TO EARN money is easy compared with spending it well; anybody may dig up potatoes, but it is not one woman in ten that can cook them. Men do not become rich by what they get but by what they save. Many men who have money are as short of wit as a hog is of wool; they are under the years of discretion though they have turned forty, and make ducks and drakes of hundreds as boys do of stones. What their fathers got with the rake, they throw away with the shovel. After the miser comes the prodigal. Often men say of the spendthrift that his old father was no man's friend but his own, and now his son is no man's enemy but his own: the fact is, the old gentleman went to hell by the lean road, and his son has made up his mind to go there by the fat. As soon as the spendthrift gets his estate, it goes like a lump of butter in a greyhound's mouth. All his days are the first of April; he would buy an elephant at a bargain or thatch his house with pancakes.
Nothing is too foolish to tickle his fancy; his money burns holes in his pocket, and he must squander it, all the while boasting that his motto is, "Spend, and God will send." He will not stay till he has his sheep before he shears them; he forestalls his income, draws upon his capital, and so kills the goose which lays the golden eggs, and then cries out, who would have thought it?" He never spares at the brim, but he means to save at the bottom. He borrows at high interest of Rob Them, Cheat Them, and Sell Them-up, and when he gets cleaned out, he lays it all either upon the lawyers or else on the bad times. Times never were good for lazy prodigals; and if they were good to them, they would be bad for all the world besides. Why men should be in such a hurry to make themselves beggars is a mystery; but nowadays, what with betting at horse races, laziness, and speculating, there seems to be a regular four-horse coach running to Needham every day. Ready money must be quite a curiosity to some men, and yet they spend like lords. They are gentlemen without means, which is much the same as plum puddings without plums.
Spending your money with many a guest, Empties the larder, the cellar, and chest.
If a little gambling is thrown in with the fast living, money melts like a snowball in an oven. A young gambler is sure to be an old beggar if he lives long enough.
The devil leads him by the nose, Who the dice so often throws.
There are more asses than those with four legs. I am sorry to say they are found among working men as well as fine gentlemen. Fellows who have no estate but their labor, and no family arms except those they work with, will spend their little hard earnings at the bar or in waste. No sooner are their wages paid than away they go to the "Spotted Dog," or the "Marquis of Granby," to contribute their share of fools' pence towards keeping up the landlord's red face and round potbelly. Drinking water neither makes a man sick nor in debt, nor does it make his wife a widow, and yet some men hardly know the flavor of it; but beer guzzled down as it is by many a working man is- nothing better than brown ruin. Dull droning blockheads sit on the ale bench and wash out what little sense they ever had.
However, I believe that farming people are a deal better managers with their money than Londoners are, for though their money is very little, their families look nice and tidy on Sundays. True, the rent isn't so bad in a village as in the town, and there's a bit of garden; still, those Londoners earn a good deal of money, and they have many chances of buying in a cheap market which the poor countryman has not. On the whole, I think it's very good management which keeps a family going on ten shillings a week in the country, and bad management that can't pay its way on five-and- twenty in London. Why, some families are as merry as mice in malt on very small wages, and others are as wretched as rats in a trap on double the amount. Those who wear the shoe know best where it pinches, but economy is a fine thing, and makes ninepence go further than a shilling. Some make Soup out of a flint, and others can't get nourishment out of gravy beef. Some go to shop with as much wit as Samson had in both his shoulders, but no more. They do not buy well; they have not sense to lay out their money to advantage.
Buyers ought to have a hundred eyes, but these have not even half a one, and they do not open that. Well was it said that if fools did not go to market, bad wares would never be sold. They never get a pennyworth for their penny, and this is often because they are on the hunt for cheap things and forget that generally the cheapest is the dearest; one cannot buy a good shilling's worth of a bad article. When there's five eggs for a penny, four of them are rotten. Poor men often buy in very small quantities and so pay through the nose; for a man who buys by the pennyworth keeps his own house and another man's. Why not get two or three weeks' supply at once, and so get it cheaper? Store is no sore. People are saving at the wrong place and spoil the ship for a half penny's worth of tar. Others look after small savings and forget greater things; they are penny wise and pound foolish; they spare at the spigot, and let all run away at the bunghole.
Some buy things they don't want because they are great bargains; let me tell them that what they do not want is dear at a farthing. Fine dressing makes a great hole in poor people's means. Whatever does John Ploughman and others as work hard for their daily bread want with silks and satins? It's like a blacksmith wearing a white silk apron. I hate to see a servant girl or a laborer's daughter decked out as if she thought people would take her for a lady. Why, everybody knows a tadpole from a fish; nobody mistakes a poppy for a rose. Give me a woman in a nice neat dress, clean and suitable, and for beauty she will beat the flashy young hussies all to pieces. If a girl has got a few shillings to spare, let her buy a good bit of flannel for the winter, before she is tempted with bright looking but useless finery. Buy what suits yourself to wear, and if it does not suit other people to look at, let them shut their eyes. All women are good either for something or for nothing, and their dress will generally tell you which.
I suppose we all find the money goes quite fast enough, but after all it was made to circulate, and there's no use in hoarding it. It is bad to see our money become a runaway servant and leave us, but it would be worse to have it stop with us and become our master. We should try, as our minister says, "to find the golden mean," and neither be lavish nor stingy. He has his money best spent who has the best wife. The husband may earn money, but only the wife can save it. "A wise woman buildeth her house, but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." The wife it seems, according to Solomon, is the builder or the real puller down. A man cannot prosper till he gets his wife's leave. A thrifty housewife is better than a great income. A good wife and health are a man's best wealth. Bless their hearts, what should we do without them? It is said they like to have their own way, but then the proverb says, FA wife ought to have her will during life, because she cannot make one when she dies." The weather is so melting that I cannot keep up this talk any longer, and therefore I shall close with an old fashioned rhyme:
"Heaven bless the wives, they fill our hives - With little bees and honey! They soothe life's shocks, they mend our socks, But don't they spend the money!"