trEAsury ~ simplifying money matters

As autumn is underway now and my world of paid work is but a distant memory I still feel I haven’t settled into any worthwhile routines or daily rhythms.  I suppose they take time to shape and develop, so I am going to give them a bit of a nudge and create some that are a bit more in step with my life now and reflect the simplified life I want to achieve.

You may have noticed over the years that I am hopeless at routines – evidenced by my erratic posts – I plan to do things then get absorbed in something else.

I did have a really good ‘getting to work’ routine – well I did have 19 years of practice – but I don’t need that now (the work routine not the practice of course).  In fact I could be tempted to sneak back to bed in the mornings – but I don’t.   Honest.

Since stopping work I find my mornings are spent doing a bit of this and that, checking emails, reading blog posts, tidying, ironing – but nothing consistent or that could be considered a routine.  I tend to agree with the idea that a good morning routine is the foundation of any successful day as well as starting early – unfortunately, I am no morning person either – so that will be challenging too.

One of the daily routines I am going to tag onto my morning routine, such as it is, will be a daily financial check so that I can keep a close eye on our spending.  As the effects of being on a limited income are now being felt I can vouch for the fact that a single *state pension alone does not go very far and the monthly bills soon eat their way into the bulk of it.  I need to take action so we don’t overspend and start drawing on our retirement fund.  I don’t intend to dip into that unless it is absolutely vital.

I read somewhere that you should take time each day to actively manage your wealth and set aside a further 30 minutes to an hour every week to review your budget and handle the associated paperwork mountain – statements, bills, insurance and utilities.  Now I have the time each day I plan to adopt this daily and weekly routine to help me to keep on track and highlight any areas I think we may be overspending.

I am also determined to simplify the process, it seems to take far too long and perhaps one of the reasons why I often put off doing it or just can’t find the time to sit down and do it.  And so it all builds up and then takes a long time to sort out.  I think little and often would be much better – it is worth a try – so during October this will be one of my main goals.

So, starting today, and first thing every morning I will get into the habit of overviewing my finances for ten minutes, noting the amount of cash at the start of the day and recording the previous day’s receipts and spending.  Each week I will then balance statements, pay bills and check the bank balances.

Well that is the plan and by starting small I might even succeed.  I must admit I quite like a financial challenge – in my teen years I was always good at managing my pocket-money and setting aside enough each week to buy all my relatives a present for Christmas – usually from the Co-op in the village where each year they had a wonderful display of bath salts and embroidered hankies – you know the kind of thing.

I must admit the stack of paperwork on my desk at home waiting for my return is a bit daunting almost as high as my ironing pile was a few weeks ago. I have been very inattentive to our finances since leaving work other than keeping in mind that I shouldn’t be spending as much as I was…on anything.  I should have set up a new budget by now more in keeping with our new income but confess I just haven’t got round to it.

After banging on the calculator for a few hours, adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying the *state pension I decided is not going to go very far (no overtime available and not much chance of a pay rise!), and annoyingly paid every 4 weeks on a different day each month, so my conclusion is we need to conserve money where we can and be vigilant at recording and monitoring our spending and challenge ourselves to plenty of ‘no spend days’.

Today just happens to have been one of them.  We survived.

*I still can’t quite believe I am talking about a living on a pension (where did all those years go before this point).











10 Replies to “trEAsury ~ simplifying money matters”

  1. I try to be very strict about writing down all expenditures every few days, but I have to admit that it doesn’t stop me spending money or overspending in some areas. I need to be a bit more disciplined in this regard. Overall, however, it is good for keeping me in the black and living within my means, even allowing me to save money now, which is the most important thing I guess. Good luck getting to grips with your new budget. I’m sure that once you’ve done that, you feel much better and much more in control of your new finances.


  2. I do keep an almost daily track of finances. I designed a multiple worksheet, financial spreadsheet that that holds almost all our financial information in one place. This includes individual checkbook register worksheets of our bank accounts. The main checkbook used for expenses is set up for the entire 12 months of the year with known expenses of standard monthly, quarterly and certain annual bills entered, as well as the expected income for each month all entered by date due/expected. Anticipated bills with yet to be determined monthly amounts (e.g. credit cards, utilities, etc.) are also given a place in the registers–also by date due so none are missed. I regularly monitor credit cards online and enter those amounts in the check register over the course of the month until final bill is due to keep an eye on this spending. Gifts for family birthdays and Christmas spending also have a place in the register in the appropriate months, too. This way I can scan the whole year at one glance. Especially helpful when large, unanticipated expense like a car repair hit the books. It allows me a greater understanding of how daily or monthly expenditures might adversely impact our annual income/savings. Another individual worksheet within this larger spreadsheet contains detailed monthly spending (e.g. line items of each account) divided across the 4/5 weeks of each month by their due date. This gives me a visual look to ensure bills are paid on a timely basis and once paid, I then bold the figures in this worksheet. An annualized total of actual spending, by individual line item, may be found in the final column of this worksheet. This can be an eye opener when you see how much things like internet, mobiles, etc. cost you over the course of the year and is a good place to review expenses and decide on potential cuts. Won’t go into detail on the other worksheets (aren’t you glad?), except to say all I need to do is click from one to the other to get other needed financial info. I regularly back up the computer file to an external hard drive. I’ve been doing this for years and can go back and do a quick computer search these annual files for info on specific spending in those years. Much easier than trying to search out individual printed statements from various sources.

