KMyMoney vs. GnuCash: The Battle Of Linux Desktop Money Management Apps

It’s really important to keep track of your financial position. Online banking can keep you up to date about your account activity and balance, but not every bank offers more tools than that in order to better track your finances.

Although there are online tools such as Mint.com, the service isn’t available worldwide and it requires that you trust a third-party with your sensitive financial data while you use their online service. If you don’t have any other options or don’t trust online third-party financial services after the NSA/PRISM scare, then it’s best to track all of your finances through a desktop application that can store that data on your computer. On Linux systems, the top two choices are KMyMoney and GnuCash.

KMyMoney

KMyMoney is an accounting application designed to be used with the KDE desktop environment, and similar to KDE’s style of features and customizability, it comes packed with plenty of functionality. When you first launch the application, you’ll be presented with a wizard that can help set up your KMyMoney file. This includes information about yourself, your bank, and your personal details that include your different income streams and expense categories. If you don’t want to enter all of this information, you can skip virtually all of them and just focus on creating the income and expense categories as well as the different types accounts (simply labeled as Cash, Checking, Savings, etc.).

kmymoney home   KMyMoney vs. GnuCash: The Battle Of Linux Desktop Money Management Apps

While KMyMoney is packed with features, you can access all of the main sections via the left-hand panel which shows you various views that you may be interested in. The list includes a Home page, a list of added Institutions, Accounts, scheduled transactions, income/expense categories, Payees, Ledgers, Investments, Reports, Budgets, Forecasts, and an Outbox — I’m not sure what that last one is meant for.

Using the application is pretty straightforward — you can manually enter in transactions into your various accounts while appropriately applying the correct income and expense categories.

kmymoney reports   KMyMoney vs. GnuCash: The Battle Of Linux Desktop Money Management Apps

Updating the ledgers of your accounts will reflect the current balance of your account, but by including which categories of income/expense are involved, the program’s reports become a lot more useful.

Direct Connect and Data Importing

kmymoney import   KMyMoney vs. GnuCash: The Battle Of Linux Desktop Money Management Apps

Additionally, KMyMoney makes it easier to use the application by not having to (re)enter everything manually. You can choose to import from a large selection of files, including QIF, OFX, CSV, and even GnuCash. Therefore, you can import all of your transactions via QIF/OFX/CSV files, and then simply ensure that the correct categories are automatically applied (which KMyMoney remembers based on the payee). Alternatively, if your bank allows it, you can have KMyMoney connect to your bank directly (via a plugin) to retrieve your account activity. However, I wasn’t able to test this out because my bank charges for this service, although QIF files are free. It’s important to note that if you regularly import account activity this way, you’ll have to avoid using features that would add transactions in addition to what you regularly import, such as scheduled transactions, to prevent any confusion.

Budgeting

kmymoney budget   KMyMoney vs. GnuCash: The Battle Of Linux Desktop Money Management Apps

Of course, no accounting application is complete without a good budgeting feature, and KMyMoney delivers in this regard by allowing you to set your expected income and expenses on a monthly, yearly, or individual basis. Under the individual basis, you can enter in different amounts for each month, rather than having the same amount apply every month. Going through the budgeting process allows you to find values where you can have a net income that is at least $0 so you won’t go into debt. Once the budget has been made, KMyMoney can let you know how you’re doing compared to the values set in your budget.

For those who are interested, KMyMoney also comes with a few investing features, and allows you to easily update the price of stocks and currency.

GnuCash

GnuCash, contrary to KMyMoney, isn’t specialized for KDE but rather Gnome and other desktop environments which use the GTK toolkit. While GnuCash’s initial setup process is similar (if not easier because it doesn’t ask for a lot of personal information), and it has a very similar feature set, it ends up being a bit harder to use. This primarily comes from the fact that GnuCash treats everything as accounts, including what KMyMoney (and most people without accounting degrees) see as income and expense¬†categories. The interface for various tasks such as creating reports or budgets is also a little lackluster — it’ll work, but it could be better.

gnucash main   KMyMoney vs. GnuCash: The Battle Of Linux Desktop Money Management Apps

Like I mentioned, it includes most features that KMyMoney includes as well, including direct connections with banks, the ability to import various files, create budgets, generate reports based on income and expense trends, and so on. The features in GnuCash are all mainly located in its menus, so a lot of it requires some digging before you know where to find something.

For more information, check out our full article about GnuCash!

Installation

Both applications can be easily installed via your respective package manager by searching for “gnucash” and “kmymoney” packages and applying the changes. I would suggest installing KMyMoney if you’re a KDE user and GnuCash if you’re a Gnome/Xfce/LXDE user because doing so will spare you from installing a lot of extra dependencies of the other desktop environment. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go ahead if you really want to choose one over the other, but be prepared to face a rather large download unless you’ve already installed those dependencies during the installation of another application that comes from a competing desktop environment.

