The Art of Bookkeeping
I, like most quilters, purchase fabric for my current project then save whatever is remaining for a future creation. Occasionally, I will want to re-purchase more of the fabric for a second quilt or craft. I use to depend on my memory when it came to recalling where the fabric was purchased and who the manufacture was, but that was sketchy at best. So I turned to something that I love doing and I am quite good at: Bookkeeping.
I love bookkeeping, always have, I really should have been a secretary. My love for accurate records became clearly apparent to me, when I was a young adult working for a department store in New Jersey. I held several positions with this company, including my favorite, a cosmetic sales person. It was in my career field, as I had recently graduated from beauty school, and I loved every part of the job especially the bookwork. I was responsible for keeping an accurate inventory of 3-4 large cosmetic lines plus some odd company products here and there. Every month I took inventory, filled out the appropriate forms and was paid a nice commission from the merchandise that I sold. I was in heaven, even when there were discrepancies. That job taught me many lessons that I employ in my life still, 30+ years later.
A while ago I started creating spreadsheets to help me keep track of what I was spending on fabrics. This was just part of my monthly budgeting to help me see what I was spending each month on non-necessity items. Over the years it has evolved into the quilting budget that I use today. Here is a snapshot of it:
I also keep track of what supplies I use and how much they cost when I am making something specific… like a quilt.
Occasionally I make a blunder and use the remaining fabric for something other than what it was intended for. You can see in the photo above the title says “Dutch Windmill Quilts: 2 Baby Quilt’s”. Well, I never made two baby quilts with this fabric. Two quilts was my intention, but it never happened and some of the fabric went to other uses. My books would have been completely messed up if I did not have a back up plan for keeping track of remaining fabric.
What is my back up plan you might be wondering? It’s ridiculously simple…labels.
A Ridiculously Simplistic Idea
These are the labels that I print out and attach to all new pieces of fabrics after I launder them. That way, if I run out of fabric, I know where to go to get more and if the store is sold out, then I have all the information that I need to purchase it online from another source.
I even have a place at the bottom of the tag to keep track of my current amount. That way if I use a piece of the fabric, I can adjust my financial records as needed and I can know how much I have on hand at a glance.
Keeping track of what I am spending is really important to me. I am not one of those crafters who would rather not know, nor am I one of those who does know, is ashamed of it and giggles or makes jokes at the uncomfortable truth. I love to quilt, but I will not do so at the expense of not being able to meet my mortgage payment on time or cheating my retirement account contributions. I love my financial security much more than that. I believe most other quilter do too.
My bookkeeping may seem a bit strict to some people but to me its fun. Besides, I like to know what I am spending at any given time on any given project. Also, seeing the actual numbers helps to keep me in check every time I feel the need for an impulse buy.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beware of little expenses: A small leak will sink a great ship.” I concur.