When I was still a very young boy, wore an apron and went to elementary school, one day it happened that I badly needed a chalk and I did not have the money to buy it.
I was afraid that I would not be scolded for the fact that I so often lost chalks, as I was a rather absent-minded fellow and was afraid of house arguments.
We had a small shop next door where a venerable old woman sold nuts, bagels, gingerbread and toys, and I knew that she often lent to my peers.
I thought that Christmas was coming, and therefore, one could expect that parents would give me a couple or two of pennies or even a whole 20 pennies.
So I wanted to borrow the chalk and then easily pay off for it at Christmas. It was not easy for me to decide, but nevertheless I gathered my strength and went into the shop. The chalk was worth a penny. And since I had never borrowed, and my loan was highly valued, the kind old woman willingly handed me a chalk, and I got a debt.
I was not particularly pleased, and I felt as if I had done a bad thing, but I had no idea how soon I would have to regret what I had done. I still do not know how my father found out about this case, but he took me seriously. God bless him for that!
He was a sensible person and knew how to raise children; he didn’t want to teach his children to speculate or engage in what the big scammers call financial transactions, and so he immediately put an end to my debt.
He immediately gave me the strictest reprimand, telling me how close my act was to stealing, how easy it was to ruin myself in this way, and how a boy who owes a penny can later owe a thousand pounds, go to jail and dishonor his family.
It was, indeed, strongly said; I think I can hear my father’s words even now, and they sound in my ears when I remember him. After that I was taken to the shop, just as a deserter is taken to the barracks, crying bitterly throughout the street and experiencing the greatest shame.
It seemed to me that the whole world knows about my loan. The pennie was paid with many serious warnings, and the unfortunate debtor was finally like a bird released from a cage. How nice it was to be free of debt!
How my little heart fluttered and assured me that nothing in the world would ever make me indebted again!
It was a good lesson and I have never forgotten it.
If such concepts were instilled in all boys in childhood, then this would be a gift for them, equal to a whole fortune, and would save them from a huge amount of grief in life.
God bless my father, I say, and it would be good if there were more such fathers in our country in order to save it from corruption and vice. Because in our time, with all these promotions, bonds, societies and credit cards, our people will soon be eaten away as a wormeaten tree.
Since the day I had cried so bitterly, I hated debt as Luther hated Pope. And you shouldn’t be surprised that I talk rather harshly about debt.
To cleanse my house of dirt, debt and the devil has always been my most ardent desire since I became a householder; and although the last of these three sometimes entered a door or a window, for an old snake slips into the smallest hole, nevertheless, thanks to a good wife, hard work, honesty, and hard work with a brush, the other two did not cross the threshold.
Debt is so humiliating that if I owe a man a nickel, I prefer to walk thirty miles in the winter cold to pay him, just not to feel awkward.
I would be just as uncomfortable with peas in boots, or with a hedgehog in bed, or with a snake in my bosom, as having debts in a small shop, with a tailor and with a baker.
Poverty is hard, but debt is worse; as they say: “the fuming stove and the quarrelsome wife are equal.” You can be poor and be respected; it seems to me that this is how my wife and I are, and that we will remain that way.
But a person who is in debt cannot even respect himself, and he can be sure that the neighbors are talking about him, and probably not in his favor.
Some people seem to like being in debt; but I would rather be a cat in a chimney when the furnace is burning, or a fox chased by dogs, or a hedgehog on a pitchfork, or a mouse in the claws of an owl.
An honest person should prefer an empty wallet to a full one if it is full of other people’s money; he cannot eat someone else’s cheese, wear someone else’s clothes, walk in someone else’s shoes; he cannot allow his wife to wear a hat belonging to the keeper of a fashionable workshop and wear other people’s fabrics.
The jackdaw in peacock feathers is soon plucked, and the borrower will soon become impoverished – the worst and most shameful poverty.
Living for other people’s money has ruined many of my neighbors. They can barely feed a rabbit and need a horse and cart.
I am afraid that luxury is a widespread disease of our time, and many Christian believers have contracted it, to their shame and grief.
Woollen or cotton dresses are not good enough now; girls must have silk and satin dresses, and the dressmaker’s bill is as long and gloomy as a winter night.
To show themselves, to satisfy their vanity and fashion, funds are quickly spent, the family becomes poorer, and the head of the family falls into despondency.
