Oh, wait! There's another message coming in over the ether:
I always thought that saving pieces of string and old milk cartons was the way to get rich, but I have been dragged away from the notion that wealth is achieved through frugality.
As I told Andy, if an ascetic lifestyle was the path to riches, then Bangladesh would be the richest country on earth. The recent experiences with austerity programs sort of support that theme.
Be careful about being penny wise and pound foolish. If you can get an ounce of gold for $100, don't refuse it because they make you pay $100 for the shopping bag. Another way of putting it: don't turn down a tenfold increase in revenue just because you have to take a 1% increase in taxes (Grover Norquist, I'm looking in your direction).
Then I came across this quote by Keynes (arguing for stimulus programs): "The engine which drives Enterprise is not thrift, but profit. Were the seven wonders of the world built by thrift? I doubt it."
Now I still believe in thrift but it is a secondary issue of wealth management, not a driver of wealth creation. I guess the best strategy is to invest yourself into a wealth-creating activities or environments, then practice thrift within that context. End of transmission.
Thrift is a LOT of fun. Some of my life's greatest triumphs (solely in a qualitative sense) were in thrift stores, on Craigslist, etc.
Plus, thrift gives you absolute control -- you know that soda can you found is worth 3 cents cash, you don't have to guess whether the market is accurately valuing the soda can, or whether the soda can's management is lying about their revenue recognition. Moreover, thrift generally gives you a ton of margin -- that espresso machine you get for $10 at the thrift shop, and sell for $80 on eBay, gives you 800% return, vs. trying to sweat out 4% gains on GE shares.
But the nominal values are, of course, pretty meaningless.