16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Tuesday, January 2, 1912: Started into school again after such a long vacation. Wasn’t glad it was over either. Want to study harder now and make better marks than I did the fore part of the term. That is a new year’s resolution I made yesterday. Bumped my head a little while again above the eye. Kinda sore. Isn’t this here scratching?
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Time will tell whether Grandma was able to keep her resolution to study harder.
Today many people make resolutions to manage their money better in the upcoming year. I was surprised to discover that what people spend their money on has changed over time.A hundred years ago about 30% of a household’s expenditures were on food—today it’s approximately 12%.
But we now spend a higher percentage of our income on housing than was done in the past. In 1912 people spent about 15% on housing; today we spend about 34%.
Given today’s consumer culture, I was surprised to discover that we spend relatively less on apparel. A hundred years ago about 15% of household expenditures were for apparel; today it’s only about 4%. I suppose that it was more labor intensive to make clothes and shoes back then. Also, families were bigger so maybe households needed to spend more on apparel.
I got the 1912 data from an article in the January 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal on budgeting. For 2012, I used data from the 2010 Consumer Expenditure Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics since that was the most recent year available.