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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

13 October 1955 “Thrift and Budgets and Free Entertainment, Oh My!”

First, let me say that I think starting next Monday might be good for our VICTORY WEEK. If others have already started, great, let’s hear your results. I think there was some confusion about when to begin and I now have an out of town guest, so would rather focus on it next week, I hope this is alright with everyone.
schoolroom Now, kids, settle into your desks and no talking or note passing, it’s educational film time. So, take notes there WILL be a quiz afterwards!
I thought it important that we watch this little film on thrift.

First off, there is a lot in this little film. I like how right off the bat this movie has our modern world down pat:  Jack (the kid in the argyle sweater) orders the biggest fanciest thing on the menu, and I couldn’t help but think of Starbucks or any chain restaurant like Chili’s etc.
Next, we see the following budget illustrated for the family. It does not show what they earn, but I found out that an average American middle class family in 1948 earned around $3,058  which is around 25,000 in modern money.  (that is according to an historical census bureau report for Median income of that year for a family with a non working wife.) When I add up this family’s  itemized budget (and we assume this allocating ALL of this family’s weekly amounts in the budget) that  this family is earning around 3,848.00 a year, so they are right in the middle and equivalent to today’s earnings of 35,000.  So really, that is an average lower-middle class income today as well, so to see what they allocate a week  SHOULD be comparable to today.
Food                                                        18.00
Household                                            20.00
Clothing                                                    8.00
Recreation                                               3.00
Family Welfare                                       5.00
Transportation                                       4.00
Benevolences                                          3.00
Savings                                                       5.00
Allowances                                               
     Father                                                      3.00
     Mother                                                     3.00
      Jack                                                          2.00

So translated for today, a family earning 35,000 a year should be able to use the following budget.
Food                                                         160.00
Household                                              180.00
Clothing                                                     70.00
Recreation                                                25.00
Family Welfare                                        45.00
Transportation                                        36.00
Benevolences                                           25.00
Savings                                                        45.00
Allowances
     Father                                                     28.00
     Mother                                                    28.oo
     Jack                                                          18.00
So, now with my inflation calculator I can translate this into today’s dollars and we can compare with our own budgets. Some of the numbers surprised me, but then I began to look at taxation in 1948 compared to today. It was rather interesting. Again, me a simple little homemaker who has to use a budget begins to wonder, where DOES all of our money go? I think once  such women would be involved in local government in hosting campaign meetings and having their voice heard for local and national politics.
I found this information concerning taxation in 1948 compared to today (2009) rather interesting.
In 1948 the average family of four sent just two cents of every dollar they earned to the federal government for taxes. Today a family of four sends Uncle Sam 25 cents out of every dollar earned. But that’s not where the tax bite stops. State and local taxes, sales tax, value added taxes, utility taxes, gasoline taxes, medical taxes and deductions, property taxes, telephone taxes—the list goes on and on.
The average worker in this country works until May 6 each year to pay off his federal tax, until May 23 to pay the taxes levied by Congress, and until July 3 to pay all federal, state, and local taxes. This means the average wage earner works more than six months of every year for the government before he can keep the first nickel of his personal income for his own use.
Of a family meal at a local restaurant that costs you $40, fully $11 of the tab goes for taxes of some kind. Federal tax, payroll tax, state tax, sales and use tax, unemployment insurance tax, property tax, business license tax and fees, telephone, utility, liquor and excise taxes, and more. But if the impact of so much taxation is hard on local businesses, it’s even harder on the families paying the bills.
In 1948 the $600 per child tax credit was equal to 42 percent of the average wage-earner’s per capita income. If that exemption had been adjusted for the rise in income over the years, it would now be worth more than $9,000 per child (42 percent of average per capita income). But the deduction, as a percentage of per capita income, has dropped precipitously from 42 percent in 1948 to less than 12 percent today.

