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INCOME AND MANAGEMENT.-I.
IN an age when, owing to the spread of education and the
consequent growth of intelligence and of competition, the affairs of human life
are becoming in every department more intricate and complicated, no apology can
be needed for an endeavour to set out in something like order the laws which
govern, and the rules which should regulate, that most necessary and most
important of all human institutions, THE HOUSEHOLD. It is there that the fruits
of man's labour are ultimately enjoyed ; there that woman finds her chief sphere
of duty; there that the coming generation is being trained for the duties of
life. It is there, then, if anywhere, that the secret of man's material
well-being should be sought and its principles carried into constant practice.
The lesson, above all others, which is required to be learnt in the present day is the good old homely one that wealth is to be found not in the possession of a large income, but in the possession of a surplus after the income has been made to meet the necessary demands upon it. He who earns a hundred a year and spends ninety, is really richer than he who earns two hundred and spends two hundred and ten. And it not unfrequently happens that where the resources of the household are judiciously husbanded, a relatively smaller income is found to yield more solid results than a larger one. Domestic comfort, in short, together with all the benign influences that flow therefrom, as health, good spirits, equability of temper, clearness of head, prudence in enterprise, happiness in the home circle, and the esteem of one's neighbours, centres in the practice of a wise ECONOMY- in the thoughtful and intelligent fitting of means to ends, so as to secure the most advantageous results at the lowest possible cost.
MANAGEMENT is the one thing needful in the household. No matter what the amount of income may be, everything depends upon the careful laying out of the money. In one house the owner always seems to get full value for his outlay; in another it is difficult to imagine where the money expended goes, the apparent return is so inadequate. And this difference does not always and of necessity spring from recklessness, or even from carelessness in management; far more frequently it is owing to the want of an intelligent appreciation of the way in which the available resources can be best turned to account.
There are few housekeepers so rich that they are beyond the necessity of studying Ways and Means of making the income cover the demands made upon it. The housekeeper who would escape ruin must live within his income ; the housekeeper who would prosper must live below it, and save out of it in some way or other. These positions no one will assail. Whether the object aimed at be escape from ruin, or prosperity, it is a very great advantage to know what one's income is. Where the amount is a fixed one, it is comparatively easy to live within it and positively dishonest to go beyond it. In the majority of cases, those whose income is included under the general term "limited," do know what they have to rely on. So far their course is clear. A certain. sum is received weekly, monthly, or quarterly as the case may be; with it rent, taxes, living expenses, including gas, coal, clothing, &c., have to be paid, the children have to be educated, the pleasures and obligations of the family have to be discharged. How can the money be most advantageously divided?
Domestic difficulties are half conquered when they are honestly faced. It may be taken for granted that those who will calmly ask themselves the question, "How shall I live and save out of my income?" who will lay down a plan for expenditure and bravely adhere to its limitations, have all but solved the problem set before them. The people who get wrong are the people who drift into debt. They ascribe their misfortunes to the hardness of the times, and similar standing causes of complaint, but as a matter of fact they would be in a very different position if they realised fairly where they were and what they had to do. The worst of it is that the majority of people do not see the importance of the subject until they are deep in the mire. They have not started fairly, and before they can get right they must recover their ground. It is of little use to talk to them about dividing their income, when the money is spent before it is received. "Once in debt, rarely out of trouble," is proved by them as it has been proved by many thousands before them. Their lives are consumed with misery and anxiety. They cannot adopt ways and means, because the most economical methods are only possible to those who have ready money. Housekeepers who live from hand to mouth are compelled to buy in the dearest market. They purchase commodities in driblets, and so, to use an old proverb, "they let money run out at the heels of their boots." Their way of living is most unsatisfactory, for it consists in a constant effort to use what is gone, and to redeem drafts drawn on the future.
Even this state of things can never be conquered if it is not fairly faced. Let the housekeeper who has got into a [-2-] muddle of this kind put his trouble before him and take action to overcome it, either by decreasing his expenditure, or by working to increase his income. He may be sure of this, that matters will grow worse instead of better if they are simply allowed to "slide."
The question here, however, is not how to recover ground already lost, but how to take and maintain the right position now, by planning and adopting ways and means for living within one's income, and saving out of it. And it is in order to assist in solving this problem that a few hints are here given for the wise expenditure and division of incomes varying in amount from £100 to £500 a year. Before proceeding to details, however, one word must be said by way of explanation. Practical people often feel and express impatience with those who lay down theoretical rules for the solution of the problems of daily life. Is it not the fact, however, that they make a mistake as to the idea of those who try to assist them? In the present instance, for example, the writer has no expectation whatever that the plans laid down can possibly be adapted to suit all circumstances. Indeed, it is regarded as more than possible that in their entirety they will not meet the requirements of one solitary housekeeper. Nevertheless, if they are taken broadly and interpreted in a common-sense reasonable way they cannot fail to be a help. They have answered well in the past, and they will in the future for those who, disregarding the mere letter of the advice, will enter into its spirit will plan the detail for themselves, and abide by the plan, make provision beforehand for each item that can be calculated, and allow a liberal margin for the unforeseen.
One very valuable means of keeping down expenditure is to keep a strict and regular account of money received and spent. There are people who say, "Accounts are of no use. I am as careful as I can be, and I can do no more." This may be true for those whose means are so far below their necessities that they can follow no other plan than that of doing without what they want, and enduring the misery of it. It is not probable, however, that any one in this position would consult a book like this; therefore it may be taken for granted that we have to deal with circumstances in which, at any rate, a slight latitude is possible, and a choice can be made as to the form of outlay. In cases of this kind there is no doubt that it is an advantage to keep accounts, because it enables a housekeeper to keep a check upon himself; so that if there has been excess he can lay his hand upon the item which produces it. For his own guidance and satisfaction, if for nothing else, he should keep an account of every farthing received and spent.
The account of income should, of course, be kept by the bead of the household. Under this would be entered a weekly sum for housekeeping, a separate account of which would be kept by the mistress or house-keeper. A separate account also should be kept of the purchases made of each tradesman under their heading; as, Grocer, Butcher, &c. These also should be added up and compared with each other weekly, in order to prevent excess.
Many housekeepers profess to keep accounts, and do so after a fashion; but their trouble is thrown away because they are not strict enough with themselves. They put down large sums and necessary expenses, but place unnecessary expenses and trifling sums under the convenient heading "Sundries." She who would reap the benefit of keeping an account must abolish sundries. Let every outlay be put down in detail. If it has been imprudent, let the record be seen, and stand out in uncomfortable prominence when the balance of account is drawn up ; thus only will the spender realise how imprudent she has been. It is the same with trifles. "Trifles" make up the sum of human life. They very frequently make up also the sum of expense which causes outlay to exceed income. "Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves," is a homely proverb known to all, but realised by few. Small extravagances lead imperceptibly to pecuniary difficulties. It is the "tis buts" in expense which, piled one upon another, make up the hill difficulty which we. must climb over, before we can enter the pleasant land of freedom from pecuniary anxiety.
In laying down a plan for the wise expenditure of income, it will generally be found that for people who live in towns, where rents and rates are high, where the father has to travel backwards and forwards to business, but where clothing and education are cheap, the following proportions may be taken, and maintained roughly, though not strictly. For rent, rates, taxes, the cost of locomotion for the father, and incidental expenses. such, as. amusements, travelling expenses, removal of furniture, &c., three-sixteenths of income. For housekeeping expenses, including provisions, coals, gas, servants' wages, laundry, and wear-and-tear, one-half of income. For clothing, one-eighth of income. For insurance, doctor's bill, and saving, one-eighth of income. For education, one- sixteenth of income. In country places, on the contrary, where rates and taxes are low, and distances are trifling, but where education and clothing are expensive, one tenth may be given to rent, and the surplus thus obtained may be divided between education and clothing.
Perhaps it may be thought that the cost of locomotion ought not properly to be put with rent. Really, however, it is quite right that it should be so, for the question of distance from town and the sum which the father or bread-winner will have to pay for travelling to and from business affects the rent of a house, as the sum which children will have to pay in going to and from school is a part of education. In the suburbs of London houses may be taken at an astonishingly low rent compared with the sum demanded for dwellings nearer town but those who live in them generally find that, though they may gain advantages in other ways, so far as expense is concerned the ultimate outlay is not less for them than for their acquaintances who live nearer the City.
It is also well to place the cost of locomotion with rent and education, because by so doing a lump sum is set aside for the purchase of season tickets. The facilities for procuring these tickets are now so great, and the advantages offered by the railway companies are so obvious, that few people with any sense of prudence think of paying a high fare daily instead of a low fare paid quarterly or yearly. When a short railway journey has to be taken regularly once or twice a day, it is most desirable that money should not be frittered away in small sums upon it, and there will be little danger of this if the season tickets have to be renewed, as a part of the house rent and the school accounts.
