They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Or if you’re an acquaintance of mine, who struggles with that saying for some reason, “The apple doesn’t ‘farfall’.”

The statement couldn’t be more false when it comes to my mother and I.

Almost 13 years ago while going through drawers with my mother, who changed residences in May 2005, we came across a ledger she had kept the household budget in for years. I pulled that ledger out again this week as I was looking for something else and I couldn’t resist another peek.

The first entry dates back to 1956.

She meticulously recorded every household expense from groceries, to doctor visits, to repairs.

Some are amusing to read. My brother got stitches removed for $2 and some odd cents in one particular week’s entry. Another notes that my mother bought material to make my sister two pairs of pajamas for $1.26.

Can you imagine paying $1.26 for one pair of pajamas today, let alone two?

Another entry shows my father was lodged in a motel while on a job in another city and spent $26 for the entire week’s stay. You can’t even open the little refrigerator in a room now for that.

The point I’m getting at, is that on any given day, she could tell exactly what was spent on household expenses down to the penny.

When I picked up the ledger 13 years ago I said, “My goodness, you’ve always been this way!”

She replied that while other little girls were playing with dolls, she was playing secretary.

“That’s all I ever wanted to be,” she said.

Over the last several months, I have been going over budgets. We need to find some room for improvements that need to made that could, in the long run, save us money.

I used to cringe at the thought and avoided the conversation like the plague. Talking about money is not one of my favorite things. I never seem to have enough and when my mother and I had previously talked about constructing a budget, I would laugh and say, “You don’t have to make out a budget when you have nothing left after paying bills.”

Her response was, “You always spend money you don’t account for or forget. If you write it down, you know where it went and can figure out if you really needed to spend it. You may have more money than you think you do.”

Well, let me tell you, that prospect changed my way of thinking about a budget. Could I possibly have more money than I thought? Turns out I was spending some, not a whole lot, that I would forget about: lunch here, snacks there. But it did add up and when I started eating at home more and bringing along my own snacks to work I saw some improvement in my financial situation.

We should all aspire to such a level of financial control that my mother has, including our local, state and federal governments.

If those bean counters would mark every single expense from each day in a ledger like my mother’s, I’m sure at some point they would realize overspending habits and possibly find ways to curb them. Being fiscally responsible doesn’t have to be frightening. It just requires a little effort. With Washington, a LOT of effort.