organising-household-finances

So far during Budget Month we’ve been mainly chatting about ways to make your house a home on a budget. What we haven’t talked about is how to organise the money itself.

Now, this is a bit of a sticky topic, so take this post in a ‘here’s what works for us’ way rather than ‘here’s what everyone should do’.

Bank accounts

The Man and I manage our money in the following accounts:

  • Transaction account: This is where all our income goes and from where we transfer money to other accounts and pay for all our everyday expenses using a debit card. 
  • Billing account: After each payday we transfer enough funds to cover all our bills for that period, including the house payment, insurance and utilities. (All online, no debit/credit card.)
  • Savings account: For short-term, long-term and ongoing savings goals (more on that below). (Ours is actually offset on our mortgage but a separate online account will do the trick too.)

If you’re not into micromanaging (we are – ha!), I reckon simply setting up billing and savings accounts with automatic transfers is the one thing you can do that will make a big difference. It’s a weight off knowing that our bills (including those pesky big ones such as annual car insurance) are always covered and you’re working towards savings goals without having to think about it.

Savings funds

For some people a single savings fund is sufficient, but we like to break it down into smaller funds (see comment above re: micromanaging).

We have these ongoing savings funds:

  • Emergency fund: Currently for things like busted appliances and unexpected major car repairs but ideally it would be large enough to cover more serious emergencies such as a medical crisis or job layoff. 
  • Christmas fund: We put aside a very small amount each week but by year’s end it will help with the costs of gifts and family occasions.
  • Domestic travel fund: For weekend getaways and interstate holidays (usually a couple a year).
  • Overseas travel fund: For big trips such as our US/Europe adventure last summer. Currently saving for New Zealand this spring and Hawaii next year – woot!!
  • Car fund: We’ve actually just got a new car leased through The Man’s employment but neither of us ever had a car loan for our previous cars.
  • House fund: For furniture and home improvement projects that aren’t covered by our regular decorating and maintenance budget.
  • General fund: For purchases that are bigger than the regular budget, but aren’t big enough to justify their own fund (such as replacing my dying GHD).

At any given time we also have a handful of specific goals we’re saving for, some short-term (hello, bathroom renovation) and some longer term (dream house… sigh!).

Again, what you choose to save for and how specific you want to get is up to your own goals, but at the very least I would suggest an emergency fund plus a separate general savings account for things like holidays and furniture.

Budgeting

The dreaded B-word! Not sexy, I know, but still important.

To manage our budget we use:

  • Xero: Online budgeting software. 
  • Evernote: A paperless way to keep track of receipts for cash transactions and tax deductions.

I admit we fell off the budgeting bandwagon after completely losing patience with our previous system (Quicken). But since we started up again with Xero (which I was already using for my business finances and loving) we’ve been much more in control. It’s not necessarily about spending any less, it’s more about knowing whether we can/can’t make a purchase rather than totally guessing.

We used to have uber specific categories in our budget which made things way more complicated and time consuming than it needed to be. We’ve now done away with all the subcategories which has streamlined the process a lot.

95% of the transactions we do are electronic, which makes it a lot easier to keep track of than using cash. Especially since I am so hopeless at processing receipts and jotting down cash purchases. So by no means am I perfect but overall we have figured out a pretty good system that works for us.

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So there you have it. That’s our method of keeping the wolf from the door.

What are your best budget tips or burning questions? Share in the comments!

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This post is sponsored by Target.

handbag before

Um, yes, so this attractive display is my seen-better-days handbag and its contents in all their glory.

It was a bit of a lucky dip. You might find ten pens/lipsticks/hairties or you might find none! Plus tissues (used? unused? can’t tell), earrings, loose change, shopping lists on scraps of paper, receipts from a year ago…

Yikes, no wonder I couldn’t find anything in there.

I had been wanting to replace a couple of my existing handbags – including the one above – because they were totally worn out (it doesn’t look that bad in the pic but trust me, it was looking very daggy in the flesh leather vinyl).

handbag organiser

What I didn’t want was for it to end up in the same mess, so I went and picked up a nifty handbag organiser from the storage department at Target. I also picked out this gorgeous red handbag (totally loving their range of women’s accessories that are on sale right now).