Conclusion

In the end, you can’t go wrong with using either — it’d be best to choose the application which best works with your desktop environment, so I’d recommend GnuCash for Gnome/Xfce/LXDE users while KMyMoney is better suited to KDE users. However, between the two, I declare KMyMoney to be the winner, simply because it has the¬†most features and the best interface to do the job. Both applications are excellent, so that margin of victory is rather slim.

How do you manage your money? Do you trust online services to provide calculated data about your finances? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: ~jjjohn~

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11 Comments -

0 votes

dragonmouth

Thanks, Danny
I’ve been meaning to get back to using my PC to manage money. Now I know to go with KMyMoney, both because you recommend it and because I use KDE. Back in my Windows days I used Kiplinger’s Simply Money.

You wouldn’t happen to know of a native Linux tax program, something like TurboTax?

0 votes

JohnBUK

I use Gnome but found Gnucash less than intuitive. I came from a Windows environment using MS Money for years.
I eventually installed KmyMoney (and its KDE dependencies) some 4 years ago and found it very easy to use including downloading OFX data from my bank for importing into the program.
It can be a tad slow at times but I’m more than happy with it.

0 votes

moneyuser

MoneyManagerEX. Simple and Fast.

0 votes

Rsm

Moneydance is a commercial application that runs on Linux as well as Mac and Windows.

0 votes

Mike

No mention of Skrooge (http://skrooge.org/)?

0 votes

hape

I’ve experience for several years with Quicken(started accounting with MS Money) on Windows environment.

After starting with linux desktop, I tried GNUCash and KmyMoney for accounting SW. Decided to use KmyMoney.
Very similar to Quicken and a better/ flexible reporting functionality.
I find easier to use and quick to get familar with.

0 votes

Rick Upshaw

I was actually a bigtime Quicken fan, but not of the most recent versions.

Contrary to Intuit’s desire for me to fork over more money every year for their “upgrades”, I have been using Quicken 2006 Home & Business for years, and have been quite happy with it. However, recently, my wife and I noticed that for some reason, it was “forgetting” transactions that we entered when we closed the program down and came back to it days later. We tried everything to get to the bottom of this… backup, restore, validate… researched the problem online to no avail, etc. Finally, after the fourth time we lost more than a couple of month’s worth of transactions, I just gave up and started looking for another solution.

I am new to both KMyMoney and GnuCash. I use them both in a Windows environment (looking forward to getting away from Windows one of these days!) I’ve played with both, and I find that GnuCash – while being a bit more complicated to use – is better for my business needs (not the least of which is that my accountant is a lot happier with the reporting of “Accounts” instead of “Categories”). I thought of using it for my personal needs as well, but my wife is much less of a “Geek” than I am, so she liked the similarities between KMyMoney and Quicken. So I use KMyMoney for my personal finances, and GnuCash for my business needs.

I have to say that I do miss some of the functionality that comes with Quicken. For example, when looking at the Categories list, when you click on a particular category, a small overview comes up on the right showing you how many times that category has been used, and to whom payment was made in that category. In both KMyMoney and GnuCash, you apparently have to run a report to make that happen. Workable, but it seems to me that this kind of additional functionality could be added to both KMyMoney and GnuCash with little effort.

I also looked at Sage’s options (really more for my business), which are REALLY nice. I may still end up using this solution at some point for my business, but for the $500+ price tag for what I’d need, I think GnuCash will do just fine for the foreseeable future.

One other thing I think people checking out these two options should consider is that if you spend, make and invest money in multiple currencies, your options are narrowed significantly, but both GnuCash and KMyMoney handle this quite well.

Hope this helps!

0 votes

Ladis

Great summary Rick, many thanks. I am just about to change over from MSMoney (alas) so I think I will give KMyMoney a go. Money still runs beautifully but I need stock updates which have been curtailed since July 1 in Money. I am in Australia though so I will have to see whether KMM will handle ASX stocks.

0 votes

Rick Upshaw

Um… I really did write that comment in several paragraphs. I’m not sure why it posted as one giant paragraph.

0 votes

Tina S

And it did post in paragraphs. What you saw was just a preview.

0 votes

zparman

KM is easy to use and intuitive. But I use GC. That’s because GC follows the generally accepted accounting protocol of double entry accounting. KM use categories while GC use accounts. Eventually you will progress from personal accounting to business accounting (if you are not there yet) so why not use or start one that will meet your future needs.

Also, if you like to code, you can enable python so you can write your own reports beyond what the screens can offer.