logo - Join me in the 1900s mid C20th
The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as an older child

Monthly expenditures for a working class
British family in the mid 1900s

YOU ARE HERE: home > more

My father's household account book for the then years of 1953-1962 gives a detailed record of how a typical working class family of a father, mother and one child spent their money in the middle years of the 20th century. It thus provides a unique window into the the cost of living at the time and rates of inflation.

The accounts are presented under key categories, as annual expenditure and as monthly expenditure, and are of course in the old £-s-d (pound-shilling-and pence system). This page is about monthly expenditures.

to top of page

Monthly accounts for 1953

The earliest surviving full set of my father's monthly accounts are for 1953. They are shown below as three images of four months each. There are also monthly accounts up to all the years until 1962, but being later they are probably of less interest.

Monthly expenditure for a British family of three January-April 1953, thumbnail

Expenditure January - April 1953.

Click for a larger version in a new window.

Monthly expenditure for a British family of three May August 1953, thumbnail, thumbnail

Expenditure May - August 1953.

Click for a larger version in a new window.

Monthly expenditure for a British family of three September-December 1953, thumbnail

Expenditure September - December 1953.

Click for a larger version in a new window.

to top of page

Making sense of the accounts

My father was a trained accountant who must have kept his accounts in the accepted fashion, with four columns for every month, except January, headed:

Although I can understand the general meaning of these headings, as I am not a trained accountant, I can't really understand how the amounts worked. However, the first category of the mortgage repayments on our house (to 'Abbey Road') look reasonably straightforward:

My father seems to have been working towards balancing the books at the end of the year. So there was nothing to bring forward into January. The amount due in January was £4 and this was paid. By February that £4 had 'accrued', ie built up, into the yearly outgoings, but another £4 was due for the current month and was paid, making £8 the total paid for the year. This continued month by month so that the accrued outgoings by the end of December were 12 x £4, ie £48.

However, I leave it to better brains than mine to work out the significance of the amounts in the other categories. Yet I honestly believe that if they would do so, my father's accounts would provide a significant contribution to our understanding of the cost of living and the rate of inflation in the 1950s.

to top of page

facebook icon twitter icon

This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.