Beancount advancement Thread

I got encuraged to post my beancount questions here. here they are!

1. fetching prices

1.1 technical implementation

I already learnt about the PnL in beancount. I now want to know my today’s net worth based on ETFs i boought earlier. a minimal example is

;; -- mode: org; mode: beancount; coding: utf-8; fill-column: 400; --
option “operating_currency” “USD”
plugin “beancount.plugins.unrealized” “PnL”

; initiate VTI (=Fund) commodity
1970-01-01 commodity VTI
name: “VTI”
price: “USD:yahoo/VTI”

; open USD, VTI & PnL Accounts
1970-01-01 open Assets:VTI VTI
1970-01-01 open Assets:VTI:PnL USD
1970-01-01 open Assets:Cash USD

; open the money press
1970-01-01 open Equity:Opening-Balance:USD USD

; give me some toy-money
2018-12-31 pad Assets:Cash Equity:Opening-Balance:USD
2019-01-01 balance Assets:Cash 10000.00 USD

;Some VTI we bough a while ago
2019-07-11 * “Buying some VTI for test purpose”
Assets:VTI 10 VTI { 152.83 USD}

; now, what’s my current net worth? I.E. what’s my PnL?

I do know that there is bean-price, and i can get it working:

$ bean-price test.beancount -v
INFO : Using price cache at “/tmp/bean-price.cache” (with indefinite expiration)
INFO : Processing at date: 2019-11-19
INFO : Loading “test.beancount”
<unrealized_gains>:0: A valid price for VTI/USD could not be found
2019-11-19 price VTI 158.69 USD

how do I get the current price of VTI into my balance statement without hardcoding the numbers?

[auto-answer] ok i found out now you can do

bean-price test.beancount >> test.beancount

which redirects the output of bean-price (which is already in the correct beancoount syntax) to the end of your ledger file. next question: fetching weekly prices fromthe last 3 years^^

[edit] someone told me that i have to manually insert the stdout from bean-price to my ledger file. is this true? how would I outomate this? must be something like append…

[edit2] I found out now that, in order to get quotes based on an lodger file via

bean-price stash.beancount

one needs to have bought some. using pad and balance alone is not sufficient to make bean-price look up the quotes. now it’s like

$ bean-price stach.beancount
INFO : Fetching: VBR (time: None)
INFO : Fetching: VSS (time: None)
INFO : Fetching: VTI (time: None)
INFO : Fetching: VWO (time: None)
INFO : Fetching: VXF (time: None)
2019-11-20 price VBR 133.40 USD
2019-11-20 price VSS 107.51 USD
2019-11-20 price VTI 158.60 USD
2019-11-20 price VWO 42.43 USD
2019-11-20 price VXF 122.61 USD
2019-11-20 price VXUS 54.04 USD


1.2 getting VIAC’s CSIF tickers

looks like the CSIF funds are not listed on yahoo, or at least i could not finde them. with google down and yahoo not listing, does anyone have some ways to fetch those prices? I am referring to
CSIF SPE extra
CSIF all World ex CH
CSIF all World ex CH Small
CSIF Emerging markets
CSIF Real estate CH

2. workflow

maybe this is a bit early to ask^^ up to now (that is 4 weeks or so) i do most edits manually in a text editor. so far, this is not at all superior to my GUI-workflow with th Gnucash GUI. Anyone in here can describe their typical workflow maybe make a screen video or such, to let me see how to efficiently work with beancount?

3. File (re-) organisation

converting my 2 years of GnuCash to Beanconut got me some 6000 lines of code. mostly the openings on top and all transactions chronologically afterwards. From the documentation i saw Martin proposes grouping by type rather than date. How do you handle this? what works best for you?

4. Importing postfinance, DKB and IB

maybe I also should ask this a little later since i have not really tried myself. I saw the available DKB importer and reading through it made me confident to be able to translate it to postfinance.however if anyone already did this… Then, again, I am not yet aware of the workflow. would I call the importer on a downloaded csv-statement, recieve a text and append it to my ledger, is this how it works? a minimal example would really help me:

  1. a test csv file
  2. the commands to be used / steps to be done
  3. the result displayed

Someone proposed beans (not beancount), but installing Nix & Stack gave me hell, so I dont pursue thisanymore^^

Thank you for your help!