There is a means of saving the cost even of a season ticket, however, which it would be as well for business gentlemen and for young people to practise more than they do; and that is by forming a habit of walking to and from office, warehouse, or school. One of the evils of the present way of living is, that men and young people of both sexes exercise their brains too much and their bodies not enough. A daily walk of four or five miles for gentlemen, and of a mile or a mile and a half for young people, would make them healthier and stronger in nerve and physique. By rising half an hour or an hour earlier every morning, the necessary time would easily be obtained, and in six months or less the benefit gained would be so obvious that it is not likely the pedestrians would discontinue their daily walk.
There is still another consideration connected with house rent which should not be overlooked ; and that is, the importance of obtaining a house properly drained and [-3-] free from damp. A house imperfectly drained would be dear if let for nothing a year. It is much to be regretted that comparatively few houses are what they should be in this respect, yet an additional five or ten pounds would be expended wisely out of a very small income, if by the outlay healthy conditions could be secured which could not otherwise be obtained. Money saved in this direction - would be lost many times over, and it might cause the loss of more than money, namely, life or much-needed energy and strength. Defective drainage has carried off many a lovely and beloved child. If it does nothing more, it lowers the vital power and decreases the energy of grown-up people.
The size of the family is the chief point to be thought of in choosing a house. Perhaps it may be said that where there is a small family ordinary expenses would be so much smaller that a better style of house could be afforded. This is true, but, on the other hand, the more people there are the more rooms will be required. With both large and small families, therefore, it will generally be found that the same proportion of rent may be allowed, the advantages secured being in the one case style and appearance, in the other size and convenience.
In order to gain a fairly definite idea of the latitude which may be permitted for various items of expenditure, it will be well to take a series of different incomes and portion them out according to the plan laid down. We will suppose that the family consists of the father, mother, and three children, and commence with incomes of £500, and £400, and £300 a year. These may be divided as follows:-
Expenditure of an Income of £500 a year.
|Rent, rates, taxes, and cost of locomotion||£72||10||0|
|Insurance, medical attendance, and savings||62||10||0|
Expenditure of an Income of £400 a year.
|Rent, rates, taxes, and cost of locomotion||£60||0||0|
|Insurance, medical attendance, and savings||40||0||0|
Expenditure of an Income of £300 a year.
take these sums in detail:-
Rent, Rates, Taxes, and Cost of Locomotion for the Father or Bread-winner. Rents and rates vary very considerably in different localities. In large towns they are usually high. In London it maybe calculated roughly that rates and taxes, including House Tax, Assessed Taxes, Water Rates, and season ticket, will mount up to one-third of the rent, It is probable that, in respect of rent and rates, London is about the dearest place to live in that there is. Therefore, seeing that there will be the greatest difficulty where the prices are highest, it will be best to take London rents and rates as specimens. It must be remembered, however, that there are compensations connected with the matter, and in many other points London and large towns are cheaper than country-places. No one will object to the surplus which will remain if too high an estimate has been taken.
It maybe objected to this item that people in possession of £500 or £400 a year would be justified in living in houses worth more than £50 or £40 a year rent. This might be true with families where there are no children to educate, and where there was no attempt made to save money. Hundreds of families with this income live in better houses and let prudence go. But in this we think are wrong. It is true the style of a house determines to a great extent the estimate which will be formed of the respectability, class, credit, or means of the occupier. A great curse of our modern civilisation, however, is the constant competition which is carried on as to appearances. People will do with inferior food and dispense with comfort, in order to appear better off than they really are. Society would be a different thing if each man would adapt his mode of life to the actual state of his purse, rather than to his neighbour's supposed opinion about it. In numberless homes a saving might be effected if people would but rid themselves of the fancied necessity for maintaining false appearances.
There is a way of paying rent and of saving at the same time which is frequently adopted by the prudent and thrifty; and that is to join a building society, and buy the house one lives in. Well-managed building societies are a great boon to economical people. They have been the means of inducing numbers of people to save who never would have done so without them. Many a man who is now comfortably off, who has a nice little sum safely invested, and who enjoys all the advantages belonging to that condition of things, owes his position to the fact that he was once induced to join a building society. By the arrangement thus made he paid his rent monthly instead of quarterly, soon gained the pleasant consciousness of having saved a little money, and after a time found that the house he lived in was his own. The rent had to be paid no longer, but the habit of saving thus formed was continued as a matter of course, and a competency was the result. Viewed simply in the light of an "investment" of money, building societies are not to be specially recommended. Usually the money is not obtained at a particularly cheap rate, and when it is put away it does not command a very high interest. But looked at as inducements to people to save small sums, who never would or could save in any other way, these societies are invaluable. The very fact that the payment of a fine is exacted if the money is not duly paid, helps to keep up regular payments. The money saved is looked upon as part of the ordinary expenditure of the family, and in time its loss is not felt; until the day comes when the man's house is in every sense his castle, for it is his own.
After rent the next item to be considered is the housekeeping. It was said that under this head were to be included provisions, coal, gas, servants' wages, laundry, and wear-and-tear. It follows, therefore, that before anything can be taken for provisions, these deductions must be made from the £250 allowed in the case of the income of £500 per annum. We will consider this in the next article.
INCOME AND MANAGEMENT.-II.
FROM the housekeeping, taken at £250, for an income of £500 a year, the following deductions may be taken as a pretty fair allowance
|Servants' wages. £14 per annum, or £1 3s. 4d. per month, for a general servant; and £12 per annum, or £1 per month, for nurse or housemaid||£26||0||0|
|Coals and Coke||12||0||0|
a balance of £204 for housekeeping.
Before disposing of this £204, however, there is still another point to be considered, and that is the summer holiday. In these modern days a yearly visit to the seaside or to the country is regarded as one of the necessities of life. Men and women draw upon their strength until it is almost exhausted, and then trust to a periodical enjoyment of fresh air, rest, and change to reinvigorate them and furnish them with health and energy for another year's work. But how is it to be paid for? The answer is evident to all; it must be taken from the half of the income apportioned to housekeeping.
By this arrangement the amount set aside for housekeeping could be continued through the year; that is, the expenses would be supposed to be the same as usual wherever the family might happen to be. Therefore it would be necessary only to deduct from the £204 as much as would pay for travelling expenses and lodgings. For these £20 might well be deemed sufficient. The amount should either be put aside in a lump sum if the income be received yearly or quarterly, or it should be taken from the weekly income and put every week in the Post-Office Savings Bank, there to remain until the occasion for which it is needed shall arrive.
We find, therefore, that after deducting this additional £20 from the £204 we have a balance of £184, or an average sum of £3 l0s. per week, for housekeeping There is a small surplus, but this may be left for security, as it is not well to draw the line too closely.
From the sum of £200 allotted from the income of £400 a year, there would have to be deducted-
|Servants' wages. £14 per annum for a general servant; and £10 per annum for nurse||£24||0||0|
|Coal and Coke||12||0||0|
Leaving a balance of £138, or £2 13s. per week, for housekeeping.
From the sum of £150 taken from the income of £300 a year, there must be deducted-
|General servant's wages £12 a year||£12||0||0|
Leaving a balance of £123, or a weekly sum of £2, for housekeeping.
The first subject coming under consideration in these calculations is that of servants' wages. It will be seen that in the two earlier instances arrangements are made for keeping two servants - a general servant, who, if there were no children in the family, would doubtless be transformed into a cook; and a nurse, who in similar circumstances would be transformed into a housemaid. It is quite possible at the present time to engage tolerably clever respectable servants for the wages here named, who would do the work of the house and take charge of the children under the supervision of the mistress.
A good many mistresses make an agreement that their servants shall have so much wages and so much beer-money, that is, money either to buy beer or to compensate them for doing without beer. This arrangement, from whatever point of view it is looked at, is an unfortunate one for the mistress. If a girl takes beer, she is led by this plan to procure it in the most expensive and undesirable way possible; that is, in small quantities at a public-house. A connection is thus established between the public-house and the dwelling, and the way is opened for gossip and communications which would be much better avoided. If a girl does not take beer, the mistress by making this agreement simply arranges to pay her twice over for doing without it. Beer supplies a certain want, and the girl who does not take it needs more food in consequence, and this extra quantity the mistress has to supply, while paying for the beer as well. If beer is kept in the house and the servant is paid to do without it, there is a temptation placed in her way to be dishonest. Altogether, the idea is a mistake. If beer is not taken by the family, let the servant understand that it is not provided; if beer is taken by the family, and the girl wishes to have it, let her be allowed to take a reasonable quantity.