    As you can see, even in retirement, I am still drawing on my almost 30 years of managing financial details across multi-million dollar grants. Though, sadly, our balances are a minuscule amount of those figures–Ha! Sorry for the long comment! Hope it might be helpful to you.


    1. It is always useful to read about anyone’s systems there is always something you can take from it. I have a Microsoft Money program on the computer which I have been using since the year 2000 before that I entered everything manually into a double entry account book. The program can do endless reports so I can see exactly how much I spend in any category or subcategory in a day /week/month or year(s). But I am not keen on the budget part of this softwear so I have to use an excell spreadsheet to do what I think your worksheet does. The two unfortunately cannot be linked and so it is a bit of a bind. My other downfall is finding time to enter all the receipts into the program for our debit and credit card purchases so I can balance the statements which then feeds the reports. We have always had a current general account, a current bill only account and a current clothes account and DH had a small daily allowance account for when he was working. As our life is changing now I am looking to perhaps make some changes – 4 accounts is a lot to manage and I cannot feed in to them the amounts that I did when we both worked so they never ran low on funds.
      My whole system needs overhauling – the computer reporting is good and fast but it relies on the input of information from me and it is me that is slow and erratic!!
      I will certainly come back to your ideas in your comment and let you know how I get on. I agree that having a kind of ‘dashboard’ that tells you everything at a glance sounds very good. I would have to think how I can achieve this.
      Entering the receipts daily for me would be a good first step I think!


  3. Daily input would be good, and an immediate check on frittering behaviour ! Listening to minimalist podcasts and reading frugal blogs all helps. Four accounts seems a lot to manage. Can you opt to have the pension paid weekly?
    Any tips on budgeting would be most welcome.
    Perhaps I have missed this, but are you still renovating your Scottish home after the flood? Suggest a blog post updating on progress.


    1. Hi there and thank you for your comment. Not sure about having the pension weekly and not sure if it would help our circumstances if it were, as our bills are all monthly, usually by standing order on the same day. We used to be paid four weekly at work a long time ago but when we switched to monthly on the same day everyone said how much better it was for managing money. I wil just have to adjust back again. Though it does feel like a step backwards to me. After spending years in Legal Aid looking at applicants bank statements and financial affairs those on benefits (which are all two weekly or four weekly) did not manage their money well and after nineteen years in the job my conclusion was that in many cases it was not legal advice but financial advice that our clients needed!!
      I know I should have prepared better for the big change from having paid work to none but in the end other issues took all my time.
      Minimalist podcasts are my favourite – there are a couple I really like I will mention them in my next post. Not spending is the way to go I think. One of our biggest outlays now is the petrol – having my mum, my sister and one daughter who live about 90 miles away nearer to the east and the cottage 250 miles away on the west is difficult. Days out also cost money as we love going into Derbyshire and that can end up a 100 mile round trip. Our petrol was paid for when DH was working so a big saving for us at the time.
      I will be blogging my progress and will do an update on the actual cottage soon.
      I like the ‘an immediate check on the frittering behaviour’ that will now stick in my mind and hopefully keep me in check a bit more!!


  4. I’m a bit of a devide and rule person , so we have 6 current accounts, one is for bills, one each is a personal accounts, one is for hols , one is purely for food shopping, and one is for “ extras” such as Christmas and presents. It works for us, and it’s easy to keep track of things, the bills account is left alone as things are mainly by direct debit. This pays the monthly and one off / annual bills .I also have always kept an old fashioned “ exercise book “ to calculate all the bills . I try and keep track of daily spending in a notebook in my handbag


    1. Hi Susan – I would always keep a separate bill account if I didn’t do anything else. Like you it is mainly direct debit or standing orders and it has worked for us for over 30 years and I never have to worry about meeting a bill or an unexpected bill. When cash is limited though I am wondering if it makes sense to have too many accounts for us that is as the risk is one of them might overdraw if funds are too low.
      We managed 3 no spend days in a row then had to buy a tray of chips and a drink on the way home from Scotland. Not spending is definitely the answer to conserving money!


  5. Receiving the state pension every four weeks is annoying in a way but it does mean that once a year you get two payments in a month.
    I make the four weekly payment do for the following month so it really is an extra amount and, for me, will be coming up in (checking diary) January!
    J x


    1. It is how it used to be with our wages at work you get a 13th payment which is nice but I still prefer having it on the same day each month when the bills are paid monthly and if I wanted I could save the extra amount myself to give myself an extra payment! Ours will be December – I will probably put it into our bill account as a buffer for the coming year.


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