Saturday, May 1, 2010

House Account Monthly - A Prudent Homemaker

Mrs. White's Old Fashioned Ledger book or "Journal" to keep Track of Household Spending

House Account Monthly - for Prudent Homemakers.

[Update - October 2019] This post was originally for an ongoing check-in describing how I am keeping an old fashioned account of our finances.  This is using a "ledger book" or a "journal" or a "cash book."  It is done by hand, simply recording all the household spending for each month.  I am no longer blogging about the monthly check-ins, but am still keeping this old fashioned method of tracking our spending. The description is below. If you are interested in doing this too, I would love for you let me know by leaving a comment. 

** At the bottom of this post you will see my book, "An Old Fashioned Budget" which goes into great detail in describing this method of managing money for a low income family.

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 for Keeping Your Own House Account

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.   You will also see my daughter's cash book, from 1998, when she was 10 years old.

- In "The Housekeeper's Budget" you will see the importance of keeping track of our finances, especially our spending.  Whether you are rich or poor, this will help you manage the money with wisdom and care. 

- In "My Husband's Money" you will find more details on my work of keeping a house account.


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

** Update: This book (published in 2019) goes into great detail on setting up a house account and ledger book:


For old time encouragement in living simply on a limited income, order Mrs. White's book:

"An Old Fashioned Budget: Humble Financial Management for the Christian Housewife"

77 pages, paperback book.


  - To find out more about this blog, or Mrs. White, please visit our About page. -


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!

Unknown 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

Catherine (Alecat Music) 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!!

Gretchen said...

I love this idea! I plan to do this for 2020. My husband is getting closer to retirement and would love to see how much we actually spend month to month. Thanks for sharing your book!

Tinygrammy said...

I’m so excited to begin my own household account ledger. My husband recently retired and we are on a fixed income, less than half of what he received when he was working. We now have to be very careful and this simple ledger will be vital in my keeping up with our spending. God is so good and He cares deeply about even the small details of our lives, and I’m certain that He will be pleased with my efforts. Thank you for teaching me, and I also purchased your budgeting book. God bless you!