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Household Management - The Part Of The Housekeeper

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The woman who is a capable household manager is a great factor in the economics of the nation, because the prosperity and happiness of our country depend on each home. Women have charge of the spending of most of the money gained by the wage earners. The word "economy" means the careful use of materials. Do not be extravagant with time or strength any more than with money. Make a schedule dividing your labor and time so as to give" you the most leisure. Does the housekeeper do any work that is of financial value, in managing the home? Which would be the greater benefit to your family, to get an increase of one hundred dollars a year in income or to save the same amount by wise management?

In the chapters on cooking, instruction has been given in judging supplies and materials; in the study of the home the social and hygienic aspects of shelter have been discussed ; with these standards established, the housekeeper has to decide how she will apportion her money so as to satisfy best the needs of her family.


The first question to settle in spending a sum of money is to determine into how many portions it shall be divided. The second point is to decide what proportion shall be spent for each division of the budget. There are certain expenses that are common in all families as food, shelter, and operating expenses (that is, service, laundry, fuel, lights, etc.), clothing, and higher life (church, charity, education, travel, amusements, investment such as life insurance, and the buying of property). Medical attendance, drugs, car fare, and other sundries may also be put under the head of operating expenses.

Food. The amount of money spent under each head will depend on the amount of the income, the number in the family, and the style or standard of living. If the income is small a very large percentage of it must be spent for food; a laborer working for one dollar and fifty cents per day would spend fifty per cent or more for food, while a family whose income was about three thousand dollars per year would not spend more than thirty per cent for food. What part of the income is spent for food in your family? Put the sum under the head of "food" in the budget.

Shelter. Shelter, like food, varies; but with a small income, food and shelter take almost the entire income, leaving but little for clothing. What does the day laborer in your town pay for shelter? What comforts does he receive far this sum? What is required for healthful housing? If you live in your own home, estimate the interest on the sum of money invested in your home. Add to it insurance, taxes, and water rates, and whatever expenses are made in keeping the property in good condition. Consider this amount your cost of shelter and enter it. under the head of "shelter" in the budget. If you own your home, the interest on the investment in it should be added to your income before you find the percentage of the total income which goes for the various items of the budget.

Operating Expenses. For the small income this item will be very little. What do you spend for this? Put the amount in the budget. How does keeping a helper increase the expenses, in addition to the wages? Could you live in a smaller house if you did all your own work? How much house rent could you save? On the other hand, is it economy for a woman who is not strong to do heavy work and save on service if the effort causes her to spend money for medical treatment? What other expenses be-sides service come under the head of operating expenses? Could they be reduced? In what way? Could a saving on light be made? How?

Clothing. Under this head, list all purchases of dry goods, whether they are for personal or household use ; the amount spent will depend on income, climate, social requirements, good sense, and good taste, and on the care with which we use our clothing. Every person should be dressed comfortably. In a warm climate this is not expensive; where there is much cold the cost is heavy. One's business or profession calls for the proper dress. A doctor must spend more than a carpenter for his clothes; the housekeeper will not need to spend as much for clothes as the teacher, who must dress well every day. Good taste in dress is a real economy; much of the money wasted on clothes is spent by those who do not stop to think whether the garment selected is what is needed. Do you take good care of your clothes? How much do you spend for clothing? How much does your family spend? Enter the amount in your budget.

The Higher Life. The next item in the budget is the "higher life." Everyone must have food, clothing, and shelter in some form, and in a measure those things which satisfy the desire for something more than the merely animal comforts. The very poor must depend on the free entertainments and concerts, with an occasional visit to the moving picture theater; the wealthy have many items to enter under this head. For the average income the amount spent in this way depends very largely on the self-control and good management shown in the expenditures for food, clothing, and shelter. If one who is not wealthy prefers luxurious eating, elaborate clothing, or an expensive house, to books, pictures, travel, education, or charity, he must sacrifice on these things.

Saving or investment is an item that should appear in every budget, no matter how small the income, except when illness or other temporary stress makes saving impossible. Thrift has been well defined as, "The managing of one's affairs in such a manner as to increase his possessions." Money and land, however, are not the only forms of investment. A good education is a permanent investment. Be thrifty, but not miserly. What does your family spend on higher life? Enter this in your budget.

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