Now, in the film we see Jack’s  ‘entertainment’ budget would be equal to today’s money $8.00. A child could not even see a movie for $8.00 today, which is ridiculous. It makes me want to say to big American films:” Yes, please spend millions on special affects and overpaid actors so we can use up our small money to watch you do it for two hours in a dark movie theatre! “
When I see these things I realize we can’t just say, “Oh, things were cheaper back then”, because they all were not. And when they were cheaper it was because what was charged is realistic to what you get. The expectation was equal to the cost. Today, we think nothing of plunking down 20.00 at a movie for ourselves. Think about it: even if you earn above my states min wage (which is currently 8.25 an hour I believe) say you earn 9.00 an hour.  You would have had to work your job for over two hours just to sit and be entertained and eat overpriced food in the dark for two hours. Is it a fair trade? Does the relaxation of such an endeavor make up for what you could have saved and possibly not had to work as much the following year?
This point is really driven home when next in this film we see Jack notice an advert for a local dance at the cost of $1.00. He realizes that is exactly his weeks entertainment budget, but he also wants to see a movie. So, he has to DECIDE which to choose. Today we would say, “Oh, go do both, you DESERVE it, you need a break, a chance to unwind after all your hard work”. That seems to be the biggest lure to our current spending habits. The idea that we DESERVE something when we can’t have it. What  this really means is we simply spend what we don’t have to feed a growing economy that doesn’t care about us, but the money in our pocket, so they trick us into thinking how much we DESERVE to spend our money on their entertainment, items, food, etc. And with credit cards and even Debit cards, its easy to overspend! Banks also want you to do overspend, because they make most of their money from fees.
Such a simple act as saying, “I have this much, so maybe choose one thing and save the rest” is not that grand of a concept, but boy do we not seem to get that as a nation! Even our own countries budget is an example of this type of living.
When the voice over in the movie exclaims, “Well, you can’t have everything you want” I almost laughed. So much of today’s advertising is about, “Having it all”. Even the lure of the big box stores is that you DESERVE to have it all, so buy it here, it’s cheaper. How about not buying it unless you need it or really want it.
I think we have become a nation of people who don’t even KNOW what we want anymore. We are so defined by our spending that we just think it is a normal part of the function of our day, like breathing and eating, we must shop. The joke saying that has been on everything from t-shirts to bumper stickers “I shop therefore I am” is so on point; so succinct to today’s culture.
When next in the film, Jack’s pen breaks he realizes he can just fix it and make do; there is another lost concept.  “Why bother,” says modern man, “ I’ll just go buy some new things, they are so cheap, right”? But, even if something is really cheap at Wal-Mart not buying it is still saving more than buying a replacement for it. Also, if it weren’t so cheaply made in the first place to make it so cheap, it would probably last longer!
When the narrator says, “Buying Cheap unsatisfactory products is NEVER thrifty” I had to laugh. Wow! That would never be said today. The very base of the big box stores is make it cheap so you can sell it cheap and it will break and you have to buy it more. I actually found out that at Home Depot they have the big name Tool manufacturers make a cheaper version of their tools so they can undersell the local hardware stores. The only thing, of course, is it will break faster than the local one made of better products, say metal where they would use plastic, and it would be easier to repair than the cheap one as well.
The more I realize how many layers of our current society is just built around the inability to not over spend or make a budget, the more I am baffled, especially when you see the answer is SO SIMPLE.
DON’T  SPEND MORE THAN YOU HAVE!
So simple, but we have been programmed, trained for many generations now that we must HAVE things to be happy. Our very self worth is tied up in our clothes and shoes and handbags, our cars and new TVs and computers and games and entertainment. But, the very root of it all, it seems to me we are really unhappy.  I know my 2008 self was COMPLETELY defined by my shopping and things. Was I happy? NO, and then when I began to do what we considered silly outdated degraded chores, I suddenly began to feel self-worth and happiness. I wonder why? Could it be that THINGS don’t make you happy? But, no one says it. Everything seems to be made to be more complicated than it actually is so we can’t just figure it our for ourselves. WE need more drugs to make us happy and more things! It’s too hard to just economize and save!
But, is it? Can’t we do without some things so when we do give ourselves the treat, like Jack and the ‘big game tickets’, it feels more special and fun?!
woman at desk So, what can we do? I mean how do we stop it? I guess really, we just have to take our individual personal responsibilities to heart and look at our spending and our happiness ratio. I know we are just a small band of Apron Revolutionaries, but I think if we start in our own backyards, in our own personal budgets and work out, maybe we can make a difference.
So, how do your own family budgets compare? I am going to go over mine again and see. According to this, if you were a 35,000 a year family now you would be saving $180.00 a month from your paycheck and your HOUSEHOLD (which I am assuming is your mortgage, electric, phone etc) would only be $720.0 a month! Consider that with today’s over inflated real estate prices  in addition to the cable bill and the internet bill etc. plus the higher percentage of taxes paid out, it is a wonder that we can survive. Yet, what do we all do? SPEND.
I mean, when you look at these budgets we should have very little to spend on, yet we have new TVs and computers and phones multiple times a year! We spend on cars what a home would have cost. But, having never really been taught to LOOK at the budget and to SAVE, we just buy into it and end up in debt and then we need to save pennies after all our luxury goods so we go back to the big box stores and feed right back into the very problem we have made for ourselves. We don’t need a place to buy a flat screen TV for LESS we just don’t NEED to buy a flat screen tv or a new car until the SAVINGS comes first! I can’t tell you how eye opening this little movie was for me.
So, we may not be able to affect the insane amount of tax we currently pay (which I would not even be angry about if it were allocated for the benefit of all Americans, like Healthcare and education instead of an insane welfare system that only keeps people in the system) but we can affect our own spending. I am going to sit down and go over my budget again and get it right down to the penny. Then, it will actually be EASY. I will know I can only spend an exact amount each week for my entertainment and if something comes up, then I will decide what is more important that week, a little less savings or the item or show or maybe, I could find a cheaper or free form of entertainment. So much of our modern entertainment costs money. What entertainment could we think of this week that is low or now cost? Cards, Sewing/knitting bee, coffee and sweets at home instead of Starbucks with friends? Let’s hear it ladies, free entertainment ideas and I want to know how this 1948 budget fits with your own families? Let’s talk about this, I am curious about budgets and spending and modern entertainment money being spent.

48 comments:

  1. There are so many inflated costs connected with today's budgets that it is almost impossible to feel comfortable with any budget. My husband was a state employee for 22 1/2 years and as of right now, the monthly cost of health insurance on the state family plan (Blue Cross) is $1,100 per month; yes, that's $1,100 every month. It doesn't matter if you are just a COUPLE or have 6 children; the cost is the same. Since the state pays every 2 weeks, that is $550.00 out of every pay check. It doesn't matter if you are a secretary, a lab worker, or management, the cost is the same. Since my husband retired, we have the state (Blue Cross) Medicare supplement which is right about $560 per month, that is plus our individual Medicare payments (which are $90 plus for each(I think it is $93 for EACH of us). When you also consider automobile costs: gas, maintenance, and car insurance. Then electricity, water & sewer, phone land line, cell phones, cable & internet; it all becomes insane and mind boggling just for what is considered "Basics". It is a constant stress point just to take stock of how complicated modern life has become. When you compare a good solid budget of the 1950's to now, today's so called basics seem just plain crazy and it feels as though common sense has completely gone by the wayside. Dianne

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  2. I agree with Anonymous - my hubbin' is a gov't employee too with Blue Cross. Though, the insurance is cheaper than when I was working and single and had to pay almost 45% of my monthly salary for health insurance that I rarely ever used. Insurance has completely gotten out of control, imo.