1 Like

Haha… I did… so I start with some answers.

First, I need to explain my setup… There are several systems but this is mine:
I’m working in Mac, an iMac, and 2 macbook pro, one at home and other at work.

I have one directory shared (dropbox) where the files are. Like that I can modify the files where I want… At home, moving or at work.

An extra (I’m a bit crazy, I know) I’m using git locally in each machine to follow the changes. I was using GitLab in place of Dropbox for a while but even if I had a private repo, I didn’t like that my finances reside in a remote place…but up to you.

  • Setup:
    • VS Code with vscode-beancount extension
    • Fava. Installed like beacount with pip.
    • One main file: main.bean and 5, 6 or 100 files if you need spliting all the main finances in your life. In my case:
      • main.bean, 2017.bean, 2018.bean, 2019.bean, prices.bean (very important for a question you did!!), broker.bean, p2p.bean, etc…etc… ALL those files must be included like I’ll do later with include “file.bean” if not, doesn’t work!!

When you install vscode with the extension automatically, when you starts vscode, the fava program starts and if you point your browser to http://localhost:5000 you have a nice, nice screen with all your data! If not, you can run with fava name_of_file.bean the output is:

~/Desktop $ fava test.bean
Running Fava on http://localhost:5000

Now, you have to put a include “price.bean” at begining of your file and fill the file each day, or week… with the command:

~/Desktop $ bean-price test.bean >> price.bean

The final file will be:

include “price.bean”
option “operating_currency” “USD”
plugin “beancount.plugins.unrealized” “PnL”
; initiate VTI (=Fund) commodity
2019-01-01 commodity VTI
price: “USD:yahoo/VTI”
; open USD, VTI & PnL Accounts
2018-01-01 open Assets:VTI VTI
2018-01-01 open Assets:VTI:PnL USD
2018-01-01 open Assets:Cash USD
; open the money press
1970-01-01 open Equity:Opening-Balance:USD USD
; give me some toy-money
2018-12-31 pad Assets:Cash Equity:Opening-Balance:USD
2019-01-01 balance Assets:Cash 10000.00 USD
;Some VTI we bough a while ago
2019-07-11 * “IB” “Buying some VTI for test purpose”
Assets:VTI 10 VTI { 152.83 USD}

The results in next post :wink:

1 Like

Now, there are thousand of commands with bean-query, etc… to do with your data but I use fava, so… from your example, the results:

Your program:

The http://localhost:5000 : The income Statement

A nice balance Sheet:

The Trial Balance:

The journal:

Modifying because a mistake… :wink:

I used the account Casssh that doesn’t exist:

Editing the coplete file: Note the proposal for the correct account:

Etc…etc… There are hundred of reports, edits, doing queries…everything.


BTW, when you run

~/Desktop $ bean-price test.bean >> price.bean

the file price.bean finish with:

~/Desktop $ cat price.bean
2019-11-20 price VTI 158.56 USD
tono@iMac ~/Desktop $

1 Like

Hey Tino,
big time thanks

VSCode & plugins and Fava i had running already, but the rest is really helpful! especially the file organization with the prices file. and let me guess: you would have some crono-job or whenever you log on fetching latest prices?^^

the file price.bean finish with:
for me, the file looks quite sterile:
but perfect as such.

and let me guess: you have the main. bean for all the set-up of accounts, commodities, options etc, and all the transactions in one file per year, and then with you bean.main a section with

include 2019.bean ; <= adding current transactions here
include 2018.bean
include 2017.bean

thanks, more questinos coming :wink:

