Thursday, July 23, 2015

To Earn and Not to Spend

Country Driveway at Mrs. White's Vermont Home

In Colonial days, girls and young ladies were taught diligence and productivity.  Some of the things they were trained to do:

1. Cook all the meals, keep a garden, and preserve food. 

2. Wash, dry and iron clothing, and do mending to make everything last.

3. They often had a loom in their homes where they would take wool from the sheep and process it into some usable material to make clothes for the family.

4.  They were taught embroidery, and cross stitching.  Girls would do their needlework in a "sampler" with sayings, proverbs, and poems that had great meaning.

One of the poems presented diligence and hard work in the home, ending with the words:

"To Earn and Not to Spend." *

This reminded me of the book, "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The mother was incredibly productive and prudent in her homemaking.  She made pies and bread and stews.  She made sure her children were washed and clean and that they wore carefully kept clothing. If there was a rip in a shirt or in a dress, she would sew it up, as she sat by the fire in the evenings.  Mothers, in those days, had work baskets in the parlour.  This is where they would do their handwork after the chores were finished for the day.  There was a time for everything and a time for each task.  There was order in the home.  This was the secret to a comfortable, peaceful life.

These Mothers had abundance from their gardens and they would fill the pantry shelves and root cellars with plenty of food. This cost them nothing but labor.  This was part of "earning" and not "spending."    

Today, there are many ways we mothers are "spending" money that might not be best.

I used to stock up on (many) large cans of coffee when they were marked down in price, thinking I was saving Mister money.  But lately, I have come to realize that this excessive inventory was tying up money that was needed for the savings bank.  It was needed for "rainy days" and for other needs.   It put me into the mode of always stocking up on many different things to the point that money was being spent on a monthly basis to "save" rather than taking all that money and putting it into the bank.

The definition of "saving" used to mean putting it aside, not trading it for goods or services.

Today, we are told that we are "saving money" when we buy things.  This is part of the problem of we mothers losing our productivity in the home. We are not as diligent in our work of producing. We are too busy consuming, buying all kinds of things.  We are taught to buy all the time.

I love the simple poem from the old days that urges ladies -

 "To Earn and Not to Spend."

These are certainly wise words, from just a simple sampler stitched by young ladies from Colonial days.

Mrs. White

* [Edited  - updated note:  I originally read the saying mentioned above in a book, but have found it in its entirety and included it below for those who are interested.]

 “A Dialogue between a thriving Tradesman and his Wife about the Education of Their Daughter.”

Prithee, good Madam, let her first be able,
To read a Chapter truly, in the Bible,
That she may’nt mispronounce God’s People, Popel,
Nor read Cunstable for Constantinople;
Make her expert and ready at her Prayers,
That God may keep her from the Devil's Snares;
Teach her what’s useful, how to shun deluding,
To roast, to toast, to boil and mix a pudding.
To knit, to spin, to sew, to make or mend,
To scrub, to rub, to earn and not to spend,
I tell thee Wife, once more, I’ll have her bred
To Book’ry, Cook’ry, Thimble, Needle, Thread.

  - Boston Evening - Post, December 10, 1744. 

Mrs. White's special book for homemakers:"Introduction to Home Economics:  Gentle Instruction to Find Joy in Christian Homemaking." Paperback, 200 pages. 

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Jane said...

Wonderful post! I read many frugal blogs and mainly the emphasis is upon saving money by getting good buys. I was always taught the best way to save money is not to spend any. We grow most of our food and preserve it and eat what we grow. Some might think it's a boring diet, but there's a special sort of satisfaction that comes from it. After all, it's only food, and it's purpose is to nourish us, not amuse us.


Karen Andreola said...

Wise words from a wise lady. Thank you.
Your verse took my notice as I am stitching a reproduction of a girlhood sampler (my particular interest and hobby).

I feel like I am being fooled when I hear that I am supposed to be "saving" money by buying something on sale. I have to admit to buying something mostly for the reason that it was on sale and I "sort of" needed it. Your reminder is a good one. I have, however, waited for something to go on sale.

A penny saved is a penny earned - a verse I was brought up with. -Karen

becky said...

How timely is your post. Just today I canned 3 qts. of spaghetti sauce from our tomatoes. I baked 1 &1/2 doz. Blueberry muffins from the berry patch, I baked a chocolate cake from scratch, and made a nice chicken dinner. Now I am getting ready to snap green beans from the garden:) I am ready for bed!!

Debbie said...

Such a great reminder! I often felt this way when using coupons. I would buy things because I didn't want to waste the coupon! What a backwards mindset!

Blessings to you :)

Lisa said...

Thanks for your wise words, Mrs. White. Seems summertime has become a time of leisure, of hanging out, rather than of work, of preparing, of diligence. What a wonderful reminder that the work we do in our home all summer long is meaningful and that I'm not a mean mom when I make my kiddos work chopping and stacking wood, filling the kindling box, weeding the garden, harvesting and replanting, helping in the kitchen, preserving what we've grown... Not that we shouldn't enjoy a few lazy days by the river -- what a rewarding way to celebrate work accomplished and the beautiful weather of summer -- a gift from God! Love the quote and find that I struggle with stocking up to save; I'll have to think on this.
xo Lisa :)

Jennifer Williams said...

I am so glad for your post today. After many years of abundance, our financial situation has recently taken a turn for the worse due to changes in my husband's job. I have been reading a lot on "living on less" and praying about how God would have us learn to live differently. I have been talking to my older children about changing our spending habits, and I can see that we made a mistake in not teaching them this concept when they were younger, because it is like a foreign concept to them now. They are willing but the actual doing might take some practice! :-) I was raised by loving parents who had very little, and was taught by my mother how to live frugally. But then I married and didn't have to live frugally and therefore I got out of the habit of saving. Now that I am having to really cut back, I wish that I had been living that way for the last 30 years of marriage. But God is good, and I am making little baby steps in changing our lifestyle. So reading encouraging thoughts like your post really help me. God bless!

