A Paris bank clerk, who was carrying a bag of gold through the streets dropped a ten-franc piece, which rolled from the side-walk. He set his bag down to look for the lost piece, and, while he was trying to extricate it from the glitter, someone stole his bag and ran away with it.
I know a rich man who has become such a slave to the habit of economizing, when he was trying to get a start in the world, that he has not been able to break away from it, and will very often lose a dollar's worth of valuable time trying to save a dime.
He goes through his home and turns the lights down so low that it is almost impossible to get around without stumbling over chairs. Several members of his family have received injuries from running against half-open doors, or stumbling over furniture in the dark; and once, while I was present, a member of the family spilt a bottle of ink upon a costly carpet in passing from one room to another in the darkness.
This man, although now wealthy, tears off the unused half-sheets of letters, cuts out the backs of envelopes for scribbling paper, and is constantly spending time trying to save little things which are utterly out of proportion to the value to him of the time thus consumed.
He carries the same-spirit of niggardly economy into his business. He makes his employees save strings from bundles as a matter of principle, even if it takes twice as much time as the string is worth, and practices all sorts of trifling economies equally foolish.
True economy is not stinginess or meanness. It often means very large outlay, for it always has the larger end in view. True economy means the wisest expenditure of what we have, everything considered, looking at it from the broadest standpoint. It is not a good thing to save a nickel at the expenditure of twenty-five cent's worth of time.
Comparatively few people have a healthy view of what real saving, or economy, means. Many have been run over by street cars or other vehicles in New York while trying to recover a dropped package, a hat, an umbrella, or a cane.
I know a young man who has lost many opportunities for advancement, and a large amount of business, by false economy in dress, and smallness regarding expenditures. He believes that a suit of clothes and a neck-tie should be worn until they are threadbare.
He would never think of inviting a customer or a prospective customer to luncheon, or of offering to pay their car fare (if he happened to be traveling with them.) He has such a reputation for being stingy, even to meanness, that people do not like to do business with him. False economy has cost this man very dear.
Many people injure their health seriously by trying to save money. If you are ambitious to do your best work, beware of economies that cost too much.
No ambitious person can afford to feed their brain with poor diet or wrong fuel. To do so would be as foolhardy as for a great factory to burn shavings and refuse material because good coal was too expensive. Whatever you do, however poor you may be, don't stint or try to economize in the food fuel, which is the very foundation and secret of your success in life. Economize in other things if you must, wear threadbare clothes if necessary, but never cheat your body or brain by the quality and quantity of your food. Poor, cheap food which produces low vitality and inferior brain force is the worst kind of economy.
There are lots of ambitious people with mistaken ideas of economy who rarely ever get the kind and quality of food which is capable of making the best blood and the best brain. Who that is anxious to make the most of their life can afford to stint and starve upon foods that are incapable of making them do the best thing possible to them?
The ambitious farmer selects the finest ears of corn and the finest grain, fruits, and vegetables for seed. He cannot afford to cumber his precious soil with bad seed. Can the person who is ambitious to make the most of themselves afford to eat cheap, stale foods, which have lost their great energizing principle?
Everywhere we see businessmen patronizing cheap restaurants, eating indigestible food, drinking cheap, diluted or doctored milk, saving a little money, but taking a great deal out of themselves.
The most precious investment a person can make is to be just as good to themselves as they possibly can, and never, under any circumstances, pinch or economize in things which can help them to do the greatest thing possible to them. There is no doubt that the efficiency of numerous people is kept down many percent by improper diet, inferior foods.
Many an individual who thinks they are economizing because they spend only fifteen or twenty cents for their lunch may lose dollars in possible efficiency because of this short-sighted economy.
You should take as little as possible out of yourself during your work or recreation. This does not mean that you should not enter whole-heartedly, fling yourself with great zest into your work and play, but that you should not needlessly waste your vitality.
When you are traveling long distances and can possibly afford it, take a chair car, a sleeper, and take your meals regularly, and thus save time and energy, and conserve your health.
