UK Parenting, Lifestyle & Beauty Blog. Mum to Darcy

Friday, 27 April 2018

3 Bookkeeping Tips to Help Mums Save Money


Let’s be honest, raising kids is expensive. The spend starts well before birth and never really ends. Whether mums go back to work or not, family budgets are squeezed a lot tighter, so knowing (and using) a few useful ways to track spending and save money makes life a lot less stressful.

A Simple System

Simple is always best, and as bookkeeping has a ‘businessy’ sound to it, many mums don’t think it can be any real help, or that it will be complicated and time consuming.

To set up an easy bookkeeping system you can use a notebook, Excel on the computer, or a combination of both.

In a notebook, you’ll need four columns on the page: one for the date, one for what you bought, one for how much it was, and one to record the difference it made in your bank balance. Just draw three lines down the page and head each column in the order given, so the date is on the left and the bank balance on the far right.


Start entering numbers by putting your current bank balance at the top of that column (use your bank statement or you online banking app). From now on, every time you buy something, jot down what it was, what it cost and when you bought it. Subtract the amount from your bank balance, and put the new balance in the row with the purchase.

Start a new page every month (or every week if you buy a lot and your pages are small) and always begin by putting your current bank balance in the top right column. Don’t forget to subtract standing orders or direct debits to keep the balance accurate.

If you keep an Excel spreadsheet, set it up exactly the same way. The advantage of using a computer is that you can make columns automatically add up.

Saving Receipts Can Help

Try and get into the habit of carrying your notebook all the time. A small one takes up hardly any space in your bag and it only takes a moment to jot down what you bought and how much.

Sometimes, though, you don’t have time to stop and write in a book. Receipts are your lifesaver. Hang on to them (and ask for one if it’s not offered when you buy something), and fill in the details once you get home and do have a moment.

Unless you’re keeping receipts for a business, you can bin them once the information is transferred into your bookkeeping records.

Family bookkeeping is a lot different from business bookkeeping in this respect. For a business, you do need to keep all your receipts, and may find an accountant or professional bookkeeper helpful in setting up a system that’s more suited to business needs. An accountant would also have valuable advice if your family finances are more complicated, for instance if you have investment income. But for purely family budgeting, you can safely throw away your old receipts (except when they’re for warranties or you might need to return an item).

Making Use of Your Records

Saving money is a lot easier when you can see where you spent it. Maybe your restaurant or cafe bill is way bigger than you thought (one cup of coffee in a fairly basic cafe can run up a bill of around £40 a month), or top-up grocery shopping is costing as much as the usual ‘big’ shop does.

Having a written record of everything you spend money on lets you pick a category (say days out or coffee with friends) and just add up the cost of those items. You can quickly figure out how much you could save if you did things differently, and also how much you’re willing to change habits so you can meet savings or other financial goals.


Once you get the habit of tracking money, it can even be fun and rewarding. If you have older kids who get pocket money, teaching them how to track what they spend it on will also set them up for good money management and budgeting skills in the future.


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