                   0

With hledger-ui in iTerm2/3, why does Shift-Up/Shift-Down move the cursor instead of adjusting the period ?

One way to fix: in iTerm2 do Preferences -> Profiles -> your current profile -> Keys -> Load Preset -> xterm Defaults (not Terminal.app Compatibility). And perhaps open a new tab with this profile.

How do I set the LEDGER_FILE environment variable on Windows?

Maybe using SETX: https://hledger.org/1.26/hledger.html#environment

or in settings: https://www.java.com/en/download/help/path.html

How do I display a decimal separator different from the one in the input file ?

It's not yet easy to do this with hledger:
https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger/issues/793#issuecomment-603994809

There's just one special case where it works, by a quirk of the implementation: if in the journal you use space as thousands separator, comma as decimal separator, and no commodity directive, hledger will print numbers with period as decimal separator:

; journal
2020-01-01
    (a)       $1 234,56
$ hledger print
2020-01-01
    (a)       $1 234.56

Here's a more general workaround, post-processing the output with sed. Adjust if needed:

; journal
2020-01-01
    (a)       $1.234,56
$ hledger print
2020-01-01
    (a)       $1.234,56

$ hledger print | sed 's/\./~/g; s/,/./g; s/~/,/g'
2020-01-01
    (a)       $1,234.56

How do I control the number of decimal places displayed ?

With hledger < 1.23: use a commodity directive to set commodities' display style. Eg:

commodity $1000.00
commodity EUR 1.000,
commodity 1000.00000000 BTC

With hledger 1.23+, you can also use the -c/--commodity-style option. Eg:

hledger -c '$1000.00' -c 'EUR 1.000,' -c '1000.00000000 BTC' bal

How could I import/migrate from...

Mint.com ?

  1. download examples/csv/mint.csv.rules, and adjust the account1 & account2 rules
  2. touch ~/.hledger.journal
  3. log in to Mint, go to TRANSACTIONS, scroll to the bottom of the page, click on the "Export all N transactions" link, save it as mint.csv on your computer
  4. cd ~/Downloads (or wherever you saved it)
  5. hledger import mint.csv

Now hledger stats and hledger bal should show lots of data. That's your past data migrated.

Then, if you want to leave Mint, you'll need to replace their automatic import from banks with your own import process.

Or if you want to keep using Mint for that, because you like how they aggregate and clean the data: just periodically re-export from Mint, repeating steps 3-5 above.

Developer docs

Contributor, developer, and project maintenance docs. These aim to describe and communicate the structure, processes and workflows of the hledger project - the machine that makes the machine. Mostly they are UPPERCASE files kept in the main hledger repo, and symlinked (or rendered by Shake.hs) into the site repo to make them appear as web pages.

Contributor Guide

This doc is intended to become a focussed guide for new contributors.

If you are unexpectedly seeing this page after following a link, the content probably moved to a separate page: see the Developer docs.

Chat, Mail, Twitter, HN etc.https://hledger.org/support.html
hledger-web demo  demo.hledger.org
hledger GHCJS demohttps://hledger.alhur.es
Trelloold wishlist planning board
Githubsimonmichael/hledger (shortcut: code.hledger.org)
commits, COMMITS!
ci.hledger.org
open bugs, open wishes, open unknowns, open pull requests, draft open pull requests, ready open pull requests, all issues
issues with bounty tag, bountysource bounties, codemill bounties, codefund bounties
projects.hledger.org
stars.hledger.org: our rank among starred haskell projects:
2016: #71, 2017: #54, 2018: #53, 2020: #36, 2022: #34
Hackagepackages: hledger-lib, hledger, hledger-ui, hledger-web, hledger-diff, hledger-iadd, hledger-interest, hledger-irr, *hledger*
diffs: hledger-lib, hledger, hledger-ui, hledger-web
build status: hledger-lib, hledger, hledger-ui, hledger-web
reverse deps: hledger-lib, hledger, hledger-ui, hledger-web
on hackage
... ...
... ...
Stackagebuild-constraints.yaml
open hledger-related issues
packages: hledger-lib, hledger, hledger-ui, hledger-web
versions: hledger-lib, hledger, hledger-ui, hledger-web
...
Repologyquick hledger packaging status, detailed hledger packaging status, all *hledger* packages
Debiansource packages: haskell-hledger-lib, bugs, haskell-hledger, bugs, haskell-hledger-ui, bugs, haskell-hledger-web, bugs
stable: hledger, bugs, hledger-ui, bugs, hledger-web, bugs
testing: hledger, bugs, hledger-ui, bugs, hledger-web, bugs
unstable: hledger, bugs, hledger-ui, bugs, hledger-web, bugs
all: *hledger*
popcon sampled install stats: haskell-hledger, hledger, hledger-ui, hledger-web
Ubuntusource packages: haskell-hledger-lib, bugs, haskell-hledger, bugs, haskell-hledger-ui, bugs, haskell-hledger-web, bugs
binary packages: *hledger*
Gentoohledger, hledger-web, *hledger*
Fedorahledger, *hledger*, hledger (package db), Haskell SIG
Void Linuxpackage search -> hledger
Nix*hledger*
Homebrewhledger
our 1-year homebrew rank:
2020: #1520 of 10000 on mac, #762 of 8288 on linux
Sandstormhledger web app & reviews, issues
Referencefosskers GHC compatibility chart

Open issues

An overview of hledger's issue tracker. A good place to start looking for something to work on.

COMPONENT/TOPIC *BUGSWISHESPRSOTHER
allbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
Tools:
install (hledger-install.sh)bugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
cli (hledger)bugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
ui (hledger-ui)bugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
web (hledger-web)bugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
Input/Output Formats:
journalbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
timeclockbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
timedotbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
csvbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
jsonbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
htmlbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
Commands:
accountsbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
activitybugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
addbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
balcmds (bal/bs/bse/cf/is/...)bugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
balancebugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
balancesheetbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
cashflowbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
checkdatesbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
checkdupesbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
closebugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
importbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
incomestatementbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
pricesbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
printbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
printuniquebugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
registerbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
registermatchbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
rewritebugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
roibugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
statsbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
tagsbugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
Miscellaneous:
budget (budgeting)bugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
packaging (packaging, dependencies)bugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
doc (documentation, help)bugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
periodexpressions (-b, -e, -p, date:)bugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
site (website, web presence)bugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother
tools (dev tools, infrastructure)  bugs (first/easy/neither)wishesPRsother

About the project

Mission

Why was hledger created ?

Mainly:

  • to provide a more usable, robust, documented, cross-platform-installable version of Ledger for users
  • to provide a more maintainable and hackable version of Ledger for developers

Also:

  • to provide a useful library and toolbox for finance-minded haskell programmers
  • to explore the suitability of Haskell for such applications
  • to experiment with building a successful time-and-money-solvent project in a thriving ecosystem of financial software projects

What is the hledger project's current mission ?

  1. Provide peace of mind: bring clarity, relief, and peace of mind to folks stressed, confused, overwhelmed by finances.
  2. Educate and empower: help individuals and communities achieve clarity, accountability and mastery with money and time.

Roles and activities

  • newcomer/potential user
  • user
  • library user
  • field tester
  • bug wrangler
  • support
  • documentor
  • qa
  • developer
  • packager
  • communicator
  • project manager

Getting started

New contributors are always welcome in the hledger project. Jump in! Or ask us to help you find a task.

Funder

Become a financial backer to sustain and grow this project, increase your influence, express gratitude, build prosperity consciousness, and help transform world finance!

  • Use the donate links on the home page
  • Configure a recurring donation
  • Contribute or pledge bounties on issues you care about
  • Ask your organization to contribute
  • Work on project sustainability, accountability, fundraising

Tester

  • Test installation on platforms you have access to
  • Test examples, advice, and links in the docs
  • Run the latest release or developer build in daily use
  • Run tests
  • Run benchmarks
  • Report packaging, documentation, UX, functional, performance issues
  • Report and help analyse problems via irc/mail list/bug tracker

When reporting bugs, don't forget to search the tracker for a similar bug report. Otherwise, open a new bug by clicking "New issue", or http://bugs.hledger.org/new.

Enhancement requests are sometimes added to the tracker,but for these consider using the IRC channel and mail list (see Getting help). Both are archived and linkable, so the idea won't be lost. There is also a collection of wishes at the old trello board.

Technical Writer

  • get familiar with the website and documentation online, review and test
  • get familiar with the site/doc source files (see Shake.hs)
  • get the latest hledger source
  • send patches with names prefixed with "doc: " (or "site: ")

Graphics Designer

  • more/better logos & graphics
  • illustrations and diagrams
  • web design mockups for home page, site, hledger-web UI

Communicator

Marketing and market understanding is vital.

  • clarify project goals, value proposition, brand, mission, story
  • monitor product-market fit
  • identify new opportunities
  • influence developer priorities
  • spread the word!

Maintainer

Help with issue management

  • watch tracker activity, report status
  • apply/update labels where needed
  • follow up on dormant issues
  • facilitate a consistently good bug-reporting & PR-contributing experience

Help with packaging

  • package hledger for linux distros, macports, etc.
  • develop mac/windows installers
  • find and assist distro packagers/installer developers

Help with project management

  • clarify/update goals and principles
  • monitor, report on project progress and performance
  • research, compare and report on successful projects, related projects
  • identify collaboration opportunities
  • marketing, communication, outreach
  • release management, roadmap planning

Developer

See Developer workflows.

Developer FAQ

General FAQ | User FAQ | Developer FAQ

CREDITS

hledger is brought to you by the

  • Issue wranglers,
  • Bug hunters,
  • Design dreamers,
  • Code slingers,
  • Doc poets,
  • Package marshals,
  • Helping hands,
  • Good news preachers,
  • Bank rollers,
  • Broom pushers,

by the pioneering John Wiegley, who opened up this territory with Ledger,

and by the innumerable other benefactors making it all possible.

Commit authors

10080 commits in 14 years by 143 people as of 2021-08-29:

CommitsAuthorNotes (chat me with updates!)
8748Simon Michaelfounder, project leader, lead developer
334Stephen Morganperformance, code cleanup, runtime error removal, cli/ui output, periodic transactions, parsing, deps, valuation, --gain report, hlint, lensification...
158Dmitry Astapovroi, files commands; --transpose; merge/improve --budget; generalise --forecast/--auto; docker packaging; improved CSV parsing, balancing, periodic transactions, close, parsing, docs, tests...
81Vladimir Zhelezovnew bash shell completions
72Alex Chenparsing improvements, code cleanups, better error messages; dep updates
52Mykola Orliukhledger-budget, hledger-prices addons; scientific number notation; print, hledger-equity, hledger-rewrite, --pivot, space, parsing improvements; code updates; GHC 8.0 support
50Jakob Schöttlbash completions; register --invert; timeclock parsing improvements; code cleanups
40Everett Hildenbrandtdoc toolchain updates, switch from hakyll to pandoc; csv parser improvement
31Jakub Zárybnickýhledger-web, hledger-ui improvements
29Marko Kocićbuild, hlint fixes; hledger-web improvement
26Dominik Süßhledger-web layout improvements
26Justin Lebs/cf/is improvements
24Thomas R. Kollhledger-web improvements
17Peter Simonsbuild, dep fixes
17Joseph Westonparsing improvements; test, dep updates
16Aleksandar DimitrovCSV separator rule
15Nolan DarilekSandstorm app
14Brian Wignalloutput dates in YYYY-MM-DD format
12Tim Dockerparsing improvements; proper date support; P directive (first code contributor, 2008-11)
11Jesse Rosenthalparsing improvementss
11Trygve Laugstølhledger-web improvements; --format; CSV --rules-file, stdin support, separate in/out fields, interpolated description; test updates
11Lawrence--commodity-column; multi-day-of-week period expressions
10Julien Moutinhoprint CSV output; hledger-equity, hledger-rewrite, hledger-web, parsing improvements; hledger-check-dates addon
10Nick Ingoliainclude directive, account directive; parsing improvements (second code contributor, 2008-12)
10Henning Thielemannhledger-web improvements, quarter periods, code cleanup
10Caleb Maclennanpayees/notes/descriptions commands; print improvement; doc, code, test updates
9Eli Flanaganhledger-web date picker; build, doc updates
9Ryan Desfosseswarnings, docs, hledger-web fixes
8Imulisupport multiple input files
8Nicholas Nirobalancesheetequity command; balance tests, fix
8Moritz Kiefer--pretty-tables; dep updates; switch to megaparsec; cabal.project file; space leak fixes
7Hans-Peter Deifeldep updates; csv rules parsing fix; command line parsing improvements
7Jacob WeiszSandstorm app improvements
7Felix Yandep updates; doc updates
6Roman Cheplyakachart command; hledger add improvements; --no-new-accounts
6Gaith Hallakundo (<) in hledger add; command line parsing improvement
6Samuel Maymulticommodity balance assertions
6Clint AdamsCSV account2 setting; dep updates; cabal test suites
5Jacek Generowiczcommand line parsing fix
5Martin Michlmayrdoc updates
5Xinruo Sunhledger-web --static-root; hledger-web autocomplete improvements; hledger print tag filtering
5Eric Mertens--pretty-tables improvements; CSV whitespace fix
4Michael Snoymanhledger-web improvements
4Sergey Astaninunicode support
4Damien Cassoupayee directive, check improvements, info manual directory entries
3Eric Kowhledger add improvements
3Michael Sanders& (AND) operator in CSV if rules
3Carlos Lopez-Cameyhledger-web add form improvements
3Christian G. Wardencashflow tweaks; hledger-rewrite (auto postings) commodity substitution
3Johannes Gererbalance assignments; generalise parser types
2Elijah Cainegit/nix tweaks
2Stefano Rodighierohledger-dupes addon
2Ben Creasydoc updates
2Sergei Trofimovichbounds, build updates
2Sam Jeevesbalance assertion line number reporting
2Christoph Nicolaidoc updates
2aragaerfix commodity checking fix; fix --drop with csv
2Judah Jacobsonreadline editing, tab completion in hledger add
2Pavlo Keresteyquoting fixes
2Gergely Riskocomment directive
2crocketimprove hledger-ui editor support
2Arsen Arsenovićhledger-web XSS fix
2Gwern Branwenwhitespace, Haskell98 cleanups
2Max Bolingbrokeunicode-aware regexes; csv date-format rule
2jungle-boogietutorial updates
2Arnout Engelenhledger-web register chart improvements
2Matthias Kauerinvestment doc improvements
2Alejandro García Montorohledger-web --cors
1azure-pipelines[bot]
1charukiewicz
1flip111
1jeevcat
1legrostdg
1trevorriles
1Aerex
1zieone
1Aiken Cairncross
1Alan Young
1Alvaro Fernando García
1Amarandus
1Amitai Burstein
1Andreas Pauley
1Andrew Jones
1Andriy Mykhaylyk
1Arjen Langebaerd
1Ben Boeckel
1Boyd Kelly
1Brian Scott
1Bryan Richter
1Carel Fellinger
1Carl Richard Theodor Schneider
1Colin Woodbury
1Daniel Gröber
1David Reaver
1David Zhang
1Doug Goldstein
1Evilham
1Felix Van der Jeugt
1Fun Ilrys (Nissar Chababy)
1Gabriel Ebner
1Garret McGraw
1Jan Zerebecki
1Jeff Richards
1Joachim Breitner
1Joe Horsnell
1Johann Klähn
1John Wiegley
1Joshua Chia
1Joshua Kehn
1Kyle Marek-Spartz
1Lawrence Wu
1Luca Molteni
1Léo Gaspard
1M Parker
1Malte Brandy
1Mark Hansen
1Mateus Furquim
1Michael Kainer
1Michael Walker
1Mick Dekkers
1Mitchell Rosen
1Nadrieril
1Nicolas Wavrant
1Nikhil Jha
1Nissar Chababy
1Oliver Braun
1Omari Norman
1Pavan Rikhi
1Pia Mancini
1Rick Lupton
1Rui Chen
1Sam Doshi
1Shubham Lagwankar
1Simon Hengel
1SpicyCat
1Steven R. Baker
1TANIGUCHI Kohei
1Timofey ZAKREVSKIY
1Vladimir Sorokin
1Wad
1afarrow
1agander
1awjchen

Accounting

Here we'll give a quick hledger-oriented intro to some useful accounting concepts (continuing with the journal file from Easy workflow #1: hledger add). Also we'll discuss account hierarchy in hledger. At the end, there's a collection of useful links to learn more.

A note on debits and credits

Conventional double-entry accounting uses a system of debits and credits to ensure that, in every transaction, total debits equal total credits. However, hledger and other ledger-likes instead use positive and negative numbers and ensure that, in every transaction, the sum of all amounts is zero. This has the same result, but in hledger equity, liabilities, and revenue are conventionally negative numbers.

In what follows we use the general accounting system of debits and credits. Within hledger the accounting equations will be the same, except that equity, liabilities, and revenues will have the opposite sign.

Assets, Liabilities and Equity

Accounting describes the status of a business, person or other entity at any point in time in terms of three amounts:

  • Assets - Things owned
  • Liabilities - Things owed
  • Equity - The amount invested by owners/shareholders

The foundation of double-entry accounting is the accounting equation, which says Equity is always equal to Assets minus Liabilities (or, Net Assets).

This is also written as: Assets = Liabilities + Equity. Another way to say it: what the entity owns is funded either by debt or by the capital provided by its owners.

These three are called the Balance Sheet accounts. Their balances summarise the overall financial status at some point in time.

Revenue and Expenses

Two more amounts are used to describe changes in the above during a given period:

  • Revenue - Money flowing in
  • Expenses - Money flowing out

You may be accustomed to using the word Income instead Revenue. That's fine, just remember that Income is sometimes used to mean Net Income, which is Revenue - Expenses.

These two are called the Income Statement accounts. The balances they accumulate during some period of time indicate the inflows and outflows during that period (which will affect the Assets and Liabilities balances).

Chart of Accounts

Five numbers do not give a lot of detail. If you want to know what portion of expenses went to buy food, you could add up just the transactions with (say) "supermarket" in their description. You know how to do this with hledger:

$ hledger register desc:supermarket expenses
2015/05/25 trip to the super..  expenses                       $10           $10

But descriptions are irregular, and as you can see we missed the $5 purchase on the following day.

Instead, the major "top-level" accounts above are subdivided into subaccounts which can be used in transactions, thereby categorising them in a more structured way. If needed, these subaccounts can be subdivided further. This tree of accounts is called the Chart of Accounts. Here's a simple example where assets, revenue and expenses each have a few subaccounts:

assets
  checking
  cash
liabilities
equity
revenue
  business income
  gifts received
expenses
  food
  rent
  supplies

In some organisations and accounting systems (eg, QuickBooks), the tree structure is de-emphasised, so the above is represented more like:

 Account name      Account type
 ------------------------------- 
 checking          ASSET
 cash              ASSET
 business income   REVENUE
 gifts received    REVENUE
 food              EXPENSE
 rent              EXPENSE
 supplies          EXPENSE

In others, the tree structure is encoded as decimal account numbers, something like this:

1000 assets
1100   checking
1200   cash
2000 liabilities
3000 equity
4000 revenue
4100   business income
4200   gifts received
5000 expenses
5100   food
5200   rent
5300   supplies

A digression: subaccounts in hledger

With hledger, tree structure is implied by writing account names like ACCOUNT:SUBACCOUNT. Try it: edit your journal file and change the account names like so:

$ cat ~/.hledger.journal

2015/05/25 trip to the supermarket
    expenses:supplies           $10
    assets:checking            $-10

2015/05/26 forgot the bread
    expenses:food            $5
    assets:cash

hledger will infer the chart of accounts from these names. The accounts command will list all accounts posted to:

$ hledger accounts
assets:cash
assets:checking
expenses:food
expenses:supplies

and accounts --tree will show the tree structure, indenting subaccounts below their parents (and eliding the common part of their names):

assets
  cash
  checking
expenses
  food
  supplies

Conversely, the balance command shows the tree structure by default:

$ hledger balance
                $-15  assets
                 $-5    cash
                $-10    checking
                 $15  expenses
                  $5    food
                 $10    supplies
--------------------
                   0

As you can see, the balance reported for parent accounts includes the balances of any subaccounts (it would also include any postings to the parent account itself.)

To see full account names in a flat list, use --flat:

$ hledger balance --flat
                 $-5  assets:cash
                $-10  assets:checking
                  $5  expenses:food
                 $10  expenses:supplies
--------------------
                   0

hledger accepts whatever account names you choose, so you can use as much or as little account hierarchy as you need. Most users have at least two levels of accounts. You can limit the amount of detail in a balance report by hiding accounts below a certain depth:

$ hledger balance --depth 1
                $-15  assets
                 $15  expenses
--------------------
                   0

General

Theory

History

Balancing the accounting equation

The Accounting Equation states that Assets and Liabilities always match Equity. Eg: A - L = E.

This suggests that a balance report showing all Asset, Liability and Equity account balances should show a zero grand total. With hledger you can check this with a balance report like:

$ hledger balance ^assets ^liabilities ^equity

or more easily with the balancesheetequity command, which is designed for this:

$ hledger bse

Note, checking the account equation is different from checking a trial balance. A trial balance just checks that the total inflows and outflows over all accounts are equal, which can be seen by a zero grand total for hledger balance. Normally this is ensured by hledger's requirement that each individual transaction is balanced, but some of the same problems noted below apply to this also.

Common problems

In practice, you will find quite a number of things in real-life journals can disrupt the accounting equation and cause a non-zero total. Note, this does not interfere with most day-to-day reporting, and many PTA users won't notice it as a problem. But, seeing the correct zero total gives added confidence in your bookkeeping, for yourself and others you might be sharing reports with.

Here are some things that disturb the accounting equation, and their solutions:

1. Unclosed revenue/expenses

Revenues (income) and expenses are technically part of equity. In traditional accounting, they should be transferred to an account like equity:retained earnings at the end of each reporting period.

You could record such transfers in your journal, either manually or using the close command (https://hledger.org/hledger.html#example-close-revenueexpense-accounts-to-retained-earnings). Most PTA users don't bother with this.

More conveniently, you can use an account alias to convert revenue/expense accounts to equity temporarily. Eg:
--alias '/^(revenues|income|expenses)\b/=equity'

2. Unbalanced commodity conversions with @/@@

Currency/commodity conversions using @/@@ notation are unbalanced. You can rewrite them in balanced form by commenting out the @/@@ price and adding a pair of equity postings - see https://hledger.org/conversion2.html.

Or, use --infer-equity to do this temporarily at report time.

Or, converting all amounts to cost may be another solution - try adding -B.

3. Rounding error with @ costs and --infer-equity

--infer-equity is convenient but it tends to expose inaccuracies in the recorded @ prices, causing small non-zero values in the total. You can ignore this, or try to fix it by making @ prices more accurate, or replace your uses of @ with @@ (?) or equity postings.

4. Posting dates

Postings dates different from their transaction's date (; date:DATE or ; [DATE] notation) cause an imbalance in the accounting equation between the transaction date and posting date. Usually these unbalanced periods are short and do not cross a file boundary, so you can just avoid them when testing the accounting equation.

If they do cross a file boundary, or are inconveniently long, fix that by splitting the transaction into two transactions which use a pending account, as in https://hledger.org/hledger.html#close-and-balance-assertions.

5. Unbalanced postings

Unbalanced virtual postings (with parenthesised account names) create an imbalance by definition; just exclude them from the report with -R/--real. This also excludes balanced virtual postings (with bracketed account names), but that will probably be harmless.

6. Partial reports

Many kinds of report query could exclude some data and disturb the accounting equation. So, avoid most queries when testing this. If you specify a report start date, be sure to include balances from previous transactions by adding -H/--historical. (Or use the bse command, which does this automatically.)

