Manage your private finances with Skrooge

Tutorial – Skrooge

Article from Issue 267/2023

Skrooge is an accounting program that organizes and gives you a better overview of your private finances.

Anyone who wants to bring order to their personal finances and reveal potential savings will appreciate a good financial management program. Skrooge [1] was developed specifically for managing private finances. It helps you to record your income and expenses, arrange them by categories, and evaluate them graphically. The project name is based on the character Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens's novella A Christmas Carol.

The current version of Skrooge is 2.28.0 from July 30, 2022. The program was originally developed for KDE, but it also runs on other desktop environments. Most distributions already have Skrooge in their package sources, so you can install it conveniently via the package manager. However, the repositories do not always give you the latest version. You can get this as an AppImage, Flatpak, Snap, or as a source code package from the project's download page [2].

After completing the install, you can launch Skrooge by clicking on the appropriate icon, in the shell by typing the skrooge command, or use the following command for Flatpak:

<C>flatpak run org.kde.skrooge<C>

Skrooge Setup

When first launched, the main window of Skrooge appears (Figure 1). In the left sidebar you can see an overview of the functions. Selecting one of them opens a new tab with the selected function on the right side of the main program window. Because the window uses tabs, several functions can be opened at the same time. To return to the initial window, just close all the tabs.

Figure 1: The main window in Skrooge is divided into two areas. You can see the functions on the left, which appear as new tabs on the right when you click on them.

If you are already using a different financial management tool and want to switch to Skrooge, it is worth trying to transfer the data via the menu item File | Import | Import…. Because the program supports the common formats QIF and OFX/QFX, and can also read GnuCash and KMyMoney files, switching usually does not cause any difficulties. If you get stuck during the setup, you can access the user manual via the Help | Skrooge Handbook menu.

Whether you are starting from scratch or importing data, the first thing to do is to save your financial management data in a file. To do this, select File | Save as… and specify the storage location. The software uses its own storage format with a file suffix of .skg. To protect the data from undesirable access, assign a password via File | Change password…. You can also change a previously assigned password in the same way.

Adding Accounts

First, add all your accounts in Skrooge. This means your checking account(s), credit card and savings accounts, and securities accounts. You can also create a separate account for cash. To do this, click on Accounts in the left sidebar. A new tab appears with an empty account overview. Enter your account data in the fields at the bottom (Figure 2).

Figure 2: The account overview shows a summary of your accounts and the account balances. You can use the fields at the bottom to add new accounts.

The bold fields (Bank, Account, Type, and Initial Balance) are mandatory, while the others are for information purposes only and can be left blank. Enter your bank's name in the Bank field. If the bank exists in the Skrooge database, its logo will appear automatically. Use the Account field to assign a name for the account, such as MyBank. Choose the account type in the Type selection field; checking accounts belong in the Current category. Then enter your current account balance in the Initial balance field. If needed, you can change the currency type, for example, ¢ instead of $. This completes the data input for the mandatory values. You can optionally add your account number and the details of your bank branch. Proceed in the same way with each additional account; you don't need the bank details for a Wallet account type.

The Minimum limit and Maximum limit fields, each of which you can enable by checking the box to the left of the field, offer an interesting function. You are notified if the balance drops below or exceeds the defined thresholds. This means you can keep track of when you need to transfer money to your checking account to avoid going into the red, for example, or if there is a surplus balance in your checking account that you could invest.

After entering all the data, click Add bottom right to create the account. You can edit the data of an existing account by pressing Edit. After creating all the accounts you need, you can hide the fields in the lower part of the window by clicking Edit and then show them again later on in the same way, if needed.

Defining Categories

The second step is to create categories for your income and expenses. To do this, click Categories in the left sidebar. Skrooge does not come with predefined categories, so you will need to define them yourself. This will give you a category list that precisely meets your requirements.

You can create a new category by entering its name in the Name field in the lower area and then clicking the plus sign next to it (Figure 3). For more clarity, you can create subcategories as needed. You do not need to commit to a final list; the categories can be edited later at any time.

Figure 3: You can classify your income and expenses in categories.

When you post entries, the total is listed after each category. This gives you a quick overview of how much you spent (and on what) or how much you earned.

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