The frog tries to swell like an ox and bursts. Anyone who spends one hundred pounds a week learns to spend ten thousand a year and finally comes to the court.
People burn a candle at both ends and then say that they are very unhappy because they were betting on the wrong horse, and wonder if they are called spenders.
Frugality provides half of the success in life; making money is not so hard as spending it wisely.
Hundreds of people would never have known what need means if they had not learned how to spend money earlier.
If all the wives of poor husbands knew how to cook and eat, then the small income of their husbands would be enough for a long time.
Our preacher claims that German and French women are ahead of us in the art of cooking well and cheaply; I would like them to send missionaries to turn our gossips on the path of good housekeeping; this French fashion would be much more useful than those ladies’ knick-knacks from fashion store shows that make our women by new clothes for themselves every month.
After all, many people now do not consider it possible to be content with what their fathers were glad to see on their table.
And so, delighting their stomack with expensive foods, they fall into poverty and cause a universal regret. They disdain bread and butter and go so far as to eat raw rutabagas stolen from other people’s gardens.
Those who live on someone else’s expense are like fighting cocks – they must lose their comb or they will be fried altogether.
Who is rich can spend a lot but according to his means.
He is like a madman and a thief who, having a dime of income, spends a pound that does not belong to him. The one who sews a suit for himself, according to the material he himself has purchased, acts wisely; but cutting someone else’s cloth at the expense of making debts is like theft.
If I wanted to cheat, I would prefer to open a soldier’s shop, or become a private attorney, or a pope, or take things as a mortgage, or become a pickpocket, but I would consider it unworthy to make debts without being able to pay them back.
The debtors cannot help but lie, since they promise to pay, although they know they will not be able to do so; then, with a long series of justifications, they promise again, and thus soon learn to lie perfectly.
“If you have debts, and you have learned how to do them.
You will learn to lie, even if you have not lied before. “
So, if debt leads to lies, then who’s to say it’s not a bad thing?
Of course, there are exceptions, and I will not condemn an honest man who falls into debt because of illness or accident.
But the rule remains the rule, and you must admit that debt is a hideous swamp, a huge cesspool and a muddy ditch.
Happy is the person who manages to get out of it some day; but the happiest of all is the one who, by God’s mercy, remains completely aloof from her. If you invite the devil to the table once, it will be very difficult to drive him out of the house: it is better not to deal with him at all.
The hen likes to lay the second egg where she laid the first; if a person goes into debt once, then he can easily go into debt again; it is better not to know debts at all.
Whoever owes a nickel will soon owe a pound, and if a person gets into the mud up to his ankles, he will very easily fall down to his knees. Do not lend a penny and you will not owe a gold piece.
If you want to sleep well, buy a bed from someone who is constantly in debt; she is probably very calm, otherwise the owner could not have slept so “good” in it.
It seems to me that such people become insensitive, like a donkey on whose back the owner has broken all his sticks.
It seems to me that a decent person would rather agree to lose weight like a homeless dog than fatten himself up with borrowed money, or would rather swallow road dust than wet his throat in debt.
Merchant accounts should stab the soul like pins and needles. A pig bought on credit grunts incessantly.
No debt – no worries; get rid of debt – get rid of danger; debts and loans are like thorns. If I happen to take a spade from the nearest neighbor, I always feel insecure with him, because I am afraid to break it; with it I can never dig as confidently as I can with my own; but if I had borrowed a spade from the shop and knew that I had nothing to pay for it, I would have dug my own grave with shame.
Scripture says, “Do not owe anything to anyone,” which does not mean “pay your debts,” but “do not have them at all”; in my opinion those who deliberately violate this advice should be expelled from Church mercilessly.
Our laws, shamefully, abound in credit relief; no one becomes a thief today.
He only needs to open a business, and then declare himself insolvent, and this gives him the surest income; even the proverb says: “if you don’t get rich, you won’t burst.”
I know merchants who went bankrupt five or six times and now believe that they are on their way to salvation: scoundrels, what would they do there if they were allowed in?
It is more likely that they will end up in a place from which they will not be able to get out, even if they pay every last penny.
But people say, “They are so generous!”
Yes, with other people’s money! I hate to see a man who stole a goose and then sacrifices giblets to God. Piety can manifest itself in many ways, but sacrifice is an essential part of it.