The course here recommended is considered quite apart from the question of the desirability or otherwise of total abstinence. This is not the place to discuss that subject. We are only protesting against the advisability of making special provision for stimulant, seeing that such an arrangement is a decided loss for the mistress, and also that it tends to keep up the idea in the minds of domestic servants that beer is the one item which they have a right to demand, and which they must be compensated for if they do without. Mistresses frequently make this arrangement because they think it prevents too much beer being taken. If a girl is told that she can have a glass of beer for dinner and a glass for supper, she will not exceed that amount if she be honest and sober. If she be not honest and sober, she will get what she wants in some other way, and she will be no good to any one. So far from its being the case that excess is prevented by purchasing beer in small quantities at a public-house, the real fact is that common beer sold by the lower class of publicans is adulterated with salt and other ingredients which tend to promote thirst, and so lead to drunkenness; while good wholesome malt liquor, such as is sold in the barrel by respectable brewers, is the least objectionable form in which stimulant can be provided for people who work hard.
Another unfortunate arrangement which is tacitly taken for granted, rather than made between mistresses and servants, is that servants should be allowed to sell various articles, such as kitchen grease, bones, rags, and bottles. It is probable that this custom has caused more waste and led to the demoralisation of more servants than any other which could be named. It follows from it that the more a servant can waste the better off she is. The greater part of the kitchen dripping furnishes the best fat which can be procured for frying purposes, and the remainder might very easily be made into soft soap for daily use. By putting a stop to the sale of kitchen grease alone, the purchase of pounds of lard for frying might be saved, and much cost of soap also. Mistresses are beginning to see what this custom of allowing servants to sell household refuse involves. Nevertheless the practice is so very unfortunate that a word or two must be said against it here. Not only does it [-39-] lead to waste, and cause unnecessary expense, but it leads to fraud, because the servant is tempted to sell more than she ought to do, and it either brings a girl into communication with objectionable people outside, or it brings objectionable people about the house. There is no occasion for this. If a girl is plainly told by the mistress before she enters the house that the practice is not allowed, she will not feel the matter a hardship. Indeed, it would be better for a mistress to pay a higher wage and to discountenance the custom, than to permit it and pay a lower one.
Perhaps it may be asked, What is to be done with all the refuse of the house ? Let the mistress sell it, not to the low dealers who go about the streets, but to respectable dealers who will give a fair. price for it in an open straightforward manner. Everything in a house should be made the most of, even old papers and rags. Let there be a bag for white rags, and a place for bottles, and a bag for torn-up letters and papers. When these are full let them be sold and taken from the house, but let the business be done by the mistress, not by the servant.
Housekeepers in possession of an income of £300 a year cannot be advised to keep two servants. A general servant receiving £12 wages will probably be as much as they can afford.
The cost of gas is a great expense in many a house. A bright light is a luxury, and is appreciated by every one, but it cannot be enjoyed without being paid for. Waste of gas makes the gas-bills mount up, and the careful housekeeper may effect a considerable saving by preventing this. The gas-meter should be turned off during the day, so that if there are any places where the pipes are defective, escape of gas may be prevented. Flaring-burners also should be well looked after, for with gas a flare is always the sign of waste, for it shows that more gas is given out than can be consumed by the flame. The condition of the burners has almost as much to do with the amount of a gas-bill as the cost of gas per thousand feet. Old worn-out burners are the best friends - which the gas companies have. A smell of gas should never be disregarded. It is a sign that there is an escape somewhere, and steps should be immediately taken to discover where it is and to put a stop to it. Wet gas-meters also, when fixed in a house, need to be strictly looked to, or they will do their part to swell the amount of the gas-bill, and so add to the trials of the householder. If these meters are over-filled with water up to a certain point the supply of gas will cease, but if over-filled rather below this point, the gas will come into the pipe. but the revolutions of the apparatus will be accelerated - and the consumer will appear to have consumed more gas than he has had the benefit of. Last, but not least gas when not in use should be turned out or left very low. A careless person who leaves the gas "full on," in an unused room, is throwing money away as much as if he cast it into the street.
Watchfulness and care can do wonders in regulating the consumption of coal in the household. The open ranges which have been so long used in England appear to have been constructed for the purpose of burning a large quantity of coal, but fortunately these are gradually falling into disuse. Improved grates of various kinds are now sold, and with many of these considerable economy in coal can be effected. These improvements follow so closely one upon the heels of another, that it is scarcely possible to recommend any particular variety, for fear it should already be out of date. Even where the old-fashioned ranges have to be put up with, a great deal may be done to economise fuel by filling up the large open space behind the bars with fire-clay. Fire-bricks are also sold which fit the range, and fire-balls to fill up the empty spaces and help to throw the heat out into the room instead of letting the most of it go up the chimney. Close ranges are more and more frequently placed in kitchens, and if judiciously used may be the means of effecting a great economy in coal; although if carelessly used they will tend to increase its consumption. There is usually such a good draught in close stoves and kitcheners that almost anything may be burnt in them- refuse potato parings, cinders, coal-dust, &c. &c. The attention of the housekeeper should therefore be directed towards procuring for these stoves inexpensive fuel-hard, slow-burning "nuts," with a mixture of coke and well- damped coal-dust. What is called best coal makes a bright cheerful fire, and is well suited for use in the drawing-room or dining-room, but it is worse than thrown away if burnt in the kitchener or close stove, for not only is it quickly consumed, but it gives out such a fierce heat that it soon destroys the bars of the stove itself. Fresh coal may be burnt in the kitchen while cooking is going on, but when cooking is done nothing should be thrown on the fire but refuse, well damped coal-dust, and cinders. Careful housekeepers must, of course, be particular about having their cinders well sifted and used. Thoughtless servants are very apt to omit this necessary business if not well looked after. It should be remembered also that coal will burn much longer if not "poked" overmuch. Some people appear to be possessed by a constant desire to poke the fire, and a more extravagant habit can scarcely be acquired. Coal will burn more slowly if "knobbly" pieces are laid flat on their sides instead of on end. The coals will blaze more quickly if placed upright, hut a blazing fire is an extravagant fire. A clear bright fire gives out more heat and burns more slowly, therefore it is the more economical of the two.
When there is accommodation for storing coal, a supply for winter use should, of course, be got in at the end of autumn while coal is still cheap. Every one knows that in very cold weather coal rises in price, and therefore its purchase at this season is not desirable.
INCOME AND MANAGEMENT.-III
WE now come to the subject of housekeeping. Here we find that the possessor
of an income of £500 a year may devote £3 10s. to housekeeping ; the possessor
of an income of £400 may take £2 13s., whilst he who has £300 a year must not
give more than an average sum of £2 per week to this purpose.
The chief difficulties which housekeepers have to contend with are laundry work and butchers' bills. With regard to the first of these the question has to be answered, is it better to put linen out to wash or to wash it at home? Experience replies that it is more economical to wash it at home ; very much pleasanter to send it out. The economy of washing at home is found not so much in the immediate saving of laundry bills (though that is considerable) but in the fact that clothes washed at home wear very much longer than those which are put out to wash. Laundresses as a class decry the use of lime and deleterious powders which save labour but destroy fabric; individual laundresses appear invariably to make use of them, and it is a very unusual thing to meet with one who does not use "just a little." The consequence is that linen washed carefully at home lasts three times as long as that which is put out to wash.
At the same time every one knows how disagreeable it is to have washing about. Modern improvements and machinery, washing machines, wringing machines, drying machines, &c. &c., lessen the unpleasantness connected with it, but they do not abolish it altogether. Of course a good deal depends upon the construction of the house and the appliances at command. Where the wash-house is built apart from the house, for example, and where there is space for drying out of the sight of the family, the business may be got through without a general sense of discomfort being experienced, but when the clothes have to be washed in a kitchen not very far away from the living-rooms occupied by the family, there is no hiding matters. Doors may be closed, copper-lids kept down, but the secret escapes. The pervading sense of warm flat irons described by Mr. Weller as being typical of the "kilybeate taste of mineral water," is typical also of soapy water ; facts proclaim themselves, do what we will to keep them quiet, and every one in the house has a consciousness that the laundress is at the centre of the situation.
In the South of England, where coals are dear and the kitchens of moderate-sized houses are not fitted up with conveniences for the work,. also where hired labour is expensive, it is very questionable indeed whether, in cases where the servants of the house cannot do the work alone, it is worth while to wash at home. Many clever housekeepers are decidedly of opinion that it is not ; others hold as strongly that it is most extravagant to put the work out. It is probable therefore that the decision arrived at will be determined by the. opinion held by the mistress on this point. But there can be no doubt that where the work can be so arranged that the servants of the house can do it without assistance, it is a help to wash at home, and people who wish to live economically will find that a more decided saving can be effected in this direction than in any other.
