How to… keep household accounts.

Keeping accounts is a pretty useful thing. Whether you own a small business, are saving up for something or keeping a home, having a record of your incomes and outgoings can be useful, insightful and even life saving.

It is also boring, gets complicated and can seem very time consuming. Otherwise, everybody would be doing it.

The great thing is: everybody can do it. You just need to follow these tricks to make your accounts something simple and easy.

1: Create a table of outgoings. The fixed costs.

Usually your incomes will be fairly fixed and, even if they aren’t, outgoings are the more important one to track. You can easily guess at what your income is, but outgoings are mysterious numbers on your bank statement at the end of the month.

Your table will be divided into two. The first half will be fixed costs on a monthly basis. These are everything that goes out on the regular, like phone contracts, insurance, unmetered bills, etc.

2: Yearly costs in your fixed cost table.

When it comes to yearly costs, make a separate bank account to save for them. Divide the total cost by 12 and make a payment of exactly that much every month. Then, add that payment to your fixed cost table as a monthly payment.

3: Random costs table.

Random costs are the ones that move around a lot, like fuel, food, pets or metered bills.

Your random costs table will not be like your fixed costs table. It should cover every day of the month, from the 1st to the 31st, including weekends. It should have a column for bills, one for groceries, one for car, one for services and one for unexpected bills.

4: Payment method column.

Your payment methods also need to be kept track of. Make a column for every payment method you use. Every single account, credit card or online money trader. Also keep a column for coupons, discounts, points and other forms of payment.

In the end, your tables will look a little like this:

Month.

House.

Water bill.

Home insurance.

Pension.

Account 1.

Account 2.

Jan.

400

10

8

150

-568

0

Feb.

400

10

8

150

-400

-168

Etc…

APRIL

Day.

Groc.

Elec.

Serv.

Fuel.

Unex.

Ac1

Ac2

PP

Cred.

ISA.

Coup.

1

0

67

0

15

0

77

5

0

0

0

2

Food.

25

0

0

0

0

0

20

0

0

0

5

3

Pet.

12

0

Hair. 10

15

0

5

0

12

0

0

5

Etc…

Total.

-77

-67

-10

-30

0

-82

-25

-12

0

0

+10

And at the end of every month you have a total outgoing in assorted expenses. The coupons and the likes are counted as a plus simply because that’s money you didn’t spend, so you got a 10 haircut, but got 5 back, if that makes sense.

Try and use a calculator page so that you can add up every column for it’s total, as well as at the end of the month add up all your expenses into one bar at the bottom! Otherwise, be sure to add up your random expenses daily, so you don’t have to sit around crunching numbers for hours at the end of the month.

6: Using it.

At the end of every day, go through your receipts and add the expenses to the calculator. Add the money out twice: once to the column it belongs to (Food), once to the payment method used (Credit Card). If you haven’t got it on a calculator page, be sure to add it to the total. Do not add the coupons at all yet!

At the end of the month, add together the fixed expenses and that month’s total. Take away the month’s total saved in coupons. That is your monthly outgoings.

7: Income.

If your income is fixed, just take note of it and take your outgoings away from it to see how you’re doing. You’re done!

If your income is not fixed, we move onto step 8.

8: Random income table.

This table is very similar in the way it works to the random outgoings table. Take every day you work. I will use two examples, one for my income and one for Jon’s. You want one column to be your working days. The other will be your earnings. You want to do a column a week for each category.

So, seeing as I work five or six days a week for random earnings, I fill mine in like this.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 1 +

Week 2 =

??????? +

Week 3 =

??????? +

Week 4 =

??????? +

Week 5 =

MONTH

F1

M4

M11

M18

M25

S2

T5 N/A

T12 N/A

T19 N/A

T26 N/A

W6

W13

W20 N/A

W27

T7

T14

T21

T28

F8

F15

F22

F29

S9

S16 N/A

S23

S30

Total.

Total.

Total.

Total.

Total.

And seeing as Jon works 3 or 4 days on, 3 or 4 days off, sometimes days, sometimes nights, his looks like this.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 1 +

Week 2 =

??????? +

Week 3 =

??????? +

Week 4 =

??????? +

Week 5 =

MONTH

4 D

11 OFF

18 N

25 D

5 N

12 D

19 OFF

26 N

6 N

13 D

20 OFF

27 N

7 N

14 D

21 OFF

28 N

1 D

8 OFF

15 N

22 D

29 OFF

2 D

9 OFF

16 N

23 D

30 OFF

3 D

10 OFF

17 N

24 D

31 OFF

Total:

Add your salary to the table every day and then total it at the end of the week. Add week 1 to week 2 and the total to week 3 until you reach the end of the month. That is your income.

