• Today's Daily Devotion
Thrift and Luxury
One morning meal took the frugal Franklin by surprise. “My breakfast was a long time bread and milk (no tea), and I ate it out of a two-penny earthen porringer, with ...

Thrift and Luxury

One morning meal took the frugal Franklin by surprise.

“My breakfast was a long time bread and milk (no tea), and I ate it out of a two-penny earthen porringer, with a pewter spoon,” Benjamin Franklin wrote of his humble dinnerware, a badge of his thrift. “But mark how luxury will enter families, and make a progress, in spite of principle: being call’d one morning to breakfast, I found it in a China bowl, with a spoon of silver!” he stated incredulously.

This luxurious upgrade in tableware shocked his fingers as much as any electricity he would ever feel from his kite string. If diligence dictated his business, frugality framed Franklin’s home. Like many young couples, Benjamin and Deborah Franklin had started their life together on a meager income in 1730. But as his printing press and other businesses prospered, Franklin continued to live more like a pauper than a prince. One day his wife splurged by purchasing a china bowl and silver spoon for twenty-three shillings. She had no excuse, except she thought her husband deserved a silver spoon and china bowl after spending years of saving more pennies than he spent.

Frugality was as essential to Franklin’s religion as paper was to his press. Quakers at that time often expelled members if their businesses went bankrupt or if they fell into debt. Franklin embraced tightly the value of economy. Thrift kept Franklin’s pocketbook zipped.

“We have an English proverb that says, ‘He that would thrive, must ask his wife.’ It was lucky for me that I had one as much dispos’d to industry and frugality as myself. She assisted me cheerfully in my business, folding and stitching pamphlets, tending shop, purchasing old linen rags for the paper-makers, etc., etc. We kept no idle servants, our table was plain and simple, our furniture of the cheapest,” Franklin reflected.

Franklin shared his philosophy with the public. He often included pithy sayings about thrift and diligence in his annual almanac. “When you are inclined to buy chinaware, chintzes, India silks, or any other of their flimsy, slight manufactures … all I advise is to put it off till another year, and this, in some respects, may prevent an occasion of repentance.”

Franklin believed frugality applied to both time and money. “He that idly loses five shillings’ worth of time loses five shillings, and might as prudently throw five shillings into the sea,” he warned.

Franklin did not chase after money or time like the wind. He preferred to let his kite follow the wind in hopes of catching electricity. Benjamin Franklin proved that industry and productivity are worth far more than material extravagances. He loved life more than money and thrift more than time.


May I find my contentment in you and not in my income. Keep me from the trap of thinking the money I have is never enough.

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless”

(Ecclesiastes 5:10).

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