In the case of a family such as we are now considering, where two servants are kept and where there are but [-79-] three children, it would be by no means unreasonable to require the maids to wash at any rate all small things - pocket-handkerchiefs, pillow-cases, flannels, stockings, towels, dusters, the children's clothes and their own without extra help. The sheets, tablecloths, shirts and larger articles of underlinen, with the servants cotton dresses, might then be sent out. It is important that servants' dresses should be well got up, because the character of the house is affected more by the appearance of the servants than it is by that of the mistress A - mistress may be untidy and the fact will be put down to eccentricity or carelessness, or unforeseen circumstances but if the servants are habitually slipshod and dirty, observers conclude that the family is of low origin.
Where two servants are kept it is usual for each one to undertake the washing of a certain portion of the linen. Thus the cook will wash her own clothes the pillow-cases, the bed-room towels, and the kitchen towels and dusters. The nurse will wash small articles belonging to the children with her own linen. When a little washing is thus done by both servants, it is a mistake to arrange that they shall do it together. Girl nature is the same all the world over, and it is quite to be expected that two girls who were set to perform in company a task in which they were removed from the rest of the family would find that there was so much to talk about that little work could be done. Mistresses frequently arrange, by way of helping on washing day, to do themselves a little of the work of the house making the beds for example, and dusting the rooms thus leaving the servants to ·get on with the wash The plan rarely answers. It would be better, and upset the house less, if one girl did her part one day and the other girl another day ; working together they will be more likely to hinder than to help one another.
It is. a good plan to let the maids do the washing in turns every Monday. Thus one Monday the cook would wash the towels, dusters, pillow-cases, her own linen, and the children's linen. The next Monday the nurse would wash her linen, with the towels, dusters, pillow-cases, and children's clothes. Thus the linen of each maid would be done every fortnight, but the children's clothes and small things belonging to the family every week. Where there are young children it is frequently necessary to have clothes washed frequently Besides this, washing is not agreeable work, and it is not fair to give it all to one servant and let the other escape. The maids might do their own ironing in the evening, after the work of the day was over. The nurse would invariably iron the children's clothes, and the cook or general servant would take charge of the household linen.
Perhaps, when the time came for the nurse to do her share of the washing, the house-mother would go into the nursery and take charge of the children, thus leaving the nurse at liberty from the children. But whatever arrangement is made, or whatever work is to be done, the mistress will find that it is a mistake to set two girls to do it together. Let each one know what her work is, and be responsible for it, and let her do it alone. There is time for talking when work is over, meantime opportunities for talk will interfere with work. Where one servant only is kept, the mistress will perhaps arrange to do part of the lighter work on washing-day, so that the maid need not leave her wash tub.
INCOME AND MANAGEMENT.-IV.
THE appearance of a new baby in the family makes a great difference in the
quantity of linen which needs washing; indeed, the extra work and expense caused
by a baby is at first felt perhaps more in this department than in any other.
Where there is a young baby, a nurse must be a clever laundress or there is
nothing but trouble. During the infancy of the child she should do a little
washing and ironing every day, the washing being done in the morning while the
child is asleep, the ironing in the evening after it is settled for the night.
Napkins and underlinen that are soiled by a baby should never be left to lie
dirty; they should be washed thoroughly at once.
A clever nurse will soon lessen her labour in this direction, If only she will take trouble to train the child properly from the beginning, she may very soon discard napkins altogether, excepting in the night. Mothers, when they are talking together, sometimes say, "What a difference there is in children!" The children are very much alike in this respect; the difference is in the mothers and nurses. A dirty child is seldom a naughty child, it is a disgrace to the mother or nurse. If it is taught properly and attended to constantly, it will form a good habit as well as a bad one. Let no nurse therefore condole with herself that her work is specially trying. If she is overburdened in this matter it is her own fault she should have taught the child better.
Economy may very easily be effected in this way by washing small things at home. Large things take a good deal of soap and a good deal of drying, but small things, especially when charged for separately instead of by the dozen, swell the bills in an incredible manner. A girl who can wash and get up nicely a few small things will in the course of a year save many a shilling to her mistress. For this reason it is a great advantage for young ladies to be taught to starch and iron collars and laces and washing dresses. Clothing of this kind, though fresh, pretty, and inexpensive in itself, is almost entirely out of the reach of people who have to send every article to the laundress, but is a great addition to the wardrobe of young ladies who can "get up things for themselves."
Butchers' bills constitute a source of anxiety to householders, and very great judgment is needed in order to provide dinners which shall supply good nourishing food for the family and yet be economical. No advantage can be gained by trying to dispense with good food. If children are to grow up healthy and strong they must have good support, and the point needs special attention, because the constitution of a growing child is being formed. It does not follow, however, that this good food must consist exclusively of butchers' meat. The high price charged nowadays for this one article of domestic consumption is enough of itself to plunge numbers of families into difficulties. It is in order that she may escape embarrassment of this kind that a mistress should understand what to buy and when to buy it.
American meat has of late years been largely introduced in England. Some of this is exceedingly good, and housekeepers who refuse from prejudice to buy meat simply because 2d. per pound less than the expected price is asked for it, may very likely be gratified by paying the higher price for exactly the same kind of meat at a more pretentious shop. The only advice that can be given in this case is that the mistress should learn what good meat is like. This knowledge can only be attained by experience, although the points to be looked at may be learnt from cookery-books. When once gained it may be invaluable to its possessor. After this the house-mother may remember that milk, beans, and peas, may be said to be as nourishing as meat, eggs almost as nourishing. Vegetables purify the blood, and farinaceous foods are most valuable auxiliaries to animal food. Milk is especially useful for young people; indeed, until the ninth year, milk and farinaceous substances should form the principal food of a child, who is certain to be well nourished if it has plenty of bread and milk. When it is remembered how many cheap inexpensive dishes may be made of milk and farinaceous substances at a small cost, the difficulty of providing suitable food at a reasonable price will be considerably lessened. To use the words of Dr. Edward Smith, "With plenty of bread and milk, there will probably be health and strength and no doctor's bills." In buying butchers' meat it should be remembered to let one day work in with another. A dinner should never be arranged for one day only; consideration should be given to what is likely to be left, and how the remains may be used to the best advantage. Bones and scraps also should never be thrown away without having been stewed in order to abstract every particle of nourishment from them, and the liquor thus produced may be made into appetistng, nourishing soup.
Speaking roughly, and taking into account the high rate at which butchers' meat is sold, it may be calculated that the mistress of a household consisting of eight persons, four of whom were children, and enjoying an income of £500 a year, might consider herself justified in spending 3s. per day, taking one day with another, in meat. With an income of £400 a year she might allow herself to spend 2s. 6d. per day, and if the income did not exceed £300 per annum, the outlay here should not go beyond 2s. per day.
The most profitable joint which can possibly be bought for the use of a household is the top side of the round of beef. It is not a cheap joint, but it can be used all through, and not a particle need be wasted. If the meat is of good quality, is carefully cooked, and well basted, it is tender and juicy. If carelessly cooked it will be dry and hard. Thick flank of beef and the leg of mutton piece of beef are also profitable. The thin end of the flank and the brisket and the aitchbone of beef cost less per pound, but they are dear because there is so much waste with them, especially for children, who will not eat fat and gristle. A sirloin of beef is an excellent joint, but it is generally and rightly considered an expensive one. Yet it may be used so as to turn it to very good account. Unless there is a family weakness for fat, it should never be cooked with the flap on. Rather the flap should be cut straight off, then salted and boiled, pressed and glazed, when it is excellent. Or a little ox kidney and a few tinned oysters should be put with it, and it should be made into a pie, when it will be delicious. The housekeeper, when purchasing a sirloin of beef, will do well to think of this way of using the flap, and buy a joint weighing a pound or two more for the purpose of trying it. She may thus obtain a better cut, and will certainly reap an advantage. Sometimes the under cut of a sirloin is taken out and cooked separately, like rump steak. Cold roast sirloin is, however, so excellent, that it is questionable whether the plan is a good one. When a sirloin of beef is no longer fit to be brought to table, there is always a great deal of meat on it which can be used for rissoles, croquettes, sausage rolls, Cornish pasties, Shepherd's pie, &c., &c., and there is fat which can be rendered down for dripping. Hard sinewy parts of meat generally cost little, and are very good if stewed long and gently. Of this nature are the roll of the blade-bone of beef, the muscle of the leg of beef, and the scrag end of a neck of mutton. Meat of this kind should be stewed gently for a long time, five or six hours. It will then be found excellent, and will supply cheap and good dinners at a trifling cost.
