Saving money is a challenge that everyone faces. When preparing for a large expense or setting aside for the future, engaging in thrifty behavior can help you achieve your goals.


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But living a frugal life isn’t a temporary fix. Thrift is a virtue; it’s a way of managing money that can, and should be implemented every day.

The thrift movement is not a new practice. Long before Pinterest, rules about personal finance were written in the late 1800’s. Samuel Smiles gained overnight fame with his self-help and lifestyle books. His 1875 publication, “Thrift,” can still teach us a thing or two about living a fulfilling, yet thrifty life, and as you will notice, not much has changed in the last 139 years when it comes to being careful with money.

Thrift is common sense.

“Thrift does not require superior courage, nor superior intellect, nor any superhuman virtue. It merely requires common sense, and the power of resisting selfish enjoyments.”

There is no secret to thrift. Exercising a little common sense goes a long way. Anyone, with any budget, can exercise principles in thrift.

Exercise prudence and self-denial.

“The friends of the industrious should faithfully tell them that they must exercise prudence, economy, and self-denial, if they would really be raised from selfish debasement, and become elevated to the dignity of thinking beings.”

Making small sacrifices can make a world of difference. And not just with your finances. With short or long term goals, indulgences can be scaled back in order to attain a much greater desire. For example, one Sarasota resident is attempting to save at least 60 percent of his income in order to retire by 40. On a much smaller scale, how many morning coffees add up to a paid off credit card or a leisurely weekend getaway?

Debt is a loss of freedom.

“By running into debt yourself, or by your allowing your wife to run into debt, you give another person power over your liberty.”

Being in an extreme amount of debt can have consequences greater than having creditors call. Debt places one in a position with few options and an inevitable end. Extreme debt can result in garnished wages, loss of property, drained savings and years of financial and credit rehabilitation.

Look debt in the face.

“Let every man have the fortitude to look his affairs in the face — to keep an account of his items of income and debts, no matter how long or black the list may be. He must know how he stands from day to day, to be able to look the world fairly in the face.”

Do not dodge creditors and do not hide from Uncle Sam. If you are currently in debt, it’s never too late to implement thrifty virtues in order to repair the damage. But action has to be taken. Financially, in order to design a plan of attack, it’s important to know exactly where you stand and what options are available to you.

Money can’t buy a fulfilling life.

“It is not wealth that gives the true zest to life, but reflection, appreciation, taste, culture. Above all, the seeing eye and the feeling heart are indispensable. With these, the humblest lot may be made blest.”

Thrift does not pertain to being cheap. A thrifty person has every opportunity to live a fulfilling, adventurous and, frankly, an impressive life. Notable figures like Warren Buffet and a number of celebrities, while financially comfortable, continue to exercise the rules of thrift. Having a lot of money doesn’t mean you have to spend it. That lesson has been learned over and over again by various lottery winners over the years.

Everyone, with any budget, can live an exciting life without breaking the bank. Thanks to the internet, there are tons of resources that provide free or low cost tips on travel, education, various hobbies, the literary world and the culinary and visual arts.

Samuel Smiles’ Victorian value to live by

“The man who improves himself, improves the world.”

It’s Financial Literacy Month. Do you have any tips on how you live a thrifty life? Share them on Twitter and Facebook.

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