Thrift at one time was the cornerstone of a household’s financial picture.
The word even appeared over the front door of a beautiful bank in Sidney, Ohio, built in the early 1900s.
However, according to a book entitled ‘The Decline of Thrift in America’, the Depression invited economists to recast thrift as “the contemptible vice which threw sand in the gears of our consumer society.” (Nancy Gibbs, Time, Oct. 2008)
Thrift. A contemptible vice? Good grief, Charlie Brown.
The book went on to reveal that a White House report in 1931 urged parents to let children pick out their own clothes and furniture, thereby creating in the child “a sense of personal as well as family pride in ownership, and eventually teaching him that his personality can be expressed through things.”
I say, that thought is downright scary! If our personality is expressed through things then I’m spending far too much time looking inside the fridge for lunch. (Cheese dog anyone? Anyone?)
Nancy Gibbs herself says, “Somewhere along the way, thrift did not just stop being a value; it became a folly.
“Saving was for suckers; you’d die leaving money on the table when you could have lived it up.”
“There are no pockets in a shroud, as the saying goes.”
Should we be filled with family pride when we look at a big house? When we look at a big mortgage?
Are we the type of creature that would be filled with even more pride if the house had another bedroom or bathroom we would barely ever use?
Should we swell with personal pride when we look at our new big screen TV? Or a bigger car that would get us to the mall 3 seconds faster?
Could the 1931 White House report possibly lead people down the wrong path?
I say, in 2010, after 70 - 80 years of heavy spending, saving for the future is not an idea for suckers.
Living it up may not be as healthy as living it down.
Anyone who leaves debt on the table for future generations to deal with should reconsider their spending habits.
Get Small before you Get Low.