MARRIAGE PREPARATION COURSE
Economic Preparation for Marriage
I. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS
1. VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE FAMILYThe family is the first cell, the basic unit of all society. It is, so to speak, a society in itself. Hence, it may be considered under several aspects, all interesting, all important. There could be, for example, (1) the religious aspect: that is, the family considered as a religious society, a group that prays, worships, thanks, atones, asks as a group rather than as the individuals who compose this group; (2) the educational aspect: wherein the family is considered as the first place where the child learns. (The school is, after all, but a continuation of this aspect of the family. It is obvious, therefore, that the school training of the Catholic child should be a continuation of the Catholic training and environment of the home. Hence, the very logical insistence of the Church that Catholic parents send their children to Catholic schools in order that their home training be continued in the proper atmosphere.) (3) the social aspect: that is, the relationship of one family to another, the relationship of the families among themselves, and their relationship to society as a whole: the community, the nation, the world at large; (4) the cultural aspect which considers the family as a powerful means of training the entire man. It aims at the complete all around development of his many capabilities: initiative, community living, devotedness, self-sacrifice, tact, appreciation of the true value of all things; (5) the economic aspect: that is, the family considered as an enterprise, a society where supernatural interests and temporal, financial, and other interests are at stake. It is with this latter, the economic aspect of the family, that this lesson deals.
2. THE ROLE OF MONEY Money, with all that money can buy, forms an important contribution to the life of the individual and of the family. but only if it is kept in its proper relation to other things. Money can be used or abused, according to the attitude we adopt towards it. Viewed properly, in a Christian way, it can help to win happiness. Used according to a false perspective, it can lead to endless bickering and quarrelling, discontent and misery, and the too frequent breakdown of family life.
God created us "to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him forever in the next." In our attitude towards money, we must never lose sight of this fact. God Himself and a share in His happiness are our objectives. Money is merely a means to help us attain these objectives. We must be careful not to lapse into that materialistic frame of mind that elevates money to a god-like status, as something to be worshipped. It can too easily become a "golden calf."
"Marriage is an enterprise that concerns itself with human profits, seeking primarily the spiritual happiness and welfare of the family members." To help in acquiring this spiritual happiness and welfare, money constitutes a very important material means ... but only a means! It is a means to be used to procure those other material things that contribute .further to the happiness (a condition of soul) and welfare of the family.
It must not be construed here that we are recommending poverty as the basis of happiness. What we do recommend is "poorness in spirit," that virtue which recognizes all our possessions as being on loan to us from God, and to be used according to His will. Possessing this correct attitude, even a millionaire may be "poor in spirit." By contrast, another person, entirely lacking in this worldís goods, may be utterly impoverished but, lacking also the true perspective concerning material things, may not be "poor in spirit." The distinction is important.
3. IMPORTANCE OF THE ECONOMIC ASPECT With this
understanding of the true role of money firmly established, it in no way
minimizes the religious and social nature of the marriage contract to say that
marriage, from a material point of view, is a business, the main purpose of
which is to establish and maintain a home. In this business, the two young
partners pool all their resources (youth, love, material possessions, faith and
hope) for their own welfare and that of the children to come. Thus, marriage is
a partnership in an enterprise which, while it deals in human values rather than
in financial dividends, must, nevertheless, be founded on a solid, secure
economic basis if it is to endure permanently, peacefully and happily. For this
reason, a consideration of the economic aspect of marriage, far from being a
detriment to happiness, constitutes a measure of caution and good sense that
will help to make its foundations more secure. Certainly, it is better to look
ahead and to make whatever preparations are possible. The stakes are well worth
a) Promotes harmony: Economic preparation for marriage helps to foster harmony between the young couple. All engaged couples fondly dream of happiness that will last forever. And why not? Happiness, a very fragile thing, can be kept intact if we will but take the trouble to eliminate from our lives anything that could do it harm.
Among the factors that create discord in the home are arguments over delicate questions, arguments that, urged on by jangled nerves, roused feelings and wrong ideas, lead to bitter quarrels and disputes. Money-matters usually provide a fertile field for the growth of such "battles." The sad part is that so much of this strife is unnecessary and could be avoided at the outset: thorough preparation beforehand on the part of both the young man and woman would readily settle most questions concerning money. We shall consider this matter at greater length a little farther on.
b) Eliminates worries: Sound economic preparation on the part of the bride and the groom assures them of relative happiness regarding money matters. A budget, planned according to their income and standard of living, together with economy practiced by both, will eliminate many causes of worry and useless annoyance. It will, at the same time, allow them to see at a glance how and where they may manage to save.
c) Constitutes excellent training: The valiant woman of whom Scripture speaks in the Book of Wisdom was an excellent housewife, who surpassed other women by capably accomplishing all the duties exacted by the care of a family and the up-keep of a house, and so procuring the happiness of her husband and children.
For both, economic preparation by its insistence on discipline of self provides excellent training in the practice of virtues which build character. In this way it enhances the moral value of that preparation.
