A continuing series by Persuasion’s Mary Musgrove
Meaning, I must look after the household money for the butcher, the shops, the wages of our servants, and whatnot.
So now, in addition to everything else I do around here, I must attend to finances.
Charles says that he is weary of my complaints. He wishes me to see for myself how much it costs to run a home.
I will have you know that making suggestions is not complaining!
But I digress. Charles has given me a newspaper clipping with hints about managing household accounts. A budget? What a laugh. I feel like that tight-rope walker we saw perform in Bath. Disaster is inevitable!
- Do not guess at monthly costs. Of course I must guess! The barefaced truth is absolutely depressing, because who can afford to live? By live, I mean live graciously.
- Track all spending. Of course I do not “track” – whatever that means. Must I account for each penny? Look, if I waited until we “have the money,” I would never have any new clothes.
- Maintain an emergency fund. Like we know in advance that I will be ill and need the services of Mr. Jones? No one wishes to be ill, and I do understand the need to be prudent. Still, this is no reason to let unused money pile up. Besides, sometimes a new pair of gloves is a desperate and necessary emergency.
- Include fun money. I very much agree, but how does one define fun? A new hunting gun is not fun. An elegant landaulet of my very own (such as my sister Anne has), or a winter holiday in Bath, or April spent in London’s exclusive Mayfair district – these are fun.
- Beware of classifying wants as needs. Again, it depends on who is doing the wanting. A cit in London — the sort of person who reads newspaper articles like this — hasn’t the same needs as a baronet’s well-born daughter.
- Avoid Lifestyle Inflation – living a life you cannot afford. Like anyone can afford to live! My father never has, but does this stop him from commanding the elegancies of life? Moreover, the Young Squire has a reputation to uphold. We cannot serve watered-down soup to dinner guests or expect them to gnaw dry bread crusts, simply to stay on-budget.
I can sum up the problem quite easily: Not Enough Income!
Well. This budget is doomed to failure. Charles knows I am hopelessly bad at maths. It has been this way since I was in school.
It has to do with subtraction. I would be a dab hand at accounts if all I had to do was add.