Saturday, May 1, 2010

House Account Monthly - A Prudent Homemaker

House Account Monthly is for Prudent Homemakers.

On the 1st of each month, I will write a check-in post of our adventures in keeping detailed records of our spending. I will not be sharing any personal financial information, but simply answering a few check-in questions.  

A Background on House Accounts:

Keeping a ledger of household accounts was a common practice. Sarah Edwards, wife of Puritan minister Jonathan Edwards, was said to have provided historians with a detailed picture of their spending because she wrote down every single transaction.

"It was a happy circumstance that he could trust everything to the care of Mrs. Edwards with entire safety and with un-doubting confidence. She was a most judicious and faithful mistress of a family, habitually industrious, a sound economist, managing her household affair with diligence and discretion." from Marriage to a Difficult Man- The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards by Elisabeth D. Dodds

Did you ever see the movie, Little Women starring Susan Sarandon? You will see them, at times, leaning over a household ledger account.

Edith A. Barnett, in 1894 (London) wrote a book called "Primer of Domestic Economy." Here is a quote from this document - "Whether the income be small or large, certain or uncertain, the good housewife will keep an accurate account of her income and expenditure." She also wrote this: "Probably women as housekeepers spend the greater part of the money that is spent in the world."

The History of Your Estate

Whether you live in a mansion, mobile home or a cozy apartment, your assets are your estate. This includes your furniture, savings, vehicle and personal belongings.  Every family has their own estate. If we carefully record our household spending, we are providing a history of our estate!

The Plan

1. You must write down every single cent you spend, every single day. You can record this in a Ledger book, composition notebook, or any kind of notebook you like. (I prefer a 2 column ledger book.) Write down the date, a description and the amount.

2. Keep receipts of all your purchases. Transfer these to the ledger book at the end of the day. You also need to transfer your debit transactions, and any checks you write, into the ledger book. (You can store the receipts in a large manila envelope.)

3. At the end of the month, look this over and add up your spending.  See if there is any way you can make improvements for the next month.

4. Be willing to share this book with your husband.

A Lesson for Children (Optional)

I plan to have my children do this with me. I will show them how a ledger works. I will let them record my transactions and look over my receipts. This will be an amazing financial education for them.


 - You will see a Description and Picture of my personal ledger account in- The History of Our Financial Lives

- In "My Husband's Money" you will find more details on my work of keeping a house account. You will also find a link to "Frugal Dad" where he explains how he has decided to keep an old- fashioned ledger book as well.

Here is what I plan to do - I prefer the hardbound Ledger book because I love to sit at the table or desk and carefully write out each item. I will also include my children in this and let them do many of the transactions.

 When I told my husband about this, he was thrilled!  When we used to own our store, I was responsible for all the bookkeeping and accounting. I used a hardbound ledger book and hand-wrote all our expenses. At the end of each month, I added up my transactions and came up with simple monthly statements and filed my monthly tax reports. My husband had full confidence and trust that I was handling our business accounts with honesty and integrity. I want him to have the same confidence in me with our household account.

How about you? Are you interested in taking on this fun challenge?

Mrs. White

For more details, you can find a lesson on keeping a house account in my book, "Introduction to Home Economics:  Gentle Instruction to Find Joy in Christian Homemaking."

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Kristenph said...

This is a great idea Mrs. White. My husband and I have been doing this our entire marriage. I know that it has been a huge factor in helping us to make wise financial decisions. I grew up watching my mother do the same:)

Lorie said...

Dear Mrs. White, it seems that you are encouraging me to get many areas of my life under control and in order. Spiritually (Prentiss Study), Physically (Fit Mommy) and now this. Thank you!

I am excited to join you in this newest venture. Here is a link to my blog post:

Ginny Marie said...

This looks like a great idea! My husband and I are really trying to watch our money, but I think keeping a closer account of where we are spending would help us even more!

Heather said...

I agree with Lorie's comment! This is a wonderful idea. For several years, we kept all our receipts entered in Quicken on the computer. At some point, I stopped doing so and it was a mistake! When my husband sees things visually like that, he is so much more supportive.

Lisa C. said...

I'm in, Mrs. White. Can't wait to get started on this much needed project.

Lisa C. from the Crew

Michelle said...

Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog and I am just loving it!

I can't wait to have more time to explore, but I've run out of "visiting" time so I've got to run!

Have a blessed weekend!

Michelle said...

Mrs. White, I just came from the forum to check out your exciting news about this, and found your blog to be very encouraging.

Getting control of spending is a huge issue for me. I'd so like to make a record of money spent but all those online guides are making me even more confused.

This ledger seems like such a simple thing to do and follow.

I'm wondering, though, what columns do you have in a ledger?

Jen said...

My husband gets paid fortnightly (every 2 weeks) so I started my tracking from his last pay. This has been very illuminating. Thank you for your suggestion.

Jen in Oz

alecat said...

I'd like to join in here, now, also. We have always kept a pretty good budget, but there's always room for improvement and a huge side serving of encouragement! ☺

Raine said...

I've just started blogging again, and found your site, but this is such a good idea. I've gotten off of using a budget and tracking my spending, but I really need to because I was letting it get out of hand. I'm starting today (new month new habit).

Jena said...

I really want to do this but I have a question. When writing every expense do you write the total of the receipt (like if you bought 10 items at Target you just write the total of all the items) or do you list each item separately? If you list each item separately do you figure out the tax on each separate item? Or what exactly? Thank you!!