Anonymous said...

Wise and insightful, as usual. I have stopped buying things that are on sale. Sales are going all the time anyway. If I need spagetti sauce I can always find a good brand on sale, or I can buy the offbrand. Also I find if I have a lot of something stocked up I tend to use it up faster. I do stock up in the fall, so I don't have to go out in the winter. Love the poem. Do you have the rest of it? Would love to read the whole thing.~Diane

I Am: Anna Lovely Day said...

I simply want to thank you for taking the time to write about this. I always feel grateful to read your words because I can't seem to find other mothers who feel this way. I do what I know will be good for my family with the minimal income we have coming in. Thank you!

Renee said...

Interesting post and timely. My daughter and I just learned to make rugs out of cut up strips of old clothes. It was a busy summer day working with our hands. It brought a bit of peace and contentment. It's a good feeling to do something resourceful. I need to do this more often. Always look forward to your posts.:)

Deanna said...

Words to think on...earn and not spend.
Enjoyed reading your post.
Always do!

Jennifer said...

Thank you for sharing on this subject! I have been learning so much about earning and not spending. It's a real blessing to our family and I'm trying to teach my girls as well.

Anonymous said...

God always gives you a fresh slant on things. Such a sweet spirit when you advise us all. I think it silly when the clerk gives you your grocery receipt and clerk tells you you saved $5.97 today. I did not save that much cause if the product had not been on a good sale and I needed it I would not have bought it. That $5.97 is not in my hand but only in the imagination. Also to have to have a special card to even get these savings is a disgrace. We seldom buy anything but our milk at such stores. Yet we are taking our time to do things that over time mean nothing. What is excess blog watching going to mean to us later? Will God later tell us we wasted time He had He wanted us to use otherwise? How much time does this and other activities take from our family and activities we should be doing? We say we haven't enough hours in the day but women have always had 24 hours. Look what they used to do with it! What does all this blog searching really get us? We watch tv and DIY shows but how much do we Actually do of the thing we see? :-) I am preaching to myself here too.
I do believe in a pantry but it can become an obsession. At this very moment I have my dehydrator going to catch the summers bounty. Sox to mend by my chair for later. Oh so many things to do but doing it gives such satisfaction doesn't it. Fruit trees today needing fertilizer. Hubby's shirts to iron. Grandchildren to instruct.
I enjoyed your definition of saving as it is today verses yesterday. So true. I hope your husband is getting better every day. Thank you again for taking the time out of your busy life to write to us. Sarah

Lady Locust said...

So true! I have read so many personal finance books, (I find them encouraging) and they often suggest buying one item that is less expensive rather than another more costly item. My thought is usually, "Neither is necessary. Don't buy any." It just keeps me on track:)
Thank you for this post - a great reminder.

Kid Minds said...

I agree with you! I used to think I was saving by shopping at Costco. Then I realized that I was buying way WAY more than we actually needed! We are definitely not saving by "buying more." So true!

Unknown said...

This is what I've been trying to be at peace with for some time! Everyone says you need to just buy on sale but my friends don't have available cash for savings or for home improvements, as needed but their pantries are full of "on sale" items. While there's nothing wrong with stocking up during a sale, sometimes you need cash.

As a result I shop for one week at a time. We are a family of 9, including 7 children 12 and under. Often, by the second week there's still so much left over from the first week that we need substantially less money on the second week than the first. This is a huge blessing! If I shopped for 2 weeks I'd spend a lot more and probably waste more thinking I needed all of this!

I often feel guilty for not having an overflowing fridge or pantry (yes there are beans and rice and flour in abundance but not much else in excess) but we have available cash and that blesses my husband more than toothpaste on sale!

This is my first time reading your blog and I love it! Thank you for such gentle, sweet and humble advice. It blesses my heart and is encouraging me! May the Lord bless you!

Laura in AZ said...

Hi Mrs. White,

I love your latest post. I've learned the hard way that when I stock pile, food sometimes expires before we get to it. I'm not saving money at all if I end up throwing away food that's unopened, yet (WAY!) beyond its expiration date.
Speaking of colonial days,your post also reminded me of a poem my children learned years ago when we were studying about the Pilgrims:

"Wistful waste brings woeful want
And you may live to say
How I wish I had that crust
That once I threw away."

Thank you the great topic.

Logan'sLops said...

Mrs. White, can you share the rest of the poem? I tried to find it on google and couldn't find it. Thank you for all that you do, Jennifer in Florida

Unknown said...

Such wise words. Thank you for sharing from your years of experience with us at Good Morning Mondays. I so appreciate it that you take the time to link up. Blessings to you and yours.

Unknown said...

This is wise advice. I'm reminded of the words of Ben Franklin (I think)--"A penny saved is a penny earned." Lately I've been noticing that a penny saved is way more than a penny earned. If you figure in the taxes, that is. Thanks for this timely and needed message.

A Woman that Fears the Lord said...

A lot to think about in this post! Thank you!

Mrs. Laura Lane said...

I'm so glad to read the rest of the poem. I find that if I have too much of anything on hand, I sometimes end up wasting.
A few years ago, we were given a large supply of toothpaste. Free toothpaste for at least a year, BUT the end result was more expensive. The children use far more toothpaste than I originally taught them to use. So, we now go through a tube nearly every week!

God bless!
Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage