Recently, my wife finally read all of my earlier posts. I had been asking her for weeks what she thought. Her response was always the same, “I haven’t had a chance yet”. Hearing that she had finally read them, I was eager to hear what she had to say. After all, she was receptive to the idea of me starting the Dr. Thrift brand and felt my goals for the first year were realistic. Hearing her response I was a little surprised. What did she say? “I thought your blog was going to be about thrift?” It was more a question than a statement. Thinking about it, I realized that I had never actually defined thrift in any of my posts. Her follow-up comments suggested she thought the site was going to be about tips for being thrifty. She didn’t understand that thrift is more than just how one manages their finances. Thus the tips I had written in previous posts had missed the mark. I realize a brief description of thrift is in order if I ever hope you the audience will understand many of the things I write now and in the future.
To My Dear Wife Mrs. Thrift (or anyone else who wants to read)
The word thrift comes from the Old Norse word thrifask which meant “to thrive”. If one had access to an older version of the Oxford English Dictionary, they would find the definition to be “the fact or condition of thriving.” The definition has obviously changed over the years so that we now think of it as being cheap, overly frugal, or even miserly. Today, dictionaries define it in terms of one who manages their money well. I prefer the definition that was common in the early 20th century whereby thrift was defined as getting the most out of one’s time, talents, and resources. Perhaps the best description comes from Dora Hughes who in 1918 wrote in her book Thrift in the Household that:
“Thrift is the making the best of what one has…getting one hundred percent in one’s relations with life….Thrift is a constructive force; waste is its destructive opposite. Sometimes thrift is saving, going without; sometimes thrift is spending….Thrift is the base on which success of every kind is built, for either thrift or waste is used in everything.”
Notice the word everything at the end. We can choose to use our time, abilities, possessions, money, etc. in either a wasteful or thrifty manner. So how does one go about living a thrifty lifestyle?
Underlying the virtue of thrift is several characteristics that one must practice to be considered thrifty.
In order to be thrifty, one must be a faithful steward of all that God has blessed them with. God as the creator of everything blesses us with the responsibility to manage his resources on earth. The better we manage what we have, the more he in turn blesses us. He allows us to prosper and in return, we should help others.
In order to be thrifty, one must be industrious. That’s an old word for hard working. We are called to be productive and in return to prosper. It’s important to note that we should work hard doing what we are called to do. We should find our vocation in life and work hard and the money will follow. I believe some idle time is necessary but as Ben Franklin said “Laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him.” Have you ever wondered why I am always finding new things to occupy my time? Now you know!
In order to be thrifty, one must be frugal. I like to think of frugality as being wise with how one spends their money. This may sometimes mean spending more for a product in order to get one that has a reputation of lasting. Obviously, we shouldn’t pay more for something than is necessary but frugality should not be confused with being cheap.
In order to be thrifty, one must have contentment. This means we shouldn’t worry about what we don’t have but rather be thankful and enjoy what we do have. There is nothing wrong with wanting to upgrade our standard of living by striving to obtain nicer things but that should be done with a plan and in a way that doesn’t consume us.
Obviously I haven’t described each of these characteristics in detail. That would take a book or better yet, a series of blog posts in the future. This article was designed to show that my previous posts do in fact deal with being thrifty. Now that we have that settled, perhaps the next article will be something a little more practical.