Why should you keep your word?

A man keeping his word on his first date with his girlfriend.

The saying goes that ‘a man is only as good as his word is.’ The same might be said of a woman. The person known as a keeper of his word earns respect. People learn to trust one who is ‘a man of his word.’ Are you that kind of person?

Unfortunately, we often incline to expect more of others than of ourselves in this regard. A son or daughter would feel deeply hurt if the parents failed to fulfill some promise—perhaps to buy something for one, take one on a trip or grant one some special privilege. But does one feel just as strongly about keeping one’s word to one’s parents?

Friendships, too, suffer when agreements are not kept, when appointments are not met. True, a person may become unexpectedly ill, accidents can happen, or some other circumstance can make it physically impossible to do something. But, on the other hand, it is easy to make excuses for ourselves; yet we feel disappointed when others fail us.

What are you like in this respect? If you tell someone you will help him to do something or offer to perform some service, do you always fulfill your word? If you make an appointment to meet someone at a certain time, do you show up, and on time? How much is your word worth?

Keeping your word

Some may feel that youths should be freer than older persons in these matters, that not as much should be expected of them. But youth is the right time to start developing the habit of being a person of your word.

Keeping or not keeping your word tells a lot about what you are like inside now; it also has a molding effect on your mind and heart. It builds up an attitude, a way of looking at things that can produce long-lasting personality traits.

If you are reliable now, you probably will be in later years. And the reverse is just as true. For example, if you do not live up to your word now, in later years you may make a firm agreement to take on a certain job or assignment—and then soon want to back out. Many people do that, but they are not viewed with respect by others.

That same unreliability can show up in marriage. Many violate in a short time the solemn promise they made when they took the marriage vows. Thus they ruin their lives and cause grief to other persons. Perhaps they were not keepers of their word even before they married.

It is not enough to keep your word just in ‘big things,’ things you consider of major importance. ‘Big things’ do not happen every day or every week, not often enough to build up the quality of reliability. Keeping your word needs to be a regular, daily practice.

Concern about fulfilling in smaller matters is what builds up the determination and strength to hold to your word in bigger matters. If you have gained others’ trust and confidence by having a reputation of reliability in smaller matters, you will work hard to keep that reputation and its benefits, even when bigger matters come along.

But if you prove untrustworthy in smaller matters, who will ever ask you to take on responsibility in bigger ones?

Why do people break their word?

Well, for one thing keeping one’s word puts limitations on a person, it obligates him. When the time arrives for keeping an appointment or some other promise, something else may seem more appealing.

Then, too, many times the person may find that making good on his word means much harder work than he thought it would when he gave his word. One may think some material profit will result from an agreement, and later find it will bring loss instead.

What will you do in such cases? Will you stay by your word even though it means some hardship or loss to you? Or do you want the other person to be the one to suffer damage because you do not want to fulfill?

For example, if we fail to keep an appointment, we steal someone’s time, keeping him waiting for nothing. If we fail to do certain work, we can cause him other problems and slow down his reaching certain goals, perhaps hinder him from fulfilling promises he himself has made.

So, we need to ask ourselves: What kind of person am I or do I want to be? Am I selfish or do I have genuine consideration for other persons?

One may say, “But I didn’t know what I was getting into!” The real question here is: Whose fault was it? Was there fraud or deception on the other person’s side? If not, then if you do not back out but endure whatever hardness fulfilling your word requires, you learn a valuable lesson, one you will remember. That is: Think before you talk, before you give your word. Then, when you speak, mean what you say

To say “yes” to something simply because you think it will please someone—but without first thinking out the consequences—can get you into difficulty.

By contrast, if you are careful about making promises, if you think matters through and consider how they will affect your future life, then it will be much easier to keep your word once you have committed yourself. You will have prepared your heart and mind to be true to your word.

Dealing with unforeseen things

Naturally, you cannot foresee everything. Circumstances may change between the time of giving your word and the time of carrying it out, or even during the period of carrying it out.

