To Spend or Save
The boardinghouse is far from luxurious but you like sharing a room with Abigail and two other girls. Slowly, you are adjusting to your new life. After a lot of hard work, you master your loom and are given a second one to tend. Your pay is increased to almost $15 a month!
You can't help getting excited at the end of each month when the overseer hands you a neat little pay envelope with your name written on it. About a third of your wages go to pay for your room and board and laundry. The rest is yours to do with as you wish.
There are so many things you could spend your money on! You saw the most beautiful dress in a store on Merrimack Street for $2, and there's a dance class in the evening you would really like to take.
The problem is that every letter from home asks you to send money to help pay your mother's doctor bill or the mortgage on the farm. Yesterday you received a letter from your brother Frank; he needs money for his college fees. At church, the minister asks you to give money to support the abolition of slavery.
It's hard to know what to do, because you also want to save enough money so that in a few years you can study to become a teacher, or later, when the time comes to marry, you'll be able to help set up your household.
Your next choice is:
- Send as much money home as you can,
keeping only enough to make a small contribution at church every week.
- Put most of your money in the Savings Bank. Every few months you send a little home, but you are working so hard that you feel you deserve to have a new dress now and then and to enjoy some of the opportunities Lowell offers. You try to save enough so that someday you can leave the mill and attend Lowell's excellent high school. Then you could get a job as a teacher.
Need some advice?
Copyright ©2003 Tsongas Industrial History Center, 400 Foot of John St., Lowell, MA 01852. E-Contact: Ellen_Anstey@uml.edu.