In the hectic schedule of most busy families, it’s easy to let budgeting and finances slip down the priorities list. Many people approach bookkeeping with dread, but getting the hang of a few basic principles can really help with family expenses.
Here are a few tips to help you stay on top of bookkeeping, and have the peace of mind to know you’re getting the most out of your money.
Keep Things as Simple as Possible
There is need to invest in expensive accounting in order to track the family budget, investments, savings or general income and outgoings.
Knowing the basics of what you need to record, then setting up your own simple system is all that’s needed:
Record all income
- Record all outgoings and expenses
- Keep your receipts and invoices (those coming in as well as those you send out)
That, at its most basic level, is the fundamental principle of bookkeeping. It helps with cash flow, budgeting, saving, and spending too, and is a useful exercise whether it’s for business purposes or just to keep track of personal finances.
If you’re good with Excel, set up your own spreadsheet and update it regularly with household expenses and income. If computer spreadsheets aren’t your thing, keep a simple income and expenditure note book.
Stay in Control of Expenses
Reconcile your bank statements against your notebook entries, to pick up on any discrepancies or take control of expenses that are no longer needed. Subscriptions or product insurances are a good example when they’re paid through direct debit. It’s not unknown for families to still be paying for insurance on products they no longer own. When you see the recurring expense each month, you’ll be reminded to cancel if you no longer need it.
Stay on Track with Internet Banking
If you don’t already, sign up for Internet banking. If you always have access to your finances via your phone and the Internet, there’s no reason for overspend because you always know how much is in your account.
Other benefits that come with online banking include:
- Easily move money between accounts.
- Check your balance and search your statements.
- Set up text alerts, for instance weekly balance checks.
- Manage direct debits or cancel payments.
- Access 24/7 support.
Set Aside Time for Family Bookkeeping
Unless your family finances are really complicated (in which case a good accountant will help save you money), family bookkeeping shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes each week.
Setting a small amount of time aside on a regular basis and getting on with the job is better than putting it off for months then facing a marathon session.
Keep your paperwork organised, having files or folders for paper bank statements, insurance documents, car documents, investments or savings accounts. Update the folder regularly as new items arrive or old ones become obsolete.
If you also run a small business from home, even if you just sell a few items through online auctions, keep track of the money separately from your household budgeting. If things start getting complicated or you really can’t keep up the discipline needed to keep records, consider hiring a bookkeeper for a few hours each month. Ask what sort of information they need, and then work out a system to streamline the work and keep costs down.
Keeping family finances under control needn’t be an impossible or time consuming task. By organising some simple bookkeeping tactics, you’ll always know where you stand with money.