4. IMMEDIATE ECONOMIC PREPARATION The immediate economic preparation for your marriage must embody two distinct elements: (a) the acquiring of certain qualities of mind and heart, and (b) the acquiring of certain material goods before marriage.
a) Qualities of mind and heart: Qualities of mind: The first essential requirement is that you be interested in the economic preparation of your future home. Towards this end, you must work hard, study, and inform yourself through reading and asking questions of those about you. One couple will be quite happy and get along easily in keeping up a home while another, with the same income and under similar circumstances, will fail to make ends meet, and will thus fall into debt. It is conceded that some people are more gifted than others. Too many times, however, failure must be attributed to lack of enlightenment, to fear in seeking advice, to pride that so often prevents our seeking advice or causes us to refuse it when it is given! Many a young couple owe their social and financial success in life to study and to the direction of prudent and judicious advisers.
Do not hesitate to make use of books, magazines, good newspapers which treat of your trade or profession. Careful study of these will often be of great help to you. We wish to draw your attention to the facility there is today for any one who wishes to better himself: correspondence courses (such as the one on marriage that you are now taking), night classes, extra-mural studies, etc., available in almost any sphere of activity that might interest you.
Qualities of heart: The first quality of heart that must be acquired and further developed with each passing day is courage. Courage in the face of duty, courage in the accomplishment of your work, trade or profession, courage in the face of difficulties, misfortunes, worries which one day or another are bound to befall you.
Remember this well: anyone is glad to help a man in need if that man is courageous and a good worker but no one is ever in a hurry to help the lazy, careless, indolent person. True success is to be won only by hard, persevering effort in our work. Fortunes do not usually fall ready-made from heaven. If they sometimes do, they seldom last, but soon melt away. "From shirt-sleeves to shirtsleeves: three generations" is a well-founded saying! Courage, perseverance, effort, are essentials for your happiness.
The second quality of heart flows from the first, and cannot exist without it. It is a sense of economy. Fortunes are made by gathering cents. And yet, itís only a trifle, a cent, so easy to spend, to throw away: mere trifles spent for trifling things, amusements of all sorts ... money that could assure a good start in life at the time of marriage. Such is the story of many young men and women! Not that they spend millions at one time, but rather small amounts that, over an extended period, accumulate into considerable sums. Cigarettes, liquor, beer, gambling, these are but some of the seeming trifles, all useless and costly, that help to empty oneís wallet.
It is not a case of being greedy or stingy, or of living at somebody elseís expense. It is a case, however, of a wise "in between." not too much, nor too little. Later on, when, because of your generous efforts, you have your home well established, and your savings growing, you will then be able to spend more and be happy for having followed the advice of this lesson. Itís good sense to save cents.
b) Acquiring material goods: If you are faithfully putting into practice what has just been said, you will be careful to save in view of marriage. Open a savings account in a bank and, better still, become a member of a credit union. Take out a good insurance policy. You will then have cause to rejoice that you have been wise and foresighted, and can look ahead with confidence to the future.
Without delay, then, get in touch with a credit union or with a bank, and ask what they can do for you. See what they may have to offer. Then choose what seems most advantageous to you ... but start today.
5. HOW TO CONSIDER THIS ECONOMIC ASPECT From an economic point of view, the home to be established must be regarded as a business quite similar to any other commercial enterprise, with this difference, however, that rather than money profits it tends to produce human profits: (1) through the provision of essential needs, such as lodging, food, clothing, schooling, medicine, etc. (2) through useful things, such as the various means that render work easier or improve the home: books, radio, etc. (3) through means that contribute to a general betterment of living conditions: music, arts, entertainment, etc.
Since the family is, from an economic point of view, a business, it must be established and controlled like all other businesses. Consequently, there will be revenues and expenditures to be considered.
a) Revenues: Revenues in money include the salary of the father, rent from properties belonging to the family, together with revenues in kind (in services). These revenues in service consist of all the work done by the members of the family (particularly the mother) around the home: cooking, cleaning, sewing, washing, etc. Usually we forget to appraise these services in terms of money. Nevertheless, they should be included in the total income of the home because, if the family-members themselves do not perform these tasks, it becomes necessary to hire and pay other people to do them: servants, chauffeur, chore man, laundryman, etc. In order to determine the value of these services rendered to the family by the members of the family, figure out what it would cost to have other people do them for you. The discoveries you make will help all the members of the family to realize the share each contributes to the total income of the home.
To these revenues in money and in services we must add what may be called revenues in social services. These consist of: (1) all those municipal, provincial, federal services put freely or semi-freely at the disposal of the public; (2) the other services given the home by welfare organizations, co-operatives, schools, dispensaries, hospitals, etc. All these services are as so much revenue for the family that knows about them and is willing to make use of them. Although it is difficult to appraise these social services in terms of money, they nevertheless have a real value and it is important to consider them seriously, more especially when one is establishing a home or moving to another locality. Will these same services be found in the new locality?
b) Expenditures: The family enterprise has revenues; it has expenditures as well. Under this heading are listed food, clothes, rent, fuel, medicine, schooling, insurance, etc. In domestic economy, skill consists not only in organizing in such a way that expenditures will not exceed income. It consists further in watching the use of revenues so that they may also provide the necessities of life and assure more comfort and more pleasure in the home.
