plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

July 23, 2008

rationing and running a house without help

Filed under: frugal — Tags: , , — plonkee @ 12:00 pm

So, there is a post on WWII rationing from broke ass student in the carnival of personal finance. It reminded me of this absolutely awesome book that I purchased a couple of months ago called How to Run Your Home Without Help. It was written in the late 1940s by the editor of Good Housekeeping, and it’s all about how to run your [respectable middle-class] house without a maid.

Whilst in the United States of America, this period might have been the beginning of the golden age, the same can’t really be said of the UK. Rationing didn’t end until the early and things like bread were rationed, even though they hadn’t been during the war. And, whilst we were manufacturing things like fridges and washing machines, they were predominantly for overseas export in an attempt to pay off our war debt and rebuild all the houses etc that had been bombed out.

So, it was a little more of a struggle for the average housewife / domestic goddess than things are today. Lots of things are still applicable to the modern homemaker (which is everyone who runs a household, not just those who do it rather than paid work).

For example, to get the best bargains when grocery shopping, you should plan your meals in advance, but allow flexibility to see what looks good when you get to the shop. Well, this is still true. You might be able to get anything and everything regardless of season in the supermarket, but you never know what might be reduced or particularly good value when you get there.

It’s also suggested that you get to know your local shops and consider the number that you want to visit and the effort that will take compared to the potential bargains you might find. This works now. After all, there’s no point in saving money by shopping at Lidl, Aldi and Netto if you then spend a fortune in fuel getting there, is there.

My personal favourite, is when Kay advises that if you’re having guests over you shouldn’t use too many points (used for luxury goods) and so avoid making your guests uncomfortable. Which basically means, don’t show off and don’t spend more than you can afford trying to impress people. Very, very sensible advice.

If you have any interest in what domestic life was like in Britain in the post war years you should take a look at this book. It would make a truly splendid gift for a woman with a sense of humour. It’s not quite as funny as the legendaryinstructions to WWII GIs on deployment in Britain, but it’s a little more practical.

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