True, being imperfect, you may overcommit yourself at some time, finding that you have said you would do something that turns out to be in conflict with some other commitment already made. What then?

You should be humble and considerate enough to go to the person involved and explain why you cannot fulfill what you promised. Thereby you at least show you are sincerely concerned about the trustworthiness of your word.


Keeping our word should be our regular practice and it should not take some sworn oath on our part to guarantee that. Not that such sworn oath is prohibited if someone requires it of us, either because of wanting special assurance or because of doubt.

But as far as we are concerned, with or without an oath our word should be reliable, trustworthy at all times. Is that true of you? Does your Yes always mean Yes? And when you say “No,” do your actions always show that you mean it?

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What liberation do women movements really desire?

A woman agitating for change.

The underlying mood of women today is one of change. It reflects a mood that has become widespread among women in various parts of the world.

Is this to say that before our time all women were content with their lot in life? No, because for centuries many of them did have complaints.

What is different about the situation today?

What is relatively new is how wide an area of life the grievances cover and how persistent the outcry is. Also, beginning around 1960’s many women began to organize and take definite action as never before.

They now demand changes to correct what they claim are widespread injustices toward women. They say that the day is gone when they will passively submit to them.

This movement has generally been given the name “Women’s Liberation.” A dictionary defines the word liberation as being set free from bondage, the quality or state of being free, having the legal and political rights of a citizen. Those advocating women’s liberation are at times called “feminists.”

What kinds of freedoms do the women in this movement desire? While the freedoms they want vary in detail from one group of women to another, there are several main trends among most who support the movement.

One is their resentment at being treated only as objects for the sexual gratification of males, instead of being treated as persons. Men who regard women in this way are called “sexists.” Also, these women object to the excessive or blind belief in male superiority, labeling such “male chauvinism.”

Another strong objection is the fact that when women work for a salary, they usually do not get the same pay as men who do the same work. Also, they consider it unfair that women are excluded from many occupations and positions dominated by men.

Some of the women demand equal rights in the home. They want to have the husband share equally in doing the housework so that the wife can hold a job. They consider housework ‘inferior’ and would rather work outside the home in jobs they consider more interesting, challenging, or even ‘glamorous.’

Many women demand the right to get a legal abortion if they choose to end a pregnancy. They feel that this would free them from coming into slavery to another person, the unwanted child.

Another demand is that government agencies set up child-care centers. Mothers who work as the sole support of a family want someone to look after their children. They would rather work for a decent wage than accept welfare and barely exist. But they want some arrangement to care for their young children.

Tens of thousands of women have already marched through city streets to make known their demands. At one time in New York, about sixty women ‘seized’ the Statue of Liberty and draped it with a banner that said: Women of the World Unite! According to one of the women, Miss Liberty was chosen because “it is ironic that a woman symbolizes the abstract idea of liberty, but in reality we are not free.”

Other group of women burned a corset before a statue of a famous Dutch suffragette. They then raided men’s public washrooms to dramatize their complaint that there were no such washrooms for women.

They whistled at men on street corners and discussed out loud their good and bad points. The Dutch women demanded equal pay for women, an equal division of household duties between husband and wife, legalized abortions, sex education in schools and birth-control pills for teenagers.

Differences of Opinion

However, we are not to think of women’s liberation as a unified, international movement under a central control. There are many groups and individuals involved, and wide differences of opinion exist among them. There are disagreements among women of different countries and racial backgrounds. Even within a nation or racial group there are wide areas of disagreement.

For example, some want to bring women into positions of power in today’s society by working with “The Establishment.” But others want to dismantle the established society completely and replace it with a different order. 

While some want more equality in marriage, others want to abandon marriage altogether. There are those who want total sexual freedom, including the acceptance of lesbianism for women and homosexuality for men. But others object to that kind of sexual freedom.