And that is how you do your household accounts the easy way. At the end of the month, be sure to make a note of how much is in each money source to make sure you aren’t overspending and that no accounts are getting too empty!

And please share your accounting tips in the comments, I’d love to hear them! 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

Marriage As A Team.

With the advances of no-fault divorce, women usually being secondary or non-earners, staggered alimony and the assumption of female primary caregiving, it makes sense that a lot of men aren’t really all that interested in marriage. From a purely economic perspective, even if the stats actually show your risk of divorce is well under 50%, there’s still a risk. How many people would put their head into a tame lion’s mouth? It’s still a lion.

However, curiously, women have started to question marriage. At least during the years when we are likely to have a more successful marriage, which is 25-35. Which is odd, considering that we risk very little in marrying and stand to gain so much from either a lifelong marriage or divorce. From a purely objective standpoint, women should at least be ambivalent for men’s sake, at worst be callous supporters. But, as a population, we’re not.

The social demonization of marriage that started in the 60s and 70s is catching up with us. The angry, bitter radicals who called marriage slavery out of one corner of their mouths whilst stalking a man across the globe have finally persuaded most of Western society, men and women alike, that marriage is an evil institution. And they have done so by making it a zero-sum-game.

The basic concept of a zero-sum-game is: someone always wins, someone always loses. In the context of partnerships: one of you will be better off than when you were single and one of you will be worse off than when you were single. And the idea that marriage or long term partnerships are zero-sum-games has infiltrated every corner of our society. Feminists will claim that marriage is anywhere from manipulation to slavery for women, so they must seek to control their relationships carefully. PUAs will claim that marriage and long term relationships are shackles to the minds of men who do not dominate their relationships. Your Joe and Joan Average will work their very hardest to evenly split all their work, incomes, chores and time, so as to guarantee a balance. Everyone is convinced that if you aren’t getting more out than your partner, you’d be better off single.

Which is very scary, considering it undermines one of the main functions of marriage: to grow with each other. The purpose of marriage is to create a mini-community. Which, in our fairly empty, disconnected, callous world, is highly needed as many of us don’t have a larger community anyway. It’s meant to bond two people, get them working in sync so that they both have more than when they started, so they can look after their elders and have and raise healthy, happy children. That was the entire point of marriage.

Therefore, when we try and treat it as a zero-sum-game, as an individual vs individual competition where when you aren’t doing better than them, you’re losing, we aren’t in a marriage. You may have the certificates, but all you’re doing is coexisting, or, worse even, competing.

Instead, when you’re in a long term relationship of any kind, you should be looking at the relationship as the whole and yourselves as the halves. You are not factories, but production units in a little factory. And you should be working on everything you can to keep the factory (your relationship) functional and profitable for both of you. And this becomes quite a cycle. For example, how Jon and I work together to give ourselves a better life:

  1. Jon works full time so he can afford to rent this house. +space
  2. I care for the house so he doesn’t have to. Meaning the house is more worth having and leaving us more together time. +time
  3. I can cook him far better, healthier meals than he could cook himself in the time he used to have, saving us money on snacks and supplements. +money
  4. Because the house is so big, I can use the spare bedroom as an office to tutor from. I can also grow our own food in the garden. +money
  5. Because I work as a private tutor, I can earn £10-25/h, rather than minimum wage of £6.50/h not including travel and expenses. +money
  6. Because I work from home, I work on my own hours. +time
  7. Which means I also can arrange my work day to take advantage of discounts, offers, reduced price foods. +money
  8. Which means his disposable income hasn’t actually dropped much from when he lived in a single room. +money
  9. Which means the need for overtime is reduced. +time

If we both worked full time, split the chores when we got home and only had that little remainder together, we’d have less money, less free time and eventually not be able to afford the space we live in, the quality of food we eat or the entertainment we use. In short, if we acted as individuals, our quality of life would go down. So basically, by working together, as a unit, viewing time together as our main free time, and our assets as shared rather than split, we have both improved our quality of life. He has a larger home, better food, more time with me, more time for leisure activities, more flexibility with work and more money in the bank at the end of the month than when single. I have a larger home, better work prospects, more time with him, more time for leisure activities and more money in the bank at the end of the month than if I were single. We’re in a relationship and by viewing the relationship as the unit and ourselves as component parts: we both win.

So no, long term relationships aren’t a zero-sum-game where there has to be a loser and if you can’t spot the loser, the loser is you. They are a team game where you both work together and use your assets to protect each other’s assets, multiplying the rewards for your work. They are an investment in a partner that, if well -calculated, will pay you back. If you can’t spot the loser, but you’re richer, happier, with more free time and a generally higher standard of life than before: you’re not a loser, you’re playing the game right.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

What is your view on long term relationships? How does your relationship or marriage work? What do you feel your personal investment gives back to you as a couple? Do share!