Over the holiday season, I came across an antique book called “Thrift” at a used book store. It was by a guy named Samuel Smiles (Hah! Bad ass!), and was printed in November of 1875 as part of a “self help” series.
I really wanted it bad, but for $15.00 I just couldn’t get myself to pick it up. I mean, what would Samuel Smiles think of that? $15 for a book that’s almost 150 years old? ;) So I placed it back on the shelf, and it had been haunting me since.
“It’s only $15 bucks! How awesome would that be for your blog?? I wonder what’s changed in 150 years??? Why didn’t you just freakin’ buy it??”
These thoughts continued to bounce around my head, until one day I decided to go back and see if it was still there. If it was, I’d buy it and once and for all see what I’d been missing this whole time. After two months of thinking about it, it was quite obvious I wouldn’t have to deal with any buyer’s remorse at this point ;) And if it wasn’t there anymore, well, at least I tried and can move on with my life. (I’m so dramatic, haha…)
Well, as fate would have it, not only was the book STILL there, but a friend I took along with me had some store credit saved up and offered to buy it for me. At first I declined because again, it’s $15!, but he loved how happy it made me and had wanted to use up his credit anyways before he forgot and lost it. So the book has finally become mine!!! WOOHOO!!!!
And, now, you get to share in this awesomeness as well ;)
Starting today, I’ll be sharing snippets of the book so we can all see how smart people dealt with money back in the 1800s too. Which, spoiler alert, is pretty much the same as today. Only with cooler words and different examples ;)
Here’s today’s feature passage!
“Thrift does not require superior courage, nor superior intellect, nor any superhero 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. Begin is its device! The more the habit of thrift is practiced, the easier it becomes, and the sooner it compensates the self-denier for the sacrifices which it has imposed.”
BAM! The takeaways in paragraph #1:
- Anyone can be thrifty – it doesn’t discriminate!
- It can be practiced in every day actions
- Just start!!!
- The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
It then continues with…
“The question may be asked: Is it possible for a man working for small wages to save anything, and lay it by in a savings-bank, when he requires every penny for the maintenance of his family? But the fact remains, that it is done by many industrious and sober men; that they do deny themselves, and put their spare earnings into savings-banks, and the other receptacles provided for poor men’s savings. And if some can do this, all may do it under similar circumstances, without depriving themselves of any genuine pleasure or any real enjoyment.”
Takeaways in paragraph #2:
- Even if you barely scrape by, you can save money!
- But you have to be sober and deny yourself equally enjoyable things ;)
- You also have to have savings-banks.
- Or other “receptacles” of the poor man, perhaps a can or mattress to hide it under?
- If poor people can do it, so can you!
Doesn’t look like much has changed in 140 years, huh? :) But what I find interesting about this, is that the more I read it HERE – in these crisp yellowing pages – is that the words seem to sink in a lot more than when read elsewhere. Maybe it’s the novelty to the whole thing, or maybe that old “book” smell is releasing some freaky gases into my nostrils (haha…), but whatever the case I’ll take every last ounce of motivation I can get. If Samuel Smiles could do it before the age of the internet, or cell phones, or cars, online banking, debit cards, medicines, etc, so can we!
I’ll let you know how the rest of the book goes as I continue running through the pages, but for now just remember: Anyone can save money no matter what your circumstance. And even more so if you’re sober and have tons of poor man receptacles laying around ;)
See you back in the 21st century!
PS: Perhaps next time we’ll dive into “How to Get Strong” by William Blaikie, circa 1879. Who wants to bet nothing’s changed in that department either?
UPDATE: Want to own/read this yourself? You can find the original for $120 on Amazon (Hah!), or a modernized one for $10 :) Or, you can read it for free on the Kindle or at Gutenberg.org. Big thanks to my readers for alerting us of this!
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!