In 1936, as part of the College of Agriculture Extension Service, Ruth C. Freeman from the Home Economics Department prepared the presentation Why Home Accounts Count for McLean County, in cooperation with the McLean County Home Adviser Clara Brian and account-keeping families in McLean County.
Using Adam Smith’s belief that consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production as its foundation, the presentation stressed that successfully maintaining home accounts put farm families on a business basis. Wiser money management and weighing choices for income use was fundamental to obtain family goals of retirement savings and children’s education funds.
According to the Agriculture Cooperative Extension, maintaining farm accounts helped families be efficient managers and producers. Available income for family use included farming, selling produce, meat, and dairy products grown on the farm, earnings on wise investments, and non-cash commodities furnished by the farm. A study of 240 Illinois home account records showed that in 1936, 35% of the income furnished by the farm included raising food such as home gardens, chickens and eggs, turkeys, geese, pigs, and milk; house value; and a small percentage from fuel, soap, and gifts.
The presentation also suggested ways to increase home efficiency and decrease costs, such as installing running water and new equipment, reclaiming and refinishing old furniture, and sewing home-made clothing.
According to another study conducted by the College of Agriculture, the distribution of cash expenditures and savings of 167 Illinois farm families from 1933-34 had an average total of $827 with an average family of 4. The average expenditure breakdown included 18% food, 18% savings, 12% clothing, 10% car, 6% education, 5% furniture, 5% health, 3% recreation, 3% church, 3% personal, 3% gifts, and 2% house repair.
 Home Economics Extension Photographs and Presentations, 1924-70, Record Series 8/3/15, Box 1, Folder “Pictures – Why Home Accounts Count,” University of Illinois Archives.