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Quotations about Thrift

Thrift began with civilization. It began when men found it necessary to provide for to-morrow as well as for to-day. It began long before money was invented. ~Samuel Smiles, Thrift, 1875

He shall teach me skill at thrift who scatters with a lavish hand. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904

Thrift comes too late when you find it at the bottom of your purse. ~Seneca

...without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor. ~Sophron (Samuel Johnson), 1750

Great heavens, cannot people realize how large an income is thrift! ~Cicero, translated by E. W. Sutton and H. Rackham, 1942

Thrift is more than prudence, which is merely good judgment and foresight in the practical affairs of life. It is more than economy, which is a disposition to save. It is more than frugality, which is prudent economy in the care of money or goods. It is not parsimony or miserliness or hoarding. Industry earns, economy manages, prudence plans, frugality saves; but thrift earns, plans, manages, and saves. ~T. D. MacGregor, "What Thrift Is," The Book of Thrift: Why and How to Save and What To Do with Your Savings, 1915  [a little altered —tg]

The term thrift is not only properly applied to money matters, but to everything in life — the wise use of one's time, the wise use of one's ability, one's energy, and this means prudent living, careful habits of life... the wisest possible expenditure of what we have of all of life's resources. ~Orison Swett Marden, "Thrift, the Foundation of All Greatness," Thrift, 1918

I have always noticed that people in a position to save money yet who lack a bank balance also usually lack brain balance. They are not very level-headed. The man who is not thrifty has a screw loose somewhere. ~Orison Swett Marden, "Can You Finance Yourself," Everybody Ahead: Getting the Most Out of Life, 1916

I am an erratic creature... Thank heaven, I am improvident. The bourgeois vice of thrift is one from which my family has never suffered: the Puritan blood in our veins must have been too generously diluted. Besides, have I not learned from more modern political economy that saving is the source of all the evils of capitalism?... So I decided to spend my twelve guineas like a man, to please myself, leaving Providence or St. Nicholas to make good the deficiency. This is called faith, and is a cardinal virtue. ~Olive Pratt Rayner (Grant Allen), The Typewriter Girl, 1897

Thrift was never more necessary in the world's history than it is today. ~Francis H. Sisson, "Capital Needs for American Industrial Development," 1920

      There is nothing else more needed in American life than education in practical thrift. We are not as a people brought up to appreciate the importance of getting the most out of our incomes. We are not taught in youth how to expend money in the most advantageous manner.
      When we see in this land of infinite resources a vast number of honest, hard-working people so poor that they cannot afford many of the bare necessities of proper, healthful living, not to speak of the little luxuries or pleasures of life, we get some idea of the criminal lack of thrift training in our national life. ~Orison Swett Marden, "Can You Finance Yourself," Everybody Ahead: Getting the Most Out of Life, 1916

If the children of the United States to-day can be given a deep and intelligent understanding of thrift, so that they will practice it wisely and willingly, and later begin the practical experiences of life with these habits well fixed, we may rest assured that our nation will contribute the utmost support in civilization's eternal struggle for advancement. ~S. W. Straus, History of the Thrift Movement in America, 1920

Thrift is a habit... The habit of thrift is simply the habit which dictates that you shall earn more than you spend. In other words, thrift is the habit that provides that you shall spend less than you earn. Take your choice. ~Elbert Hubbard, "Thrift," The Romance of Business, 1917

The difference between mere money-saving and the greater thrift is education. A man may be a money-saver, and yet, if he dissipates or is immoral, he is not thrifty. A man may save money — yet if he works eighteen hours a day, to the detriment of his health, he is not thrifty. True thrift consists in the judicious use of all our mental, material, and physical resources, and when we merely save money, we have only gone part way. A miser is an undesirable citizen. What, pray, would be the fate of a nation of misers? The wheels of industry are turned by men and women who spend and employ their money wisely, and live sanely. ~S. W. Straus, "The Greater Thrift," 1916  [a little altered —tg]

