This paper reconstructs the history of household budget surveys in late colonial Ghana. It is argued that the household budgets institutionalised an “uneven statistical topography”. This unevenness comprises a spatial and a conceptual dimension. The former refers to the choice of the sampling locations, closely mirroring the uneven will of the state to exercise control over different parts of the country. The latter refers to the fact that household budget surveys incorporated different cognitive tools and served different aims depending on what the government envisaged as its political and economic agenda in the surveyed areas.