I was thinking the other day about budgeting something I carried out in the past, and I soon got around to thinking about what today is actually regarded a necessity for any family, and what comes under the heading of a luxury item. And over time how our perception of this has changed greatly. The first item that comes to mind is the refrigerator. Back when it first arrived on to the domestic scene. What a boon it was to families, especial in Summer when it was always a problem to store our perishables, even for a couple of days. No more melted or spoiled butter, soured milk, tainted meat. Suddenly all these worries were all over. But it’s arrival into the domestic scene, signalled many other subtle charges that were not initially obvious. Remembering back to before the home refrigerator, the first thing that happened to our daily milk on it’s arrival, was that it was scalded. Nothing to do about the bacterial count, as far as we were concerned, This was just to extend it’s shelf life. As it was then kept in a gauze covered box, on the shady side of the house. Pasteurisation was exactly what we were doing, but commercially this came along much later, along with homogenization, and then it was packaged in glass bottles. The arrival of the refrigerator actually spelt the demise of the daily milk delivery, although we didn’t know it at the time. It also made subtle changes to our buying patterns. For this item, it would have to be a necessity and a yes.

What brought all this about was when you made a budget for someone, where today do you draw the line? Our kids were still young when we were able to scrape together enough cash, to make our first purchase of a refrigerator. But it meant at the time, we had to forgo our floor coverings that we had been saving for. This is another lesson, ‘You can’t have everything’. However back then, a refrigerator was definitely a luxury item Time payment was popular back then too, but we had been brought up with the protocol. ‘If you didn’t have the cash’, ‘you didn’t buy the item’. Even back then in the ‘Good Old Days’ we had budgets. Some people had rather quaint ideas which persist even today. For instant, I always watched with amusement at the antics of an Aunt an Uncle on paydays, they put away various monies into their respective tins labelled for Rent, Power, groceries etc. Their system even persisted when they had plenty of money, and no longer needed to do this. Whatsoever, so long as it works, and you manage to keep out of Debt. But old habits die hard

Telephones, we managed when I was young with a coin box down at the town square. For urgent messages in times of need or family crisis, you would go to the Post Office and sent a Telegram which would be delivered to the recipients door more often than not by a boy on a bike. A very reliable fast service too. Today technology has leapt ahead and past what we regarded as a telephone. Even the kids of today carry a cell or mobile phone. Top of the line phones today, don’t come cheap either. They now have built in cameras, clock, access to the internet, The ability to TXT messages, radio, calculator, able to store a 100 or so telephone numbers, take messages, GPS ability. However, depending how you used it, a cell phone could be a much cheaper option than a land line. So this would have to be a yes too.

TV. Well we managed without one for most of our lives, even a radio didn’t arrive on the scene until I was a young boy. There wasn’t much to listen to back then, as it seemed that it was controlled by educated idiots. They were determined that we were only able to listen to ‘good’ programmes that were educational, and good music which was mainly classical, or of the type we receive today on the concert programme. They even dressed the announcers, (who you couldn’t see), in dinner suits. Seeing both radio and TV are, ‘now free to air’, and are a vital tool for information, to enjoy them you only require cheap receivers. This is also a yes. But pay TV or cable is definitely out.

This brings me to an Automatic Washing Machine. What a boon this has been to families. I know this has to be a yes also, as WINZ will even assist a beneficiary to buy one. It was also a late arrival on our domestic scene. Monday was the traditional wash day and what a day of drudgery that was. Boiling up a copper, then washing the clothes by hand on a glass wash board, using bar soap, which was hard on the hands. My mother came to our rescue. She purchased three ‘Chug Chug’ agitator Washing Machines for approximately $100 each which she gave to each of her kids, who couldn’t believe their good fortune.

Motor Vehicle, this is a tricky one, many families manage without one, and use a taxi when public transport won’t cover the particular task. Some families use their cars even to cross the road, and to drive their kids everywhere. They seem to have forgotten that most children were born with legs. However, if they were to total up exactly what the real cost of ownership is, perhaps then they may have second thoughts about ownership. Repayments, or cost of Money invested in the vehicle. Repairs and Maintenance, Registration, Insurance, and last but not the least, Gasoline. If they still wish to run a car, some serious readjustment to any budget will be required.

If we were to compare the lot of the typical beneficiary of today, with what they they now have, and enjoy, against the beneficiaries of yesteryear.,They would initially express disbelief that anyone could be so fortunate. They would have no hesitation in telling them that they were extremely lucky and in their eyes well off Yet our beneficiaries or low paid workers consider themselves poor, and on the bread line, Some have no idea of what poverty is.


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