Penny pinching, The way to wealth … is as plain as the way to market. It depends on two words — industry and frugality

Frugality Is Fun

By —— Bio and Archives--February 28, 2011

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In this materialistic, card-swipe age, frugality and thrift are often ignored. But for those whose parents understood the value of dollars earned through hard work, and taught it to their children, those words are guideposts.


Recently, I was reminded of Mama’s oft-spoken expression — “Frugality is fun.” — when a friend and I were coasting down a hill in my pickup, Loretta, nineteen years and 360,000 miles young.

“Why do you coast down hills? What if drivers behind you are in a hurry?” He asked. I explained the money mindset Mama molded in me.

“When my mother taught me to drive, she told me never to touch the accelerator when going downhill, but ‘let gravity be the gas.’ At stoplights, she wouldn’t let me activate the turn signal until the light changed, stating that every time the bulb blinked, that was one less time it would blink … meaning money would have to be expended sooner to replace it.

“If I mentioned that her miserly practices bordered on foolishness, she answered, ‘It’s the principle of the thing.’”

Mama’s thrifty ways derived from her creativity. To her, buying what could be created, such as food or clothing, was sinful. She spent long hours designing new dresses for my three sisters, who were always attired more stylishly than their schoolmates, not because their master seamstress mother bought expensive clothing, but because she crafted her original designs into unique, beautiful, well-fitting dresses.

Her creativity found fertile ground in countless ways, but especially in penny pinching. When we kids poked fun at her parsimonious practices, she’d say, “Pennies make dollars; dollars make fortunes.”

While overseas in the military, I loved receiving Mama’s letters. Her tiny, calligraphic writing style covered every square centimeter of the sheet — front and back. One page brought me up to date on everything that had happened back home for a month. To her, using only side of a sheet was squandering fifty percent of one’s investment.

Creative people enjoy challenging their creativity. That is why frugality was fun for Mama. But her thrift didn’t stop with money; it also governed time. She would have agreed wholeheartedly with Benjamin Franklin’s maxim: “The way to wealth … is as plain as the way to market. It depends on two words — industry and frugality; … waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both.”

Because she was a devout Christian, she would have applauded William Gladstone’s comment: “ … thrift of time will repay you in after life with a usury of profit beyond your most sanguine dreams; … waste of it will make you dwindle, alike in intellectual and moral stature, beyond your darkest reckoning.”

Generations of Americans who shared Mama’s mindset built this great nation. It will remain great only if thrift, hard work, stamina and ingenuity are not effaced by squandering of resources, idleness, and laxity in upholding the Christian principles on which it was founded.

To remind us of this truth, America’s sub-motto should be: Frugality is fun.


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Jimmy Reed -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran (Vietnam Era), former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer and ginner, author, and retired college teacher. His short story anthology, Boss, Jaybird And Me, is available at Squarebooks.com (telephone: 662-236-2262). His latest collection of faith-based short stories, entitled One Hundred By Five Hundred, is also available at Square Books (telephone: 662-236-2262) and at amazon.com. To receive Reed’s free weekly newsletter, send an email address to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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