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I've been using Ledger for almost nine years, both for my personal accounts and now my business accounts. I wrote some introductory articles about it, and further articles about how I use it day-to-day:


I have been using ledger ever since reading your articles. Thank you very much! Ledger, for a developer, makes accounting bearable.

Have you ever thought about using a natural language interface with ledger? For example, the Mac/iOS calendar app Fantastical lets you create an event by typing or dictating a sentence like "lunch with mike at 2 on Tuesday at Wendy's", and the app will parse the input to create an event with the right parameters.

I ask after reading your vacation write-up. Seems like the input side could have been a lot easier if you had a speech or text NLP interface to ledger. "$10 entertainment expense paid from MasterCard today," for example. That could be the holy grail for people who are not inclined to keep a detailed ledger, or for situations where input is difficult. (Theoretically you could email/iMessage/SMS/slack that string and have it picked up by your ledger file.)

Ledger sort of has that built in, actually, but it only works if you have a similar transaction in the past. For example, I can say this on the command line:

  $ ledger xact 11/5 mcd dinner 10.55
and ledger spits out

  2015/11/05 McDonald's
      Expenses:Food:Dinner          $10.55
      Liabilities:Credit Card
This falls down when you're traveling to new places, because in the command `mcd` is just a regex that matches on the payee.

Interesting, thanks. I had in mind a system that would basically regex match a string and add an entry to the ledger (similar, but it would probably be a bit more flexible than the built in system).

Separately, I saw you have also worked on a similar system for food logging. That got me thinking...what else could you track with a plain text file in this format? Fitness/workout info came to mind, as well as rewards points, sleep tracking, any others? Would be cool to have a single system to track all these things, which could be linked up to APIs like Fitbit, myfitnesspal, etc.

I don't use that system anymore, actually. I switched to LoseIt, primarily because of the extensive food database. Most of the time I can just scan a barcode or search for a particular thing and it's in there.

Convenience trumps plain text in this case because, unlike with finance, there's no bank statement to refer back to if you fall off the data entry wagon for a day or two. That data is instead just completely gone.

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