Problems of a young housewife: The cost of living (1911)

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Problems of a young housewife – the general cost of living

The rent bill, the provision bills, the electric light or gas bill, all are elements that combine to make the first of the month a time of worry and possible unhappiness to young couples honestly trying to live within their income.

1911-Problems of a young housewife - the general cost of livingSo many domestic barks have gone to wreck on the rocks of the cost of living that the housewife’s problem of making both ends meet is one of the most vital that confronts her. Even in the romantic days of the engagement, a young woman should consider just exactly how she will be able to manage a household on the amount of money her future husband can afford.

In one of the most interesting books of years, “One Way Out,” a writer describes how he and his wife and son moved from a suburban home to a city tenement after he had lost his position and faced absolute want.

Finding work as a day laborer, he earned $9 a week. Their rent was $3 for three rooms. His wife’s buying list for one week totaled less than $5 and included enough for three excellent meals a day. She showed her special talent in her management. She eliminated luxuries and varieties and she did her buying wherever she found the best at the cheapest rates. Besides this, she had a complete system of bookkeeping.

The accounting of all domestic expenses may seem an irksome task to the young housewife. She knows that she has to buy certain staples to keep the house going and she cannot see that setting down an account of her purchases will make any difference in the ultimate result. When she sees the accounting of her expenditures, she is often so appalled that she decides from sheer panic that she will no longer view them in black and white, since she cannot change her system of living by the bookkeeping.

But it is the bookkeeping that would eventually aid her if she but gave it a chance. The business house that failed to take accountings of its business would certainly go bankrupt. For accounting is the basis of improvement. When you find out where the leak is, the repairing of it is not a hard matter.

A simple accounting system may be devised by any young woman, whether or not she has any knowledge of bookkeeping. One likely to cover her usual expenditures would provide columns for groceries, meats, vegetables, miscellaneous, household expenses, personal expenses of husband and wife, and luxuries, such as theaters and other amusements.

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