It’s a bit hard to see inside the depths of the black organiser, so here’s what’s in there now:

handbag contents

A few changes I made to keep things neat:

  • I switched the loose tissues for a packet (no more scrunched-up questionable looking new tissues).
  • I use a notebook to list errands to run / things to buy and tear out the page when I’m done (paper scraps be gone!).
  • I’ve since started using this so I only need to carry a tiny stash of emergency lady things (can’t believe I’m sharing this on the internet).
  • I’ve been better about taking out receipts (and either discarding them or saving a photo of it to Evernote).

Apart from keeping everything compartmentalised, the other obvious benefit is being able to simply plonk the insert into another handbag. Because I am way too lazy to transfer all of my daily essentials between bags for the sake of fashion.

handbag after

The bag itself is super roomy; I’ve even thrown my camera in there when I didn’t want to take my whole camera bag. Plus I’ve had heaps of compliments on it which is a bonus!

What are your tips for an organised handbag?

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desk corner and chair

When I told you about our sexy new office chair, I was asked by a reader whether it was easy to clean. I couldn’t answer that at the time having only just bought it, so here I am reporting back.

It did get quite grubby but thankfully it was quite easy to clean. Even easier for me because The Man kindly volunteered got so annoyed by my slackness that he did it for me. His method was to wipe over with a wet cloth, wipe off excess water with a dry cloth and allow to air dry, before applying a leather conditioner (according to packet instructions).

The good news is that it didn’t just clean it, it’s actually prevented it from getting quite so easily dirty.

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Pantry with drawers
Shelf Genie via Organizing Made Fun

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come home from the shopping with another bottle of soy sauce or packet of cashews because I forgot about the spare one I already had in the depths of the pantry. Sadly I can’t fit this kind of setup in my pantry in an awkward corner base cabinet, but if you have a full-length pantry I reckon you’ll love these retrofitted drawers to solve all your forgotten food woes.

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Paint chips before

Do you come back from the hardware store with fistfuls of colour chips every time you embark on a new painting project, even though you know you’ve probably got half of them at home already? By any chance does it have something to do with the fact that they’re all in a big jumbled mess like mine were?

Paint chips after

I grabbed some hinged rings and a hole punch and ten minutes later, voila! Paint chips all sorted into their colours and brands so next time it will be easier to flip through to select. Bonus points

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Flat Christmas tree
All the Luck in the World

If you have limited space at home – or are just after a really unique Christmas tree – have you thought about a flat tree?

Flat Christmas tree Flat Christmas tree
I Need Nice Things | Jennyshus

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Entertaining supplies closet
BHG

As we gear up to Christmas – and summer here too – chances are you’re doing more entertaining at home.

If you’re like me, you have your platters piled up precariously in a kitchen cupboard, your spare glasses in your office closet, your tablecloths in the upstairs linen closet and your table decorations in the living room cabinet. Having party supplies scattered all over the house is unsurprisingly not the most efficient or relaxing way to set up for a party. Unfortunately, however, we don’t really have any other options due to lack of space.

If you have the room though, consider setting up a party supplies closet so you have everything on hand to set up in record time with minimum stress. Don’t have room to dedicate a whole armoire or sideboard to the task? Even repurposing a spare laundry shelf or underutilised kitchen cupboard would do the trick.

I’d love to know: how do you store your entertaining accessories?

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Upholstery chart

There’s nothing I hate more than being half-way through a project and running out of materials and having to run to the shops (or worse, order again online and wait for weeks). So instead I’ll buy way more materials than I need, which leaves me with craft boxes full of leftovers and a lighter wallet.

Thanks to this handy chart from Little Green Notebook, you can instantly calculate your fabric yardage required for your next upholstery project. (Use this tool to convert to metres.)

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If you love the look of gallery walls but are worried that it will look like a dog’s breakfast rather than a considered arrangement, try one of these foolproof layouts.

Update: I do my best to credit sources but unfortunately I got this one wrong and the original creator has asked me to remove their image. For other inspiration, you might like to search for ‘Gallery walls’ on Pinterest.

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Martha Stewart button organiser
Martha Stewart

Grab a business card holder from your local office supplies store and use it to organise your spare buttons and thread. Is that clever or what?

A collection of pretty meets practical ideas to inspire a happier home

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