Thrift is the friend of man, a civilization builder. ~Orison Swett Marden, "Thrift, the Foundation of All Greatness," Thrift, 1918

Thrift is a determination to live with a margin for future advancement, to save a little more than one spends, or to spend a little less than one earns, getting meanwhile the value in strength, in satisfaction, or in other worthy returns for the money one feels free to spend. The spirit of thrift is opposed to waste on the one hand, and to recklessness on the other. It does not involve stinginess, which is an abuse of thrift, nor does it require that each item of savings should be a financial investment. The money that is spent in the education of oneself or of one's family, in travel, in music, in art, or in helpfulness to others, if it brings real returns in personal development or in better understanding the world we live in, is in accordance with the spirit of thrift. ~David Starr Jordan, 1915

There is a happy medium between extravagance and penuriousness. Midway between miserliness and extravagance lies the pathway of the greater thrift. ~S. W. Straus, "The Greater Thrift," 1916  [a little altered —tg]

What is the "greater thrift?" It is constructive, scientific, liberal; it is thrift that builds character. It is the thrift that comes through education. It is the thrift that is the basis of all progress. It is the advancement of civilization accomplished through the rewards of education, morality, and industry. Summed up, the greater thrift is personal economics in its broadest sense, and, in a general way, the true art of living. ~S. W. Straus, "The Greater Thrift," 1916  [a little altered —tg]

Many of our false economic conditions are due to our baneful tendency to overlive, to overspend, to overindulge, and to overplay our part in life's daily round. Jealousy, social ambitions, business rivalry, personal egotism, false pride, all play their part in the strife and the stress and mad rush of the twentieth century. Too many of us live far beyond our resources. ~S. W. Straus, "The Greater Thrift," 1916  [a little altered —tg]

Thrift means that you should always have the best you can possibly afford when the thing has any reference to your physical and mental health, to your growth in efficiency and power. Where these are concerned you cannot afford the second best. ~Orison Swett Marden, "Can You Finance Yourself," Everybody Ahead: Getting the Most Out of Life, 1916

The thrift habit is a sister to a good many other beautiful habits. ~Elbert Hubbard, "Thrift," The Romance of Business, 1917

Money-saving is but one link in the chain of a perfect character; economy is only a strand in the thread of thrift. Through our schools the practices of this great virtue must be introduced. We are teaching our boys and girls arithmetic, history, and geography; we are teaching them everything worthwhile but practical thrift. I say to you, my friends, that we are neglecting one of the most important branches of education. ~S. W. Straus, "The Greater Thrift," 1916  [a little altered —tg]

Mr. Simon Straus has well said that thrift, or this disposition to save, is not a mere forced rule. It is a virtue, it is a principle. Thrift is not an affair of the pocket but an affair of character. Thrift is not miserliness, but wisdom. Thrift is not so much a matter of money as an attitude of mind. ~John Andrew Bexell, "Thrift and Its Relation to Banking," 1916  [a little altered —tg]

There is a survival value in the habit of thrift. Besides the money you save, you are adding strength to your character; digging trenches, building fortifications, laying in ammunition, and providing yourself against any attack from enemies, such as poverty, disease, melancholy, distrust, jealousy, insanity. ~Elbert Hubbard, "Thrift," The Romance of Business, 1917

      We are living in an extravagant age, and the temptations on every hand, especially in large cities, are so alluring that it is very difficult for a young man who has not been trained in habits of thrift to resist them. Thousands of young men who are receiving good salaries never think of laying up a dollar. They see nothing in their earnings but "a good time," and they never bother about the future.
      Just holding one's own is not getting on. The little difference between what you earn and what you spend is power. It often measures the distance between success and failure.
      Many people have the false idea that thrift or a wise economy means closeness, stinginess, parsimony. But it means nothing of the kind. Thrift does not mean a pinching economy which buys poor, cheap food for the sake of saving, or living in a poor, unhealthy place in order to pile up dollars.
      Thrift means the wisest possible expenditure of what we have. It means spending for health, for efficiency, for the highest possible welfare of the individual. It means financing yourself, no matter what your salary, so that you manage it to the best possible advantage. ~Orison Swett Marden, "Can You Finance Yourself," Everybody Ahead: Getting the Most Out of Life, 1916  [a little altered —tg]

