I think that personal economy is a good thing. Distinguished from stinginess (ungenerousness) and cheapness (unwillingness to pay for quality), personal economy is intellectually rewarding and charitable.

The intellectual reward lies in the sense of organization and purpose, and in the awareness of discipline and self-possession. The charity is derived from savings on self.

My own personal economy is highly imperfect. I’m barely a lieutenant in the ranks of personal economists. I routinely make my own bread and biscuits from scratch. Dry beans are frequently seen to boil. I have eschewed subscriptions to cable TV and Internet. I save odds and ends that others might throw away, knowing that I can put them to use.

But I suffer from a lack of planning. I might have eaten today from my lunchbox as I often have, but I didn’t pack my lunch last night. This is how Taco Bell stays in business. It’s how the poor stay poor. Improvidence is the mother of Want.

It would be shallow of me to discuss only the saving of money. Time matters more. The shrewd management of time may earn us any amount of money. Money, in itself, can’t earn us a minute.

It can’t be far wrong to say that five minutes of planning is worth an hour of labor. What planning earns in saved accidents and back-tracking is more than time. It saves the temper, which improves the quality of life.

It would be wonderful to know how people might act if they reckoned their acts before they committed them. If you informed someone that he infallibly took a minute to read a page in an average book and that therefore the book he now proposed to read would engage fully 12 hours of his time, would he still read it?

The reckoning of personal economy teaches value by forcing us to look at prices. When we realize that the 730-page history of brothels will absorb us for the length of time necessary to take a 20-mile walk, with plenty left over to cook, eat dinner and repair the door knob on the closet, we may or may not read the brothel book. We will, in any case, make some comparison.

The awareness of value makes acts more meaningful because more thoughtful. When a man’s acts are prioritized and regimented, planned and priced, he is at least acquainted with his own reasons. Some would hardly know their reasons if they were printed and nailed to a wall.

If people looked after one another, they might bring each other up on short rations so everyone would learn to make do. Then, however life turned, no one would lose his sense of value and purpose, and no one would be proud of luxuries.

"The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little."

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