Benjamin Franklin believed living a thrifty lifestyle was a virtue. In Colonial America, thrift was akin to a secular religion because people understood that if people were financially stable they would be good neighbors. They would be able to take care of themselves and they could contribute to the well-being of their less fortunate neighbors. Conspicuous spending and risky investing would have been anathema to early Americans.
Today, the norms have shifted away from common sense. Spending and risky investing are seen as social goods. It makes no sense to me at all.
I believe we need to return to a nation of savers instead of a nation of investors. Save your money in a community bank or a local savings and loan. We have many such tremendous institutions here in Portsmouth that have great reputations for their prudence. Why put your money in a risk-taking investment bank in New York City that could be used to create community capital here? Furthermore, be careful of risky investing. Leave that to the gamblers and the speculators.
I will be talking about thrift at my community discussion as part of our Common Sense Tuesdays lecture series on August 28 in Portsmouth.