Century Old Modern Advice

One of the modern advisors of dealing with money, Dave Ramsey, will tell you that his advice isn’t new and that it is how grandma dealt with money. That grandma’s views on the world matches with more modern ones is evident in T.D. MacGregor’s The Book of Thrift which was copyrighted in 1915 (I have a 1916 copy), especially in the Household Efficiency chapter. Perhaps the best statement that translates to Ramsey’s views on money is the line “Don’t go into debt. Charge-accounts are vampires.” With our modern fascination with vampires this makes for an interesting comparison.

There are other great quotes that when paraphrased with modern wording would not sound out of place in the Total Money Makeover. For example, “If you always pay cash you can get better bargains” would take minimal little rewording to match Ramsey’s description about going into a furniture store with a stack of Benjamins in his hands. Other phrases in the book are filled with advice that sound rather modern if not usually found in financially minded YouTube videos.

In the Household Efficiency chapter, there is a discussion of buying food in bulk rather than in individual packaging. While it focuses on the economics of buying in bulk rather than the Eco-friendliness of the concept, this is a practice that is regaining favor with many. Shortly after mentioning bulk packaging, it discusses how “meat is the costliest staple article of food, and most people eat too much of it” which to be honest is still a common problem. Our love of certain foods has not changed very much since the “Great European War” (which is how the book refers to WWI).

Our so called modern diets can be described succinctly by the book as “We eat too much. We need simplicity in our diet. We eat too much sugar and starch.” Despite being the words being nearly 103 years old (it was originally published in June of 1915), the views are very modern and perhaps shows to what extent we Americans have or have not changed in the last century. I think that my favorite word in the book so far would have to be “extravagantitis.” T.D. MacGregor calls this “a weakness of American life in general” and this weakness has not gone away regardless of the generation. The age of words may be irrelevant if they speak or ring true. Perhaps, they can be more profound the older they are.

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