The women in the movement are not sure in which political direction they should go. While disagreements are common, at the same time the women warn that the depth and breadth of their feelings should not be underestimated.

This is so because, while there are many disagreements among those favoring women’s liberation, the areas of agreement are even stronger. 

For instance, the outcry that carries the same ring is that women are second-class citizens and suffer discrimination in marriage, education, vocational training and jobs. They, too, demand equal pay for equal work, abortion reform, nursery schools and day-care centers.

What, then, of the claims of those who support the women’s liberation movement? Do they have a point? Is there any truth in what they are saying?


It would be easy to dismiss women’s liberation as being entirely the product of women who just like to complain. Many men feel that way about it.

But if you had a pain in your body, would you appreciate a doctor who dismissed you as being just a complainer? Or would you want him to analyze the problem and tell you what the cause is and if there is a remedy?

On the other hand, it true women do need liberating in many ways, but so do men. As the former India’s Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi said: “Men are no more liberated than women.”

In fact, the reality is that the entire human family is in need of liberation. The feeling of being trapped and unfulfilled should not be confined to only women. 

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Why and how to stop gossip?

Two women having a conversation and laughing about something.

Why do we find gossip so intriguing? For one thing, humans are social creatures. In other words, people are interested in people. It is only natural, then, that sooner or later our conversation will veer toward the latest goings-on in the lives of friends and acquaintances.

Therefore, nothing grabs our attention more quickly than the words, “Have you heard the latest?” What follows those words may be fact or fiction—or perhaps a little of each.

Is this bad? Not always. Quite often, informal conversation provides useful information, such as who is getting married, who just had a baby, and who is sick.

However, it is a fact that human creatures are quicker to criticize than commend. Why do we tend to tell the bad and be mum about the good? Do we take the good for granted, accepting it as proper without comment?

Do we single out the bad because we feel irritation or even righteous indignation about it? This may be true in some instances. Is it a matter of commenting on extremes that grabs our attention? We comment on the good if it is outstanding and on the bad if it is extreme.

However, gossip is more often petty, focusing on trivial matters. So apparently more is involved than extremes that catch our notice, or trespasses serious enough to make us righteously indignant.

Humans are social creatures, naturally banding together in communities. They like to communicate with one another and there is a strong tendency to tell others what we have just learned. To know something another does not and to relieve ourselves of the inform makes us feel wise.

The danger is that this information is usually in rumor form and rumors frequently turn out to be lies. According to the slander and libel laws of many countries, one who repeats an untrue derogatory statement is as liable for lawsuit as the originator of it.

The rumor-spreader may be quoting from the public press, or from a letter, or what he heard firsthand, and he may give his source; but if it is a lie he can be sued and he cannot shift responsibility to his original source.

After all, if only the starter of a rumor uttered it, it would die at its birth. It is the widespread publicity given by grapevine that does the damage. Clearly, then, there are good reasons to guard against harmful gossip and slander. Yet, how can harmful gossip be crushed?

Stopping gossip

To see gossip for what it is can helps us stop it from going out of our mouth. It is cowardly talk and a goodly percentage of it is harmful talk. To say behind the back what one fears to say to the face is cowardly. We should not shoot others in the back with words.

Do you object to the accused one’s hearing the accusation? Are you not willing to give him a chance to defend himself, to tell his side, to clarify matters, to spike a rumor or refute a falsehood? How can he if you do not face him?

Are you being fair and honest with your fellow human being? When you start to say something about someone ask yourself, am I willing to say this to his face? If it is gossip you will probably answer no, and if you are a gossiper you will probably say it anyway. You may swear the one you tell to secrecy.

And can you rightly complain? You could not keep the secret yourself. Why expect another to? Why expect more of another than of yourself? Keeping quiet was too great a strain for you. Why expect another to resist the strain you could not?

Moreover, he may like the person you slander and may want to give the person a chance to defend himself. That is only fair. So when you start to gossip, think how you will feel when your victim hears it, probably in an exaggerated version. Let this thought help hold your tongue.

