Prosperity Chapter XXII
I Can't Afford It - The Habit Of Going Without
Prosperity Chapter XXII:
Do you know that every time you say "I can't afford it, such things
are for others, but not for me," or, "I have been poor and had to deny
myself things all my life, and I expect it will always be so," - you are
closing the doors to prosperity?
If you want to realize prosperity and plenty you must dismiss forever
from your mind the can't-afford-it thought, the thought that you can't
afford anything which is good for you, anything which will contribute to
the growth or highest possible development of the man or woman. It is
your birthright to have these things. They belong to you by divine
heritage, and you should claim them.
The Creator intended that His children should have plenty, and the
best of everything that is good for them, that will contribute to
growth, enlargement of character, and happiness.
The idea that riches are possible only to those who have superior
advantages, more ability, or those who have been favored by fate, is
false and demoralizing. The Creator has given man dominion over a world
teaming with riches for all, not for a favored few.
If we claim our inheritance and work in harmony with His laws we will
have the abundance and happiness He meant we should have. We will be
glorious successes. It is not in our nature that we are paupers, but in
our mean, stingy estimate of ourselves and our powers.
To me, one of the most pitiable things in the world is a family where
the parents, through mistaken ideas of economy, fail to bring up their
children generously, who refuse to furnish them with the mental food,
the change, the variety, the amusement, that are so necessary to their
largest possible development.
How many parents, fearing future want, hoard their money and starve
their children's minds, stunt their growth, so that they become dwarfed
human beings instead of the superb personalities they might have been if
the parents had made a generous effort in their education, in the
development of their mental growth!
People are often obliged to go through life exhibiting deplorable
ignorance, and are many times blamed for this when their parents were
really at fault. They never gave them as children the nourishment, the
mental food necessary to develop their larger qualities, their greater
possibilities. They are compelled to plod along in mediocrity, so far as
mentality and personality are concerned, because they never have had a
fair chance. Their ability, their brains, were never backed up with the
proper preparation for the larger possible life.
Many of these parents, perhaps most of them, fully intended to be
generous to their children, but the habit of saving, the fear of coming
to want, which in time develops into a strangling, dwarfing, blighting
greed, kept them putting off from year to year a present privilege and
duty. They did not put the emphasis on the right thing, to the lifelong
detriment of those they loved more than anything else in the world.
True economy is not parsimony, miserliness. It is neither extravagance nor meanness. It means a wise expenditure, an expenditure which brings the largest results. It is being good to ourselves in as large and scientific a way as possible. It means that we should always have the best we can possibly afford when the thing has any reference to our physical and mental health, to our growth in efficiency and power. It often means very liberal spending. It is a perpetual protest against putting the emphasis on the wrong thing.
"Extravagance leads to insubordination and parsimony to meanness," we are told. Don't deceive yourself by going through life patronizing cheap things, wearing cheap clothes, looking seedy, with the belief that you are doing the wisest thing.
Remember that your appearance will largely determine your status in society. The world accepts or rejects us by the evidence of our personality, the impression we make. The feeling that you can't afford this and you can't afford that; always dwelling upon something cheap, cheapens your life, cheapens your mentality, limits and narrows it, dwarfs your personality and makes anything but a favorable impression.
Wise, thrifty, and often generous expenditure in the thing which helps us along the line of our ambition, which will make a good impression, secure us quick recognition, and help our promotion, is often an infinitely better investment than putting money in a savings-bank.
The secret of health, of success and happiness, is largely in being good to one's self, in putting one's self in a superb condition, so that one is always able to do the biggest thing possible to him, always ready to take advantage of whatever opportunities come his way.
Anything which prevents a person from attaining this high-water mark of efficiency is a sin against true economy. Every young man should have an understanding with himself at the outset that he will have nothing to do with the false economy that results in lowered vitality or efficiency, that anything which tends to cut down his power, even by a small fraction, is poor economy and very unscientific.
and defying limitation, will open up your mind and set your thought
currents toward a greatly increased supply."