The thrift that does not make a man charitable sours into avarice. Thrift means better homes, better citizens, more comforts, more enjoyments, little waste, little anxiety — peace. Out of it grows productive energy, steady courage, opportunity, independence, self-respect, aimfulness in life, manhood. It is the one material habit that has no shady side. ~Milton W. Harrison, Thrift, 1917

Whatever thrift is, it is not avarice. Avarice is not generous; and after all, it is the thrifty people who are generous... And I venture to say that of all the great philanthropists, all the great financial benefactors of their species of whom we have any record, the most generous of all must have been thrifty men. ~Lord Rosebery, as quoted by T. D. MacGregor, Talks on Thrift: A Protest Against Reckless Extravagance, A Plea for Commonsense Saving, 1913

Loving labor and thrift go hand in hand. He who is not thrifty is a slave to circumstance. Fate says, "Do this or starve," and if you have no surplus saved up you are the plaything of chance, the pawn of circumstance, the slave of some one's caprice, a leaf in a storm. ~Elbert Hubbard, "Thrift," The Romance of Business, 1917

Therefore, cultivate the habit of thrift, and the earlier you begin, the better. And no matter how old you are, or how long you have lived, begin this day to save something, no matter how little, out of your earnings. ~Elbert Hubbard, "Thrift," The Romance of Business, 1917

The American Society for Thrift offered a prize in 1913 for the best definition of Thrift. The prize was won by a Pennsylvania school girl. The definition was: "Thrift is management of your affairs in such a manner that the value of your possessions is constantly increasing." ~Milton W. Harrison, Thrift: A Short Text Book for Elementary Schools of Philadelphia, 1917

Frugality may be termed the daughter of Prudence, the sister of Temperance, and the parent of Liberty. ~Samuel Johnson, 1750

Thrift is not only one of the foundation-stones of a fortune, but also the foundation of much that is excellent in character... The exercise of thrift has a very healthful reaction upon all the other faculties. ~Orison Swett Marden, "Thrift, the Foundation of All Greatness," Thrift, 1918

Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character. ~Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933)

The habit of saving is one of the first essentials of success... The habit of thrift denotes character, stability, self-control. It is a proof that a man is not a hopeless victim of his appetites, his weaknesses... The saving of money usually means the saving of a man. ~Orison Swett Marden, "Can You Finance Yourself," Everybody Ahead: Getting the Most Out of Life, 1916

...thrift begets strength of character... ~Simon William Straus (1866–1930)

If you are a thrifty person you are happy... when you are right with yourself, all's right with the world. ~Elbert Hubbard, "Thrift," The Romance of Business, 1917

Thrift is a virtue. No people can long be free who are not thrifty. It is true that thrift sometimes passes beyond virtue, degenerating into a vice of greed. ~David Starr Jordan, "The Nation's Need of Men," 1894

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. ~Saying

I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living... ~John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937)

Thrift is a state of mind... ~S. W. Straus, History of the Thrift Movement in America, 1920

The habit of thrift proves your power to rule your own psychic self. You are captain of your soul. You are able to take care of yourself... and take care of some one else... This is to live. ~Elbert Hubbard, "Thrift," The Romance of Business, 1917

The war did more to teach thrift to mankind than any event in history... Now that the days of sacrifice, suffering, and bloodshed are over, it is our duty to analyze the events that have transpired, and to apply the war-time lessons to the pursuits of peace. ~S. W. Straus, History of the Thrift Movement in America, 1920

The greater thrift is patriotism. It is our American duty. Let us not fail! ~S. W. Straus, "The Greater Thrift," 1916  [a little altered —tg]

The Art of getting Riches consists very much in Thrift. All Men are not equally qualified for getting Money, but it is in the Power of every one alike to practise this Virtue. ~Benjamin Franklin, 1749