But what if someone gossips about us? Cannot we fight back in self-defense? Yes we can, but with truth not gossip. When you gossip you help at most no one and you hurt at least three: the one you talk about, the one you talk to, and yourself. The same is true when you listen to gossip. You hurt the same three.

What is a sure way that you can crush gossip? Refuse to listen to it. The gossiper wants your ears. Do not lend him your ears. He will only fill them with dirt. And you may be tempted to spread the dirt to other ears. Help him and protect yourself by not listening. When you give ear to gossip you are not an innocent bystander

Always remember this: a gossiper is not a true friend. If he gossips to you he will gossip about you. By gossiping he may nudge you toward gossiping, thereby pumping you, and “when he goes out, he tells it abroad.”

This is sly hypocrisy. But a gossiper does not need to have two heads to be two-faced. He will gossip to whomever he is with, because it is an entrenched habit that controls him.

For our own protection it would be wise to break association with a chronic gossip. Since a true friend is a trusted confidant, we should also be sure that our friend is not the sort who would gossip about us, to our harm.


Keep your lips in check. It is said that great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about things, and small minds talk about people.

So before saying something about another person, ask yourself: ‘Do I really know the facts? Will what I say cause my listener to think less of the person I am talking about?

If so, what is my motive in saying it?’ Remember this: The fact that something is true does not in itself justify spreading it—especially if the information will harm someone’s reputation.

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Why and how not to be overly critical?

A lady who seems very concern with what is being said of her.

How should you react when you are cast in a poor light? Should you concern yourself about this?

Individually, we repeatedly fall far short of being the kind of persons we would like to be. Obviously, then, we cannot take seriously every remark that people may make. If a person were to do so, he would experience much emotional hurt.

For example, one might hear that a close friend made some unfavorable comment about him. He could reason, ‘Well, if that’s the way he feels about me, I’m going to cut him off. I don’t want his friendship.’ In this way a good relationship could be ruined.

Also, undue interest in what people say in a favorable way can also lead to trouble. Their praise can be a snare, causing the one who is lauded to begin thinking too highly of oneself.

When a person’s pride is thus fed, his good qualities may be shoved into the background. As a result, he may lose the fine reputation that he once enjoyed.

Even when misrepresented, a person may find it the course of wisdom not to make an issue of the matter. Instead of clearing up the misrepresentation, a person’s trying to put it down may only advertise it and cause more people to believe it.

At the same time we can profit from valid criticism, by endeavoring to make improvement. And, by preserving fine conduct, we can silence the ignorant talk of unreasonable persons.

Dealing with overly critical thoughts

Have you ever heard such expressions as: “Don’t believe a word of it!” or, “Who does she think she is?” or, “That’s not so wonderful. I could have done better myself”? No doubt all of us have, and yet how much better it would be if such things went unsaid! Or, better than that, if one did not even have such thoughts!

What can cause one to have critical thoughts about others? Well, another person may be getting undue attention, or may be receiving high praise. Or it could be that another may betray an eagerness for attention and praise. So it may be that in one’s reaction to the situation is a tinge of envy.

Even if not expressed in words, critical thoughts, nevertheless, can do harm. They tend to deteriorate relations with others. They may also do harm to the one that thinks them. This is because what affects the mind also affects the body.

Among the overly critical thoughts that we ought to guard against are those that show undue suspicion. Why? In dealing with friends, relatives, close associates in particular, it is better to trust others. Even if problems arise, give them the benefit of the doubt.

It is better to be disappointed occasionally than to be unduly suspicious, as though everyone were ready to take advantage of you. Many husbands and wives make their lives unhappy because of being unduly suspicious of each other. How much happier their marriage would be if they made it a point to think of each other in a kindly way!

Especially as regards our view of the motives of other people should we be on guard against over critical thoughts. Critical thoughts also result in expecting too much of others. It is good to realize that what may seem small and insignificant to us may represent a great victory or achievement on the part of another.

