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- Community Civics and Rural Life - 30/88 -

selfish ness. On the contrary it alone makes generosity and service possible.


"Thrift is the very essence of democracy." For democracy means freedom, equality of opportunity, "self-determination." No man is a greater slave than one who is bound and driven by financial necessity. By thrift the mind is "unfettered by the petty annoyances that result from improvident ways." Thrift means providing for the future. There is nothing in the world that will so establish one's faith in the future and that will, therefore, give that freedom of spirit upon which democracy depends, as the wise use of to-day and of to-day's resources.


"Every man must practice thrift and every man must have the CHANCE of practicing it." It is a RIGHT as well as a duty. Before the war it was said that four fifths of the wage earners of our country received less than $750 a year for their labor. Studies in various cities also showed that an average family of five could not maintain health and efficiency on an income of less than from $750 to $1000. Under such circumstances thrift is the strictest necessity, but it is a thrift that means pinching economy and the sacrifice of health and efficiency. It is not the thrift that provides for the future and gives freedom to the individual, the thrift that is "the essence of democracy itself." Every man should have an opportunity to earn a "living wage," which includes an opportunity to provide for the future. Democracy is not complete until that opportunity is afforded.

Thrift, or the good management of the business of living, is shown (1) in earning, (2) in spending, (3) in saving, and (4) in investing.


(1) Since the earning of a living was the subject of Chapter XI, we need not dwell upon it now except to note that a thrifty person is an industrious person--he makes wise use of his time; and also to note that many of those who are now in want, or who, in advanced years, are receiving small wages, owe their condition to a failure at some time or other to make use of the opportunity for thrift. Many people do not recognize the opportunity when it is presented, or lack the wisdom or the courage to seize it. Thrift involves MAKING A CHOICE, and in many cases a wise choice requires courage as well as wisdom. It is a choice between the satisfaction of present wants and the sacrifice of present enjoyment for the sake of greater satisfaction and service in the future.

When a boy in school has a chance to take a job that will pay him wages, he has to make a choice between it and remaining in school. It may seem to be the thrifty thing to go to work; but real thrift is shown by careful choice of vocation, and by thorough preparation for it, even though it requires sacrifices that seem difficult (see pp. 137, 139).

We may note here, also, that physical fitness is essential if earning power, which means power to perform service, is to be fully developed. The "conservation" of health and life is so important that a chapter is devoted to it later (Chapter XX).


(2) After money has been earned, thrift shows itself first of all in the way the money is spent; and many of us have the spending of the money that some one else has earned. Every time we spend a nickel or a dollar we make a choice--we choose to spend or not to spend, how much we shall spend, for what we shall spend.

A lawyer in a small town reports that in one month he made out the necessary papers to enable 75 men to mortgage their homes to buy automobiles.

Butchers say that during the war they more often sold expensive cuts of meat to wage earners who were by no means well-to-do, but who happened for the time to be getting good wages, than to people of larger means. One reason, perhaps, for extravagance in food and clothing on the part of unintelligent people who find themselves unusually prosperous, is that they see no better way to spend their money. Those who find pleasure in books, in education for their children, in travel, in investing money in serviceable enterprises, and in the higher things of life, have to make A CHOICE in regard to what they shall enjoy, and as a rule prefer to sacrifice the grosser pleasures.


People, and especially young people, need a certain amount of sweets in their diet. But when we know that the candy bill of the people of the United States amounts to $400,000,000 a year, that this is almost as much as the total amount spent for public education, that it is about double the amount used to keep Belgium supplied with food for a year during the war, or that it will buy 234 million bushels of corn at $1.70 a bushel, we may well think twice before deciding to spend MUCH money for candy.


The few cents difference in the price of two articles between which we must choose, and the nickels we spend for immediate enjoyment, may seem to amount to very little; but the New York City street railways collected in a year $95,000,000 in five-cent fares, and the Woolworth Building in New York, one of the largest office buildings in the United States, was built from the profits of "5 and 10 Cent Stores." One thrift stamp a week amounts in five years to $65, and 14 cents a day at 4 per cent interest amounts in twenty years to more than $1500. In one of the "Ten Lesson in Thrift," the following "tests in buying" are given:

Do I need it?

Do I need it now?

Do I need something else more?

Will it pay for itself in the end?

Do I help or injure the community in buying this?

Do you have instruction in your school in home economics that relates to wise spending or buying?

If you do not have such instruction, apply to the home demonstration agent in your county (if there is one), or write to your state agricultural college, or to the States Relations Service, Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., for circulars or bulletins relating to thrift in buying food, clothing, etc.

In writing for such material, why is it an example of thrift to ask for ONE copy of EACH publication for your CLASS or for your SCHOOL, rather than to ask for a copy for each pupil?

In what ways is thrift shown by having a class committee write one letter making the request for the class instead of having each member of the class write?

Has any home demonstration work relating to thrift been conducted in your community? What methods were employed, and what results achieved?

Who in your family makes most of the expenditures for the family living?

For what items in the family living is most of the money spent?

What are some of the things that have to be considered in buying food? clothing? house furnishings? books? amusements?

Discuss the topics mentioned in the following statement of "values in buying" (from "Ten Lessons in Thrift"):

Food: nutrition, healthfulness, cleanliness, attractiveness, flavor, quality, price, economy in preparation (of time, strength, fuel, utensils), buying from bulk or in package, buying in quantity or small unit, buying for the day or laying in stores, calculation of portions, calculation of meals, varied diet.

Clothing: design related to material, color, and becomingness; style, durability; adaptability to fine or rough wear, to repair and remaking; suitability to season, health, occupation, comfort; home-made VERSUS ready-made; conditions of manufacture, use of child labor, the sweat shop, the living wage, health.

Make a study at the grocery of the relative prices of articles bought in small and large quantities: for example, laundry soap by the bar, by the quarter's worth, by the box; canned goods by the can, by the dozen, and by the case; flour by the pound, by the 25- pound sack, 50-pound sack, by the barrel; etc.

Make a study of the relative prices of articles in bulk and in package; for example, vinegar by the bottle and by the gallon; bacon in bulk and in jars, etc.

Why may it be economy to buy some food articles in packages rather than in bulk, even at a higher price? Give examples.

Which is likely to be more economical, to buy groceries by telephone or in person? To buy by mail order or at the store in town? Why?

At Christmas time the Park View community center in Washington, D.C., ordered 140 turkeys from a rural neighborhood center in Maryland. The turkeys were brought by the producers to the schoolhouse of the rural neighborhood, taken by a postal service motor-truck to the schoolhouse of the Park View center in Washington, and from there distributed to the 140 families. The city buyers paid an average of 15 cents a pound less than the price prevailing in the Washington markets, and the producers received 6 cents a pound more than the Washington markets were paying.

Why was there a saving to both producer and consumer in the above case? What costs of marketing were cut out or reduced?

What is the "middleman"? Does he perform a real service to the community? Should he be paid for his service? Why? Is it just that the middleman should be "eliminated" by cooperative marketing and

Community Civics and Rural Life - 30/88

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