An improved zero total report

Combining these, here is a better command to test the accounting equation for a journal:

$ hledger bse -R --infer-equity --alias '/^(revenues|income|expenses)\b/=equity' not:desc:'closing balances' --layout tall -f YYYY.journal
  • -R - excludes any unbalanced virtual postings
  • --infer-equity - balances @/@@ transactions by adding equity postings
  • --alias ... - moves all revenues/expenses under equity
  • not:desc:... - excludes any final closing balance transactions that would hide ending balances
  • --layout tall - improves readability when there are many commodities
  • -f ... - optional, specifies a file other than the default $LEDGER_FILE

Borrowing and Lending

Lending, calculating interest manually

0.41% interest per month (roughly equivalent to 5% APR), calculated manually:

2020-01-01 opening balances
  assets:bank:checking   1000
  equity:opening/closing balances

2020-01-01 lend to Trusty Tara
  assets:bank:checking
  assets:receivable:tt    100
  
2020-02-01 charge 5% interest
  assets:receivable:tt      0.41   ; 100 x 0.41
  revenues:interest:tt

2020-02-15 Tara payment
  assets:receivable:tt    -50
  assets:bank:checking

2020-03-01 charge 5% interest
  assets:receivable:tt      0.21   ; 50.41 x 0.41, rounded
  revenues:interest:tt

2020-03-15 Tara payment
  assets:receivable:tt    -50
  assets:bank:checking

Monthly balance sheet:

$ hledger bs -M
Balance Sheet 2020-01-31,,2020-03-31

                      || 2020-01-31  2020-02-29  2020-03-31 
======================++====================================
 Assets               ||                                    
----------------------++------------------------------------
 assets:bank:checking ||     900.00      950.00     1000.00 
 assets:receivable:tt ||     100.00       50.41        0.62 
----------------------++------------------------------------
                      ||    1000.00     1000.41     1000.62 
======================++====================================
 Liabilities          ||                                    
----------------------++------------------------------------
----------------------++------------------------------------
                      ||                                    
======================++====================================
 Net:                 ||    1000.00     1000.41     1000.62 

Lending, calculating interest with hledger-interest

Loan and payment transactions are in the main journal:

2020-01-01 opening balances
  assets:bank:checking   1000.00
  equity:opening/closing balances

2020-01-01 lend to Trusty Tara
  assets:bank:checking
  assets:receivable:tt    100 = 100
  
2020-02-15 Tara payment
  assets:receivable:tt    -50
  assets:bank:checking

2020-03-15 Tara payment
  assets:receivable:tt    -50
  assets:bank:checking

We use hledger-interest to add interest transactions, here 5% per year:

$ hledger-interest assets:receivable:tt --act --annual=0.05 -s revenues:interest:tt -t assets:receivable:tt 
2020-01-01 lend to Trusty Tara
    assets:bank:checking         -100.00
    assets:receivable:tt          100.00 = 100.00

2020-02-15 5% interest for 100.00 over 46 days
    assets:receivable:tt            0.63
    revenues:interest:tt           -0.63

2020-02-15 Tara payment
    assets:receivable:tt          -50.00
    assets:bank:checking           50.00

2020-03-15 5% interest for 50.63 over 29 days
    assets:receivable:tt            0.20
    revenues:interest:tt           -0.20

2020-03-15 Tara payment
    assets:receivable:tt          -50.00
    assets:bank:checking           50.00

It doesn't print the opening balance transaction for some reason. So we'll print that too, then get a monthly balance sheet:

$ (hledger print desc:opening; hledger-interest assets:receivable:tt --act --annual=0.05 -s revenues:interest:tt -t assets:receivable:tt) | hledger -f- bs -M
Balance Sheet 2020-01-31,,2020-03-31

                      || 2020-01-31  2020-02-29  2020-03-31 
======================++====================================
 Assets               ||                                    
----------------------++------------------------------------
 assets:bank:checking ||     900.00      950.00     1000.00 
 assets:receivable:tt ||     100.00       50.63        0.83 
----------------------++------------------------------------
                      ||    1000.00     1000.63     1000.83 
======================++====================================
 Liabilities          ||                                    
----------------------++------------------------------------
----------------------++------------------------------------
                      ||                                    
======================++====================================
 Net:                 ||    1000.00     1000.63     1000.83 

Budgeting and forecasting (2018)

Note: this is a cookbook doc, written for hledger 1.5 in 2018; still useful but in need of update. For more and fresher docs, see also Budgeting.

Budgeting and forecasting allows you to keep better track of your expenses and future financial situation. If you write down your expectations of what your income/expenses/investment yields/etc should be, you can use them to:

  • check how far off are your expectations from reality (budgeting)
  • project your future account activity or balances (forecasting)

(This section uses examples/bcexample.hledger from hledger source repository).

Periodic budget

To start budgeting, you need to know what your average yearly or weekly expenditures are. Hledger could help you with that. Usually the interval for which you compute budget figures will be the same as the interval between your paychecks -- monthly or weekly.

Lets create monthly (-M) report for years 2013-2014 (-b 2013) of all top-level expense categories (--depth 2 Expenses), looking for average figures (-A), limiting ourselves to USD transactions only, to save screen space:

$ hledger balance -f bcexample.hledger -MA -b 2013 --depth 2 Expenses cur:USD
Balance changes in 2013/01/01-2014/10/31:

                    ||     2013/01      2013/02      2013/03  ...      2014/07      2014/08      2014/09      2014/10      Average 
====================++========================================...==================================================================
 Expenses:Financial ||    4.00 USD    12.95 USD    39.80 USD  ...    30.85 USD    21.90 USD    12.95 USD     4.00 USD    17.83 USD 
 Expenses:Food      ||  396.46 USD   481.48 USD   603.32 USD  ...   871.20 USD   768.23 USD   466.72 USD    83.00 USD   562.10 USD 
 Expenses:Health    ||  290.70 USD   193.80 USD   193.80 USD  ...   290.70 USD   193.80 USD   193.80 USD    96.90 USD   207.01 USD 
 Expenses:Home      || 2544.98 USD  2545.02 USD  2544.97 USD  ...  2545.12 USD  2545.01 USD  2545.10 USD            0  2429.33 USD 
 Expenses:Taxes     || 5976.60 USD  3984.40 USD  4901.83 USD  ...  5976.60 USD  3984.40 USD  3984.40 USD  1992.20 USD  4322.27 USD 
 Expenses:Transport ||  120.00 USD   120.00 USD   120.00 USD  ...            0   120.00 USD   120.00 USD   120.00 USD   109.09 USD 
--------------------++----------------------------------------...------------------------------------------------------------------
                    || 9332.74 USD  7337.65 USD  8403.72 USD  ...  9714.47 USD  7633.34 USD  7322.97 USD  2296.10 USD  7647.64 USD 

This report is rather wide and portion of it had been cut out for brevity. Most interesting column is the last one, it shows average monthly expenses for each category. Expenses in Food, Health, Home and Transport categories seem to roughly similar month to month, so lets create a budget for them.

Budgets are described with periodic transactions. Periodic transaction has ~ instead of date and period expression instead of description. In this case we want to create a monthly budget that will come into effect starting from January 2013, which will include income of 10000 USD that is partially spent on Food, Health, Home and Transport and the rest becomes our Assets:

~ monthly from 2013/01
  Expenses:Food    500 USD
  Expenses:Health  200 USD
  Expenses:Home    2545 USD
  Expenses:Transport   120 USD
  Income:US        -10700 USD ;; Taken as monthy average of Income account group
  Assets:US

This transaction could be put into separate file (budget.journal) or could be kept in the main journal. Normally hledger will ignore it and will not include it in any computations or reports.

To put it into action, you need to add --budget switch to your balance invocation. If you do that, you would be able to see how your past expenses aligned with the budget that you just created. This time, lets not limit accounts in any way:

$ hledger balance -f bcexample.hledger -f budget.journal -MB -b 2013 --budget cur:USD
Balance changes in 2013/01/01-2014/10/31:

                          ||                            2013/01                            2013/02                             2013/03 
==========================++===========================================================================================================
 <unbudgeted>:Expenses    ||                        5980.60 USD                        3997.35 USD                         4941.63 USD 
 <unbudgeted>:Liabilities ||                         293.09 USD                        -147.51 USD                          -66.01 USD 
 Assets:US                ||      1893.32 USD [26% of 7335 USD]      2929.77 USD [40% of 7335 USD]     -3898.89 USD [-53% of 7335 USD] 
 Expenses:Food            ||        396.46 USD [79% of 500 USD]        481.48 USD [96% of 500 USD]        603.32 USD [121% of 500 USD] 
 Expenses:Health          ||       290.70 USD [145% of 200 USD]        193.80 USD [97% of 200 USD]         193.80 USD [97% of 200 USD] 
 Expenses:Home            ||     2544.98 USD [100% of 2545 USD]     2545.02 USD [100% of 2545 USD]      2544.97 USD [100% of 2545 USD] 
 Expenses:Transport       ||       120.00 USD [100% of 120 USD]       120.00 USD [100% of 120 USD]        120.00 USD [100% of 120 USD] 
 Income:US                || -15119.10 USD [141% of -10700 USD]  -10331.21 USD [97% of -10700 USD]  -11079.40 USD [104% of -10700 USD] 
--------------------------++-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          ||                       -3599.95 USD                        -211.30 USD                        -6640.58 USD 

Numbers in square brackets give you your budget estimate and percentage of it used by your real expenses. Numbers below 100% mean that you have some of your budget left, numbers over 100% mean that you went over your budget.

You can notice that actual numbers for Assets:US seem to be well below computed budget of 7335 USD. Why? Answer to this is in the first row of the report: we have quite a lot of unbudgeted Expenses!

Notice that even though we have not limited accounts in any way, report includes just those mentioned in the budget. This is on purpose, assumption is that when you are checking your budgets you probably do not want unbudgeted accounts getting in your way. Another thing to note is that budget numbers have been allocated to top-level expense subcategories (like Expenses:Food). Journal has subaccounts under Food, but to compute budget report they have all been rolled up into a nearest parent with budget number associated with it. Accounts that do not have such parent went into <unbudgeted> row.

Allright, it seems that for Jan 2013 we have ~3000 USD of budgeted expenses and almost twice as much unbudgeted. Lets figure out what they are. We can see more details if we add -E/--empty switch:

$ hledger balance -f bcexample.hledger -f budget.journal -M -b 2013-01 -e 2013-02 --budget cur:USD -E
Balance changes in 2013/01:

                                  ||                            2013/01 
==================================++====================================
 Assets:US                        ||      1893.32 USD [26% of 7335 USD] 
 Expenses:Financial:Fees          ||                           4.00 USD 
 Expenses:Food                    ||        396.46 USD [79% of 500 USD] 
 Expenses:Health                  ||       290.70 USD [145% of 200 USD] 
 Expenses:Home                    ||     2544.98 USD [100% of 2545 USD] 
 Expenses:Taxes:Y2013:US:CityNYC  ||                         524.76 USD 
 Expenses:Taxes:Y2013:US:Federal  ||                        3188.76 USD 
 Expenses:Taxes:Y2013:US:Medicare ||                         319.86 USD 
 Expenses:Taxes:Y2013:US:SDI      ||                           3.36 USD 
 Expenses:Taxes:Y2013:US:SocSec   ||                         844.62 USD 
 Expenses:Taxes:Y2013:US:State    ||                        1095.24 USD 
 Expenses:Transport               ||       120.00 USD [100% of 120 USD] 
 Income:US                        || -15119.10 USD [141% of -10700 USD] 
 Liabilities:US:Chase:Slate       ||                         293.09 USD 
----------------------------------++------------------------------------
                                  ||                       -3599.95 USD 

All the accounts that were rolled up into <unbudgeted> category are now shown with their original name, but budgeted accounts are still rolled up. It is easy to see now that we forgot taxes. Lets add them to our budget:

~ monthly from 2013/01
  Expenses:Food    500 USD
  Expenses:Health  200 USD
  Expenses:Home    2545 USD
  Expenses:Transport   120 USD
  Expenses:Taxes   4300 USD ;; Taken from monthly average report
  Income:US        -10700 USD
  Assets:US

Lets try again for a couple of month with this updated budget:

$ hledger balance -f bcexample.hledger -f budget.journal -M -b 2013-01 -e 2013-04 --budget cur:USD 
Balance changes in 2013q1:

                          ||                            2013/01                            2013/02                             2013/03 
==========================++===========================================================================================================
 <unbudgeted>:Expenses    ||                           4.00 USD                          12.95 USD                           39.80 USD 
 <unbudgeted>:Liabilities ||                         293.09 USD                        -147.51 USD                          -66.01 USD 
 Assets:US                ||      1893.32 USD [62% of 3035 USD]      2929.77 USD [97% of 3035 USD]    -3898.89 USD [-128% of 3035 USD] 
 Expenses:Food            ||        396.46 USD [79% of 500 USD]        481.48 USD [96% of 500 USD]        603.32 USD [121% of 500 USD] 
 Expenses:Health          ||       290.70 USD [145% of 200 USD]        193.80 USD [97% of 200 USD]         193.80 USD [97% of 200 USD] 
 Expenses:Home            ||     2544.98 USD [100% of 2545 USD]     2545.02 USD [100% of 2545 USD]      2544.97 USD [100% of 2545 USD] 
 Expenses:Taxes           ||     5976.60 USD [139% of 4300 USD]      3984.40 USD [93% of 4300 USD]      4901.83 USD [114% of 4300 USD] 
 Expenses:Transport       ||       120.00 USD [100% of 120 USD]       120.00 USD [100% of 120 USD]        120.00 USD [100% of 120 USD] 
 Income:US                || -15119.10 USD [141% of -10700 USD]  -10331.21 USD [97% of -10700 USD]  -11079.40 USD [104% of -10700 USD] 
--------------------------++-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          ||                       -3599.95 USD                        -211.30 USD                        -6640.58 USD 

Now unbudgeted amounts are much smaller and some of them could be dismissed as noise, and we can see that budget created is actually close enough to the real numbers, meaning that they are usually close to average that we put in our budget.

Envelope budget

Budget report that we have used so far assumes that any unused budget amount for a given (monthly) period will not contribute to the budget of the next period. Alternative popular "envelope budget" strategy assumes that you put a certain amount of money into an envelope each month, and any unused amount stays there for future expenses. This is easy to simulate by adding --cumulative switch. Lets redo the last report with it:

$ hledger balance -f bcexample.hledger -f budget.journal -M -b 2013-01 -e 2013-04 --cumulative --budget cur:USD
Ending balances (cumulative) in 2013q1:

                          ||                         2013/01/31                          2013/02/28                          2013/03/31 
==========================++============================================================================================================
 <unbudgeted>:Expenses    ||                           4.00 USD                           16.95 USD                           56.75 USD 
 <unbudgeted>:Liabilities ||                         293.09 USD                          145.58 USD                           79.57 USD 
 Assets:US                ||      1893.32 USD [62% of 3035 USD]       4823.09 USD [79% of 6070 USD]        924.20 USD [10% of 9105 USD] 
 Expenses:Food            ||        396.46 USD [79% of 500 USD]        877.94 USD [88% of 1000 USD]       1481.26 USD [99% of 1500 USD] 
 Expenses:Health          ||       290.70 USD [145% of 200 USD]        484.50 USD [121% of 400 USD]        678.30 USD [113% of 600 USD] 
 Expenses:Home            ||     2544.98 USD [100% of 2545 USD]      5090.00 USD [100% of 5090 USD]      7634.97 USD [100% of 7635 USD] 
 Expenses:Taxes           ||     5976.60 USD [139% of 4300 USD]      9961.00 USD [116% of 8600 USD]    14862.83 USD [115% of 12900 USD] 
 Expenses:Transport       ||       120.00 USD [100% of 120 USD]        240.00 USD [100% of 240 USD]        360.00 USD [100% of 360 USD] 
 Income:US                || -15119.10 USD [141% of -10700 USD]  -25450.31 USD [119% of -21400 USD]  -36529.71 USD [114% of -32100 USD] 
--------------------------++------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          ||                       -3599.95 USD                        -3811.25 USD                       -10451.83 USD 

If you look at Expenses:Food category, you will see that every month budget is increased by 500 USD, and by March total amount budgeted is 1500 USD, of which 1481.26 USD is spent. If you look back at the previous non-cumulative monthly budget report, you will see that in March food expenses were 121% of the budgeted amount, but cumulative report shows that taking into account budget carry-over from Jan and Feb we are well within planned numbers.

Forecasting

Budget transaction that was created could be used to predict what would be our financial situation in the future. If you add --forecast switch, you will see how budgeted income and expense affects you past the last transaction in the journal. Since journal ends in Oct 2014, lets see next two month:

$ hledger balance -f bcexample.hledger -f budget.journal -M -b 2014-10 -e 2015 --forecast cur:USD
Balance changes in 2014q4:

                                    ||      2014/10     2014/11     2014/12 
====================================++======================================
 Assets:US                          ||            0    3035 USD    3035 USD 
 Assets:US:BofA:Checking            || -2453.40 USD           0           0 
 Assets:US:ETrade:Cash              ||  5000.00 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Financial:Fees            ||     4.00 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Food                      ||            0     500 USD     500 USD 
 Expenses:Food:Restaurant           ||    83.00 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Health                    ||            0     200 USD     200 USD 
 Expenses:Health:Dental:Insurance   ||     2.90 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Health:Life:GroupTermLife ||    24.32 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Health:Medical:Insurance  ||    27.38 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Health:Vision:Insurance   ||    42.30 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Home                      ||            0    2545 USD    2545 USD 
 Expenses:Taxes                     ||            0    4300 USD    4300 USD 
 Expenses:Taxes:Y2014:US:CityNYC    ||   174.92 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Taxes:Y2014:US:Federal    ||  1062.92 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Taxes:Y2014:US:Medicare   ||   106.62 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Taxes:Y2014:US:SDI        ||     1.12 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Taxes:Y2014:US:SocSec     ||   281.54 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Taxes:Y2014:US:State      ||   365.08 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Transport                 ||            0     120 USD     120 USD 
 Expenses:Transport:Tram            ||   120.00 USD           0           0 
 Income:US                          ||            0  -10700 USD  -10700 USD 
 Income:US:Hoogle:GroupTermLife     ||   -24.32 USD           0           0 
 Income:US:Hoogle:Salary            || -4615.38 USD           0           0 
 Liabilities:US:Chase:Slate         ||  -203.00 USD           0           0 
------------------------------------++--------------------------------------
                                    ||            0           0           0 

Note that this time there is no roll-up of accounts. Unlike --budget, which could be used with balance command only, --forecast could be used with any report. Forecast transactions would be added to your real journal and would appear in the report you requested as if you have entered them on the scheduled dates.

Since quite a lot of accounts do not have any budgeted transactions, lets limit the depth of the report to avoid seeing lots of zeroes:

$ hledger balance -f bcexample.hledger -f budget.journal -M -b 2014-10 -e 2015 --forecast cur:USD --depth 2
Balance changes in 2014q4:

                    ||      2014/10     2014/11     2014/12 
====================++======================================
 Assets:US          ||  2546.60 USD    3035 USD    3035 USD 
 Expenses:Financial ||     4.00 USD           0           0 
 Expenses:Food      ||    83.00 USD     500 USD     500 USD 
 Expenses:Health    ||    96.90 USD     200 USD     200 USD 
 Expenses:Home      ||            0    2545 USD    2545 USD 
 Expenses:Taxes     ||  1992.20 USD    4300 USD    4300 USD 
 Expenses:Transport ||   120.00 USD     120 USD     120 USD 
 Income:US          || -4639.70 USD  -10700 USD  -10700 USD 
 Liabilities:US     ||  -203.00 USD           0           0 
--------------------++--------------------------------------
                    ||            0           0           0 

As you can see, we should expect 3035 USD to be added into Assets:US each month. It is quite easy to see how overal amount of Assets will change with time if you use --cumulative switch:

$ hledger balance -f bcexample.hledger -f budget.journal -M -b 2014-10 -e 2015 --forecast cur:USD --depth 2 --cumulative
Ending balances (cumulative) in 2014q4:

                    ||   2014/10/31     2014/11/30     2014/12/31 
====================++============================================
 Assets:US          ||  2546.60 USD    5581.60 USD    8616.60 USD 
 Expenses:Financial ||     4.00 USD       4.00 USD       4.00 USD 
 Expenses:Food      ||    83.00 USD     583.00 USD    1083.00 USD 
 Expenses:Health    ||    96.90 USD     296.90 USD     496.90 USD 
 Expenses:Home      ||            0       2545 USD       5090 USD 
 Expenses:Taxes     ||  1992.20 USD    6292.20 USD   10592.20 USD 
 Expenses:Transport ||   120.00 USD     240.00 USD     360.00 USD 
 Income:US          || -4639.70 USD  -15339.70 USD  -26039.70 USD 
 Liabilities:US     ||  -203.00 USD    -203.00 USD    -203.00 USD 
--------------------++--------------------------------------------
                    ||            0              0              0 

According to forecast, assets are expected to grow to 8600+ USD by the end of 2014. However, our forecast does not include a couple of big one-off year end expenses. First, we plan to buy prize turkey for the Christmas table every year from 2014, spending up to 500 USD on it. And on 17th Nov 2014 we would celebrate birthday of significant other, spending up to 6000 USD in a fancy restaurant:

~ every 20th Dec from 2014
  Expenses:Food   500 USD ; Prize turkey, the biggest of the big
  Assets:US

~ 2014/11/17
  Assets:US
  Expenses:Food   6000 USD ; Birthday, lots of guests 

Note that turkey transaction is not entered as "yearly from 2014/12/20", since yearly/quarterly/monthy/weekly periodic expressions always generate entries at the first day of the calendar year/quarter/month/week. Thus "monthly from 2014/12" will occur on 2014/12/01, 2015/01/01, ..., whereas "every 20th of month from 2014/12" will happen on 2014/12/20, 2015/12/20, etc.

With latest additions forecast now looks like this:

hledger balance -f bcexample.hledger -f budget.journal -M -b 2014-10 -e 2015 --forecast cur:USD --depth 2 --cumulative
Ending balances (cumulative) in 2014q4:

                    ||   2014/10/31     2014/11/30     2014/12/31 
====================++============================================
 Assets:US          ||  2546.60 USD    -418.40 USD    2116.60 USD 
 Expenses:Financial ||     4.00 USD       4.00 USD       4.00 USD 
 Expenses:Food      ||    83.00 USD    6583.00 USD    7583.00 USD 
 Expenses:Health    ||    96.90 USD     296.90 USD     496.90 USD 
 Expenses:Home      ||            0       2545 USD       5090 USD 
 Expenses:Taxes     ||  1992.20 USD    6292.20 USD   10592.20 USD 
 Expenses:Transport ||   120.00 USD     240.00 USD     360.00 USD 
 Income:US          || -4639.70 USD  -15339.70 USD  -26039.70 USD 
 Liabilities:US     ||  -203.00 USD    -203.00 USD    -203.00 USD 
--------------------++--------------------------------------------
                    ||            0              0              0 

It is easy to see that in Nov 2014 we will run out of Assets. Using register we can figure out when or why it would happen:

$ hledger register -f bcexample.hledger -f budget.journal -b 2014-10 -e 2014-12 --forecast cur:USD Assets
2014/10/04 "BANK FEES" | "Monthly bank fee"         Assets:US:BofA:Checking                      -4.00 USD     -4.00 USD
2014/10/09 "Hoogle" | "Payroll"                     Assets:US:BofA:Checking                    2550.60 USD   2546.60 USD
2014/10/10 "Transfering accumulated savings to o..  Assets:US:BofA:Checking                   -5000.00 USD  -2453.40 USD
                                                    Assets:US:ETrade:Cash                      5000.00 USD   2546.60 USD
2014/11/01 Forecast transaction                     Assets:US                                     3035 USD   5581.60 USD
2014/11/17 Forecast transaction                     Assets:US                                    -6000 USD   -418.40 USD

It is 6000 USD planned for birthday! Something will have to be done about the birthday plans.

Budgeting

Notes

 <sm> two commands that are roughly equivalent: ledger budget --add-budget expenses, hledger balance --budget -E expenses
 <sm> they show both budgeted and unbudgeted accounts            
--budget has no effect on single-column reports, it requires a reporting interval
--budget INTERVAL enables all periodic transactions with that interval; these can be date-limited
--budget hides all non-budgeted subaccounts; can be depth-limited more
<sm> there's different ways to do budgeting                     [16:46]
<sm> let me try to count them                                   [16:50]
<sm> "envelope budgeting" is analogous to having a set of envelopes containing cash for different purposes. 
You can model the "envelopes" with 
a. real-world accounts (eg your bank lets you create arbitrary savings accounts), 
b. virtual (imaginary) subaccounts of a real-world account (eg your checking account), 
c. virtual accounts "off to the side" (budget:*)
<sm> also you can do the transfers to and from these manually, or generate them with automated posting rules
<sm> "goal budgeting" (best name I can come up with) involves setting some inflow/outflow goals per account per period, 
and then measuring how the actual flows compare with the goals. balance --budget provides this report
<sm> I think that's 7 ways

From https://www.reddit.com/r/plaintextaccounting/comments/doq9p5/new_to_ledger_budgeting_question:

Also search for budgeting links at http://plaintextaccounting.org . You'll see two main approaches discussed:

  1. "envelope budgeting" - sounds more like what you've been doing. Based around explicitly allocating money for each purpose. Good for managing > cashflow. Requires more journal entries. Can be done entirely manually (1a) but many docs advise using automatic posting rules to assist (1b). Many > different ways to handle the details. Requires more thinking.

