February 11, 2015

Budgeting with F. Scott Fitzgerald


The Fitzgeralds list crayon portraits as some of the most valuable objects in their collection, along with their 1921 automobile.

The Fitzgeralds list these crayon portraits by Harrison Fisher, completed in 1927, as some of the most valuable objects in their possession (along with their 1921 automobile).

Yesterday Scribner Magazine republished this gem of a budget from F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. First published in The Saturday Evening Post on April 5, 1924, and this week it joins a series to celebrate the 90th anniversary of The Great Gatsby.

The Fitzgeralds ran into the common problem of spending a bit more than they’d made. They calculated $55 a month on theater tickets, $70 on restaurant parties, and $70 on entertaining. Servants alone cost them $295 a month. They had to find a way to account for the $1,000 or so that seemed to be spent by “ghosts.”

Some budgeting tips from the finest:

All the financial tips that run these days suggest you cut down $5 coffees. Who would have guessed we just needed to sell portraits of ourselves, cut down on the theater tickets, and subscribe to an almanac? Somebody call Suze Orman.


Kirsten Reach was an editor at Melville House.