Character Trait Entry: Thrifty

Definition: marked by economy and good management

Causes: having economical or penny-pinching parents, growing up in an environment of need, having a desire for efficiency, a fear of going without, a fear of what the future may hold

Characters in Literature: Marilla Cuthbert (Anne of Green Gables), Dicey Tillerman (Homecoming), Mrs. Weasley

Positives: Thrifties are not wasteful. They make the most of what they have. Their thriftiness in the area of money may cause them to be economical in other areas, too--with their time and materials, for example. When others are in need because they haven’t been careful with their resources, Thrifties usually don’t have to go without, and they may be in a position to help others or further themselves. Their penchant for saving rather than spending makes it easier to buckle down during difficult times.

Negatives: Because Thrifties are so used to saving, they often have trouble spending. Their compulsion save can turn them miserly or stingy. Other people may view Thrifties as tightfisted because of their self-discipline. On the other hand, Thrifties may look down on others as being wasteful or extravagant. They may view money, resources, or results as being more important than people, which could make it difficult for them to relate to others.

Common Portrayals: the elderly, accountants, bankers, single parents

Clichés to Avoid: the elderly woman with no bank account but thousands of dollars stuffed in mattresses and cookie jars around her house; the crotchety gajillionnaire who has scads of money but no joy and no one to share life with; the single mom that counts every penny and goes without so her children can have what they want (while this is a real and admirable character in the real world, it's has been done a lot in fiction; utilize with care)

Twists on the Traditional Thrifty:

  • Thriftiness is a usually a characteristic that goes back to a person’s childhood or a specific event/time period. What about a wasteful person who must become thrifty in order to accomplish a certain goal?
  • Thrifties are so often portrayed as stingy. Twist the cliché by making your Thrifty generous and unselfish.
  • Make things difficult for your Thrifty by surrounding him with extravagant characters.
  • Make thriftiness a negative trait in society--something your Thrifty has to overcome, rather than something to strive for.
Conflicting characteristics to make your Thrifty unique or more interesting: generous, wild, irresponsible, immature, foolish, glamorous


Bonnee Crawford said...

I love Mrs Weasley!

Thrifty as she may be, you gotta hand it to her in the last Harry Potter book:
"Not my daughter you bitch!"

JeffO said...

Good one!

I think a lot of times we think of thrifty as having to do with money only, but it can extend to almost any sort of consumable. It can also go along with hoarding type of behavior. My in-laws grew up in the depression and I don't think they threw anything away. When we cleaned out their house after they both passed away, we found 30-year old canned goods.

And, of course, there are also the people who are 'penny wise, pound foolish', and the people who buy things they don't need just because it's a good deal.

Charmaine Clancy said...

Great trait to cover, as JeffO mentioned, it's interesting when you get thrifts that won't thrown out anything.
Wagging Tales

Traci Kenworth said...

I could use a bit of thriftiness in my own life. Lol. Great post!!

Sherry Isaac said...

I like that you include ideas on how to twist characteristics, something that is easy to forget. Yeah, yeah, nix the cliche lines, but the cliche characters are an easy trap to fall into.
I was recently challenged by my writing group to do just that, to make sure moving forward a character does not act in the manner we'd expect him too.
Great advice. Thanks!

Julie Musil said...

I'm very thrifty, and I have to say, your causes are dead on. Nice job!

Linda Jackson said...

I absolutely love Dicey Tillerman. I can't help but wonder if the author, herself, is thrifty, seeing that other characters in the Tillerman Series are also thrifty: Gram in Dicey's Song and Professor Greene in A Solitary Blue. I know my characters tend to be me.

Mark Koopmans said...

thanks for the advice that was a the great post

Leslie Rose said...

Love Mrs. W. and her knitted sweaters for Christmas gifts. I read a biography of Rose Kennedy once - she took thrifty to crazyland.

Becca Puglisi said...

My husband's a Thrifty, so I have pretty good experience with this one. I, on the other hand, have to work really hard at being economical. The combination makes for an interesting marriage ;)

Rafael said...

I think that Mrs. Weasley brings a crucial concept about thriftiness. She is thrifty by necessity, after all she has 6 (I think it's 6) children and only one wage earner.

Other people are thrifty, if not downright hoarders by compulsion whether they need it or not.


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