"In the days of famine and fear, the individual was fortunate who had food, shelter, and a skin to wrap about his shivering shoulders. In these days it is not enough to have merely these things. Certain standards of civilized life must be met, and we shall find that it requires judgment and skill to apportion our funds properly.
The common needs of civilized mankind are usually roughly classified as follows: food; shelter; clothing; operating expenses, including service, heat, light, water, repairs, refurnishing, and the general upkeep of the plant; advancement, including education, recreation, travel, charity, church, doctor, dentist, savings."
This chapter, which talks about finances, includes a lot of numbers which I have barely skimmed over, because obviously, prices have changes somewhat in the last century and anyhow I live in a very different part of the world. But the essence remains the same.
Now we come to an interesting quote:
"The ideal homemaker of the future will be a woman who has had a personal income, and preferably one that she has earned herself and learned how to spend before she enters upon matrimony and motherhood."
Now, as it happens, the average homemaker of today is a woman who not only has earned a personal income before marriage, but who most often continues to earn money after she is married. And quite often, thsi average woman is very far from the ideal homemaker. Why is that?
Education and income can be obtained in ways wholesome for young girls and women hoping to start families, but very often that is not the case. Career success and money are considered the highest goals, while home-management is put almost entirely aside as a menial job. Furthermore, a working wife/mother still often sees her earnings as a personal income, while it is not so after she marries. It is part of the family income, just like the husband's salary.
In the Charedi communities, girls are often married too young to have reasonably had time to earn any income of their own before marriage (apart from some babysitting, perhaps). Does this mean they are bad money managers, at least at the beginning? On the contrary, I believe most of them have very solid notions of budget and spending, because they grew up in families that budgeted and spent wisely. A girl of 18 might be a very good budgetary, and a career woman of 30 a very bad one, if the former comes from a sensible, hard-working family, while the latter has spent money frivolously for over a decade of earning her own. I'm not saying that is necessarily the case, but it might be.
I am generalizing here, I know, as we are all different and our circumstances as well, but on a large scale both my husband and I believe it is better to marry young, when character is more pliable. Another aspect of this is the financial. A single person has no needs to consider other than his/her own, and so falls into habit of catering to his/her needs alone. In the partnership of marriage, these habits are replaced by healthier ones.
And, you can imagine how much I loved this one:
"No housewife is properly fitted for her task unless she has some knowledge of dietetics."
"It is not too much to expect that the girl of the future will be able to set before her family meals scientifically planned or food wisely and economically purchased, well cooked, and attractively served."
Alas, too many families today subside on haphazardly thrown together meals of expensive, nutritionally deficient convenience foods. I believe the book author in all honesty imagined that the more officially educated women will be, the more of their knowledge will be directed into managing her home. Unfortunately, today, the more educated and accomplished a woman is, the more she is expected to excel in anything but managing her own home.
"There need be no crusade against adulterated foods other than real education and the refusal of homemakers to buy from merchants who carry them in stock."
Do you recall the scandal revolving around trans fats in McDonald's meals? Well, I must say I can't relate to it at all. You can't dine in a fast food joint and expect healthy meals. You can't expect manufacturers of commercially prepared foods to have your health, rather than their profit, as their primary consideration. The only foolproof way to obtain truly healthy food is to buy good-quality basic ingredients and cook from scratch.
There are many more wonderful quotes in this chapter, far too many to share them all here; I do encourage you to pour yourself a cup of tea and read Vocational Guidance for Girls: Chapter 4 from beginning to end.