- O.S. Marden
What is good policy in this respect for the individual is equally
good for the home and for business. Many a business concern has gone on
the rocks because the proprietor was too much occupied with picayune
economies, turning down gas and saving and pinching on petty things, to
give his attention to the important things. While saving a trifle here
and there, he was losing trade and falling behind in the race, by not
putting enough money into his business to keep up with his competitors.
While the shortsighted proprietor is hugging pet theories about
economy and trying to save on little things, the big things will suffer
for a little expenditure which would bring in infinitely greater
returns. Liberal expenditure is often the best kind of business economy.
Spending precious time and energy in petty savings is often the worst
kind of business policy. In order to bring money in one must put out
Some people never get out of the world of pennies into the world of
dollars. They work so hard to save the cents that they lose the dollars
and also the larger growth, the richer experience and the better
"The superior man," says Confucius, "is anxious lest he should not
get truth; he is not anxious lest poverty should come upon him."
Multitudes of people think too much about poverty and economizing. They
dwell upon the "can't-afford-it" philosophy, and continually feel the
pressure of the rainy-day idea, which has been dinned into their ears
from infancy, until it stunts and dwarfs the whole life.
Those who haven't the money cannot, of course, always do that
which will contribute to their highest comfort and efficiency; but many
people overestimate the advantage of saving a dollar in comparison with
their physical well-being. Power is the goal of the highest ambition.
Anything which will add to one's power, to one's growth, no matter how
much it costs, if it is within possible reach, is worth its price.
We have all met the "can't afford it" men and women who go through
life pinching and cheeseparing. We see them stopping at cheap hotels or
boarding houses, traveling long distances in the day coach, carrying
their lunch with them; seldom or ever buying a newspaper, a magazine, or
a book, investing in nothing which will enlarge the mentality or enrich
the life; putting every penny they can Squeeze out of a very poor
living into the bank or in other investments. They may think that what
they thus save is going to help their children; but, nevertheless, from
every point of view it is very short-sighted economy.
"When we learn to think without limits, how not to cramp ourselves by
our limiting thought, we shall find that the thing we are seeking is
seeking us, and that tomorrow it will meet us half way."
- Orison Swett Marden
Prosperity Chapter XXII , continued...
I have scarcely ever known an instance where money squeezed out of
the real necessities of life was appreciated by the children who
inherited it, to say nothing of the dwarfing, impoverishing, aging
effect upon those who accumulated it by such self-sacrifice. Oftentimes
the hard-earned, sweat-of-the-brow savings have really been a detriment
to youthful inheritors, because it has prevented them from using their
ability and developing their powers of self-reliance and vigor.
Many families live constantly under the shriveling influence of the
stinginess consciousness, the lack and want consciousness, the
conviction that the good things of the world were intended for others
but not for them. As a result they have never been able to demonstrate
anything else but lack, want and limitation.
Multitudes of children are reared in this poverty atmosphere, and in
time become so convinced that they can't afford things that others have
that they never do have them. Their poverty conviction shuts off the
supply. They think the little thought and they demonstrate littleness.
Getting along with little and being half-satisfied to continue doing
this, generally means that we shall have to get along with less, for it
is not a creative mental attitude, not an attitude which attracts plenty
and builds success.
The "can't afford it" consciousness, the "going without"
consciousness, brings you nearer and nearer to the point where you can't
afford it, just as the "can afford it" consciousness tends to bring you
nearer to the point where you can afford it, for he can who thinks he
can, and he can't who thinks he can't. We can't do what we think "we
can't do; we can't get what we think we can't get.
If you are hard up, you have had a hard-up mind, that is, a hard-up
mental attitude, a hard-up conviction, and that has cut off your supply.
The poverty thought, the poverty conviction, is a colossal giant
wrestling with human beings and overcoming multitudes of them. It is
only those who know the secret hold of the wrestling match, as Dr. W.
John Murray says, who can hope to escape the fatal blow of this giant.
