Lake Charles American-Press from Lake Charles, Louisiana on July 5, 1964 · Page 46
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Lake Charles American-Press from Lake Charles, Louisiana · Page 46

Lake Charles, Louisiana
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 5, 1964
Page 46
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Family W&cJclyf July 5,1964 Are American Women Spendthrifts ? By HEROLD C HUNT, ED. D. Profaowr of Education, Hanard Umvonity; Choirww. National Cummin.* far Education iit Faa% finance with Theodore Irwin "Women spend money like conservative trustees in charge of someone else's money," the head of a leading chain of department stores once pointed out. "Men's participation in shopping is growing, for which we are duly thankful. It has been demonstrated over and over again that sales checks go up when Father goes along." Most women tend to adhere closely to their shopping lists. One survey by a Philadelphia marketing consultant found that, although women are inclined to pick up "bargains," these items usually fit into the family's needs. When an American housewife needs extra money for something she has her heart set on, several choices are open to her. On the basis of a Chicago poll, two out of five save out of household expenses, one out of five has a little nest egg put aside, one in four asks her husband for the money, and the remainder either go out and work for it or skimp on luxury foods. Wild shopping flings? Certainly they are uncommon. It is in big cities, where a housewife is cloaked in anonymity, that she is apt to be flagrantly overindulgent. In small- or medium- sized communities, her friends and neighbors are a built-in brake on spending—for word of financial indiscretions gets around fast in such places. On the rare occasions when a homemaker does go on a "buying spree," it may be after a windfall or an emotional upset. Sometimes a domestic quarrel will trigger it as a form Of economic retribution to punish the husband. Such compulsive buying is likely to be a temporary aberration, however, with subsequent remorse and penny-pinching. Regret and reform are also evidenced by women who make intemperate status-seeking purchases to keep up with the Joneses. This often happens in the first two years after a family tneves t© a new suburban community. After having experimented for a while with that expensive social pastime, the average suburban wife realizes it is a waste of money and energy, mends her ways, and settles down to sensible spending. Sociologists tell us that women tend to be more security-conscious than men. Women have strong feelings about long-range goals involving large sums of money, such as for buying a home, life insurance, or setting funds aside for the college education of the children. Perhaps this is because wives tend to outlive their husbands. But whatever the reason, the fiscal conservatism of women is recognized by credit managers of banks and finance companies, who are more willing to lend money if the wife is a cosigner. Not unusual is the experience of a young salesman I know. "In the first five years of my marriage," he told me, "we didn't save a dollar. But after I turned over all our bills and budgeting to my wife, she managed to save $3,000 in a year and a half! I still marvel at how she did it." Som* Splurging May B« JustHted Of course, often what appears to be splurging is legitimate spending. I do not consider it extravagant, for example, for a wife to entertain lavishly if it is important in furthering her husband's career. Also, spending more on a girl's clothes may be necessary if it helps her to fit more comfortably into her social environment. Certainly there is nothing wrong in a woman indulging herself at times—provided she remains basically in control of her available funda. The true spendthrift is one who habitually buys without plan, acquires more than she needs, and runs up debts she knows her husband can't afford. How can a homemaker avoid falling into the spendthrift pattern? One safety check is for both husband and wife to agree not to buy anything over $25 or $50 without first consulting their mate. A joint checking account also would apprise the man of the house how much was spent each month and for what. Most important, there should be a family council at which the couple (along with the children if they are old enough) sits down aJid realistically allocates funds for fixed expenses and discretionary outlays. Family goals—whether they are for a vacation, a new car, or education— should be decided upon. If the lady of the house respects the family program, she won't turn out to be a spendthrift. Every family has its own preferences as to recreation, food, clothing, and other budget categories. Depending on whether a family wants to eat hamburgers in a fine home or steak in an adequate house, anywhere from 20 to 35 percent of the family income can go for shelter. A person with a $12,000 income generally will spend a smaller percentage of his earnings for clothes and more for entertainment than a family with a $6,000 income. Still, the following sample formula may be helpful to get you started, to stimulate your thinking about your own spending, and to guide you as to what to include in your finance plan. For a family with two small children, on take- home pay of about $7,000, this is how expenditures might be allocated: Food and beverages 27% Housing 20% Clothing and upkeep 9% Transportation (car and fares) 9% Medical and dental care 8% Insurance 5% Household operation 4% Furnishings 3% Recreation and entertainment 3% Contributions and gifts 2% Personal care 2% Personal expenses (tobacco, etc.) 2% Advancement (reading, education) 1% Union dues 1% Savings *% Obviously, adjustments should be made to fit your own family's goals. The trend is for American families to spend less for such necessities as food and clothing and a larger share of income for education, medical care, and recreation. Because paychecks have increased in the past decade, more money is left over for discretionary spending—a temptation to the free spender. Today ^nbre than ever; the: tendency^^speeiat ly in middle-income homes—is for the housewife to assume responsibility for managing the famDy funds and bills. Despite the spendthrift exceptions you hear about, American women usually do a fine job of it. Family Weekly, July 5,1961

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