Benjamin Franklin is one of the most inspiring examples of what the
practice of thrift can do for the poorest boy or girl in this land of
Son of a poor tallow chandler and soap boiler, the fifteenth child in a family of seventeen, he began at the age of ten to earn his living by working in his father's shop. From these humble beginnings he succeeded, entirely by his own efforts, in becoming one of the world's greatest men — a distinguished patriot, scientist, statesman, inventor, diplomat, philosopher, author, and, last but not least, a noted humorist.
All this he accomplished by the practice of thrift. That does not mean merely economy in financial matters, the wisest expenditure of his income, but the wisest expenditure of his time and efforts in all the business of life.
To Franklin thrift meant not only prudence in business and money
spending, but the conservation of health, of energy, of life capital,
and the utmost development of all his natural resources. As well as
being the thriftiest, Franklin was the most generous of men, and would
share his last cent with one who needed it.
One of Franklin's favorite maxims — one that he literally lived by himself — was "God helps those who help themselves." And the first lesson for those who would help themselves to learn is the one that he constantly taught — Thrift.
Headed with a picture of Benjamin Franklin, the great apostle of
thrift, a calendar, issued by the Y.M.C.A. in New York, has this slogan —
"Make Your Money Mean More."
Then, it gives the "Ten Commandments for a Young Man's Financial Life."
Work and Earn
Make a Budget
Record Your Expenditures
Have a Bank Account
Carry Life Insurance
Own Your Own Home
Make a Will
Pay Your Bills Promptly
Invest in Reliable Securities
Share With Others
If you "forge these links of success into your character," as the
calendar suggests, you will not only develop a self-reliant, vigorous
type of manhood or womanhood, but you will also be laying the foundation
of enduring prosperity, contentment, and happiness.
Every man knows that it is easier to earn money than to save it; so
if there is any one link in the "Ten Commandments" the wage earner, the
man or woman of limited means, should pay special attention to, it is
the second, "Make a Budget." And here again the Y.M.C.A. is meeting a
great need in supplying "A Budget Book With a Conscience," which shows
the best way to plan the expenditure of your income, and how to keep an
accurate account of your income and outlay.
From Benjamin Franklin to Sir Thomas Lipton, thousands of successful
men in every field have given testimony to the value of thrift, or
economy, as a wealth and happiness maker.
Lipton says it is "the first great principle of all success. It
creates independence, it gives a young man standing, fills him with
vigor, it stimulates him with the proper energy; in fact, it brings to
him the best part of any success — happiness and contentment."
Unless you make it a cast-iron rule to lay aside a certain percentage
of your earnings each week, each month, you will never succeed in
becoming a really independent man or woman. You will always be at the
mercy of circumstances. No matter how small it may be, or if you have to
go without a great many things you think you need, put a portion of
your earnings away every year where it will be absolutely safe. You
don't know what this will mean to you in case of illness, accident, or
some unlooked for emergency when a little ready money may save you great
suffering or financial ruin.
The wise expenditure of one's income, however small it may be,
involves the same principles as the investment and handling of the
business man's capital. And the successful businessman carries these
principles into the conduct of all his affairs, his personal and
household expenditures as well as those relating directly to his
business. Even multi-millionaires have to be thrifty or their millions
would take wings.
"The little difference between what we earn and what we spend is capital."
- O.S. Marden
In his little book "Succeeding With What You Have," Charles M. Schwab
says: "Not long ago the expenses of running my New York home got
exorbitant. I called in the steward and said to him: 'George, I want to
strike a bargain with you. I will give you ten percent of the first
thousand dollars you save in house expenses, twenty-five percent of the
second thousand, and one-half of the third thousand.' The expense of
operating the house was cut in two."
I once sent an interviewer to Marshall Field to ask him, among other
things, what he considered the turning-point in his career, and his
answer was: "Saving the first five thousand dollars I ever had, when I
might just as well have spent the modest salary I made. Possession of
that sum, once I had it, gave me the ability to meet opportunities. That
I consider the turning-point." John Jacob Astor, the founder of the
Astor fortune, said that if it had not been for the saving of his first
thousand he might have died in the almshouse.
What a pathetic thing it is to see, as we do on every hand,
well-educated, well-bred men and women, people with a great deal of
ability, but with no money sense, going about with practically nothing
ahead of them, between themselves and want, spending everything as they
What a pathetic story the charity organizations could tell about
people who have been in better circumstances, but who have lost their
money, of people who have never been able to lay up anything; to put by
anything, for a "rainy day."
What an assurance and sense of protection we get from the
consciousness of a little "nest-egg," a little money laid up for the
future, something to stand between us and possible emergency or want, no
matter what might happen to us.
