Frugal Lessons From The Past: Frugality in the Spiritual Life

History can provide some of the best lessons to help us figure out solutions to today’s problems.

Concerning our finances, thrift, frugality and simple living there are tried and true bedrock principals that we should never forget.

This post is part of a series that focuses on some of those principals by going to source materials for inspiration.

The following is an excerpt from a book that William L. Watkinson wrote entitled Frugality in the Spiritual Life. His plea from the year 1908 to open our eyes to the “common things” couldn’t be more timely, surrounded as we are today with so many distractions from what is truly important.

"To put extortion on common things" is what we need to learn almost more than anything else. We need wait the invention of no new, strange pleasure; we simply require to open our eyes to a thousand neglected things; we need to weigh every success, every realized wish, to treasure up the agreeable emotions which are allowed to pass unheeded every day. How rich should we be in thought, feeling, memory, hope, if we thus economized and treasured all life's sensations and possibilities of sensation! Some time ago they took up and cremated the woollen carpet which for several years had covered the coiners' room in the San Francisco mint. The precious ashes were scrupulously gathered, and by an elaborate refining process the Government recovered two hundred and seventy-nine ounces of gold, worth five thousand five hundred dollars. So the common things which we heedlessly trample are full of the dust of gold, if we only knew it. Four pounds of gold were not so long ago collected from the soot of the chimney of the Royal Mint in Berlin. So the things accounted vulgar are full of the dust of gold, if we only knew it. We need a quick eye, a ready mind, to let no chance pass us, to be taught by everything, improved by everything. Neglect in this matter brings into our life heaviness, dullness, weariness, vacancy. Let us be alive to every wayside flower in the home, to every flower that springs amid the rough stones of business life, to every sweet thing that blooms in the very dust of the street, to the teachings, the mercies, the comforts, the strengthenings, of common days, places, things, and people: so shall we be charmed along life's pilgrimage until we arrive at home.

Related Reading:

Frugal Lessons From The Past: The Holy Bible 


  1. Hello Buck,

    Your post reminded me of something. Just last night my DH and I took our usual walk. Along side a wild raspberry patch (we're keeping our eyes on it) grew some pretty awesome mint plants. I took one home and brewed a 2 quart batch of sweet tea with mint leaves in it. Very fine. Mr. Watkinson was right. You never know where treasures are.



  2. Sounds like a very nice walk. Nothing better than finding free treasure!


Agree? Disagree? Questions? Leave a comment!