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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from

  • BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Sam.

  • Are you a saver or a spender, Sam?

  • Well, I'm trying to limit my spending

  • right now because I'm saving up

  • for a deposit to

  • buy a house.

  • Saving money is not always easy - as we'll

  • find out in today's programme, which is all

  • about 'thrift'. 'Thrift' is not a simple idea

  • to define. It's to do with living a simple

  • life free from the need to constantly

  • buy the latest products.

  • Today's consumer culture encourages us

  • to 'spend, spend, spend', but

  • it hasn't always

  • been that way. The Victorians for example

  • told people to 'save up for a rainy day',

  • meaning to keep some money back

  • in case of unforeseen emergencies.

  • But before we discover more about that,

  • it's time for today's quiz question. If you're

  • trying to save money you probably

  • know how hard it can be. So my

  • question is: what percentage

  • of people in the UK, do you think, have

  • less than £1000 in savings? Is it:

  • a) 5%, b) 15 %, or c) 30%?

  • Well, if I'm anything to go by

  • I'd say c) 30%.

  • OK. Well, we'll find the correct answer out

  • later. I mentioned before that 'thrift' is

  • a difficult idea to define, so here's

  • Alison Hulme, a lecturer at

  • the University of Northampton,

  • explaining more to BBC Radio 4's

  • programme Thinking Allowed:

  • There are two dictionary definitions

  • of thrift. The older of the two comes

  • from the word 'thrive'

  • etymologically, and described thrift

  • as the ability to live well

  • and to flourish, so it's

  • that sense of human flourishing.

  • The more recent definition is

  • the one we're probably

  • more familiar with which is about

  • frugality. All of that said, it's

  • been used historically

  • of course by various people in various

  • moments in various different

  • places in very different

  • ways and they've often had

  • a social or religious agenda.

  • It seems the oldest definition of 'thrift'

  • has nothing to do with

  • saving money and is

  • connected to the verbs 'thrive' and

  • 'flourish' - meaning to grow

  • or develop successfully.

  • It was only later with the Puritans - 16th

  • century English Christians

  • with a reputation

  • for strict discipline - that the meaning

  • of thrift changed and became

  • associated with

  • frugality - being careful not to spend too

  • much money or eat too much food.

  • The Puritans believed that being

  • frugal was a religious virtue and

  • that people ought to

  • save money in order to give

  • to others in need.

  • Later on the meaning of 'thrift' changed

  • again. During the Victorian era,

  • it was connected

  • to the idea of managing your own money

  • in order to be a responsible citizen.

  • Throughout history then, there have been

  • different versions of 'thrift',

  • and this may be because

  • different religions or social groups

  • had their own agenda - a specific

  • aim or reason for

  • a particular group to do something.

  • For example, the Victorian

  • definition of thrift was based

  • on a social agenda about being

  • a respectable member of society.

  • Ideas about frugality and thrift changed

  • again during the Second World War

  • when the public

  • was encouraged to avoid waste

  • so that every material resource

  • could go into the war effort.

  • And in the post-war period, it changed

  • again as people's wealth

  • and standard of living

  • increased. Here's Alison Hulme again:

  • It's the idea that once people had enough

  • to meet their kind of

  • basic needs there was

  • this kind of moral slide into consumerism.

  • It's not a view that I subscribe

  • to in a simplistic

  • sense myself - I think there's a very fine

  • line to tread here.

  • There's no point denying

  • that, certainly in the developed world,

  • there's been a rise

  • in consumer capitalism, that's

  • just a truism, but thrift hasn't declined.

  • In modern times, people's motivation

  • to save up and be thrifty

  • declined once they had enough

  • to meet their basic needs - the

  • basic necessities needed to survive,

  • like food, clothes and

  • shelter and nothing extra.

  • Alison mentions that once these

  • basic needs were satisfied,

  • people moved away from thrift

  • into consumerism, the desire to buy

  • 'luxury' products which

  • were not absolutely necessary.

  • According to some, this created

  • a moral slide - a decrease in the

  • standards of behaving

  • in good, fair and honest ways.

  • The rise in consumer capitalism

  • we have seen around the world

  • is an example of a truism

  • - something that is so obviously true

  • it is not worth repeating.

  • What is worth repeating

  • is the quiz question, Neil.

  • Yes, I asked you how many British people

  • had savings of under £1000.

  • And I said, c) 30%

  • In fact, Sam, it's b) 15%.

  • So I guess I'm not such a bad saver

  • after all!

  • OK. Well, today we've been talking about

  • the changing meanings of 'thrift',

  • an idea connected

  • to frugality - being careful

  • not to spend too much money.

  • The original meaning of 'thrift' was

  • to flourish - grow or develop

  • successfully - but that

  • definition changed as different religious

  • groups, like the Puritans, promoted their

  • own agenda - aim or reason for a

  • particular group to do something.

  • In recent times, people's ability

  • to meet their basic needs - the

  • necessities for survival

  • like food and shelter, have reduced the

  • importance of 'thrift', which

  • some believe has created

  • a moral slide - a reduction

  • in standards of moral behaviour.

  • And the associated rise of consumer

  • capitalism is an example of a truism -

  • something that

  • is obviously true and

  • generally accepted by all.

  • That's all for now. Join us again

  • next time for more topical discussion

  • and vocabulary. Bye for now!

  • Bye bye!

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B1 thrift moral consumer agenda capitalism basic

Is being thrifty a virtue? - 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/27
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