Whatever the amount spent over the food, however, it may be taken for granted that it will not be made the most of unless the mistress herself understands cookery. There is no accomplishment the possession of which will [-98-] compensate her for ignorance of this most useful art. Fortunately, cookery is more fashionable than it once was, and ladies holding a good position are beginning to be ashamed of saying they cannot cook simple dishes. Much still remains to be done, and no mistress of a household such as is now being considered should rest content until she is herself so clever in cookery that she is independent of servants in this respect. No one need have any difficulty in obtaining knowledge of this kind. Cookery schools are established in various parts, and cookery books are published at prices which place them within the reach of all. In this periodical, recipes of various kinds will he given which it is hoped will be of use in the same direction. It must be remembered, however, that the most elaborate and detailed instructions are of little use without practice, and this is possible to all who have health and strength, and leisure to devote to the purpose.
A knowledge of cookery is valuable because without it a mistress cannot tell how to make the most of the materials at her disposal. For example, it is generally taken for granted that large joints are not suitable for small families. This is certainly the case where the mistress does not know anything of cooking. If she does, however, she will find that she can frequently buy meat to greater advantage by procuring a large joint than by expending the sum it would cost in purchasing three or four small pieces. Of course the state of the weather must be taken into consideration before a large joint is bought, and care must be taken also to procure a joint that will cut up well and can be divided satisfactorily. The sirloin of beef has already been mentioned, and we may take note also of a leg of mutton, which is either a very expensive joint or a moderately profitable one, according to the way it is treated. A thrifty housekeeper will buy a good-sized leg, have a cutlet taken from the middle to be broiled separately and served with tomatoes and greens. The knuckle end will then be boiled and served with caper sauce, turnips, and carrots. If any of this is left it will be curried and served with boiled rice. The liquor in which it is boiled will be used for soup. The other end will be roasted, and served either with Yorkshire pudding or suet pudding as an accompaniment ; if any of this is left it can be hashed or minced, and served with poached eggs. The knuckle will be stewed in the first instance to make gravy, any fat that there may be will be rendered to make dripping, and the bones will be stewed for soup. These are homely dishes enough, but by the time they are finished there will not have been much wasted of the leg of mutton.
It is wise to purchase groceries weekly rather than as they are wanted, partly because this will act as a check on the consumption, and also because certain articles may be bought at a cheaper rate when taken in quantities. Amongst these may be mentioned biscuits, extracts, essences, flour, jams, marmalade, Swiss milk, pickles, &c. &c. Soap may generally be obtained at a lower price if purchased by the hundredweight or half hundredweight instead of by the bar, while dried fruits, starch, spiceries, and candles may he procured at an advantage if a store is procured ; and if kept covered in a cool dry place they will not deteriorate in value with keeping. It cannot, however, be considered judicious to purchase very large supplies at one time of such articles as rice, macaroni, semolina, vermicelli, and similar ingredients, for these are best when fresh. Very little coffee, also, should be procured at one time, because coffee is never so good as when freshly roasted.
It is very desirable that a liberal supply of fresh vegetables should be provided for family use. These are best when fresh, and therefore must be bought as they are wanted. Fresh fruit is so valuable from a health point of view, that it cannot be entirely dispensed with, although some may be disposed to look upon it as a luxury. Potatoes every one uses, and an effort should be made to buy these by the sack rather than by the pound. The latter is a very expensive method. In buying potatoes by the sack the housekeeper should be on the lookout to ascertain whether the sack contains three bushels or two bushels of potatoes. Strictly speaking a sack should contain three bushels, but of late years, since competition has been so keen, dealers have sold what they called sacks which weighed two bushels only. On this account housekeepers have been led to imagine that they were buying potatoes at a very low price, when really they were not getting the quantity they expected.
New bread is both extravagant and unnecessary, and ought never to be used in a family. When bread has become very stale, the loaf may be dipped in hot milk or water, then put into a quick oven till hot through. It should then be eaten at once, and will taste like fresh bread ; if left for awhile it will taste stale as before.
INCOME AND MANAGEMENT.-V.
THE proportion of income spent on stimulants must be determined by the wishes
of the family. So far as expense only is concerned, it is a great economy to do
without them altogether. The difficulty connected with them is that when once
their purchase is permitted, one never knows where to stop. The allowance of beer
usually considered reasonable is a pint a day for a woman, a quart a day for a
man. When beer is dispensed with, an extra quantity of milk should be taken to
supply its place. It has already been said that milk is a very valuable article
of diet, especially for children. A healthy child is better for at least a quart
of good milk per day.
It is the custom in a great many households to give the servants every Monday morning a certain amount of sugar, tea, and butter for their private use, expecting them to make this last to the end of the week. The quantities allowed are generally half a pound of butter, one pound of sugar, from two to four ounces of tea for one servant, six ounces for two servants, and four ounces of coffee for breakfast. Apart from this, every article of food is locked up, and the ingredients needed for the requirements of the family are given out every morning. Articles needed for purposes of cleaning are given out every week, and a strict account is taken of the quantity used. There can be no doubt that where servants cannot be relied upon, this plan imposes a necessary check upon them, and prevents their wasting food or giving it away. The worst of it is that when servants are honest and worthy of trust, the plan prevents any demand being made upon them in this direction. In our opinion the system - often a very necessary one - of locking everything from the servants, and giving them what they require apart from the provision made for the family, has done more to injure the relations between mistresses and good servants than anything else. (The remarks now made apply only to households where one or two servants are kept. In large establishments conditions and methods are different.) It is more than probable that few will agree with this opinion; nevertheless, we hold it strongly. When servants are thus treated they feel that they need not look for any liberality from their mistresses, that they will receive just what they can claim, and no more ; and they very naturally exercise the same spirit in return, and get what they can. So experience proves once more the truth of the saying, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Servants who are engaged all day in physical work need more food than mistresses who are employed in sedentary occupations. If they are honest girls - and surely no one would keep a maid who was not believed to be honest - let them have freely what they require for their personal needs, and let them understand clearly before they enter the house that nothing is to be given away without permission.
An outcry has been raised of late years against domestic servants, and one would think, to hear some persons talk, that the race of trustworthy skilful servants had disappeared from the land. It is not so, however. If each housekeeper will look round among her personal acquaintance she will find that, in the majority of cases, those masters and mistresses who are kindly and reasonable, yet firm; who know what they have a right to expect, and who are willing to concede what is fair and right as well as to make claims on their dependents, have, on the whole, good servants, and keep them. The masters and mistresses who complain most loudly of the "greatest plagues of life," who are continually changing their maids, and who are in a chronic state of misery concerning them, are usually ignorant of what housework involves, and, it may be added, are sometimes slightly unreasonable.
[-136-] It cannot be said that so far women have been very successful in managing those placed under them. They generally make one of two mistakes. Either they leave things altogether, and let the housekeeping go on in a happy-go-lucky sort of way, or they superintend and reprove a servant to such an extent that her life becomes a burden to her. They need to strike a happy medium - to carefully lay down reasonable practicable rules of work, and to be satisfied when these rules are fairly carried out. If a girl knows what her work is, that it is possible to accomplish it, and that her mistress understands the details of it sufficiently to appreciate it when accomplished, she will be more likely to do it than if simply left to carry it out or not, as she feels inclined; or, on the other hand, if followed and worried whilst it is in process.
It is perhaps scarcely necessary to say that all goods must be paid for when they are bought, they must on no account be purchased on credit. The credit system is one that can scarcely be spoken against too strongly, for it has led to pecuniary difficulties in many a home. Fortunately it has been decried so vigorously, and the evils connected with it have been exposed so ruthlessly, that it is very much less practised amongst middle-class householders than it once was. A great many people, tradesmen especially, have a strong objection to cooperative stores; but whatever the opinion held concerning them may be, there is no doubt that they have benefited the community to this extent, that they have struck a blow at the system of encouraging customers to buy what they cannot afford, and enabling them to put off the day of payment, by allowing unlimited credit to all who are in a fairly good position.