  2. the other kind ("report-based budgeting" ?). Based around a special budget report provided by Ledger/hledger, which uses periodic transaction > rules to set budget goals. Automatic posting rules might be useful here too, I'm not sure. Provides less enforcement, requires less work. Fewer ways > to do it, perhaps provides simpler/clearer reports.

I often find "budgeting" covers/touches on quite a lot of topics:

  • setting earning/spending goals,
  • reviewing performance against those goals,
  • controlling earning/spending based on the goals,
  • allocating funds for short term expenses,
  • allocating funds towards savings goals,
  • updating allocated funds as transactions occur,
  • reallocating funds/balancing the budget,
  • end of period actions (roll over ? reset ?),
  • forecasting cash balances and managing cashflow,
  • forecasting income/expenses...

Calculate return on investment

A tutorial for the roi (Return On Investment) command.

Cash-only investments

Let's consider the easy case first, where your assets and your investment is the same single commodity (in this case, USD), and whenever value of your investment changes, you record the change manually, balancing it against equity:unrealized gains.

Lets say that we found an investment in Snake Oil that is promising to give us 10% annually:

2019-01-01 Investing in Snake Oil
  assets:cash  -$100
  investment:snake oil

2019-12-24 Recording the growth of Snake Oil
  investment:snake oil   = $110
  equity:unrealized gains

For now, basic computation of the rate of return, as well as IRR and TWR, gives us the expected 10%:

$ hledger roi -Y --inv investment --pnl "unrealized"
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-----++--------+--------+
|   ||      Begin |        End || Value (begin) | Cashflow | Value (end) | PnL ||    IRR |    TWR |
+===++============+============++===============+==========+=============+=====++========+========+
| 1 || 2019-01-01 | 2019-12-31 ||             0 |     $100 |        $110 | $10 || 10.00% | 10.00% |
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-----++--------+--------+

However, lets say that shorty after investing in the Snake Oil we started to have second thoughts, so we prompty withdrew $90, leaving only $10 in. Before Christmas, though, we started to get the "fear of missing out", so we put the $90 back in. So for most of the year, our investment was just $10 dollars, and it gave us just $1 in growth:

2019-01-01 Investing in Snake Oil
  assets:cash  -$100
  investment:snake oil

2019-01-02 Buyers remorse
  assets:cash  $90
  investment:snake oil
       
2019-12-30 Fear of missing out
  assets:cash  -$90
  investment:snake oil

2019-12-31 Recording the growth of Snake Oil
  investment:snake oil   = $101
  equity:unrealized gains

Now IRR and TWR are drastically different:

$ hledger roi -Y --inv investment --pnl "unrealized"
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-----++-------+-------+
|   ||      Begin |        End || Value (begin) | Cashflow | Value (end) | PnL ||   IRR |   TWR |
+===++============+============++===============+==========+=============+=====++=======+=======+
| 1 || 2019-01-01 | 2019-12-31 ||             0 |     $100 |        $101 |  $1 || 9.32% | 1.00% |
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-----++-------+-------+

Here, IRR tells us that we made close to 10% on the $10 dollars that we had in the account most of the time. And TWR is ... just 1%? Why?

Based on the transactions in our journal, TWR "thinks" that we are buying back $90 worth of Snake Oil at the same price that it had at the beginning of the year, and then after that our $100 investment gets $1 increase in value, or 1% of $100. Let's take a closer look at what is happening here by asking for quarterly reports instead of annual:

$ hledger roi -Q --inv investment --pnl "unrealized"
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-----++--------+-------+
|   ||      Begin |        End || Value (begin) | Cashflow | Value (end) | PnL ||    IRR |   TWR |
+===++============+============++===============+==========+=============+=====++========+=======+
| 1 || 2019-01-01 | 2019-03-31 ||             0 |      $10 |         $10 |   0 ||  0.00% | 0.00% |
| 2 || 2019-04-01 | 2019-06-30 ||           $10 |        0 |         $10 |   0 ||  0.00% | 0.00% |
| 3 || 2019-07-01 | 2019-09-30 ||           $10 |        0 |         $10 |   0 ||  0.00% | 0.00% |
| 4 || 2019-10-01 | 2019-12-31 ||           $10 |      $90 |        $101 |  $1 || 37.80% | 4.03% |
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-----++--------+-------+

Now both IRR and TWR are thrown off by the fact that all of the growth for our investment happens in Q4 2019. Reported rates are annualized, that is IRR computation is still yielding 9.32% and TWR is still 1%, but these rates are computed over three month period instead of twelve, so in order to get an annual rate they should be multiplied by four!

Let's try to keep a better record of how Snake Oil grew in value:

2019-01-01 Investing in Snake Oil
  assets:cash  -$100
  investment:snake oil

2019-01-02 Buyers remorse
  assets:cash  $90
  investment:snake oil

2019-02-28 Recording the growth of Snake Oil
  investment:snake oil  
  equity:unrealized gains  -$0.25

2019-06-30 Recording the growth of Snake Oil
  investment:snake oil  
  equity:unrealized gains  -$0.25

2019-09-30 Recording the growth of Snake Oil
  investment:snake oil  
  equity:unrealized gains  -$0.25

2019-12-30 Fear of missing out
  assets:cash  -$90
  investment:snake oil

2019-12-31 Recording the growth of Snake Oil
  investment:snake oil
  equity:unrealized gains  -$0.25

Would our quarterly report look better now? Almost:

$ hledger roi -Q --inv investment --pnl "unrealized"
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-------++--------+--------+
|   ||      Begin |        End || Value (begin) | Cashflow | Value (end) |   PnL ||    IRR |    TWR |
+===++============+============++===============+==========+=============+=======++========+========+
| 1 || 2019-01-01 | 2019-03-31 ||             0 |   $10.00 |      $10.25 | $0.25 ||  9.53% | 10.53% |
| 2 || 2019-04-01 | 2019-06-30 ||        $10.25 |        0 |      $10.50 | $0.25 || 10.15% | 10.15% |
| 3 || 2019-07-01 | 2019-09-30 ||        $10.50 |        0 |      $10.75 | $0.25 ||  9.79% |  9.78% |
| 4 || 2019-10-01 | 2019-12-31 ||        $10.75 |   $90.00 |     $101.00 | $0.25 ||  8.05% |  1.00% |
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-------++--------+--------+

Something is still wrong with TWR computation for Q4, and if you have been paying attention you know what it is already: big $90 buy-back is recorded prior to the only transaction that captures the change of value of Snake Oil that happened in this time period. Lets combine transactions from 30th and 31st of Dec into one:

2019-12-30 Fear of missing out and growth of Snake Oil
  assets:cash  -$90
  investment:snake oil
  equity:unrealized gains  -$0.25

Now growth of investment properly affects its price at the time of buy-back:

$ hledger roi -Q --inv investment --pnl "unrealized"
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-------++--------+--------+
|   ||      Begin |        End || Value (begin) | Cashflow | Value (end) |   PnL ||    IRR |    TWR |
+===++============+============++===============+==========+=============+=======++========+========+
| 1 || 2019-01-01 | 2019-03-31 ||             0 |   $10.00 |      $10.25 | $0.25 ||  9.53% | 10.53% |
| 2 || 2019-04-01 | 2019-06-30 ||        $10.25 |        0 |      $10.50 | $0.25 || 10.15% | 10.15% |
| 3 || 2019-07-01 | 2019-09-30 ||        $10.50 |        0 |      $10.75 | $0.25 ||  9.79% |  9.78% |
| 4 || 2019-10-01 | 2019-12-31 ||        $10.75 |   $90.00 |     $101.00 | $0.25 ||  8.05% |  9.57% |
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-------++--------+--------+

And for annual report, TWR now reports the exact profitability of our investment:

$ hledger roi -Y --inv investment --pnl "unrealized"
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-------++-------+--------+
|   ||      Begin |        End || Value (begin) | Cashflow | Value (end) |   PnL ||   IRR |    TWR |
+===++============+============++===============+==========+=============+=======++=======+========+
| 1 || 2019-01-01 | 2019-12-31 ||             0 |  $100.00 |     $101.00 | $1.00 || 9.32% | 10.00% |
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-------++-------+--------+

Using commodities and prices

Let's redo the same Snake Oil example, but creating a special commodity to track amount of Snake Oil we have.

We will use SNKOIL as a commodity name, and will assume that 1 SNKOIL = $1 at the beginning of 2019.

As before, we start with a simple example where we invest in SNKOIL, and by the end of 2019 our investment growth by 10%.

2019-01-01 Investing in Snake Oil
  assets:cash
  investment:snake oil   100 SNKOIL @@ $100

; Recording the growth of Snake Oil
P 2019-12-24  SNKOIL $1.1

We need to tell roi that we are interested in the growth of value of our investment with --value=then switch, which forces it to use prices that were in effect at each moment in time that roi inspects for its computations:

$ hledger roi -Y --inv investment --pnl "unrealized" --value=then
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-------++--------+--------+
|   ||      Begin |        End || Value (begin) | Cashflow | Value (end) |   PnL ||    IRR |    TWR |
+===++============+============++===============+==========+=============+=======++========+========+
| 1 || 2019-01-01 | 2019-12-31 ||             0 |   $100.0 |      $110.0 | $10.0 || 10.00% | 10.00% |
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-------++--------+--------+

Following the story from the previous example, lets say that shorty after investing in the Snake Oil we started to have second thoughts, so we prompty withdrew $90, leaving only $10 in. Before Christmas, though, we started to get the "fear of missing out", so we put the $90 back in. So for most of the year, our investment was just $10 dollars (or, rather 10 SNKOIL):

2019-01-01 Investing in Snake Oil
  assets:cash
  investment:snake oil   100 SNKOIL @@ $100

2019-01-02 Buyers remorse
  assets:cash
  investment:snake oil   -90 SNKOIL @@ $90

2019-12-23 Fear of missing out
  assets:cash
  investment:snake oil  90 SNKOIL @@ $90

; Recording the growth of Snake Oil
P 2019-12-24  SNKOIL $1.1

These numbers do not look correct:

$ hledger roi -Y --inv investment --pnl "unrealized" --value=then
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-------++--------+--------+
|   ||      Begin |        End || Value (begin) | Cashflow | Value (end) |   PnL ||    IRR |    TWR |
+===++============+============++===============+==========+=============+=======++========+========+
| 1 || 2019-01-01 | 2019-12-31 ||             0 |   $100.0 |      $110.0 | $10.0 || 83.66% | 10.00% |
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-------++--------+--------+

That is because the "Fear of missing out" buy-back transaction is likely incorrect: based on the price in that transaction, it look like we are buying back $90 worth of Snake Oil at the same price that it had at the beginning of the year, and then after that our investment gets sudden increase in value. This completely throws off IRR computations.

Let's say that we kept a better record of SNKOIL prices and we can compute a more precise amount of SNKOIL we bough back at the end of the year:

2019-01-01 Investing in Snake Oil
 assets:cash
 investment:snake oil   100 SNKOIL @@ $100

2019-01-02 Buyers remorse
 assets:cash
 investment:snake oil   -90 SNKOIL @@ $90

; Recording the price of Snake Oil
P 2019-02-28 SNKOIL $1.025
P 2019-06-30 SNKOIL $1.05
P 2019-09-30 SNKOIL $1.075

2019-12-23 Fear of missing out
 assets:cash 
 investment:snake oil   83.72 SNKOIL @@ $90 ; $90/$1.075 = 83.72

; Recording the growth of Snake Oil
P 2019-12-24  SNKOIL $1.1

Now our IRR looks better:

$ hledger roi -Y --inv investment --pnl "unrealized" --value=then
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+--------++--------+-------+
|   ||      Begin |        End || Value (begin) | Cashflow | Value (end) |    PnL ||    IRR |   TWR |
+===++============+============++===============+==========+=============+========++========+=======+
| 1 || 2019-01-01 | 2019-12-31 ||             0 | $100.000 |    $103.092 | $3.092 || 25.22% | 3.09% |
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+--------++--------+-------+

Though from IRR perspective it looks like we only had about $10 worth of SNKOIL for most of the year, and still managed to get a return of $3, which looks like about a quarter of $10 invested - hence 25.22% of return from IRR standpoint. Note that TWR gives us more sensive 3.09% of return, which is closer to what you would expect.

Investments that pay interest out (loans, bonds, dividends)

Let's say that you have given someone a loan or put money in a savings account, or maybe bought bonds that pay out regular coupons, and now you have monthly/quarterly/annual payouts. What is the best way to record them so that we could compute ROI?

For the following example, we will assume that you put $100 into savings account that pays out $1 quarterly (so your interest is not added to your investment):

2019-01-01 Investment
  assets:cash
  investment:saving  $100

We need to make sure that:

  • Payout transactions are included in the analysis, so they must match the query given to --inv. This could be achieved if investment account is mentioned in our transaction.

  • Payout transactions do not change the value of the investment

These two bullet points are naturally translated to this transaction:

2019-03-31 Interest
  assets:cash         $1
  investment:saving   $0

This transaction is not balanced, though. We need to balance it with the "profit and loss" account:

2019-03-31 Interest
  assets:cash         $1
  investment:saving   $0
  equity:profit and loss

So, at the end of the quarter your investment grew $1 in value and that $1 was immediately paid out to you, and this transaction lines with the description pretty well.

Let's complete the journal with one year of payouts:

2019-01-01 Investment
  assets:cash
  investment:saving  $100

2019-03-31 Q1 Interest
  assets:cash         $1
  investment:saving   $0
  equity:profit and loss

2019-06-30 Q2 Interest
  assets:cash         $1
  investment:saving   $0
  equity:profit and loss

2019-09-30 Q3 Interest
  assets:cash         $1
  investment:saving   $0
  equity:profit and loss

2019-12-31 Q4 Interest
  assets:cash         $1
  investment:saving   $0
  equity:profit and loss

We can now compute ROI:

$ hledger roi -Y --inv investment --pnl "profit and loss"
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-----++-------+-------+
|   ||      Begin |        End || Value (begin) | Cashflow | Value (end) | PnL ||   IRR |   TWR |
+===++============+============++===============+==========+=============+=====++=======+=======+
| 1 || 2019-01-01 | 2019-12-31 ||             0 |      $96 |        $100 |  $4 || 4.06% | 4.06% |
+---++------------+------------++---------------+----------+-------------+-----++-------+-------+

Cashflow is $100 paid in minus $4 of interest received back.

Calculate unrealized gain

This is a guide on calculating the unrealized capital gain/loss of investments, using the balance --gain report (currently unreleased and available only in the git repo).

This guide assumes you've read the investments guide and that you're using the "simple" version of recording investment transactions laid out in that document, using @ or @@. We'll also be using a FIFO system for sales. At the end we'll discuss how to adapt your strategy for different systems.

Buying

Let's say you start your year with $100:

2021-01-04 opening balances
    assets:cash                      $100.00
    equity:opening/closing balances

In february you decide to start investing in a stock you've been monitoring:

P 2021-01-04 ABC $2
P 2021-01-11 ABC $3
P 2021-01-18 ABC $4

2021-01-19 buying stock
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210119   5 ABC @ $4.40
    assets:cash               $-22.00

Note that the stock was not bought at the exact market price we recorded.

Looking at the gain report at this point tells us that we've lost $2:

$ hledger bal --gain

              $-2.00  assets:stocks:ABC:20210119
--------------------
              $-2.00

This is because if we sell at the last known market price, that is what our loss will be. If we add --infer-market-price hledger will insert a P 2021-01-19 ABC $4.40 during processing, making the gain $0.

Price changes

Let's say the market price grows some more in the following weeks:

P 2021-01-25 ABC $5
P 2021-02-01 ABC $6

We now see a profit of $8:

$ hledger bal --gain

                  $8  assets:stocks:ABC:20210119
--------------------
                  $8

We can also track the gain over time:

$ hledger bal --gain -W

Incremental gain in 2021-01-04..2021-02-07, valued at period ends:

                            || 2021-01-04W01  2021-01-11W02  2021-01-18W03  2021-01-25W04  2021-02-01W05 
============================++===========================================================================
 assets:stocks:ABC:20210119 ||             0              0         $-2.00          $5.00          $5.00 
----------------------------++---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            ||             0              0         $-2.00          $5.00          $5.00 

We start out with our gain of $-2 as before. Since the value of the stock increases by $1 every week and we bought 5 shares, we see a $5 increment in the following weeks. To see the total gain over time add the -H option.

At this point, you decide to buy some more shares:

2021-02-02 buying more stock
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210202   4 ABC @ $6.50
    assets:cash               $-26.00

Let's see what this does to our gain calculation:

$ heldger bal --gain
                  $8  assets:stocks:ABC:20210119
                 $-2  assets:stocks:ABC:20210202
--------------------
                  $6

We still see the same gain for the first lot. The new lot has a gain of $-2, decreasing our total gain to $6.

Unfortunately, in the next week the market price of the stock decreases:

P 2021-02-08 ABC $5

Our gain report over time now looks like this:

$ hledger bal --gain -W -b 2021-01-18

Incremental gain in 2021-01-04..2021-02-14, valued at period ends:

                            || 2021-01-18W03  2021-01-25W04  2021-02-01W05  2021-02-08W06 
============================++============================================================
 assets:stocks:ABC:20210119 ||        $-2.00          $5.00          $5.00         $-5.00 
 assets:stocks:ABC:20210202 ||             0              0         $-2.00         $-4.00 
----------------------------++------------------------------------------------------------
                            ||        $-2.00          $5.00          $3.00         $-9.00 

We'll add some more prices, and then start selling our stocks.

P 2021-02-15 ABC $6
P 2021-02-22 ABC $7

Selling

We'll start of by selling some of our first lot:

2021-02-23 sell some stock
    assets:cash                $12.00
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210119  -2 ABC @ $4.40
    income:capital gains

This leaves us with the following gain report:

$ hledger bal -W --gain -b 2021-02-07

Incremental gain in 2021-02, valued at period ends:

                            || 2021-02-01W05  2021-02-08W06  2021-02-15W07  2021-02-22W08 
============================++============================================================
 assets:stocks:ABC:20210119 ||         $5.00         $-5.00          $5.00         $-0.20 
 assets:stocks:ABC:20210202 ||        $-2.00         $-4.00          $4.00          $4.00 
----------------------------++------------------------------------------------------------
                            ||         $3.00         $-9.00          $9.00          $3.80 

At first glance, the negative value in the last column might seem counterintuitive. Didn't we just make a profit on our sale? However, our unrealized gain decreased by the sale. The realized gain is recorded by the income:capital gains posting. Our income statement tells us our realized gain:

$ hledger is

Income Statement 2021-01-04..2021-02-23

                      || 2021-01-04..2021-02-23 
======================++========================
 Revenues             ||                        
----------------------++------------------------
 income:capital gains ||                  $3.20 
----------------------++------------------------
                      ||                  $3.20 
======================++========================
 Expenses             ||                        
----------------------++------------------------
----------------------++------------------------
                      ||                        
======================++========================
 Net:                 ||                  $3.20 

The total value of the remaining 3 stocks we didn't sell increased by $3 that week, leaving us the $-0.20 figure we see in the last column of the gain report.

The next week, the price increases again, and we decide to sell all our remaining stock:

P 2021-03-01 ABC $8

2021-03-02 sell remaining stock
    assets:cash                $54.00
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210119  -3 ABC @ $4.40
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210202  -4 ABC @ $6.50
    income:capital gains

This decreases our remaining unrealized gain down to 0:

$ hledger bal -W --gain -b 2021-02-07 -H

Historical gain in 2021-02-01..2021-03-07, valued at period ends:

                            || 2021-02-07  2021-02-14  2021-02-21  2021-02-28  2021-03-07 
============================++============================================================
 assets:stocks:ABC:20210119 ||      $8.00       $3.00       $8.00       $7.80           0 
 assets:stocks:ABC:20210202 ||     $-2.00      $-6.00      $-2.00       $2.00           0 
----------------------------++------------------------------------------------------------
                            ||      $6.00      $-3.00       $6.00       $9.80           0 

Different cost base calculations

The transactions described above could easily be adapted for LIFO: just use a different lot for the initial sale.

ACB gets a bit more difficult. If we buy more stock, we essentially have to change the cost basis of our previous lots as well. The resulting journal might look a little like this:

2021-01-04 opening balances
    assets:cash                      $100.00
    equity:opening/closing balances

P 2021-01-04 ABC $2
P 2021-01-11 ABC $3
P 2021-01-18 ABC $4

2021-01-19 buying stock
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210119   5 ABC @ $4.40
    assets:cash               $-22.00

P 2021-01-25 ABC $5
P 2021-02-01 ABC $6

2021-02-02 buying more stock
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210119  -5 ABC @ $4.40
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210119   5 ABC @ $5.33
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210202   4 ABC @ $5.33
    assets:cash               $-26.00
    equity:rounding

P 2021-02-08 ABC $5
P 2021-02-15 ABC $6
P 2021-02-22 ABC $7

2021-02-23 sell some stock
    assets:cash                $12.00
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210119  -2 ABC @ $5.33
    income:capital gains

P 2021-03-01 ABC $8

2021-03-02 sell remaining stock
    assets:cash                $54.00
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210119  -3 ABC @ $5.33
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210202  -4 ABC @ $5.33
    income:capital gains

If and how you deal with rounding depends on if and how you need to report your capital gains to your tax authority. You can avoid rounding errors by always using the @@ symbol, but this essentially makes it impossible to sell only part of your shares (or you have to deal with rounding at time of sale instead of time of purchase). A journal might then look like this:

2021-01-04 opening balances
    assets:cash                      $100.00
    equity:opening/closing balances

P 2021-01-04 ABC $2
P 2021-01-11 ABC $3
P 2021-01-18 ABC $4

2021-01-19 buying stock
    assets:stocks:ABC   5 ABC @@ $22.00
    assets:cash      $-22.00

P 2021-01-25 ABC $5
P 2021-02-01 ABC $6

2021-02-02 buying more stock
    assets:stocks:ABC  -5 ABC @@ $22.00
    assets:stocks:ABC   9 ABC @@ $48.00
    assets:cash      $-26.00

P 2021-02-08 ABC $5
P 2021-02-15 ABC $6
P 2021-02-22 ABC $7
P 2021-03-01 ABC $8

2021-03-02 sell stock
    assets:cash                $70.00
    assets:stocks:ABC:20210119  -9 ABC @@ $48.00
    income:capital gains

Change account name separator

Timedot format makes me want to use dots (.) for separating account components, instead of colon (:). For example, instead of fos:hledger:timedot I'd like to write fos.hledger.timedot. We can use the powerful account aliases feature to rewrite account names before hledger's account name parser sees them.

In journal files, we can use an alias directive. Note the backslash which tells the regular expression engine it's a literal . not a wildcard:

# alias /REGEX/=REPLACEMENT
alias /\./=:

2008/01/01 income
    assets.bank.checking  $1
    income.salary

Check that subaccounts are recognised:

$ hledger -f t.journal bal --no-elide
                  $1  assets
                  $1    bank
                  $1      checking
                 $-1  income
                 $-1    salary
--------------------
                   0

Alias directives aren't supported in the timedot format,

2016/2/4
fos.hledger.timedot  2
fos.ledger           1

so we would use the --alias command line option instead. The second backslash tells the shell that's a literal backslash, not a shell escape sequence:

$ hledger --alias /\\./=: -f t.timedot bal --no-elide
                3.00  fos
                2.00    hledger
                2.00      timedot
                1.00    ledger
--------------------
                3.00

Charts and Graphs

Tips and techniques for producing graphical charts.

Generally we run a hledger report and

  • select CSV(/SSV/TSV) output (-o foo.csv)
  • disable the Total row (-N/--no-total))
  • and show numbers apart from their commodity symbols (--commodity-column; or in hledger master, --layout=bare)

Eg:

hledger bal assets liabilities --no-total --commodity-column -o report.csv

Then there are many ways to convert CSV to charts.