No one can feel easy or safe who is living from hand to mouth. How
many poor people in our great cities are constantly dispossessed, put
out on the sidewalk, oftentimes when a parent or some other member of
the family is ill, because they can't pay the rent, and this is often
due to the lack of early training in thrift and wise economy; no
provision made for an emergency; nothing laid up for a rainy day.
I have no sympathy for the rainy-day philosophy of many people; the
rainy-day fear and terror, that cheeseparing saving, pinching, stingy
policy. Such people make the very rainy day they are trying to guard
against. It is the good sense, the wise precaution, which gives a
reasonable provision for future needs, or for accidents, or for
emergency, or for anything which may impair one's earning capacity, or
any loss which may result from fire or flood, that wins our approval.
"Thrift means wise management of what you have — money, time, energies, opportunities."
The saving habit, the bank-book habit, is an indication of the ambition
to get on and up in the world. It is also an indication of many other
good success qualities. The bank-book habit is seldom found in bad
The habit of thrift not only opens the door to opportunity, but is a
safeguard against our own weaknesses, our gullibility, the tendency to
scatter our earnings and make fools of ourselves. The saving of money so
often means the saving of a man. It means cutting out indulgences or
avoiding vicious habits. It often means health in the place of
dissipation. It means a clear instead of a cloudy and muddy brain. It
means that a man has vision, foresight, intelligence in planning and
providing for his future. In fact, the thrift habit, the habit of
saving, is not only one of the foundation-stones of a fortune, but also
"The practice of thrift gives an upward tendency to the life of the
individual, and to the life of the nation; it sustains and preserves the
highest welfare of the race."
- Orison Swett Marden
Prosperity Chapter XX , continued...
Theodore Roosevelt once wisely said, "If you would be sure that
you are beginning right, begin to save. The habit of saving money, while
it stiffens the will also brightens the energies."
The moment a young man begins to put aside money, systematically, and
to make wise investments, he becomes a larger man. He begins to have a
broader view of life. He begins to have more confidence in himself, in
his ability, in his power to shoulder responsibility, to make his own
program, to be his own boss.
In early learning the lesson of thrift, he has taken the first step
in the development of a sturdy character, the sort of character that
distinguishes the best type of self-made man —the Benjamin Franklins of
Nothing will do more to help a young man to get credit and gain for
him the assistance of successful people than the reputation for thrift,
of having the saving habit, — of having something ahead, something laid
by, whether in government bonds, or in a life insurance policy, or in
some other investment. Such thrift gives him standing.
A prominent businessman says: "Give me the youth who saves to make
the man worth while."
If you want to make your dreams of a prosperous future come true you
will enter into a compact with yourself to save a certain amount every
week out of your salary. No matter how small this may be, or if you have
to go without a great many things that you think you need; put this
certain percentage of your earnings where it will be absolutely safe.
This may mean riches to you in the future. A little ready money attracts opportunities.
I have known of young men to get a splendid opportunity to start in
business for themselves on five hundred dollars, some on less. Many a
fortune has been started on less than a thousand dollars. The head of
five big stores in New York told me he began business with three hundred
dollars. Frank Woolworth, who built up the mammoth five and ten cent
store business, started with something like three hundred dollars of his
own, borrowing enough to bring it up to five hundred. Several of his
first stores were failures, but he was not a failure. He had an idea and
his small earnings helped him to back up his idea and to make his
dreams come true.
The power of money is usually not half appreciated by young men
and young women. This is a land of opportunity, and good chances are
constantly coming to those who have the ready cash.
"Nothing makes a businessman so absolutely independent as ready cash."
How often we hear people plead as an excuse for not seizing a rare
opportunity for investment, that they hadn't the money! Multitudes of
men have been obliged to let splendid opportunities pass because of this
same lack. Great bargains for cash everywhere have been offered and
only comparatively few men have had the reserve funds or the" ready cash
to avail themselves of these splendid chances.
Some of the shrewdest business men I know tell me that there is
nothing that pays the business man so well, in the long run, as to keep
money in the bank, ready for an emergency, ready for an unexpected
opportunity or a great bargain. It gives one a great sense of security
to know that he is prepared for any ordinary emergency, that he has
ready cash to help him. We can never tell when illness or accident may
impair our earning capacity, or when some unforeseen emergency may make
an unexpected call upon us. The thrifty man is never caught unprepared.
There are opportunities to save all around us. The facilities for saving are unparalleled and the rewards are certain.
When we get a little money ahead it arouses enthusiasm to add to it.
It is a perpetual suggestion, when we are tempted to spend, that we try
to save. It is a little easier to say "No" when inclined to spend
foolishly or for things which are really not worth while.
