How to Run Your Household Like a Business

Have you ever thought of your household as a business?  Many people work for or run very successful businesses, but when it comes to their own finances or running their household, they are at a complete loss.

If you think about the aspects of running an organized and successful business, you will realize that many of the same aspects could be applied in your home.

To run a successful business you need organized records, a filing system, best practices or systems to keep things running smoothly, a budget with income and expenses, a person in charge of the finances, and meetings to determine the status of the business, both financially and as a whole.

You should be applying these same principles in your house as well.

How to Run Your Household Like a Business


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What is your money management style?  Do you and your spouse manage the finances together or do one of you take care of it and the other is left “not to worry”?

My advice is to get on board together about being more organized and running your household as a business and then picking someone to be in charge (think CEO or CFO!).  This may be the person more interested in finances and organization or it may default to the person staying home all day and managing kids and other household tasks.

Below are the key items you need to implement to successfully run your household like a business.

Start keeping records and organize your files.

Do you rely on yourself or your spouse to just remember where all the important “stuff” is when it comes to records and files?  That is all fine in the beginning when it is easy, but eventually things become more complicated.

If you buy a house or add more people to your family, the amount of stuff you need to remember or keep records on grows and your brain’s ability to remember everything diminishes (sound familiar?).

Keeping accurate and organized records is not only just plain responsible, but it makes it easy come tax time, when you need to pay bills, or if you need to access important information regarding one of your family members.

The first step is to create an organized filing system.  You can purchase a filing cabinet or just use folders and some bins on your desk, whatever works for now.  Label each file or folder with categories such as Tax Items, Personal Documents, House Records, Medical Records, etc.

For more important and/or irreplaceable items, I highly suggest investing in a fire-proof box.

The next step is to find all the paper in your house and go through it.  This will be a daunting task, but will feel amazing in the end.  I promise.

Sort all that paper into the categories that you created for your filing system and add categories as needed.

Here are the records you should be keeping surrounding your household and family:

  • Social security cards, birth certificates, passports
  • Marriage, baptismal, confirmation certificates
  • Wills or living wills, trust documents, powers of attorney, medical directives
  • Car titles
  • Deed to your house
  • Life insurance policies
  • Other insurance policies (medical, car, home, etc)
  • Medical bills (unpaid and paid for the past year)
  • Receipts or summaries of repairs done to your car and house
  • Tax documents from the past 7 years
  • Investment portfolio documents
  • List of online accounts and passwords

You may have some other documents to add to the list, but this is a great starting point.  All other paper should either be thrown away or filed into another category.

Make sure your filing system is easily accessible so that it won’t be an inconvenience to maintain it.

Cover your family from any liabilities.

No one likes to think about bad things happening to them.  But everyone is going to experience hardship in their life.  Insurance in many forms is a must have for your family.

Medical Insurance

This is a no brainer.  Make sure you are covered by medical insurance through your employer or that you purchase medical insurance if you are self-employed.  You will pay a penalty come tax time if you do not have insurance.

Car Insurance

If you own a car, make sure you have, at the minimum, liability coverage in case you are the cause of an accident.  Shop around for quotes and ensure you are getting the cheapest, but also good quality coverage.

Home Insurance

If you own a home, many mortgage loans require that you obtain home insurance before closing.  This expense is often wrapped up in your mortgage payment through an escrow account.  Make sure you know exactly what is covered by your home insurance so that if something does happen to your home, you can get the proper service.

Life Insurance

Many people might not think they need life insurance because they don’t have a family or “nothing is going to happen to me for awhile”.  Life insurance is something that everyone should be considering, even if you do not contribute to the monetary income of your family at the moment.

Related: Life Insurance is a Necessary Expense in Your Budget

Estate Planning

As an adult, you most likely have some assets to your name and also some debts.  If something were to happen to you, the people you leave behind in your life need to know what happens to your property as well as what your wishes are as far as medical care and funeral arrangements.  And of course, if you have children and something were to happen to your spouse as well, arrangements would need to be made for them.

There are multiple documents that you should have drawn up either through an attorney or a service.  These could include, but are not limited to, a living will or trust, power of attorney, advanced medical directive, and a last will.

Other Coverage

There are a few other insurance measures you should take in certain situations.  If you are renting, make sure you have renters insurance.  It is extremely important and also has a few nice coverage benefits.

