THE housewife of today has to have a practical mind. It is not only rent, taxes and food expenditure that run away with the money – it is the incidentals. Travel, shopping, electric 6res and other gadgets burned without an eye to economy, laundry expenses, pleasure, frequent visits to the hairdresser, holidays – to name but a few – often amount to more than the essentials.
The middle-class husband generally leaves his wife to manage the moneys, and when this is so the home is usually a happy one. Most women are thrifty by nature and they balance their budgets and seldom overspend.
It is easy to get into a muddle if you have no plan. When I first married I had a system whereby I put away so much each week for the various commitments. I had separate jars labelled Health, Food, Rent and Taxes, Insurances, Heat and Light, Holidays, Travelling and Clothes.
I worked out my money each week and put what I thought was the appropriate amount in each jar. I never borrowed one from the other and, every six months, what was surplus in any jar went into a savings account for a better home.
Keeping to this plan in spite of temptations enabled me to build my married life on a foundation secure as a rock.
I make a point of buying something for the home every week, even if it is only a scrub-brush one week, and a bigger thing once a month. It is wonderful how you get things together in that way.
I also save by buying up little items for birthday and Christmas gifts as I go along. In this way I avoid the necessity of having to overspend in any one week just because several birthdays fall close together.
The big rule of running my marriage business has been never to owe a bill, never to overspend, and to have something over from housekeeping every week – even if only a shilling. It has always been my proud boast that we could change our home-town in a day and leave without owing anyone a penny-piece. Perhaps 1 learnt my thrift from my business life before marriage. I was employed in a large store.
I knew the great temptation it was to walk around shops and see all the things that you long to possess if only you had the money. I knew how easy it was to sign for goods on hire-purchase.
I have seen so much misery and heartache due to hire-purchase. Let me quote the wisdom of my mother when she said: ‘Your man trusts you to run your part of the marriage honourably, so when in doubt think about it for a day or two, then you’ll find you don’t need it.’
On many occasions, remembering that has saved me pandering to the greedy impulse of a moment to possess what I could well do without.
I have never allowed savings to eclipse the sun of my marriage, and the early struggling days when we spent a reasonable amount on pleasure as well as saved for the future were among my happiest. It is not good for marriage morale to skimp and save to the exclusion of day-to-day needs for happy living.
Remember, each moment you live is the only moment that really matters. You may plan ahead, but you have to live those plans moment by moment to achieve them, so live them as happily as you can.
The job of a wife and mother is to build a lifetime of happy memories for each member of her family.
All my married life I have planned happy treats for half-days, Sundays and holidays – planned them within my budget and with the wholehearted approval of the entire family.
To be contented with the fruits and progress of one’s own efforts and not to begrudge the seemingly better-off conditions of others is, I think, the real art of living.