Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘money’

What is Finance?

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

we live in a chaotic worldEver the procrastinator, I’ve just now finished my taxes ~ April 14th at 10:00pm. During this traditionally painful event, I pondered why parents don’t just take care of their kids and do things like taxes and pay the bills throughout their lives. Wouldn’t it be great? Sigh.

Since that’ll never happen, I guess it’s about time I learn how to deal with my own financial life. Fortunately I’ve got a copy of Mabel Raef Putnam’s What Every Woman Should Know About Finance. Funny thing is, the book seems to have been originally owned by a gentleman named Stanley Love. Stan, honey, got some explaining to do?

1954: What is Finance?

Don’t let finance mystify you. Formidable it is until you understand it, and then it is fun. And undoubtedly it is the most fascinating study and work. This is what the dictionary says about it:

FINANCE, noun. The science of the profitable management of money and of monetary affairs; the systematic control and regulation of revenue and expenditures . . . funds on hand and coming in; the finances of an empire or an individual.
~ Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary

A knowledge of finance, for you, then, means a knowledge of the profitable management of your money ~ whether by you, your government, or a corporation in which you have invested money. And this profitable management of your money means an advantageous expenditure of it, that is getting good value for it, whether by you or by an empire. Or stated another way, the profitable management of your money is dependent upon your knowledge of how best to expend it, or of how to buy wisely. Moreover, it means a systematic control and regulation of revenue and expenditure ~ a budget, so to speak, whether by you or your government, or any project in which you invest.

Anyway, considering that today we live in a chaotic world, many women, and men too, have concluded that the time has come when women must qualify themselves to assume equal control with men of the nation’s wealth. But the basis of this accomplishment is a thorough knowledge of finance.

No one can even remotely comprehend the operation of our economic system without a complete understanding of the nation’s financial operations. In fact, good citizenship requires a knowledge of our country’s financial system. For finance is the key, the basis, of our national economy upon which our government and every other institution must depend.

Source: Putnam, Mabel Raef. What Every Woman Should Know About Finance. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1954.
~ pp. 4-5 ~

Earning, Spending, and Saving

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

real thrift deals with little thingsFinancial woes ~ we are all familiar with them. With the new year upon us I’ve tried to get a handle on my own, so have done a bit of reading on the subject. Maude Richman Calvert’s First Course in Home Making offered some good tips for future savers, which I will share with you here. Who needs a financial planner when Maude is here to help?

1928: Earning, Spending, and Saving

How can we learn to be thrifty? How can we learn to save money? Why are most of the failures in the world caused by a lack of thrift? What do we mean by thrift? Does thrift apply only to saving money? Why should we learn to save money?

Spend Less than You Earn. Learn to be thrifty by spending less than you earn. Thrift is one of the chief objectives of education. Real thrift means making the most of time, money, food and self. By learning to conserve your time, your health, your talents and your money you can pick your own job, own your own home and be prepared for probable misfortune and old age.

Spend Intelligently. Intelligent spending is just as important as intelligent saving. When you spend all that you earn you are working for a mere living; when you spend more that you earn you are a financial failure. Much of our money is spent on clothing. Study clothing to know values; take care of your garments and when you decide that it is necessary to buy, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do I need this article?
2. Can I afford to buy it?
3. Is the quality good?
4. Is the price reasonable?
5. Is the dealer trustworthy?
6. Can I pay for it now?
7. Is the garment appropriate?

Buy Food Intelligently. To buy food intelligently you must know food values; you must know the difference in actual values of certain qualities and brands of food; you must know how to plan, prepare and serve a well-balanced meal; you must know how to order a well-balanced meal at a hotel, cafe or cafeteria.

Learn to Eliminate Waste. In one sense, thrift means the elimination of waste. We cannot practice thrift merely by ceasing to spend money. Genuine thrift consists not in making money ~ or in saving it ~ it consists as well in taking care of things. A careless person cannot be successful ~ except by accident. Real thrift deals with little things and can be practiced by any one. Do you:

1. Eat all the food on your plate?
2. Mend and repair your clothing?
3. Take care of furniture, books and household equipment?
4. Waste light and fuel at home and in public places?
5. Waste money by buying novelties in food and clothing?
6. Buy cheap jewelry?
7. Waste money on candy, soda water and cheap amusements?

