Are You an Ant or a Grasshopper?
This classic fable illustrates the fundamental difference in savers and spenders. Spenders live for the moment, frittering away their earnings on things like technology gadgets, eating out, and bills they've created for nice cars, expensive homes, etc. Savers prefer to get by on less and save their additional money for a rainy day (or a sunny day ). For those who don't remember the details of this little story, here's a version I found via Google:
The Ant and the Grasshopper
In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant walked by, grunting as he carried a plump kernel of corn.
"Where are you off to with that heavy thing?" asked the Grasshopper.
Without stopping, the Ant replied, "To our ant hill. This is the third kernel I've delivered today."
"Why not come and sing with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of working so hard?"
"I am helping to store food for the winter," said the Ant, "and think you should do the same."
"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; "we have plenty of food right now."
But the Ant went on its way and continued its work.
The weather soon turned cold. All the food lying in the field was covered with a thick white blanket of snow that even the grasshopper could not dig through. Soon the Grasshopper found itself dying of hunger.
He staggered to the ants' hill and saw them handing out corn from the stores they had collected in the summer.
Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.
At some point in most of our lives we've lived the life of a grasshopper. When I was young I spent most of my earnings and justified it by telling myself I would start saving "when I got older." Well, before I knew it I was older, and I still didn't have a fully-funded emergency fund in place, and my retirement savings were anemic, at best. I should have been storing my own kernels away while the getting was good.
It comes as no surprise that the ants are used to describe the hardest working of the two characters. The work ethic of ants is well documented. Unlike the grasshopper, the ant in this story works through the good times to prepare for the bad times. He knows that when winter comes his source of food disappears and he must survive on what he was able to stow away in the warmer months. The story ends without telling us the fate of the grasshopper, but I suspect the ant would share some of his reserves with the grasshopper, assuming he has learned his lesson.
The Moral of the Story
When we are young, and times are good, it is hard to imagine needing to live off cash reserves or saving for a retirement a few decades away. However, bad things happen when we least expect them and it makes sense to prepare for their inevitable arrival. This idea is at the very core of living a frugal lifestyle, because by living frugal you should be able to maximize resources without spending more money. With the realized savings start stockpiling for the winter season of your life - it will turn cold before you know it.
Which character best represents you? Are you an ant, or a grasshopper?
Story source: dltk-teach.com
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