GnuCash Initial Balance Setup Quick Start Guide 2021



This GnuCash initial balance setup quick start guide will show you how to add the initial balance (also known as the opening balance) in GnuCash. Before we get started, it’s important to note that this guide will only show one path that can be used to do this for demonstration purposes. Your exact setup may vary. Another important note is that this guide does not discuss accounting in general and is not intended as a substitute. That said, let’s get started.

Step 1

Open GnuCash and navigate to your chart of accounts. If you have not yet configured your chart of accounts, then you will need to do so. For example, the default business accounts can be configured as shown in the GnuCash Business Accounts Setup Quick Start Guide. Or, you can setup other default accounts using a similar process as shown in that guide.

While your specific accounts will vary depending on your initial setup, you should still have the general “Assets”, Equity”, “Expenses”, “Income”, and “Liabilities” top-level accounts. Your accounts may look something like the following:

Image of chart of accounts in GnuCash.

Step 2

Under one or more of your “Assets” accounts, you’ll need to add your asset initial balances. In this example, let’s say that we have $1,000 dollars in a checking account. To add this, click on “Checking Account” under “Assets”. Or, you may select another account under “Assets” if you don't see a "Checking Account".

From there, add $1,000 to the “Debits” column, which will show if you have formal accounting labeling enabled, or to the “Deposit” column if not using formal accounting labeling. Add a description under the “Description” column (e.g. something like initial, starting, or opening balance). Select the “Transfer” column, which will bring up a dropdown list of the columns you can transfer the balance to. Go ahead and select the “Equity:Opening Balances” account from this dropdown. Once these steps are complete, hit enter. You’ll see one of the following depending on if you have formal accounting labeling enabled or not.

Image of GNU cash checking account asset entry with formal accounting labeling.

Image of GNU cash checking account asset entry with informal accounting labeling.

Step 3

Go back to the “Accounts” tab to view your chart of accounts. You should now see something like the following:

Image of GNU cash chart of accounts with $1,000 set for checking account.

Step 4

Open the Equity ➞ Opening Balances account by clicking on this account from the “Accounts” tab. You’ll see that your opening balance has now been set like one of the below depending on if you have formal accounting labeling enabled or not.

Image of GNU cash equity opening balance account with formal account labeling.

Image of GNU cash equity opening balance account with informal account labeling.

Done

And that’s it. You now have an initial balance configured. You can of course add additional sources for the opening balance by following the same steps outlined in this guide (e.g., add “Petty Cash”, “Savings Account”, or another account under “Assets”).