Chart of accounts - How does yours look?

After having used ledger for a few years, I recently decided to start again from scratch using hledger.

This gave me an opportunity to revisit the accounts I have specified for my private journal and it got me thinking: What do other PTAers’ chart of accounts look like? What kinds of categorization have others found useful?

And so, I am wondering if people would be willing to share what accounts they’re using for their private accounting and perhaps add a bit of rationale as to why they chose to organize things the way they did.

I realize that full chart-of-accounts may 1) be very big and 2) include sensitive information for some users, so feel free to leave stuff out where it makes sense. If it makes sense, I’d also be interested in seeing just a sub-section of your accounts setup that you’re particularly happy with.

I’ll start off. First of all, I should note that I am Danish and some of the categorizations I’ve made might only make sense if you live in Denmark. I’ve made a quick attempt at translating my account names to English. Second, as I said, I’ve only just restarted my attempts at journalling my family’s finances, so I haven’t had a lot of time to polish my accounts.

Here goes (hledger accounts --tree):

income  
  gifts
  other
  salary
    ...
expenses
  misc
    public transport
    news
    streaming
    internet
    cell phone
    other subscriptions
    games
    books
    decor
    house
    gifts
  personal care
  car
    gas
    insurance
    tax
    service
    parking
    loan
      interest
    other
  house
    mortgage
    tax
    insurance
    power
    gas
    water
    maintenance
    loan
      interest
  family
    ...
  enjoyments
    ...
  insurance
    ...
  housekeeping
    groceries
    take-away
    misc
  clothes
assets
  car
  house
  bank
    ...
  investments
    ...
liabilities
  loans
    car
    mortgage
  creditcards
equity
  opening balance

All in all, pretty standard stuff.

I’ve chosen to have my car and house as separate commodities which I can value in my price database. This allows me to model appreciation/depreciation by changing the prices over time.

3 Likes

This is more detailed than my chart of accounts for sure! But that makes sense if you want to have useful data to make future decisions (another car? which car? which engine? etc.). I see you keep your car in your asset category too, which is reasonable if depreciations are correctly set.

I tend to have broad buckets (House/Fun/Personal/Healthcare/Transport/Utility bills) and if the need arises go a little bit deeper to see where the money is going. Paths of least resistance to using hledger and all that.

1 Like

I’m using beancount and I have different setups for different “books”. e.g. for my personal I have a different split vs our household or my wife.

This is more or less what the most complex case looks like. For me especially the split of the assets is very useful. For the expenses I started combining more and more and only leave it split where it’s useful for me (I’ll probably combine more of the car stuff at some point)

Assets
	Liquidity
		Institute
			Account
	Investment
		Institute
			Account or Security
	ProMemoria
		Institute
			Account
	Receivable
		Withholding Tax
		Person
		Others
	TangibleAssets
		Car
		House
Equity
	StartBalance
	ReservesHouse

Income
	Interest
	Capitalgain
	Salary
		Company Name

Expenses
	Car
		Deprecation
		Fuel
		Repairs
	BankingFees
	Health
		Doctors
		Insurance
	Household
	PublicTransport
	Travel
	Tax
	Entertainment
	Living
		NewConstructions
		ExtraCharges (Water, Electricity, ...)
		Repairs
		Insurance
		MortageInterest

3 Likes
assets
  bank
    BANKNAME
    BANKNAME reserve ; bank specific name for savings account
  cash
  receivable
    personal
    sale ; second hand stuff
  gift cards
  cashlike
    SERVICENAME ; Company-specific points that is defacto cash
  depreciation
    ...
  electronics
liabilities
  creditcard
    samsung ; Yes. That Samsung.
      installment
      pending
        payment
        installment
        misc
      confirmed
equity
  opening/closing balances
revenues
  financial
    interest
  misc
incomes
  ...
expenses
  housekeeping
    supplies
    utilities
  subscribtion
  entertainment
  personal
    supplies
  misc
  depreciation
  financial
    interest
      installment
  food
    delivery
    restaurant
    cafe
    snacks
    grocery
  transportation
    public transit
    intercity
    taxi

Some ommited because privacy but this is almost everything I have for now. It keeps growing but I try to keep things minimal.

Any suggestions or questions??

1 Like

I can second this. It makes reporting “net worth” much easier, for example

My top 3 levels look something like this (my deepest accounts are level 8):

JS
  assets
    bank
    brokerage
    online
    receivable
  liabilities
    payable
    tax
  equity
    conversion
    start
    unrecognisedrevenue
  revenues
    cd
    dividends
    interest
    cc
    foss
  expenses
    banking
    books/periodicals
    dues
    education
    legal/accounting
    equipment
    online
    phone
    research
    salary
    software
    supplies
    tax
sm
  assets
    bank
    cash
    online
    receivable
    prepaid
    pending
  liabilities
    ef
    household
    payable
  equity
    conversion
    start
  revenues
    gifts
    interest
    misc
    unknown
  income
    salary
  expenses
    accountingloss
    banking
    entertainment
    food
    gifts
    health
    home
    personalcare
    personaldevelopment
    recreation
    transport
    travel
    unknown

I recently removed spaces from the multi-word names; I might switch them to hyphens instead.

More details, from hledgermatic - hledger

As a sole proprietor, I like to track my business and my personal life as two separate entities.
Legally we are one entity, and there are frequent transactions between them, so it’s convenient to keep them in the same journal.
But I use a top-level entity prefix to keep the accounts clearly separated.
I use two letters for these (less typing, less visual noise and keeps them aligned in reports).
So my account declarations look like this:

; business 1
account JS:assets               ; type:A
account JS:liabilities          ; type:L
account JS:equity               ; type:E
account JS:revenues             ; type:R
account JS:expenses             ; type:X
account JS:assets:bank          ; type:C
account JS:assets:cash          ; type:C
account JS:equity:conversion    ; type:V
account JS:assets:bank:wf:bchecking
account JS:assets:bank:wf:bsavings
# etc...

; personal
account sm:assets               ; type:A
account sm:liabilities          ; type:L
account sm:equity               ; type:E
account sm:revenues             ; type:R, taxable personal revenues
account sm:income               ; type:R, already-taxed "salary" from JS, non-taxable income
account sm:expenses             ; type:X
account sm:assets:bank          ; type:C
account sm:assets:cash          ; type:C
account sm:equity:conversion    ; type:V
account sm:assets:bank:wf:pchecking
account sm:assets:bank:wf:psavings
# etc...

The entity prefix scheme is very appealing to me. I am relatively new to ledger/hledger (~1 year) and saw the entity prefixing somewhere in the docs but was afraid to try it for fear something unknown would bite me. I could also see prefixes being useful for fully owned subsidiaries. I am now using hledger for five entities which are not all sole proprietorships, but they are all related and I'm the only one involved in the bookkeeping. I am have one file per entity per year using close --retain and close --migrate. I could imagine that prefixes might cause issues with these close/open operations? Did you experience any unexpected issues using prefixes?

@wolfish17 , the prefixes don't cause any issues for file closing/opening. The only issue is that hledger can't automatically detect their type so they need type: declarations as above.

1 Like

I split assets into two general categories

assets:illiquid
assets:liquid

This makes seeing how much money i have available trivial

ledger bal assets:liquid liabilities