Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Husband's Money

Library of Congress: A Farm Couple doing their bookkeeping at Home in 1930.

My old fashioned ledger book is for my "House Account."  This year, as I started the 2013 entries, I gave the book a title.   It is to be called "My Husband's Money."

Each evening, as I write down any money I spent that day, I will see the title.  I will know I have been given a great privilege and honor to be put in charge of the management of Mr. White's finances. 

The last few weeks, in the bitter Vermont cold, I realized I needed a new pair of house slippers.  It was dreadful coming in the house and taking off my winter boots and just feeling so cold.   After some time, I stopped into a store and found a suitable pair for $6.00.  I also bought a special welcome mat to put in the front entry way. This cost $3.00 and is quite necessary since it helps get some of the snow off the shoes of the guests as they enter our home.  I was pleased with the practicality of buying both of these items.  The total will be handwritten in my book, along with an explanation of what I bought and why.  This is the recording of the history of my spending for the household of my husband.

At any moment, as I sit near the fireplace and hand-write entries in my financial journal, I would be proud to have my husband look over my shoulder and know I have done well with his hard earned money.  He will be content and at peace with his household affairs, being carefully tended by his trusted wife.

This accountability, of calling this year's Ledger book, "My Husband's Money," will give me a constant remembrance of the honor in which I have been given to take care of his funds.   It will stop me cold when I am tempted to spend frivolously and foolishly.  It will help me to keep a long-term perspective - of the future history we are making with our spending and saving, and prevent me from causing harm or waste in this materialistic culture.  

-  My House Account has brought me a tremendous amount of questions.  The following are a couple of links to help answer some of these questions:

1. The House Account (An introduction. This was originally designed as a monthly check-in, but I have given up on blogging continuously about it.) 

2. The History of our Financial Lives (includes photographs of my ledger book.)

Some have asked what I recorded, or how I separate things into categories.  This is for each family to decide for themselves, but I will share my own method.  I do not put things into categories. I don't particularly care how much was spent on transportation, grocery or insurance.  That is not my intention when writing out my ledger book.  I am simply keeping a financial journal of what I buy, or how I am spending.  This can be looked over, in a similar way as a personal journal, but we are seeing numbers and spending, rather than an abundance of words. 

The simplest way I can explain this is to share the three items at the top of each page of my ledger:

1. The Date.

2. Description.

3. Amount.

That's all there is to my ledger book.

My ledger book is not a budget. (I have a separate notebook for my weekly bills and planned expenses.)  It is a financial journal.    I can look back through the pages and see how much I spent each month and each year.  I can also see the carefulness, the love, the attention, and the reason behind the spending (there are notes in the entries) and look back to see the financial lives of the White Family Home.

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."


Preoteasa Alexandra said...

Dear Mrs. White,

I truly like your blog and I have started to translate into my mother tongue (Romanian) some of them in order to give them to my mother and mother-in-law as a gift. I hope you don't mind if your ideas about homemaking are disseminated with non commercial intentions, hand written and scanned only, or eventually sent per e-mail, because I don't think somebody else's work should be published officially in another language unless this brings some money to the author. But nevertheless I am eager to share and enjoy old fashioned life at home within my group of friends and familiy members.
Regarding your book about your husband's money, I think that money is actually your family's and you are in charge of the wise keeping of it. It is the money earned by your husband, but I don't think your husband considers that money a personal achievement only, but rather the fruit of both of you. You helped him with your homemaking and he could do his job without further worries about the household, couldn't he? The more you improve your duties, the more will God provide and keep for you through the money brought home by your husband. But it still is the money he worked hard to earn and we must honour our husbands for this. And I really appreciate your preoccupation for honouring your husband this dear way, through a financial journal. I have to learn more about finding good reasons for everything I buy, it is not enough to want something and have the money for it, I have to bring reasons and put them on paper in order to avoid wasting money that God sent to our family through my dear husband's efforts. Best wishes for the new year that has started!

Dolores said...

Mrs. White, I was wondering if you record your grocery purchases item by item or just group them together as "groceries" and the total. Thanks for your wonderful blog. Dolores

Mrs. White said...

Thank you for your kind words. I am also delighted that you are translating my writing into your own language to share with your family and friends. Thank you!

Mrs. White said...


If the grocery items are regular and ordinary (or common), I put simply "grocery" or "food." But if it is for a special reason (like someone was ill and I bought a treat to cheer them up, or some such, I would briefly note that.)

Or if I was out on a long journey visiting family and bought special things, I would describe it in a few words, to help me smile and remember when I look back over the entries.

Tamara said...

Thank-you, Mrs. White,for this very encouraging and sobering thought. I recently read in a sweet book (published 1881) this quote about what a man wants in a wife: "No man of discretion admires a character like this(empty of positive convictions)....The woman he admires is pleasing, deferential ...but as he is to commit to her keeping his fortune, his honor, and his offspring, he expects her to possess a conscience as firm as his own..." (True Womanhood, by Rev. Franklin Johnson)
Anyway, it made me think twice - and so did your post!!

Anonymous said...

My budget includes a bit of "pocket money" for both my husband and I. If you do the same, are any purchases made with that money included in your ledger? I have always budgeted, but never kept an extensive record of my spending. Maybe this year I will give it a try. Thank you for your insights!

Sarah Coller said...

Good morning! How fun to have a record of all the ways you were able to bless your household and others with your finances! I'll be scouring estate sales this spring and summer to see if I might be able to find some old-fashiony ledgers in case I ever want to start this too!

Mrs. Sarah Coller

Anonymous said...

I started a ledger book after reading your post.

Anonymous said...

I have been at a loss as to how to save money while paying high uninsured orthodontic bills. I started following your idea of writing everything I spend down after reading your blog post about doing that and I am amazed at how many ways I am finding to save money now that I am paying attention to it! I truly appreciate your sharing this idea. I've saved nearly $100 already! It is absolutely amazing how much more willpower I have when I have to write it all down! Thank you. I am feeling more hopeful about finances than I have in years.

Anonymous said...

I have always kept a budget book recording everything we buy. Yet I wish now I had also made a book where I listed all the purchases we made for the home and such. These are also in our budget book but just the dollar amount. More of a diary like yours. I like your books title. If I had made a book also of each purchase say of a replacement appliance or such and the serial number and date of purchase and where purchased etc it would have been such a help. I have started now to do this and feel so much better to have a more personal record to keep. You have been such an inspiration to me. Thank you so much. Sarah