Sunday 26 January 2014


2014-04 Samuel Smiles: Thrift

The book, “Thrift” by Samuel Smiles, is intended as a sequel to "Self-Help," and "Character." It might, indeed, have appeared as an introduction to these volumes; for Thrift is the basis of Self-Help, and the foundation of much in Character.

Some of the finest qualities of human nature are intimately related to the right use of money; such as generosity, honesty, justice, and self-denial.

We must know how to earn, how to spend, and how to save. Independence can only be established by the exercise of forethought, prudence, frugality, and self-denial. To be just as well as generous, men must deny themselves. The essence of generosity is self-sacrificePractise the virtue of Thrift

                                           "Thrift " Chapter 2  Habits of Thrift

"The secret of all success is to know how to deny yourself.

Competence and comfort lie within the reach of most people. But it is only by the exercise of labour, energy, honesty, and thrift, that they can advance their own position or that of their class.

Society suffers far more from waste of money than from want of money. It is easier to make money than to know how to spend it prudently. It is not what a man gets that constitutes his wealth, but his manner of spending and economizing.

Thrift of Time is equal to thrift of money. Franklin said, "Time is gold." If one wishes to earn money, it may be done by the proper use of time. But time may also be spent in doing many good and noble actions. It may be spent in learning, in study, in art, in science, in literature.

Time can be economized by being systematic and orderly. There must be a place for everything, and everything in its place. There must also be a time for everything, and everything must be done in time.

Nobody denies that thrift may be practised. Nor is thrift a painful virtue. On the contrary, it enables us to avoid much contempt and many indignities. It requires us to deny ourselves, but not to abstain from any proper enjoyment. It provides many honest pleasures, of which thriftlessness and extravagance deprive us.

Thrift does not require superior courage, nor superior intellect, nor any superhuman virtue. It merely requires common sense, and the power of resisting selfish enjoyments.

In fact, thrift is merely common sense in every-day working action. It needs no fervent resolution, but only a little patient self-denial. The more the habit of thrift is practised, the easier it becomes; and the sooner it compensates the self-denier for all sacrifices.

Comparatively few people can be rich; but most have it in their power to acquire, by industry and economy, sufficient to meet their personal wants. They may even become the possessors of savings sufficient to secure them against penury and poverty in old age.

It is not the want of opportunity but the want of will, that stands in the way of economy. Men may labour unceasingly with hand or head; but they cannot abstain from spending too freely, and living too highly. They often spend all that they earn.

Money represents a multitude of objects without value, or without real utility; but it also represents something much more precious,—and that is independence. In this light it is of great moral importance.

As men become wise and thoughtful, they generally become provident and frugal.
Thinking people believe that life is now too fast, and that we are living at high-pressure. In short, we live extravagantly. We live beyond our means. 

Many persons are diligent enough in making money, but do not know how to economize it,—or how to spend it. They have sufficient skill and industry to do the one, but they want the necessary wisdom to do the other.

The habit of saving dispenses with everything which is not essential, and avoids all methods of living that are wasteful and extravagant. A purchase made at the lowest price will be dear, if it be a superfluity. Little expenses lead to great. 

"Not to have a mania for buying, is to possess a revenue." Many are carried away by the habit of bargain-buying. "Here is something wonderfully cheap: let us buy it." "Have you any use for it?" "No, not at present; but it is sure to come in useful, some time." 

Men must prepare in youth and in middle age the means of enjoying old age pleasantly and happily. It is, in fact, in youth that economy should be practised, and in old age that men should dispense liberally, provided they do not exceed their income.

Self-respect is the root of most of the virtues—of cleanliness, chastity, reverence, honesty, sobriety. To think meanly of one's self is to sink; sometimes to descend a precipice at the bottom of which is infamy.

We can each elevate ourselves; cherish pure thoughts; perform good actions; live soberly and frugally. We can provide against the evil day. We can read good books, listen to wise teachers, and place ourselves under the divinest influences on earth. We can live for the highest purposes and with the highest aims in view.
The true prosperity of the nation consisted not so much in the fact that the nation was growing in wealth—though wealth was a necessary attribute of prosperity—but that it was growing in virtue; and that there was a more equable distribution of comfort, contentment, and the things of this lower world."

Thrift means economy for the purpose of securing independence. Thrift requires that money should be used and not abused—that it should be honestly earned and economically employed for the glorious privilege Of being Independent." 


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