Look at the people of means who are too stingy to take a chair or berth in a Pullman car, or to eat their meals in a dining car when they travel. They take many times more out of themselves by their cheap economy than the little money they save is worth. Their ideas are mean and stingy, their efforts lifeless and lacking in enthusiasm, buoyancy, because they have sacrificed their physical selves, have not taken food that can produce ideas, brain force.
Being good to themselves would have made all the difference between discomfort and irregularity and comfort and well-being, and the money spent would have brought them double returns, for when they got to their destination, instead of being jaded, depleted of their vitality, they would have been fresh, vigorous and in condition to do effective work or to enjoy themselves.
I used to travel with a businessman who was much better off financially than I was, yet he would never take a sleeper at night, nor go into a dining car for his meals; but he would take his luncheon with him, or live on sandwiches or what he could pick up at lunch counters on the route. The result was that, when he arrived in far Western cities, he would be so used up and tired, and his stomach
so out of order from irregular eating, that it would take him several days to get straightened out, and he lost a great deal of valuable time.
No man can afford to transact important business when he is not in prime condition, and it pays one in health and in comfort, as well as financially, to be very good to oneself, especially when health and a clear brain are our best capital.
Power is the goal of the highest ambition. Anything which will add to one's personal force, which will increase one's vigor, brain power, is worth its price, no matter how much it costs.
Spend generously for anything which will raise your achievement power, which will make you a broader, abler person.
Multitudes of people are handicapped for years because of constant nervous headaches, which are simply due to eye-strain. They oftentimes have some slight defect in the lens of the eye which causes a great deal of suffering, and which can be corrected and entirely removed by glasses, but because of mistaken ideas of economy they delay getting them.
I know a business man who lost a considerable amount of time periodically through neglect of his feet. Every step he took pained him, yet he could not bear the idea of paying money to a chiropodist and submitting to a simple operation, which finally, after years of suffering, was performed and gave him immediate relief.
Many people delay some needed trivial surgical or dental operation for months or even years, simply because they dread the expense, thus not only suffering a great deal of unnecessary pain all this time, but also incapacitating themselves from giving the best thing in them to their vocations.
The great thing is to make it a life principle never to delay the remedy of anything which is retarding our progress, keeping us down. We little realize what a fearful amount of energy and precious vitality is wasted in most lives through false ideas of economy.
Some people will waste a dollar's worth of valuable time, and suffer much discomfort, in visiting numerous stores looking for bargains and trying to save a few cents on some small purchase they wish to make. They will buy wearing apparel of inferior material because the price is low, although they know the articles will not wear well.
Bargain hunters are often victims of false economy. They buy, because they are cheap, a great many things they do not actually need. Then they will tell you how much they have saved. If they would reckon up what they have expended in a year, they would generally find that they have spent more than if they had only bought what they actually wanted, when they needed it, and had paid the regular price for it.
Many people have a mania for attending auctions and buying all sorts of truck which does not match anything else they have. The result is that their homes are veritable nightmares as to taste and fitness of things. Then, they never get the first, best wear of anything. These second-hand things are often just on the point of giving out, and constantly need repairing.
Beds break down, legs come off bureaus, castors are always coming out, and something is going to pieces all the time. This foolish buying is the worst kind of extravagance. Quality, durability should be the first considerations in buying anything for constant use. Yet many people keep themselves poor by buying cheap articles which do not last.
"Thair iz sertin kinds of ekonomy that don't pa," says Josh Billings, "and one of them iz that thair iz a grate menny pepul in the world who try to ekonomize by stratenin pins."
I have seen a lady spoil a pair of fine gloves trying to rescue a nickel which had fallen into the mud.
There are plenty of women who would not think of throwing away a nickel but who would not hesitate to throw fifty cents worth of good food into the garbage pail. It is a strange fact that people who are close and stingy with their money are often extremely liberal with what the money will buy, especially when put into foodstuffs. In their estimation, most of the value seems to evaporate in the cooking.
One should live between extravagance and meanness. Don't save money by starving your mind. It is false economy never to take a holiday, or never to spend money for an evening's amusement or for a useful book.
P. T. Barnum once said: "Economy is not meanness. True economy consists in always making the income exceed the outgo."
Most people fail to do their greatest work because they do not put the emphasis on the right thing. They do not always keep the goal, their larger possibility in view. They handicap their prospects and kill their greater opportunities by keeping their eyes fixed on petty economies.