The success of a commercial enterprise is determined by calculating the profit: the surplus of revenue over expenditures. In the family enterprise, success is computed by comparing the advantages and benefits obtained as against the cost (money, work) of obtaining them. This favorable difference may vary from one family to another according to the skill of those who direct the use of the money and services. Many a home with a modest income will get greater results and satisfaction out of its revenues in money and services than will another home with a higher income. The satisfactions of life always have a value relative to the person who experiences them. We must educate ourselves, therefore, to be content with what we have instead of wasting time and destroying, our happiness by desiring what we cannot immediately obtain.
II. NATURE OF THE ECONOMIC PREPARATION
1. IN THEORY:
a) agreement of ideas: The most important point in your economic preparation is to come to some agreement concerning economic preparation. The engaged couple, coming from different families, sometimes from different surroundings, will not necessarily consider in the same way the financial problems involved in home-making. At all costs, they must know each otherís outlook on financial matters in order to maintain harmony later. Many couples during courtship lose to the theatre or to other entertainments, evenings that could be used in a more constructive way: exchanging ideas and opinions, acquiring a deeper knowledge of their future life-time partner. During the time of engagement, when love is still new, agreement and harmony are greatly facilitated so that such discussions can be carried on pleasantly and profitably. Even before marriage, the young couple should study their particular problems together in order to find harmonious solutions.
To avoid clashes later on, why not settle now the question of the financial responsibilities of the household? Naturally, since it is impossible to foresee everything, necessary adjustments in questions of detail will have to be made from time to time but, in the process of doing so, you will at least have established some working arrangement. (See also: Management of the home).
b) The knowledge to acquire: Even after the various responsibilities have been assigned, the task is not yet completed: each one must know how to fulfill his or her share of these responsibilities. In most cases the prospective husband is already accustomed to business dealings. Hence, he will have less to do to further his education in this respect than will his prospective wife. For both, however, some knowledge of business practice, bookkeeping and co-operative effort, is indispensable. The various social agencies in your locality should also be utilized to obtain information on any further problems that may arise. Some knowledge of labor laws and social legislation, which may later on affect the welfare of the home and family (family allowances, workmenís compensation, .employment insurance, etc.) is likewise well worth the effort of acquiring.
Moreover, the young wife, if she is to put her husbandís earnings to the most advantageous use, must strive to merit the title of "good housewife!" Many couples experience great difficulty in making ends meet simply because of the wifeís domestic incompetence. The modern young wife, able to get so many commodities so cheaply, must nevertheless know how to take care of a house, decorate it, beautify it, make it a bright, pleasant home where her husband can enjoy his leisure hours. Through her skill in sewing, knitting, mending, she will be able to effect even more considerable savings as the family increases. Certainly, she should know the rules of nutrition in order to give each member of the family the food appropriate to each oneís age and way of living. A balanced diet often costs less. It tends to lower the doctorís bill, at the same time as it contributes to a general betterment of health.
Under present day conditions when so many girls live away from home, occupying rooms or flats where it is forbidden to cook, a very real problem arises. Their domestic education is perforce restricted by such circumstances but some attempt should be made to solve the problem through attendance at specialized schools, etc., where they may learn something about the domestic arts. Ease and perfection here come only with guidance and practice so that, wherever possible, the future bride should not wait until after marriage to perfect her skill. Learn too to make things yourself: it will add to your own future happiness and to that of your family if you do so.
The theoretical side of economic preparation may be summed up briefly as follows: "Live in harmony," and "Be competent to be useful."
2. IN PRACTICE: The first thing to know in actual practice is what way of living the standards of the young couple and the husbandís salary will allow. It is to be noted that this way of living is not necessarily a duplicate of that of their parents who have now been married perhaps thirty years and who, due to the husbandís promotions or success in business, have succeeded during that time in putting aside large sums of money.
Let your beginning be modest! Less costly furniture - paid in cash; no car, no debts. (One expert on marriage problems strongly urges young couples to do without an automobile unless their income is over $20 per week. Upkeep and depreciation run close to a dollar a day. Multiply this by 365 days and you have a sizeable amount that could be saved or spent to greater advantage else where.)
It is difficult to establish a set rule concerning living quarters, but usually a three or four room flat will suffice for a young couple. It depends also upon each young couple to decide what amount they can spend for furniture. In determining this amount they should be guided by prudence, sound common sense, a sense of economy, and good taste. The young woman will help considerably by being unselfish, by understanding the value of money, and by realizing the limits of her husbandís income. The young man will put the interests of the family first, in preference to clubs, sports, etc.