In homes where there is a “generation gap,” is it not largely due to parents being too critical of their children, and children being too critical of their parents? They could well learn from the Turkish proverb: “He who seeks a friend without a fault will be without one.”

Especially is there need for travelers to be on guard against unkind, unduly critical thoughts when they visit foreign lands. Strange sights and customs may well cause one to compare unfavorably what one sees with conditions in one’s own land.

Instead, would it not be better to exercise empathy, putting oneself in the shoes of others, as it were? Doing so, one will be able to make allowances, recognizing to what extent the people are the victims of circumstances. Rightly viewed, one can sincerely admire them for what they are able to accomplish under existing conditions.

Do not be like the foolish person who, noting a speaker’s repetition of a certain expression, kept counting how many times the speaker used it. How much more he would have benefited from the talk if he had concentrated on the arguments presented and appreciated the speaker’s sincerity!


Truly, in the daily affairs of life, wisdom dictates that one should not be overly concerned about what others say. Our not giving heed to every word that people speak prevents us from taking needless offense or having our pride fed.

On the other hand, learn to enjoy what others do by noting their good points instead of being overly conscious of their shortcomings.

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Is there a solution to world hunger problems?

A hungry man looking for food in a large dustbin.

Through world news sources, the faces of hungry people confront us with growing frequency. Hunger, of course, is not new. Who among us can see pictures of hungry people without feeling a desire to aid them? But what can you do?

On a local scale, it is not difficult to help neighbors temporarily in need, as when some disaster hits. People often respond with acts of kindness and generosity. On a worldwide scale, however, the situation is quite different. Why?

Challenges in finding a lasting solution

For one thing, there is more to today’s situation than meets the eye. It would seem that the earth is just not producing enough food to go around. But this is not really the problem. Grain crops now harvested would feed adequately every person living—if they were distributed equally and if the grain were eaten directly as cereal or bread or similar products.

But that is not the case. Much of the world’s harvest is used by wealthier nations to feed animals and produce meat, milk and eggs. It can take up to seven pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat.

That is one reason why so-called “advanced” nations with only one third of earth’s population consume more grain than the other, poorer, two thirds put together. So, too, with fuel and fertilizer, key production factors in modern agriculture.

But are not the “advanced” nations feeding much of the world? Yes, countries like the United States, Canada, Australia and Argentina export millions of tons of grain annually.

The problem is that the poorer nations find it ever harder to pay. Spiraling inflation devastates their ability to buy food, fuel and fertilizer. And their populations keep growing. Each year there are millions more mouths to feed—most in already hungry lands.

Is there a solution?

What is the solution? Contradictory claims are made. Leaders of “advanced” nations say that the poorer nations must make greater efforts to slow population growth. But in such lands many children die at an early age. So, parents actually want large families, hoping that some children will survive to care for them in their old age.

To the “advanced” nations the poorer nations say: ‘Why do you buy our raw materials at low prices and then sell us your products at high prices? Why don’t you live and eat more modestly so that your lands’ bounty can benefit more of mankind?’

Faced with this situation, what can an individual do to help? Obviously, just your eating less is not going to put food on people’s plates in another country. Can you confidently rely on national governments or other organizations to see that any efforts you make to contribute toward a greater food supply will bring relief for the world’s hungry?

Unfortunately, there is much to discourage people’s efforts. They see that, despite the vast amounts of financial aid given, conditions worsen. There are more hungry people now than ever before.

Governments receiving aid may use it to buy costly military equipment rather than food. Corruption, black-market profiteering and waste cut deeply into food supplies sent, often reducing them to a mere trickle by the time they reach needy ones.

So, it would be prudent to know how your charity contributions are used.

Evidence is that “advanced” nations often do not really want food to reach the point of abundance. Why not? Because then prices would drop and profits would be cut. Production is geared to keep prices high on the world market. Food is even used to gain political advantage.

