There’s an old proverb/saying that seems to have origins all the way back to 1576 in THE PARADISE OF DAINTY DEVICES by Richard Edwards, a distinguished lyricist and playwright who compiled a bunch of poems together in one book. On page 88 the proverb/saying was written as:

“For want is nexte to waste, and shame doeth synne ensue,”

In 1721 the proverb/saying was recorded in an easier to understand sentence structure:

“Willful waste makes woeful want.”

Then on August 10, 1772 in a letter to Alexander Clark, John Wesley wrote the proverb/saying in a form that looks more familiar:

“He will waste nothing; but he must want nothing.”

Today we know the proverb/saying as:

“Waste not, want not.”

What do all the forms of “Waste not, want not” mean?

The proverb/saying is really the formula of how to stay out of poverty and always have what you need. The meaning is:

If you are not wasteful with the resources you have now, then at a later date you will have those resources to use as you want and need. By not wasting, you will not be needy later.

In other words, the less you waste now, the less you will lack in the future.

“Want” in this form means “not lack” instead of just simply “desiring” something.

Where does the “and do without” come from?

Actually, that was my addition to the proverb/saying. Let me explain why I have written it this way.

fried bacon pieces soft crunchy

Crumb History

When I was ten, my parents divorced. Instead of living in a house with enough money plus extras, we had to move to an apartment with barely enough money to get by because my dad didn’t really have to pay that much child support. Food was always hard to come by and there just wasn’t enough for extras and that included extra food.

Eating bacon was not an everyday occurrence, so when Mom cooked it, every single morsel was priceless. That led us to eating the small bacon crumbs including the almost microscopic crumbs. If there was a slightly brown bit, we ate it.

I think I was the most obsessed with bacon crumbs. Actually, someone could probably think I lived during the Depression because with so many things, I’m obsessive for fear of running out or not having enough. When I make bacon now, there are never any crumbs left. If a family member leaves crumbs on their plate, I eat them after I take their plate to the kitchen. I’m not in the least bit ashamed to admit it. By eating the bacon crumbs I feel that I’m not being wasteful. It also satisfies something in me that just can’t bear to see bacon wasted. Is this extreme? Um, yeah, but since it is not detrimental to my health like smoking would be nor does it hurt anyone else, I don’t worry much about my behavior. Besides, I’m only obsessed with one food…bacon.

So by not wasting, hopefully I will not be in need later, but there may be times when I have to simply do without the extras in life.

We Are Not Equal

While walking down a public street, on a college campus, in a church, or in a busy store, after just a few minutes it will become very apparent that some people have more money and possessions than others. There are people who can buy whatever they desire while others can’t afford enough groceries to feed their family. There is not financial equity in our society.

Alyssa was always taught that there is a huge difference in wanting/desiring something and needing it.

    I want/desire a pair of black high heeled Christian Louboutin shoes with red soles.
    I need a pair of shoes.

Do you see the difference between the two scenarios? Let’s try another example.

    I want/desire a small cabin in the mountains.
    I need shelter that keeps me warm, dry and safe in the winter.

My need could be satisfied if I got what I want/desire, however, it could also be fulfilled in a less expensive way.

People who can’t afford a small cabin in the mountains, but are trying to save enough money to one day be able to afford it, will often opt to go without things they want/desire now in order to attain what they want/desire later. In other words, they “waste not” and “do without” now in order to “want (need) not” later.

23 Ways Not To Waste

In no particular order, here are some tips to help you not to waste opportunities and resources.

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Anything short of dying is small stuff.
  2. Only buy what you need.
  3. Buy organic and cook every part of the vegetable.
  4. Make the effort to learn something everyday.
  5. Don’t do things that would make you ashamed or embarrassed if your spouse, family or God found out.
  6. Always have a shopping list and stick with it in order to help curb the impulse buying.
  7. Use the vegetable and meat scraps to cook a delicious broth that you can freeze and/or can.
  8. Take one day at a time. Live today. You can’t go back into the past nor can you speed into the future. Enjoy now!
  9. When you find something you want to buy, wait at least a week before purchasing it. Think about all the pros and cons of your actions.
  10. Don’t be addicted to the television, computer or telephone.
  11. Make banana bread out of those dark brown bananas. The bread will be nice and sweet!
  12. Learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat the same ones over and over again.
  13. Save extras. Create a stock of items (clothes, food, money) to carry you through sickness and financial shortages.
  14. Make relationships a priority. Family first before anything else external such as power, influence or money.
  15. Repair when you can instead of buying new.
  16. Enjoy nature. Relax and meditate with the sunrise and sunset. Watch the birds, wind, leaves blowing, raindrops on the window, animals eating, etc. The little things in nature are marvelous and bring about inner peace.
  17. A momentary thrill today that hurts other people does not lead to joy in the future. Think before you act and act unselfishly.
  18. Be smart with food preservation – learn to can and freeze when room is ample.
  19. Set goals and consciously work towards attaining them.
  20. Keep it clean. Dirt wears things out faster.
  21. Please yourself and don’t worry about making everyone else happy. They won’t all be happy no matter what you do, so make yourself happy.
  22. Get enough sleep for your mind, body and soul.
  23. Prioritize your activities. Keep the list of things to accomplish short and attainable today.

Since no one knows what tomorrow brings, remember that health, wealth and influence can disappear in seconds. Don’t take things and people for granted. Don’t be like Aesop’s grasshopper with your time, talents or resources. Squeeze every bit of sweetness out of your life and unselfishly share it with those you love. Waste not, want not.

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