Spreadsheet

Drag the CSV file into your favourite spreadsheet app and use its charting tools.

ploterific

ploterific (stack install hvega-theme ploterific) produces simple charts, in a HTML file that uses the Vega-Lite javascript library. Charts can also be saved as SVG or PNG. An example:

hledger -f examples/bcexample.hledger bal -O csv -N expenses -3 cur:USD \
    | sed 's/ USD//' \
    | ploterific -m Bar -f account:N -f balance:Q -c account -o a.html \
    && open a.html

ploterific example 1

Let's break down that command line:

  • -f examples/bcexample.hledger - use this example file in the hledger repo. Omit this to use your default journal.
  • bal - run a balance report
  • -O csv - show it as CSV on stdout
  • -N - disable the final Total row
  • expenses - limit to accounts whose name contains expenses
  • -3 - summarise accounts to depth 3 and above
  • cur:USD - limit to balances in USD currency. If you use the $ symbol, it would be cur:\\$.
  • sed 's/ USD//g' - process the output with sed, stripping the USD symbols to leave bare numbers for ploterific. With $ it would be sed 's/\$//g'.
  • -m Bar - use Bar as the Vega-Lite mark type
  • -f account:N - use the account column as the first feature (X axis), treating values as names
  • -f balance:Q - use the balance column as a second feature (Y axis), treating values as quantities
  • -c account - use account values to select colours
  • -o a.html - save into a temporary HTML file
  • && open a.html - and view it in your web browser, on Mac; on other systems it might be xdg-open or start

Here is the same chart but with the colour set by the balance:

hledger -f examples/bcexample.hledger bal -O csv -N expenses -3 cur:USD \
    | sed 's/ USD//' \
    | ploterific -m Bar -f account:N -f balance:Q -c balance:Q -o a.html

ploterific example 2

gnuplot, R, other

Check out the tools at https://plaintextaccounting.org/#reports (hreports, ledger-plot, ledger-plots, ludget, r-ledger..)

hledger-vega

New in 2022: https://github.com/xitian9/hledger-vega is a set of scripts for producing custom charts from your hledger reports, using the powerful vega-lite. It works best with hledger 1.24.99+. https://nest.pijul.com/simonmichael/hledger-vega is another variant.

hledger-vega example

Checking for errors

hledger can check your data in various ways.

Built in checks

In hledger 1.21+, see strict mode and the check command.

Old way to check accounts

Here's another way to check for undeclared accounts, that works with older hledger versions, showing some diff tricks:

$ diff -U0 --label "Unused Accounts" --label "Undeclared Accounts" <(hledger accounts --declared) <(hledger accounts --used)

Compare report output

Save the output of a report, and later use diff to compare the output of the same report, revealing any changes.

$ hledger COMMAND > report.txt
$ hledger COMMAND > report2.txt
$ diff report.txt report2.txt

Or, periodically commit a report's output into your version control system, then use the VCS to detect any changes since the last commit.

$ hledger COMMAND > report.txt; git add report.txt; git commit -m 'report' report.txt
$ hledger COMMAND > report.txt; git diff -- report.txt

A pre-commit hook

Version control systems often support a "pre-commit hook", a script which is required to succeed before each commit. Eg:

#!/bin/bash
set -e
hledger check -s

Flycheck mode

If you use Emacs, you can configure flycheck to run your preferred checks when you edit a journal file. This integration is currently quite basic, but it still gives very useful real-time feedback. Setup tips:

  • in Emacs, install the flycheck-hledger package and customise the flycheck-checkers variable, adding hledger to the list
  • customise the flycheck-hledger-strict and flycheck-hledger-checks variables

Todo / maybe

Here are some checks we don't support, but could:

  • accountsactive - for each account used, if there is posting with an open: tag, it must have a corresponding posting with a close: tag, and all other postings must be chronologically between (and if on the same date, textually between) open and close postings. ("Accounts are posted to only within their declared active period.")
  • explicitamounts - all transaction amounts have been recorded explicitly

Command line completion

Command-line completion is a feature in shells (Bash, Fish, Zsh, ...) to automatically complete a command, argument, or option. Usually, the completion is triggered by pressing the tab key once or twice after typing hledger . (The exact behavior may differ in shells other than Bash.)

asciicast

The completions handle hledger's CLI:

  • commands and generic options
  • command-specific options
  • filenames for options that take a filename as argument
  • account names from journal files (but not yet for files named by --file)
  • query filter keywords like status:, tag:, or amt:

Installation for end users

Completions are currently only implemented for the Bash shell.

Please check first if the completions for hledger are already installed on your distribution. Refer to the last paragraph of this section for how to test that.

To install the completions manually, follow this steps:

  • Download or copy the file hledger/shell-completion/hledger-completion.bash and save it as ~/.hledger-completion.bash.

    Note: Prior to version 1.25, the shell-completion directory was at the repository root (not hledger/shell-completion). Update the URLs, taking this into account, if you are trying to download the completion script for an older version of hledger such as 1.21.

  • Add the command source ~/.hledger-completion.bash to the end of your ~/.bashrc file.

  • Then, you have to start a new Bash, e.g. by typing bash on the current shell.

Example installation script:

curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/simonmichael/hledger/master/hledger/shell-completion/hledger-completion.bash > ~/.hledger-completion.bash
echo 'source ~/.hledger-completion.bash' >> ~/.bashrc
bash  # open a new bash to try it

Now, try it by typing hledger (with a space after the command) and press the tab key twice. You should see a list of appropriate completions for hledger. Then you can type a part of one of the suggestions and press tab again to complete it. If you only see filenames, the completions are not correctly installed.

Completion scripts for other shells

You're welcome to add completion scripts for other shells (e.g. Fish or Zsh)! It should not be too hard. All available hledger options and commands are already there. Only the shell hooks and logic is missing.

Please refer to the README in the shell-completion folder.

Common journal entries

Here are entries for some common transactions. Check other pages, or https://wiki.plaintextaccounting.org for more detailed examples.

Shopping

2017/1/26 market
  expenses:food    $10
  assets:cash

Invoicing, accrual basis

2018-04-16 * (2018-001) SuperCompany invoice
    Revenue:Software Development                        $ -2420.00
    Assets:Receivable:SuperCompany                       $ 2420.00

2018-04-26 * (2018-001) SuperCompany payment
    Assets:Receivable:SuperCompany                      $ -2420.00 = $0
    Assets:Checking                                      $ 2420.00

Invoicing, cash basis

; Invoices aren't tracked in cash basis, use unbalanced postings to track them anyway.

2018-04-16 * (2018-001) SuperCompany invoice
    (Assets:Receivable:SuperCompany)                      $2420

2018-04-26 * (2018-001) SuperCompany payment
    (Assets:Receivable:SuperCompany)                     $-2420 = $0
    Revenue:Software Development                         $-2420
    (Liabilities:Tax:2018)                                $-420
    Assets:Checking:Estimated Tax Savings:2018             $420
    Assets:Checking                                       $2000

The above plus postings to track and save estimated income tax:

2018-04-26 * (2018-001) SuperCompany payment
    (Assets:Receivable:SuperCompany)                     $-2420 = $0
    Revenue:Software Development                         $-2420
    (Liabilities:Tax:US:2018)                             $-420
    Assets:Checking:Tax:US:2018                            $420
    Assets:Checking                                       $2000

Tracking a mortgage

2019/01/01 Buy House
    Assets:House                                      500,000.00
    Liabilities:Mortgage

2019/02/01 Mortgage Payment
    Liabilities:Mortgage                                1,000.00
    Expenses:Interest:Real Estate                         833.33
    Assets:Cash                                         -1833.33

2019/03/01 Mortgage Payment
    Liabilities:Mortgage                                1,002.00
    Expenses:Interest:Real Estate                         831.33
    Assets:Cash                                         -1833.33

2019/03/01 Zillow Price Estimate
    Assets:House                                                 = 505,000.00  ; assign new balance, generating a transaction
    Equity:Unrealized Gains

Common workflows

There are lots of ways to use hledger; here is an overview. Of course you can mix and match these if you'd like.

GUI workflow

Download and run hledger-web, eg by double-clicking on it. It should open in your web browser. Use the add form to add transactions. It will store data in its default location. (So you'll see your transactions next time you run it.)

Tutorial: hledger-web describes this in more detail.

In all of these workflows, remember to back up your computer periodically to safeguard your hledger data.

Command line workflow

At a terminal prompt, run hledger add and follow the interactive prompts to enter transactions. It will store data in its default location. Run hledger to list commands to try. Eg, run hledger bs to see your account balances (a balance sheet), and hledger is to see your income and expenses (an income statement).

Tutorial: hledger add describes this process, and hledger's basic concepts and file format, step by step. You might want to skim through this one even if you don't plan to use hledger add.

Text editor workflow

Open your preferred text editor and create a journal file, .hledger.journal in your home directory. (Or elsewhere, and set its path in the LEDGER_FILE environment variable.) Create transactions by hand using journal file format. Once you have a few, you can copy/paste them to make more. When you want more assistance, set up an editor mode. Here's an example:

; $HOME/.hledger.journal

2020-01-01 opening balances
    assets:checking         $1234
    equity

2020-03-15 client payment
    assets:checking         $2000
    income:consulting

2020-03-20 Sprouts
    expenses:food:groceries  $100
    assets:cash               $40
    assets:checking

Run hledger in a terminal to see reports, as in the Command line workflow. Eg:

$ hledger bs
Balance Sheet 2020-03-20

             || 2020-03-20 
=============++============
 Assets      ||            
-------------++------------
 assets      ||      $3134 
   cash      ||        $40 
   checking  ||      $3094 
-------------++------------
             ||      $3134 
=============++============
 Liabilities ||            
-------------++------------
-------------++------------
             ||            
=============++============
 Net:        ||      $3134 

$ hledger is -M
Income Statement 2020-01-01-2020-03-20

                         || Jan  Feb    Mar 
=========================++=================
 Revenues                ||                 
-------------------------++-----------------
 income:consulting       ||   0    0  $2000 
-------------------------++-----------------
                         ||   0    0  $2000 
=========================++=================
 Expenses                ||                 
-------------------------++-----------------
 expenses:food:groceries ||   0    0   $100 
-------------------------++-----------------
                         ||   0    0   $100 
=========================++=================
 Net:                    ||   0    0  $1900 

TUI workflow

Use hledger add once (see above) to create a journal file. Now run hledger-ui to view account balances. Use the onscreen help to get around. Eg, press a to add a transaction, and follow the prompts (it uses hledger add).

Tutorial: hledger-ui describes this setup in more detail.

CSV import workflow

Download CSV files from banks and financial institutions, manually or using tools/services that automate this (ledger_autosync, Plaid, plaid2qif, Tiller etc.) Use hledger's import command to convert and import the new transactions, and use any of the hledger UIs to see reports.

Importing CSV data is a quick tutorial on the importing from CSV part. Some downloading helpers can be found at https://plaintextaccounting.org/#data-importconversion (search for "download").

Some more advanced workflows

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

Currency conversion

Here are various ways of recording a conversion from one currency or commodity to another.

Implicit conversion

For simplicity, let's assume we are just exchanging cash with a friend:

2021-07-27 give dollars, get euros
    assets:cash      USD -10.00
    assets:cash      EUR   8.50

hledger understands that 10 dollars were converted to 8.50 euros. A conversion rate is inferred automatically so as to make the transaction balance. (This can be seen with hledger print -x.)

This is easy to write and to understand; it's fine for getting started. However it is not a fully correct double-entry-bookkeeping journal entry, since USD has magically transformed into EUR "in flight". It is also somewhat error prone, since a typo in either amount may not be detected. For example, we might forget the decimal point and write USD -1000. Also, it is easy to create such entries accidentally. For example, in one posting within a transaction we might mistype or omit the currency symbol.

hledger accepts these implicit conversions by default, for convenience and compatibility. But you can disallow them by using strict mode or by running the check command (eg: hledger check balancednoautoconversion).

Declared conversion rate

We can declare the conversion rate, which adds redundancy allowing hledger to catch errors, and also makes the rate more explicit to human readers. We can write the total amount with @@ (convenient when entries are complex):

2021-07-27 give dollars, get euros
    assets:cash      USD -10.00 @@ EUR 8.50
    assets:cash      EUR   8.50

or the per-unit amount with @ (makes the exchange rate, or an investment's cost basis, clearer):

2021-07-27 give dollars, get euros
    assets:cash      USD -10.00 @ EUR 0.85
    assets:cash      EUR   8.50

hledger calls these "transaction prices". They can also be used generate market prices for value reports.

This is probably the most frequently used style among hledger users.

Fully balanced conversion

A fully correct double-entry-bookkeeping journal entry avoids the PTA-specific @/@@ notation, and is balanced in each commodity, using equity. Eg:

2021-07-27 give dollars, get euros
    assets:cash        USD -10.00
    equity:conversion  USD  10.00
    assets:cash        EUR   8.50
    equity:conversion  EUR  -8.50

or, letting hledger infer the above:

2021-07-27 give dollars, get euros
    assets:cash        USD -10.00
    assets:cash        EUR   8.50
    equity:conversion

This is discussed more here.

Two entries

This comes up eg when converting Paypal CSV, which provides two records for a currency conversion, one for each side. For example, given some paypal CSV rules like:

account1 assets:paypal
...
if %type (T0200|General Currency Conversion)
 description %type for %referencetxnid %itemtitle
 account2 equity:conversion

we might see journal entries like:

2020-05-16 * Liberapay donation to simonmichael (team darcs-hub)
    assets:online:paypal                     C$24.56 =* C$24.56
    revenues:foss donations:darcshub        C$-26.00
    expenses:banking:paypal                   C$1.44

2020-05-16 * General Currency Conversion for 8Y4N723T948333034 Liberapay donation to simonmichael (team darcs-hub)
    assets:online:paypal                    C$-24.56 =* C$0.00
    equity:conversion                        C$24.56

2020-05-16 * General Currency Conversion for 8Y4N723T948333034 Liberapay donation to simonmichael (team darcs-hub)
    assets:online:paypal                      $16.88 =* $17.55
    equity:conversion                        $-16.88

Ie: some canadian dollars received, followed by two transactions converting that balance to US dollars. This is equivalent to the "Fully balanced conversion" above, just with the conversion entry split into two.

Balancing the books

If you are a fan of the accounting equation and like to check it by seeing a zero total in the balancesheetequity report, you will need to do something with these equity:conversion balances. Such as, converting them to retained revenues/expenses in your local currency. This can perhaps be done at transaction time, or at the end of each accounting period, or with report options. Best practice is not yet clear, suggestions welcome.

Currency conversion 2

More notes related to currency conversion.

In a currency conversion or a stock purchase/sale, one commodity is exchanged for another. In plain text accounting, there are two ways to record such conversions:

1. Equity method

Balance both commodities against an Equity account. Eg:

2021-01-01
  assets:usd                -1.20 USD
  equity:conversion          1.20 USD
  equity:conversion         -1.00 EUR
  assets:eur                 1.00 EUR

or, equivalently:

2021-01-01
  assets:usd                -1.20 USD
  assets:eur                 1.00 EUR
  equity:conversion

2. Conversion price method

PTA tools provide the @ (or @@) notation for specifying a conversion price (essentially; Ledger/Beancount also provide an alternate {} notation):

2021-01-01
  assets:usd                -1.20 USD
  assets:eur                 1.00 EUR @ 1.20 USD

@-priced amounts (the 1.00 EUR above) will be converted to their price's commodity (USD)

  • internally for checking transaction balancedness, always
  • and visibly in reports, when the -B/--cost flag is used.

Note the redundancy in this entry; the two amounts and the @ price must agree. This provides some extra error checking, but you can also write it non-redundantly, by omitting an amount:

2021-01-01
  assets:usd                           ; the -1.20 USD amount is inferred
  assets:eur                 1.00 EUR @ 1.20 USD

or the conversion price:

2021-01-01
  assets:usd                -1.20 USD
  assets:eur                 1.00 EUR  ; the @ 1.20 USD price is inferred

Pros and Cons

Cost reporting

The @ (conversion price) method allows "cost" reporting. By adding the -B/--cost flag you can easily see what things cost (or were sold for) in the other commodity. Eg:

$ hledger -f 2a.j bal --cost assets:eur
            1.20 USD  assets:eur
--------------------
            1.20 USD  

This kind of report is not possible with the equity method, currently.

Gain/loss reporting

The equity method keeps a trace of all commodity exchanges in the equity account, in effect properly recording the accumulated gain/loss from all commodity exchanges (it can be seen by valuing the accumulated total of those equity balances in some commodity).

The @ method does not record the gain/loss from commodity exchanges (at least, not so explicitly and not grouped by commodity pair. We can still calculate it using hledger valuation features like -V, --valuechange, --gain.)

Balanced accounts

The equity method keeps accounts and the accounting equation (A+L+E=0) balanced. See how it keeps the balance report's total as zero:

$ hledger -f 1a.j bal
            1.00 EUR  assets:eur
           -1.20 USD  assets:usd
           -1.00 EUR
            1.20 USD  equity:conversion
--------------------
                   0  

The @ method causes unbalanced accounts and a non-zero total (because of the "magical" transformation from one commodity to the other):

$ hledger -f 2a.j bal
            1.00 EUR  assets:eur
           -1.20 USD  assets:usd
--------------------
            1.00 EUR
           -1.20 USD  

The zero total can be seen only if all amounts are converted to cost:

$ hledger -f 2a.j bal --cost
            1.20 USD  assets:eur
           -1.20 USD  assets:usd
--------------------
                   0  

Summary

The equity method:

  • doesn't support cost reporting.

The @ method:

  • doesn't support easy gain/loss reporting by commodity pair.
  • doesn't maintain balanced accounts

The rest of this page is about future versions of hledger.

Improvement proposals

The two methods of recording conversions were discussed mostly at https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger/issues/1177 in 2020.

1554

https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger/pull/1554 was proposed in 2021. Here's an attempted summary:

Goals / problems tackled

  1. Allow entries written with the @ style to be converted on the fly to equity style when appropriate.
  2. Allow all three of cost reporting, gain/loss reporting, and balanced accounts.
  3. Reduce required data entry effort.

Current draft docs

# COSTING

The --cost=TYPE option and the -B flag control how hledger handles any transaction prices which are specified.

-B / --cost / --cost=cost : Convert amounts to their cost or sale amount at transaction time.

--cost=conversion : Generate conversion postings to balance the transactions. This is the default for all reports except the print report.

--cost=nocost : Do no conversion of transaction prices. This is the default for the print report.

When performing cost conversion and price valuation, hledger will always perform cost conversion first, and market price valuations afterwards.

Sample tests

# 3. --cost=conversion generates conversion postings
hledger -f- print --explicit --cost=conversion
<<<
2011/01/01
    expenses:foreign currency       €100 @ $1.35
    assets
>>>
2011-01-01
    expenses:foreign currency            €100
    equity:conversion:€:$               €-100  ; generated-posting:
    equity:conversion:$:€             $135.00  ; generated-posting:
    assets                           $-135.00

>>>=0

# 4. --cost=conversion with --show-costs continues to show transaction costs
hledger -f- print --explicit --cost=conversion --show-costs
<<<
2011/01/01
    expenses:foreign currency       €100 @ $1.35
    assets
>>>
2011-01-01
    expenses:foreign currency    €100 @ $1.35
    equity:conversion:€:$               €-100  ; generated-posting:
    equity:conversion:$:€             $135.00  ; generated-posting:
    assets                           $-135.00

>>>=0

User-visible changes

  1. The -B/--cost flag becomes a flag -B which works as before, and an optional-argument option --cost[=nocost|cost|conversion]:
  • --cost or --cost=cost: works like -B (@-priced amounts are converted to cost)
  • --cost=conversion: in each @-style entries with no equity postings, adds two equity postings of the form:
    equity:conversion:FIRSTCOMM:SECONDCOMM    FIRSTCOMMAMT
    equity:conversion:FIRSTCOMM:SECONDCOMM   -SECONDCOMMAMT
    
    They are added dynamically (transiently), at report time. They are allowed to coexist with the @ price without unbalancing the transaction (which they would do if added explicitly by the user).
  • --cost=nocost: does neither of the above (ie, nothing)
  1. --cost=conversion will be the default behaviour of all commands except print.

Interactions / impact / compatibility

  1. Commands using -B or --cost (with no argument) should work as before.

  2. In conversion mode, all reports should work as they normally would with equity style entries.

  3. To mimic previous hledger behaviour (don't add equity postings to commodity conversions), users will need to add --cost=nocost (or, not:equity:conversion) to commands. This can be seen in the many changes required to hledger's tests.

  4. Except with print. print will have different default behaviour from all other commands.

Open questions

  • Want to avoid hard-coded "equity:conversion"

  • Why the :FIRSTCOMM:SECONDCOMM subaccounts, are they worth it ?

  • What journal entry variations are handled ?

    • a commodity conversion with other unrelated postings in the transactions
    • one commodity conversion involving more than two postings ?
    • more than one commodity conversions in a transaction ?
  • Why is the new feature (conversion) integrated with the existing --cost option ? Because they are closely related, and the combination of cost reporting and equity postings is not supported (and not expected in future ?)

  • What other names, or other changes, could make this more clear and mnemonic ?

  • When should the new mode be made default behaviour ?

  • Why is print different, and is it worth it ?

1554-sm-2

Goals / problems tackled

  1. Meet the goals of #1554 in a clearer and more compatible way.

Differences from 1554

  • -B/--cost and default behaviour are not changed
  • A new flag is added
  • The equity conversion account is configurable
  • The subaccounts are :FROM:TO, not :FIRST:SECOND.

Current draft docs

     --infer-equity          in commodity conversion transactions which lack
                             equity postings and rely on @/@@ prices to balance,
                             add the missing equity postings.

User-visible changes

  • The --infer-equity flag is added (consistent with --infer-market-prices). It is off by default. In a future release it would probably be on by default and there would probably be a --no-infer-equity to disable it.

  • From a conversion from FROMCOMM to TOCOMM, generated equity postings will have the form:

    EQUITYACCT:FROMCOMM:TOCOMM       -TOCOMMAMT
    EQUITYACCT:TOCOMM:FROMCOMM      FROMCOMMAMT
    
    • FROMCOMMAMT is the negative amount, TOCOMMAMT is the positive one
    • FROMCOMM, TOCOMM are the corresponding commodity symbols
    • EQUITYACCT is the first declared subaccount of the first highest-level account declared with type Equity, falling back to equity:conversion. So account declarations might be:
      account equity         ; type:E
      account equity:trades
      account equity:opening balances
      etc..
      

    Or, they might be of this simpler form, it's not yet decided:

    EQUITYACCT:COMMPAIR       -TOCOMMAMT
    EQUITYACCT:COMMPAIR      FROMCOMMAMT
    
    • COMMPAIR is the two commodity symbols concatenated in alphabetic order
  • In infer equity mode, conversion prices should be used only to infer equity postings, and otherwise should not be used for transaction balancing. This means that fully explicit entries with both equity postings and conversion prices recorded are supported, whether manually recorded or inferred.

Interactions / impact / compatibility

  • There is no change to default behaviour at this stage.

  • With --infer-equity, --cost reports should work as before, using @ conversion prices when they are present. Other reports should work as if the equity postings had been recorded manually.

Open questions

  • What's a better way to specify the conversion account(s) ? Should there be a new Conversion or Trade account type, a subtype of Equity, and the first account declared with that type is used ?

  • How many equity subaccounts are needed ? Is EQUITYACCT:COMMPAIR sufficient ? Can per-direction reports still be achieved by filtering on amount sign ?

  • Should inferred postings be displayed by print --infer-equity, or only by print --infer-equity --explicit ? (-x/--explicit is required to see other infered things like amounts and prices)

  • How much of this applies equally well to currency exchanges, investment purchases, and investment sales, in principle ? How much of that commonality should we expose for best UX ?

  • How does this relate to the idea of lot identity, and generating lot subaccounts ? Should lot subaccounts exist on the asset(/liability) side, on the equity side, or both ?

Text editors

If you edit your journals (and other hledger data files) with a text editor, you want that frequent task to be as pleasant and non-tedious as possible. So it's worth using a powerful text editor - one with comfortable copy/paste, search & replace, and perhaps more advanced features like macros.

For the popular text editors there are helper modes/extensions which can make editing hledger journal files much more convenient. These provide things like syntactic highlighting, auto indentation, and tab completion of account names. You can find a list of these extensions at
https://plaintextaccounting.org/#editor-support.
The ones with "hledger" in their name are designed specifically for working with hledger journals, while the ones with "ledger" in their name are not, but can often work well with hledger as well (eg: ledger-mode).

Here are more details and tips.

