The principles of budget-making do not change, whether the budget is for a family or an individual, yet the balance of items is frequently quite different, and the individual deserves a few words. The young man or the young woman who for the moment is free of financial responsibility for any other person has nevertheless the probable prospect of family responsibility in the future, and needs preparation for this on the money side as well as in other ways. It is easy and tempting to spend all the money available on having a "grand good time" while one is young and has the physical vigor and mental zest to enable one to enjoy it to the full. Certainly young manhood, young womanhood, is the time to enjoy certain kinds of pleasure, to be carefree and full of the joy of living.
But to think about it a bit and decide deliberately how much one is willing to pay for all this need cause no clouding over of the spirit of joy. To exercise judgment as to what one really wants of life as a whole is not a saddening exercise. The pleasure of the moment tastes sweet, but there is very enjoyable savor in the pleasure of planning and directing one's own choices.
If the young man or young woman grows to middle age without assuming family responsibilities, the need to provide for the later period of life looms large. The self-supporting must look out for their own future. They have an obligation to themselves in their years of lessened or vanished earning power, and the consciousness of this grows with the passing years. The earlier some provision is made for this, the less has to be set aside each year, but those who have postponed such provision until middle life should not be discouraged from the effort to repair the negligence now. In Chapter XV there is a discussion of the types of saving best for different types of future need.
One may, of course, be free of full family obligation and still have responsibilities - to parents who need financial aid, to the education of younger brother or sister, to nieces and nephews, to decrepit or helpless relatives in any degree. Usually these obligations can be met by definite money payments, made with regularity in the interests of both receiver and giver. This is the easiest way to meet such obligations, hard as it may sometimes be to see the money go month after month, year after year, leaving the earner with many desires ungratified. Where the obligation includes living with the person or persons involved, the problem becomes that of a family, although not necessarily one that has all the needs described for the average or normal family group.
Those individuals who have none of these family or friendly obligations lose much in losing their feeling of being an essential part of a cooperative group. Sometimes they make up for this in part by assuming a more general obligation in some form of community work, such as an orphanage, a hospital, a neighborhood house or some form of church work. The middle aged or elderly man or woman who lives and works and spends for self alone is hardly a happy person.
Except for the few individuals who maintain homes, in the individual budget Rent and Food do not usually bulk so large as they do in the family budget. Clothing, on the other hand, usually calls for a larger proportion, since the household cleaning, repair or making of clothing is not often possible. Recreation and Entertainment ordinarily take more, since less costly pleasures of amusement and hospitality in the home must be replaced by more paid amusements and entertainments at costlier meals. Even the pleasure of reading increases in cost, since the book or magazine is bought for one, and the cost cannot be divided into the family cost. Fuel and Light vanish as items if one does not maintain home or apartment, and Service lessens or disappears. But these are all minor matters, easy for the individual to decide.
Accounts are simpler to keep, since both headings and items are surer. They are equally necessary, since the detached individual is tempted even more than the member of a family to the scattering about of many dollars in nickels, dimes and quarters.
The man or woman who lives apart from a family that on some basis is a real family to him or her is often socially-minded and does not grow selfish even when there is no concrete call to consider others. But, the conditions are not favorable, and to avoid deterioration one must seek to find antidotes to the subtle poisons of considering one's own comfort and ease alone, whether the comfort be physical, the ease mental, or either be spiritual. The lone man or woman is handicapped in the race to the finest development of personality. The budget is a help in recognizing and overcoming this handicap.