On the one hand, then, we often hear world leaders claim that they view all men as brothers and they speak of the “brotherhood of human kind.” But when large areas of mankind come into need, time and again nationalistic and commercial interests are put first, ahead of the needs of fellow humans.


Clearly what is needed is an entirely new system for mankind, one that eliminates selfish nationalism and ruthless commercial competition, replacing these with systems that treat all persons as equals and that foster cooperation, unhypocritical generosity and love of neighbor. Only then can we find a solution to the world hunger problems.

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How to get most out of your money?

An elderly woman paying for purchases at a store.

We live in a consuming society. From all sides come messages urging us to spend. Newspapers and magazines, radio and TV, street posters and billboards flood our minds with messages that we may not consciously remember but that lead us to buy certain products. Manipulation goes on in more ways than you would imagine, to separate people from their hard-earned money.

Children are manipulated by toy ads, teenagers by disc jockeys, and parents are lured into installment buying at startling charges. In his book The Innocent Consumer vs. The Exploiters, Sidney Margolius says such manipulation prompts one to a “massive waste of family money and a diversion of family resources” needed for other more important things.

We are persuaded to buy in many ways. Let’s consider a few:

From all sides we are told to buy to be happy. But when we buy the item and take it home, we find that little has changed.

A mother sees pots and pans marked “gourmet” cookware. This suggests she could make better dinners with these. But we all know that the quality of cooking usually depends on the ingredients and the skill of the cook, not on what the manufacturer calls the pot.

The father sees a beautiful illustration of fine furniture, with the promise that he could make it if only he had a certain expensive power tool. No doubt such tools speed the job, but will this tool really turn him into a skilled craftsman? Craftsmen have made exceptional furniture for centuries with far simpler tools.

You would like to take beautiful pictures, but buying the most expensive camera will not necessarily make you a master photographer.

If you look at what a device actually does, at how much you really will use it, and at how great your need for it actually is, your money will go farther, and you will get more benefit from the things you buy.

Merchants of Discontent

Manufacturers do a good job of selling stoves, refrigerators, television sets, and even automobiles and clothing to people who already have these items. How? By making people feel that what they already have is out-of-date.

Marketing people make the public style-conscious, then switch styles. There are various ways to change styles, but, as Vance Packard said in his book The Hidden Persuaders, the “use of color is one of the cheapest ways it can be done.”

The merchandisers thus become “merchants of discontent.” You have the “old style,” “last year’s color,” one that is not “up-to-date.” Before long you begin to wonder if you should not get a new one. This is the same method automobile manufacturers use to make you dissatisfied with the “old” family car, even though it still runs beautifully and does not look bad.

Cash or Charge?

There is another way merchandisers encourage you to spend more than you should. Their employees are trained to ask: “Cash or charge?” They may suggest that you apply for one of the store’s charge cards. Charging makes it easier for people to buy. Major corporations have proven that this is true.

Less scrupulous stores may use credit to hide the real cost. Rather than quoting the price, they merely quote the monthly payments. An appliance retailer said: “We prefer to say ‘$12 a month.’ Giving the total price merely confuses the customer.”

But often it is the monthly payment that is used to confuse him. A store manager said: “You can raise the average customer about a dollar a yard on carpet through credit up-trading. We’re more apt to quote with emphasis on payments than on dollars per yard.” Thus, the monthly payment is quoted on a higher price than the customer thinks he is paying.

Does widespread use of credit damage families? Yes, especially those who need to watch their funds the most. There is the high finance charge, the temptation to buy unneeded or overly expensive items, and the risk of over-indebtedness.

So, to make your money go farther, be careful about consumer credit.

Read the Ads Carefully

Knowing how to read sales ads in the newspapers is another way to make your money go farther. Remember, some sales are legitimate; many are not. Here are some points on getting the best out of them:

Watch for seasonal sales. In many places business declines after the Christmas rush, so stores run January sales. Also, purchases of summer and winter clothing drop off mid-season, that is, January–February and June–July. These are times to look for such sales. Some of the merchandise may be shop-worn, and the selection may not be as great. But careful selection at these times often can save you money.

