(By Mrs. Edith Nell Nichols.)
One day I asked one of my neighbors why she didn't keep household accounts. Her reply was the same that millions of American women gave. She said she couldn't keep track of every cent she spent, so she stopped trying to keep accounts.
This general feeling among housewives has led American brides to think that there is something mysterious about keeping household accounts. I didn't try to keep a record of how I spent every
cent. If at the end of the week I had spent five cents for something I could not account for. I placed the expenditure in my account book under the head of miscellaneous. I forgot to weep about it.
To me the household account book is a history of past expenditures which will guide me in my future purchases and in making my budget. In my account book the following expenditures were listed: Food, fuel, rent, clothes, education, investment, insurance, laundry, savings, transportation, tales and miscellaneous. Under food I had the following sub-heads: Meats, groceries, ice, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. At the end of every month I added all my expenditures together so I could tell at a glance how much I had spent for food, clothing or any item during the month. Using my household accounts as a guide, I made a household budget for every month. A budget is a plan of the expenditures for a month or for a given period of time. I'm happy to say I found it to be one of my best friends and I hope it will not be a stranger in many homes long.
The budget helped me in two ways:
- To distribute my expenditures evenly so there would be no "fat" days
followed by "lean" ones.
- To make both ends more than meet so there would be some savings.
The necessities are: Food, clothing, shelter and operating expenses. The operating expenses are gas, light, telephone, fuel, soap and the replacement of utensils when they wear out. Under higher life come savings, education, religious activities, health, insurance and luxuries.
In making my monthly budget I looked over my household accounts for the previous month. If I spent $30 for food, I am safe in allowing the same amount in the plan or budget for next month. Suppose one should find that the expenditure for food for the month had been $50. The budget would not plan such an extravagant amount again. The household account would show the housewife her extravagance. The budget for the next month would not allow the mistake to be made again.
No one can make a budget for you. You have to do it yourself. No two families live under exactly the same conditions. Here are some of the family budgets which have been tried in millions of American homes:
If the income is $1,200 a year, during one month $30 is spent for food, $20 for rent, $10 to $15 for operating expenses, $20 for clothes and $15 to $30 for higher life.
If the Income is $2,400 a year, during one month the expenditures are: Food, $30; rent, $30; operating expenses; $20; clothes, $13; and higher life, $102. All of us expect to have greater incomes in the future. If we organize our expenditures so that a sufficient amount is allowed for the necessities, as the income grows, we will have more for cultural life and savings.
Women the world over wish to put housekeeping on a business basis. We wish to more than make both ends meet. If the bride starts to keep household accounts and make a household budget, she will be doing her bit to make the business of housekeeping successful.
Source: Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, June 6, 1919