“Isn’t it a pity,” we hear people say, “that, with all his brains, he hasn’t sense enough to make himself presentable?” But the worst phase of the situation is that the unkempt man sooner or later loses faith in himself and either ceases to hoard at the expense of his gentility or he gives up his opportunity to mingle with others and lapses into habits consistent with miserly thoughts.
The phrase “a happy medium” is well known and decidedly applicable to the subject of saving as we go along so that we may avert the sorrows which follow in the wake of living beyond our means. It suggests a desirable middle course which permits us to adopt a sane policy, rather than flying to an extreme.
It cannot be said that we are living beyond our means when by reason of our association with men of affairs we need to spend more money and thereby save less in preparing ourselves for the larger opportunities which will naturally follow. Young men often go through college on their “uppers,” so to speak. There is not a cent which they could honestly save as they went along without cheating themselves. The point is that their situations in life force them to spend rather than to save money. But in so doing the real saving was in the spending thereof. They enlarged their knowledge and decreased their bank accounts for the time being. What man parts with in an emergency is no license, however, for him to fall back into profligacy. Never should a man entirely lose the idea of putting something by. The college boy in this case has simply invested his money in an education instead of a bank account.
Once on the highroad of life with a plan of action well defined and a regular income the habit of putting money away should become a fixed procedure. In no other way do we accumulate except by investment, and investment means putting away money at interest or in some project which promises better returns.
If we were to interview a thousand men on the subject of saving and draw upon their experiences we would find that by investing money at interest we pursue the safest course, far safer, in fact, than the seeking of outside investments that promise greater returns. The latter invites the mind away from the regular avocation and educates it in time to take chances that are likely to turn into setbacks. The mind, instead of applying itself to the duty of making the most out of its regular employment, allows its interest to become scattered over too broad a field.
It is not within the province of all men to become wealthy and, after all, wealth is not the only desideratum; the happiest of mortals are found in the middle walks of life and not in the extremes. The struggle should be to escape the life which saps our strength, keeps our nerves on edge and drives us away from the green pastures.