Category Archives: Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson's 4th Rule

“Oh, look at that!  That is so cool!  Don’t know exactly what it does, but look it is a dime!”  So you walk out of the store with 10 of those things.  Did you really need it?  Was it going to make a difference in your life?  Did you just buy it because you could get 10 for a buck?  Chances are it was because it was so cheap.

Let’s take a look at TJ’s 4th rule:

4.  Never buy what you don’t want because it is cheap.

How many times I have gone shopping and found a bargain!  The object may have caught my eye but I knew deep down I didn’t want it…. UNTIL…. I saw the price.  If it was dirt cheap, I immediately needed it. I have fallen prey to the idea that something cheap makes it a better choice.  But, in the long run, that thing will only take up space in my home and eventually will make its way to the trash.

I think today’s way of thinking has cluttered our lives.  We need to get back to the idea of what we need vs. what we want.

Funny, I remember my dad saying that there is a big difference between a want and a need.  Yeah, I may want those new pair of shoes but do I need them?  That is what we need to distinguish. It is my opinion that we today have a strange way of deciding what is a need and a want.  We know the basics:  we need food, water, and shelter.  Those we got but we over extend our need rule.

This is what I mean, we make daily choices.  For example, this past weekend, we were out shopping as a family.  My son immediately wanted a drink.  In his mind, he wanted a soda.  Did he need it?  No, he needed a drink.  My husband told him that there was a water fountain the in store and he can get a drink there.  Oh my heavens, he thought we were the meanest parents in the world.  He thought if he was thirsty we would automatically purchase the coveted soda drink.  His body prefers the water over soda anyway. His need was met at the water fountain and it did not kill him.  We have distorted the idea of a need vs. want.  He wanted a soda.  He needed water.

Just the other day on the Today Show, a lady was seeking help at the grocery store.  She needed help stretching her dollar and needed to lose extra weight.  She was told to go shopping as usual.  She did.  She had soda (name brand), chips (name brand), cereal (name brand), and packaged meals (name brand).  The “expert” pointed her to the store brand of everything.  The whole time I was screaming at the television.  Her family doesn’t need soda.  Water is free.  Tea and Kool-aide (store brand of course), is cheap and goes further than a bottled soda.  Chips?  What are those?  We only have them for “special” occasions.  The kids don’t need them.  They need veggies and fruits.  Cereal?  How about oatmeal?  Or making pancakes?  Learn to use a crock pot and save money on “packaged meals.”  This was classic need vs. want.  She loaded herself down with wants not needs.  Even at knock down prices, did the family “need” soda and chips?

So, here’s my challenge:  Rediscover and distinguish or perhaps redefine is a better word, your idea of needs and wants.  In the long run, if you learn to purchase the needs (at markdown prices), you will save money and will spend wisely.  You may want something because of it’s price but ask yourself:  Am I a better person if I purchase this?  If your answer is no, put it down and walk away….. now you are the better person.

Thomas Jefferson's 3rd Rule

Oh dear, this next rule is going to hit home to many people today.  I’m going to get it out there so I can throw my 2 cents in……

3.  Never spend your money before you have earned it.

I know it may seem so UnAmerican to not use credit cards but HELLO this is a statement from one of our founding fathers!  TJ is probably rolling in his grave right now.

It is a bad habit that a lot of us have been struggling with for a few decades now.  We have become so impatient that we have come inflicted with “Gotta Have It Now” syndrome.  I can remember saving up for what I wanted.  I remember finding jobs around the neighborhood or babysitting neighborhood kids so that I could purchase the “designer” jeans I wanted so badly.  Many people today just plop down the ole credit card and get those jeans.  What has happened to the feeling of achievement when you have worked hard and saved to get something?

I recently had to call the bank about an overdraft issue.  In the debate, I was upset that when I made a deposit two days prior it did not show up to cover a debit made from the previous day.  Word to the wise, the bank will cause you to overdraft if it benefits them with their $35 overdraft fee.  Can you tell I lost the debate?  My point to this is that during the conversation, the bank manager was quick to argue that it wasn’t his fault that I had spent more money than I had.  My point was I had the money and it wasn’t acknowledged by the bank.  Anyway, it sounded like he had made that statement so many times that it easily flowed from his tongue.  I was being lumped into the “financially irresponsible” category and in his eyes: end of story.  Once he looked at my account and saw that I didn’t exactly deserve the label of irresponsible, the conversation quickly turned into my favor by acknowledging my point yet his hands were tied the corporate business of matters.

