The Two Penny Difference

piggy bank two

This is the 42nd in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.

If you earn a dollar and spend 99 cents, you’re OK.
But spend $1.01 and you’re heading for trouble.
Yet today spending seems more fashionable than saving.
What once was called poor money management, has become “deficit spending”.
Whatever it’s called,
it leads to inevitable headaches for people,
for companies,
and even governments.
No new economic theory beats this old favorite:
a penny saved is a penny earned.
As Calvin Coolidge once said,
“there is no independence quite so important as living within your means.”
Don’t let your checkbook be the saddest book you ever read.

This was written in 1980, but it could have just as easily been written today.

Certainly no one has heeded Harry Gray’s advice in the past 30-plus years.

Since 1980, we’ve had the savings and loan crisis, the subprime mortgage crisis, a growing number of personal bankruptcies, U.S. cities declaring bankruptcies, and the Federal government continues to run a deficit each year.

The only line from the above ad that dates itself is the mention of a checkbook. Does anyone actually use a checkbook anymore? And if they do, do they even bother trying to balance it?

Today, we’ve got great financial technology tools like online banking, mobile banking apps, and financial management software, yet we still have problems controlling our spending.

So it’s not a technology solution that’s needed, but a shift in attitude, and I don’t think Silicon Valley can help with that.




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