Winifred S. (Winifred Stuart) Gibbs.

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There is a natural shrinking from the wearing of
clothing belonging to persons outside of the family
circle, and this aversion should be respected.

The following figures are perhaps one of the
most significant in the entire study. In no case
was the sum spent for clothing sufficient to provide
properly for all members of the family. Later we
shall have occasion to speak of the connection of
this fact with the meagre appropriation for in-
cidentals. Reference to the clothing estimate,
page 13 will show, that the provision made was
at the best scanty. The fact that not one of our
families even approached this sum gives much
food for thought.

The percentage spent for clothing is so low in
every case, irrespective of income, that it is not
possible to do much in the way of making com-
parisons.

In classifying the clothing expenditures according
to income, the families fall into the following groups :

Group 1 — one family with an income of $200-
$300 spending 21% of this income for clothing.



80 The Minimum Cost of Living

Group 2 — two families with an income of $300-
$400, one spending 7%, and one 8% of the income
for clothing.

Group 3 — eight families with an income of $400-
$500, one spending 2%, one 3%, one 8%, one 11%,
one 12%, two 13%, and one 18% of the income
for clothing.

Group If. — twenty-two families with an income of
$500-$600, one spending 5%, one 7%, six 8%,
three 9%, four 11%, two 12%, one 14%, and one
16% of the income for clothing.

Group 5 — eighteen families with an income of
$600-$700, one spending 4%, one 8%, two 7%,
one 9%, four 10%, one 11%, two 12%, one 13%,
two 14%, and three 18% of the income for clothing.

Group 6 — twelve families with an income of
$700-$800, one spending 4%, two 6%, one 8%,
two 9%, two 10%, two 14%, and two 16% of the
income for clothing.

Group 7 — seven families with an income of
$800-$900, one spending 7%, one 11%, two 13%,
two 14%, and one 15% of the income for clothing.

Group 8 — two families with an income of $900-
$1,000, each spending 9% of the income for cloth-
ing.



The Clothing Budget 81

Group 9 — three families with an income of
$1,000-11,200, one spending 7%, one 8%, and one
14% of the income for clothing.

In fixing the sum allowed in the estimate for
clothing, there was no attempt to set a standard.
The Association made itself responsible only for
the sirni required to meet actual living needs. It
has already been stated that practically all of the
families depended largely upon gifts of clothing.
This fact is another reason for not depending upon
the women's own expense accounts for help in
setting a standard. Furthermore, it was not prac-
tical to secure completely itemized accounts of
clothing expenditures from any of the women.
A good beginning was made in this direction, how-
ever. Systematic record keeping was in itself a
tax at first, and the workers made haste slowly
here as in the case of the food work. Approxi-
mately only 50% of the clothing expenditure was
fully itemized. The remaining items were entered
in the account books simply as "clothing."

The entries for clothing that were itemized give
details enough to furnish considerable help and
information. For example, expenditures for both
shoes and stockings were entered in detail in each



82 The Minimum Cost of Living

case, as were those for "repairs." The following
table is a fair average of the manner in which a
clothing budget of $53.44 was spent. The family
consisted of woman and three children, ten, nine
and three years. The prices also give a good idea
of those paid by all the families.

CLOTHING BUDGET

First Quarter

Shoes $1.25 Shoes (2 pr.) $ 3.00

Stockings, 1 pr 10 Underwear 50

Apron .20 Rompers 25

Material 35 Underwear 1 . 00

CoUar 10

$6.75

Second Quarter

Stockings, 2 pr 25 Rompers (2) 50

Stockings, 3 pr 35 Kimonas (2) 50

Stockings, 1 pr 10 Baby's hat 10

Underwear 50 Garters 05

Boy's shoes 1 .25 Stockings, 2 pr 25

2 dresses 96 Dresses (2) 98

Rompers 25 Stockings, 2 pr 20

Stockings (3 pr.) 30 Stockings, 2 pr 20

Child's dress 49

$7.23

Third Quarter

Stockings, 1 pr $ .10 Underwear 35

Stockings, 2 pr 20 Undervest 19

Stockings, 3 pr 30 Rompers 25

Stockings, 6 pr 60 Rompers 25



The Clothing Budget



83



Third Quarter — Continued



Dresses (2) $ .98

Material 30

Gloves 10

Underwear 49

Rubbers 35

Rompers 25

Shoes 1.00

Skirt 25

Ribbon 10

Rompers 25

Shirtwaist 98



Corsetcover $ .15

Waist 59

Shoes 1 . 50

Shoes, 2 pr 3 . 50

Repairs 50



Ribbon
Hat . . .
Waist .
Dress .



.20
.49
.10
.49



$14.81



Fourth Quarter

Repairs S .50 Stockings, 15 pr $1 . 50

Waist 49

Dress 49

Underwear 20

Handkerchiefs 15

Material 50

Repairs 1 . 50

Shoes 1.25

Underwear 25



Rompers 25

Ribbon 20

Shoes, 2 pr 2 . 50

Material 25

Child's Shoes 50

Child's dress 49

Waist 49

Repairs 50



$5.33 $6.68

5.33

$12.01

Itemized total for year $40 . 80

Entered as " clothing" 12. 64

Grand total $53 . 44

The budget given is quoted verbatim from the
housekeeper's own expense book and may be called
typical of all the others.