It is  a simple concept:  Don’t spend if you don’t have it.  Trust me, it can be very hard. I know when we were down to $3.24 and pay day was two more weeks away, putting food on the table became a concern. I could have easily used my credit card to purchase food but I was determined not to take the easy way out.  I was going to have to be creative from the pantry.  I was going to have to stretch the gas tank to get to where I needed (noticed I said needed not wanted!).  I was going to have to get the family on board.  We sat the kids down and explained what was happening and how we all can help.  Our son  gave up boy scouts to save one trip to town.   Our daughter postponed a $15 part for her trombone until after the holidays.  We agreed to eat the mystery food in the back of the freezer until we had the money.

We did it.  We were successful.  It taught us something though.  As a family we pulled together and we worked together to see that everything stretched.  We learned that we didn’t need to run to the store the minute we were low on supplies.  We learned to stretch.  If it meant passing on seconds at dinner so we could eat it again the next night, we discovered it didn’t kill us.

So all of you out there,  I put a challenge out for the new year…… wait before you spend.   Wait.  Learn to say no.  Learn that you can find freedom in waiting. Good luck!  I know you can do it.

Thomas Jefferson's 2nd Rule

Okay, now that you have learned that in Ecclesiastes 9:10, we should not have idle hands and that we must do God’s work; let’s take a look at Thomas Jefferson’s 2nd rule:

2.  Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.

Okay, this one is a tough one.  Outside of not asking my kids to retreive something from the other room for me, I am struggling to comprehend what TJ meant by this.  I am sure he had plenty of hired hands.  We know he was a slave owner.  So what did he mean?  Is it that we shouldn’t “Pass the Buck?”  Does it mean that if something we are doing gets tough not to bother others for help?  Does it mean we should stick it out until it is impossible to do then seek the help?  Think about it and let me know what you think.  I would love the discussion.

Thomas Jefferson's 1st Rule

Thomas Jefferson (TJ for short) as most American’s know had it going on during his day.  TJ was definitely an ingenious and wise man.  In my previous post, I laid out the 10 rules that TJ lived by.  Today, I want to take a closer look at rule number 1!

1. Never put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.

Is anyone else on the web feeling a little uncomfortable right now?  I don’t know about you but I have the tendency to “put off” things here and there.  I think it is a part of being human.  We always take for granted that tomorrow will come.  Somehow we get this crazy notion that if we “put it off” that “it” will magically disappear or better do it by itself by the next morning.  Wouldn’t that be fun…… get a bill coming due……tomorrow it pays itself and I am not worried.  Yeah, right!!

“Putting off” leads to laziness.  Something I battle along side of my depression.  Sometimes, I just don’t have the energy physically or emotionally to do something.  Now, go get your Bible.  That’s right! You heard me!! Go get it.  I can wait if you need to dust it off some.  Don’t be ashamed.  It happens to the best of us.  Stop “putting it off” and go get your Bible.  Now turn to Ecclesiastes 9:10…….  I can wait.

Read it.

Don’t put it off.  Read it.

What do think of that verse?  Do you see God’s point?

Thomas Jefferson in 2009

For the new year, I want to put a challenge out there to my readers.  Instead of the yearly resolutions that most of us do not follow, I want to challenge you to use Jefferson’s 10 Rules as guidelines to live by (along with your Bible, of course) in 2009. These 10 simple rules were written by Thomas Jefferson many moons ago and yet I think they are very noteworthy for a fresh new perspective for the upcoming new year.

Jefferson’s 10 Rules

1. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.

3.  Never spend your money before you have earned it.

4.  Never buy what you don’t want because it is cheap.

5.  Pride cost more than hunger, thirst and cold.

6.  We seldom repent of having eaten too little.

7.  Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.

8. How much pain the evils have cost us that have never happened.

9. Take things always by the smooth handle.

10.  When angry, count to 10 before you speak, if very angry,count to 100.

So what do you think?  Pretty cool, huh? Kinda makes you go “Whoa!  Dude!! T.J. knows what he was talking about!”