Emacs

ledger-mode

https://github.com/ledger/ledger-mode (manual), for Emacs, is the most used and maintained helper mode for hledger and Ledger files.

It has some hard-coded dependence on Ledger's command-line interface, so does not work perfectly with hledger, whose CLI is similar but not identical. There are a few ways to get around this:

  • Most common: configure ledger-mode to run hledger, and accept that some more advanced features (reports, reconcile-mode) will not work for now; help welcome. Configure ledger-mode this way:

    1. M-x customize-group, ledger-exec
    2. change ledger-binary-path to hledger
  • Or: keep your hledger journal 100% Ledger-compatible, and let ledger-mode run ledger as it usually does. Unless you are a Ledger user who wants to run both tools, you may find this too limiting.

  • Or: set up compatibility scripts emulating the ledger command set and CLI with hledger. For example: ledger-display-balance-at-point (C-c C-p) runs ledger cleared ACCT. hledger doesn't have a "cleared" command, but you could make one similar to Ledger's using an add-on script: hledger-cleared.sh in $PATH containing:

    #!/bin/sh
    hledger balance -N -C "[email protected]"
    

    This approach can solve some of the incompatibilities, but it's a hassle.

More tips:

To toggle a transaction's cleared status: move point to it, C-c C-e.

To toggle just a posting's status: move point to it, C-c C-c.

#367 ledger-mode setup for hledger needs documenting has more tips to be collected here.

hledger-mode

https://github.com/narendraj9/hledger-mode
An alternative to ledger-mode, written specifically for hledger. Has some different features. Less actively maintained.

flycheck-hledger

https://github.com/DamienCassou/flycheck-hledger
Provides realtime indication of problems in your journal. Can be combined with ledger-mode or hledger-mode.

C-x ` steps to the next problem in the current file.
C-u C-x ` restarts the scan from the top.
A description should appear in the message area, but Emacs may hide it behind "...locus..." messages; you can fix that by customising the next-error-verbose variable to off.

org babel

org babel (ob) is the system for evaluating code blocks embedded in org outlines. hledger reports can be embedded within an org outline in this way, and easily evaluated inline or exported in various formats. This is a nice way to save and organise and interactively update reports.

In 2021 this functionality was moved to an optional package, org-contrib. To enable it:

  • M-x list-packages, install org-contrib

  • In your emacs config, add: (require 'ob-hledger)
    (and evaluate it with C-M-x, or a restart)

  • In any org file, add hledger commands like this:

    #+begin_src hledger :cmdline -f ~/finance/2022.journal balance
    #+end_src
    
  • To evaluate the command inline, press C-c C-c with point (cursor) inside the above line

  • To update all such reports in the file, press C-c C-v b

  • To export all reports:

    • as html, and open in browser: C-c C-e h o
    • as html: C-c C-e h h
    • as UTF-8 text: C-c C-e t U
    • as markdown (if configured): C-c C-e m o
    • etc.
  • To export only the reports in the current subtree:

    • configure it at top of org file: # -*- org-export-initial-scope:subtree; -*-)
    • put point in the desired subtree before exporting as above

See also Using Ledger for Accounting in Org-mode with Babel

calc

Calc can help perform arithmetic on amounts in the buffer during data entry. Eg to split an amount by two:

  • put point at the start of the amount, after the currency symbol
  • C-x * w 2 / q

Misc

A helper to browse TODO tags in the journal:

(defun journal-todos nil (interactive) (lgrep "TODO:" "current.journal" "~/finance" nil))

Vim

vim-ledger

https://github.com/ledger/vim-ledger

hledger-vim

https://github.com/anekos/hledger-vim

timedot-vim

https://github.com/linuxcaffe/timedot-vim

VS Code

hledger-vscode

https://github.com/mhansen/hledger-vscode

Miscellaneous

From the mail list, a trick for aligning transaction amounts: "Space-indent the account, tab-indent the amount, set a large tab stop."

Exporting from hledger

Many finance apps have a way to import CSV files from financial institutions. You can produce similar CSV with hledger's register command. Export one account and one currency at a time. This helps keep the CSV simple and importable. Eg:

$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal reg -O csv checking cur:'\$'
"txnidx","date","code","description","account","amount","total"
"1","2008-01-01","","income","assets:bank:checking","$1","$1"
"2","2008-06-01","","gift","assets:bank:checking","$1","$2"
"3","2008-06-02","","save","assets:bank:checking","$-1","$1"
"5","2008-12-31","","pay off","assets:bank:checking","$-1","0"

The new aregister command (currently in master) is best for this, since it guarantees one record per transaction even with complex multi-posting transactions, and provides the (abbreviated) other account names, making categorisation easier when importing:

$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal areg checking -O csv cur:'\$'
"txnidx","date","code","description","otheraccounts","change","balance"
"1","2008-01-01","","income","in:salary","$1","$1"
"2","2008-06-01","","gift","in:gifts","$1","$2"
"3","2008-06-02","","save","as:ba:saving","$-1","$1"
"5","2008-12-31","","pay off","li:debts","$-1","0"

hledger supports other output formats, including HTML, JSON and SQL. Not all formats are supported by all commands/reports though. For a given report, you can check the --help or just try an output format to see if it has been added.

$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal reg checking -O sql
hledger: Sorry, output format "sql" is unrecognised or not yet implemented for this report or report mode.
$ hledger -f examples/sample.journal print checking -O sql
create table if not exists postings(id serial,txnidx int,date1 date,date2 date,status text,code text,description text,comment text,account text,amount numeric,commodity text,credit numeric,debit numeric,posting_status text,posting_comment text);
insert into postings(txnidx,date1,date2,status,code,description,comment,account,amount,commodity,credit,debit,posting_status,posting_comment) values
('1','2008-01-01',NULL,NULL,NULL,'income',NULL,'assets:bank:checking','1','$',NULL,'1',NULL,NULL)
,('1','2008-01-01',NULL,NULL,NULL,'income',NULL,'income:salary','-1','$','1',NULL,NULL,NULL)
,('2','2008-06-01',NULL,NULL,NULL,'gift',NULL,'assets:bank:checking','1','$',NULL,'1',NULL,NULL)
,('2','2008-06-01',NULL,NULL,NULL,'gift',NULL,'income:gifts','-1','$','1',NULL,NULL,NULL)
,('3','2008-06-02',NULL,NULL,NULL,'save',NULL,'assets:bank:saving','1','$',NULL,'1',NULL,NULL)
,('3','2008-06-02',NULL,NULL,NULL,'save',NULL,'assets:bank:checking','-1','$','1',NULL,NULL,NULL)
,('5','2008-12-31',NULL,'*',NULL,'pay off',NULL,'liabilities:debts','1','$',NULL,'1',NULL,NULL)
,('5','2008-12-31',NULL,'*',NULL,'pay off',NULL,'assets:bank:checking','-1','$','1',NULL,NULL,NULL)
;

Forecasting

Some ways:

  • Enter future-dated transactions in your journal, commented out (with ; or comment)

  • Enter future transactions uncommented; use a query to exclude them from reports when needed (-e tomorrow or date:-tomorrow. hledger-ui hides them by default.)

  • Enter future transactions in a separate forecast.journal, which you can include when needed (eg, add -f forecast.journal).

  • Enter periodic transaction rules describing future transactions (recurring or non-recurring), and activate the forecast with --auto.

  • Budgeting and forecasting (2018) > Forecasting - reusing a budget's periodic transactions to generate a forecast.

Foreign trip expenses

From https://www.reddit.com/r/plaintextaccounting/comments/9r9cfj/beancount_price_and_cost :

  1. Before going to vacation to Europe, I borrowed 350 EUR, cash.
  2. I also took out of ATM 200 EUR, cash - now I know the price.
  3. I spent 500 EUR in trip, and I have 50 left.
  4. Now, after the trip, I exchanged some of my home currency to 300 EUR to give it back - and it's the different price from step two. So how do I write all this down?

My attempt follows. Notes:

  • When transactions occur on such trips, I sometimes know the USD amount spent, and sometimes the EUR amount. I sometimes know the total converted amount, and sometimes the conversion rate. I record whichever of these is more convenient.
  • After the trip, when reviewing expenses, I'll add a P market price directive covering the period of the trip, and use -V to see all expenses in home currency (USD).
; a hledger example based on colindean's
; hledger doesn't currently support the {} syntax, just @ or @@

2018-10-25 * vacation loan
    Liabilities:Loans:Vacation
    Assets:Cash                             350 EUR

2018-10-26 * ATM withdrawal
    Assets:Cash                             200 EUR @@ 220 USD  ; conversion price written out for clarity; redundant due to -225 USD below
    Expenses:Fees:CurrencyConversion          5 USD
    Assets:Bank                            -225 USD

2018-10-27 * food
    Assets:Cash                            -190 EUR
    Expenses:Vacation:Food

2018-10-27 * hotel
    Assets:Cash                            -310 EUR = 50 EUR    ; assert that Cash's EUR balance is now 50
    Expenses:Vacation:Hotel

2018-10-28 * withdraw more euros to repay loan
    Assets:Cash                             300 EUR @@ 360 USD  ; conversion rate has gone up to 1.20
    Expenses:Fees:CurrencyConversion          5 USD
    Assets:Bank                            -365 USD

2018-10-28 * repay vacation loan
    Liabilities:Loans:Vacation              350 EUR = 0 EUR     ; assert that euro loan is repaid
    Assets:Cash

; Conversion rate to use in reports for the trip period.
; You could declare each time it changed, eg:
; P 2018-10-25 EUR 1.10 USD
; P 2018-10-28 EUR 1.20 USD
; but hledger currently picks just one,
; and for expense reporting a rough average price is usually fine:
P 2018-10-25  EUR  1.15 USD

Here are a few different reports, for comparison:

Simple balance change report for all accounts. --flat and -Y help ensure a readable tabular layout here.

$ hledger bal --flat -Y
Balance changes in 2018:

                                  ||                 2018 
==================================++======================
 Assets:Bank                      ||          -590.00 USD 
 Expenses:Fees:CurrencyConversion ||            10.00 USD 
 Expenses:Vacation:Food           ||              190 EUR 
 Expenses:Vacation:Hotel          ||              310 EUR 
----------------------------------++----------------------
                                  || 500 EUR, -580.00 USD 

Adding the -B/--cost flag converts transaction amounts to the other commodity in the transaction, using the conversion rate specified in the transaction if any. This typically helps collapse the grand total to one commodity, so we can see it is zero here (expected, since we're showing all accounts).

$ hledger bal --flat -Y -B
Balance changes in 2018:

                                  ||                 2018 
==================================++======================
 Assets:Bank                      ||          -590.00 USD 
 Assets:Cash                      || -500 EUR, 580.00 USD 
 Expenses:Fees:CurrencyConversion ||            10.00 USD 
 Expenses:Vacation:Food           ||              190 EUR 
 Expenses:Vacation:Hotel          ||              310 EUR 
----------------------------------++----------------------
                                  ||                    0 

Adding the -V/--value flag instead converts report amounts using the market price effective on the reporting date (hledger prices and date can help identify that). The grand total of -5 USD here corresponds to our capital loss due to change in exchange rate (the price of a euro went from $1.10 to $1.20 while we still owed some):

$ hledger prices 
P 2018-10-25 EUR 1.15 USD
$ date
Fri Oct 26 15:03:00 PDT 2018
$ hledger bal --flat -Y -V
Balance changes in 2018:

                                  ||        2018 
==================================++=============
 Assets:Bank                      || -590.00 USD 
 Expenses:Fees:CurrencyConversion ||   10.00 USD 
 Expenses:Vacation:Food           ||  218.50 USD 
 Expenses:Vacation:Hotel          ||  356.50 USD 
----------------------------------++-------------
                                  ||   -5.00 USD 

The "exp" account query is added to show just the expenses. Now we can see their total.

$ hledger bal --flat -Y -V exp
Balance changes in 2018:

                                  ||       2018 
==================================++============
 Expenses:Fees:CurrencyConversion ||  10.00 USD 
 Expenses:Vacation:Food           || 218.50 USD 
 Expenses:Vacation:Hotel          || 356.50 USD 
----------------------------------++------------
                                  || 585.00 USD 

Or you might use the is/incomestatement command which is specialised for income/expense reporting. It's tabular and flat by default.

$ hledger is -V
Income Statement 2018/10/25-2018/10/28

                                  || 2018/10/25-2018/10/28 
==================================++=======================
 Revenues                         ||                       
----------------------------------++-----------------------
----------------------------------++-----------------------
                                  ||                       
==================================++=======================
 Expenses                         ||                       
----------------------------------++-----------------------
 Expenses:Fees:CurrencyConversion ||             10.00 USD 
 Expenses:Vacation:Food           ||            218.50 USD 
 Expenses:Vacation:Hotel          ||            356.50 USD 
----------------------------------++-----------------------
                                  ||            585.00 USD 
==================================++=======================
 Net:                             ||           -585.00 USD 

hledger

Fast, accurate, robust
plain text accounting.

What is hledger?

hledger is fast, reliable, free, multicurrency double-entry accounting software that runs on unix, mac, windows, and the web. With it you can track money, investments, cryptocurrencies, time, or any other quantifiable commodity; with a future-proof plain text file format, version control for your changes, and without needing any cloud service or vendor.

Developed continuously since 2007, hledger is licensed under GNU GPLv3+, written in Haskell, and thoroughly tested, with $100 bounties for regressions reported.

This page gives a general introduction, before moving on to Installing and Getting started. There is also a FAQ, some videos, various support/discussion fora, and Developer docs.

github

What does it look like?

Currently, three user interfaces are provided out of the box: a powerful command line UI (hledger), a quick terminal UI (hledger-ui), and a simple web UI (hledger-web).

Plain text accounting?

Plain Text Accounting (plaintextaccounting.org) means:

  • Data is stored in plain text files, which can be easily read by humans, tracked with version control software such as Git, and maintained with text processing tools. This facilitates portability, longevity and privacy for your valuable accounting data.

  • The data format is flexible and easy to write or generate, but hledger can check it and prevent many kinds of error. This, plus the auditability provided by version control, provides confidence in your data and reports.

  • There is a fast command-line interface, which makes the tool flexible and easy to integrate into custom workflows.

hledger is a robust, largely compatible reimplementation of the original PTA app, Ledger CLI. See also: hledger for Ledger users,

What can you use it for?

Tracking finances

For yourself, your business, or other organisations, track and report on:

  • Assets and liabilities
  • Billables, receivables and payables
  • Revenues and expenses
  • Cashflow
  • Budgets
  • Forecasts
  • Investments
  • Cryptocurrencies or NFTs

Learning accounting

With the readable data format and lightweight software, hledger and PTA users tend to rapidly improve their understanding of double-entry bookkeeping and accounting.

Here's an example of the main journal format. This represents an accounting General Journal. Positive amounts are debits, negatives are credits, but all you need to remember is that each transaction is balanced, summing to zero. (One amount may optionally be omitted to save typing.)

# 2022.journal

2022-01-01 opening balances as of this date
    assets:bank:checking                $1000
    assets:bank:savings                 $2000
    assets:cash                          $100
    liabilities:creditcard               $-50
    equity:opening/closing balances

2022-02-01 GOODWORKS CORP
    assets:bank:checking           $1000
    income:salary                 $-1000

2022-02-15 market
    expenses:food             $50
    assets:cash

Tracking time

Support for two time logging formats is built in: timeclock format, for clockin/clockout time tracking:

# 2009.timeclock

i 2009/03/27 09:00:00 projects:a
o 2009/03/27 17:00:34
i 2009/03/31 22:21:45 personal:reading:online
o 2009/04/01 02:00:34
i 2009/04/02 09:00:00 projects:b
o 2009/04/02 17:00:34

And timedot format, for approximate/retroactive time tracking:

# 2016.timedot

2016/2/1
fos:haskell   ....
biz:research  .
inc:client1   .... .... .... .... .... ....

2016/2/2
biz:research  .... ..
fos:hledger   .... .... ....
fos:ledger    0.25
fos:haskell   .5
inc:client1   2

Why use hledger?

hledger's General FAQ or the plaintextaccounting.org site discuss the benefits of Plain Text Accounting.

Among the PTA apps, hledger has a strong focus on ease of use and practicality for day-to-day accounting. It supports most Ledger and Beancount features but omits some of the more complex ones (value expression language, implicit lot matching). It prioritises "just works", accessible documentation, and is actively maintained, with a lively chat.

Non-programmers will enjoy hledger's built-in financial statements, multi-period reports, choice of user interfaces, easy CSV import system and general robustness.

Programmers may appreciate its speed (25k txn/s on a macbook air m1), accuracy (up to 255 decimal places), reliability (1100+ tests, $100 bounty for regressions), powerful scriptability/embeddability and clean statically-typed Haskell implementation.

Read more: Why hledger ?

And why might you not choose hledger ?

  • If you need a rich GUI above all, you might prefer GnuCash, KMyMoney, or Quickbooks.
  • If you like spreadsheets and don't have a ton of data, you might find those quicker.
  • If you do a lot of advanced trading, or want to hack a lot with Python, also look at Beancount.
  • If you want to mix more code in your financial data, or hack on C++, evaluate Ledger.
  • If you like minimalist unix tools and think all the above are bloat, see pta.
  • If you are mobile-only and don't need version control or flexibility, maybe a phone app will do.
  • If you don't need version control or privacy, but do need friction-free collaboration with financial professionals and institutions, you might prefer a commercial web-based system.

How is the project organised and funded ?

I'm Simon Michael, hledger project founder and PTA fan. Welcome!

I have been building and relying on this project since 2007, together with 140+ contributors.

We hope you too will find hledger/PTA useful in transforming your relationship with money and time. After enjoying some personal or organisational success with it, you might want to become one of the generous sponsors to help sustain this work.

How to get started?

Install, then see Getting Started.

Site tips

The main site contents are listed in the sidebar to your left. If it's not visible, click/tap the horizontal-lines icon at top left, or press the s access key.

You can search this site quickly for any topic by using the magnifying-glass icon at top left, or the / access key.

Other access keys are: t change theme, 1 home page, 2 recent changes, < previous page, > next page.

Importing CSV data

hledger has a powerful CSV converter built in. After saving a few declarations in a "CSV rules file", it can read transactions from almost any CSV file. This is described in detail in the hledger manual, but here are some quick examples.

Say you have downloaded this checking.csv file from a bank for the first time:

"Date","Note","Amount"
"2012/3/22","DEPOSIT","50.00"
"2012/3/23","TRANSFER TO SAVINGS","-10.00"

Create a rules file named checking.csv.rules in the same directory. This tells hledger how to read this CSV file. Eg:

# skip the headings line:
skip 1

# use the first three CSV fields for hledger's transaction date, description and amount:
fields date, description, amount

# specify the date field's format - not needed here since date is Y/M/D
# date-format %-d/%-m/%Y
# date-format %-m/%-d/%Y
# date-format %Y-%h-%d

# since the CSV amounts have no currency symbol, add one:
currency $

# set the base account that this CSV file corresponds to
account1 assets:bank:checking

# the other account will default to expenses:unknown or income:unknown;
# we can optionally refine it by matching patterns in the CSV record:
if (TO|FROM) SAVINGS
  account2 assets:bank:savings

if WHOLE FOODS
  account2 expenses:food

You can print the resulting transactions in any of hledger's output formats:

$ hledger -f checking.csv print
2012-03-22 DEPOSIT
    assets:bank:checking          $50.00
    income:unknown               $-50.00

2012-03-23 TRANSFER TO SAVINGS
    assets:bank:checking         $-10.00
    assets:bank:savings           $10.00

Or run reports directly from the CSV:

$ hledger -f checking.csv bal
              $40.00  assets:bank:checking
              $10.00  assets:bank:savings
             $-50.00  income:unknown
--------------------
                   0

Or import any new transactions, saving them into your main journal:

$ hledger import checking.csv --dry-run 
; would import 2 new transactions from checking.csv:

2012-03-22 DEPOSIT
    assets:bank:checking          $50.00
    income:unknown               $-50.00

2012-03-23 TRANSFER TO SAVINGS
    assets:bank:checking         $-10.00
    assets:bank:savings           $10.00

$ hledger import checking.csv
imported 2 new transactions from checking.csv

hledger import ignores transactions it has seen before, so it's safe to run it repeatedly. (It creates a hidden .latest.checking.csv file in the same directory. If you need to forget the state and start over, delete this.)

Customize the default "unknown" accounts

When converting CSV, hledger uses the account names income:unknown and expenses:unknown as defaults. Normally when you see these, you will want to add CSV rules to set a more specific account name. But you may want to change these defaults, eg into your language.

Method 1: You can add rules something like these, as the first account2 rules:

# set account2 to this:
account2 Revenues:Misc

# change it to Expenses:Misc if the csv "amount" field contains a minus sign:
if %amount -
 account2 Expenses:Misc

# override it with more specific rules below...

Method 2: You can use --alias options to rewrite those account names. With hledger 1.20+:

$ hledger -f checking.csv --alias income:unknown=Income:Misc --alias expenses:unknown=Expenses:Misc print
2012-03-22 DEPOSIT
    assets:bank:checking          $50.00
    Income:Misc                  $-50.00

2012-03-23 TRANSFER TO SAVINGS
    assets:bank:checking         $-10.00
    assets:bank:savings           $10.00

(Before hledger 1.20, --alias only worked with journal format so you had to pipe it like this:)

$ hledger -f checking.csv print | hledger -f- --alias income:unknown=Income:Misc --alias expenses:unknown=Expenses:Misc print

See also

Full documentation of CSV conversion, and more rules examples, can be found in the hledger manual and in examples/csv/ in the hledger source repository.

There are many other CSV conversion tools (nine CSV->*ledger tools at last count), linked at plaintextaccounting.org -> data import/conversion.

Installing

The current hledger release is 1.27.1. (Release notes)

Here are lots of ways to install hledger:

After downloading binaries or building from source, please check that the run requirements (PATH and locale) are satisfied.

And finally please share any feedback so we can make this process smoother!


Binary packages

Mac

hledger CI binaries
Homebrew
brew install hledger

Windows

hledger CI binaries
scoop install hledger
choco install hledger -y

GNU/Linux

hledger CI binaries
Gentoo
sudo layman -a haskell && sudo emerge hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
Arch
pacman -Sy hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
Alpine edge
doas apk add hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
Void Linux x86_64
xbps-install -S hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
sudo dnf install hledger
sudo apt install hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
sudo apt install hledger hledger-ui hledger-web

Raspberry Pi

hledger CI binaries
Contributed binaries
Note: unaudited third party binaries

BSD

openbsd ports
pkg_add hledger
netbsd package
pkg_add hledger
freebsd ports
pkg install hs-hledger hs-hledger-ui hs-hledger-web

Other

docker pull dastapov/hledger
Nix
nix-env -f https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/86378514.tar.gz -iA hledger_1_26 hledger-ui_1_26 hledger-web_1_26
Install command untested, success/failure reports welcome.
Nix binaries may not yet be fully cached for your platform, try with --dry-run to estimate how much building will be required.
On Linux, note #1030, #1033.
Sandstorm

Preview releases

hledger CI binaries
Previews of the next major release, for testers & early adopters.

Build the current release

Release source
  1. Check build requirements
  2. Use one of the build methods

Build requirements

Hardware

  • A machine where the Haskell build tools are available.
  • 4G of RAM is recommended.
  • 2G of free disk space will be needed if this is your first Haskell build.

GHC, stack, cabal

These are the Haskell build tools. If you choose the "Build with hledger-install" method below, they will be installed automatically. If you choose the "Build with stack" method, you will need to have stack installed. If you choose the "Build with cabal" method, you will need to have cabal and GHC installed.

You can probably install these tools with your local packaging system. They need not be the latest versions (but later versions are better):

  • GHC should be >=8.8. On Arch GNU/Linux, the packaged GHC is non-standard and may be troublesome.
  • cabal (ie cabal-install) should be >=3.2.
  • stack should be >=2.7. You can often upgrade an existing stack installation quickly with stack upgrade. On Windows, prefer the 64-bit version of stack.

Or, you can install them with ghcup.

If you don't have any preference, I recommend this setup, which is the most reliable and platform-independent as of 2022:

  1. Install ghcup
  2. Install a recent version of ghc and stack
    ghcup install ghc
    ghcup install stack
  3. Configure stack to use ghcup's GHCs, saving disk space:
    # add to ~/.stack/config.yaml:
    system-ghc: true
    install-ghc: false
    

C libraries

On unix systems, you may need to install additional C libraries to avoid errors like "cannot find -ltinfo" when building hledger. Install them with a command like the below:

Debian, Ubuntu & co.:
sudo apt install libgmp-dev libtinfo-dev zlib1g-dev
Fedora, RHEL:
sudo dnf install gmp-devel ncurses-devel zlib-devel

(Please send updates for this list.)