    But on to other stuffs: “Buying Cheap unsatisfactory products is NEVER thrifty”
    My husband and I talk about this sooooo much. We actually thrift shop a ton for discarded real wood furniture that can be refinished. No sense buying the new-fangled particle board, veneer covered poop-excuse for furniture! It falls apart before one has even gotten use out of it!

    We have also cut down our cable, no land line, etc. We buy used movies super cheaply (check library sales!) and enjoy many evenings like that.

    Thanks for beginning next week! My husband got called away for work and my week is crazy with classes and an RT convention. I have been paying more attention to amounts since you posted the grocery list. We actually have not done too shabbily, yaay. I have been "stretching" meat products with vintage recipes. We've even been discussing delving into offals and now-days, discarded products that are so cheap to recreate vintage dishes that were enjoyed when people did not leave any portion of an animal go to waste.

    <3
    lpm

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  3. I think people today want instant gratification. I want it now, I'll have it now. My dad said people have lost the art of anticipating and saving for something important, and therefore they don't appreciate it when they get it. Also, they get a lot of things they don't want or need, just because of the impulse thing. Sounded true to me when dad said it.

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  4. Movie nights at home with freshly popped popcorn (using kernels from a bag, not the prepacked/flavored stuff), walks around town or in the woods or on the beach and potluck block parties are a few I thought up. I'm excited to really sit down and do a line-by-line itemization of my expenditures! I know that I should be saving at least $200 a month. Where is that money going, when it could be going into a savings account?!

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  5. Long time reader (every post in fact) from Australia, first time poster, prompted by my shock at how much health insurance costs in the US. I am aware of the dire state the American Health System is in and how if you don't have insurance and need surgery or specialist health care you're really in a bad way, but it always struck me as kind of odd and a little bit silly that so many people would not have insurance. If it costs that much, now I know why!!! 45% of your salary? That's outrageous.

    I know this is kind of off-topic but you have got me intrigued now. You say the Blue Cross plan costs $1100 a month, could you elaborate on that (briefly of course, I know you're all busy)? What does that $1100 get you, ie, what does it cover? Do you get any of these payments back if you don't use the services during the year? Is this particularly expensive or are the other providers similar in cost?

    Kristy

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  6. Kristy - I'm no expert but this is my understanding. There are basically two types of health insurance. One type has a fixed co-pay which is what my family has. Under our plan we get an annual physical at no out of pocket cost and all scheduled check ups for babies are covered too. If we go to the dr with a problem it's $20. Out patient surgery is $250 and in patient is $500. There are added perks too like money back for fitness (gym fees and such) and a new baby program which offers new moms either a car seat or a breast pump. Nice benefits but it costs a pretty penny. The other type is percentage based where you might have to pay 20% of all medical bills, usually with an annual cap, which can really add up if you have a major accident or cancer for example.

    I don't know who it all breaks down between taxes and insurance and such but I think by the time my hubby's pay check gets to us we only get about 72% of his gross income. On one hand it seems ridiculous. On the other hand, my dad died when I was a young child and my mother managed to cobble together enough money from insurance and benefits to be a SAHM. Insurance and such is always something of a gamble but I'd rather pay a bit each month and possibly pay more than I get back in the end than be left with nothing if I didn't pay it.

    I'm having a case of the gimmes right now. Our kitchen is in serious need of an overhaul. I've fixed things so many times that I'm beginning to suspect that some of the cabinets may be held together by shelf liner and the stove and fridge are both rapidly approaching retirement. I know the cabinets and appliances I want but we are saving up before we buy them, probably not all the cash but at least a decent chunk of it. Trouble is, I looked at them this weekend and they're 20% off which isn't exactly pocket change! I know they'll have this sale again, probably a year from now which is probably about when we'll have the cash flow to do this but still the consumer fairy is sitting on my shoulder trying to seduce me with talk of reasonable credit terms and sweet tales of how wonderful it would be to have a functional kitchen again.

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  7. boy...it would be nice if the per child tax credit was $9,000 per child....hmmm..at 4 kids...jeee, that is almost our income last year TOTAL....

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  8. We are self-employed and pay a little over $1,000 in health insurance for three months. The thing is, this really doesn't get us anything unless it's a worst-case scenario. We pay all medical bills until we reach $5,000 (for the year)...then, the insurance company is supposed to pay from then on. While it seems that the insurance money is going down the tubes, it's reassuring to know that a major surgery or something shouldn't wipe us out. (this is how I understand it--I truly hope it works if/when we need it.)

    Starting the project next week sounds like a good idea. We've been painting and the house is jumbled up at the moment. Actually, we have a bit of a vintage theme going--we are repurposing my grandparents' red kitchen table from the 50's and are going to try a Jackson Pollack kind of painting for over the fireplace. The walls are key lime and lemon souffle. The bright colors are really cheerful.

    Kris7
    Working hard at www.sccworlds.com

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  9. We are basically a one income family, even when I was working full time we survived primarily on the money my husband made, my money was put in the bank.

    Consequently we only purchased our first and second home based on hubby's income alone. My income was "gravy" for a rainy day as far as we were concerned.

    So we were pretty set up to have a mostly SAHM with two kids when the time was right. I've been there for many boys for every sneeze, step, word etc., I will never regret taking the time out of my life to spend it with my kids.

    It can be done, it really can, if one lives as frugally as possible, watches the spending......we are a good example of a one income success story, we paid off our first home before we bought our second home (which is now paid off as well), primarily majority of our money went into paying off our house so we could enjoy it for the rest of our lives (we are in our middle thirties).