To buy wisely, one must know merchandise and its value. Shopping together to buy important items in order to get acquainted with the quality of items as well as with current prices is time well spent. It is, even more, an excellent opportunity to learn more about each otherís tastes.
a) For the man: A man who is seriously considering marriage should be able to offer his future wife some guarantee of his honest, permanent employment at a wage sufficient to meet his obligations as a husband and prospective father of a family. This does not necessarily mean a professional career or an office job; manual work degrades no one. All young women should thoroughly understand that!
We repeat: Besides a position, however, and precisely because of his position, the young man should have a savings account in the bank or with a credit union. (Many prefer credit unions because their money is retained among themselves, and contributes to bettering the lot of the members. It helps too in securing loans and yields more in return.) The size of this account should be in proportion to income and the number of years that the young man has been working.
A young woman who marries a young man of 23 or 24 years of age cannot reasonably expect him to have saved as much money as a man of 30 years. In either case, however, the husband should have enough money set aside to defray the expenses of the wedding, the wedding trip, furnishing the house, and a certain amount extra to provide for any emergencies that may arise.
Above all, if the husband is dependent upon a modest salary, we urge again that he should take out some good life insurance. Life insurance is an investment that can be depended upon, an investment which can be offered as security in case it becomes necessary to obtain a loan. Upon the death of the husband, it very often constitutes the only legacy that he has been able to provide for his wife and family.
b) For the woman: The bride-to-be should provide a trousseau that will last about two years, and enough house-hold linens for the same length of time. The following is a suggested list. It can be increased or decreased according to the income and the standard of living. Let us remember, however, that it is more important to buy good articles and have fewer of them than to accumulate great quantities of cheap things which will soon need mending and which, in spite of every care, will not last.
Personal trousseau: Underwear for two years; house dresses and aprons for two years, a few good dresses, coats, etc. (not too many because of frequently changing styles).
The Buying of the Trousseau: In well-to-do families, the parents usually supply the necessary outfit for the daughter who is about to marry. On the other hand, most young women who work for a living can hardly count on that help; they, themselves, must assume all the expenses.
It is at this precise point that a note of warning must be sounded for the bride-to-be. At this time, your sense of values must not become warped. Economic preparation for marriage is an important matter ... but it is far from being the most important. If the hurry, rush and anxiety of buying a trousseau detracts from your spiritual preparation for this great Sacrament, your wedding day will find you materially wealthier, but lacking the joy, the peace, and soul-stirring happiness that this day should bring. The important thing in marriage is the reception of the Sacrament of Matrimony: it is not the buying of the trousseau. If there were no marriage, to what purpose would be the economic preparation? The economic preparation depends upon a marriage being planned. The Sacrament is therefore the important element. Place the emphasis where it properly belongs ... on the spiritual preparation. Ask the Blessed Virgin, your model, to help prepare you, and imitate her in your own life.
A further brief word: Your young man fell in love with you for yourself ... not for the material things you could buy. Consequently, to retain and increase his love, it is only plain common sense to work at developing those Mary-like qualities that first won his love. Above all else, keep your spiritual preparation foremost, and let it be your guide in your economic preparation.
In making up the items of the trousseau, one of two methods may be followed, each having its own advantages. First of all, there is what could be called the accumulation method. It consists in buying each week or each month one or more items, keeping a record of the items bought so as not to accumulate a quantity of the same articles while neglecting to buy other important items. If this method be adopted, beware of novelties and "fancy" goods which do not last or are shortly out of style. What seems most practical should be preferred to fancy things.
This system allows the woman with a modest income to complete her trousseau almost without being aware of doing so. Moreover, if she can make these items herself, she will derive a further valuable training from her experience.
The other method consists in saving to buy the trousseau. This method, however, presents a danger for many young women. A passing whim or a pressing need of the moment may lead her to spend her hard earned savings, leaving little or nothing finally for the purchase of her trousseau. As a result, the days immediately preceding her wedding find her so engrossed with financial worries and feverish activities that the day of her marriage finds her nerves on edge and her all important spiritual preparation completely neglected.
However, taking into consideration her income, her habits of economy and her strength of character, it is up to each individual bride to determine which method will be the more advantageous in her own particular case.
III. ECONOMIC ORGANIZATION OF FAMILY LIFE
The economic organization of family life consists of three things: (1) the knowledge of the revenues and services of the home; (2) the distribution of the revenues and services; (3) the use of the revenues and services.
1. THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE REVENUES AND SERVICES OF THE HOME:
In order to know what these revenues and services will be, it is necessary to make a careful inventory of them, not neglecting anything.
a) Revenues in money: Among the revenues in money, we must include (a) the salaries, the profits of the business or the firm, the professional fees, etc., the money drawn from rent, interest; (b) the money brought in through the sale of articles made at home; (c) the money brought in through the sale of products, the making of which is a part-time occupation, such as gardens, bees, etc.. (d) the money brought in by products made and utilized in the home, articles which would otherwise have to be bought; and lastly (e) the occasional services rendered to other people and paid for in cash.
