A Ledger success story

Over the Christmas break I went on Bahá’í pilgrimage to the holy sites in Haifa, Israel. It was a nine day stay in Haifa, with three extra days spent traveling and resting in Tel Aviv.

Three of us went: my wife and I, and my mother-in-law. We wanted to avoid the confusion of who pays for what, so we just pooled all our money together, assigned me as the accountant, and after the trip I was supposed to figure out exactly how much each person owed, less what they originally put into the pot. These finances were further complicated by having to deal with three currencies (USD, Euros, and New Israeli Shekels), and the use of both cash in two currencies, Traveler’s Checks in US dollars, and my MasterCard.

This is just such a case where my double-entry accounting tool, Ledger, ought to shine. Imagine keeping track of all those details in Quicken – which doesn’t even support multiple currencies in a “cash” type account! (At least, it didn’t the last time I used Quicken).

Anyway, not only did my general ledger happily balance to zero at the end (and, because of the double-entry book-keeping, found many errors in my paper register), but I knew exactly how much to pay each person back, and even how much money I lost due to the conversion from dollars to shekels and back again. All this accounting work was done today using the Common Lisp version of Ledger (CL-Ledger), and took just under 3 hours to complete with 65 entries total and 172 transactions.