I know people in fair circumstances who live so completely in the
poverty conviction that they are always hunting for bargains, are always
buying cheap things, — cheap food, cheap clothing, cheap furniture,
cheap everything. The result is that nothing they have wears or lasts
any length of time. While they pinch and screw on prices and think they
are saving, they really spend more in the end for poor cheap stuff which
is always coming to pieces than they would need to spend on good
things, because these would last so much longer than the inferior
articles, to say nothing of the infinitely greater satisfaction they
Getting into the current of cheapness not only narrows and pinches the life, but it deteriorates the taste for and appreciation of quality, just as a cheap piano in a home, a piano which is always out of tune, tends to deteriorate the musical taste of the members of the family.
Bargain hunters are nearly always victims of false economy; and women are special offenders in this respect. They will waste hours of precious time, sometimes most of a day, and suffer much discomfort in chasing around from one store to another, looking for bargains and trying to save a few cents on some small purchase they wish to make. Then they will buy wearing apparel and all sorts of articles of inferior material because the price is low, although they know the articles will not wear well. They actually buy, because they are cheap, a great many things they do not need, and then they will probably tell you how much they have saved. If these women would only reckon up what they have expended in this way in one year, they would generally find that, apart altogether from the loss of time and the wear and tear on themselves, they have lost rather than gained on their transactions. They would find that they had spent more than if they had only bought what they really needed, when they needed it, and had paid the regular price for it.
There are many ambitious people with mistaken ideas of economy who very seldom get the kind and quality of food which is capable of building the best blood and the best brain. This going without what would reinforce physical power, create mental force and virility, keeps multitudes of people plodding along in mediocrity who are really capable of doing infinitely better things. This is wretched economy.
The ambitious farmer selects the finest ears of corn and the finest grain, fruits and vegetables for seed. He cannot afford to cumber his precious soil with poor seed. Can the man who is ambitious to make the most of himself afford to eat cheap, stale foods, which' lack, or have lost, great energizing elements? Can he afford to injure his health by trying to save a little money at the cost of letting the fire of his energy languish or die?
"People who are always
fearing the future, who always see rocks, shoals, and all sorts of
snags and dangers ahead, who are forever preparing for a "rainy day,"
not only attract the very things they fear, but also lose all the joy
and happiness of living."
No one who hopes to accomplish anything in life can afford to feed
his brain with poor fuel. To do so would be as foolhardy as for a great
factory to burn bad coal on the ground that good coal was too expensive.
Whatever you do, however poor you may be, don't stint or try to
economize in food fuel, which is the very foundation and secret of your
success in life.
To make a high class man you must have first class food, and this
is not extravagance. You can't build a superior brain out of cheap,
inferior, adulterated foods, gulped down at a cheap lunch counter.
It is wholly a question of what you get out of your expenditure, not
its amount, which makes it a wise expenditure or a foolish one. For
instance, it will sometimes pay the biggest kind of returns to pay five
or even ten dollars for a dinner where you can hear great men with
world-wide reputations speak. In other words, it always pays to get into
the most ambition-arousing and helpful atmosphere possible.
It is a great thing to learn about the experiences of men who have
won out in the very lines in which we are struggling; even if they do
not happen to be in our particular line, the principles by which they
have succeeded are much the same as those that bring success in any
line, and it is extremely valuable to know how they have been applied in
any particular instance.
Success attracts success. Money attracts money. Prosperity
attracts prosperity, and it pays you to get with people who are
prosperous, who have honorably won out in what they attempted. There is a
perpetual success suggestion radiating from them which no ambitious
young man can afford to lose.
A miserable pinching economy was never intended for God's children.
There is a larger and fuller life for them. Man was made for good
things, for grand things, to have everything which can minister to his
complete growth and development. If he condemns himself to a narrow,
unfruitful life of cheeseparing, pinching economies he has no one to
blame but himself.
Our condition is what our words, our thoughts, our convictions, as well as the result of our efforts, make it.
If you are thinking and constantly saying, "I can't afford to do
this," or "I can't afford that," "We must make this do," "Money is so
scarce," you are sowing the seed which will give you the same kind of a
harvest. Your poverty thought will make your future as narrow and
limited and poverty-stricken as your present.
Orison Marden Books
Prosperity Chapter XXII
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