First – honesty, and then – nobility. But how often deception is masked by piety!
Look at the Deceiver family: Mrs. Deceiver walks dressed like a peacock, all the daughters study French at the boarding school and play the grand pianos, the sons dress like dandies, and Mr. Deceiver rides on well-fed horses and takes first places at the meetings with dignity.
At the same time, his creditors can barely feed themselves. It is a shame and unbearable to see how many of us turn a blind eye to such a scam.
If it depended on me, I would have pulled off their white waistcoats, gloves, fashionable boots and dressed them in prison robes for at least six months.
If I were a member of parliament or prime minister, I would soon make our country dangerous for such gentlemen; but since I do not have such power, I can only write articles against them and thus open the valve for my indignation.
My motto is “pay immediately and beware of even small debts.”
Small bills are easy to pay. Pay what you owe and you will know what you have. It’s better to go to bed without dinner than wake up with debt.
Sins and debts are always greater than we imagine. Little by little, a person gets stuck in them with his head.
It is small expenses that ruin a person. The coin is round and rolls away easily.
Ivan the Fool buys what he does not need, since it is very profitable, and soon he is forced to sell what he needs and finds that the purchase was very unprofitable; he does not know how to refuse his friends who ask him to vouch for them; he gives dinner parties, arranges festivities, keeps a plentiful table, dresses his wife luxuriously, never looks after his servant, and over time is sincerely surprised that deadlines come so quickly, and that creditors bark like hungry pooch.
He sowed his money in the fields of meaninglessness, and now he is surprised that the harvest of poverty is ripe for him. But he never ceases to hope that a lucky chance will give him the opportunity to get out of the difficulty, and thus he plunges himself into ever more difficult difficulties, forgetting that “only fools get richer by thinking about riches.”
In need, he goes to the market with empty pockets and is forced to buy whatever price is asked of him, paying twice as much as he should, and thus is sinking deeper and deeper into the swamp.
This makes him speculate and indulge in all sorts of tricks, since an empty wallet does not easily inflate. There is rarely anything good coming out of it, for such a clever combinations are like a spider’s web, which is good only for catching flies and is soon swept away.
Just as you cannot fix the soles with cardboard or replace a broken window glass with a piece of ice, just as you cannot fix a ruined business with speculation and various combinations.
When a speculator is exposed, he becomes like a dog running into a church, which everyone wants to hit, or a barrel of gunpowder, which is an unwanted neighbor for any house owner. They say that poverty gives people an extra, sixth sense, beyond the usual five.
This would be very useful, for many debtors seem to have lost the other five senses, or born without any common sense at all. They seem to imagine that, by borrowing, they not only owe, but as if they are paying off debts.
Paying Peter with the money borrowed from Paul, they imagine that they have gotten out of the difficulty, while in reality they have only put one foot in the mud in order to get the other out of it.
It is difficult to prune an egg or find hair on a smooth bald head, but both the first and the second are easier than paying a debt out of an empty pocket. Samson was strong, but he could not pay off debts without money, and he is a madman who thinks to pay them off by speculation.
Borrowing money from a pawnshop is like grabbing a blade while drowning; both Jew and Gentile, if they lend, pluck the goose until it loses all its feathers.
A person must reduce his expenses asave money if he wants to get out of debt; you cannot spend your dime and at the same time pay the debt.
Reduce expenses if your wallet is empty. Do not think that you can end your debts in any other way than by paying them off in good faith.
Promises make debts, and debts make promises, but promises cannot pay off debts; making a promise is one thing, fulfilling another.
The word of an honest man is as binding as an oath, and he should never promise if he does not have the assurance that he can pay in due time; those who substitute promises for payment of debt do not deserve leniency.
It is easy to say, “I am very sorry,” but “a hundred years of regret will not pay off a penny of the debt.”
I am afraid that all this good advice could equally well be given to roosters and chickens in the poultry yard. The advice given to such people goes into one ear and immediately goes out of the other ear.
Let the one who refuses to listen feel, and whoever rejects cheap advice may he buy expensive repentance.
But for young people starting out in life, it is useful to listen to my short sermon, consisting of 3 points:
always live more modestly than you can;
and remember that a big debt means a lot of trouble and worries.