UTF-8 locale

On unix systems, when building hledger the LANG environment variable must be set to a UTF-8-aware locale. See Check your locale.

Known build issues

More build tips

  • Building the hledger tools and possibly all their dependencies could take anywhere from a minute to an hour.

  • On machines with less than 4G of RAM, the build may use swap space and take much longer (overnight), or die part-way through. In such low memory situations, try adding -j1 to the stack/cabal install command, and retry a few times, or ask for more tips.

  • You could build just hledger CLI to use less time and space, by omitting hledger-ui and hledger-web from the commands below.

  • It's ok to kill a build and rerun the command later; you won't lose progress.

  • You can add --dry-run to the stack/cabal/nix install commands to see how much building remains.

  • If you have previously installed the hledger tools, they will usually be overwritten by the new version. If you have them installed in multiple places in your PATH, you may see a warning, reminding you to remove or rename the old executables.

Build methods

Use any of the following methods:

Build with hledger-install

The hledger-install.sh script builds the current release of the hledger tools, plus some add-ons, in a relatively reliable way, requiring bash but not any Haskell build tools. It uses stack or cabal if you have them (installing stack in ~/.local/bin otherwise), and installs the hledger tools in ~/.local/bin or ~/.cabal/bin respectively. This can be a good choice if you are new to Haskell.

curl -sO https://raw.githubusercontent.com/simonmichael/hledger/master/hledger-install/hledger-install.sh
less hledger-install.sh # <- good security practice: inspect downloaded scripts before running
bash hledger-install.sh

Build with stack

If you have stack installed, you can run it to install the main hledger tools in ~/.local/bin:

stack update
stack install --resolver=lts-19 hledger-lib-1.27.1 hledger-1.27.1 hledger-ui-1.27.1 hledger-web-1.27.1 --silent

On Windows, omit hledger-ui from this command (unless you are in WSL).

Build with cabal

If you have GHC and cabal, you can run cabal to install the main hledger tools in ~/.cabal/bin:

cabal update
cabal install alex happy
cabal install hledger-1.27.1 hledger-ui-1.27.1 hledger-web-1.27.1

On Windows, omit hledger-ui from this command (unless you are in WSL).

Build with nix

If you have nix, you can use nix-env to build hledger from source (but we try to provide a nix command that installs already-cached binaries, see above).

Build on Android

Here's how to build hledger on Android with Termux (if your phone has plenty of memory).

Build the development version

Latest source

If you want the very latest improvements, our master branch on github is suitable for daily use.

  1. Check build requirements above

  2. Get the source with git and enter the source directory:

    git clone https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger
    cd hledger
  3. Build and install executables (to ~/.local/bin) with stack:

    stack update
    stack install

    or (to ~/.cabal/bin) with cabal:

    cabal update
    cabal install alex happy
    cabal install all:exes

    or you can build in a Docker container which includes the necessary tools and dependencies:

    git clone https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger
    cd hledger/docker
    ./build.sh

    (This will build the image tagged hledger with just the latest binaries inside. If you want to keep all the build artifacts and use the resulting image for hledger development, run ./build-dev.sh instead.)

Run requirements

After installing whether from binaries or from source,

by downloading binaries or by building from source, please check that the run requirements (PATH and locale) are satisfied.

by any of the methods above, run the hledger tools and verify that their versions are what you just installed (and not older versions from a previous install). Eg:

$ hledger --version
hledger 1.27.1-gaa327b7a4-20220918, mac-aarch64

$ hledger-ui --version
hledger-ui 1.27.1-gaa327b7a4-20220918, mac-aarch64

$ hledger web --version
hledger-web 1.27.1-gaa327b7a4-20220918, mac-aarch64

If you like, you can also run the unit tests:

$ hledger test
...
All 217 tests passed (0.10s)

or the more extensive functional tests, if you are in hledger's source directory:

$ make functest
...
Total 934 ...
functest PASSED

If things are not yet working, then:

Check your PATH

After building/installing, you may see a message about where the executables were installed. Eg:

  • with stack: $HOME/.local/bin (on Windows, %APPDATA%\local\bin)
  • with cabal: $HOME/.cabal/bin (on Windows, %APPDATA%\cabal\bin)
  • with nix: $HOME/.nix-profile/bin

Make sure that this install directory is included in your shell's $PATH (preferably near the start, to preempt any old hledger binaries you might have lying around). How to configure this depends on your platform and shell. Eg if you are using bash, this will show $PATH:

echo $PATH

and this will add the stack and cabal install dirs to it permanently:

echo "export PATH=~/.local/bin:~/.cabal/bin:$PATH" >> ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

Here's how to set environment variables on Windows.

Check your locale

On unix systems, when running hledger (and other GHC-compiled programs, like GHC, cabal & stack), the LANG environment variable must be set to a UTF-8-aware locale to avoid errors like "invalid byte sequence" or "mkTextEncoding: invalid argument" when processing non-ascii text.

Check that LANG's value mentions UTF-8, and if not, change it:

$ echo $LANG
C
$ export LANG=C.UTF-8    # or en_US.UTF-8, fr_FR.utf8, etc.
$ echo $LANG
C.UTF-8

In some cases the locale may need to be installed with your system package manager first. See hledger: Troubleshooting for more help.

If you see similar problems on Microsoft Windows, perhaps this doc can help with configuring it.

Next steps

Nicely done! Now see Getting started, or come to the #hledger chat where we'll gladly share tips or receive your feedback.


Invoicing

Freelancers and businesses send invoices to clients to request payment.

See common journal entries and https://wiki.plaintextaccounting.org/Invoicing

Reports

With invoices and payments recorded as above, you can track unpaid invoices:

$ hledger bal receivable:supercompany

or list all invoices and payments:

$ hledger areg receivable:supercompany

or just invoices:

$ hledger areg receivable:supercompany amt:'>0'

or just payments:

$ hledger areg receivable:supercompany amt:'<0'

Creating Invoices

How to translate the data from your ledger into a professional-looking invoice you can send to clients ?

You can create the invoice manually or semi-manually, eg using a tool like Freshbooks, and copy-paste the numbers in.

Or you can automate this somehow. There are few ready-made tools for this, because needs are so diverse.

But you'll find some useful starter scripts in hledger's examples/invoicing directory, such as

See also

Mobile apps

Entering expenses on the spot using a mobile device can be convenient. One of the challenges is finding apps that focus on making this efficient. Here are some options. See also:

https://cone.tangential.info/wiki/Mobile-ledgers
https://plaintextaccounting.org/#ui-mobile

Apps that use a plaintext accounting format

Cashier (PWA, GNU GPL v3)

https://gitlab.com/alensiljak/cashier
demo
A progressive web application that can be used on desktop and (offline!) on web-capable mobile devices for entering transactions and viewing balances. The transactions can be exported as a (h)ledger file. The future plans include data synchronization with an instance of hledger-web.

Cashier options Cashier new transaction screen

cone (Android, GNU GPL v3)

https://github.com/bradyt/cone
Currently implements offline data entry, and saves a local *ledger file, which can be synced with a server via Syncthing.

Ledger Expense Tracking (Android)

https://github.com/jduepmeier/ledger-app
google play
Expense tracking app with *ledger export.

MoLe (Android, GNU GPL v3+)

https://mole.ktnx.net
https://git.ktnx.net/?p=mobile-ledger.git
A data entry app that talks to a hledger-web (1.14+) server.

MoLe-1 MoLe-2

Apps with CSV export

The general workflow here is that every so often you manually initiate a CSV export from the app. Typically the app starts up a temporary HTTP server and you can fetch the data to your main machine with curl. Then, with suitable CSV rules, either run hledger reports directly from the CSV file, or convert it/import the new transactions into a more permanent journal file. A script or Makefile to automate this can be helpful.

GnuCash for Android

https://github.com/codinguser/gnucash-android
google play
Mobile UI for the mature GnuCash desktop accounting app.

GnuCash for Android accounts GnuCash for Android transactions GnuCash for Android reports

Eternity (IOS)

http://www.komorian.com/eternity.html
Excellent time tracking app. These CSV rules can be used to convert its CSV export to *ledger format.

XpenseTracker, BizXpenseTracker (IOS)

http://www.silverwaresoftware.com/XpenseTracker.html
Comprehensive and serviceable money & time tracking apps. CSV rules, Makefile

Apps with other ways to export

Money Manager Ex for Android (Android, GNU GPL v3)

http://android.moneymanagerex.org, https://github.com/moneymanagerex/android-money-manager-ex
Android port of the Money Manager Ex cross platform finance application. The MoneyManagerExLib python library can be used to convert its db to *ledger format.

MyExpenses (Android, GNU GPL v3+)

http://www.myexpenses.mobi, https://github.com/mtotschnig/MyExpenses
GPL personal finance manager for Android. The https://github.com/ony/ledger-myexpenses tool converts its exported sqlite db to *ledger format.

Mockups

Mockups, draft docs and notes exploring possible future features.

Price syntax

In Ledger and hledger

  • In the journal, a P DATE COMMODITY AMOUNT directive some commodity's market price in some other commodity on DATE. (A timestamp may be added, but is ignored.)

  • In a posting, AMT @ UNITPRICE declares the per-unit price that was used to convert AMT into the price's commodity. Eg: 2A @ 3B records that 2A was posted, in exchange for 6B.

  • @@ TOTALPRICE is another form of @, sometimes more convenient. Eg: 2A @@ 5.99B records that 2A was posted in exchange for 5.99B.

In Ledger

  • @ UNITPRICE Any use of @ also generates an implicit P directive. Eg:

    2019/1/1
      a  2A @ 3B
      b
    

    in the journal is equivalent to writing

    2019/1/1
      a  2A @ 3B
      b
    
    P 2019/1/1 A 1.5B
    
  • {UNITPRICE}

  • {=FIXEDUNITPRICE}

The following are variants of the above; they work the same way except that you write the total instead of the unit price:

  • @@ TOTALPRICE
  • {{TOTALPRICE}}
  • {{=FIXEDTOTALPRICE}}

In hledger

  • @ does not generate a market price
  • {} and {=} are ignored

Capital gains

A model for capital gains

Capital gain/loss (when the value of assets you hold increases/decreases due to market price fluctuations) - is an important topic, since it can generate tax liability.

Here is a description of how it works, intended for both users and builders of accounting software (especially, plain text accounting software). (I'm a software engineer, not an accountant. In places there may be better accounting terms I'm not familiar with yet.)

  • lots/units - A quantity of some commodity, acquired at a certain price on a certain date, is called a lot, or unit. (I'm not sure which is the most standard term. Using lot for now.)

  • Since you might have purchased the lot on a stock exchange, received it as a gift, or something else, we'll call this event lot acquisition, on the acquisition date.

  • Later you might sell the lot for cash, or exchange it for something else, or gift it. We'll call this lot disposal.

  • You might have paid current market value for the lot, or you might have paid less or more than that. We'll call what you paid/exchanged the acquisition amount.

  • I think the acquisition amount is also called the basis or cost basis. Or possibly the current market value is the basis, regardless of what you paid. Perhaps it depends. To be clarified. The basis at which you acquired a lot is important.

  • After acquisition, while you are still holding the lot, if the market value of that commodity goes up (or down), your potential return from disposing of the lot increases (or decreases). This is known as capital gain (or loss) (we'll just call it "capital gain"). At this stage, the gain is only "on paper", so it is called unrealised capital gain (URG). This is not considered revenue, or taxable.

  • It's common to be holding multiple lots, perhaps many, even in a single account. Eg, say you buy a small amount of some stock or cryptocurrency each week. Each purchase adds a new lot to your assets. We'll call this a multi-lot balance, or balance.

  • URG is calculated for a lot at a certain point in time. Likewise for a multi-lot balance.

  • realised capital gain

  • lot withdrawal strategies

  • specific identification

Capital gains in hledger

  • postings can have multiple commodities and multiple prices; each of these parts is a deposit or withdrawal to the account

  • -- | Given a list of amounts all in the same commodity, interprets them
    -- as a sequence of lot deposits (the positive amounts) and withdrawals
    -- (the negative amounts), and applies them in order using the FIFO
    -- strategy for withdrawals, then returns the resulting lot balance (as
    -- another, shorter, list of amounts).
    sumLots :: [Amount] -> [Amount]
    

Ease of getting started

What could make getting started substantially easier ?

  • Official CI-generated binaries for all major platforms
  • Builtin access to docs in web format

Web docs

Provide the embedded user manuals as HTML also. Eg:

  • hledger help --html # temporary static html files
  • hledger help --web # serve from local hledger-web instance if installed
  • hledger help --site # on hledger.org
  • hledger-ui ? h/w/s # same as above
  • hledger-web -> help # served from hledger-web

Config file

Name: hledger.conf (and possibly ~/.hledger.conf as well).

  • easy to say and spell
  • good highlighting support in editors

Format: toml/ini-ish format, but customised for our needs (if necessary).

Example:

# hledger.conf

[defaults]
# Set options/arguments to be always used with hledger commands.
# Each line is: HLEDGERCMD ARGS, or: hledger ARGS
hledger -f hledger.journal
bal -M --flat -b lastmonth
ui --watch
web -V
help --html

[commands]
# Define aliases for custom hledger commands.
# Each line is: CMDALIAS = HLEDGERCMD ARGS
assets = bal -M ^assets\b
liab   = bal -M ^liabilities\b

# Or use colon, like make ?
bs2:   bs --no-total date:thisyear

# Or just whitespace, like hledger csv rules ?
smui   ui ^sm\b

# Allow arbitrary shell commands ?
2019:    hledger -f 2019.journal
jstatus: git status -sb -- *.journal

# Allow multi-command shell scripts, with optional help string ?
bsis:
  "Show monthly balance sheet and income statement"
  hledger bs -M
  echo
  hledger is -M
  echo

Loaded:

  • at startup and ideally:
  • hledger-web: on each page load if changed, like journals
  • hledger-ui --watch: on change, like journals

Location:

Search a number of locations in order. Values from multiple files are combined, with later files taking precedence.

User config file: should it be "modern" ~/.config/hledger.conf or "old/simple" ~/.hledger.conf ? One or the other may be preferred/easier/more portable. If we support both, should it be one or the other, or both ?

Parent directory config files: we'd probably like to recognise config files in parent directories. How far up should we look - to the root dir ? to the user's home dir ? and if not under the user's home dir, don't look up at all ? to the nearest VCS working directory root ?

This would be the simplest comprehensive scheme: use all of

  1. ~/.config/hledger.conf
  2. ~/.hledger.conf
  3. hledger.conf in all directories from / down to the current directory

Eg: running hledger in /home/simon/project/finance would combine any of the following which exist:

  • ~/.config/hledger.conf
  • ~/.hledger.conf
  • /hledger.conf
  • /home/hledger.conf
  • /home/simon/hledger.conf
  • /home/simon/project/hledger.conf
  • /home/simon/project/finance/hledger.conf

Cf #1353

User-visible changes when going from 1.20.4 to master:

-B/--costNow a primary flag.
--value=costNow an alias for -B/--cost, and deprecated.
--value=cost,COMMNo longer supported, suggests -B --value=X,COMM.
--value=endWith --change, shows change of end values instead of end value of change.
--value=then approximates and hopefully is preferable to the old behaviour.

Meaning of the cost/valuation short flags in master:

Short flagEquivalent to
-B--cost
-V--value=then (soon)
-X/--exchange COMM--value=then,COMM (soon)

Valuation examples

Minimal example for testing some valuation behaviours discussed in #1353. See Balance report valuation above.

; every ~15 days: one A is purchased, and A's market price in B increases.

2020-01-01
  (a)  1 A

2020-01-15
  (a)  1 A

2020-02-01
  (a)  1 A

2020-02-15
  (a)  1 A

P 2020-01-01 A  1 B
P 2020-01-15 A  2 B
P 2020-02-01 A  3 B
P 2020-02-15 A  4 B

Old balance --change --value=end behaviour: shows period-end value of period's balance change:

$ hledger-1.20.4 bal -M --value=end  # --change is the default
Balance changes in 2020-01-01..2020-02-29, valued at period ends:

   || Jan  Feb 
===++==========
 a || 4 B  8 B 
---++----------
   || 4 B  8 B 

New balance --change --value=end behaviour in master: shows change between period-end-valued period-end balances:

$ hledger-master bal -M --value=end
Period-end value changes in 2020-01-01..2020-02-29:

   || Jan   Feb 
===++===========
 a || 4 B  12 B 
---++-----------
   || 4 B  12 B 

balance --value=then is also supported in master: shows sum of postings' then-values in each period:

$ hledger-master bal -M --value=then
Balance changes in 2020-01-01..2020-02-29, valued at posting date:

   || Jan  Feb 
===++==========
 a || 3 B  7 B 
---++----------
   || 3 B  7 B 

Multicurrency tutorial (2018)

Anya begins using hledger without any currency symbols. She adds some journal entries like this (not bothering with descriptions, either):

2018/11/01
  income:gifts
  assets:bank          1000
    
2018/11/02
  assets:bank
  expenses:food         500

She knows hledger is filling in the missing amounts, which can be seen with print's -x/--explicit flag:

$ hledger print -x
2018/11/01
    income:gifts            -1000
    assets:bank              1000

2018/11/02
    assets:bank              -500
    expenses:food             500

The balance command with no arguments shows all balance changes. The total is zero, as Anya expects - each transaction sums to zero, and all transactions are included in this report, so the report also sums to zero:

$ hledger bal
                 500  assets:bank
                 500  expenses:food
               -1000  income:gifts
--------------------
                   0

Unlike partial balance reports (omitting some accounts), which typically do not have a zero total:

$ hledger bal food
                 500  expenses:food
--------------------
                 500

Anya maintains a popular free software project. She remembers that she added a Liberapay button to the project website yesterday, allowing donations. Her native currency is rubles, but Liberapay pays out US dollars or euros.

She realises she had better start tracking currencies in her journal or things will get confusing. So she adds currency symbols throughout her journal:

2018/11/01
  income:gifts
  assets:bank         ₽1000
    
2018/11/02
  assets:bank
  expenses:food        ₽500

Thinking ahead, she sees that entering euro symbols will be a bit unergonomic on her keyboard. She thinks perhaps she'll use standard alphabetic currency codes instead, and on the right-hand side:

2018/11/01
  income:gifts
  assets:bank          1000 RUB
    
2018/11/02
  assets:bank
  expenses:food         500 RUB

But she finds this a bit verbose. She decides to use single letters - R for rubles:

2018/11/01
  income:gifts
  assets:bank          1000 R
    
2018/11/02
  assets:bank
  expenses:food         500 R

Now her reports show the currency symbol:

$ hledger bal 
               500 R  assets:bank
               500 R  expenses:food
             -1000 R  income:gifts
--------------------
                   0

And she is ready for multicurrency accounting. Just in time, because next day a donation of 10 euros arrives! She records it, using E for euros:

2018/11/01
  income:gifts
  assets:bank          1000 R
    
2018/11/02
  assets:bank
  expenses:food         500 R

2018/11/03
  income:foss
  assets:liberapay       10 E

Now she has a multicurrency journal, and the balance report shows both currencies:

$ hledger bal 
                10 E        
               500 R  assets
               500 R    bank
                10 E    liberapay
               500 R  expenses:food
               -10 E        
             -1000 R  income
               -10 E    foss
             -1000 R    gifts
--------------------
                   0

However, it's a bit confusing. The assets and income parent accounts now have multicurrency balances, and each currency is displayed on its own line. She tries flat mode, and finds it clearer:

$ hledger bal --flat
               500 R  assets:bank
                10 E  assets:liberapay
               500 R  expenses:food
               -10 E  income:foss
             -1000 R  income:gifts
--------------------
                   0

But she has heard that hledger's tabular output is best for multicurrency reports, always showing amounts on one line. She starts using that, adding one of the report interval flags (-Y/--yearly) to activate it:

$ hledger bal -Y
Balance changes in 2018:

                  ||    2018 
==================++=========
 assets:bank      ||   500 R 
 assets:liberapay ||    10 E 
 expenses:food    ||   500 R 
 income:foss      ||   -10 E 
 income:gifts     || -1000 R 
------------------++---------
                  ||       0 

Anya requests a withdrawal of the Liberapay funds to her bank. Her bank holds rubles, so the euros will get converted. She's not sure of the exact exchange rate or fees, but next day, when the transaction clears, she can see that 10 euros left her liberapay account and 750 rubles arrived in her bank account. She decides to just record that:

2018/11/01
  income:gifts
  assets:bank          1000 R
    
2018/11/02
  assets:bank
  expenses:food         500 R

2018/11/03
  income:foss
  assets:liberapay       10 E

2018/11/04
  assets:liberapay      -10 E
  assets:bank           750 R

This is her first multicurrency transaction. She hasn't written the exchange rate explicitly, but the manual says hledger can figure it out. It seems to work:

$ hledger bal  -Y
Balance changes in 2018:

               ||         2018 
===============++==============
 assets:bank   ||       1250 R 
 expenses:food ||        500 R 
 income:foss   ||        -10 E 
 income:gifts  ||      -1000 R 
---------------++--------------
               || -10 E, 750 R 

However, two things surprise her. First, where has the liberapay account gone ? She remembers that balance reports hide zero-balance accounts by default, and adds -E/--empty to show it. (She also notes that zero amounts are displayed without a currency symbol, and would be a little clearer with currency symbols on the left):

$ hledger bal  -YE
Balance changes in 2018:

                  ||         2018 
==================++==============
 assets:bank      ||       1250 R 
 assets:liberapay ||            0 
 expenses:food    ||        500 R 
 income:foss      ||        -10 E 
 income:gifts     ||      -1000 R 
------------------++--------------
                  || -10 E, 750 R 

Second, the balance report is now showing a non-zero total. The individual euro and ruble totals look correct, but why isn't it zero ? Is the journal unbalanced ?

Anya asks for help on the #hledger IRC channel and is advised to add the -B/--cost flag. Sure enough, the total is now zero:

$ hledger bal -YEB
Balance changes in 2018:

                  ||         2018 
==================++==============
 assets:bank      ||       1250 R 
 assets:liberapay || 10 E, -750 R 
 expenses:food    ||        500 R 
 income:foss      ||        -10 E 
 income:gifts     ||      -1000 R 
------------------++--------------
                  ||            0 

But now the liberapay account, which should be empty, is showing a positive euro and negative ruble balance. As if one had not been converted into the other. Why is this ?

With a little help, Anya goes troubleshooting. Inspecting the multicurrency transaction with print -x (and a date filter to exclude the rest) shows how hledger has parsed it:

$ hledger print -x date:20181104
2018/11/04
    assets:liberapay    -10 E @@ 750 R
    assets:bank                  750 R

The manual makes this a bit clearer. Anya wrote the entry in transaction prices style 3 ("let hledger infer the price that balances the transaction"). hledger has converted this to style 2 ("@@ TOTALPRICE after the amount"), recording that the 10 euro were priced at 750 rubles in this transaction.

With -B added, the 10 euro is converted to its cost in rubles:

$ hledger print -x date:20181104 -B
2018/11/04
    assets:liberapay          -750 R
    assets:bank                750 R

The register command shows how the balance reports above calculate the liberapay balance. Without -B: 10 euro are added, 10 euro are removed, the liberapay account's end balance is zero:

$ hledger reg liberapay
2018/11/03                     assets:liberapay               10 E          10 E
2018/11/04                     assets:liberapay              -10 E             0

With -B: 10 euro are added, 750 rubles are removed, the liberapay account's end balance is "10 euro, -750 rubles". (With each currency on its own line, again. Also, it seems that register aligns the account name with the top amount, unlike the balance command):

$ hledger reg liberapay -B
2018/11/03                      assets:liberapay              10 E          10 E
2018/11/04                      assets:liberapay            -750 R          10 E
                                                                          -750 R

In summary, it seems that the balance report must sum either the primary posting amounts (bal), or the cost amounts (bal -B), consistently for both the account balances above the line, and the total below the line. Otherwise the total would be incorrect. Which means that one or the other of these will be displayed as an unconverted multicurrency amount.

Anya decides to find out more about the other currency-related flag: -V.

