The question of operating expense is closely associated with the selection of shelter and should be carefully considered with it in the division of the income. They are the expenses necessary to keep the house clean, warm, lighted, insured, and in constant repair. To these must be added in a suburban community water tax, property tax, perhaps even a fire tax.
In city apartments, heat and hot water are often furnished, and this must be taken into account in deciding between apartment and house, and between renting and ownership.
Labor is an important item in the running of the house. The close connection of selecting and operating a home will be seen. Should the administrator divide the family income in such a way that little is left for operating, the little things of everyday life become a constant source of worry.
The questions of the number of rooms, and their care, relative expense of heating by furnace, steam, or hot water, the cost of regular service in wages per week in order to attain one's ideals, the cost of extra service, the lighting by gas, oil, or electricity are all problems of operating. Knowledge of sanitary science will make the homemaker demand cleanliness in her surroundings, quick disposal of waste, and the prompt removal of dust. Much care in planning is necessary here in order that there may be no leakage and that there may be the full share of comfort for each member.
For the income of from $500 to $5000 it has been estimated that a proportion of from 10 to 20 per cent must usually be spent for operating in order to secure comfort. Much must necessarily depend upon the amount of hired service required, which, in turn, depends largely upon whether the homemaker is to give her time chiefly to the care of her children or chiefly to the conduct of the housework.