The divisions of the income for which we should provide are food, shelter, including taxes and operating expenses, clothing, and the "higher life," including recreation, education, and savings. The size of the income determines largely the proportion of money allotted to each division. We must be nourished and protected from the elements by shelter and clothing, and an income must at least provide for these necessities to be a living wage. Yet we justly claim something more from our income than mere existence.
In most families there is a fairly definite income. When the amount is not known it is wise to estimate upon the minimum income and have a surplus, rather than to expend too much. Seventy-five years ago things cost less and incomes were less, to-day the incomes have increased and cost of living is growing higher. The question is one to be studied relatively, and the cost of living will depend on the ratio between income and one's methods of living.
Just what other satisfactions than the merely physical are to be gratified is the great question for the woman who divides the income. The problem is naturally hardest with the smallest income, where the "must be" crowds out the "may be." But there is room for choice even with the small wage.
This work of dividing the income and deciding on the ideals should be shared by the family. When the home is first lems of division and should agree on the methods of expenditure. This common understanding between members of a family forms a bond of union, and each feels a greater pleasure and pride in doing his part. The fact that there is a budget and a system brings orderliness in methods of work and freedom from worry and anxiety as well as a saving of money. And this saving of money and strength is the same as an increase in income. This budget or division of expenses acts as a sailing chart and can be referred to from month to month. It should not, however, become a burden, and one should not worry if every penny is not accounted for.
Statisticians tell us that about 75 per cent of the male adults of our country earn somewhat less than $600 a year. That in large cities $900 to $1000 a year is necessary to bring up a family to live decently and enjoy human happiness. Much depends upon how this income is divided as to whether results will tend to develop efficiency in the members of such a family. As the income increases from $1000 to $5000 it is possible to apportion the income and indicate certain percentages which represent wise family expenditures so as to include the higher intellectual and emotional life as well as the physical welfare of the family.
From comparison of many budgets statisticians have worked out certain percentages that are helpful in making our decisions, although they are not to be taken as fixed rules.