TBD:

  • declaring a market price corresponding to the price in the fourth transaction ( P 2018/11/01 E 75 R ) and adding -V will show everything completely in rubles (with or without -B, at least in this case), preserving the zero total

  • declaring an accurate market price instead ( P 2018/11/01 E 74.91 R ), there will be a small non zero total, which corresponds to the gain/loss due to exchanging at a slightly different price. After adding an explicit gain/loss transaction, the zero total is restored.

  • The new -X and --value options.

General FAQ

General FAQ | User FAQ | Developer FAQ

Welcome! This FAQ is for you if you are hearing about hledger or Plain Text Accounting for the first time, or if you are comparing hledger with other PTA tools. If you're already using hledger, see the User FAQ, and if you're contributing see the Developer FAQ.

(If you'd like to help improve these FAQs we'd sure appreciate it. Click the "edit this page" link at the bottom, or chat with us.)

Plain Text Accounting

What's accounting ?

Accounting means keeping track of the flow and whereabouts of things you value, such as money or time, and using this information for insight, planning and decision-making. Here's hledger's Accounting concepts page and Accounting links.

Why might I want to do accounting ?

For clarity, control, planning, accountability, compliance, tax reporting, tax audits. It clarifies activity, priorities, obligations, opportunities.

What's double-entry accounting ?

Double-entry bookkeeping is the traditional method for keeping accounting records reliably. For every movement of value (a transaction), both the source and destination are recorded. These are labelled "Credit" and "Debit", to minimise working with negative numbers. Simple arithmetic invariants help prevent errors.

What's plain text accounting ?

Plain Text Accounting, or PTA, is a modern way of doing double entry accounting on a computer:

  • It uses simple text files and "small" tools rather than databases and big applications.
  • It substitutes minus and plus signs for Credit and Debit notation (usually), which many people find easier.
  • It makes financial data easy to version-control, audit, and collaborate on.
  • It is flexible, programmable, portable, durable, and private.

You can read more about it at https://plaintextaccounting.org. Currently this FAQ overlaps a bit with that one.

hledger and PTA

What's hledger ?

One of the best tools for doing Plain Text Accounting. It's free and you can read all about it at the https://hledger.org home page.

We use another system, we don't need this ?

Every tool has strengths and weaknesses. hledger is lightweight, flexible and relatively easy to glue into other systems; it might be worth exploring as a complementary tool.

How do you collaborate with accountants and the non-PTA world ?

Depending on their needs, you send them a few standard reports (balance sheet, income statement, itemized account registers or a full transaction journal)

  • as plain text (optionally spruced up with your own templates)
  • or as HTML
  • or as PDF
  • or as CSV they can import into Excel and elsewhere

Must I enter data in a text editor ??

No. A good text editor can be a very efficient way to work on your data, but there are other ways:

  • use a terminal-based data entry tool like hledger add or hledger-iadd
  • use a web-based data entry tool like hledger-web
  • use a phone-based data entry app like MoLe
  • import CSV data, avoiding manual data entry.

What account names do I use? Why isn't a default list provided ?

Any standard set of account names you're familiar with. Feel free to copy list from any other software. A default list is a good idea, but right now we don't really provide one because

  • hledger aims to be useful for many needs and in many languages, so a single list won't do
  • we are not that large and organised yet
  • no-one has stepped up and worked on it.

What can hledger do for me ?

hledger is a suite of reporting tools which can provide clarity and insight into your personal or business finances, time logs, or other dated quantitative data, with relatively little effort on your part.

You need only provide a list of transactions, as a plain text file in a simple human-readable format. (Or a time log, or a CSV file with conversion rules.) From this hledger can generate a variety of useful reports and interactive views:

  • list your transactions, payees, currencies/commodities, accounts, statistics
  • show the hierarchy of accounts and subaccounts
  • show the transactions affecting any account, and calculate its running balance
  • make a balance sheet, showing your asset and liability account balances
  • make a cashflow report, showing changes in your cash assets
  • make an income statement, showing your revenues and expenses
  • show a bar chart of transaction activity by period
  • show purchase costs/selling prices
  • show market values in any currency at any valuation date
  • calculate the rate of return of a savings account or investment
  • make reports from timeclock or timedot time logs
  • make reports from any CSV file

It can slice, dice, and present your data in different ways:

  • filter out just the items or time period you're interested in
  • show multiple periods side by side
  • summarise accounts to give the big picture
  • rewrite or pivot account names to give different views
  • output reports as plain text, HTML, or CSV
  • run as a live-updating terminal UI, for fast interactive exploration
  • run as a web app, allowing remote/multi-user browsing and data entry
  • run as a JSON web API, for integrating with custom apps

If you add a few directives to the file, hledger can:

  • include multiple data sets
  • generate recurring transactions by rule
  • add extra postings (splits) to transactions by rule
  • show a forecast of future activity, eg to help with cashflow planning
  • make a budget report, showing your budget goals and status by account and period

Also, it can:

  • generate interest transactions by rule
  • help you enter new transactions with prompts or a terminal UI
  • help you convert and import new transactions from external sources, eg banks
  • be used as a library in a quick Haskell script or compiled program

How could that help me ?

  • More clarity, transparency and accountability, for yourself or others
  • Know what you owe, or who owes you
  • Know where the money went; steer your spending
  • Know how you spent your time; easy client invoicing
  • More foresight and ability to plan; avoid overdrafts, late fees, cashflow crunches
  • Know all the numbers you need for tax reporting; know how much to save for estimated taxes
  • Less stress, fear or overwhelm
  • More satisfaction, empowerment, and prosperity!

Isn't manual data entry a pain ?

  • Not if you spend a few minutes every day.
  • Not if the benefits are worth it to you.
  • Not if you use a comfortable editor and copy/paste a lot.
  • Not if you use tools to help (editor modes, hledger add, hledger-iadd, hledger-web..)
  • Not if you use rules to generate your recurring transactions.

Isn't importing from banks a pain ?

Not once you have set up a manual or automated routine for it. The possibilities vary by bank and country, but here are two simple workflows that are almost always possible:

Manual CSV import:

  1. Manually download CSV from your bank's website.
  2. hledger import BANK.csv
  3. Review/clean up the new journal entries.

Automated CSV import:

  1. Review/clean up the new journal entries. (CSV was downloaded and imported overnight by a cron job.)

Ask us for help setting this up. See also How could I import/migrate from....

Isn't plain text ugly and hard to use ?

No way, it's great, honest. We love it. You'll love it. It's fast. It's cheap. It's non-distracting. It keeps you focussed on the content. It's copy-pasteable. It's accessible to screen readers. It's resizable. You can pick the font and colours. You do not need "Plaintext Reader, Trial Version" to read it. you do not need "Plaintext Studio Pro" to write it. You can use your favorite editor and skills you already have. You can search in it! You can version control it. It works well over remote/slow connections. It's future-proof. It will be just as usable in 15 or 50 years. You can still read it even without the right software or (if you print it) a working computer.

Accounting data is valuable; we want to know that it will be accessible for ever - even without software. We want to know when it changes, and revision-control it. We want to search and manipulate it efficiently. So, we store it as human-readable plain text. --http://plaintextaccounting.org

Isn't this too weird for my family, business partners, tax accountant to use ?

Maybe. You can ask them to enter data via hledger-web, or import from their mobile expenses app or a shared spreadsheet. You can show them the hledger-web UI, or HTML reports, or give them CSV to open in a spreadsheet.

Why are revenues, liabilities, equity negative ?

It's characterisic of plain text accounting tools that balances of revenue, liability and equity accounts normally appear as negative numbers. (And if they have a contra-balance, as with a temporarily overpaid credit card, this would appear as a positive number.)

This is because we use negative and positive sign as an alternative to traditional Credit/Debit notation. (Negative amounts are credits, positives are debits.)

Think of each transaction as a movement of money from one place to another. The "from" amounts are negative (money removed from somewhere) and the "to" amounts are positive (money added to somewhere):

2021-01-01 receive salary
    revenues:salary    $-1000
    assets:checking     $1000

To ensure that no money is lost or created out of thin air, we simply require that a transaction's amounts add up to zero.

See also Ledger's discussion of this.

If you're new to plain text accounting, you'll get used to reading these negative numbers pretty quickly. But when you want to see revenues/liabilities/equity as positive numbers, you can use the higher level reports like balancesheet, cashflow and incomestatement. Or, use --invert to flip all signs.

hledger and other things

Why did you start hledger ? How does it relate to Ledger ?

See hledger and Ledger.

How is hledger different from / interoperable with... ?

See https://hledger.org/cookbook.html#interoperating-with-other-software. Eg:

See also:

What is ledger4 ?

In 2012 John Wiegley made a start at rewriting parts of Ledger 3, eg the parser, in Haskell: ledger4. I included this in hledger for a while as an additional file format, hoping to attract help to improve this "bridge" between the hledger and Ledger projects, and improving our compatibility with Ledger's files. This didn't happen, and would have required a ton of work, so I removed it.

Project accounting

Some ways to track small business/freelancer activity - orders, budgets, invoices, payments..

Accrual method

Revenue is declared when work is performed:

; budget:* - virtual accounts tracking what customers have committed
; to pay for various things. Should not go below 0.
2017/10/30 Order from CUSTOMER (order id) 
    (budget:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos1)                       1000
    (budget:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos2)                       3000
     
; some work was done on pos1 and pos2, invoice for it.
; Using accrual accounting method
; (revenue is declared when work is done, ~= when invoiced)
2017/10/31 Invoice (invoice id) - (PROJECT_ID)
    (budget:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos1)                       -500  ; update project budget
    (budget:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos2)                      -1000
    assets:receivable:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos1               500
    assets:receivable:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos2              1000
    revenues:CUSTOMER
    (liabilities:tax:federal)                               -150  ; note tax due, eg 15% of revenue

; a customer payment is received
2017/11/15 Payment for INVOICE_ID
    assets:receivable:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos1              -500
    assets:receivable:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos2             -1000
    assets:bank:checking

; make a tax payment
2018/4/15 Pay taxes due from 2017
    liabilities:tax:federal                                 5000
    assets:bank:checking

Cash method

Revenue is declared when payment is received:

2017/10/30 Order from CUSTOMER (order id) 
    (budget:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos1)                       1000
    (budget:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos2)                       3000

; record an invoice sent. Not a real transaction in cash accounting,
; but we can balance it with the project budget as shown:
2017/10/31 Invoice (invoice id) - (PROJECT_ID)
    budget:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos1                         -500
    assets:receivable:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos1               500
    budget:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos2                        -1000
    assets:receivable:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos2              1000

; receive payment. Cash basis, so revenue declared here.
2017/11/15 Payment for INVOICE_ID
    (assets:receivable:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos1)            -500
    (assets:receivable:CUSTOMER:PROJECT_ID:pos2)           -1000
    revenues:CUSTOMER                                      -1500
    (liabilities:tax:federal)                               -150  ; note tax due, eg 15% of revenue
    assets:bank:checking

; make a tax payment
2018/4/15 Pay taxes due from 2017
    liabilities:tax:federal                                 5000
    assets:bank:checking

Quick Intro

Here is a sequence of (CLI-focussed) examples. If you follow these you have all the essentials, and you can consult the docs for more details and features when needed.

$ brew install hledger    # or apt, choco, but check Install for freshness
$ cat >main.journal    # record a transaction manually from command line
2022-01-01 opening balances as of this date
    assets:bank:checking                $1000
    assets:bank:savings                 $2000
    assets:cash                          $100
    liabilities:creditcard               $-50
    equity:opening/closing balances
^D
$ export LEDGER_FILE=main.journal    # use this file by default
$ echo 'export LEDGER_FILE=main.journal' >>~/.bashrc    # and in future sessions
$ hledger add    # record a transaction interactively
Adding transactions to journal file main.journal
Any command line arguments will be used as defaults.
Use tab key to complete, readline keys to edit, enter to accept defaults.
An optional (CODE) may follow transaction dates.
An optional ; COMMENT may follow descriptions or amounts.
If you make a mistake, enter < at any prompt to go one step backward.
To end a transaction, enter . when prompted.
To quit, enter . at a date prompt or press control-d or control-c.
Date [2022-02-08]: 2/15
Description: market
Account 1: expenses:food
Amount  1: $50
Account 2: assets:cash
Amount  2 [$-50]: 
Account 3 (or . or enter to finish this transaction): 
2022-02-15 market
    expenses:food             $50
    assets:cash              $-50

Save this transaction to the journal ? [y]: 
Saved.
Starting the next transaction (. or ctrl-D/ctrl-C to quit)
Date [2022-02-15]: 
$ hledger stats    # show journal statistics
Main file                : main.journal
Included files           : 
Transactions span        : 2022-01-01 to 2022-02-16 (46 days)
Last transaction         : 2022-02-15 (7 days from now)
Transactions             : 2 (0.0 per day)
Transactions last 30 days: 0 (0.0 per day)
Transactions last 7 days : 0 (0.0 per day)
Payees/descriptions      : 1
Accounts                 : 6 (depth 3)
Commodities              : 1 ($)
Market prices            : 0 ()

Run time (throughput)    : 0.04s (47 txns/s)
$ hledger bal --monthly    # show account balance changes each month
Balance changes in 2022-01-01..2022-02-28:

                                 ||    Jan   Feb 
=================================++==============
 assets:bank:checking            ||  $1000     0 
 assets:bank:savings             ||  $2000     0 
 assets:cash                     ||   $100  $-50 
 equity:opening/closing balances || $-3050     0 
 expenses:food                   ||      0   $50 
 liabilities:creditcard          ||   $-50     0 
---------------------------------++--------------
                                 ||      0     0 
$ cat >checking.csv    # make some CSV data, as if downloaded from a bank
"Date","Note","Amount"
"2022/2/01","GOODWORKS CORP","-1000.00"
"2022/2/22","PROPERTY MGMT CO","500.00"
"2022/2/23","ATM WITHDRAWAL","-100.00"
^D
$ cat >checking.csv.rules    # and a rules file to help hledger read it
skip 1
fields date, description, amount
account1 assets:bank:checking
currency $
amount   -%amount

if GOODWORKS
 account2 income:salary

if PROPERTY
 account2 expenses:rent

if ATM WITHDRAWAL
 account2 assets:cash
^D
$ hledger import checking.csv    # import CSV records as new journal entries
imported 2 new transactions from checking.csv
$ hledger import checking.csv    # records already seen are ignored; cf --dry-run
no new transactions found in checking.csv
$ hledger print date:202202   # show transactions in february
2022-02-01 GOODWORKS CORP
    assets:bank:checking           $1000
    income:salary                 $-1000

2022-02-15 market
    expenses:food             $50
    assets:cash              $-50

2022-02-22 PROPERTY MGMT CO
    assets:bank:checking           $-500
    expenses:rent                   $500

2022-02-23 ATM WITHDRAWAL
    assets:bank:checking           $-100
    assets:cash                     $100

$ hledger is -M    # show a monthly income statement (profit & loss report)
Income Statement 2022-01-01..2022-02-28

               || Jan    Feb 
===============++============
 Revenues      ||            
---------------++------------
 income:salary ||   0  $1000 
---------------++------------
               ||   0  $1000 
===============++============
 Expenses      ||            
---------------++------------
 expenses:food ||   0    $50 
 expenses:rent ||   0   $500 
---------------++------------
               ||   0   $550 
===============++============
 Net:          ||   0   $450 
$ hledger bs -M --tree    # show monthly asset and liability balances
Balance Sheet 2022-01-31..2022-02-28

                        || 2022-01-31  2022-02-28 
========================++========================
 Assets                 ||                        
------------------------++------------------------
 assets                 ||      $3100       $3550 
   bank                 ||      $3000       $3400 
     checking           ||      $1000       $1400 
     savings            ||      $2000       $2000 
   cash                 ||       $100        $150 
------------------------++------------------------
                        ||      $3100       $3550 
========================++========================
 Liabilities            ||                        
------------------------++------------------------
 liabilities:creditcard ||        $50         $50 
------------------------++------------------------
                        ||        $50         $50 
========================++========================
 Net:                   ||      $3050       $3500 
$ hledger areg checking    # show checking's transactions and running balance
Transactions in assets:bank:checking and subaccounts:
2022-01-01 opening balances    as:ba:savings, as..         $1000         $1000
2022-02-01 GOODWORKS CORP      in:salary                   $1000         $2000
2022-02-22 PROPERTY MGMT CO    ex:rent                     $-500         $1500
2022-02-23 ATM WITHDRAWAL      as:cash                     $-100         $1400
$ hledger-ui --forecast   # start the terminal UI (except on Windows)

$ hledger-ui --tree -f examples/bcexample.hledger   # a multicurrency journal

$ hledger-web    # start the web UI

$ hledger-web -f examples/bcexample.hledger    # from data by Martin Blais

hledger Quick Start

Welcome! This hledger intro aims to distill just the most needed practical info to help you get productive as quickly as possible. When you want more detail, follow links to the full website (and particularly the hledger manual).

What is it ?

hledger: free GPLv3+ accounting software for linux, mac, windows, web, etc.

How do I use it ?

At the start:

  1. Install one or more of the hledger tools
  2. Set up a journal, and maybe version control

On a regular basis (eg daily, can be <5m):

  1. Enter transactions manually and/or
  2. Import transactions from banks' CSV
  3. Reconcile to catch mistakes

Whenever you like:

  1. Run reports to answer questions and gain insight
  2. Refine account names, CSV rules etc. to improve your reports and efficiency.

Knowing some double entry accounting will help you get the most from hledger, but you can do fine just by following the examples below. You'll find your bookkeeping/accounting skills improve naturally (and help is available).

Install

Fastest: download binaries, eg one of:

$ apt install hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
$ brew install hledger
$ curl -LO https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger/releases/download/1.21/hledger-ubuntu.zip; unzip hledger-ubuntu.zip  # also macos, windows, etc.
$ dnf install hledger
$ docker pull dastapov/hledger
$ pkg_add hledger  # openbsd
$ nix-env -f https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/915ef210.tar.gz -iA hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
$ pacman -S hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
$ sudo layman -a haskell && sudo emerge hledger hledger-ui hledger-web
$ xbps-install -S hledger hledger-ui hledger-web

Freshest: build from source:

  1. $ apt install libtinfo-dev or equivalent
  2. check UTF-8 locale
  3. then one of:
    $ curl -sO https://raw.githubusercontent.com/simonmichael/hledger/master/hledger-install/hledger-install.sh; bash hledger-install.sh
    $ stack update; stack install --resolver=lts-17 hledger-lib-1.21 hledger-1.21 hledger-ui-1.21 hledger-web-1.21 --silent
    $ cabal update; cabal install alex happy; cabal install hledger-1.21 hledger-ui-1.21 hledger-web-1.21
    $ git clone https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger; cd hledger; stack install  # super fresh
    

Set up a journal

The journal file is a plain text file where transactions are recorded. By default it is ~/.hledger.journal, and the add command or web add form described below will create it automatically, so actually you don't need to do anything here.

But here are some common changes people make sooner or later, so why not now:

  • A dedicated folder, to consolidate financial files and make version control and backups easier:

    $ mkdir ~/finance
    $ cd ~/finance
    
  • A separate journal file for each year, for performance and data compartmentalisation:

    $ touch 2021.journal
    
  • A LEDGER_FILE environment variable, so you won't have to type "-f ~/finance/2021.journal" with every command:

    $ echo "export LEDGER_FILE=~/finance/2021.journal" >> ~/.bashrc
    $ source ~/.bashrc
    

    Or if environment variables annoy you, symbolic-link the file to ~/.hledger.journal:

    $ ln -s ~/finance/2021.journal ~/.hledger.journal
    
  • Some optional directives, useful especially with non-english account names:

    $ cat > 2021.journal
    
    ; Declare top level accounts, setting their types and display order;
    ; Replace these account names with yours; it helps commands like bs and is detect them.
    account assets       ; type:A, money you own
    account liabilities  ; type:L, money you owe to others
    account equity       ; type:E, equal to A - L (not used much in personal accounting)
    account revenues     ; type:R, revenue/income categories
    account expenses     ; type:X, expense categories
    
    ; Declare commodities/currencies and their decimal mark, digit grouping,
    ; number of decimal places..
    commodity $1000.00
    commodity 1.000,00 EUR
    
    <CTRL-D> (paste the command & text above into the terminal, then press control-d)
    
  • Version control, for tracking changes:

    $ git init
    $ git add 2021.journal
    $ git commit 2021.journal -m 'start 2021 journal'
    
  • Remember to also keep backups.

Enter transactions

Recording transactions manually may sound tedious, but with a good text editor or other data entry tool it can be fast. It also provides greatest financial awareness. Some people enter everything by hand for this reason.

Run the add command for assisted data entry in the terminal (tutorial):

$ hledger add
...
Date [2021-03-10]: ...

Or run hledger-web and when the web browser opens, press a to add (tutorial):

$ hledger-web
...
Opening web browser...

Or using a text editor, add transactions to your journal file like so:

2021-01-01 opening balances on january 1st
    assets:checking         $1000  ; a posting, increasing assets:checking's balance by $1000
    assets:cash              $100
    liabilities                $0
    equity                 $-1100  ; each transaction must sum to zero

2021-03-05 client payment
    assets:checking         $2000
    revenues:consulting    $-2000  ; revenues/liabilities/equity normally appear negative

2021-03-20 Sprouts
    expenses:food:groceries  $100
    assets:cash               $40
    assets:checking                ; a missing amount will be inferred ($-140 here)

As shown above, make the first transaction a dummy one that sets the opening balances of your asset & liability accounts on some start date. hledger will show accurate real-world account balances from this date onward, as long as you record the subsequent transactions.

To make things easy on yourself, you can pick a very recent start date, like today or last monday. Prioritise recording the transactions that happen after this date. (Tip: the more often you do this, the easier it is.)

Then, as your time and financial records and desire for historical reports allow, you can add older transactions. As you do, you'll need to adjust the opening balances transaction, moving it back in time. Perhaps focus on one account at a time, each with its own opening balances transaction if necessary.

Import transactions

Import means 1. convert transaction data from some other format (usually a downloaded CSV file) and 2. save any new transactions to the main journal file. It is often possible to automate this, perhaps to the point of a nightly cron job and no manual data entry at all. This is convenient but costs some financial awareness.

Download one or more CSV files containing transaction info, then create a csv rules file for each. Eg if SomeBank.csv looks like:

"Date","Note","Amount"
"2021/3/22","DEPOSIT","50.00"
"2021/3/23","ATM WITHDRAWAL","-10.00"

Create SomeBank.csv.rules containing rules like:

skip 1
fields date, description, amount
currency $
account1 assets:checking
account2 expenses:misc
if DEPOSIT
 account2 revenues:misc
if ATM WITHDRAWAL
 account2 assets:cash

Check the csv conversion looks ok:

$ hledger -f SomeBank.csv print
2021-03-22 DEPOSIT
    assets:checking          $50.00
    revenues:misc           $-50.00

2021-03-23 ATM WITHDRAWAL
    assets:checking         $-10.00
    assets:cash              $10.00

You can run reports directly from the csv, but I like to import the new transactions into the main journal, keeping things in one place. The import command ignores csv records it has seen before, saving the latest dates in .latest.SomeBank.csv. This works for most csv files - you can try a dry run first:

$ hledger import *.csv --dry-run
; would import 2 new transactions from SomeBank.csv:

2021-03-22 DEPOSIT
    assets:checking          $50.00
    revenues:misc           $-50.00

2021-03-23 ATM WITHDRAWAL
    assets:checking         $-10.00
    assets:cash              $10.00

$ hledger import *.csv 
imported 2 new transactions from SomeBank.csv
$ hledger import *.csv
no new transactions found in SomeBank.csv

Now to commit the new rules file and changed journal file:

$ git add SomeBank.csv.rules
$ git commit -m 'SomeBank csv rules' SomeBank.csv.rules
$ git commit -m 'txns' 2021.journal

In the above workflow, the journal file is permanent and downloaded csv files are temporary. Some folks (Full-fledged hledger, hledger-flow) prefer to instead commit all csv files and regenerate the journal file.

Reconcile

After entering or importing transactions, it's important to check for mistakes (yours or others'), by comparing your reports with reality - your wallet, statements, online balances etc. See Reconciling.

