A Short Example of Using Ledger with Emacs Org-mode
It has been three months since I started to use ledger
in couple with
org-mode as my personal finance tracking system. I’m quite
satisfied with it. Personally speeking, I think this combination is better than
any non-free apps I could find from the mac app store.
As usual, reading manual is painful. Thus here I tried to give a very simple example demonstrating practically how to make use of the very basic functions of ledger within org-mode.
Step 1. Enable ledger support in org-mode
Ledger support in org-mode is provided by
org-babel. To enable it, simply
add the following code to the configuration file:
(setq-default org-babel-load-languages '((xxx . t) (ledger . t) ... (yyy . t)))
Step 2. Create a file for the finance logs
So far I kept all my financial reports in one org file. Possibly after years of logging, the file gets clumsy, then it’s time to archive/refile or split it into separate files.
Step 3. Opening Balances
Well, I have to say the “opening balance” is one of the most complicated concepts for anyone who is new to the so-called “double entry accounting system”. I was so confused that the initial equity was negative! But let’s face it and move on.
Create a block describing the initialization of our accounting:
#+name: startup #+BEGIN_SRC ledger :noweb yes 2016/07/01 * Opening Balance Assets:JP Bank 100000 JPY Assets:Cash 20000 JPY Assets:Itunes 5000 JPY Assets:Steam 1000 JPY Assets:中国银行 200 CNY Equity:Opening Balance #+END_SRC
As shown in the above list, we can use different currencies.
Step 4. Add income
Great! It’s time to add some money to our account. Suppose we receive salary from the employer, which in my case is the university:
#+name: income #+BEGIN_SRC ledger :noweb yes 2016/07/15 * Kyoto University Assets:JP Bank 200000 JPY Income:Salary #+END_SRC
Income:Salary account is actually a pseudo account, in which the
money value is always negative.
Step 5. Add expenses
Now let’s spend some money!
Similar to the above two code blocks, create a block for expenses:
#+name: expenses #+BEGIN_SRC ledger :noweb yes ... #+END_SRC
We can also have several blocks like this, and name them as “expenses-2016-07”, “expenses-May” or “expenses-11-11”.
Let’s buy something:
2016/07/03 * 生鮮館 Expenses:Food 2500 JPY Assets:Cash 2016/07/05 * LAWSON Expenses:Food 580 JPY Expenses:Book 1200 JPY Assets:Cash 2016/07/12 * App Store Expenses:App 500 JPY Assets:Itunes 2016/07/15 * Steam Store Expenses:Game 2000 JPY Assets:Steam
We can track money transfer in the same block as expenses.
2016/07/20 * Money transfer (from bank to cash) Assets:Cash 120000 JPY Assets:JP Bank
This means we withdraw some cash from our bank account and put them into wallet.
Step 6. Statistics
Let’s have a look at our balance:
#+name: balance #+BEGIN_SRC ledger :cmdline bal :noweb yes <<startup>> <<income>> <<expenses>> #+END_SRC
Those in the
<<>> brackets are exactly the names of blocks we defined before.
To ask Emacs to calculate the balance, simply press C-c C-c, or
, , (in
Spacemacs) on the “
#+name: balance” line.
#+RESULTS: balance #+begin_example 200 CNY 319220 JPY Assets 135720 JPY Cash 4500 JPY Itunes 180000 JPY JP Bank -1000 JPY Steam 200 CNY 中国银行 -200 CNY -126000 JPY Equity:Opening Balance 6780 JPY Expenses 500 JPY App 1200 JPY Book 3080 JPY Food 2000 JPY Game -200000 JPY Income:Salary ---------------- 0 #+end_example
- From source code blocks in org-mode, C-c , leads you to a temp ledger-mode buffer.
- In the temp ledger-mode buffer, ledger-mode keybindings are available.
- M-m m a (
Spacemacs) to add new record
- SPC j = (
Spacemacs) to tune indentation
- , c (
Spacemacs) to submit the modification and return to org-mode buffer
- M-m m a (
About currency exchange and credit cards
Here I discuss about these two things together because in my case I use my credit card for online shopping (usually in US dollar) and repay the loans in Chinese Yuan. Luckily the conversion from US dollar to Chinese Yuan was automatically done by the bank of by credit card. Here is an example:
2016/07/03 * Online Shopping Expenses:Game 3900 JPY Expenses:App 4184 JPY Liabilities:Credit Card 2016/06/25 * Currency exchange Liabilities:Credit Card 3900 JPY @ 0.00991 USD Liabilities:Credit Card 4184 JPY @ 0.00991 USD Liabilities:Credit Card 2016/06/25 * Repayment Liabilities:Credit Card 80.11 USD @ 6.6866 CNY Assets:中国银行
In the above example, I first bought some games and apps online using the credit card (see the first record). Then the loans were exchanged from JPY into USD and CNY, provided the exchange rates. In the final step I payed back the money using my Chinese bank account.