b) Services or revenues in services: Under this heading are to be listed all the services put at the disposal of the family by the members themselves. As previously stated, these services in work represent a real value in money for, if the members of the family do not do them, it becomes necessary to pay outsiders to do the work. The more the revenues of the family increase, the easier it will be for the family to hire strangers to do these other jobs for them. It is true that the cost of living will thus increase for them but, on the other hand, the father, the mother, the children, will have more free hours to use in developing their natural talents or hobbies for music, art, writing, etc., or in developing a more extensive social life. However, let us not regard these domestic tasks as slave tasks. Nobody, no matter how wealthy he may be, whether prince or pauper, can be exempted from them all. Moreover, regular manual work or exercise is necessary to all without distinction simply from the point of view of good health. Besides, the work done for the upkeep and the betterment of the home helps to link the members of the family more closely together; teamwork develops and adds joy and life to the atmosphere of the home with the result that the home becomes a center of attraction, a pleasant place to live and a pleasant place to be.
2. DISTRIBUTION OF REVENUES AND SERVICES
a) In general: If it is indispensable to know the total revenue of the home, it is equally important that this revenue be used wisely. The primary principle to be observed is the following: "Expenditures must be in proportion to the revenue."
How many forget that! The result: debts accumulate, financial crashes and family break-ups follow, frauds, costly trials, seizures - and the eventual ruin of everything, and very often a shameful and miserable life - The reason: one has spent more than he could afford. This principle must be emphasized: we must live according to our income. To do this, requires courage. We do see people no better off than ourselves living a life of luxury, spending freely, driving beautiful cars (frequently not yet fully paid for), who "enjoy life" while their creditors, grocers, bakers, and other merchants shout at them to be paid ... but there comes a time when no one trusts them and their family life becomes one of selfish squabbles.
If the income is modest, let us live accordingly even if we must deny ourselves luxuries in order to save and to increase in some way or other the essential income of the home.
There is one great method to adopt in order to live according to oneís means. It is the establishing of a family budget.
Before marriage, the future partners must each keep an individual, personal budget. Then, when the time comes to make estimates for their combined budget, it will not be something altogether new and strange. Rather, they will be grateful for having taken these preliminary steps that now furnish them with definite, specific information on which to base their combined budget.
b) In particular - the family budget: We are going to state here (a) what the family budget is; and (b) the items which comprise it.
(1) Nature and advantages: The family budget can be defined as: "All the expenditures to be made for the upkeep of the family, and the revenue to meet these expenses." Two main principles should guide us in planning the family budget : (1) the yearly plan; and (2) the unity of the budget.
1. Yearly Plan: The family budget is annual in that the revenues and the expenditures cover one year only.
2. Unity: The family budget is not only annual; it is also one. It is a whole picture in which are to be found under a single figure all the revenues and all the expenses.
The family budget is, then, an act of foresight covering the expenses and revenues of the coming year. It is an act of foresight based on the expenses and revenues of the year just gone by. A budget is therefore concerned with the future. It is a reasonable plan which, once it has been wisely established, must be stuck to throughout the year. It is a plan than can be modified from year to year, according to the changing expenses and revenues of the family.
The greatest advantage of the budget lies in the fact that one is able to follow very closely the economic situation of the family, to eliminate useless expenditures (for instance, the purchase of things which can be done without, but which are nevertheless tempting), to avoid debt, to encourage economy, and to work in order to make the budget balance and make ends meet. Thus considered, the establishment of a budget will provide the father, the mother (and the children in as much as they can take part in it) with a powerful incentive to work and self-discipline. It will be, as well, a source of peace and happiness for the home.
(2) Qualities of the budget:
1st Quality - the balancing: As has been explained, a budget must always balance. It must balance, not only in theory on paper, but also in a practical way in everyday life. This is why it is so essential that once the budget has been determined, we live up to it and give it the profound respect it requires. After all, what good is it if not adhered to ? It is precisely in order to make it work in practice that the budget is based on past experience. When starting married life, the young couple must take into account all the expenses and revenues of a normal home. These notes will then help in making better estimates for the following year.
2nd Quality - wisdom: A budget can be balanced without being a wise budget. Thus, saving on food in order to spend more on the car is sheer folly. Depriving children of books or of higher education in order to live a higher social life is another folly ... and so on. In those cases, the budget may balance but is far from being wise. A budget is wise when the distribution of the expenses is made with caution and foresight. A budget is wise when it is proportionate to the expenditures of a normal home in such and such a condition of life, according to the trade or profession of the husband. Luxury for one social class will be the bare necessities of another social class.
(3) Items of the budget: The budget is made up of several items or articles which can be classed into groups. By items are understood the different articles which must be considered. We suggest that you list these under two headings fixed expenditures, and flexible expenditures. Fixed expenditures are those for which a specific, previously known amount can be planned; for example, the amount to be set aside for rent, electricity, savings, insurance, hospital, medical and surgical insurance, taxes, telephone, charity and education, can be very closely determined well in advance. On the other hand, the amount to be set aside for flexible expenditures (food, clothing, fuel, medicine, furniture, house maintenance, personal expense, entertainment, traveling, etc.) may have to be altered considerably from time to time to cope with changing conditions.
