I’m probably not the best person to talk about being thrifty. Then again, when I hear about others who are mired in staggering credit card debt and floating in denial, I think, “Yeah, I’m pretty good at managing my resources, after all.” I haven’t had to freeze my credit cards in a block of ice. I indulge in baking therapy, not shopping therapy. Our house will be paid for before we’re done paying college tuition for our youngest, no doubt. But there’s always room for improvement.
Thriftiness doesn’t mean “be a tightwad or a miser” either. It implies a prudence, care, or wisdom when it comes to the use of time, money, and resources. Thrift is the opposite of wastefulness.
Interestingly, thrift also means “vigorous growth” when it comes to plant life, and originally referred to prosperity and the acquisition of wealth or success. It shares its roots with the verb, “to thrive.”
To be thrifty with money is a good start, but we should be mindful of other ways to be thrifty:
- To be respectful of other people’s time;
- To spend others’ money with as much – or more – care than we spend our own;
- To keep shared spaces, such as parks, clean, safe, and enjoyable for all;
- To protect the health of our air, our water, and our land;
- To reduce, reuse, and recycle.
We can sock our money away in the bank, but it’s nothing if we can’t breathe, find clean drinking water, or satiate our hunger from safe food sources. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to others, to the current generation and those to come, to be good stewards to the planet. I remember how some adults scoffed and condescended to us budding activists in middle school, in the 1970s, as we made posters to “Stop Littering” and “Save the Whales” and “Save the Baby Harp Seals.” We were convinced it could be done; they were convinced we were very, very young.
Their fault was in letting us stay up so late. When the three available TV channels went off the air, we saw this:
It seems overwhelming, and it is enough to make you cry. But look at the state of our roadways today. In the 1970s, roadside litter was a common eyesore and a nuisance. If there were laws to prohibit it, there was little enforcement – laws protecting the environment had no teeth.
As public awareness of the health hazards inherent in toxic waste grew, and several horrific incidents, like the situation at Love Canal, brought it media attention, change – gradually – began to take place. Environmentalists are “thrifty” – expensive as it may be to clean up toxic waste, how much more costly would it be to ignore the problem and let it grow?
To live a good and successful life, it’s not enough to survive; aim to thrive!