Six tips about saving from “Simple Wisdom for Rich Living”

Osceola McCarty shares her wisdom about living simply and investing savings to amass a small fortune. Her basic principles provide an example for all of us.

Osceola McCarty was born into poverty, worked washing other people’s clothes for almost 80 years, and amassed a $280,000 fortune. She loved her job, worked hard, and lived simply so that she could save and invest some earnings each month. In 1995, she gave most of her wealth to the University of Southern Mississippi for scholarships and the education she never had. We can learn important financial lessons from McCarty’s philosophy and book, “Simple Wisdom for Rich Living”.

In money management education, we teach basic principles about setting goals, identifying needs versus wants, avoiding too much debt, saving and investing, and finding financial happiness. Read some of Osceola McCarty’s wise principles:

  • Goal Setting: “I had goals I was working toward. That motivated me and I was able to push hard.”
  • Saving: “The secret to building a fortune is compounding interest. It’s not the ones that make the big money, but the ones who know how to save who get ahead. You’ve got to leave your investment alone long enough for it to increase.”
  • Avoiding Debt: “I think a Christmas savings account is a good idea. Every year I save and prepare to spend that money. It’s crazy the way some people will get into debt at that time of year.”
  • Needs and Wants: “My black and white television set gets only one channel. I don’t care because I don’t watch it often. I have never subscribed to a newspaper because it costs too much. There is a difference between needing and wanting. I don’t need those things in my life. Other people may, but I don’t.”
  • Contentment: “I have led a simple life, but I let myself enjoy a few things. I have always bought the food I wanted, and I buy pretty things if they are useful. To tell the truth, I never could pass up a bunch of flowers. Sweet little things can brighten a house and life.”
  • Resourcefulness: “I don’t like to waste. I keep everything—clothes, furniture, housewares—until it wears out. Usefulness often outlasts style.”

Find more information, tools, and resources from Michigan State University Extension for your 2016 financial plan to live rich and simply on our MI Money Health website. Choose the ones that will help you value yourself, live modestly, and prioritize the people in your life.

Challenges undoubtedly arise when planning to save. Many find themselves underemployed since the Great Recession and saving money on small paychecks seems impossible. Osceola McCarty’s book reminds us that financial success for anyone simply takes time, patience, and discipline. Even small amounts diligently saved can add up over the long term.

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