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Accounting for a Better Life  - Gain Control of Domestic FinancesAccounting for a Better Life - Gain Control of Domestic Finances

John M Passmore

  • Self Help
  • Business

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Why I wrote this book

It’s all a question of Responsibility - Take Control of Personal Finances by Accounting for It! I am passionate about the value of utilising accounting for the management and control of personal finances.

Called a zealot by some, I have found after a lifetime of experience that the only way to save money productively is by gaining control of it and managing it properly.  That means accounting for it!

Yes, I know that the word accounting strikes a note of fear in most people but this needn’t be so.  As a communications and software engineer and looking to a career change in the late 60’s, I undertook a correspondence course which included business accounting. Much later, when I decided to start to get control of my home and personal finances and having never needed to undertake business accounting, I thought I would attempt my own accounting.

As accounting was the only (and legally required) way for business to manage its finances, I thought from my limited knowledge that there must be something in it and decided to have a go at ‘doing’ my accounts the business way.  In fact it wasn’t really very successful to start with but I soon realised the reasons why.  It was all a question of the wrong focus and the practicalities weren’t very easy in terms of understanding and remembering the terminology and trying to remember whether to add, or was it to subtract some value; and to which side of the accounts was it anyway!

You soon realise that accounting has two aspects – bookkeeping and the results.  Bookkeeping is all about organising the accounts to match the situation and periodically, entering all the basic data upon which the accounts results will be based.  The results are the important bit which again, should be tailored to the situation and be presented in a way that is meaningful and can be used effectively to achieve whatever the purpose might be; for me, this was to be able to effectively manage and control my household finances.
Always wanting to make things as easy as possible for myself, I decided on the practical side, to find ways to make it easy to understand what was going on behind the scenes in accounting.  With this, I was able to tailor the individual accounts I needed, together with a new, simple naming convention that I related to a domestic version of what is known as the accounting equation.  With this, bookkeeping and data entry became a breeze because it was always obvious where the additions and subtractions were needed.

For the accounting results, the key was to find a new focus that was directly related to a ‘purpose’ in domestic life.  Similar to the way that the focus of the business accounting reports has evolved to be directly related to everything needed to maximize company wealth and shareholders value where the emphasis is on profits, productivity and effective resource utilisation, I needed a driving force for domestic life that could be easily modelled in my accounts.

This new focus I called Domestic Well-Being (DWB) which can be represented by a structure.  This structure is used as a basis for the definition of the individual accounts needed, as well as a way to categorise the transactions characterising day-to-day domestic life.  Similarly, this same structure is used as the framework or basis for the new, main report that replaces the typical business Trading and Profit & Loss accounts.

The new Domestic Well-Being Statement (DWBS) provides the crucial visibility on the financial state of affairs of a household that makes analysis easy in order to determine if, where and by how much any change is required.  Any such change would be necessary in order to maximize DWB.

Maximizing Domestic Well-Being is all about ensuring the best possible balance or proportions of the out-goings or decreases, compared to the income or increases over any particular period.  The specifics of the components of this balance are something that gradually changes over a lifetime.  This is because as income increases the priorities leading to the decreases changes, with different emphasis such as living together, new jobs, a young family, education, mid-life consolidation, retirement and finally, the declining years.

Well-Being is also about a best possible balance in terms of the basics of living – food, a home, clothing, utilities, as well as the discretionary decreases such as on hobbies, entertainment, holidays and very importantly, earliest possible and continuing provision for the future.

From the fantastic visibility achieved on the current state of financial affairs and the degree of balance being achieved, it becomes easy to turn any needed changes for a better balance into amounts required in a budget for the forthcoming period.  Any deviations from these ear-marked changes can be signalled with warnings provided automatically by the accounting system as the bookkeeping proceeds in the forthcoming period.

By using so-called double entry accounting, a complete and continuous record of family finances can easily be accumulated, thus facilitating simple comparison over time to see both how well things have progressed and as a foundation for determining where further change might be appropriate.

The combination of a new structure for recording transactions in a set of tailored accounts together with corresponding new reports can be considered as a new accounting model for home and personal, or domestic accounting.  The DWB Accounting model can be implemented on a home PC using off-the-shelf accounting software packages such as Microsoft Money and Personal Accountz.  These two products are examples of general purpose accounting packages which allow users to define the accounts and reports they need and can thus be used to implement different accounting models.  They have fundamentally different approaches in their implementation utilising so-called categorisation and nominal accounts to achieve the required results; these are further explained on my website at .

In these turbulent times in the UK of credit crunch, mortgage crisis and increasing fuel and food prices, the importance of financial management and control of personal finances assumes ever greater relevance.  In a recent AXA survey in relation to ‘ Families planning spending cuts’, it was stated that ‘One of the biggest issues, however, is that many seemingly well-off households lack the motivation to tackle their problems’.

There is no doubt that doing accounting demands a sense of responsibility and some motivation but it is really now not all that difficult!

Maybe with this financial turmoil it is time to investigate and learn more about it. Domestic Well-Being Accounting is described at and the book 'Accounting for a Better Life' tells people all about how to get going on a path that provides the potential to have a very important effect on making the very best of all the financial circumstances affecting their lifetimes.


This thought-provoking book is addressed at private individuals as the main end-users; but also at professionals in finance, accountancy, education and citizen’s affairs.

It is an essential guide to managing home, personal and domestic finances in a simplified and fun way, based on a new focus of so-called, Domestic Well-Being. Relevant terminology and the introduction of new naming conventions ensure that home accounting has never been easier to understand and implement. Finances can be controlled, debt managed and savings made, all with a view to maximizing lifetime, Domestic Well-Being (DWB).

When the author started his own domestic accounting, he tried to adapt business accounting methods, using an off-the-shelf package, where his whole focus was on profit, shareholders’ value, purchases, sales, expenses, etc. – hardly relevant to the domestic scenario – so, he decided to find new ways to solve the problems he had encountered ...

With severe personal debt in the UK on the verge of crisis, this new approach, almost in passing, also provides the visibility on the state of a family's finances required to provide warnings of potential difficulties to avoid and survive the debt trap.

This authoritative work is not just another book on accounting.


"[An] authoritative book, written with rigor and thoroughness..." Online blog

Nichola Ross Martin FCA BA(Hons),
Editor, AccountingWEB: "It is more than 'yet another' book on accounting, it may be a life changer."

About the Author

John M Passmore

Born into an RAF family in Hucknall in 1940, John Passmore spent 4 years at St Columba's school in New Delhi, India, followed by three years as a boarder at Reading School. Changing allegiance, John spent two years at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and then served in the Royal Corps of Signals. He read Mechanical Sciences, for an MA, at St John's College, Cambridge and obtained an MSc from the University of Birmingham, for research on computer simulation of road traffic networks.

He married Jane whom he met during a tour in Singapore. Following a career change into the software world at NATO, the family moved to Belgium for the next 30 years where John was a software engineer at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) near Mons. Their twins Guy and Melissa have now flown the nest.

John and Jane are now retired near Christchurch in Dorset where travel and his first book has occupied much of the time, whilst Jane is very busy with her reflexology and art. John found a trip to Antarctica a wonderful and moving experience which might explain the blue and white theme of both the book cover and his associated web site!

Book info

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362 pages


John M Passmore



Publication date

15th August 2007

Author's Website