Tag Archives: accounting

tapecalc: Without the expensive paper roll

I usually use sc for tallying my home finances, but now I’m wondering if that’s the best option. Here’s tapecalc.


Ideally, tapecalc works like a traditional paper-tape calculator, like you used in your business classes in secondary school, years ago. Even the display seems to mimic the paper roll effect.

For every function there’s a value, and the line can be switched to show the operation. The topmost line shows a balance, and you can tack on comments to remind yourself when you last paid for your vuvuzela lessons. 😯

In another manner though, tapecalc works almost exactly like a check register or a simple bookkeeping ledger, meaning this might be preferable to a spreadsheet for home accounting or simple accounts and payments. Since you have a clean view of what your balance is at any given moment, you’re unlikely to run afoul of your bank manager over things like misplaced decimal points. 🙄

tapecalc can save “tapes” as plain text files, and read them back as source files or as annexations. You can save out your “tape,” add on regular “tapes,” and generally edit or juggle to your heart’s desire. And tapecalc is not limited to adding and subtracting; there are provisions for multiplying and dividing, as well as more complicated mathematical adventures.

I like tapecalc — a lot. I expect this will take over from sc … as soon as I get tapecalc to run in Arch. I only found tapecalc in Debian, although I don’t believe it will take much to build it elsewhere.

For all the points listed earlier this week, and for a unique take on the traditional console calculator, I’m willing to pass out a third gold star this week: ⭐ Three in a week! Another precedent broken! :mrgreen:

One final point for thought: The source file and home page call this “add,” but it appears in Debian as “tapecalc.” As best I can tell from my unskilled perusal, the Debian patch just converts the name to tapecalc. On the home page the author explains why. *BSD users may have access to this as “add.”

ledger: Toward fantastical finances

My personal accounting needs are rather minimal, and while ledger is quite impressive, it’s obvious at first glance that it’s far beyond my level.


It would take a long time to learn all the ins and outs of ledger, but if it will help you get started, the documentation insists it’s compatible with GnuCash.

I’ve never used GnuCash either, aside from starting it up and fiddling with the menus.

If ledger can push info in and out of GnuCash, then that makes it all the more useful … to those who live outside of the terminal, of course. 😉

All the magic in ledger happens in the data file; don’t look for an interface with ledger.

On the other hand, ledger will generate reports in a wide variety, and show a complete register like the one above.

Like I said at the start, the huge preponderance of what ledger can do is far beyond my own needs. I’d love to see it work to its fullest potential, so in the mean time I’ll be concocting some fantastical finances.

chkbk: Simpler than some others

I’ve found a few personal finance tools in the past year, most recently brinance and clipf. Here’s another one: chkbk.


chkbk isn’t in Arch or AUR and doesn’t appear in Debian either, which is a shame because it’s not a bad little program.

It behaves much like you might expect, keeping an account for checking and another for savings.

You can make deposits and withdrawals from either, show balances and account histories.

Supposedly printing is possible too, although I don’t have a printer so I haven’t tried it.

If you have very simple banking needs, or if don’t care to learn the complexity of something like clipf, this might be an option.

brinance: Simple command-line accounting

No interface on this one, folks. But it still has the potential to be quite useful. Here’s brinance:


To read the history of brinance, it sounds like a reaction to the relative complexity of things like GnuCash, when the writer just wanted something for personal accounts.

And that sounds about right. brinance can handle credits and debits, multiple accounts and transfers between them.

But if you want recurring credits or debits, interest calculation or something a little more complex, you’ll have to do some footwork.

Having said all that, I should note that there is a tk interface for brinance, written by a different author and designed to run against version 3. It does make brinance a little more accessible, in some senses. Don’t forget to install perl-tk if you want to try it out. 😉

clipf: Cryptic, but powerful

From the customer suggestion box comes clipf:


clipf is a personal finance manager, and one that takes a little getting used to. Of course, that might just because I do my finances in a spreadsheet. With sc. Because I am an action movie star. 🙄

I have relatives that swear by Quicken or whatever le app du jour is. A spreadsheet usually does the job for me.

So shifting to clipf is a bit like learning to park a boat. It requires a change in your approach. I fear change. 😯

Not really. But there doesn’t seem to be much documentation on actual use of clipf, aside from what’s here.

My advice is first to set the account with whatever name you like (I chose “Home” in the screenshot there), then start adding categories with prod add.

clipf allows you to declare subgroups via dot-names, which means you can group milk and cheese and so forth under dairy., if you like.

Convenient in that sense. Because later, when you make reports, you get a breakdown by category.

Make adjustments against your account with the op add function. Use can use tab completion (thank goodness).

Finally reports with rep. There are some other functions, and you can set dates and so forth with flags against each command.

So really, clipf is a lot like a specialized shell, that works primarily as a financial manager. Kind of cool.

One thing I should mention is that this is a python2 program. I tried to run it against the current python3 package and got errors. (Also, for Arch users, the AUR package seems somehow empty. It installed nothing that I could find on my computer. 😕 )

The only other quirk I should mention is that once you enter an operation, you can’t delete it. You have to reverse the operation to nullify it.

So if I make a typo I have to make a step backwards to zero it out, then start again with the error still in my report? Seems odd, and slightly inconvenient. 😐

Probably I would just hand-edit the database file, to get it out.

Regardless, I think I will spend a little more time with clipf, and see what it can do for me. That a 30-year-old spreadsheet program can’t, that is. …