    If you can live under your means, watch what you spend a one income can be done, especially if you factor in day care and such, two kids in full time day care here in Canada is like 1400 a month. We don't have to worry about paying for medical here but we do pay into a drug plan which helps.

    Keep up the great work, I love this blog :)

    Mom in Canada

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  10. The Tightwad Gazette books helped me immensely a few years ago. There were many tips...but the author's mindset was contagious. Suddenly, things like cold cereal and cable TV were brought to light as "extras" even back in the 80's when all my friends were putting every little thing on their credit cards.

    Oh, inexpensive entertainment! Movies and game nights are always fun. I am looking forward to inviting people over here socially when the painting is done. (The house was pretty rough beforehand, so no parties)

    50sgal mentioned dessert parties and those can be done very inexpensively and gorgeously.

    Kris7

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  11. very interesting! I also would have liked to have seen the boy go and work a little to earn some more! Off topic- I would like to see more of what you are wearing these days and what you have been sewing . Thanks! Dee

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  12. Whoops--Pollock, not Pollack.
    OK...gotta get to work.
    Kris7

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  13. Wow-so many comments, I am glad this was a good discussion topic. Well, Healthcare is insane. We are lucky now that my hubby's job has a great health plan but of course we do pay for it our of his salary. We have it taken out by the company so we can 'act' as if what we actually recieve is his pay. It is a pretty good insurance. However, I cannot believe what people DO have to pay. It is criminal.
    I think people are starting to realize, rather than are Dem or Rep or whatever, that all the money we DO pay (and it seems to matter little rather it is a democratic or republican president)is not properlly allocated. There is no need that we pay so much more than we did back then and we still do not address the two most important aspects to a people Health and Education! The cost of higher education in this country is becoming insane. Fine, if a private university such as Harvard wants to charge whatever they want, it doesn't matter, but when a state university suddenly tries to run to become a money earner for itself and not to improve for the students in addition to training generations of people who HAVE to start out in debt, how we that ever better the country? It is so about ME and MY POCKET right now that no one thinks about the world for tomorrow. Thus, is it really a surprise the debt and bad shape we are in. AND it makes me furious that the politicians play this game of This is our side and that is your side, they separate us on PURPOSE, so that they can keep us from opening our eyes and again, not to always be a TV basher, but boy oh boy do they control the masses with that tool, so we spend more time talking and being concerned about things made up on news programs instead of just focusing on our own communities and local government and working our way up!
    Sorry little mini rant there!
    Kris-sounds like you are doing a lovely redo, keep up the good work and I bet you can't wait to show it off at parties!
    I was interested in our Australian freinds reaction to our healthcare. No surprise. I am sure it is also surprising to our canadian sisters. That is another thing in this country, we, as americans, seem to have this running joke about canada, and yet it turns out they don't actually pay more in taxes than we do and they have healthcare and education covered. There gas might be more per gallon, but then they don't pay in taxes in other ways that we do, at least if it is taxed on things we can CHOOSE to cut back on we have control, instead of forcing us to pay more on everything! We have to keep our eyes and ears open ladies. We Aproned Revolutionaries, can quitely blen in the background, serving lovely desserts with smiles in pretty dresses, but knowing where the real answers lie and making moves to change the world!

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  14. Dee-I know I have been horribly lax in photos since my move. I have made a few dresses and things as well and of course am still dressing vintage. I am glad of the cooler weather as now it is more stocking weather. In fact, yesterday Gussie and I were in our local antique store and the women who run it LOVE us. They always get so excited when we come in and say such nice things to us. When we left they again said, "WE love your style, come back, you belong here". It does make a gal feel good. It's funny, too, because people act as if it is some hard accomplishment. I don't see how it is any harder to put on a skirt and petticoat that a pair of jeans. They both go on your legs and you fasten it. The same with a hat, pick it up put it on your head, done, it's not as if you climbed mount everest. But, I think the more we make other women realize that they dont' just have to admire old photos and movies or maybe just look at the old hats as decoration, that YOU can actually wear them and feel the way you do when you watch an old movie, that we can help to bring back such pride and control over ones clothing.
    When I do our week of mending and sewing I will be sure to have photos of my dresses I have made.
    I have had my hair cut a few months back as well into a pageboy and I love wearing it different vintage ways and always get compliments, so much easier than the longer hair I used to have. SO, I do promise photos.
    So, let's keep this discussion going today ladies!
    I had to break this comment up into two as it was far too long, I should have made it a new post, but I want us to keep discussing budgets and such, don't you?

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  15. you would be proud of us over here. much like mom in canada, hub and i planned for me to be home even before we married. we saved my salary and lived on his from day one. we have never had a car pmt, as we drive only used cars that hub works on. at the start our grocery budget was $130/mo. for us +2kids under 2. and i met it every time!! :)we shop thrift/consignment shops, all our appliances came from scratch and dent, i cut everyone's hair, cook from scratch, only use library dvd's and books. it goes on and on. if there is a cheap way to do it, we find it. it CAN be done, gals. at this moment, we have no debt, save the mtg, have 5 kids, 2 vans, and pets on one income. and we ARE NOT deprived. :) our goal is to own our home free and clear asap(we've even renovated/added on on a cash only basis) and have saved for retirement/colleges to help the kids.
    i love the points about waiting and wanting rather than seeing and having. it is so true that society is desensitized to longings. i think they are good for us. gives us something to dream about, to work for, and to appreciate and be grateful for it when we finally achieve the goal. great discussion! a subject near and dear to my "old soul".

