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I wrote on my blog about some advice from Abe Lincoln. I wanted to expand on one point here because it fits into one of our main points: Giving & Stewardship.

Here’s what I wrote on the blog:

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. (Abe Lincoln)

For all you young folks out there, THRIFT means saving money, living a more frugal lifestyle and not wasting money frivolously. America is destroying its historical prosperity by discouraging thrift. How?

Purchasing "lifestyle" on credit is the biggest culprit. The average credit card debt for Americans is $14,000 each (I would bet its more than that). We have "stuff" coming out our ears: multiple cars, TV’s, electronic gadgets, clothing, etc. We live a lifestyle of voracious consumption, entertainment and leisure, always wanting newer, faster, better and more expensive so that we can show off our "status". Ironically, the average person who displays a high level of wealth visually, usually are the ones who are in the most debt. People who develop financial discipline, have no debt, and use money wisely, typically have very modest looking levels of lifestyle. The former LOOKS wealthy, the latter actually is. It would seem in American that "image over substance" reigns supreme.

That’s what I wrote on my blog. Here are some more thoughts…

America discourages THRIFT relentlessly through ads, commercials, offers, enticements, false illusions of lifestyle and endless extensions of credit.

This issue of lifestyle, and appearance of status is VERY important to those who want to truly become financially free. As I often emphasize, I didn’t say "filthy rich" because that is not how I define financial freedom. Even if you are wealthy, you are not truly FREE if you don’t have the right attitudes and discipline about money.

"Thrift" is a lost art, a lost term and lost way of life in most of America. Even our "poor" are not thrifty. Thrift is not being stingy or miserly. Thrift is learning not to be wasteful, not giving into the lure of lifestyle, and not financing a greater lifestyle than we can afford by using credit.

Thrift is driving a 5 year old, decent car rather than financing a new car with nice rims, tinted windows and a killer sound system. It’s driving a car that is clean, well maintained and fulfills the need of transportation… rather than financing a car that says "look how cool I am" or "wow, you must really be doing well financially".

Thrift is not buying a house you can’t afford that takes half your income because you want to live a certain level of lifestyle, around a certain type of people and appear to have certain level of success.

Thrift is not buying brand name clothes in department stores rather than paying .10 cents on the dollar at garage sales or thrift stores. Why? So you can appear to be "in style" and again, to have a certain level of status. I’m not talking about wearing rags, and appearing "poor". I’m not even talking about wearing old and used looking clothes. If you go to garage sales, and thrift stores, there are MOUNTAINS of brand name clothes in new or almost new condition. People buy tons of clothes on credit cards that they barely wear, then put out in garage sales. Let them buy it on credit at ridiculous prices, then you buy it from them with cash and a 95% discount.

Thrift is not eating out three or four times a week paying 10-20 times higher prices for food. Thrift is not buying so much pre-packaged and prepared foods for convenience, spending 5-10 times as much for it.

Thrift is a mindset, a discipline that can discern those things you really don’t need, won’t use or can wait for. Thrift is a commitment to buying nothing you cannot truly afford, and buying nothing on credit, with the possible exception of a mortgage.[TIPJAR]

Thrift is learning that LIFESTYLE is more about financial discipline and wise stewardship than about the image you put out for other people to see, or the fulfillment of "immediate gratification" buying things we cannot afford on credit simply because you want it.

We first have to learn this lesson as adults and parents… then teach it to our children. Unfortunately, the lesson we most often teach our kids is "more, more, more" and instant gratification. We do this under the guise of wanting our children "to have more than I had". It’s a hard lesson that kids have to UN-learn as adults, most frequently when they are already up to their eyeballs in debt.

Thrift… live it, learn it, love it… it’s a big part of true financial freedom, and has NOTHING to do with being stingy, pretending to be poor, or living a dull life devoid of fun or the occasional indulgence. It has everything to do with relieving financial stress, becoming immune to the constant pounding drum of consumerism, and the true enjoyment of financial blessings from God.