84 The Minimum Cost of Living

It is probable that this housekeeper would have
come very near to the estimated amount for cloth-
ing but for the fact that there was an unexpected
falling off of $46.00 in the income of the family.

In commenting on the necessary educational
work the sewing teacher of the Home Economics
Division writes as follows: ''The sum fixed in my
estimate for clothing is not the ideal, but simply
the best that can be done in the way of dividing a
minimum income. The family clothing is usually
sadly neglected — even the necessary things that
are mentioned in the estimate are too often for-
gotten. The children are seldom provided with
change of undergarments, and nightclothes are
seldom thought of. I have tried to teach the
mothers the necessity for these things, and to
show them that to a limited extent even these can
be purchased with the average income of the
family in this group. In each family my instruc-
tion has included directions for keeping clean and
self-respecting, as the result of thoughtful and
careful buying."

In the foregoing paragraph Mrs. Ditmas touches
on a vital part of the work. It is true that the
comparative cheapness of ready-made garments



The Clothing Budget 85

must be considered. Experience and observation,
however, lead to the conclusion that properly-
directed lessons in selection of fabrics and making
of garments are necessary if the family problem is
to be dealt with adequately.

Good results in nutrition depend directly on a
budget that takes into consideration all the divi-
sions of the family expenditures.



CHAPTER V

Fuel and Light

In comparing what actually happened with the
''ideal division" spoken of on page 12 we realize
that families living on a minimum basis can make
only a very small provision for the item known as
"operating expenses." In fact the mechanism of
these households is so simple as to limit this item
to the elemental ones of fuel and light. Study of
the table on page 13 shows that very few of the
famihes even approach the 8% of the income
allowed in the ''ideal division."

It has not been thought necessary to make
tabulations as to the kinds of fuel used, since prac-
tically all of the families have at least a one-burner
gas stove, and most of them, a coal range that
may be used in very cold weather. During all
except the most extreme weather, the house-
keepers carefully save fuel, and the families be-
come accustomed to unheated rooms.

One of the chief drawbacks in the tenement
house life is the lack of provision for storage of

86



Fuel and Light 87

even moderate amounts of either coal or wood.
This makes it necessary for many of the house-
keepers to buy coal ''by the pail," and wood by
the ''bundle." This fact makes it impossible to
estimate the fuel needs on an economical basis.
The actual saving on fuel and light when pur-
chased by the ton is 50%.

The expenditures for this item are surprisingly
uniform. The average is for the entire group of
Association families, approximately two thousand.

When grouped according to the percentage of
income that was spent for fuel and Ught, the
families may be classified thus:

Group 1 — one family with an income of $200-
$300, spending 10% of the income for fuel and
Hght.

Group 2 — two families with an income of $300-
$400, one spending 7%, and one 4% of the income
for fuel and light.

Group 3 — eight families with an income of $400-
$500, three spending 8%, one 4%, one 6%, one
7%, one 3%, one 10% of the income for fuel and
light.

Group 4 — twenty-two families with an income of
$500-$600, three spending 5%, three 3%, three



88 The Minimum Cost of Living

7%, three 6%, six 4%, one 2%, and one 1% of
the income for fuel and Hght.

Group 5 — eighteen famiUes with an income of
$600-1700, six spending 5%, three 6%, three 2%,
three 4%, one 8%, one 3%, and one 7% of the
income for fuel and light.

Group 6 — twelve families with an income of
$700-$800, three spending 4%, five 5%, one 2%,
one 3%, one 6%, and one 7% of the income for
fuel and light.

Group 7 — seven families with an income of
$800-1900, two spending 5%, one 4%, one 6%,
and three 7% of the income for fuel and light.

Group 8 — two families with an income of $900-
$1,000, one spending 5%, and one 7% of the in-
come for fuel and light.

Group 9 — three families with an income of
$1,000-$1,200, two spending 3% and one 5% of
the income for fuel and light.



CHAPTER VI

Incidentals

When considered according to the percentage of
income spent for incidentals, the families fall into
the following groups :

Growp 1 — one family with an income of $200-
$300, spending 6% of the income for incidentals.

Growp 2 — two families with an income of $300-
$400, one spending 7% and one 5% of the income
for incidentals,

Growp 3 — eight famiUes with an income of $400-
$500, one spending 10%, one 9%, two 6%, two
4%, one 8%, and one 12% of the income for
incidentals.

Group If. — twenty-two famihes with an income of
$500-$600, four spending 9%, four 4%, one 7%,
five 10%, three 6%, one 5%, two 8%, and two 3%
of the income for incidentals.

