Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Sum Of Trifles: Or, "A Penny Saved Is A Penny Gained"
by [?]

“SAVING? Don’t talk to me about saving!” said one journeyman mechanic to another. “What can a man with a wife 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 dollars a 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 much do 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 my nose 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,” said Johnson.

“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, do you 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?”


“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 journeyman mechanic.”

“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 the work 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.”