Yes… you must run everyday/week… I run automatically with a cron everyday.
At the beginning you don’t have any price so you can run (I did):

bean-price -d 2019-08-01 test.bean >> price.bean
bean-price -d 2019-09-01 test.bean >> price.bean
bean-price -d 2019-10-01 test.bean >> price.bean

beancount will check your file and if needed will write the prices.
I remark the if needed because if you run with 2019-01-01 since you didn’t have the stocks … there is not going to show any price!!! I became crazy until I discovered :wink:
The final file is:

~/Desktop $ tail price.bean
2019-11-20 price VTI 158.56 USD
2019-08-01 price VTI 150.80 USD
2019-08-30 price VTI 149.04 USD

include 2019.bean ; <= adding current transactions here

Exactly, for the groceries in Migros I do in 2019.bean. When there is some movements in P2P…in the file p2p.bean, when I buy stocks, in ib.bean or td.bean or e.g. broker.bean.

The point is split the big file in some subfiles because if not…is crazy editing a file with 10000 lines!!!

Maybe we can start a shared google doc?
So we got all the know-how in one file with a toc :slight_smile:

1 Like

I’d love that :heart_eyes:

check out this:

it is yet publicly editable, we can think about this later

1 Like

How do you guys do/ use code folding?
for me it looks like

do you fold for example all account openings, salaries, investmen stuf… ?

I added some importers to the google doc.


Nope, no me.
Normally I don’t touch the file where all the definitions are done… Just the last 2019.bean or broker.bean
I know some people that even do a 2019-01.bean 2019-02.bean and so on… I think is too much.

Another free advice :wink: Tag every entry, every one! At least until beancount implements the pivot tables system! Since there is not done, I do, e.g.:

2019-11-14 * "IB" "Buy CSCO Cisco" #Stock #Buy #CSCO
  Assets:Stock:CSCO                         100 CSCO {45.00 USD}
  Expenses:Commission:IB                                0.67 USD

2019-11-14 * "IB" "Compra RIO Rio Tinto" #Stock #Buy #WDC
  Assets:Stock:RIO                         100 RIO {52.7685 USD}
  Expenses:Commission:IB                                0.37 USD

2019-11-15 * "TD" "Bought 10 WDC @ 52.70"	#Stock #Buy #WDC
  Assets:Stock:WDC                          10 WDC { 50.70 USD}
  Expenses:Commission:TD                                 0.00 USD

2019-11-20 * "LIDL" "Buy Eggs and Wine" #Lidl #Buy #Eggs #Wine
  AssetsUBS                                 -29.65 CHF

2019-11-20 * "Migros" "Buy Milk" #Migros #Buy #Milk
  Assets:UBS                                  -6.05 CHF

Later I can “cross” data … knowing, e.g. how much I spent in October Buying Milk … or How much I spend buying RIO stocks last year, or the commission only in IB or IB + Some stock…etc… In fava is really easy.

Otherwise you must create hundred of accounts and is a nightmare.

this was my initial reason why i wanted something new than Gnucash, because my train ticket can only go to the SBB account or my Skiing trip account, but not be reflected in both in a good way

Next technical question: I try using the beancount-DKB importer from however: after installing the command is not known:
(I installed poetry successfully)

can anyone help me here? I.e. a working minimal example? I got the DKB .csv ready for processing. thanks!

now turnign to beans, since I’d like to use the importer of IB and Postfinance.
going after the manual

after cloning the reop, i am stuck with

~/myfiles/beans$ stack install
error: attribute ‘ghc863’ missing, at (string):1:48
(use ‘–show-trace’ to show detailed location information)
~/myfiles/beans$ --show trace
–show: command not found
~/myfiles/beans$ stack -show trace
Invalid option `–show’