Among these various expenditures, approximately 75% is usually allotted to shelter, food, clothing and savings. (Savings is understood to include not only your bank deposits but also your life insurance and investments in government bonds or other sound securities, etc.) The remaining 25% may be distributed among the other items: ("Spending for Happiness," by Elsie Stapleton; published by Prentice-Hall, Inc., New York).
A further word about your flexible expenditures: try to fit as many of these as possible into your fixed expenditure list. For example, every month set aside 1/12th of the total fuel bill for the year so that the annual fuel cost is distributed evenly over the entire year. Concerning furniture, after the initial heavy expense involved in establishing a new home, set apart a monthly figure to cover the annual depreciation so that when new furnishings are required, the money will be there to purchase them. As far as possible, therefore, spread your various flexible costs over a twelve month period and list them, then, under your fixed expenditures.
Whatever percentages of your revenue you allot to the various listings in your budget, you must keep in mind that changes in your income, or increasing or decreasing costs will require you to check and perhaps revise these percentages periodically. In the same vein, if your salary is small, then a bigger percentage of your income should be allotted for food. The money allowed for food cannot be indefinitely restricted even if one must be content with bare essentials in other items.
If your income is not in the form of a regular salary, it will be necessary to plan your budget accordingly. For instance, if you are a farmer, you will have to figure out your profits by taking into account not only what you sell but also what you derive from the farm itself (fuel, food), items that you would otherwise have to buy. It is true that you may have less revenue in money than city people but, on the other hand, your food bill will likely be considerably less.
Of the various items mentioned above, we would draw special attention to two which are often overlooked: savings and charity. We shall speak more fully about savings later. Regarding charitable donationsí (alms), it is well that "Godís share" have its place in the budget. Very often we give God only what we have left over - or nothing at all if we spend too much to realize a surplus. Make Godís share considerable! It is an investment that yields a hundredfold, whether considered from a material or spiritual viewpoint. Occasional donations for Massesí or help for those in need, even though it would seem hard to make ends meet, would be a call upon the Fatherly Providence of God to see to it that the budget balances. Let us start to give, and God will do the rest. Once again, we repeat the message of Page 31, Lesson 2: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Justice, and all these things shall be given you besides."
3. USE OF REVENUES AND SERVICES It is not sufficient just to have an income. It is necessary to know how to make the best use of it. Thus, there arises the problem of economy, savings and luxury.
a) Economy: Economy consists in getting from things the greatest possible use. It is a very important virtue for all for the wealthy, because todayís fortune may speedily crumble; for the less fortunate, it is especially necessary in order that, despite their small income, they may get along and see to the upkeep of their own personal life and that of the home. Economy can be learned at any age, but more especially during youth. It should be part of the childís training. A good education along these lines will teach children how to economize in everything, time, money, services, food, clothes, fuel, etc., without their having to deprive themselves of essentials or live in poverty. We often see families with modest incomes succeed - thanks to their skill, and their spirit of economy. They enjoy a good social life which is a tribute to their ability and skill in managing their affairs.
Economy is learned not only during youth at school or at home, but later on as well. We learn it through reflection, discussion, study-clubs, reading, observation. It is a precious virtue for the home and a promise of success. It can be said that big fortunes have had their start in economy. The care of oneís possessions is also linked with economy. How many things (clothes, tools, furniture) would last a long time if only they were taken care of ! In your future home, make a point of this! Learn how to preserve the things that you use. Later on, your children will learn carefulness and economy through your example.
b) Saving: Saving is the putting aside of a certain amount of oneís income in order to use it later either through consumption or in production. Thanks to accumulated thrift, capital increases - and capital is the motor of all economic life. Here, however, we must distinguish between thrift and meanness - the latter being a form of irrational saving which makes one save on things that are necessary. For instance, it is not saving to buy articles of inferior quality or questionable second hand items.
The great means to save is to allow so much to be put aside ... or to save on items of the budget. Each week, each month, that amount put aside will accumulate and thus come in handy when its use is warranted. In order to save, effective means should be taken not to spend surpluses. To that effect, consult a bank or credit union manager. They will explain thoroughly what system is best suited to your particular case.
c) Luxuries: In general, luxury is splendor in clothing, at table, in furnishing the house or in abundance of magnificent things. It is necessary to note that luxury is something that is relative, that it is dependent on the condition of life, or as we say today, "on standards of living." Some nations, some social classes, have a higher standard of living than others. The thing to do, then, is to look around and see the standard of living of the best and soundest families of the category to which you belong. In your own case, to know if such and such an expenditure is luxury, be guided by the following golden rule: "Any expenditure that sacrifices what is necessary for what is useful, or that sacrifices what is useful for what is superfluous, is morally blameworthy."