There are still other items to be taken from the sum set aside for housekeeping, which can on no account be omitted, but which it is impossible to state in exact terms, because they must necessarily vary with the position, habits, and associations of the family. These are the sums required for the private expenses of the master of the household, and for charitable purposes. The amount which can be spent prudently in this way must as a matter of course be determined by the head of the family, and also as a matter of course they must be regarded as part of the living expenses, and therefore be deducted from the half of the income devoted to them. Indeed it will be obvious that alt extra expenses must be paid for out of this half. There are certain items which so long as ordinary arrangements continue must be provided. Amongst these are rent, taxes, wages, season tickets, and insurance. These therefore must be paid first. After these, come the items which are affected by economy and management, such as coal, gas, clothing, &c. If for these a sum barely sufficient is allowed, it is evident that all additional expense must be taken from housekeeping. Difficulties are also sure to arise unless a margin is allowed for incidental expenses. When all these things are taken into consideration, it will not be found that half the income is by any means over-much to allow for housekeeping expenses.
The next item which comes under consideration in the expenditure of the income is clothing. Here we find that when there is an income of £500 a year, £62 10s. is set aside for this purpose ; where there is an income of £400 a year, an expenditure of £50 per annum is permitted; and with an income of £300 a year, £35 per annum is allowed. It would follow that in the first instance the father and mother could each take £24 per annum for dress, while the children had £14 10s. between them. In the second instance the father and mother might have £20 each, and the children £10 amongst them. In the third instance the father might take £15 per annum, the mother £12, and the children £8.
INCOME AND MANAGEMENT.-VI.
IT is more than probable, seeing that so much is thought of dress and
appearance now-a-days, that housekeepers may come to the conclusion that too
small a proportion of the income has been here apportioned to dress. Surely, it
may be urged, a gentleman who is in receipt of £500 a year may spend more
than £24 over his own dress. There can be no doubt that dress is of importance.
Strong-minded individuals who disregard it usually have to pay a penalty, by
being treated with less respect and consideration by strangers than they would
be if their coats were less shiny at the seams, and their hats less worn at the
edge. Rich people can afford to disregard dress, poor ones must be respectably
attired or they will be looked down upon by their associates.
Yet, even while acknowledging this, it is believed that an ample allowance has been here made for apparel. For there is always one point worth remembering, namely, that amongst people of moderate income those appear the best dressed who keep only a small stock of clothing on hand, and wear it straight away, because what they have is made in the latest style. This is especially the case with ladies' dress, because the fashion in ladies' dress changes more quickly than with gentlemen's. A lady who has a stock of dresses and bonnets, and is obliged to be careful with them and wear them as long as possible, will soon look antiquated because her dresses will be out of date ; but she who has just what she requires, and no more, may wear a dress till done with, then buy another and have it stylishly made, and will look fashionably dressed all the time. We may take it for granted that it is not the detail in dress that is noticed, it is the tout ensemble; if the general appearance is good, the minutiae are disregarded; and so far as the estimate of general acquaintance is concerned, the mode is of more importance than the cost of material.
If this fact is once acknowledged and realised, the necessity of a large outlay will be at once done away with. Appearance is determined by the dress people have in wear, not by that which is lying folded up in their drawers, If what they have on fits well and is of recent date, no inquiry will be made as to the supposed stock laid by. Therefore from an economical point of view it is a mistake to purchase more than is absolutely wanted at the time. Let provision be made for present need, and so far as the number of dresses is concerned, let the future be arranged for at the moment.
An exception to this rule must, however, be made with regard to gentlemen's trousers. It is very extravagant to wear a pair of trousers straight away. Thus treated they are sure to look "baggy," especially at the knees, in a very short time, and the tailor will probably be blamed for an imperfect cut, when the fault lies really with the wearer. If trousers are to last, they should never be worn more than two days at one time. When a second pair is taken, the first pair should be brushed well and folded as a tailor folds trousers, that is, shaken out by the middle seam at the back, then laid away under pressure for two or three days. Some, gentlemen fold their trousers thus, and lay them away under the mattress, and when wanted they come out looking straight and fresh.
It does not follow from what we have said that the purchase of flimsy common material is permissible. On the contrary, experience proves that common materials are [-208-] always the most expensive in the long run. Well-made fabric will stand wear-and-tear, and can be made up in different forms with advantage, while "cheap stuffs" soon look shabby. Injudicious purchase of common material is especially improvident where children belong to the family. By the help of a little forethought, good taste, and management, the house-mother who is careful always to purchase good material, and who is herself a clever needle-woman, may dress children prettily and even stylishly at a very trifling expense. To do this, however, she must be willing and able to turn, re-turn, alter, remake, trim up, and change about in the most astonishing manner. She must also endeavour to divide the money at her disposal so that one year shall work in with another, and a heavy purchase in one direction be balanced by a saving in the opposite one. Thus, if an overcoat is wanted in the winter, the purchase of a holiday suit must be deferred until the next year, and summer mantles must be dispensed with if it is likely that waterproofs will be needed later.
There is one comfort connected with dressing children, and it is that they do not need new apparel all at once. Clothing, especially under-clothing, if well mended and laid aside before the child has outgrown it, can be worn by three or four children. One good set of baby-linen ought to serve four babies; that is, if new flannels are supplied when necessary. Babies' shirts, night-gowns, day-gowns, and robes, if made of good material and washed at home, will often serve for half a dozen babies. Therefore, while children are of tender years, expense is incurred chiefly with the elder ones, and even they may have a large portion of their clothing made of materials already partly worn by their parents. But it is a great mistake to alter a first baby's under-clothing to suit his increased size. As he grows, fresh clothes of good quality should be made to fit him, and those he leaves off will be ready for the brothers and sisters who succeed him. As the years roll on and the family increases, the mother will reap the advantage of having bought and made good clothing when she had time and money at command, seeing that the time may come when both time and money will be scarce.
The same may be said of under-clothing for the adult members of a family. Let every article needed be purchased of good material, be well made and neatly finished off, and it will wear three times as long as if made up in a slipshod style and of common material. The only way to keep a well-stocked wardrobe is to procure things good of their kind as wanted. Articles of clothing need not be elaborately trimmed, with embroidery and frillings. Such elaboration entails anxiety and constant expense in the washing and getting up of the linen; but they may be plainly trimmed, and neatly finished on the wrong side as well as on the right side, be kept in good repair, and they will amply repay the worker, and be a satisfaction and credit to their owner as long as they hang together. No habit is so easily acquired as that of putting up with inferior under-clothing. It is much easier to keep things in good condition than to bring them back after they have once fallen low. Expense can never be urged in justification of the purchase of ill-made under-clothing, for articles of this kind prove most costly in the end. There will be room for the exercise of both strength of mind and the determination of will, if the amount necessary for insurance and saving is to be put aside out of incomes which have already too many demands upon them. It is easy to let these items go, and the additional money supplied by the omission of these payments is usually most welcome, so that there is every temptation for a householder to turn a deaf ear to the demands of prudence and forethought - to live in the present, and to leave providing for to-morrow till to-morrow comes. But no man who truly loved his wife and children would wish to leave them exposed to the danger of having to struggle with poverty and want at the very time when their hearts were crushed by bereavement ; and no man who respected himself would be content to live comfort ably to-day with a prospect of being dependent upon others in old age and sickness.
INCOME AND MANAGEMENT.—VII.
AFTER all is said and done, the amounts put down in these calculations to be paid for insurance and savings are very trifling ; but if they can be continued they will make a very appreciable difference in the course of a few years. It is maintained that any one enjoying an income of £500 a year should assure his life for £1,000, should effect a fire insurance for £400, and an accidental insurance for £1,000 in case of death by accident, or of £6 per week in case of disablement by accident. Further, any one with an income of £400 a year should assure his life for £800, effecting insurances for fire for £300, and accidents for £700. The possessor of an income of £300 a year should insure his life for £500, should effect a fire insurance of £200, and an accidental insurance for £500 in case of death by accident, or £3 a week in case of disablement by accident. These insurances would probably cost:
|Insurance, Medical Attendance, and Savings,||£62||10s.|
|Life Assurance for £1,000 (of a tolerably healthy person from twenty-five to twenty-eight years of age)||£20 to 25||0||0|
|Fire Insurance for £400||0||8||0|
|Accidental Insurance of £1,000||3||4||0|
|Insurance, Medical Attendance, and Savings,||£40|
|Life Assurance for £700||£14 to £16||0||0|
|Fire Insurance for £300||0||6||0|
|Accidental Insurance for £700, about||2||12||0|
Thus leaving in the former case an average sum of Ј33, in the latter instances of about Ј21, for medical attendance and savings.
Medical attendance is a very uncertain quantity, nevertheless it may reasonably be expected that it would not mount up to more than £5 or £6 per year, and this would leave a moderate sum to be set aside altogether as a provision for the future Trifling though the amount may be, if once commenced, and if patiently continued, it would grow with increasing rapidity ; for savings are like snowballs, they grow more and more quickly as they roll on. The mere consciousness that an attempt was being made to save would inspirit a man to continue saving, for the people who live lavishly and extravagantly are those who live up to and beyond their income ; the people who are thrifty and economical are those who save out of it. It is by no means the rich who chiefly save ; and on the other hand, there are thousands of households which, out of very little, somehow do manage to put a trifle by for a rainy day.
