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$600 a year continued

May 16th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Some more quotes from the $600 a year book.

"When we undertook to keep house on the small income of six hundred a year, i knew that it would require the strictest economy in order to make our expenses come within that sum, and so, from the beginning, I kept a close account of everything we bought. At starting we had this advantage,--and I mention it here for the benefit of the great family of young housekeepers who, like ourselves, must make the most of a little, Arthur had saved a hundred dollars before we were married, and with this little capital he laid in the following supplies to begin with: a barrel of light-brown sugar, five tons of coal, a pot of lard, ten bushels of winter potatoes, a box of brown soap, and a firkin of good butter. With these supplies we were able to start fairly, and, by my good management, I contrived to keep ahead. I soon ascertained that we were able to consume about two pounds of sugar a week, and in my weekly settlements I was careful to charge myself with that amount; also for the potatoes and other articles; these sums being laid aside, week by week, until, when the original supplies were exhausted, I had enough saved to buy more. By thus purchasing by wholesale I saved many dollars, in the year's expenses. But the accounts must be kept, and these amounts reserved, just as conscientiously as if the articles had
been purchased every week; else this plan of wholesale supply will prove a positive disadvantage to the housekeeper, by creating the impression that there is a surplus of money in the treasury. In the beginning I laid the following plans, which at once furnished me with the key to my future operations. The house-rent was reserved first, and that left me just $600, which, divided by fifty-two, gave me $ 11.54 for my weekly expenses.

Our coal for the year-- five tons,at $7 each - cost $ 35, or a fraction over sixty-seven cents a week; -and this also I deducted and laid aside, together with the other reserves, for sugar, potatoes, butter, lard, and soap. We had laid in ten bushels of potatoes at fifty cents per bushel, and as we used but one peck a week, they cost only twelve and a half cents. The lard, in these hard times, had cost eighteen cents a pound, and we used, on an average, a half-pound every week; this was nine cents more. Then the butter -three pounds at thirty cents -came to ninety cents; brown soap cost ten cents, and about three quarters of a pound sufficed for all the wants of the week, including washing. I know I saved at least a quarter pound of soap each week by my plan of always cutting up a large quantity of it into pieces of convenient size, and spreading them out in the attic to harden well. A piece of soap thus hardened will not melt away in hot water as rapidly as a freshly cut one is sure to do. Well, by the time I had prepared my list of weekly expenses it stood somewhat as follows: * At the date of which we are writing, when we really began our housekeeping, - -1860,- prices'of provisions were not quite so high as we have here stated; but by the time we came to lay in our second or third supplies they had risen much higher. Intending these rules to be some guide even in these times, we have therefore given prices to correspond more nearly with subsequent and present rates, taking a medium between the lowest former prices and the extremes which prevailed during the war.

Coal . . . . . . . $ 0.67 Potatoes . . . . . . .. O.12 Lard . . . . . . . . 0.09
Butter . . .. . 0.90
Soap . . .07
Two pounds Sugar, at $ 0.13 . . 0.26 Girl's Wages .. 1.50

Total, . $3.62

When this sum was deducted from the grand total of $ 11.54, it left me just $ 7.92 for the remaining household expenses. Of these my account book furnished me with the following list, for one week:-

Wheat Flour, twelve pounds . . . . $0.30 One dozen Eggs 0.25
Half-pound Coffee . . . . 25
Eighth pound Tea .0.15
Meat or a Substitute, $ 0.25 per day . . 1.75
Milk, one quart per day at $ 0.07 - 0.49 Salt, Rice, Indian Meal, Vinegar, Spice, Lights, &c. 1.00
Occasional Expenses, such as Brooms, Brushes, &c. 0.50

Total, . $ 4.69

I was thus in possession of $3.23, as a, reserve fund for clothing and other incidentals. Allowing seventy-three cents of this every week for extras that might be needed in the house, we had at least $125 per annum for our clothing; and with careful management we were able to dress ourselves very genteelly on that Amount. For myself, a few good dresses were better than many poor ones, and I have always found it the cheapest to buy good material, even if the first cost is rathergreater, than to get a coarse or thin article, which will last but a single season. I do not mean by this, however, that I bought expensive or extravagant dresses, or showy or costly shawls and cloaks. One dress of a season, of alpaca, cashmere, or all-wool delaine, cost about $ 12, including mak- ing and trimming; for I could sew it entirely myself, merely pta:ing a dressmaker to cut and fit it for me, at a cost of twenty-five cents. For summer, a nice barege, or some similar mate- rial, could be had for about $ 6, and a calico for $ 2 more"

3 Responses to “$600 a year continued”

  1. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    I wonder how they used two pounds of sugar per week. Interesting, too, that they spent as much as they did on a household employee....I harden my soap before use, as well. Mine is stashed in the phone table.

  2. sagegirl Says:

    Now, see, that is a perfect example of good planning and bugeting. i love it!

  3. Petunia Says:

    It's interesting to read these older works - there's nothing new under the sun! She had a goal, planned carefully, and kept a close eye on her progress.

    I love the way she handled her clothes - having the dressmaker cut and fit, and then she did the sewing herself. It's way harder to fit a garment than to do the actual sewing. I sometimes think when a garment looks nice on us, it's the fit we are noticing.

    And. . . "firkin". How often do we get to use a word like that? Smile

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