THE HOUSEHOLD EXPENSE BOOK.
Bookkeeping is the history of money in motion.
Money is valuable when it is in motion. When it is hidden away in a secret place, it is not fulfilling its prime function. Money in motion reaches its highest point of effi ciency when it works for a worthy object. Thus, money paid for rent, food, and cloth ing brings necessities to us and is active in the world of work that produces supplies.
Some students of household administra tion have devised what is called the house hold expense book. It is to be had in many forms, and all of them are, more or less, prac tical. The principal objects are two in num ber: (1) To introduce system in the handling of money.
(2) To keep clearly before the householder the channels through which his money must be paid to the active world about him.
To one who takes any degree of pride in handling his affairs wisely, there is some de gree of pleasure in making such a book, rather than buying it ready made. Any blank book, five by seven inches, with ledger ruling, is adaptable for this purpose. The left hand page should carry the list of all regular sup plies required monthly. The right hand page should be devoted to income. This will be a single item of entry, if income is received monthly; or it will be made up of four or five entries if it is received weekly.
The main object is so to manage affairs that the sum total of items on the left shall be less than the sum total on the right. The balance is the margin of safety. It will take the householder a year to bring such a book into complete working order, for while some items occur regularly, month by month, others are irregular; for example, physicians' bills; or infrequent though regular, like the win ter's supply of coal. The fundamental rule to follow in making up the list of expense units, is to admit none that is not absolutely essential. This rule should be followed by the other which requires that the account for the month shall be a true and exact history, not only of every dollar received, but of every cent.
This is not a useless burden of small care. Inasmuch as the money you earn is all you have to show for your labor, anything that concerns its wise administration is worth at tention. When you discover exactly what habits you have been cultivating for a long time, that occasion you to spend even a little now and then, you will be astonished and de lighted; astonished, because at first you will scarcely credit the truth of the matter; and delighted, because you will know where to begin to establish your independence.
Every family should be regarded as a busi ness and be placed on a business basis. At first thought there may seem to be a narrow restriction in this. As a matter of fact, it is the basis of prudence. Every family stands in a strict business relation with many people. The grocer may be your friend and neighbor, but as a grocer he is a man with whom you carry on business relations. This is made evi dent the moment a diagram is made showing the channels through which the average fam ily reaches the world outside of itself.
Every family must make its own list of expense channels. These are its relations as a business organization. It is through these channels that the distribution of income must be made. Every householder should make such an outline, and on the basis of its de mands apply the plan of Appropriation de scribed in Chapter III. On this plan, as a working basis, keep the family accounts. The savings bank book keeps its own account. Neither husband nor wife will fail to bene fit from the experience of accounting ac curately for the distribution of the personal allowance; if any portion of it is unexpended, or if there is a falling off of any regular ex pense, these sums may be set aside for an amusement fund for the pleasure of the fam ily as a whole. With such a plan in hand as a reward of responsibility, it is less likely that one will spend much money on amuse ments while regular business obligations (com monly called bills) are unpaid.