A User's view of Hledger

Learning about hledger

Using accounting for a better future

Some years ago, someone asked a question similar to the following.

If you have a transaction such as:

2024-04-25 Mom & Pop Store
  expenses:groceries       $18.32
  liabilities:credit card  $-18.32

It is obvious how you reconcile the credit card portion of the transaction.

But how do you reconcile the groceries portion? (Again, that was the question asked.)

The first answer is that you don’t reconcile the groceries portion. It’s only the credit card part that you reconcile, doing the reconciliation against the corresponding credit card statement.

There is, however, another possibility. It’s not reconciling in the accounting sense. Rather, it’s more like

  • Did you get the benefit that you anticipated when you made the purchase?
  • Did you get value for your money?
  • Was it a worthwhile purchase?

I know of no useful mathematical formula to answer the above questions. Instead, you make a value judgment. In some ways, this is more important than reconciling in the accounting sense of the word. Yes, it’s important to make sure that the books balance. But it’s also key to ask the question what value you are getting from your expenses.

This is not a new idea. It’s been around for thousands of years. However, it’s worth occasionally stopping and thinking what effect your purchases are having on your life. And are there any changes such as spending more or spending less in certain categories that might improve things? If you have recently made a change, how is that change working out?

In short: Reconcile your accounts to know where your money went. Once you know that, look at the effects of the purchases on your life. This knowledge will help you plan a better future.