The two causes already dealt with were general: the third cause is particular. Some one item may demand unforeseen expenditure. The rent may be raised before the budget year is over, as happened to uncounted thousands in 1919 and 1920. If the raise in rents is general, as it was at the time named, and because there were not houses or rooms enough to go around, then moving to a lower-priced house or apartment may not be possible. If it is individual, because the desirability of the neighborhood has been enhanced or because a new landlord thinks he can get more from his tenants, then moving may be the wisest way out. That must be studied carefully. But if the increased rent is to be paid, either the income must be increased or other items must be deprived of some of their allowance.
The increase of income is not always out of the question. Perhaps the boys of the family, anxious to stay in a neighborhood they like, can themselves earn the extra amount by Saturday work for the grocer or taking paper routes, or some other of the boy methods of earning a little money. In many places there are similar opportunities open to the girls. But it must be clearly understood, if this solution is adopted, that it is the deliberate choice of the boys or girls who are to earn the extra money, and that the money when earned does not belong to them but to the landlord. Their pleasure is in continuing in the present home, not in having extra money for ribbons or the movies. And it is hardly necessary to point out that such work cannot be undertaken if in any way it interferes with either health or education. Where it does not, it is a valuable educational aid in itself, teaching the children not only the cost of money in time, energy and intelligence, but also making more clear their own share in the cooperative life of the household.
Other individual emergencies arise, usually a single expense rather than a permanently larger one like increased rent A dress may be ruined by accident, some expensive piece of household equipment may give out without warning, a storm may ruin the curtains because the windows were left open, the gas company, the electric power company or the telephone company may increase rates, a relative or friend may need money help. Life offers a succession of such happenings to any but an abnormal family. Emergencies are not something to lose one's head over; they are to be expected as part of the game of living, and life is to be suspected if it does not provide them. They come often-est in matters that money cannot affect - in the clash of temperaments, the need for compromise, the acceptance of some physical or mental limitation, the sacrifice necessary for true cooperation in the community. When they are emergencies affecting expenditure, they must be met like the rise in Rent, by lessening other items as judiciously as one can.
Minor adjustments can be made without any general consultation, but the larger ones should be discussed as fully as the original apportionment. It cannot be said too often that every one in the family should face the necessity of choice, and help to choose. This will not bring the millennium of contentment as by magic, but it will make progress toward it possible, and the wise administrator of the household can further that progress by her own attitude and her patient reasoning with the impatience so natural to all of us when we cannot have what we want.
The time to make readjustment is as soon as the unforeseen expenditure is seen as inevitable. If only minor causes affect the change in items, it is wise for the administrator to check up at the end of three months or six months, as described in Chapter VI and where she feels it necessary, to call a family conference.
One cause of readjustment remains, the very pleasant one of an unexpected increase in income. What shall be done when that comes? We all know from observation that frequently what is done is to indulge in a very orgy of spending. Under such circumstances the family and perhaps every individual member feels - rather than thinks - that it or he or she should at once get something long desired. A natural feeling, and one to be gratified if it can be managed. But the difficulty of course is that the family wants a great many more things than that extra money can possibly buy. And probably every member of it old enough to have experience in what can be had in exchange for money could spend all of it on himself or herself alone without any difficulty if selfishness directed the choices. There is only one way to get what everybody wants most - budget the added amount, readjusting the old budget in the combined light of experience and desire.
Yet even though their choice is their right, how can one refrain from a word of warning? There are two items that call imperatively for their share of the increase. Savings and Grifts for the public good are considered first, to be sure that they are increased proportionally before any other item gets a dollar. And for each, but especially for Savings, one can hardly help a special plea. It is so much easier to increase them when the income is increased than to do so by cutting down expenditure under the old income. And they are grateful for every little help. At 4% even an added $500 will bring in $20 a year, and if the interest is allowed to accumulate half yearly, in five years the sum will be $623.09, in ten years, $740.12.
If the first impulse of the family is to move to a more expensive home, can they not postpone the move for a year and tuck away that extra rent in Savings? Unless the family has suffered actual deprivation, has it not been fairly happy in the present home? Why abandon it so hastily? If the house is owned, but is too small for the family needs, cannot the selling of it or the planning of the new ell wait while the family discusses every detail and enjoys to the full the pleasure of planning? If Clothing calls with a loud voice, naming furs and silk stockings and French hats and custom-made shoes, is it not well to figure a little before answering the call? Clothing must have something, by all means, but it is apt to become too greedy.
The consideration of the budget calls for thinking, and the pleasant emotions roused by the new possibilities of more money need not die because the mind gets to work a little. Anticipation is a large part of pleasure. The family gets a lot of fun out of feeling rich for a little while, even if the calm consideration of the actual figures of the budget brings them back to the realization that though their limits have been set a little farther out, they are very decidedly limits still.