4. THE MANAGEMENT OF THE HOME In every home, as in every business, there must be a boss, a manager. How, then, should the responsibilities of the family enterprise be distributed ? There are many possible systems;
Which system to choose? For the good of the family, we recommend System No. 3 in conjunction with System No. 5. We firmly believe that such a combination will result (1) in fostering understanding in the home; (2) in developing initiative and a sense of responsibility, and (3) in developing in the family a sort of team spirit which will make of the home a united whole (a highly important matter). In some families, all the members are united and cooperate with one another - they live together in joy and happiness. Other homes, on the contrary, are almost nothing but hotels. There is no unity, no bond, no common interest. Everyone lives by himself and for himself. Hence the obvious importance of choosing a good system to direct the home
In advising the husband and wife to work together as a team for the common interest of the home, the system which we have just recommended (No. 3 + No. 5) leaves each one free, in his or her own sphere, to determine the way to best distribute the money for the welfare of the family. Since the wife must be free in fields which are more familiar to her (for instance, food, clothes, upkeep of the home), it follows that she must have the means of enjoying this freedom. This means is the money that her husband will give to her, not cent by cent for each little expenditure, but enough for each month, each fortnight, or each week.
Thus, the wife should not be enslaved to her husband; she should not have to ask at every turn and as a favor for the money that is, after all, for the welfare of the home. Otherwise, she will very often go short rather than endure the embarrassment of having to ask all the time. If she receives periodically the amount of money necessary for the upkeep of the family, she will be free to act, and thus will become what she is entitled to be: "Queen of the Home." Consequently, the husband should not be too exacting nor too much concerned with details. Let him approve of a general plan, of a standard of living which the income allows them to establish for the family, and then let him abide by it. The wife, on the other hand, will consult her husband when, even in the field in which she is more specialized, an important decision has to be made.
This matter of allotting money for the upkeep of the family should be settled by the young man and young woman before marriage. This is very important.
In the particular divisions allotted by the family budget, each must answer for oneself. However, you must plan together and make the balance sheet together. You must be frank about expenses, especially when these differ noticeably from what was planned.
As a rough example of what the divisions could be, the husband should look after rent, repairs, taxes, fuel, electricity, water, phone, expenses for the doctor and dentist. The wife, on her part, would attend to food, household articles, laundry, childrenís clothing, ironing, cleaning, mending. Together, the husband and wife could decide on what insurance to take out, what savings and investments to make, what education they can afford for their children, what furniture to buy, and how much should be set aside for entertainment, gifts, donations, etc.
IV. MORAL BENEFITS OF ECONOMY
The young man and woman who, during their first year at work, put into effect a program of economical habits, will find that, in addition to the savings they effect, they will be gaining something far more important and precious. Through the self-discipline required to set up and then maintain such a program, they will acquire a strength of character that will stand them in good stead for the future, and help to further their happiness.
In their practice of economy, however, they must be careful not to base their self-discipline upon standards of stinginess, miserliness, or avarice. (See the role o f money, P. 127). Common sense and broad-mindedness should be their constant guide in the matter of economy.
The danger of being stingy towards oneself is not very grave. It is when it comes to administering the budget of a family that there may be possibilities of degenerating into stinginess. It is well worth while to cultivate the habit of being ever attentive to the needs and desires of others and of striving to provide for these needs to the best of our ability.
Let us not forget: Economy must remain a virtue, an admirable, likeable virtue.
1. The practice of economy guards purity of morals The natural tendency is to live selfishly, to cater to our own whims, and indulge our own desires. It is a way of life that gives some temporary satisfaction but leads at the same time to deep-rooted selfishness and shallow superficiality.
If this natural tendency be permitted to grow, it soon crushes any thought of practicing economy. The money that would otherwise be saved is squandered on movies to watch the current stars demonstrate the Hollywood ideal of love. (The press of the same day probably carries the news of their fifth or sixth divorce: "love ... ŗ la Hollywood.") Vanity in dress leads many a young woman on spending sprees: that are certainly not in keeping with her income. At the same time, night clubs, road houses, gambling, the immoderate use of liquor and cigarettes, supply the means of parting the pleasure-seeking young man from his money, and his soul from higher ideals. Little wonder if for these types there remain only emptiness, disgust and other whims that can never be satisfied!
Happily, this somber picture does not depict all men and women who are preparing for marriage. There are many quite ready to renounce sensual and costly pleasures in order that they may prepare themselves thoroughly for their future role as wife or husband.
The habit of economy strengthens them against trying to "keep up a front" equal to others. It guards them against becoming slaves to style, fashion and passion. Those who have already begun to put money aside in view of a future home will hesitate long before yielding to costly pleasures or to the enticements of an expensive trip. Thus will they guard their heart in order to give it, wholesome and intact, to the one who, on the morrow, will receive it for lifeís duration. Thus too will they guard their hearts in order to restore them, wholesome and sound, to the God of true love, for eternity.
2. The practice of economy trains the will to self-discipline: Even in permissible things, many are unwise, trifling and useless. It is so easy to spend a good part of oneís salary on small things that, in themselves, are harmless and inconsequential: cigarettes, chocolates, liquor, and other such items. It is to be noted, however, that the amount so spent is decidedly not inconsequential.