Group 5 — eighteen families with an income of
$600-$700, one spending 18%, three 6%, four 9%,
one 10%, one 11%, five 5%, one 3%, and two 8%
of the income for incidentals.

Group 6 — twelve families with an income of

m



90 The Minimum Cost of Living

$700-$800, one spending 12%, one 4%, two 6%,
one 8%, three 9%, one 10%, two 5%, and one
7% of the income for incidentals.

Group 7 — seven families with an income of
S800-$900, one spending 14%, one 12%, two 4%,
one 3%, one 17%, and one 8% of the income for
incidentals.

Group 8 — two families with an income of $900-
$1,000, one spending 5%, and one 10% of the
income for incidentals.

Group 9 — three families with an income of
$1,000-$1,200, one spending 9%, and two 8% of
the income for incidentals.

As in the case of the clothing, it has been im-
possible to use the expense account as a standard
on this point. This was due to the fact that the
budgets were made out on a basis which allowed
for no margin.

The expense books show several items common
to all families. Church, household supplies,
school suppHes, laundry materials and insurance
are the principal ones. Forty-seven of the seventy-
five expense accounts showed entries for recreation,
usually tickets for the movies. The average ex-
penditure for recreation is $.30 a week.



Incidentals



91



The figures on page 51 will show how small a
percentage of the income was available for in-
cidentals. In families where large expenditures in
this direction had to be made, the clothing item
was invariably robbed.

A typical expense account for incidentals is
given here :



Actual Expenditures for Sundries
Family, 4 Individuals, $600-$700 Income



Laundry weekly (.22)

Church (.16)

Thread

Tooth powder

Geography

Matches

Shoe polish

Needles

Knife

Book

Shoe polish

Shoe polish

Stamps

Papers

Clothing hooks

Stamps

Spending money

Pictures

Tooth paste

Stamps

Thread



.$11.44
. 8.32
.10
.10
.10
.05
.10
.05
.10
.04
.10
.10
.08
.06
.05
.08
.03
.20
.10
.08
.02



Forward $21.30



Map for school . . .

Pail

Pictures

Table cloth

Joe's Club

Stamps

Pictures

Paper

Joe's Club

Joe's Club weekly

Stamps

Cards

Shelf paper

10 yds. sheeting . .

Towels

Postals

Towels

Shoe polish



.10
.16
.20
.59
.05
.10
.20
.10
10
.05
.10
.15
.10
. 1.10
.66
.05
.15
.08
Moving expenses 5 . 50



$21.30



$30.84



92



The Minimum Cost of Living



Forward $30.84

Mattress 3.24



Forward $36 . 54



Writing paper . .
Tooth paste . . .

Paper

Writing paper . .

Pleasure

Picture

Darning cotton .

Envelopes

School supplies .
Shoe polish ....
Stove polish . . .

Hair cut

Joe's Club

Stamps

Stamps

Teakettle

1 pan

Spoon holder. . ,



.10
.10
.07
.10
.40
.05
.05
.05
.10
.10
.05
.15
.05
.02
.10
.45
.37
.15



Matches

Postals

Postals

Postals

Bell

Pictures

Stamps

Writing paper
Embroidery . .

Stamps

Tooth paste . .
Matches



05

07

02

03

05

40

11

15

16

04

10

05

Refrigerator 2 . 00



Stamps

Tooth paste . . .
Darning cotton

Stamps

Dues on book .
Shoe polish . . . ,



.04
.10
.05
.04
.06
.10



$36.54



Total $40.16



Perhaps no other one point as this of a small
allowance for sundries shows so well what it means
to any family to be without at least a moderate
margin.

Families in the groups under discussion, those
of the rank and file of wage earners, have much to
give to our national life. The intensive work de-
scribed in these pages has shown that it would be
well worth while for neighborhoods and com-
munities to undertake systematic cooperation for



Incidentals 93

the purpose of building for future strength. Every
family that learns to attain its potential best,
physical, mental and spiritual, is a strong power.
The problems of independent families are closely
allied to those of the families under discussion.
Conservation of all resources among independent
families reduces to a minimum the number on the
verge of the so-called poverty line.

Someone has said that the essential difference
between poverty and riches is — ''To be fifty dol-
lars ahead, or fifty dollars behind." If this test
were appKed to our seventy-five families only
three would be above the poverty line. If, how-
ever, we interpret the words ''poverty" and
"riches" in the larger sense, we might hope that
all families in the group were richer at the end of
the year than at the beginning — richer in under-
standing of their own needs, in formulating plans
for meeting these needs, in the realization that
each family had a place of its own to fill in the
social scheme, and richer in courage to meet the
task of preparing to fill this place.

Printed in the United States of America



'HE following pages contain advertisements of
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BY THE SAME AUTHOR



Food for the Invalid and the Convalescent



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A great many books of special menus have been published,
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Publishors 64-66 Fi£th Avenue New York



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Online LibraryWinifred S. (Winifred Stuart) GibbsThe minimum cost of living; a study of families of limited income in New York city → online text (page 5 of 5)