A word still remains to be said about the sum devoted to the education of the children. It is obvious that during the early years of marriage the amount required would not affect the resources of the family very considerably ; as the children grew older, the education of the children would become one of the most serious items of expense. Does it not follow, therefore, almost as a matter of course that provision should be made in the years of plenty for the future years of famine?
Parents cannot be considered to have done their duty to their children until they have given them a liberal education. Wise men tell us that in the generation now growing up, the children of parents belonging to the middle class will be the worst-educated class of the community. The poor are well and thoroughly taught at the Board Schools ; the rich appreciate the advantages of education, and spare no expense in order that their children may possess them ; the middle class only (excepting in those extraordinary instances where the children can attend high schools and colleges) are being insufficiently taught. Middle-class parents should look to this matter. They may be quite sure that in the days which are coming, when, owing to the increase of population and the spread of education, competition will be keener and the strife for position in life more fierce than ever, those only who are thoroughly abreast with the times will be able to maintain their ground. However different it may have been in former days, culture is imperatively required at the present time. One of the most cruel things a parent can do is to send a child out into the world imperfectly educated.. It is better to cultivate his powers of mind, and to encourage the growth of high principle, than to leave him a fortune ; and he will be more likely to bless his parents' memory for the former gifts than for the latter. It is more than probable that parents will acknowledge the advisability of providing beforehand for the education of the children, yet it is very unlikely that they will act upon the suggestion. In the early days of marriage hope is high, and young housekeepers are inclined to think that time, which will bring the necessity for expenditure, will also bring the means of meeting it. Frequently this expectation is justified ; but it is decidedly more likely to be justified in the case of people who look forward and make arrangements for the future, instead of leaving the matter to chance.
INCOME AND MANAGEMENT.—VIII.
WITH regard to incidental expenses, it must be remembered that, however
calculating and careful we may be, we can never provide entirely for the
exigencies of life. Experienced persons will tell us that the proportion of
income here allotted to "Incidentals " is not sufficient. It is hoped
that this opinion is a mistaken one ; but for fear it should be correct, the
prudent housekeeper will do well to be exceedingly chary of availing himself of
the sum thus set aside. Not until the three hundred and sixty-five days of his
financial year have entirely run out, will he be justified in laying extravagant
hands upon the sum for Incidentals, of which it is more than probable there will
not be by that time one penny remaining.
We now come to the consideration of Ways and Means which call for still closer watchfulness and economy, namely, which may be adopted by those who have £100, £150, or £200 a year. This part of the subject becomes still more important when we remember that for every individual who has £300 a year, there are crowds who have not more than half or a third of the sum ; whilst the number of persons of education and refinement who endeavour more or less successfully "to make ends meet" on £150 a year (the average income for a clerk) is beyond calculation. Economical habits and methods now become specially valuable, and the possession of the managing faculty, and of the power of making the most of things, enables the individual to enjoy life and perform duty, while the absence of these capabilities converts existence into a mere struggle with impecuniosity.
Now, if never before, it is necessary that expenditure should be regulated by system, and that the income should be laid out according to a pre-arranged plan. And it is believed that, although in country places where rents are low the proportions given in the former instances might still be maintained, it would scarcely be possible to adhere to them in London and large towns where rents and rates are high. It will be remembered that those proportions were:-
Rent, Rates, Season Tickets, and Incidentals ... ... 3/16
Living ... 8/16
Clothing... ... ... ... 2/16
Insurance, Doctor's Bills, and Savings .... 2/16
This would give us, with an income of £200 a year, £37 10s. for rent ; with an income of £150 a year, £28 2s. 6d. ; and for an income of £100 a year, £18 15s., or about 7s. a week for rent, This, it will be very generally admitted, is not sufficient, and therefore those proportions must be left, and the money may be divided as follows :—
Expenditure of Income of £200 a year.
Rent, Rates and Taxes, and cost of Locomotion for the head of the family... £40 0 0
Living .... £95 0 0
Insurance, Savings, and Doctor's Bills .... £ 15 0 0
Clothing ... £ 30 0 0
Education ... £12 0 0
Incidental Expenses £ 8 0 0
[total] 200 0 0
Expenditure of Income of £150.
Rent, Taxes, and Cost of Locomotion ... ... £35 0 0
Living ... ... £ 70 0 0
Insurance, Savings, &c. £ 10 0 0
Clothing ... £ 25 0 0
Education ... £ 5 0 0
Incidentals ... £ 5 0 0
[total] £ 150 0 0
Expenditure of an Income of £100.
Rooms (about 7s. 6d. per week) ... £20 0 0
Housekeeping ... £ 52 0 0
Clothing £ 15 0 0
Education .. £ 3 0 0
Insurance £ 5 0 0
Incidentals £ 5 0 0
[total] £100 0 0
[-268-] It may seem at first sight that in these
calculations an unnecessarily high sum has been set aside for rent, yet no one
will thus regard it who has had any experience in the matter, and who has been
compelled at any time to hunt for houses, and thus obtained an idea of the high
rents which are asked in London and other large towns for houses of moderate
size and limited accommodation. In certain districts fairly good houses may be
rented for £28 per annum, while in other parts the same houses would cost £35
per annum. When one-third of the sum is added for House Tax, Assessed Taxes,
Water Rate, and cost of locomotion, this would give us £37 in the first
instance, and nearly £44 in the second instance. And if we could bring before
us the houses for which these rents were asked, they would not be regarded as
unsuited to the needs of families enjoying the incomes under consideration. In
country places and small towns, on the contrary, a very comfortable dwelling
might be rented for £18 or £20. It is probable that in these cases the surplus
would need to be divided between clothing and education.
INCOME AND MANAGEMENT—IX
In places where rents are high, it is very
doubtful whether it is not wise to hire rooms or to take part of a house instead
of renting a whole one. It is acknowledged that, where it is practicable, it is
much pleasanter to have an entire house for one family, and so escape
interference or remark of any kind ; but even this satisfaction may be purchased
too dear. Excellent unfurnished apartments for a small family, with the use of a
kitchen, may be hired for about 15s. per week, and this would be less than £40 a
year, nothing further being required for rates. It is not at all likely,
however, that an entire house in a like neighbourhood could be rented for less
than £50 a year, and then rates and taxes would have to be made an addition to
the sum. Sometimes an arrangement is made by which two families divide a house
between them, and this plan is a very successful one where both parties fulfil
their share of the contract. Judgment must be exercised, however, in deciding
upon the position and character of those who thus share the responsibility of
renting a house, for many an honest man has been brought into difficulties
through trusting the powers and good intentions of others too unreservedly.
In some parts houses are let in flats, each flat being provided with accommodation for the requirements of a family, and being arranged so that it can be kept quite separate from the rest of the house. Those who have lived in fats almost always speak well of them, and it is to be wished that the plan was in greater favour with builders than it is. There are but few houses built upon this system in the south of England, though they are usual and popular with our thrifty neighbours across the Border.
When, following the arrangement here laid down, we come to deal with the living expenses of the family, we find that we have to manage with a sum of £95 from incomes of £200 a year, £70 from incomes of £150, and £52 from incomes of £100 a year. Before, however, we can expend any of this money in the ordinary daily wants of the family, we must deduct certain sutras to meet the expenses required for gas, coal, and wages. These may be calculated as follows :-
From the sum of £95 allowed for housekeeping expenses in the case of an income of £200 a year, there must be deducted
Servant's wages £10 0 0
Gas £4 0 0
Coal £8 0 0
[Total] £22 0 0
Leaving a balance of £73, or £1 8s. per week, for housekeeping.
From the sum of £70 allowed for living in the case of an income of £150 per year, there must be deducted
Gas £4 0 0
Coal £8 0 0
[Total] £12 0 0
Leaving a balance of £58, or £1 2s. per week, for housekeeping.