Run reports

$ hledger accounts   # account names declared and used, as a list
assets
assets:cash
assets:checking
liabilities
equity
revenues
revenues:consulting
expenses
expenses:food:groceries

$ hledger accounts --tree   # accounts are actually a hierarchy
assets
  cash
  checking
equity
expenses
  food
    groceries
liabilities
revenues
  consulting

$ hledger balancesheet    # what do I own and owe ?
$ hledger bs              # short form
Balance Sheet 2021-03-20

                 || 2021-03-20 
=================++============
 Assets          ||            
-----------------++------------
 assets:cash     ||       $140 
 assets:checking ||      $2860 
-----------------++------------
                 ||      $3000 
=================++============
 Liabilities     ||            
-----------------++------------
-----------------++------------
                 ||            
=================++============
 Net:            ||      $3000 

$ hledger aregister --forecast checking   # or: hledger register checking
Transactions in assets:checking and subaccounts:
2021-01-01 opening balances ..  as:cash, liabiliti..         $1000         $1000
2021-03-05 client payment       re:consulting                $2000         $3000
2021-03-20 Sprouts              ex:fo:groceries, a..         $-140         $2860

$ hledger incomestatement --monthly --depth 2    # where is it coming from and going to ?
$ hledger is -M -2                               # short form
Income Statement 2021Q1

                     || Jan  Feb    Mar 
=====================++=================
 Revenues            ||                 
---------------------++-----------------
 revenues:consulting ||   0    0  $2000 
---------------------++-----------------
                     ||   0    0  $2000 
=====================++=================
 Expenses            ||                 
---------------------++-----------------
 expenses:food       ||   0    0   $100 
---------------------++-----------------
                     ||   0    0   $100 
=====================++=================
 Net:                ||   0    0  $1900 

$ hledger                         # show commands

$ hledger --help                  # show general options

$ hledger --man                   # show hledger's man page

$ hledger --info                  # show hledger's Info manual

$ hledger is --help               # show incomestatement's options and docs

$ hledger is --man                # show incomestatement in man page

$ hledger is --info               # show incomestatement's Info page

$ hledger help                    # show hledger docs in best available viewer

$ hledger help incomestatement    # show incomestatement docs in best available viewer

$ hledger-ui                      # start TUI

$ hledger-web                     # start WUI in default browser

For more detail, see:

Release notes

Major releases and user-visible changes, collected from the changelogs ( hledger-lib, hledger, hledger-ui, hledger-web ). Changes in hledger-install.sh are shown here.

2022-09-18 hledger-1.27.1

hledger 1.27.1

Fixes

  • Balance commands using -T -O html no longer fail with an error when there is no data to report. (#1933)

hledger-ui 1.27.1

  • Uses hledger-1.27.1

hledger-web 1.27.1

Fixes

  • The add form no longer gives an error when there is just a single file and no file field showing. (#1932)

  • Uses hledger-1.27.1

2022-09-01 hledger-1.27

Infer costs from equity postings, new error checks, improved error messages, fixes.

hledger 1.27

Features

  • hledger check recentassertions (and flycheck-hledger in Emacs if you enable this check) requires that all balance-asserted accounts have a balance assertion within 7 days before their latest posting.

    This helps remind you to not only record transactions, but also to regularly check account balances against the real world, to catch errors sooner and avoid a time-consuming hunt.

  • The --infer-costs general flag has been added, as the inverse operation to --infer-equity. --infer-costs detects commodity conversion transactions which have been written with equity conversion postings (the traditional accounting notation) and adds PTA cost notation (@@) to them (allowing cost reporting). See https://hledger.org/hledger.html#equity-conversion-postings . (Stephen Morgan)

Improvements

  • Many error messages have been improved. Most error messages now use a consistent, more informative format. (#1436)

  • The accounts command has a new --directives flag which makes it show valid account directives which you can paste into a journal.

  • The accounts command has a new --positions flag which shows where accounts were declared, useful for troubleshooting. (#1909)

  • Bump lower bounds for Diff and githash. (Andrew Lelechenko)

  • GHC 8.6 and 8.8 are no longer supported. Building hledger now requires GHC 8.10 or greater.

Fixes

  • Account display order is now calculated correctly even when accounts are declared in multiple files. (#1909)

  • At --debug 5 and up, account declarations info is logged. (#1909)

  • hledger aregister and hledger-ui now show transactions correctly when there is a type: query. (#1905)

  • bal: Allow cumulative gain and valuechange reports. Previously, --cumulative with --gain or --valuechange would produce an empty report. This fixes this issue to produce a reasonable report. (Stephen Morgan)

  • bal: budget goal amounts now respect -c styles (fixes #1907)

  • bal: budget goals now respect -H (#1879)

  • bal: budget goals were ignoring rule-specified start date

  • cf/bs/is: Fixed non-display of child accounts when there is an intervening account of another type. (#1921) (Stephen Morgan)

  • roi: make sure empty cashflows are skipped when determining first cashflow (Charlotte Van Petegem) Empty cashflows are added when the begin date of the report is before the first transaction.

Scripts/addons

  • https://hledger.org/scripts.html - an overview of scripts and addons in bin/.

  • paypaljson, paypaljson2csv - download txns from paypal API

  • hledger-check-postable.hs - check that no postings are made to accounts with a postable:(n|no) tag

  • hledger-addon-example.hs - script template

hledger-ui 1.27

Improvements

  • At --debug=2 and up, log debug output to ./debug.log.

  • Use/require brick 1.0+. (#1889)

  • Use hledger 1.27

hledger-web 1.27

Improvements

  • Improve the add form's layout and space usage.

  • Pre-fill the add form's date field.

  • Highlight today in the add form's date picker.

  • Focus the add form's description field by default.

  • Allow an empty description in the add form.

  • Use hledger 1.27

Fixes

  • Respect the add form's file selector again. (Simon Michael, Kerstin, #1229)

project changes 1.27

Docs

  • https://hledger.org/ERRORS.html - an overview of hledger's error messages.

  • Rewrite/consolidate cost and conversion docs.

  • New template for github releases, with improved install instructions for binaries.

  • Add modern windows binary install instructions. (Lazar Lazarov, Simon Michael)

  • Fix tables of contents in developer documentation. (Alex Hirzel)

  • Update ACHIEVEMENTS. (Alex Hirzel)

  • Corrected the extension for the CREDITS file. (Pranesh Prakash)

  • Fix broken link in bin/README.md. (David D Lowe)

Examples

  • Add example for capital one credit cards CSV. (max thomas)

Process

  • Revive github projects, set up http://projects.hledger.org shortcut url

  • Many cleanups and improvements to the CI test and binary-generating github actions. The CI tests for master now also include hledger-lib's doctests.

  • All packages now disallow name shadowing in their code.

  • make scc gives a modern report of code line counts.

  • make ghci-unit-test loads hledger-lib unit tests in GHCI.

credits 1.27

Simon Michael, Stephen Morgan, Alex Hirzel, Pranesh Prakash, David D Lowe, Charlotte Van Petegem, Max Thomas, Andrew Lelechenko.

2022-07-11 hledger-1.26.1

hledger 1.26.1

  • require safe 0.3.19+ to avoid deprecation warning

hledger-ui 1.26.1

  • support doclayout 0.4, brick 0.72+

  • require safe 0.3.19+ to avoid deprecation warning

2022-06-04 hledger-1.26

Miscellaneous improvements.

hledger 1.26

Improvements

  • register and aregister have been made faster, by

    • considering only the first 1000 items for choosing column widths. You can restore the old behaviour (guaranteed alignment across all items) with the new --align-all flag. (#1839, Stephen Morgan)

    • discarding cost data more aggressively, giving big speedups for large journals with many costs. (#1828, Stephen Morgan)

  • Most error messages from the journal reader and the check command now use a consistent layout, with an "Error:" prefix, line and column numbers, and an excerpt highlighting the problem. Work in progress. (#1436) (Simon Michael, Stephen Morgan)

  • hledger check ordereddates now always checks all transactions (previously it could be restricted by query arguments).

  • The --pivot option now supports a status argument, to pivot on transaction status.

  • Update bash completions (Jakob Schöttl)

Fixes

  • Value reports with --date2 and a report interval (like hledger bal -VM --date2) were failing with a "expected all spans to have an end date" error since 1.22; this is now fixed. (#1851, Stephen Morgan)

  • In CSV rules, interpolation of a non-existent field like %999 or %nosuchfield is now ignored (previously it inserted that literal text). Note this means such an error will not be reported; Simon chose this as the more convenient behaviour when converting CSV. Experimental. (#1803, #1814) (Stephen Morgan)

  • --infer-market-price was inferring a negative price when selling. (#1813, Stephen Morgan)

  • Allow an escaped forward slash in regular expression account aliases. (#982, Stephen Morgan)

  • The tags command now also lists tags from unused account declarations. It also has improved command-line help layout. (#1857)

  • hledger accounts now shows its debug output at a more appropriate level (4).

hledger-ui 1.26

  • Uses hledger 1.26.

hledger-web 1.26

Fixes

  • Don't add link URLs when printing.

Improvements

  • Now builds with GHC 9.2.

  • Uses hledger 1.26.

project changes 1.26

Scripts/addons

  • renamed hledger-number.sh to hledger-simplebal

  • added hledger-git, hledger-pijul

  • fin (and bin) scripts show available scripts and their help

  • renamed aliases.sh to bashrc

  • Get hledger-print-location working. (Stephen Morgan)

Docs

  • README cleanup, inspired by feedback from README reviewer Lars Wirzenius.

  • Clearer sponsoring info and more complete sponsor lists on website and README.

  • The new https://github.com/simonmichael/hledger_finance repo keeps track of our public finances (on Open Collective, Liberapay etc.)

Examples

  • invoice: calculate dates accurately on last days of month

Process

  • Stackage nightly and GHC 9.2 are now the default for dev builds.

  • CI workflows:

    • Workflows and binaries have more consistent naming, mentioning platform and architecture.
    • The main test workflow is now linux-x64-test, replacing push and pull. It runs for both pushes and pull requests, and generates binaries on every run.
    • Pushes/merges to master, including Simon's, are required to have passed linux-x64-test on another github branch first.
    • Mac and Windows binaries are now stripped also (if applicable).
  • make buildtimes, make buildtimes-cabal show GHC codegen times.

credits 1.26

Simon Michael, Stephen Morgan, Jakob Schöttl, Patrik Keller.

2022-03-04 hledger 1.25

Account type and tag querying, infer equity postings from @ notation, easily-consumed "tidy" CSV output

hledger 1.25

Breaking changes

  • Journal format's account NAME TYPECODE syntax, deprecated in 1.13, has been dropped. Please use account NAME ; type:TYPECODE instead. (Stephen Morgan)

  • The rule for auto-detecting "cash" (liquid asset) accounts from account names for the cashflow report has been simplified. If you have been using the cashflow report, without explicitly declaring Cash accounts, you might notice a change, and might need to declare your Cash accounts explicitly (by adding type:C tags to top-level cash account directives).

Features

  • The new type:TYPECODES query matches accounts by their accounting type. Account types are declared with a type: tag in account directives, or inferred from common english account names, or inherited from parent accounts, as described at [Declaring accounts > Account types]. This generalises the account type detection of balancesheet, incomestatement etc., so you can now select accounts by type without needing fragile account name regexps. Also, the accounts command has a new --types flag to show account types. Eg:

    hledger bal type:AL  # balance report showing assets and liabilities
    hledger reg type:x   # register of all expenses
    hledger acc --types  # list accounts and their types
    

    (#1820, #1822) (Simon Michael, Stephen Morgan)

  • The tag: query can now also match account tags, as defined in account directives. Subaccounts inherit tags from their parents. Accounts, postings and transactions can be filtered by account tag. (#1817)

  • The new --infer-equity flag replaces the @/@@ price notation in commodity conversion transactions with more correct equity postings (when not using -B/--cost). This makes these transactions fully balanced, and preserves the accounting equation. For example:

    2000-01-01
      a             1 AAA @@ 2 BBB
      b            -2 BBB
    
    $ hledger print --infer-equity
    2000-01-01
      a                               1 AAA
      equity:conversion:AAA-BBB:AAA  -1 AAA
      equity:conversion:AAA-BBB:BBB   2 BBB
      b                              -2 BBB
    

    equity:conversion is the account used by default. To use a different account, declare it with an account directive and the new V (Conversion) account type. Eg:

    account Equity:Trading    ; type:V
    

    (#1554) (Stephen Morgan, Simon Michael)

  • Balance commands (bal, bs etc.) can now generate easy-to-process "tidy" CSV data with -O csv --layout tidy. In tidy data, every variable is a column and each row represents a single data point (cf https://vita.had.co.nz/papers/tidy-data.html). (#1768, #1773, #1775) (Stephen Morgan)

Improvements

  • Strict mode (-s/--strict) now also checks periodic transactions (--forecast) and auto postings (--auto). (#1810) (Stephen Morgan)

  • hledger check commodities now always accepts zero amounts which have no commodity symbol. (#1767) (Stephen Morgan)

  • Relative smart dates may now specify an arbitrary number of some period into the future or past). Some examples:

    • in 5 days
    • in -6 months
    • 5 weeks ahead
    • 2 quarters ago

    (Stephen Morgan)

  • CSV output now always disables digit group marks (eg, thousands separators), making it more machine readable by default. (#1771) (Stephen Morgan)

  • Unicode may now be used in field names/references in CSV rules files. (#1809) (Stephen Morgan)

  • Error messages improved:

    • Balance assignments
    • aregister
    • Command line parsing (less "user error")

Fixes

  • --layout=bare no longer shows a commodity symbol for zero amounts. (#1789) (Stephen Morgan)

  • balance --budget no longer elides boring parents of unbudgeted accounts if they have a budget. (#1800) (Stephen Morgan)

  • roi now reports TWR correctly

    • when there are several PnL changes occurring on a single day
    • and also when investment is fully sold/withdrawn/discounted at the end of a particular reporting period.

    (#1791) (Dmitry Astapov)

Documentation

hledger-ui 1.25

  • Uses hledger 1.25.

hledger-web 1.25

  • Uses hledger 1.25.

project changes 1.25

Scripts/addons

  • hledger-install.sh now also installs Pavan Rikhi's hledger-stockquotes tool.

  • The bin/hledger-number addon was added.

  • The bin/hledger-check-fancyassertions addon now shows docs in --help.

  • A new invoice-making script was added: examples/invoicing/invoice-script/invoice

Process/tools

  • The RELEASING doc and release process has been updated, and a new helper script added: tools/releaseprep. make hackageupload now only works from a branch named VERSION-branch or VERSION-release. Ie, making releases from master is no longer allowed, a release branch is always required,

  • CI: The commitlint check is more robust, and now runs only in the push to master and pull request workflows, and not eg when building release binaries. linux-x64 binaries are now built with ghc 9.0, not 8.10. Workflow, branch, and binary names have been improved.

  • make ghci-ui/make ghcid-ui now use older ghc 8.10 to avoid ghc 9.0-triggered failures.

  • hls support: The hie.yaml added to help hls work on mac m1 has been moved out of the way, since it probably makes things worse on other architectures.

credits 1.25

Simon Michael, Stephen Morgan, Dmitry Astapov, Patrik Keller.

2021-12-10 hledger-1.24.1

hledger 1.24.1

Fixes

  • balance --declared is now filtered correctly by a not:ACCT query. (#1783)

  • More reliable --version output, with commit date and without patch level.

hledger-ui 1.24.1

Fixes

  • An extra "root" account is no longer shown (a regression in 1.24). (#1782)

  • Declared accounts are now filtered correctly by a not:ACCT query. (#1783)

  • More reliable --version output, with commit date and without patch level.

hledger-web 1.24.1

Fixes

  • More reliable --version output, with commit date and without patch level.

2021-12-01 hledger-1.24

New report layout options with less eliding, hledger-ui mouse support, misc fixes and improvements.

hledger 1.24

Features

  • balance commands provide more control over how multicommodity amounts are displayed. (And they no longer elide too-wide amounts by default.) The --commodity-column flag has been deprecated and replaced by a new --layout option, with three values:

    • wide (the default, shows amounts on one line unelided, like older hledger versions)
    • tall (a new display mode, shows one amount per line)
    • bare (like the old --commodity-columm, shows one commodity per line with symbols in their own column)

    (Stephen Morgan)

  • The balance commands have a new --declared flag, causing them to include leaf (ie, non-parent) accounts declared by account directives, even if they contain no transactions yet. Together with -E, this shows a balance for both used and declared accounts. The idea is to be able to see a useful "complete" balance report, even when you don't have transactions in all of your declared accounts yet. (#1765)

  • journal files now support a decimal-mark directive as a more principled way (than commodity directives) to specify the decimal character in use in that file, to ensure accurate number parsing. (#1670, Lawrence Wu)

Improvements

  • The stats command now shows rough but useful performance stats: run time and processing speed in transactions per second.

  • balance: support the --related flag, like register, showing the other postings from the transactions. (#1469, Stephen Morgan)

  • roi now uses posting dates when available, and honors the --date2 flag. This will not change the results computed for the typical use-case, it just makes "roi" more thorough/consistent. (Dmitry Astapov)

  • aregister now shows transactions' secondary date if the --date2 flag is used. (#1731)

  • timedot: a D default commodity (and style) declared in a parent journal file will now be applied to timedot amounts. This means they can be priced and valued/converted.

  • cli: The --pretty and --forecast options can now be written after the command name, like other general options. (Stephen Morgan)

  • register -V -H with no interval now values at report end date, like balance. (#1718, Stephen Morgan)

  • Allow megaparsec 9.2.

  • Drop the base-compat-batteries dependency. (Stephen Morgan)

Fixes

  • prices: Do not include zero amounts when calculating amounts for balance assignments. This is not usually a problem, but can get in the way of auto-inferring prices. (#1736, Stephen Morgan)

  • csv: Successfully parse an empty csv file. (#1183, Stephen Morgan)

  • balance: Balance reports with --depth=0 properly report aggregated values, not zero everywhere. (#1761, Stephen Morgan)

  • prices: Do not try to generate prices when there would be a zero denominator. Also correctly generate reverse prices for zero amounts. (Stephen Morgan)

  • csv: Allow both amount-in and amount-out fields to contain a zero. (#1733, Stephen Morgan)

  • balance: Balance reports should consider date: queries when calculating report span with --date2. (#1745, Stephen Morgan)

  • print: auto: The print command should always display inferred amounts for --auto generated postings. (#1276, Stephen Morgan)

hledger-ui 1.24

Features

  • hledger-ui can now be controlled with mouse or touchpad. Click to enter things, click left margin or bottom blank area to return to previous screen, and use mouse wheel / swipe to scroll.

  • In addition to accounts with postings, hledger-ui now also shows declared accounts, even if they are empty (just leaf accounts, not parents). The idea is to show a useful list of accounts out of the box, when all you have is a starter file with account declarations.

Improvements

  • The Z key for toggling display of zeroes is now the easier lower-case z.

  • The --watch feature now has a convenient short flag, -w.

  • Drop the base-compat-batteries dependency. (Stephen Morgan)

  • Allow megaparsec 9.2

Fixes

  • When an invalid regular expression is entered at the / (filter) prompt, we now display an error instead of silently ignoring it. (#1394, Stephen Morgan)

  • Entering the register screen now always positions the selection mid-screen. Previously it would be at bottom of screen on the first entry.

  • Report layout in the terminal is now robust with more kinds of wide characters, such as emoji. (#895, Stephen Morgan)

hledger-web 1.24

Improvements

  • Allow megaparsec 9.2

project changes 1.24

Software

  • bin/hledger-check-fancyassertions.hs: fix ugly assertion parse errors. (ShrykeWindgrace)

  • bin/hledger-check-tagfiles.hs: Update description, clarify wording. (Pranesh Prakash)

Docs

  • Account types: prioritise the short one-letter names, hide the deprecated legacy syntax.

  • Directives: a more compact and accurate overview.

  • examples/templates/basic: A new starter file set, and a place to collect them.

  • Expose more developer docs as separate web pages: CHANGELOGS, COMMITS, RELEASING, etc.

  • Fix a link to developer workflows. (Joaquin "Florius" Azcarate)

Process

  • PR template: Fix our github PR template to use proper comment syntax, and link to more relevant docs. (toonn)

  • cabal.project: Drop obsolete compatibility comment. (#1365, toonn)

  • Bump default stackage snapshot to one avoiding buggy happy version.

  • bin/changelog: a new helper making changelog edits more pleasant.

  • make throughput{,-dev,-EXE}: reports transactions per second for a range of file sizes with the hledger in PATH, hledger dev build, or named hledger executable.

  • make install-as-FOO: build executables and save as bin/hledger*-FOO

  • perf: bench-ledger.sh for comparative benchmarking with Ledger.

  • CI: commitlint: be more forgiving when we can't figure out recent commits (don't check any).

  • CI: commitlint: recognise any commit starting with ‘Merge’ as a merge commit (and ignore it). (Stephen Morgan)

credits 1.24

Simon Michael, Stephen Morgan, toonn, Pranesh Prakash, Dmitry Astapov, ShrykeWindgrace, Joaquin Azcarate, Lawrence Wu.

2021-09-21 hledger-1.23

Capital gains report, separate symbol/number display, command line commodity styling, budget selection, weekday/weekend recurrence, 10% speedup, fixes.

project changes 1.23

Software:

  • The bin/hledger-check-fancyassertions.hs addon script, allowing more complex balance assertions, works again. (#1464, Stephen Morgan)

  • Many code cleanups suggested by hlint (Stephen Morgan)

Docs:

  • Added a public BACKLOG.org to the hledger repo and website.

  • Website updates:

    • Reorganised site content.
    • Improved page tables of contents.
    • Content fixes.
    • New docs: Currency conversion. hledger and Beancount/GnuCash/Ledger/Quicken.
  • New examples: systemd and nginx configs for hledger-web (Alan Young)

Tools/process:

  • make site-watch works again

  • make list-commits and make showauthors show those things.

  • Shake cabalfiles now uses (and requires) hpack in $PATH, to avoid building. It should be the version that's in the current stack release, to avoid commit conflicts.

  • shake: changelogs: A leading semicolon now means "skip most CI steps", not "omit from changelog".

  • ci: most steps are skipped if commit message begins with ;.

  • hledger developers now use GHC 9.0/stackage nightly by default. (#1503)

  • Our doctests are disabled with GHC 9 for now to work around an upstream bug. (#1503, #1615)

  • tools/commitlint is a new tool for hledger developers which checks and describes new commit conventions which simplify maintenance of change docs and releasing. It can be run locally while developing, manually or as a pre-commit hook (ln -sf ../../bin/commitling .git/hooks/commit-msg), and is also run by our CI workflows to check pull requests. https://hledger.org/CONTRIBUTING.html#commit-messages, tools/commitlint (#1602)

hledger 1.23

Features

  • The balance command has a new --gain report type, showing unrealised capital gains/losses. Essentially, this is the difference between the amounts' costs and their total present value. More precisely, between the value of the amounts' costs and the value of the amounts on the valuation date(s). (Ie, you can report gain in a different currency.) (#1623, #1432, Stephen Morgan, Charlotte Van Petegem)

  • The new -c/--commodity-style option makes it easy to override commodity display styles at runtime, eg to adjust the number of decimal places or change the position of the symbol. (#1593, Arjen Langebaerd)

  • The balance commands have a new --commodity-column flag that displays commodity symbols in a dedicated column, showing one line per commodity and all amounts as bare numbers. (#1559, #1626, #1654, Lawrence Wu, Simon Michael, Stephen Morgan)

  • The balance --budget option can now take an argument, a case insensitive description substring which selects a subset of the journal's periodic transactions for setting budget goals. This makes it possible to keep multiple named budgets in one journal, and select the one you want with --budget's argument. (#1612)

  • Period expressions now support every weekday, every weekendday and every mon,wed,... (multiple days of the week). This is intended for periodic transaction rules used with --forecast (or bal --budget). (#1632, Lawrence Wu)

  • The new --today=DATE option allows overriding today's date. This can be useful in tests and examples using relative dates, to make them reproducible. (#1674, Stephen Morgan)

  • In CSV rules, multi-line comments are now supported. Newlines in CSV data are preserved, or newlines can be added by writing \n when assigning to comment, comment1 etc. (Malte Brandy)

Improvements

  • Incremental performance improvements; hledger 1.23 is the fastest hledger yet, about 10% faster than 1.22. (Stephen Morgan)

  • register no longer slows down when there are many report intervals. (#1683, Stephen Morgan)

  • Numbers in SQL output now always use decimal period (.), independent of commodity display styles. (Stephen Morgan)

  • --sort now gives a more intuitive sort oder when there are multiple commodities. Negative numbers in one commodity are always less than positive numbers in another commodity. (#1563, Stephen Morgan)

  • --infer-market-price has been renamed to --infer-mar