A going-out-of-business sale may be legitimate, but be careful. In some stores the “going-out-of-business” sign seems never to come down.

Watch what the ads really say. “Regularly $99.95, now $59.95” should mean, if true, that the price will go back to $99.95 after the sale. “Comparable value $99.95” means much less. 

The store says this item compares with higher-priced goods, but that comparison may be only in the store owner’s mind. “List price $99.95” means even less. This is the price printed on the manufacturer’s list, or on the box. It could have little relation to reality, and may have been set excessively high so stores can seem to give bargains by marking it down.

“Below manufacturer’s cost” raises more questions, such as: Why? Was it a poor seller? Has it been discontinued? Are parts no longer available?

“Save!” Remember that this eye-catching word usually has only one aim—to get you to spend. Words like “Special!” “Reduced!” and “Clearance!” obviously mean no more or less than the store manager wants. Even in well-known stores more than one employee has been told: “Mark it $7.95, so next week we can mark it down to $6.50.”

We fall victim to such games because we want to find a bargain. You can protect yourself by learning price and quality. Know what things cost. And remember, nothing is a bargain unless you really need it. Even if buying it could really save you 50 percent, not buying it would save you 100 percent!

Shop Around

It has been reported that members of lower-income families (who obviously need the savings the most) are less likely to shop in more than one store than are buyers from more prosperous families.

Can you save by comparing prices in several stores? Of course you can! In the U.S.A. the Consumers Union found that prices for the same home appliance varied from $259 to $370 at different stores.

Cutting Your Food Bill

It has been estimated that many housewives could cut their food bill as much as 25 percent by shrewder shopping. Food is a big part of your family’s expense. How do the experts say to save on it?

First, you should plan. You can save by buying once a week, rather than every day. You can watch for sales, and you can buy food products when they are in season and cost far less than they do the rest of the year.

A shopping list can help greatly. Stores that advertise low-priced, loss-leader items to attract customers hope you will buy enough other things to make up for the low-cost items. Great thought is given to getting you to buy higher mark-up items while you are in the store.

Displays stacked high, or put at the ends of aisles, or on special tables in the middle of aisles, or near the check-out counter may tempt you to buy items that were not on your list. Supermarket owners know that a store’s profitability depends on its success in stimulating such impulse buying. 

Leland J. Gordon and Stewart M. Lee say in Economics for Consumers: “The tendency of consumers to buy impulsively is exploited by sellers, to their advantage. Impulse buying increases when men do the shopping and soars when children are along. Aware of impulse purchase traps, the careful shopper buys what is on her shopping list, and nothing more.”

Other Ways to Save

Many grocery games are played with packaging, and with prepared foods. Once upon a time when you bought a pound of sugar, or a kilo of rice, these were weighed in front of you and you took them home. 

Now they come in packages, which can be deceptive. Some big boxes are far from full. A bottle of hand lotion was designed to look larger than a competitor’s bottle that held twice as much. A package may look as if you are getting more, when actually you are getting less.

A simple solution is to compare. Read the weight before you buy the package.

Prepared vegetables are sold in convenient packages, and cheeses in bite-sized pieces. But you pay—sometimes more than you think—for such convenience. Not only do prepared foods cost more; they may have less nutritional value than you expect. Fillers, extenders and even water have replaced some of the nutrients in prepared foods.

The rule is simple: The more special preparation that has gone into your food, the less you will probably get for your money.


The careful shopper takes this job seriously, and gets as much as possible for the money. On the preceding page is a checklist of basic points to remember in order to get more for what you spend.

Doing these things will not make prices go down, but your money will go farther when you are conscious of where it goes. And you will know that you did what you could to keep from paying more than was necessary.

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