From the sum of £52 allowed for living in the case of an income of £100 a year, there must be deducted —
Gas £3 0 0
Coal £6 0 0
[Total] £9 0 0
Leaving a balance of £43, or an average sum of 16s. 6d. per week, for living
It will be seen from these figures that, although provision has been made for a servant where the income amounts to £200 a year, it is not considered desirable that a servant should be kept when the income is below that sum. For it must always be remembered that the expense of a servant has not been told when her wage has been named. A few years ago it used to be said that amongst well-to-do people a servant cost 10s. a week apart from her wage. At the present day, when provisions have risen in price, it is usually found that a servant costs 12s. per week beyond her wage. Even where economy is exercised and great frugality is observed, and mere necessaries alone provided, it may be taken for granted that the food and laundry expenses of a clever young girl will not amount to less than 7s. a week. And when it is remembered also that the girls who take general situations of this kind are unfortunately seldom clever, but are too often careless and ignorant, it will be acknowledged that the cost of keeping such a one is not covered when the food she eats is paid for. On the contrary, it is to be feared that, excepting in rare cases, such a girl will waste, break, and spoil far more than she uses.
It has been proved again and again that the housekeeper who is able and willing to undertake personally the performance of the domestic duties required by the household has far more satisfaction and comfort, and is able also to devise plans for economy more successfully, than she who employs an inefficient, ignorant girl, even though the latter may receive a very small wage. It is not every housekeeper, however, who understands the details of household work sufficiently to do this ; and even where there is the skill, there is not always the physical strength required for the business. Yet even in these cases it will generally be found that it is better to engage an honest, clever woman to come two or three times a week to do the heavier part of the work, rather than to engage a regular servant. A house divided against itself cannot stand, and it too frequently happens that while the mistress and house-mother is doing all in her power to save and spare, the servant is acting in such a way that all her efforts are rendered fruitless.
The cordial co-operation of the various members of the family will do a great deal to render domestic work comparatively easy. If every one will take his or her part not only in doing what is necessary, but in preventing the necessity for work, things may be managed very comfortably. Even children maybe trained to practise thought and consideration for others, so that needless labour may be spared. And if, in addition to this, each individual will do his or her share of the actual labour required, no one person need be over-burdened or overwrought.
Various labour-saving appliances are also very much on the increase now-a-days, and the housekeeper who can obtain them will considerably lessen her difficulties and strengthen her position. Washing machines, wringing machines, sewing machines, knife-cleaning machines, mincing machines, gas-stoves, &c. &c., may be bought at reasonable prices, and help to make household work easy. The housekeeper who wishes to know what are the latest inventions of this kind should pay a visit to one of the agricultural shows which are held at stated intervals in large towns, and she will be rejoiced to find how clever men are devoting their genius to help her in her difficulties.
Strict watchfulness and economy will be required in regulating the expenses connected with gas and coal. Here the precautions already recommended with regard to this part of the subject in cases where a larger income is at the disposal of the housekeeper should be noted. At the same time it will be found that there is no surer way of reducing the amount of these items than that very obvious one of limiting the number of fires which are lighted, and reducing the number of burners employed. Here also the advantage will be found of dispensing with [-308-] a servant. Badly-trained domestics will not be economical with coal and gas, and a little carelessness with regard to these items soon makes itself felt in the expenditure. When the daily wants of a family consisting of five or six persons or more have to be provided out of a weekly sum amounting to £1 8s. or £1 2s. or 16s. 6d. per week, it is evident that there will not be very much latitude for extravagance, especially when it is remembered that the necessary personal expenses of the master of the house have tube deducted from these amounts. Strict economy will therefore be required if a sufficiency of wholesome food is to be provided.
INCOME AND MANAGEMENT.—X.
A KNOWLEDGE of the foods which are inexpensive, and at the
same time wholesome and nourishing, is particularly valuable here, as is also a
knowledge of the best ways of cooking food. Few people now-a-days will make the
mistake of supposing that in providing food we have done enough if we have
procured that which will satisfy for awhile the feeling of hunger. We might do
this and yet might starve a person. We have to provide food which will give the
body just what it requires ; that is, we must supply warmth-giving food,
flesh-forming food, and mineral food to make bone ; and these materials must be
furnished in the right proportions if the individual is to be kept well and
The substances which are required by the body are contained in varying proportions in different foods, and a housekeeper displays good judgment by choosing the kind of food which the members of her family specially require, according to their age and state of health. Thus grown-up people need more meat than do children, but it does not follow from this that children do not need plenty of good food, and they cannot thrive unless they have it. Of late years an idea has prevailed amongst a certain class that too much has been said about the necessity of food, and that disease is caused more by people eating too much than by their having too little. There can scarcely be a greater mistake. It is true that there are people in the world who eat too much, and so get liver complaints, gout, and dyspepsia, but they are a very small part of the community, while hundreds and thousands have either less food than they need, or the wrong kind of food, and suffer in consequence.
Milk is the most perfect food that we have. It contains everything the body requires. When new, it supplies warmth and helps to make flesh, and is the only safe food for infants. When too rich for a child's stomach it should be mixed with water. All children ought to drink it daily, either alone or with other food. Skimmed milk is cheaper than fresh milk, and very nourishing puddings may be made of it by mixing about a tea-spoonful of finely-shred suet with every pint of milk. Porridge made with milk, and bread, make the best supper and breakfast that it is possible to obtain. Fortunately milk is an inexpensive food. It may usually be bought for 4d. per quart.
Bread is one of the cheapest of foods. One pound of bread contains about ten ounces of heat-giving food, two ounces of flesh-forming food, one-sixth of ashes, and four ounces of water. The most nourishing bread is made from "seconds" flour.
Peas, lentils, oatmeal, flour, and ground rice are vegetable flesh-formers ; macaroni and semolina are made from wheat, and constitute most nourishing food. Lime and phosphorus, which make bone, are found chiefly in bread and oatmeal. Lentils are the most nutritious of grains. All these foods are inexpensive. Mrs. Buckton says, "One pound of any one of these will give a man as much strength as three pounds of lean beef, or three pounds of veal, or three pounds of ham boiled, or nine bottles of pale ale, or six bottles of stout." Corn-flour and arrowroot are very poor food, especially for children, as they make only fat and very little bone and muscle ; sago and tapioca also are chiefly valuable because they are made with milk.
The body-warmers are oil or fat of all kinds, with the sugar and starch found in bread and vegetables. Green vegetables contain a large proportion of water, but they, like fresh fruit, help to purify the blood. Turnips, carrots, and parsnips, cabbage and cauliflowers, are very nourishing, but deficient in heat-giving substances. Onions are very wholesome and nourishing ; they constitute a very valuable article of food, and would be much more used than they are if it were not for the smell belonging to them. They are very cheap.
Potatoes are the best of all vegetables ; they contain heat-giving substances. Meat contains flesh-forming substances ; therefore potatoes and meat should be eaten together. Lean meat, fish, poultry, game, eggs, and cheese are animal flesh-formers. Cheese is exceedingly nourishing but indigestible, excepting for those who work in the open air. Tough stringy meat may be rendered excellent by long and gentle stewing. The most profitable pieces of meat that can be bought are taken from the thick flank and round of beef. The aitchbone of beef, the brisket of beef, and the thin flank are sold at a lower price than the other joints, but the bone and fat which they contain make them less valuable than they otherwise would be. A good fresh bone from which the meat has not been too closely cut is a most profitable investment. Hash can be made from the meat, soup from the bones, the fat can be rendered and used for making cakes or pastry. Ox-cheek, ox-heart, sheep's head, sheep's heart and liver are cheap, and are much favoured by economical people. Their excellence depends largely upon the mode of cooking. Good well-made soup is wholesome and nourishing food ; it can be made of both animal and vegetable substances at a very moderate cost.
Tea is very dear and very poor food, yet it is astonishing what numbers of people, especially women, drink it constantly. It is stimulating and refreshing, and this is probably the reason why it is so popular, yet when made with milk and sugar these substances constitute its chief value.
Where the income is limited, the mistress of the household must understand cooking if food is to be made the most of. A knowledge of this useful art will enable her not only to avoid waste, but to prepare and serve food so as to make it yield the utmost value. Good cookery can convert material into wholesome nourishing food which would be worse than worthless without it. The house-mother should therefore take advantage of every opportunity of acquiring skill in this direction, and she should endeavour not only to prepare food economically and agreeably, but also to supply variety. Dr. Erasmus Wilson, the celebrated " skin doctor," says that the diet of children cannot be too much varied, for change of food to the stomach is what change of air is to the general health. This he considers so rational a view that he wonders how any one can hold a different opinion ; yet he declares, I have met with parents who come to me and boast that their children are fed exclusively on mutton." Such children could never be really healthy, and every mother ought to remember that even in workhouses and orphanages, where everything has to be reduced to the strictest economy, a varying diet during the week has been found to be an absolute necessity. The human palate craves for some amount of change ; and where income is limited, and both quantity and quality of food have to be calculated closely, it is all the more important that the most advantageous use should be made of the means at disposal. It is astonishing what good use the French make, by their good cookery, out of poor materials.
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