Hand in hand with the practice of economy comes the disciplining of these permissible pleasures by decreasing their use. At first, the task may not be easy, but the repeated denial of such satisfactions strengthens our will power.
In this way, strength of character is developed until one is no longer shackled by the domineering demands of the hour but is free with the freedom that comes only through self-discipline.
3. The practice of economy produces simplicity and humility: The essential condition for saving is to live according to oneís means. How few are the people who are content simply to be just themselves! It is a human failing to want to be noticed, to be the center of attention, a little bit better than the next fellow. Very often, however, it is only by spending to the last penny and running into debt that we succeed in out-climbing others by even one rung on the ladder of seeming success.
It must be admitted that this tendency to climb beyond their means is more prevalent among women. Indeed, we must have high ideals ... (and to wish more comfort, more interesting social relations, is not harmful so long as the cost of these is not exorbitant) ... but what is needed together with these ideals is the courage to stay within oneís means.
The young woman who trains herself before marriage to the earnest practice of economy will be able after marriage to wisely administer her familyís financial affairs. A joy to her husband, satisfied with what he can reasonably provide for her, she will pass on to her children her own love for simplicity and humility.
Economy that is practiced with the sole purpose of amassing wealth is nothing more than selfish, degrading materialism, the twentieth century worship of the "golden calf." Its reward is tragic: "What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?" On the other hand, economy practiced with the purpose of providing for the spiritual and temporal happiness of the family is a vital factor in the program of perfecting ourselves. "Be ye therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect..." and one of our heavenly Fatherís perfections is His all-embracing providence.
V. ATTITUDES CONCERNING MONEY
1. CONFIDENCE AND LOYALTYEven during the period of engagement, the future husband and wife must learn to act with constant mutual confidence based on profound loyalty to each other. This attitude applies to money matters as well.
Some years ago, jokes about the young suitor who offered his love mansions, with clothes and servants to match, were quite the vogue. We arenít quite sure (It was before our day) but it seems he was ready to toss in a few planets as well to go with her "limpid pools of loveliness" (eyes). Of course, the fact that he couldnít make the first payment on a stamp was quite beside the point!
This is an extreme example but there are equivalents today. Some young men will promise anything, but of what use are such promises when these young men possess neither the beginnings of a bank account nor the proper attitude towards economy as some guarantee of future stability. The Modem Miss is not likely to be deceived by such young men - and yet, who knows but that some may allow themselves to be swayed by fancy illusions and glib tongues! Sad indeed it is to waken too late to reality!
A young woman has a right to know her future husbandís exact financial position. It is not vain curiosity for her to enquire about this. In fact, if the young man were to refuse to answer such questions, she could very reasonably have serious misgivings as to the future.
Practiced before marriage, loyalty and confidence will be further enhanced after marriage. For both parties, let absolute honesty be the rule. Suspicion should have no place whatsoever in their relations. Without dwelling too much on minor details, let each one account for his or her administration during the week or month. Together let them prepare the balance sheet and plan their budget.
2. BROAD-MINDEDNESS: This is a quality that must be practiced more especially by the husband. Under the pretext that women have no experience in handling matters that involve money, some husbands keep their wives under a sort of custody. This type of man must realize that his wife can acquire this experience, especially with the help of good advice. At the outset there may be blunders, but these will be more than counterbalanced by the interest the wife will take in future business matters. She will make it a point to avoid deficits and see that the budget balances.
3. SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY: At the same time, the wife must show that she does possess some sense of responsibility, and that she uses judgment and prudence in her dealings. Precautions should be taken to make up oneís buying list at home, with the approximate price of each item. Otherwise, it is so easy, when shopping, to yield to the whim and impulse of the moment ... with the consequent upset of the budget.
Neither is it consistent with the practice of economy to take advantage of every "Greatly Reduced Sale" or "Prices Slashed." Buying unnecessary, useless things because they can be had for almost nothing is ... folly. Articles that cost practically nothing are still superfluous and expensive if they cannot be used to advantage.
A final word to the young lady contemplating marriage: Prove yourself consistently prudent, painstaking and intelligent in money matters and your husband will have no hesitation in accepting you as a full-fledged partner in the administration of the budget. With such an arrangement you will relish the deeper mutual understanding and confidence that will grow up ... but so much depends on you!
To sum up: The economic preparation for marriage must be considered under three main headings: the theoretical side (the necessary knowledge); the practical side (what to do in practice); and the moral side (the good habits to acquire).
We donít doubt that right now you are interested in the economic preparation of marriage and the family, for it is very important for the future happiness of the home. The subjects treated in this lessoní should be food for conversation during company keeping. Talk it over at length with your fiancť(e). Lay down the rules on which will rest your home and the future of the children that God may send to you.
This preparation, as the word implies, is but the first step. The young couple must continue after marriage all that they have striven to establish during the period of engagement.
When the home is free from misery and financial worries, it is easier to plan a better education for the children, to give them a solid foundation in keeping with their natural talents. In this way the couple will really fulfill their duty, giving to the Church and to their native land fervent Christians and loyal citizens!