My uncle Thurman lived across the steet and down the block from us when I was a kid. He seemed to have a comfortable life. But I doubt he was rich, at least not in the commonly envied 1% level.
I did wonder, however, how he seemed to do it. He owned his own business – a small two bay car repair business with a smaller auto parts store in the next room. His cars were always new or nearly so. And he had a nice house on a corner lot across the street from his shop and store.
I visited there much later and life and realized how small his house is and how limited his business would have been. Nonetheless over time, he did well and retired comfortably. His widow, my aunt, outlived him by many years and enjoyed a comfortable autumn of life.
Why did he do so well when his brothers didn’t seem to accumulate as much or live as contentedly? I looked at the experience of the brothers in the family, all four of them, and came up with these reasons:
1. Thurman was the only one of the four brothers to actually work all day every day. The others might work all day but not every day or they might work every day but not all day. Thurman did both. His work ethic yielded a steady and growing income.
2. He was a christian and a regular church goer. There was no magic formula he followed. His christian beliefs meant he kept his life free of excesses and indulgences. He neither smoked nor drank so bought neither cigarettes nor liquor. The savings alone amounts to thousands over a lifetime. It also allowed him to accept the virtue of contentedness. He and his family were quite happy with their small house and the niche they’d carved out in life. They never strived to accumulate more at the expense of over-extended debt. Having grown up through the Great Depression, Thurman understood well the trap of indebtedness and stayed out of it. He didn’t have lots but what he had he owned outright.
3. He was frugal. His house, which seemed so spacious and upscale when I was a boy, was actually quite small. In its day it was well-built and furnished with quality appliances and furniture. But he lived in the same house until it was paid for, never put another mortgage on it, and stuck the rest of the money away.
So there they are, the secrets of success. Work, moderation, frugality, contentment. They worked for him. They work for everyone who employ them.