Usage: stack [–help] [–version] [–numeric-version] [–hpack-numeric-version]
[–docker*] [–nix*] ([–verbosity VERBOSITY] | [-v|–verbose] |
[–silent]) [–[no-]time-in-log] [–stack-root STACK-ROOT]
[–work-dir WORK-DIR] [–[no-]system-ghc] [–[no-]install-ghc]
[–arch ARCH] [–ghc-variant VARIANT] [–ghc-build BUILD]
[-j|–jobs JOBS] [–extra-include-dirs DIR] [–extra-lib-dirs DIR]
[–with-gcc PATH-TO-GCC] [–with-hpack HPACK]
[–[no-]skip-ghc-check] [–[no-]skip-msys] [–local-bin-path DIR]
[–[no-]modify-code-page] [–[no-]allow-different-user]
[–[no-]dump-logs] [–color|–colour WHEN] [–resolver RESOLVER]
[–compiler COMPILER] [–[no-]terminal]
[–stack-colors|–stack-colours STYLES] [–terminal-width INT]
[–stack-yaml STACK-YAML] [–lock-file ARG] COMMAND|FILE

~/myfiles/beans$ stack init
Control.Exception.Safe.throwString called with:

Error: Stack configuration file stack.yaml exists, use ‘–force’ to overwrite it.
Called from:
throwString (src/Stack/Init.hs:62:9 in stack-2.1.3-HEoMsL9gvgt2vNexTWWwGx:Stack.Init)

i found some recources but none of them make any sense to my unix beginner’s mind:

further, installing nix gives a ton of stdout, ending with error:

mkdir: cannot create directory ‘/build’: Permission denied
builder for ‘/nix/store/h4l3nlzi57dz3x377w69bzv5kwvp0fml-beans-’ failed with exit code 1
error: build of ‘/nix/store/h4l3nlzi57dz3x377w69bzv5kwvp0fml-beans-’ failed
~/myfiles/beans$ sudo nix-build --attr beans release.nix
[sudo] password for user:
sudo: nix-build: command not found

anybody here who can help me set up & run the IB and Postfinance importer?

gosh beancount seeem so complex. If I have to hack around so much I’d prefer to write my own software then. … nutcount :slight_smile:

The only hard part I see is the web-based viewer.

you are right, the whole beancount project became totally unmustacian already from the time i invested. if you are not a UNIX pro, the pain is huge :face_vomiting:
however there are some rewarding moments…

I so want to try it just to be able to remake it. It doesn’t seem that complex to me. It has some good plugin architecture probably and many people contributed to essential plugins. The basics, though, seems to be a tool where you can create a list of categories and then use them to categorize your stuff.

Well guys, the problem is that you start “big” with not too much knowledge… like me :wink:
Now, some time later I don’t use importers or complicate things.
I spent hours, days! trying to configure importers, exporters, accounts, etc… and I stopped.
I did by hand… You have 1000 lines to import? You can do 100 per week? In 10 weeks is done. You are not in a hurry since you stay putting new movements in the files.

I used a simple system:

  1. Export all to CSV
  2. Pass all to a spreadsheet.
  3. Figure out how to put all in columns like: 2019-11-21 * “Payee” “Literature” ++++ Assets:Account ##### 21 CHF …
  4. Copy and paste everything in VSCode
  5. Use the magnifico, beautiful, top tool that put the cursor in every “++++” or “####” you find in the text and I do: “Enter”.
  6. The magic comes, because when you find ++++ means that you have to do another line, you can erase all the ++++ in one shot…etc.

I did like that 1000, 2000 lines from UBS or IB in one hour. Don’t spend time with importers, there is nothing completely plug-and-play

Well… I don’t have time to do a video or explain better… Hope with that is enough.

  1. You’ll get from the bank the lines 3 and 4 in a CSV file
  2. You import this file in Excel or whatever spreadsheet and find out how to finish your data like in the line 7
  3. You copy the text from Excel to VS as you see in line 7
  4. You select whatever token you used in line 7… in my example “#####” and in mac, press Command+F2 or “Change All Occurrences” All the “#####” will become blue and thousand of cursors will be in your text.
  5. You put the cursor in the first ##### and press Enter + TAB and Erase the ##### token used to have the line 11. Later you do the same with the token ***** and make the line 12.
1 Like

simply beautiful. and with abit of excel skill, this is quite scalable. thanks for the hint! i got lost in all that parser stuff.

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