Many men become slaves to the habit of economizing, and, without realizing it, constantly strangle their business.
There is no greater delusion than that cheapness is economy. I have watched for some time a New York skyscraper erected years ago under contract. The owners dickered with a great many builders, finally letting the contract to the one who bid the lowest. The original estimate, made by a reliable builder, for a thoroughly substantial, first-class building, was cut down over a hundred thousand dollars by this cheap concern.
The result is that, in their grasping greed to save, the owners overreached themselves, and the building has been a source of anxiety to them ever since its erection. Everything about it is cheap, shoddy or rickety. There is scarcely a day that something is not out of order somewhere. The walls crack, the floors settle, the doors warp and the windows stick.
There is constant trouble with the cheap elevators, and with the steam and electric fittings, and the boilers and all the machinery are frequently out of order. In the winter the building is cold, the pipes leak because of cheap plumbing, and the furnishings are constantly being damaged. As a consequence the occupants get disgusted and move out.
Although the building is in a locality where rents are high, it is impossible to keep reliable tenants very long, because they become so exasperated. It attracts a class of people just like itself—cheap, shoddy, unreliable—and the loss in the rents and in constant repairs, in the rapid deterioration to say nothing of the wear and tear on the nervous system of the owners, will be greater than the amount saved by the cheap contract.
No greater delusion ever entered a businessman's head than that cheap labor is economy. Trying to cut the pay-roll down to the lowest possible dollar has ruined many a concern. Businessmen who have been most successful have found that the best workmen, like the best materials, are the cheapest in the end. The breakage, the damage, the losses, the expensive blunders, the injury to merchandise, the loss of customers resulting from cheap labor are not compensated for by low wages.
Anyone who tries to get superior results from inferior methods, from cheapness in quality of material or service deludes himself. Cheap labor means cheap product and cheapened reputation. It means inferiority all along the line. The institution run by cheap help is cheapened and means a cheaper patronage.
Many a hotel has gone down because the proprietor tried to save a few thousand dollars a year by hiring cheap clerks, cooks and waiters, and by buying cheap food. Just that little difference between the cheap and the best help and the cheap and the best food has made the fortune of many a shrewd hotel-keeper.
Some people never get out of the world of pennies into the world of dollars. They work so hard to save the cents that they lose the dollars and the larger growth—the richer experience and the better opportunity.
Everywhere we see people wearing seedy, shabby clothes, stopping at cheap, noisy hotels or boarding houses, sleeping on uncomfortable beds, riding for days in cramped positions in day coaches in order to save the price of a parlour—car chair or a Pullman seat, sitting up all night to save the expense of a sleeper—practicing all sorts of economies which cost too much for those who can possibly afford better.
If an individual is going to do their best work, they must keep up their mental and physical standards. They must keep a clear brain and level head, and be able to think vigorously. They cannot think effectively without pure blood, and that requires good food, refreshing sleep, and cheerful recreation.
The men and women who accomplish the most, who do a prodigious amount of work, and who are able to stand great strains, are very good to themselves. They have the best they can get. They patronize the best hotels; they eat the most nourishing food they can get. They give themselves all the comforts possible, especially in traveling, and the result is that they are always in much better condition to do business.
It is pretty poor economy that will lessen one's vitality and strength and lower the standard of one's possible efficiency for the sake of saving a few pennies and putting a little money in one's pocket-book.
Of course, we realize that those who haven't the money cannot always do that which will contribute to their highest comfort and efficiency; but most people overestimate the value of a dollar in comparison with their physical well-being. Power is the goal of the highest ambition. Anything which will add to one's power, therefore, no matter how much it costs, if it is within possible reach, is worth its price.
Generous expenditure in the thing which helps us along the line of our ambition, which will make a good impression, secure us quick recognition, and help our promotion, is often an infinitely better investment than putting money in the savings bank.
Those who are trying to get a start in life must emphasize the right thing, keeping the larger possibility in view instead of handicapping their prospects, killing their opportunities by keeping their eyes fixed on petty economies.
