In the United States, where we have more land than people, it is
not at all difficult for persons in good health to make money.
In this comparatively new field there are so many avenues of
success open, so many vocations which are not crowded, that any
person of either sex who is willing, at least for the time being,
to engage in any respectable occupation that offers, may find
Those who really desire to attain an independence, have only to
set their minds upon it, and adopt the proper means, as they do in
regard to any other object which they wish to accomplish, and the
thing is easily done. But however easy it may be found to make
money, I have no doubt many of my hearers will agree it is the
most difficult thing in the world to keep it. The road to wealth
is, as Dr. Franklin truly says, ‘as plain as the road to the
It consists simply in expending less than we earn; that seems to
be a very simple problem. Mr. Micawber, one of those happy
creations of the genial Dickens, puts the case in a strong light
when he says that to have annual income of twenty pounds per
annum, and spend twenty pounds and sixpence, is to be the most
miserable of men; whereas, to have an income of only twenty
pounds, and spend but nineteen pounds and sixpence is to be the
happiest of mortals. Many of my readers may say, ‘we understand
this: this is economy, and we know economy is wealth; we know we
can’t eat our cake and keep it also.’ Yet I beg to say that
perhaps more cases of failure arise from mistakes on this point
than almost any other. The fact is, many people think they
understand economy when they really do not.
True economy is misapprehended, and people go through life without
properly comprehending what that principle is. One says, ‘I have
an income of so much, and here is my neighbor who has the same;
yet every year he gets something ahead and I fall short; why is
it? I know all about economy.’ He thinks he does, but he does not.
There are men who think that economy consists in saving cheeseparings
and candle-ends, in cutting off two pence from the
laundress’ bill and doing all sorts of little, mean, dirty things.
Economy is not meanness. The misfortune is, also, that this class
of persons let their economy apply in only one direction. They
fancy they are so wonderfully economical in saving a half-penny
where they ought to spend twopence, that they think they can
afford to squander in other directions.
A few years ago, before kerosene oil was discovered or thought of,
one might stop overnight at almost any farmer’s house in the
agricultural districts and get a very good supper, but after
supper he might attempt to read in the sitting-room, and would
find it impossible with the inefficient light of one candle.