Dec 2007 Character Quality -- Thriftiness
the following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
Have you ever wondered how our ancestors survived – even thrived – even though Wal-Mart
was centuries away?  The secret of their success was in their ability to make use of every
resource, no matter how small.  Leftovers from yesterday’s dinner became a tasty casserole for
the next day or two.  Processing game meant more than just an ample supply of meat; they
created clothing and coats from the hides, needles from the bones and canteens from the
stomach casing.  Nothing was wasted.  And what about those weeds that grew everywhere?  
They used some of them for medicine.  Others they used as spices or vegetables.  These tricks-
of-the-trade and a multitude of others enabled our fathers to care for their families in the
absence of modern technology.  Their secret could be found in the word thriftiness.

Thriftiness is allowing myself and others to spend only what is necessary.  When we consider
buying something, we have a few factors to consider.  Is it essential?  Could we do with less?  Is
it the best buy, or should we shop around and find a better price?  Studies have shown that a
major part of a millionaires’ success is due to their ability to handle money wisely.  For instance,
in one poll, 80% of all those questioned revealed that they use coupons on a daily basis.  Sixty
percent said that they never make large purchases without finding the best price.  Others said
they would not buy something just because it is discounted if they would not normally buy it at
the regular price.  Little rules like this are a major reason that they are successful.  

In our daily routine, we have many opportunities to practice thriftiness.  Just because the family
car is a few years old does not mean it is time for a new one.  We need to use what we have as
long as it serves its purpose.  Having top brand equipment might put us in good standing with
our peers, but it is not always the best avenue to take in the way of our finances.  Another way
to cut down on unnecessary costs is to watch how much food we throw away on a daily basis.  
Many times, the food we throw away today could very well stand as a complete meal for
tomorrow.  Americans throw away an average of $2 of food per day.  That is about $60 per
month, or $720 a year.  

Finances are not the only way we can demonstrate thriftiness.  Our time is a most valuable gift.  
What we burn today we cannot gain back tomorrow.  Therefore, we need to prioritize our
responsibilities in order to get the most out of our day.  What if every wasted moment cost us a
dollar?  We would be in serious trouble after a while!  

Life never follows a charted course. We need to prepare for the unexpected in case medical
expenses or car repairs suddenly arise.  Preparedness is a benefit of being thrifty.  Thriftiness
does not mean a rigid penny-pinching lifestyle.  It simply adds a measure of discipline to life so
that when we want that flat-screen TV, we will have the means to get it.  President Eisenhower
said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”  How true that is...whether it is a trip to
Grandma’s house for Christmas or an important business deal.
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! material.  For more information about the
Character First! program and resources contact:  Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma
City, OK  73102,  (405) 815-0001. Visit the Character Council of Red River Valley at
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