Great emphasis is today placed on appearances. Success is not wholly a question of merit. Appearances have a great deal to do with one's prospects and chances especially in a large city, where it is so difficult to get acquainted. In a small town, where everybody will soon know you and can quickly judge of your ability and real worth, it is very different, although even there appearances count for a great deal.
There are thousands of young people in our large cities struggling along in mediocrity, many of them in poverty, who might be in good circumstances had they placed the right emphasis upon the value of good clothes and a decent living-place, where they would be associated with a good class of people.
If you want to get on, get in with the people in your line of business, or in your profession. Try to make yourself popular with them. If a business person, associate with the best men and women in your business; if a lawyer keep in with lawyers. Join the lawyers clubs or associations. The very reputation of standing well in your own craft or profession will be of great value to you.
Of course, it will not cost you quite as much to hold yourself aloof from those in the same specialty; but you cannot afford the greater loss that will result from your aloofness. The young person who wants to get on must remember that little things have quite as much to do with their achievement as great things.
No one can make the most of themselves who does not consider their personal needs. When we are best to ourselves, we radiate a healthy mental attitude of optimism, joy, gladness, and hope. It is a great thing to be a good animal, to maintain mental poise; then we radiate exuberance of life, enthusiasm, buoyancy.
Did you ever realize what splendid capital there is in good health, a strong, vigorous constitution, which is able to stand any amount of hard work, hard knocks? Did you ever think that the very physical ability to stand a long, persistent strain, great physical reserve, has carried many men and woman through hard times and discordant conditions, under which weaker people would have gone down completely?
He who would get the most out of life must be good to himself. Everywhere we see people who have been trying to pinch and save, paying for it in premonitory indications of discomfort. Does this pay? Does it pay to take so much out of oneself for the sake of putting a little more in the bank; to rob one's life in order to add a little more to one's savings? We must look at life from a higher plane, a longer range, and ask ourselves at the very outset, "What must I do, how conduct myself, how treat myself in order to make the largest success, the completest life possible?"
Do not take a little, narrow, pinched, cheese-paring view of life. It is unworthy of you, and belittling to your possibilities. It is insulting to your Creator, who made you for something large and grand.
Everywhere we see people with little starved experiences, because they are too small to spend money to enlarge themselves by seeing the world and getting a broader education and larger outlook. They have a little money in the bank, but their mental capital is very weak, so that others who took a larger view of life have completely overtopped them in their fuller manhood or womanhood and in greater wealth, too.
Nobody admires a narrow-souled, dried-up man and women who will not invest in books or travel, who will invest in the grosser material property but not in themselves, and whose highest ambition is to save so many dollars.
You can always pick out the man who is so over-anxious about small savings that he loses the larger gain. He radiates smallness, meanness, limitation. His thoughts are pinched, his ideas narrow. He is the small-calibered man who lacks that generosity and breadth which marks the liberal broad-gauged man.
Many men of this type remain at the head of a little two-penny business all their lives because they have never learned the effectiveness of liberality in business. They do not know that a liberal sowing means a liberal harvest. They know nothing of the secret of the larger success of modern business methods.
There is a vast difference between the economy which administers wisely and that niggardly economy which saves for the sake of saving and spends a dime's worth of time to save a penny.
I have never known a man who over-estimated the importance of saving pennies to do things which belong to large minds.
Cheese-paring methods belong to the past. Skimping economies, and stinginess do not pay. The great things today are done on broad lines. It is the liberal-minded person, with a level head and a sound judgment, the person who can see things in their large relations, that succeeds. Large things today must be done in a large way. The liberal policy wins.
Economy, in its broadest sense, involves the highest kind of judgment and level-headedness and breadth of vision. The wisest economy often requires very lavish expenditure, because there may be thousands of dollars depending upon the spending of hundreds. It often means a very broad and generous administration and liberal spending.
Some of the best businessmen I know are generous almost to extravagance with their customers, or in their dealings with people. They think nothing of spending a thousand dollars if they can see two thousand or five thousand coming back from it. But the petty economizers are too narrow in their views, too limited in their outlook, too niggardly in their expenditures ever to measure up to large things. They hold the penny so close to their eyes that it shuts out the dollar. It is bad economy for the farmer to skimp on seed corn. "He that soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly."