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  • Barbara Sbraccia

What does a House Manager do?

What does a House Manager do? In short, everything you do on a daily basis. As head of household or member of the household, your role in supporting the running of your family and home is significant. Starting by getting the children off to school, (or getting them to their desks as this crazy time in our lives), shopping for groceries, laundry and/or dry cleaning, scheduling maintenance and repairs around the home or for the vehicles, and finishing by making sure everyone is where they need to be and has what they need are only a few select items on a household manager’s to-do list.


The month of January can be a little bit of a respite after a hectic holiday season. For me, it is one of the busiest times of the year. Although I don’t have to go out and mow the lawn, or tend to the garden, I do have to organize our life for the next year. I have to plan scheduled maintenance of our home, review our plan for capital improvements, organize cabinets and rooms, but most importantly I have to review our finances. I have to make a list of expected expenditures for the year. How much will we need for a vacation, gift-giving, donations, car repairs/maintenance, groceries, or gas? I can’t forget to include standard bills such as cell phone, utilities, insurance for the cars as well as our home, and to add to the emergency fund and our family savings.


I begin this process by using a whiteboard. You can use whatever you would like, whether it be a word document or a sheet of paper, as long as you make a list. I write down all the things I expect to spend money on other than standard household expenses. How much is vacation going to cost? We want to build a new patio this year. We need some tree work done in the backyard. That’s just the start, here at Overlook Cottage, the list goes on and on and on.


Once I make my list, I try to give every item a monetary value. Then I need to determine how we will need to save for all this. There are some things that can be moved to the following year, and then there are some things that cannot wait. In the future, we will discuss one-year/three-year/five-year/ and ten-year plans. This way you can also save for long-term goals. But for now, while we are getting started, we are just concentrating on this year.


The next step is to determine when you will need the money and how much you will need. If you take a spring vacation and you know you spend about $5000, you have to save that money pretty quick if haven’t already started to do so. Now we need to do a few calculations. If you need $5000 by April 1, then that gives you 3 months to save that money. You will need to save $1666 each month. Now add to that the new hot water heater that needs to be replaced this summer which will cost around $2000. That gives you 6 months to save $333 a month. Now write down the amounts needed to be saved each month and the total for each month so you can get a visual of what your finances look like. The first question will be “Can I afford this?” If not, revamp your spending plan, take some things out, or move them to the following year.


However, make sure you are always working on saving for your emergency fund. A good goal is to have one year of expenses saved just in case something goes wrong. Start by putting a $1000 away and try adding to it weekly or monthly. The most important thing you can do is to put yourself on a payment schedule to build that emergency fund. It may take a few years, but be consistent and it will surprise you how fast you get to your goal.


Good luck with your homework. I look forward to hearing from you with questions or comments.

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