Every householder should take pride in this plan of campaign. It is an up-to-date record of his financial standing. The peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly how you stand is directly conducive to health. When bills are paid they are breeding neither worry nor discontent. He who can remain per petually behind in his obligations, without dis content, is mentally unhealthy.
A man whose affairs are well in hand, who • is fully aware of his responsibilities, who is not behind in his payments, whose earn ings and whose plan of operation permit him to save something as a surplus, is in the posi tion to hear the knock of Opportunity when it comes. But the man whose affairs are in disorder, who is forever struggling and yet is behind in the game, lives a life of such con fusion that he is in danger of missing even the obvious opportunities. "Real opportu nity," John D. Rockefeller has said, "comes only to the man with ready money." The family expense book, and all it stands for, permits a man to keep his head up and on his shoulders where it belongs. Whether he lives on a narrow margin or a liberal one, its service has the same value. If the income be small he can watch its outgo accurately ; if it be more liberal, he can save more and give his family more comforts and pleasures. But, in whatever circumstances he finds him self, there is one item that he must keep per sistently before himself ; that is future pro tection.
The time to heed this matter is Now. To eat, drink, and be merry to the full extent of the day's income, can spell only one word—. Want. A mill-stone around a man's neck is a pearl necklace compared with the ultimate sorrows of improvidence.
Do not think that to regard the family as a business organization takes the joy and poetry out of it. They can enter into it in no other way. If you wish your family joy, let your business method do its share in creat ing it. If you want to experience the poetry of family life, do not think you can create it with a background of unpaid bills.
It has already been pointed out that the im portant factor, back of all financial accounts centering around the family, is the system itself and not the amount involved. Here with there is given the actual account of in come and expense of a man who has not varied from these figures for several years.
He lives fifteen miles out of New York City, commutes daily; he is married, and has one child, a boy of six. He is carrying a mort gage on a property that is taxed for about ten thousand dollars.
This expense distribution is not a theory but a fact. Both husband and wife set aside monthly ten dollars each for clothing fund. The annual tax bill is provided for by setting aside its monthly pro rata. So, too, is the interest money that is paid semi-annually.
It will be noticed that no provision is made for amusements or summer vacation. The amusement fund comes from any unexpected balance in appropriations A or C. Vacations will come some day; in the meantime, the family is slowly but surely coming into pos session of a home-property worth ten thou sand dollars.
Another case of husband and wife, less de tailed than the preceding, shows that there is a beneficial outcome in any systematic plan.
Fowler married on an income of one hun dred and twenty dollars a month.
Despite the "two can live as cheaply as one" proverb, the end of the month and a depleted pocketbook were regular coincidences.
At the end of the year, as a result of the Christmas expenditure, Fowler was in debt.
He went to a banker who had been a friend of his father and requested the loan of one hundred dollars. Having known the young man's father intimately, and Fowler himself from childhood, the loan was made without hesitation.
"Fred," the banker inquired, "how are you making it, now that you and Clara are mar ried ?" Without any withholding of the facts, Fow ler told the banker of his financial affairs.
"The fact is," he said, "I need more money, and in so small a town as this it is impossible to earn more." "No," said the banker, "you don't need more money just now. It wouldn't change the top of your head nor the state of your affairs at the end of the month. What you need more than money is system.
"Now I have known you and Clara ever since you were children, and I am sure I I may speak plainly, may I not? "Very well. To begin with, I am going to sell you a first class five hundred dollar bond. Now you must pay for this bond no less than twenty-five dollars per month. At present your legitimate expenses are com paratively small. The source of your trouble is waste ; waste in little things.
"Oh, yes, I know you don't think so, but that is the secret of no savings in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred. Now try the plan that I suggest. If it fails I will release you on the bond obligation.
"You draw your salary monthly, do you not ? Good! On the first of January you give Clara sixty dollars and keep sixty dol lars. Let her pay the maid, the house charges, and her personal expenses. You pay the rent, fuel, telephone (if you have one), and your personal accounts.
"On the last day of the month I shall ex pect both of you to bring me twelve dollars and fifty cents each. BOTH of you, mind you. Don't you come with twenty-five dol lars. Make Clara bring her share. When husband and wife begin mutually to save, a little fortune is assured; never forget that." Fowler remarked, afterward, that the only thing that sustained him on the way out was the hundred dollars that he had succeeded in borrowing. He went home, talked it over with his wife, found her willing to try the plan, and forthwith they began on sixty dol lars a month each to face the world. .
"I had two inspirations," said Fowler. "The first was that we were working together for our common good; the second was, I wanted that bond.
"The first few months we just managed to pay the twenty-five dollars. Then we began to keep a strict account of every penny expended, to eliminate all unnecessary waste, of which we found there was quite a little; and we paid for the bond and the hundred dollars I borrowed, in two years.
"The bond and its coupons inspired me to have another. We have systematized our ex penses and can generally save more than twenty-five per cent of my salary."