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Published by aravindpunna

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Published by: aravindpunna on Feb 23, 2013
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The Sum of Trifles
OR,"A PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY GAINED."SAVING? Don't talk to me about saving!" said one journeyman mechanic to another. "What can a man with awife and three children save out of eight dollars a week?""Not much, certainly," was replied. "But still, if he is careful, he may save a little.""Precious little!" briefly returned the other, with something like contempt in his tone."Even a little is worth saving," was answered to this. "You know the old proverb, 'Many littles make a mickle.'Fifty cents laid by every week will amount to twenty-six dollars in a year.""Of course, that's clear enough. And a dollar saved every week will give the handsome sum of fifty-two dollarsa year. Bat how is the half-dollar or the dollar to be saved, I should like to know? I can't do it, I am sure.""I can, then, and my family is just as large as yours, and my wages no higher.""If you say so, I am bound to believe you, but I must own myself unable to see how you do it. Pray, how muchdo you save?""I have saved about seventy-five dollars a year for the last two years.""You have!" in surprise."Yes, and I have it all snugly in the Savings' Bank.""Bless me! How have you possibly managed to do this? For my part, it is as much as I can do to keep out of debt. My wife is as hard-working, saving a woman as is to be found anywhere. But all won't do. I expect mynose will be at the grindstone all my life.""How much does your tobacco cost you, Johnson?" asked his companion."Nothing, to speak of. A mere trifle," replied the man named Johnson."A shilling a week?""About that.""And you take something to drink, now and then?""Nothing but a little beer. I never use any thing stronger.""I suppose you never take, on an average, more than a glass a day?""No, nor that."
"But you occasionally ask a friend to take a glass with you?""Of course, that is a thing we all must do, sometimes--""Which will make the cost to you about equal to a glass a day?""I suppose it will; but that's nothing.""Six glasses a week at sixpence each, will make just the sum of three shillings, which added to the cost of tobacco, will make fifty cents a week for beer and tobacco, or what would amount to a hundred dollars and over in four years.""Dear knows, a poor mechanic has few enough comforts without depriving himself of trifles like these," saidJohnson."By giving up such trifles as these, for trifles they really are, permanent and substantial comforts may be gained.But, besides chewing tobacco and drinking beer, you indulge yourself in a plate of oysters, now and then, doyou not?""Certainly I do. A hard-working man ought to be allowed to enjoy himself a little sometimes.""And this costs you two shillings weekly?" said the persevering friend."At least that," was replied."How often do you take a holiday to yourself?""Not often. I do it very rarely.""Not oftener than once a month?""No.""As often?""Yes, I suppose I take a day for recreation about once in a month, and that is little enough, dear knows.""You spend a trifle at such times, of course?""Never more than half a dollar. I always limit myself to that, for I cannot forget that I am a poor journeymanmechanic.""Does your wife take a holiday, too?" asked the friend, with something significant in his look and tone."No," was replied. "I often try to persuade her to do so; but she never thinks she can spare time. She has all thework to do, and three children to see after; and one of them, you know, is a baby.""Do you know that this day's holiday once a month, costs you exactly twenty-two dollars a year?""No, certainly not, for it costs no such thing."
"Well, let us see. Your wages per day come to one dollar thirty-three cents and one-third. This sum multiplied by twelve, the number of days lost in the year, gives sixteen dollars. Half a dollar spent a day for twelve daysmakes six dollars, and six dollars added to sixteen amount to twenty-two. Now, have I not calculated it fairly?""I believe you have," replied Johnson, in an altered tone. "But I never could have believed it.""Add to this, thirteen dollars a year that you pay for oysters, and you have--""Not so fast, if you please. I spend no such sum as you name, in oysters.""Let us try our multiplication again," coolly remarked the friend. "Twenty-five cents a week multiplied intofifty-two weeks, gives exactly thirteen dollars. Isn't it so?""Humph! I believe you are right. But I never would have thought of it.""Add this thirteen dollars to the twenty-two it costs you for twelve holidays in the year, and this again to the price of your beer and tobacco, and you will have just sixty-one dollars a year that might be saved. A little morecareful examination into your expenses, would, no doubt, detect the sum of fourteen dollars that might be aswell saved as not, which added to the sixty-one dollars, will make seventy-five dollars a year uselessly spent,the exact sum I am able to put into the Savings' Bank."Johnson was both surprised and mortified, at being thus convinced of actually spending nearly one-fifth of hisentire earnings in self-gratification of one kind or another. He promised both himself and his friend, that hewould at once reform matters, and try to get a little a-head, as he had a growing family that would soon be muchmore expensive than it was at present.Some months afterward, the friend who had spoken so freely to Johnson, met him coming out of a tavern, andin the act of putting tobacco in his mouth. The latter looked a little confused, but said with as much indifferenceas he could assume:"You see I am at my old tricks again?""Yes, and I am truly sorry for it. I was in hopes you were going to practice a thorough system of economy, inorder to get beforehand.""I did try, but it's no use. As to giving up tobacco, that is out of the question. I can't do it. Nor could you, if youhad ever formed the bad habit of chewing or smoking.""We can do almost any thing, if we try hard enough, Johnson. We fail, because we give up trying. My tobaccoand cigars used to cost me just twice what yours cost you, and yet I made a resolution to abandon the use of thevile weed altogether, and what is better, have kept my resolution. So, you see, the thing can be done. All that iswanted, is sufficient firmness and perseverance. I used to like a glass of ale, too, and a plate of oysters, but Isaw that the expense was rather a serious matter, and that the indulgence did not do me a particle of good. So Igave them up, also; and if you try hard enough, you can do it, too.""I don't know--perhaps I might; but somehow or other, it strikes me that seventy or eighty dollars a year, laid byin the Savings' Bank, is rather a dear saving, if made at the expense of every comfort a poor man has. Whatgood is the money going to do?""A strange question, that, to ask, Johnson. I will tell you what good it is going to do me. I intend saving everycent I can possibly lay by, until I get five hundred dollars; and then I mean to set up my trade for myself, and

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