There are three manifestations of accounting constructs that you'll need to know to use Prudent.
- Root accounts
- Base currency
Prudent uses Ledger as the underlying reporting tool, so essentially you create text files that comprises of transactions in the Ledger format. Here's a typical format for a transaction:
YYYY/DD/MM AccountOne $99 AccountTwo
There needs to be at least two spaces between the end of AccountOne to the start of the currency sign (the currency sign can be any character you want too). That's it!
For example, the following records a transaction (paying of a utility bill from a bank account):
2018/06/15 Expenses:Utilities $94.81 Assets:Savings:Bank
Any Ledger-compliant file will work as long as you use standard names for the root accounts (see below). Prudent will point you to any line that isn't understood by Ledger. You can use any currency or commodity you want in the transactions as long as you specify the exchange rate (further below).
Prudent relies on standard names for the following accounts:
Assets Assets:Savings Assets:Current Liabilities Equity Income Expenses
You'll need to use the above accounts as root accounts for the reporting function of Prudent to function properly.
Prudent will just work if you only have transactions in one currency. This currency can be denoted with any symbol or character such as $, £, CAD, or even emojis such as 🐑 or 🏝 (if you happen to own sheep farms or islands). If you deal with multiple currencies or commodities and want Prudent reports in a base currency, you can specify the exchange rates like so:
P 2018/06/15 02:17:58 "APPL" $188.15 P 2018/06/15 02:17:58 £ $1.35 P 2018/06/15 15:50:00 CAD $1.04 P 2018/06/15 16:17:00 🐑 $300 P 2018/06/18 10:12:38 £ $1.36
In the example above, we see the prices (or exchange rates) of shares, currencies and things as it relates to the base currency (the rightmost currency). You can add multiple prices for different times (as the price fluctuates). Prudent will show reports based on the latest available price.
Summarily, you simply create transactions with the root accounts in mind and see the reports on the right hand side of the application automatically populated as long as you're within the right date scope and report! If you open multiple files, Prudent will combine the transactions in these files into a single report. This is useful if you want a combined view of the family's expenses or a combined view of accounts of different departments in a company, for example. You can use any Ledger command in the command box provided too. For more info on Ledger, see its detailed documentation.
The Month card
The Month card is a key idea in Prudent. It gives you a summary of your financial status for a particular month. Most of the parameters should be quite self-explanatory, except Ca - De, which means Cash minus Debt.
That's it! Godspeed, and please feel free to reach out if you've any questions or suggestions.
P.S. Here's a sample journal that you might find useful. It has a range of examples from starting a journal to buying stocks to commenting.