Learn to Save. Ask your father or your teacher what the figures of insurance companies show about people who never learned how to spend and save their money while young. Find out why it is important to begin to save our money while we are still children. Ask your teacher what happens to people in middle life or old age who did not learn while they were young how to spend and save wisely. We should always spend less than we earn. We should decide on a definite amount to be saved each week. Government authorities tell us that any one who starts with his first earnings and ‘puts out at interest one day’s wages every week will have ten years’ wages saved before becoming gray headed.’

Source: Calvert, Maude Richman. First Course in Home Making. Atlanta, Ga.: Turner E. Smith Company,1928.
~ pp. 248-50 ~

The Cost of Clothing

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

What is it about January that makes me hate my clothes so much? I blame the extra sweets around the holidays. Whatever the reason, my closet just got a bit fuller thanks to a little shopping spree today. I probably should have read the following excerpt, from Mary Lockwood Matthews’ textbook Elementary Home Economics, before I left for the store. I think I may have caved into a fad or two! Oh no!

1925: The Cost of Clothing

Many persons spend more money for clothing than is necessary because they do not buy wisely; they select materials and garments that do not wear well, that fade, that are not suitable for the purpose, or that do not launder well. Persons who are careless about the care of their clothing spend more money than those who keep their clothing repaired, pressed and clean. Every girl should remember that her clothing is expensive, and should consider it her duty to take as good care of it as possible.

In order to realize the cost of clothing, it would be well for each girl to keep an account of the money she spent for her clothing each year, even though she does not buy it herself. Such an account will be begun in the ‘Clothing Book.’ Perhaps each member of the class will continue keeping it, so that when she begins buying her own clothing she will know the usual price of each article.

The buying of ‘fads,’ exaggerated styles, or novelty materials is not wise when clothing must be worn for very long periods. Fads in clothing go out of fashion quickly and must be discarded. The better plan is to select standard materials of good quality and then have the garments made in such a way that they may be worn two or even three years without being out of fashion.

Source: Matthews, Mary Lockwood. Elementary Home Economics. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company,1925.
~ p. 102 ~

Wise Purchases and Wardrobe Economy

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

color and style appropriate to youI don’t know why exactly, but as soon as the cooler weather hits town, I always feel the need for a whole new wardrobe. Must be jealousy ~ I see all those kids in their new school clothes and yearn for a fresh outfit and a new notebook.

The following advice came in handy when my friend Liz and I visited an outlet mall this afternoon. It’s from Volume II of Lovely Ladies: The Art of Being a Woman by Dare Frances. Perhaps you’ll find it useful as well.

1929: Wise Purchases and Wardrobe Economy

What woman is not interested in wardrobe economy? Inborn in almost every human heart is the desire to get the most for the money we spend, whether this be a matter of necessity or not. However ample be your checkbook, the more value you get from what you spend, the more you can spend.

Wise purchases are the very thing. The little mother, possibly raising a sizable family on a very small income, with the house to be paid for, the children’s schooling, and the car to be bought if possible, has a perfectly natural desire to appear at her best. And when she does purchase something it must be the very wisest purchase she can possible make.

Business women, for a different reason, must be wise in their purchases. Their reason is mostly one of time ~ the lack of time in which to shop. Therefore, their purchases must be good and have some lasting, economical merit.

A wise clothing purchase is the garment that you select in color and style appropriate to you as an individual and one that fits into the rest of your wardrobe, without necessitating, consequently, an entirely new set of accessories. A lovely lady must know what she wants and why. If you depend upon a saleswoman’s advice you may expect to be dressed according to the saleswoman’s taste. Not that her taste may not be excellent, as she has an opportunity to study the mode trends that you have not. But too often even the fairest-minded saleswomen are intent upon ‘turning over stock’ or ‘getting rid of deadheads.’

