Wednesday, 19 August 2015

How We Can Save

From the Brecon County Times, 19th August, 1915.


[From a pamphlet issued by the Parliamentary War Savings Committee.] 


As chiefs of the domestic spending departments, women can exert an all-important influence.  If they will once make up their minds to the uncomfortable necessity for spending less on our homes and our families, and our amusements and pleasures, the revolution in our national habits that is needed for the war will soon be carried out.  They have done a great work for the nation in recruiting.  They can do a still greater work for their country in saving.  It is they who have to tell us how to save, to show us how to do it, and ultimately to carry out most of the saving that can be achieved in our homes, by cutting off the things that we can best, in their opinion, do without.  With their sympathy and help our great problem of financing the war is comparatively easy.  Without them it can only be solved by methods which will lessen our staying power and leave us at the end of the war much poorer than we need have been.

No one should build a house for himself at this time.  Moving (unless to a cheaper house) should be avoided.  Those who are obliged to move, or who are setting up house for the first time, should avoid neighbourhoods where rents are high.  The wealthy landowner with more than one estate should reduce his establishments as far as practicable, and the business or professional man with a town house and a country cottage should consider whether he could not dispense with the cottage.  Decorations and enlargements should be cut down as much as possible.  No furniture or other household requirements should be bought beyond what is absolutely necessary.  The expenditure on pictures, pianos, ornaments, &c., should be severely curtailed.  The expenditure on flower gardens should be reduced, and as much of the garden as possible should be used for growing vegetables.  Less money should be spent on cut flowers.  The staff of servants should be reduced wherever possible, and, in particular, male servants should not be employed.  The washing bill might be reduced, more washing being done at home.

The expenditure on coal, gas and electricity should be greatly reduced.  When fires are necessary in the sitting-rooms one fire might be made to serve, instead of having two or three burning; and this might often be lighted only for a few hours in the evening.  There should be no fires in bedrooms except where they are required for invalids.  The gas should remain unlit, or turned very low, except in the rooms where it is in use; the electric light should be turned off when not in use, and one light might suffice instead of two or three.  A very considerable saving in the light and fuel bill might be made by going to bed at an earlier hour.

Under this heading the most obvious saving that could be made is in the abandonment or greatly-reduced consumption of wine, beer, and spirits. The custom of “treating” should be given up as a fruitful source of unnecessary drinking.  Also, although tea is cheap to drink, its consumption by many persons is immoderate, and might be reduced with benefit to their health and with an appreciable saving of expense.  The same may be said of sweetmeats, which are wholesome in moderation but are undoubtedly eaten to excess by many people, especially children.  Luxuries of all kinds should be avoided.

Special attention has already been publicly drawn to the necessity of reducing the consumption of meat.  Much saving might be effected by a more scientific choice of foods, by better and more economical methods of cooking and by the avoidance of waste.  The Board of Education pamphlet, entitled “Economy in Food,” gives various recipes for cooking wholesome and inexpensive dishes with little meat.

In many establishments more could be saved by a return to simpler meals than even by economy in the quantity or quality of the articles consumed. The mere change from a five-course dinner to the old-fashioned two-course meal might enable some families to dispense with one servant, quite apart from other economies.  Eating and drinking between meals should be discouraged by public opinion.  Such customs as the serving of an early cup of tea before rising, or of coffee and liqueurs after dinner, should be dropped.

There is, perhaps, more scope for the saving of money on dress by women than by men, and especially by women of the richer classes.  A great variety in dress is not necessary, and should be avoided.

With the stoppage or great reduction of entertaining there should be little or no demand for evening dresses, dress suits, etc., and for ordinary purposes garments of a serviceable description should be worn.  Changes of fashion (one of the greatest causes of extravagant expenditure on dress) should be ignored, if they cannot be suppressed.  Women should take a pride in making their dresses last as long as possible.  All not strictly necessary extras, such as veils, white gloves, furs, silk garments, should not be bought.  Many women might save quite substantial sums by spending no money on scents, cosmetics, etc., and by avoiding unnecessary visits to the hairdresser and manicurist.  Women might make much of their own and their children's clothes and underclothing, and cut down old garments for their children, as was the general custom of a generation ago. Time formerly spent on fancy needlework would be more profitably spent in this way.

Men can save by having fewer changes of costume and by spending less on golfing or holiday suits, or other clothes for occasional wear by having their suits and overcoats cleaned and pressed instead of buying new ones; by spending less on gloves and ties, and by having still serviceable boots mended, instead of buying new ones.

Excessive expenditure on mourning clothes and on funerals generally should be avoided.

Expenditure on extra subjects, such as music and dancing, might be stopped in cases where such expenditure is incurred merely as a matter of custom and the child has no aptitude for these pursuits.  In the case of young children the expenses of nurses and nursery governesses might often be saved if mothers would look after their children themselves more than they do.

Unnecessary travelling should be avoided, and many of those who travel first-class might well travel third, especially on long journeys.  “Week-ends” and travelling for pleasure should be reduced to a minimum.  No motor-cars beyond what are absolutely necessary should be used, except for charitable purposes.  If they remain unused the expense of petrol and upkeep may be saved, and the chauffeur, if one is employed, can be released for productive work.  The expenditure on tennis, golf, rowing clubs, etc., should be strictly limited, as also subscriptions to West End clubs.  People should only indulge in theatre-going to a moderate degree, and those who go might content themselves with cheaper seats.  Theatre dinners should be discouraged.  Much might also be saved by less frequent visits to picture palaces and music halls.  The habit of taking taxicabs for journeys where trams, or trains, or omnibuses are available should cease.

Among the well-to-do classes expenditure on hunting, shooting, horse-racing, etc., should be abandoned, except in so far as the killing of game for food is concerned.  Entertainments of all sorts at private houses should be kept within the most moderate limits; and all entertaining at restaurants entirely abandoned, on account of its excessive cost.  The smoking of cigars and the consumption of tobacco generally should be greatly reduced.

The giving of presents on all sorts of trivial occasions should cease.  Where presents are given, such as on the occasion of a marriage, they should not be costly, and should be articles of real service; in many cases they might take the form of War Loan vouchers.  Testimonials and tips to servants might also take this form.  The purchase of jewellery should be discountenanced.

In this connection it may be suggested that the custom of taking children for long holidays and the giving of many treats and parties and of costly presents might be greatly curtailed, while many persons would find it possible to save by spending less on their hobbies.

[This article appeared in many local papers in August 1915.  Considering that British governments before the War thought that meddling in citizens' private lives was not the business of the State, this is very bossy.   It's interesting too that many of the strictures are aimed at the better-off.  The middle and upper classes had always been keen to meddle in the lives of the working classes (for their own good, of course) - as shown by the Tipperary Rooms opening around the country, which were ostensibly to provide meeting places for women whose husbands were on active service, but really were inspired by wanting to keep (working-class) women out of the pub.  I wonder how the upper and middle classes felt about the Government telling them how to behave?      

It all sounds very dreary.  The approach in the Second World War, was I think very different, where keeping up morale in the civilian population was seen as important.] 

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