There is a growing mentality in America that success happens overnight. Companies go public one day and 50 new millionaires are running about Silicon Valley. Television shows like “Extreme Home Makeover” roll their bus into town and in a few days, a family’s life is forever changed by a new home with gizmos and gadgets the family never dreamed of. We say things like, “When I win the lotto.” I am guilty of that and the funny thing is I have never purchased a lotto ticket. Not one.
We focus on the success and forget about the sweat equity put into achieving it. That’s assuming the sweat equity was fair, transparent and honest. For years we’ve given praise, bought stock and believed in companies that were jokes, frauds. Of course now, we pay the price for these crooks and their schemes to make quick money.
Here’s a very scary part to this mentality, we shop to it. We shop like our bills are paid, the mortgage is paid, the college savings is ready and retirement will afford us 50 years of luxury and bliss. We stack up credit like, something’s big will happen in our future that will settle it all and leave us even more to spend.
So what does this have to do with thrift? First off thrift is a noun, so every time I use it as a verb or adjective my spell check scolds me. The first definition of thrift in Dictionary.com is: economical management; economy; frugality.
Spending with the intent that someday you will win the lottery, your company will go public, that big promotion is just a few months away or your bonus will be huge is wrong. No, it’s stupid. No excuse for it.
I have a set of six leaded crystal tumblers that my great grandmother, born in 1880, purchased. I believe they are Baccarat. Each tumbler is different. Why? Because my Mamaw, though college educated and well off with an educated husband who traveled the country working for various Pulitzer Newspapers, could not smartly afford to buy six at once. She saved money and when she had enough, she bought another and did so until she had a set of six. Today I’m certain the acquisition of a set of six Baccarat tumblers would have been managed quite differently and my grandmother would be appalled. Of course she would mange her words with care for she studied elocution in college, but her disappointment would be clear.
I also imagine that the reverence for the product bought on today's terms would be significantly diminished. I'm not certain what research has been done, but I imagine items that are saved for are held with a higher degree of worth than items that are simply tossed onto a mix of inflated credit accounts. Over one hundred years after their purchase, I still hold those tumblers in esteem for the effort and patience my great grandmother put into acquiring them. I knew my Mamaw, she lived well past one hundred and told me stories of days before people knew cars.
The Golightly home is over 100 years old and is an eclectic mix of items of things purchased at estate sales, yard sales, thrift stores and stuff pulled from the alley. Our snug home did not happen in one week of visits to posh furniture stores to replicate a prefabricated design, it came from years of digging, salvaging and refinishing. And it’s still not finished. It never will be.
Like a life, a home is not built in one obscene week of shopping. A home is a living thing that slowly changes over time. There is no race to finish it, so don’t shop like there is. Make each purchase mean something special to you. Make it treasure. Don't replicate pages of a catalog. Here’s a money saving hint: most treasure is not found at the mall. Treasure requires effort and effort often grows appreciation.