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  16. Kelly-BRAVA! See, here I am only coming to realize these things now and so many have done so all along. But, what I think is so great about that, is I can show that me, very much 'in the moment-instant gratification' has seen the light. I was thinking how much the very core of who I feel I am has changed so greatly this year. Sometimes I feel an almost quiet calm about my life that was never there before as it was filled with media and want and desire and THINGS. I think were I suddenly to have millions of dollars, what a treat to have realized this and I wonder how it would result in my spending were I to have such a fortune. I think so much more about what I could do to help others and build communities would come from such a landfall now while the old me would have made a list of all the things I would have wanted to buy, now I would think of all the poeple I could help and changes I could try and make for the world. Of course, I haven't millions of dollars, but it was a fun thought process none-the-less. I am so happy that such people as you have continued to exist along the way in our increasingly materialistic world. But, if there is hope for me, than others who are not so thrifty or seem themselves caught in a cycle of debt, there is hope and it is not by calling some scam company that wants more money to help you save money! We can do it APRON REVOLUTIONARIES happiness, pride, and sense of place with people before things. What a wonderful community we are growing here, I think I might tear up a little.

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  17. Quick...get 50sgal a darling, embroidered or dotted Swiss handkerchief! :-)
    Kris7

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  18. Hurray for thrift! I often find that the things that jack up prices are the things that are tacked onto a product for no reasonable purpose. This is why I like making my own beauty treatments - all of the active ingredient, none of the filler = cheap and healthy!

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  19. Good idea gabriel.
    Funny, Kris, I actually bought three more white linen hankies the day I was in the antique shop (when Gussie and I were so admired) It does make one feel good. A stranger came up to me and said, "where are you from" and I replied, "here" and she said (she was a tourist)"Is this how people dress around here, or is there a fashion show" to which I replied, "Actually, to me everyday is a fashion show. But, no, not many do dress this way, but maybe I can change it" and the lady smiled. Who knows, maybe she will move here and we will have a convert. One more for the Apron Revolution.

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  20. I actually stay away from Big Box stores and try to shop as locally as I can, I also make a contientious effort to buy on USA or Canadian made goods, and alot of my house is furnished with North American products, I am proud of that.

    I find by staying out of the malls and being content with my wardrobe, I am also not contributing to consumerist tendencies. If I need let's say a couple pair of jeans for knocking around the house in, I go to Value Village and actually purchased three pairs that fit nicely for four bucks a piece.

    I also thrift my children's clothes as much as possible, once my children outgrow their clothes I pass them on to a neighbour's little boy.

    I do what I can, but how I wish I could experience the neighbourly community my grandma had fifty years ago, when everyone would help everyone else out.

    I plan to stay home for a long time for my children who are now 4 1/2 and 8, they need their mother and I love being here for them.

    Mom in Canada

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  21. Fascinating and useful post!

    I did the math for the posted budget based on our (my husband & I) income.

    I am happy to say that we are very far below budget in both household (even including recent costly repairs) and food. I also know that we are quite under for clothing; I am a dedicated thrifter, and my husband wears a work-provided uniform during the week.

    I am very thrifty with food, I frequent farmer's markets and cook at home very often. My husband eats his lunch out at work each day. I know that eliminating this would save us some money, but he works outdoors and does not have a break room or anywhere else to relax during that time. The cafe where he eats is a unique, inexpensive local business that employs many of our friends (and me, at one time!), so there are worse places the money could be going.

    This has inspired me to watch our transportation, savings, and allowance/entertainment money more closely. I believe that we are under for allowance/entertainment (we tend to spend more in big chunks, such as vacations). I do economize for awhile before a trip or expensive concert, etc. We are over for transportation, and I'm not sure if our 401k contributions add up to a correct savings amount.

    Since healthcare has entered our discussion, I will add that our health insurance is 100% paid for by my husband's union. However, he does pay union dues (and the union does much more than facilitate the insurance). We have a $500/year deductable. I work for a hospital group, so I get flu shots and various other vaccinations, etc. for free through work.

    For free entertainment, I am a big fan of casual dinner parties/bbqs, pot lucks, and I have a 'craft night' with my female friends where we share drinks and snacks and work on projects together. Local universitites also often have fantastic movies, lectures, art openings, concerts and more for cheap or free.

    -Allison

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  22. mom in canada-good for you and good tips for us, thanks!
    Allison-I am glad you used the budget, isn't it interesting and fun to figure it out and work out the difference. You are lucky in your insurance, I see many other Americans are not so lucky. I would rather give up income tax in this country and have a higher tax on things like products so each family could decide how he or she wants to use and spend what they earn, but our country which is run by special interest groups OF the big companies would not want us to have to pay higher tax on products as that would make us spend less and of course we would have less waste as well. I don't know if there is a cure for the economy other than some smart ladies, such as ourselves, trying to spread the word and teach by example.
    I also wish I could make a community we could all live in, wouldn't that be fun, even if just a summer community where we all like minded vintage families could share a month a year, what a holiday that would be! Oh the square dances, and moonlight dances on the lake, dance cards, white gloves, kids swimming and chasing lightening bugs, sharing a cup of sugar community barbeques...ah, sounds rather idyllic,non?

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  23. What a great topic and so thoroughly investigated! Thanks for the time gone into this great article and the following discussion.

    We have raised our children who are both responsible married adults on my husband's wage only, always and completely. I have just these last five years or so woken up from my consumer mentality. So during most of our marriage I wasn't wise with budgeting for our household yet we didn't have credit card debt and always managed. Sometimes we did have days before we got paid that my husband called 'shut down mode' where we tightened our belt because of my poor financial restraint. How much better off we would have been if I practiced then what I do now.

    eg. We ate out a lot and had cappuccinos often. Now I spend time in the kitchen and have pride in the fact I can feed us well and healthily and save us much expenditure. eg Did you know if you're visiting family in another town, you can pack a lunch for the trip and eat it in a pretty park on the way there? wink. You don't have to frequent service stations (diners, gas stations?)on the road, consuming hygenically questionable, expensive meals therefore actually saving that money. Novel idea.

    Always be encouraged to save even a little here and there by wise choices. It really does add up.

    Thanks 50sgal. This topic is vital to families being able to 'afford' the simple, peaceful, productive, organised, fun way of life often represented by the years in the 50s. If we really want this for our family, we can do it. It's our priorities and choices... Thanks for the inspiration. Rising to the challenge of better money management is exhilerating. Linda

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  24. I am so happy to see all these comments on this post. Because it struck me, how almost unheard of are the concepts, you speak of. Almost unheard of, today. As you said, we are constantly bombarded with the idea that... You can have it all, now, no matter what it costs. -sadly shakes head-

    Even with this Recession, I still read of spending, which boggles my mind. -sigh- I feel very "out of it." And it doesn't help, that I'm old too. Because just the fact of being old, makes one feel "out of it," in any economy.

    Thank you for having this blog!

    Thank you to the people who read and comment in this blog!

    You all warm my heart.

    Aunt Amelia

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  25. Linda-great ideas and of course, the packed lucnh for the trip where you might see a park or pretty view you would have missed and you get to eat your own well thought out fare! Lovely idea.
    Aunt Amelia-Thank you for being part of our blog and community. I think we warm one another's hearts, don't you gals?

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  26. That's what I love about coming to this safe place, the ability to encourage one another to uphold old fashioned decency and values.

    I always said I should have been a mom 50 years ago and I sincerely believe it :)

    Keep up the good work with the blog 50's gal, I've been viewing it since it's inception....

    Mom in Canada

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  27. What a great post! I like the idea of cards as free entertainment. My grandparents generation used to do this with their friends on weekends and it was always a lot of fun just being there with them. When we used to go to the lake house growing up, there was nothing to do but entertain yourself and cards and board games were the things we did. Today I think I can go to the museum free here as a resident of my state, walk around historic areas, have a picnic, have friends over instead of going out, reading books from the library, going to a fall festival around the corner this coming weekend is going to be top on my list. There are a lot of things you can do if you think about it.

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  28. I don’t know if it would be considered entertainment, but it made me feel good in more ways than one. Last week, I wanted a nice warm drink when it was so cold here and paid $4.00 for a pumpkin spice steamer at two coffee shops. Realizing that this was ridiculous, I decided to concoct my own. So, with a little steamed milk, some pumpkin, cinnamon, a touch of ginger and clove, and some added cream, I had myself a nice homemade steamer. It was quite rewarding to not only save the money but make it from scratch.

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  29. Bonjour-ah, the lakeside/oceanside in the summer. Don't you love those long warm days with the screen door slamming, sand on your feet and endless days of board games, beach fires and barbeques. Museums are a great idea, and most are free or if you volunteer you get free passes, so then you help out and also can share the experience with no money when you have out of town guests!
    Zebu-good for you. Maybe you should share that recipe with us. See, this is why I can't wait to get my site up so we can post and share recipes and patterns and such. It's coming, I promise. Isn't it odd about fall and pumpkin, I mean we could really have that flavor any time of the year but come october, don't you just crave it? Then by December I want cinnamon and clove and nutmeg and eggnoggs! We are a conditioned lot, aren't we, but that conditioning is a good one. Mmmmm, how lovely that smells and tastes can bring a feeling of warmth and happiness.
    Now, for christmas, we definitely have to really start sharing recipes and inexpensive ideas for gifts and traditions. With our economy the way it is, you know many people who can't afford it are still going to overspend this holiday season!

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  30. since you are mentioning Christmas...I have already started towards that end. With 4 kids, you have to plan ahead. Each week I take $20 and buy each child one thing. I figure if I can do thatfor 10 weeks, then that is ten presents each. Then they will each get one larger gift.

    In the meantime, I am hitting up the dollar store to get things for us to decorate and make various crafts out of. The kids enjoy doing that and makeing cookies almost as much as Christmas itsself. We make paper chains, seal leaves in wax paper, cut out ghost, leaves, pumpkins and such for the windows from craft paper. I am going to teach myself how to crochet so I can teach my daughter.

    Then come Christmas, we will change the paper chains from yellow/orange/black to multi-colored, we will put up snowflakes, make cottonball wreaths, clothspin angels (for the tree), popcorn garland, candy garland, bake mountains of cookies and wrap them for gifts, make yarn wreaths, and if I can find the instructions and some yarn I want to make a macramae angel.

    Those were the kind of things we did in school when I was a kid, now they just do "sponge" trees and stuff. Nothing neat. I recall it was almost a competition between the teachers to come up with the coolest christmas craft. I also recall one time we got drywalling mud and put it onto paper plates, then each kid put their handprint into one. After they dried, we spray painted them and gave them to our moms. I still have mine. None of the things I listed are expensive (most of the supplies are available at the dollar store) and the kids LOVE doing them.

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  31. oooh, christmas!! love your craft ideas! i will incorporate some of those into our repetoire!
    my kids make a lot of their gifts for each other, and the relatives. they all knit and crochet, and my son whittles some lovely little figures that he then paints. and what is better than a handcrafted gift truly from the heart?!
    i am not so crafty, but am trying to figure out how to use my artwork for gifty things. i like to cook/bake, so maybe folks will be getting cranberry orange breads and things like that. i am sure the jams you all have put up would be stunning presents. :) and what money will be saved!!!!!

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  32. I have to admit this year we "splurged" on the kids, my oldest is 8 and has been asking for a Wii for a year now, they have really come down in price so Santa is giving the boys this for Christmas, I bought little items like dinky cars, transformers so my little monkey (my four year old), would have something to open.

    Next year we will not spend this amount of money, but we figured it was time, and as well my hubby is working this year, we had the money set aside for it.

    As for the rest of the family I am saving my allowance to buy my parents and inlaws their Christmas gifts. I also saved my allowance to buy my boy's a couple of extra toys from Santa as well.

    This way I didn't dip into our bank account through debit, I love saving my small allowance and watching it grow over a few weeks, it really makes me feel empowered :)

    Plus the fact that I love helping my husband out as well.

    Mom in Canada

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  33. Kelly: we like to make baskets of cookies for people and include in the basket a handmade ornament, maybe a poem written by one of the kids...stuff like that. My hubby has six siblings and MANY neices and nephews, and then there is all of my family, plus our church family. We just plain cannot afford to "buy" for all the people we would like to. Plus there is always the teachers, bus drivers, mail lady and a couple of good friends. I found out years ago that a basket of say three or four types of cookies, some fudge and a home made trinket is so well received. Most people adore home made goodies, but can't or don't want to take the time to make them. (and some people just can't seem to get the hang of cooking:) )

    Well, us apron revolutionaries are the keepers of the hearth as it were. Continue on the gifts of the heart, not the "made in china" kind.

    If you are looking for fun crafts, just google childrens christmas crafts and you won't believe the ideas you will find. I also want to make an advent calender out of tp rolls that you wrap with green tissue paper and then stuff with candy. Then you put multicolored paper the ends. They pull out one each day. Shape it like a tree...easy thing to do, and the kids will love making it, plus you choose the type of candy to ones they really like. The trick is to remember to save 24 tp rolls. lol

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  34. Wow, these are great ideas, it would also be neat to find things at resale or goodwill to make decorations out of (not to always be the wet blanket but I think alot of dollar store items are 'made in china' thus they are a dollar) but great and fun ideas. THis is the time of year that I really think I miss out by NOT having any children. The joy of baking with them, decorating etc would make it special and I see you ladies are taking full advantage of it, good for you!
    There are so many fun christmas crafts in my 50s magazines, I will begin sharing these, but I might wait until after Halloween.

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  35. I often see really cute Christmas things at estate sales. Many of them retro too.

    In your post, 50'sgal, you asked what can we do? Well I think the best thing is to live within our means (or below) and teach our children basic budgeting skills. It sounds simple but I think the whole idea of saving money was lost there for a few decades. It's only now back in "vogue" due to this recession but very few of us were ever taught the skills to do this properly.

    I started giving my children a weekly allowance to spend on what they choose but I require them to save some for long term goals (like college) and some for charity. Now when they ask for the latest thing they want they know the answer. "Save your allowance." This teaches them more than I could just by talking to them.

    S

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  36. Dear 50sgal and Responders,

    If you're interested in how many people might be reading your blog, is there a way other than guessing by how many people comment?

    I notice if other blogs have a 'give away' and invite people to go in the draw by leaving a comment, it encourages shy ones to say hello. This could be quite encouraging for all your efforts. I wish more ladies and gentlemen knew of your blog because it seems a waste for such a gem not to be read by the masses.:)

    Also I see on some blogs they have a counter and a record of what countries viewers are from.. I have no idea how any of this is implemented but if you're interested, possibly some other ladies would know..

    Is there any way to 'advertise' a blog?

    Maybe you get the impression I'd love your wisdom, productiveness, encouragement, ideas,inspiration to be enjoyed by more people... Apron Revolution.:) Linda

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  37. Some of the ways I save are books on tape at library (hubby for his long trips), healthy home-packed lunches, power walks with dog rather than gym membership, and dumpster flowers—yes, dumpster. Every once in a while, I come out to my car after work, and DH has placed a bouquet of beautiful flowers, with a little note, that he has dug out of the dumpster at the local flower shop. I love it! In fact, I love it more than if he would have spent lots of money on them.

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  38. I have to put in my vote--though it IS your blog, 50sgal, so you call the shots. But, I would really like this to remain a women's only blog. Now days when we have to be politicaly correct, girls can join boyscouts, boys can join girlscouts, etc., there is no longer the division which was once so comforting and proper. I like that we as women and as homemakers can encourage each other just as if we were sitting in your sitting room, 50sgal, and sipping tea while mending or knitting and discussing the latest fashions or the “newest” vintage recipe for supper. I do still believe that there are places for men, and there are places for us girls like this blog right here!

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  39. 50's Gal,

    In Canada we have a dollar store that's called "Dollarama", I shop there often and only purchase items like non brand name tupperware made in Canada :)

    Alot of it is made in Quebec, even the cleaning products are produced in Canada and one can save a ton on the soap alone.

    I avoid the items made in China like the plague it is.

    I know I sound crunchy on this one, but if one can support Canadian (or American) products and still save a buck or two, Cha Ching. I have also purchased there Crayola Crayons made in the U.S. and "Targot" magic markers made in the U.S. as well.

    You might just be surprised what you can find at the local dollar store :) and still have the opportunity to support North American products :)

    Mom in Canada

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  40. I also have a confession to make I can't bake worth beans, but my oldest Eric loves me to play hockey with him at the front of the house in the driveway, so I guess that makes up for it (insert Canuck eh) :)

    And I love being a homemaker where the lines of division of labour are purely male and female, it makes my life alot easier because I know what the expectations are of myself and my husband.

    I think that in the old days life was simpler and I prefer that.

    Mom in Canada

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  41. Wow, so many great comments again. I did not know that about the dollar store, I will have to check that out. The 2008 me just would not have gone in as I thought it too icky and the 1955 me was worried about the chinese goods, so see, that is why I love our communication. We are ALWAYS learning and as I have said, I never want to stop learning and a truly wise person knows she does not nor will ever know everything.
    Linda-I am honored that you think my little ramblings here merit a wider audience. I would love that! Only, I am not sure how to put a counter on this site, but I will look into it. I think that is what really made me think about the website as part of next years 1950's year, because it would exist alongside this blog, but allow us more to connect by sharing ideas, photos, etc. I am still working on how that will come about, but the more we can all share the better.
    As for women only, we probably don't have to worry too much about it as there are probably not that many men into what we are saying, but if some men did want to contribute, I don't know I hate to prejudice anyone. We could treat him like the husband that wanders into the kitchen at a party in the 1950's wondering what we are up to and giving us his two cents and we listen and then add more of our two cents or our dollar, as we are women!
    Mom in canada-that is interesting. There is a certain comfort in such lines drawn, yet you enjoy playing hockey, a more male thing and maybe your son would enjoy baking. I think women for the most do enjoy 'nesting' as I like to call it, but I don't think we should ever try to undo the equality we have as women, but I think we need to ADD ON to what is available to women, that being our historical skills of homemaking. I feel like those are not accepted as a career path nor seriously discussed nor taught. I think I like Including more but being educated about the difference so we can make the choice, but I want women/girls to HAVE the choice of homemaker. Does that make any sense?

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  42. I agree with you comments on how women have the choice to be homemakers, my grandmother never had the choice, yet my mother choose to gave up her teaching profession to raise my brother and I in a mere generation times had changed, as they continue to change today.

    As far as playing hockey with my son LOL, it's more like he puts on his street goalie gear and I aim the pucks at the net, I really know nothing about the sport, which is pretty bad considering The Great White North is all about hockey :)

    My mom never learned to bake because her mother (my grandmother) had stopped due to my grandfather having diabetes at a young age.
    So sadly that art was lost, how I wish I knew how to bake a Toutiere (french meat pie) like my MIL makes.

    Looking back I want my children to remember a mom who would drop anything to play hockey with them, cards or whatever it may be instead of a mom consummed by housework.

    Sigh still wish I could bake some simple cookies though......all though I was very good at the Kraft P. Butter recipe that called for no flour, yummy too :)

    Mom in Canada

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  43. mom in canada- I will try to gather some 'no fail' baking recipes and maybe it would be a good post for those budding homemakers to try. I know before 1955 I could barely boil water and now I feel very proficient in the kitchen, though always learning. I think being careful with measurements and believe it or not, putting love into what you bake is the real secret. You have me thinking about a post now!

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  44. Great post as usual, 50s gal!! Budgeting is one of my favorite subjects! It is my main duty as a housewife as I am still resting and nursing my injuries at the moment. I'm more of a saver than a spender. We only own one car, have no debt, haven't upgraded to a bigger apartment yet due to overpriced real estate in the area, so that takes a third of our monthly budget. I'm starting to realize that there really is nothing on TV even though we have a million channels...

    Thanks for posting that video! Teaching budgeting skills should start young with children, as we see not many people save nowadays and the credit card debt is huge. People back then did not have credit to rely on, it was all about common sense.

    Mom in Canada: Sounds like you're from Québec? That's where I'm from, I currently live on the East Coast, USA with my American hubby, and I miss universal health care! We have good insurance for the most part, though I'm tired of paying co-pays all the time, it adds up! I prefer to pay a fixed amount of income taxes vs. paying the equivalent of a grocery bill every time I go to the doc...

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  45. Actually Housewife07 I am from Southwestern Ontario, but my mom is french and my MIL is french as well :)......

    I have done genealogy and my lines go back to the 1600's in Quebec and my great grandparents came from there as well :)

    I also love the french meat stuffing that goes with Turkey and the french cabbage rolls YUM! :)

    Mom in Canada

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  46. Ah ok, nice!! My mom is Eastern European and my dad is French Canadian. She's always been a housewife, except for her time in school and at work before she had us.

    I don't believe I've had french cabbage rolls, but my grandmother used to make stuffed cabbage rolls and they were delicious! :)

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  47. I added you to my blog roll! Keep up the great posts! Kori xoxo

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  48. Me, a simple little homemaker – you must NEVER call yourself that! You are my homemaker goddess! You inspire me so much and make me see things clear.

    I love your budget translated into modern money, I wish I could make something like it in Danish kroner, but our salaries and especially tax and VAT system are completely nuts. DH and I have had a budget since we moved together about 28 years ago, first on a large piece of paper and later in an Excel sheet. But I want to make it even better and more detailed, I have to say to DH that we should spend some time doing it. We have several things we would like to save for – like a trip to Florida in 2011 and a huge garage for my vintage car.

    I’m lucky to have a handyman, who can and will repair everything. Nothing gets trashed except if it is really not possible to repair it. My dad was a mechanic who repaired everything and my husband is a mechanic too. Mechanics don’t earn huge salaries but they have great talents for fixing and repairing everything. I’m used to find old things and repairing and painting them, and all my friends admire our home and my vintage car. But hey, they could do the same if they wanted to.

    About paying for movies, my sister has taught me to bring our own candy – which is both cheaper and better. Son and I select which movies we want to see in the theatre and which ones we can wait until we can rent them on DVDs.

    I have never thought that I needed a flat screen TV or new stereo or computer just because everybody else bought such things. Son finds it very embarrassing that we don’t want a new flat screen TV, but I’ve told him as long as the “old” one works we’ll keep it. When it dies we’ll buy a new one. By the way, he is saving for a scooter and he’s doing great so far. I think it is good for a 16 year old boy to learn to work and save and consider his spending.

    I’m home ill with the flu, finally feeling better after a week’s illness, so now I’m sitting in the sofa reading your lovely blog on my old laptop. Just as cosy as reading a book.

    Have a lovely weekend. :)

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