      There was a time when America was a thrifty nation. Those were the days of Benjamin Franklin and our Colonial forefathers... But in the days that followed, easier times came... and today we are recognized throughout the world as the most thriftless nation among the great powers... Want, waste, and extravagance must cease, — by teaching thrift.
      Looking down the long vista of years ahead of us in America, we are bound to have many prosperous periods. We are so rich, so strong, so young. We have so many advantages over the older nations. But even with the prospect of a golden era of peace lying before us, with the assumption that the wheels of industry will continue to turn, that we shall be continuously blessed with bountiful crops, that our population will increase, that our cities will build, and will grow even more wonderful, and the barren places be taken up for occupation — even with the assumption of all these things, are we sure that our children, and our children's children will be prepared for the temptations that will come with these unfoldings of time? Weakness is begot of the pamperings of opulence...
      And whether we have prosperity or adversity, it is necessary that we have thrift. We must begin at the foundation. The nation of tomorrow will be made up of the children in schoolrooms today. We must teach them thrift in the home and in the schoolroom. If we teach them the ways of thrift today, they will be individually prepared when they become the blood and fiber, the bone and sinew, of the United States of America. ~S. W. Straus, "Thrift — An Educational Necessity," 1916  [a little altered —tg]

Thrift, thrift, Horatio! ~William Shakespeare, Hamlet, c.1600  [I, 2, Hamlet]

The girl or boy who acquires the habit of thrift early in life will be a power for good in any community. Thrift! It is the basis of all the other virtues. To spend less than you earn — this way lies happiness. Thrift! ~Elbert Hubbard, "Thrift," The Romance of Business, 1917

...thrift is blessing... ~William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, c.1596  [I, 3, Shylock]

      One of the chief causes of thriftlessness in America has been a general misunderstanding of the meaning of thrift. Until quite recently, the popular definition of the word has been something suggestive of selfishness in petty affairs, and greed in large ones. Penny-counting, cheese-paring, money-hoarding practices were looked upon by the public as the ideals sought by those who tried to encourage thrift. The man who practiced this virtue, it was felt, was he who hoarded his earnings to such an extent that he thrust aside every other consideration in order to keep from spending his pennies, his dimes, and his dollars. The thrifty man was regarded as one who spent money most grudgingly, who drove sharp, unfair bargains, who gave no encouragement or support to the finer interests of life, such as the development of education, the arts, the sciences and charities — a man whose interests lay only in himself in all things.
      With such a misconception, the thrifty man was regarded as a dead weight on progressive civilization. There was at the same time a popular feeling that it was praiseworthy to be a free spender. Thriftlessness seemed to suggest a certain generosity of impulse, of unselfishness and broadness of view. The spendthrift was called a "good fellow," meaning thereby that he was good to others, that he gave small heed to his own interests, and willingly laid his possessions on the altar of friendship. It was regarded as a mark of distinction on his part that he was willing to forego his own interests, advancement, and prosperity, rather than be guilty of the charge of closefistedness. It was accepted as laudatory that, unmindful of his own interests, he was willing to proceed along the path which led to inevitable personal failure, rather than bear the stigma of stinginess.
      It was likewise accepted by many as an economic axiom that the free spending of money, regardless of the purpose, needs, or occasion of the spending, was a good thing for the business interests of the country. The indulgence in extravagance by the wealthy was looked on with favor because it was said such practice "keeps money in circulation, furnishes employment for those who otherwise would be idle, and lends encouragement to lines of business that thrive on the reckless expenditures of the improvident."
      There was no line drawn between constructive and destructive thrift. In fact, to the unthinking, all thrift was either obstructive or destructive, and hence thriftlessness was in a great measure constructive and praiseworthy.
      The fact that thrift means merely the elimination of waste was not appreciated, nor was it understood that the sound and sturdy business structure of the nation could be made secure only when the masses of the people were steadily accumulating savings, elevating their standards of living, making provisions for the education of their children, and, in general, pursuing habits of wholesome thrift. ~S. W. Straus, History of the Thrift Movement in America, 1920

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