Source: Dare, Frances. Lovely Ladies: The Art of Being a Woman, Vol. II. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1929.
~ pp. 469-470 ~

1953: On Catching a Wealthy Sponsor

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

I know I said a few months back that Miss Abigail was livin’ the single life, but things have changed due to a night with the gals drinking a few margaritas and crafting and posting our profiles on an online dating site. Well, lo and behold, I snatched me a man a month later! So far things are great – Denis doesn’t mind my crazy dogs or my book obsession (heck, he once owned a copy of Live Alone and Like It). Kindrid spirits, I tell you. I thought it would be fitting for his “coming out on the Abiblog” to talk about an upcoming gig of the band he’s in — Boister does original scores for Buster Keaton films, among other things. Their next performance, set for this Sunday at 2pm at the AFI Silver in Silver Spring, Maryland, is actually quite relevant for readers of this blog. Filmed in 1925, Seven Chances is all about a man who, if he can find a bride and marry her in time, will inherit millions. I haven’t seen it yet, but apparently there’s a great chase scene, with tons of young, hopeful brides running down the streets of L.A. hoping to catch him.

In keeping with the storyline of the movie, the new squeeze and I did a little research and came up with this quote, from a chapter in The Unfair Sex called “On Catching a Weathly Sponsor.” I bet this would have come in handy for the brides in this movie. Too bad it was written in 1953!

It is far more difficult to acquire a Sponsor than to catch a husband. To begin with, only three per cent of the male population is wealthy enough to qualify. Just think how many women are trying for each member of that select group. After you eliminate the unattractive women, the inexperienced, and the inadequate, the competition is still too much for any but the most gifted.

Even girls who are both talented and diligent frequently fail. For Luck plays an important role. So much depends on getting the breaks, on having the right contacts, on the accident of proper timing.

True, on rare occasions a novice who has none of the qualifications for success (and often no ambition) will by some quirk of chance be precipitated into a brilliant alliance with a rich man. Reports of this kind of accidental success give many naive girls a false perspective on the Weathly Sponsor situation, and they promptly fling themselves into the contest with great expectations and childish fancies. I sincerely hope you willl not be one of those who rush in where angels fear to tread.

1923: The Spending of Money

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006

I participated in a yard sale this weekend with some friends. In addition to parting with some household things that had piled up the basement, I sold some Miss Abigail books, gave away a bunch of promo postcards, and talked to many friendly folks about the book and Web site.

The three participating households were particularly struck by the number of items in our sale that were of the following three categories:

1) Things we should have returned but never got around to it (mostly hardware store items, mostly mine)
2) Things purchased at thrift stores in the heat of the moment. By the time of the yard sale “What was I thinking?” was a more appropriate sentiment (I had a lot of these too)
3) Unused wedding gifts (apparently no-one else wanted Liz and Neil’s crystal either, it never sold)

With this all this spending and buying in mind, I thought a little something about the spending of money might be fun to read about. This is from C. W. Taber’s Economics of the Family (J.B. Lippincott, 1923):

It is a mistake to feel that people always spend money as they please and for the things that they really want. To a very great extent money is spent and purchases are made because the consumer or money-spender is influenced in some way and the expenditure is a result of habit or convention rather than the result of a want or need that should be satisfied. . . . Clever advertising usually brings buyers and it is hardly believable that all such persons are really in need of the article advertised. There are organized and effective influences which exist for the purpose of inducing once to spend money ~ and it may be foolishly. Society is met by an army of trained salesmen with pleasing personality and plausible statements, confronted by attractive display windows, sign boards, circulars, advertisements, beautiful catalogues and special sales ~ all designed to influence the spending of money. Few persons are trained to resist this array of organized forces skilled in salesmanship. Many people save money only to spend it foolishly at a later time. Effective sales forces often succeed in wasting savings, earnings, investments, Liberty Bonds, and even the money received from insurance policies. Money spent should mean money value received in return. These sales forces are not to be deprecated entirely, but we must use them, not to be lead by them. The following tests may well be applied to proposed expenditures:
1) Do I need the article or service?
2) Can I afford to buy it?
3) Is the quality good?
4) Is the price reasonable?
5) Does my income warrant this purchase at this time?

I suppose I should be rational and apply this test to my current want: the new MacBook!