Then, too, is one able to enjoy the real luxury of giving. Few men and women, and fewer children do not wish to help those who are less fortunate than themselves, and do not feel that a certain part of all that they have really belongs to these less fortunate. The grown people realize that this obligation extends to institutions and foundations that render great public service. Some call this part of their income "God's share," and this expresses most simply the obligation. When the family decides what this sum is to be, that sum then belongs to other people, and the only question regarding it is its wise distribution. But however generous the amount, it is soon given or promised. Then comes the call of some great need, and with it comes the chance for the real luxury of giving. Beyond the sum that "belongs" one can give by real sacrifice - taking some of the money assigned to Clothing or Recreation or Care of the House or what not. Then one really gives and enjoys the deep pleasure of giving. Such pleasure is impossible when one has not made a definite budget, since even if one goes without a winter coat one had expected to buy, one may easily spend enough more in the spring to make the total Clothing expenditure as large as it would be normally.
The amount to be given must depend in part on the needs of the family. A family with a generous income for its needs will naturally not be satisfied with giving less than one-tenth of the income - the tithes of the Hebrew and many other early religions, when the tenth part of everything grown or made belonged to the Lord as a matter of course. Many men and women of large income give much more than this, and it is significant that the U. S. Government exempts from payment of income tax up to fifteen per cent of any income when it is given for the public good.
On the other hand, the family with small income and the obligation of feeding, clothing, housing and educating children often cannot possibly afford to give one-tenth. Many such families do not try to give anything, though their spirit is just as willing as that of their richer brethren. The small gifts seem so insignificant in the face of the thousands or even millions that others can give. What will their two dollars or their ten cents do? There are, of course, two answers to that question. First, the small gifts taken together count more than the very large gifts. Any one who has had experience in the finances of any philanthropic or educational institution will prefer a large number of contributors of moderate sums to a single contributor of a large sum. But the other answer is the one of greater importance. Society is a cooperative affair, and it is successful only so far as cooperation approaches per-fection. It is not only in the eyes of God that the widow's mite counts as much as the bag of gold of the rich man. In the eyes of all socially minded men what counts is not the amount that one can give or do, but the fact that each does his share. The family that does not give something is failing in its social duty. As to the amount that any given family should contribute, that is a matter for them to decide, not for others to tell them.
It is a hopeful fact that hundreds of families and individuals who have never budgeted or kept account of any other item, have learned to set aside "God's share" and to keep account of it, so that they may be sure that they are full members of the human family.
Gifts (Personal). A common mistake in budget classification is to put all gifts under one heading. It needs but a moment's thought to see that gifts to family and friends are a very different matter from gifts for the public good. The personal gifts give the same kind of pleasure that one gets from entertaining one's friends. And in actual expenditure they bring a return in the form of gifts to ourselves - although that is not our own motive in making any real gift. Gifts to church, philanthropic or civic work or to individuals in need are part of our general social obligation.
Under Gifts (Personal) should be charged the expenses of making gifts - cards to accompany them, tissue paper, ribbon, parcel post or express.
Health. This is the most tyrannical of all the headings, since at times it assumes control and runs away with Savings and even with some of the money assigned for other uses. A family in making a budget for the first time is apt to say that it is impossible to make even a general judgment as to what must be spent for the year ahead. It is hardly an item on which one can economize, unless one starts with the pernicious patent medicine habit and cuts that out! The items include . charges for the services of physician, surgeon, oculist, aurist, dentist, osteopath, masseuse and all who give "treatment." It includes also medicines on prescription, household remedies, glasses and the replacing of broken lenses. Among all these charges there are some that are for most people fairly regular - the dentist, for example, and household remedies like carbolated vaseline or laxatives. But these are a poor basis for computing the whole. If the expenses under this head for the last five years are added and an average taken, that will be a fair start. If there was any large expense for a major operation or a long illness during those five years, that should be omitted in the calculations. If by any chance a balance should be left at the end of the year on this account, the amount should be added immediately to Savings, since it is ordinarily from that account that any extra money needed for Health must be taken. Sometimes another item can be cut down, but it is not always advisable to do so. To save on Food or Clothing after a long illness may prove in the end an extravagance. No one can decide in advance even for himself how such adjustments can be wisely made, but those who are used to applying the right principles in planning their expenditure will have little difficulty in making decisions.