While homeowners insurance covers most items in your home, for extremely valuable items, it is best to purchase valuable personal property insurance.  The most common reason to purchase this is for valuable jewelry.

Set a budget.

Any good business has a balanced budget.  If you find yourself in charge of the finances either by choice or my default, your goal should be to create and manage a successful budget for your family.  If you are married, this should not be done solely by one person, but there will likely be one person in charge of the details.

If you have never managed a budget before, it will be hard at first.  You might not be successful at sticking to your budget the first few months and you may feel like you are restricting yourself.  Give yourself and your family a few months to adjust.

A budget is only there to help your family and in the end, it should help you free up money to use toward your family’s financial goals.

You can learn how to create a budget using my free workbook by signing up below.

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For other budgeting help, check out these resources:

How to Track and Manage Your Budget

How to Plan Your Monthly Budget

Why I Create a Monthly Budget Every Month

Keep an expense list and create systems to keep these expenses down.

Every good business knows their expenses and how much they will cost.  Part of creating a budget is listing out all of the expenses for your family and household.

Once you have a good handle on what your are spending money on, whether it is a mandatory or discretionary expense, you can work on lowering your expenses.

Keeping track of the best prices for the items you buy for the household is a perfect first step.  It is as easy as keeping a little notebook or a spreadsheet list of each item, its price, when the item was last purchased, and where you bought the item at that price.  If you find a store with a better price, you can easily compare and update your list.

Keeping a price list (or an inventory) will not only help you know when you have found a good deal on an item, it will also help you plan better each month for what you need to purchase for your house.

The best place to start keeping track of prices is your grocery list.  Your grocery budget will include many of the household items that you need to buy such as toilet paper, sponges, lightbulbs, batteries, etc.  This is also the category where many families have trouble spending too much money.

To combat going over budget for groceries I suggest creating a few systems involving an inventory list of your freezer, pantry, and fridge, as well as a meal plan, and a perpetual grocery list.

Related: How to Grocery Shop on a Budget, 14 Ways to Save up to $33,000 this Year

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Another way you can help manage the household like a business is to create systems for getting everyday tasks completed.

Create time blocks to complete chores, cook meals, run errands, etc.  Come up with a routine or schedule that works for you and stick to it as best you can each week.

Plan budget meetings.

In order for your household to run smoothly, everyone needs to be on board financially.  Plan to hold monthly budget meetings with your spouse and consider including your children in at least part of the meeting.  This will help them grow up understanding the right way to communicate about and manage money.

If your spouse is not on board right away, hold budget meetings anyway and invite him each time.  I do not recommend trying to force him to be involved, I would just lead by example and he should be able to see the benefits of the planning and hard work and want to be involved.

In your planning meeting you should discuss last month’s budget and how well you stuck to your budget.  Discuss any areas of difficulty for spending, what went well, and how successful any new systems or practices were.  You should also create financial goals with your family and discuss your progress at each meeting.

Always make sure you own up to any mistakes or deviations from the plan as communication and transparency are key to being successful.

Consider adding some fun elements, especially if you involve your kids, by creating a visual representation of any goals your family has, celebrating wins in small ways, and holding the meeting in a bright and relaxing environment.

Assume the role of CEO of your “business” and be practical and objective.

If you are going to run your household like a business, you are going to need to remove emotion from the equation and be objective about your money.  The most important things are to be consistent, organized, and practical.

Take on the role of CEO and adopt a mindset that allows you to make the tough, but necessary decisions.

Not only will your family be able to benefit in the future, but you will feel less stressed and more organized when it comes to the day to day management of your household.

If you (and lets be honest, if you are reading this, it is probably you) are going to have to figure out how to manage finances, the house, and kids all together, you might as well get to call it your official job and give yourself a nice and important title to go along with it.

It can be hard adjusting to new responsibilities, especially if you are staying home with your kids too.  Suddenly, it can feel like all the tasks and responsibilities you once shared with your spouse are now yours and yours alone.  And anyone with kids knows how difficult it is to get things done when they are around.  It can be easy to just let things spiral into chaos and call it a day.  Do your best to organize your days to work for you and to take care of your family.  Whether you want to admit it or not, your business is now your house and family, so you might as well start treating it as one.

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