Lake Charles American-Press from Lake Charles, Louisiana on July 5, 1964 · Page 43
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Lake Charles American-Press from Lake Charles, Louisiana · Page 43

Lake Charles, Louisiana
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 5, 1964
Page 43
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How typical is the housewife who says, "Spending money is my hobby"? Here, an expert on family finances delves into this fascinating subject m^ A STOCK CARTOON CHARACTER IS a plump, glassy-eyed, flighty matron returning home from a shopping spree laden with parcels. Everyone smiles at her consuming passion for spending— except her husband, who is one jump ahead of the sheriff. Is there a sound basis for this image of the American housewife as an irresponsible spendthrift, a "moron about money"? Or is the chronically extravagant wife a myth, one of the harshest canards of our time? Let's first look at some of the charges leveled against American housewives. In a depth study in Chicago last year by Social Research, Inc., women whose husbands earn from $8,000 to $15,000 made these devastating comments : "I love to spend money. I am always looking for something to buy. I think that's what money is for." "I don't care to deny myself anything because you never know whether you're going to wake up in the morning." "I feel that what is good for me is good for my husband, and spending money is my hobby." "Money is just paper. We could have a war tomorrow, and then where would we be?" In Detroit, when a man asked for a divorce on the grounds that his wife was extravagant, the court ruled against him. "If wifely extravagance were grounds for divorce," said the judge, "half the marriages in this country would be over before they were fairly started." In New York, a probing reporter found that, in shops where dresses cost as high as $500, many women pay partly in cash. When the bill arrives, their husbands don't know how much actually was spent for the dress. Psychiatrists, too, encounter the phenomenon of the prodigal woman. Dr. Eleanor Crissey, psychiatrist at Cornell Medical School, has asserted that the emotional problems of the spendthrift are related to those of the chronic alcoholic or gambler. By and large, when a woman overspends, it is in a specific area. The "clotheshorse" is a familiar type. Some wives splurge on luxury foods, others on kitchen gadgets. A suburbanite may go on a redecorating binge whenever her husband receives a raise. Unmarried working women are apt to be extravagant on personal jewelry and beauty preparations. Many mothers overspend only for their children. I believe this is because the average American woman has high aspirations for her youngsters, and she wants them to have the material things she was denied as a child. Also prevalent is the self-inflicted pressure to keep up with the Joneses' offspring. Now for a Fair Appraisal Thus far, I may have conveyed the impression that wifely extravagance is widespread. Emphatically, this is not so. From reports of members of the National Committee for Education in Family Finance across the country, it is clear that the vast majority of American women are determined to live within their family income. Remember, most girls take home-economics courses (including instruction in family finances), while boys usually do not receive such training. After marriage, women tend to have a thriftier attitude toward money and to be more critical in their approach to decisions affecting the use of family earnings. The average middle-income woman is actually an astute shopper. She is highly concerned with quality and value and takes time before buying. For a major item, she may go to six or eight stores, much to the annoyance of her impatient husband. She usually is better informed than her husband on brand differences, fabric quality, etc. She is likely to go to the trouble to read up on differences and discuss them with friends, relatives, and neighbors. When it comes to appliances —the tools of her job at home-—she will get the benefit of her neighbors' experience with them, question dealers in detail, and consult consumer publications. family Weekly. July 5, 1964

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