Graham's Magazine, Vol. XXXII No. 4, April 1848

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Excerpt Jacob Jones was clerk in a commission store at a salary of five hundred dollars a year. He was just twenty-two, and had been receiving this salary for two years. Jacob had no one to care for but himself; but, somehow or other, it happened that he did not lay up any money, but, instead, usually had from fifty to one hundred dollars standing against him on the books of his tailors. "How much money have you laid by, Jacob?" said one day the merchant who employed him. This question came upon Jacob rather suddenly; and coming from the source that it did, was not an agreeable one—for the merchant was a very careful and economical man. "I havn't laid by any thing yet," replied Jacob, with a slight air of embarrassment. "You havn't!" said the merchant, in surprise. "Why what have you done with your money?" "I've spent it, somehow or other." "It must have been somehow or other, I should think, or somehow else," returned the employer, half seriously, and half playfully. "But really, Jacob, you are a very thoughtless young man to waste your money." "I don't think I waste my money," said Jacob. "What, then, have you done with it?" asked the merchant. "It costs me the whole amount of my salary to live." The merchant shook his head. Then you live extravagantly for a young man of your age and condition. How much do you pay for boarding?" "Four dollars a week." "Too much by from fifty cents to a dollar. But, even paying that sum, four more dollars per week ought to meet fully all your other expenses, and leave you what would amount to nearly one hundred dollars per annum to lay by. I saved nearly two hundred dollars a year on a salary no larger than you receive." "I should like very much to know how you did it. I can't save a cent; in fact, I hardly ever have ten dollars in my pocket." "Where does your money go, Jacob? In what way do you spend a hundred dollars a year more than is necessary?" "They are spent, I know; and that is pretty much all I can tell about it," replied Jacob. "You can certainly tell by your private account book." "I don't keep any private account, sir." "You don't?" in surprise. "No, sir. What's the use? My salary is five hundred dollars a year, and wouldn't be any more nor less if I kept an account of every half cent of it." "Humph!" The merchant said no more. His mind was made up about his clerk. The fact that he spent five hundred dollars a year, and kept no private account, was enough for him. "He'll never be any good to himself nor anybody else. Spend his whole salary—humph! Keep no private account—humph!" This was the opinion held of Jacob Jones by his employer from that day. The reason why he had inquired as to how much money he had saved, was this. He had a nephew, a poor young man, who, like Jacob, was a clerk, and showed a good deal of ability for business. His salary was rather more than what Jacob received, and, like Jacob, he spent it all; but not on himself. He supported, mainly, his mother and a younger brother and sister. A good chance for a small, but safe beginning, was seen by the uncle, which would require only about a thousand dollars as an investment. In his opinion it would be just the thing for Jacob and the nephew. Supposing that Jacob had four or five hundred dollars laid by, it was his intention, if he approved of the thing, to furnish his nephew with a like sum, in order to join him and enter into business....
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