A Scout is Thrifty

Of all of the Scout Laws to explain, this one is the hardest for me. It's also been the hardest for me to keep. I love to spend money, and I hate to save money...or at least know that there is some money I have someplace that I cannot get access to unless I really need it!

When I was younger, my mother taught me about money...what it is, why it is important to have and save it, and how to count it. She ran, from the spare bedroom in our fourth-floor apartment in Ludwigsburg-Aldingen, "Ann's Beauty Salon", complete with a barber/beauty chair and lots of stinky-smelling stuff to make women's hair turn out "just perfect".

She made a lot of money....twice as much as my father's monthly income, which was then only $700. Back then, $1400 a month was a LOT for any person, let alone a Black woman to have, especially when her husband was a Army soldier in Europe. Taxes took most of what she earned, but she did enjoy some of it: she saved to buy a German wall unit, called a "schrank", and proudly displays it in her home. She also saved to buy one of those new Kirby vaccum cleaners that professed to "do everything in the home". It was not a wise choice, but she enjoyed it while she had it. My mom also took some of what she earned, placed it in the bank, and when things got hard, they had that money to pool from. I never knew what "hard times" really was all about, mainly because of my hardworking mother and father and the money they managed to save.

She taught me what a checking account was for, how to make a deposit and a withdrawal, and how to correctly endorse a check. My mother, with the high-school education, taught me these things.

Later, during my Scouting experiences, others added to that education as I started to earn money first by cutting lawns, then by selling small flashlights, and then by my first fulltime job. I learned what was a good investment and what wasn't. I learned how hard it was to market...to sell..an item and how good I was at selling some things (like Scout-O-Rama tickets and those flashlights) and how alful I was in selling other things (raffle tickets and my grass-cutting gig).

But if you asked me at gunpoint what I did with my first $300 I earned during the first month of my fulltime job at Fort Knox, Kentucky....I would have to let you shoot me, because I honestly do not know.

I have tried all kinds of "capturing" items: checkbooks with those "carbonless pages". Automatic Teller Machine cards that tell exactly where the transaction took place and how much was spent. Check registers. Writing it down on a piece of paper. None of it worked.

Being thifty...saving money, spending wisely, and avoiding credit problems....is more important today in your time than it was in mine. Computerization has made the credit report more important to a good job than a resume has been in the past. Why a credit report?? Employers can look and see if you have a degree of self-control. They can examine your record of monthly payments and see if you pay your bills on time or within a reasonable period of time. Or not. Many people will say "That's not right....what I choose to do with my money is my own business, not the business of my boss". They are correct. Those same people, however, are going to be spending the company's monies, using their machinery and equipment, perhaps even driving their company's cars. For those reasons, many employers look at the credit report as one way of ensuring that their "money's worth is being spent wisely."

They are being thrifty and are checking you out as if you were checking out the ingredients in a soup.

Conservation always equate to money. When we conserve our natural resources...our air, water, land and people....we also save money. One of the things that started out as a "fad" was the collection of aluminum cans in the 70s. Today, the collection of not just cans, but anything which can be recycled: paper, plastics, metals, cloth, even body parts....are multi-billion dollar industries. Hard to believe, is it?? That you can save a garbage can's worth of cans and take home around ten to twenty dollars and save a company somewhere around $200 to $350 in costs associated with "creating cans from scratch".

Of course, we have our own motives for conserving our air and water....we use it everyday, and when we do not have it, we literally die. Our bodies are made of air and water, along with minerals and acids from the land miraclously composed into skin, organs and bone. We need the land to feed our bodies and make us grow; we need the water to drink and to flush out our bodily systems; and we need the air to breath and keep our organs working the way they are engineered to work.

Scouting has been on the forefront of conservation and being thrifty since its beginnings in this country. Not only have we encouraged our fellow citizens to grow gardens and to pool together instead of driving separately, Scouting has tackled on those that choose to pollute by offering people...kids...to reappoach and convince companies that they should be finding ways to save the land, water and air instead of messing it up.

Even today, the BSA has a National Conservation Good Turn and the Save Our American Resources (or SOAR) program....one of its most successful national program emphasis. Cubs, Scouts, Explorers and adults at all levels have taken on the polluters and have won in many communities....aided by a wide variety of community and public service agencies.

I did manage to save lunch monies and deposit them into my first savings account at the student Credit Union in my high school...I still consider that a super idea of my high school and the local credit union. I still have some money in that account to this day. I also had $200 taken out of my monthly pay each month and deposited into a savings account Stateside. I'm going to buy a Volkswagon with it, or maybe one of those new small vans that look great!

But many Scouts, like me, still cannot keep a checkbook current nor can we understand that just because we still have checks doesn't mean that we still have money in the checking account! *grinning*. I am not that bad, but I do tend to overspend a lot when I know that I'll have more money coming than I feel I do now. What I really need, now that I'm into computers now, is a good computer program that will manage my money......

....or someone to manage my money for me.

I guess I'd better start out with the computer, huh? Or, as my mom would tell me, "to stop spending your money and start saving it toward something you need and not something you want!"

Great advice, for a Scout...or for anyone.


(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle)

© 1996 Settummanque! for Blackeagle Services, Mike Walton

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