HOUSEHOLD ACCOUNTS

A MERE list of disbursements tells the spender how much he spends during a period, but it does not inform him how money is spent, unless he takes the trouble to extract the items individually and group them under various headings. This is work so tedious that it is not likely to be done.

The essence of household accountancy is that the entries be tabulated as entered, under one or other of a number of different headings, thought out carefully beforehand. A simple addition sum will then show how much has been spent in any one way during a week, month, or year, as the case may be; and there will then be no doubt as to where the money is going, and what direction retrenchment, if needed, should take.

Systematic accountancy prevents the mysterious melting away of cash, and the inward questionings as to the fate of that five pounds which so recently was available. It will also show, in no uncertain manner, that unconsidered trifles of expenditure, if repeated often, have a way of mounting up in a rather alarming fashion.

Keeping accounts is of little use if not done thoroughly and methodically. The memory is treacherous, and its treachery can be foiled only by daily entry, while expenses are freshly remembered, or by weekly transference from day-book, diaries, etc. If one makes a habit of getting expenditure into the account book as quickly as possible, there will not be sufficient labour at any one time for it to become wearisome.

Account books . – Let these be of generous page-size, but not bulky. Foolscap size (S inches by 13 inches) is recommended.

Get them ready ruled into 7 sets of cash columns per page, besides a wide column for description on every left-hand page, and a narrower one for date. This will allow for 14 headings on every opening, or pair of pages visible at the same time.

It is advisable to have two books ; one for expenditure on what is popularly called running the house ; and the other for other expenditure. Headings suggested for the first are: 1. Baker. 2. Butcher. 3. Confectioner. 4. Fishmonger. 5. Fruiterer. 6. Greengrocer. 7. Garden. 8. Gas and Fuel. 9. Laundry. 10. Lighting. 11. Milk. 12. Wages. 13. Water. 14. Miscellaneous. And for the second: 1. books and 8. Presents.

Stationery. 2. Carriage and 9. Rates and postage. Taxes. 3. Clothes. 10. Rent. 4. Entertainment 11. Repairs. (theatres, etc.). 5. Furniture and 12. Schooling. fittings.

G. Medical. 13. Travelling. 7. Motor-car. 14. Miscellaneous.

It will be noted that alphabetical order is observed in both cases, as it assists entering. It is not claimed that the headings listed above will suit all homes. For example, where there are no children Schooling will obviously be unnecessary. But the generality of expenses will be found to come under one or other of the 26 specific headings given.

The description column need be used only in a few instances. But if some article of special value – sa , an antique – be purchased, it would be specified, and the name and address of vendor noted, for future reference. Keep things as simple as possible.

The household book should be added up monthly, and the twelve totals be brought together at the end of the year. For the general expenses book a totalling of each page as filled will suffice, the total being carried forward from one page to the next till the end of the year.

Nothing should be entered that does not represent an actual payment. Bills remaining unpaid at the end of the year should be disregarded, and taken into account when settled in the year following.

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