The careful use of the things that money can buy can hardly be classed under labor income, though sometimes it means an expenditure of labor. In discussing the Clothing budget the question of the care of clothing has been considered, and the fact pointed out that proper care makes the money invested in Clothing stretch much farther than where careless treatment destroys or deteriorates the wardrobe. What has been said on that subject is true in principle everywhere. Little repairs made as soon as they occur make big repairs unnecessary. A household where there is no waste whatever and no careless use is so rare that few have ever seen one, yet curiously many of those who seem to onlookers most wasteful pride themselves on the fact that they never waste anything!
The first waste, chronologically, is in buying too much. If the house or apartment is too large - a condition more common twenty years ago than now - money is wasted in the maintenance, care and repair of unneeded space. If the wardrobe is unnecessarily full, there is the double waste of discarding while still good what has gone hopelessly out of style and of the deterioration of articles lying unused in drawers or hanging in closets. Rubber overshoes and the rubber on sport shoes deteriorate until the shoes are useless, if they are left standing for several years, even if they are never worn. The silk of even an expensive umbrella may crack along the seams when it is left carefully guarded in the corner of the closet, as too good for ordinary use, and many a sad surprise has lain in wait for the young woman who carefully reserved a pair of silk stockings for several years, brought them out for a great occasion, and had them go to pieces "when she tried to put them on. Pure well-woven silk does not deteriorate, as those who still have their great-grandmother's heavy silk gowns can testify, but few silks to-day are safe to test in this way, and the amateur finds it hard to make sure of quality, especially when the silk is bought already made up. Good cotton and linen will not lose their strength of thread, but if they lie long they will grow yellow, and labor has to be used to whiten them again. Wool has its special danger from moths. The annual money loss in this country from destruction by moths has never been and can never be calculated, but every year in thousands of households such loss occurs. This is not always due to carelessness, but often to lack of knowledge. The garment properly cleaned before it is put away ana properly protected is safe from moths and other insects. It takes care and thought to accomplish this, but the money saved is income to the family. Where it is difficult to clean and store properly at home a heavy article like a fur coat or an ulster, it is the part of wisdom to pay for having it stored by experts. Such payment is a form of insurance.
The household equipment requires the same care. If the furniture is kept well-cleaned, and small repairs are made as soon as their need is seen, the life of the furniture is greatly prolonged. Polished wood surfaces do not need the expensive process of refinishing often if they are kept in condition by careful use and the cleaning and polishing that is done at home. Upholstered chairs and sofas can be cleaned at home if the dust is not allowed to accumulate too long. The handy-box that is part of the equipment of any careful family has a few gimp tacks, and when the gimp on the chair tears loose for an inch or two, it is at once tacked back into place, the needle mending any tears in the gimp. If the loose gimp is left, very soon there will be a longer strip torn, and the gimp may be beyond mending. Then not only must one spend money for new gimp, but time and energy in finding gimp to match, or suitable new gimp for the whole chair. If a rug is torn, or begins to wear, skilful darning may make it as good as new when continued wear without mending means soon discarding the rug. Repairs cannot always be made at home, of course. In the case of an Oriental rug, for example, a worn spot needs the expert. But if the rug is repaired as soon as the worn spot appears, or as soon as the edge begins to ravel, it can be made as strong as new. The skill of a good Oriental rug mender is something to envy. A beautiful piece of china or glass may when broken warrant riveting, and this cannot be done at home. To be sure, in America one rarely sees a riveted piece in use, a common enough sight on European tables. Their point of view is that the utility of the piece is in no way injured and its beauty, although impaired, not destroyed. Our point of view only too often is that if the piece cannot be mended so that it will look like new, it is good only for the ash heap or can.
The United States Department of Agriculture through its Bureau of Home Economics publishes much valuable information about the best methods of care and repair of equipment and clothing. Their small pamphlets are sold at a nominal cost. They give the result of experiments conducted in a way practical for the household, and a postal card to the U. S. Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C, will bring a price list of them.
Kitchen utensils offer a great temptation to most housekeepers. It is so pleasant to have attractive ones, fresh and shining, and as many as one wants. Yet very often tin utensils are used so little, or dried so carelessly, that they rust and become useless before they have begun to justify their purchase. Steel or iron is either eaten into by rust or requires a high labor cost to keep it clean. There are some utensils well worth having that can be used for a single purpose and that not a daily one - the bread mixer, for example, or the food chopper. But in selecting others it is well to consider their possibilities of varied use. A glass bread pan can be used for a cake, any scalloped dish or any baked pudding just as well as for bread, whereas the tin bread pan can be used only for bread and cake. It is certainly economy of labor to have good tools in the kitchen, and enough of them, but it is not economy of money or labor income to have too many tools, so that those little used either lessen in value or use time and energy to keep them in condition. Most housewives would be surprised, and disagreeably, if they knew the total of the expenditure represented in their kitchen equipment, including what is hidden away in cupboard or store-room or cellar or attic. To inventory it and find this sum may be a waste of time, but the current account card of Care of House-Furnishings should be watched closely. And it is not at all a bad idea to overhaul the whole equipment once a year, setting aside that not really used to be given to less fortunate neighbors or sold to the junk man.