Well, I’m glad to see you here again. I hope that you’re starting to feel a little more organized with the help of Day One and Day Two tackling the housework, but contrary to the pressures we put on ourselves as stay-at-home parents, cooking, cleaning, and keeping the kids alive are not the only things we have to take care of in our role as homemakers.
For most of us, running the house also means developing and keeping to a strict budget (unless that is a task your partner handles or the two of you handle together). We’re also responsible for the social calendar–my least favorite part of being a homemaker. Well let me be clear, I don’t mind running the schedule, I’m just very introverted, so I don’t usually like doing the social-calendar things. Plus, I’m really bad at remembering certain things. Birthdays, for instance.
Anyway, the Home Management Guide (HMG) is where I turn for solutions to these problems. First up: Finances.
Finances have been a source of stress and shame for me for most of my adult life. Both bipolar disorder and…well…poverty have kept me from having much consistency in the area of finances. The only thing that works for me is a visual log to track the things I’m doing well, the things I’m staying on top of. It’s motivation to keep going, to keep paying down debts and keep paying bills on time.
I sincerely hope you do not have the same issues, but I know money is a universal struggle and only gets harder as wages stagnate and inflation increases. So, here’s a peek into how I organize my finances.
The Finance Section of my HMG covers three pages.
- Basic Income to Bill Accounting
- Fixed Monthly Expenses
- Debts (and Unexpected Expenses)]
Sorry for the poor quality pictures. My camera isn’t great.
Income and Bill Accounting
This page is simple enough. Every year, I start with a new page like this. Each month has a line for expected income (bimonthly plus any months that might have that bonus paycheck or tax refund). The next column is the total amount of money paid out that month including both expected and unexpected bills with the final column showing the difference.
The final column is where it’s at.
That’s where I get to see my progress. If I’m consistently overspending, obviously adjustments must be made, but occasionally there are a few months where I have over budgeted and I get to choose where to redirect that money. Those are pretty exciting months.
This is the typical way of budgeting: I write down the expected expenses for the month, what they cost, when they are due and then I number the small columns to the right 1-12. Each month when the bill is paid, I mark them. Simple enough.
I know this isn’t a revolutionary idea, but I cannot express how much it helps me to know that every week, I come to the same place in my notebook and see what I have paid, what is behind, etc.
I feel sincerely afraid of having outstanding bills that I am unaware of floating out there in the universe to clobber me when I least expect and throw off the goals my family has set. This paper, though hard to confront at times, is the best way to avoid the unnamed horrors of anxiety in the finance department.
Now for the fun stuff…
Birthdays and More
I promise, HMGs aren’t all bills and chores. There’s so much more to life.
This is also a tremendous resource for keeping track of those things that can slip through the cracks like birthdays of extended family members, addresses for correspondences, and passwords!
I love birthdays. I think the idea of a day that is all about you, just one day a year that you don’t have to feel ashamed for asking for the things you want or just doing what you want without apology is beautiful. I will admit, however, that I am terrible at remembering anyone’s birthday if they don’t live in my house. It makes me feel like a terrible person, so I was really excited to get this page done.
I chose this format just because it’s easy to add on to each month each birthday I inevitably forgot. Plus it’s fun.
A last little note for a page I can’t show (for obvious reasons), make a password page. It doesn’t need to be complicated or cute, but as internet security becomes increasingly difficult to ensure you need different passwords for each site you interact with. For the average person that is 90 accounts! There is no way you can remember even half that number of usernames and passwords and getting locked out of your online payment option for a utility is not only annoying, but can cause delays in payments.
My list is simple.
- Date Last Changed
It may seem counter-intuitive to keep a list on hand of your most private information. However, it’s good to remember that your average house thief (if you should ever have the misfortune of being a victim of a break in) is looking for things that can be pawned, things that have cash value. Your HMG isn’t going to be one of those things. Also remember that a hacker online getting access to just one account that shares a username or password with another of your accounts can empty your life-savings, steal your identity, change your address on file and change your life for a decade or more.
It happened to me.
In this case, paper is safer.
If it worries your too much to keep it in the HMG, you could also put it in a safe if you have on in your home, though I would caution that fire boxes and small safes are not only easily stolen, but often sought by burglars.
I will be adding more tips on organization that can go in your HMG, but you will find those on the Organization page.
I hope this has been helpful!
Next up: Holiday stuff. Hopefully with good pictures.