Budgeting Like A 19th Century Maiden

I just had “the talk” with my bank account. It … wasn’t pretty. If you thought I was not that fun in 2016, hold onto your asses: I’m going to be a real dud in 2017. It’s budget crunch time!

Outside, meanwhile, the weather turned cold and blustery so quickly that I found myself spontaneously holding a copy of Jane Eyre without even realizing how it got in my hands. 19th century maidens probably didn’t have to worry about electric bills or wonder why both they and their suitor were paying for Netflix and Hulu every month instead of just sharing passwords. They had bigger concerns, like typhoid fever. Still, they also seemed pretty careful with their money. It’s not that hard to budget like a 19th century maiden, I think; it’s basically the same as modern-day budgeting. A few tips:

*Calculate your fixed income: Maybe you’ve recently applied for a position as a governess in a mansion with a crazy woman in the attic, or you’ve just finished compiling your trousseau. Either way, figure out exactly how much money you can count on receiving every month from your employer, dowry or small inheritance.

jane eyre

*Calculate your fixed expenses. You’ll probably need, like, some drawing pencils and parchment or something? Anyway, calculate exactly how much will be withdrawn from your bank account – er, I mean the small leather purse you keep under your mattress – every month for bills and pencils/parchment.

*The difference between the two is your discretionary income, which will cover variable expenses like food, travel by carriage, balls, new frocks, and so on. Wow, you seem to spend a lot on food. What are you, the lady of the house?? Consider cutting those expenses by eating more gruel or a hearty meal of bread and cheese.

*Take a close look at your cable and internet bill. Those monthly fees creep up every year and you may not even notice. Also: WHY ARE YOU PAYING FOR CABLE AND INTERNET? Those haven’t been invented yet! Stop paying for them, it’s unnatural. Entertain yourself with a game of charades in the parlor instead.

*Private carriage services like Uber can really add up and deplete your once impressive dowry. Giving yourself more time to get to your destination would allow you to take a shared carriage like WMATA or MTA. While the WMATA carriage could take a good three days to reach your goal and require an overnight stop at a spooky inn, it will cost less than $5. You might also consider a vigorous walk through the country instead. You’ll get there eventually, or be taken in by a kind farmer along the way.

*Maybe don’t go outside at all. It’s much more economical to stay in. Perhaps you could slowly overcome a viral disease that leaves you bedridden? Or succumb to melancholia as you pine after a man who could never be yours because he’s above your station? These are just a couple options.

*Balls are good fun, but you might want to limit your social engagements to save money on the new frocks and carriages that fetes require. Throw yourself into your work, instead, which I assume is sweeping up or writing a stormy novel about a rigid gentlewoman and a rugged horse breeder who fall in love.

*Buy fewer frocks and/or sew your own.

*Screw it all and marry a wealthy older man at the age of 18.

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