"If you would be sure
that you are beginning right, begin to save. The habit of saving money,
while it stiffens the will, also brightens the energies."
Our savings are a constant encouragement, a tonic, a stimulant. His
small savings have kept many a young man from falling into temptations
which might have crippled or ruined him.
The little difference between what we earn and what we spend is capital.
A little ready money suggests to young people just establishing a home
wonderful possibilities in the way of comforts, the means of
self-culture and growth. It means a little better reading matter, better
books and periodicals. It means a possible college course later on for
the children, and old age protection. It means less worry and less
anxiety about the future, exemption from the fear of coming to want, or
that those dear to us may suffer. It may mean a good physician, a
skillful surgeon, instead of a bungler when sickness enters our home.
"I have been asked," says a great businessman, "to define the true
secret of success. It is thrift in all its phases, and especially,
thrift as applied to savings. Saving is the first great principle of
success. It creates independence, it gives a young man standing, fills
him with vigor, it stimulates him with the proper energy; in fact, it
brings to him the best part of any success—happiness and contentment."
Can you desire anything better in your future than these?
I AM — ?
I am stored-up happiness.
I lead the way to peace, power, and plenty. I bring you freedom from anxiety and worry over the living problem.
I am a friend alike of the rich and the poor.
I am common sense applied to life in all sorts of ways.
I am a tower of strength in youth and a staff in old age.
I increase hope, confidence, assurance, certainty as to the future.
I was one of the chief factors in the winning of the World War.
I am the best form of insurance against poverty and failure. I remove the shadow of the poorhouse.
I make for health, for efficiency, for the highest possible welfare of the individual.
I kill that "rainy day" dread; in fact, I do away with the "rainy day" altogether.
I put hope into the heart of man, a light into human eyes that was never there before.
I put people in a position to take advantage of all sorts of
opportunities for investment, for advancement, to take advantage of
chances that, but for me, would be lost.
I mean the best physicians, the most skilled surgeons, the best hospitals in case of need, as well as the best health resorts.
I make possible a needed vacation, rest, recreation and travel. I
mean leisure, more living with natural art and with the beautiful things
in the world.
I mean better opportunities for your children, better schools, better
clothing, a more refining environment, greater security for their
I show you how to make the most of your income; how to expend the
margin to the best advantage; how to make the wisest investments of your
time, your strength and your ability as well as your money.
I am the friend of man, a civilization builder. I not only give an
upward tendency to the life of the individual, but also to the life of a
nation. I sustain and preserve the highest welfare of the race.
I safeguard the future; I enable you to work with confidence, to look up and not down, to rise superior to your surroundings.
I keep thousands of people out of the penitentiary; prevent them from committing theft and other crimes.
I increase the confidence of others in struggling young men and add tremendously to their credit.
I am an employee's best recommendation, for I belong to a large and
most excellent family. Every employer knows that the employee who
cultivates me has many other sterling qualities, such as honesty,
thoroughness, ambition, reliability, foresight, prudence. I am a symbol
of character, of stability, of self-control; a proof that a man is not a
victim of his appetites and weaknesses, but their master.
I am often the savior of a man, cutting off indulgences and vicious
habits, putting health in the place of dissipation and insuring a clear
brain instead of a cloudy, befuddled one.
I am the enemy of that great curse of mankind — debt — which wrecks
multitudes of homes, causes divorce, blasts love, and destroys all peace
I am that which helps a man to lift his head above the crowd; to be
independent, self-reliant, and to stand for something in the world.
Multitudes of families are homeless, money-less, and are enduring all
sorts of hardship, privation, and humiliation because the husbands and
fathers never took me into partnership.
The failure army, today, is largely recruited by people who never
learned to know me, who ridiculed the suggestion of needing me, who
rather despised and looked down on me as standing for meanness and
penuriousness and as being an enemy of their enjoyment.
I am the best friend of woman. I make her a better businesswoman, a
better housekeeper, a better wife and mother, a better citizen. I help
her to make herself independent, self-reliant, and teach her how to
However you make your living, whether by the work of your hand or of
your brain, in a trade or in a profession, at home or in the shop,
whether your income be small or large, you will always be placed at a
disadvantage, will always be taking chances with your future security
and happiness, unless you have me as a working partner.
I am an incentive to high living, the simple life and high thinking. I
urge spending upward, living upward, dwelling in honesty, in
simplicity, living the life that is worth while, the genuine life, the
life that will give enduring satisfaction.
I am the beginning of real success; that which puts a foundation
under your air castles, that which makes your dreams come true, which
builds that "home of my own" to which every healthy, ambitious young
person looks forward as the culmination of his hopes.