"The real comforts [necessities] of life cost but a small portion of what most of us can earn. Dr. Franklin says 'It is the eyes of others and not our own eyes which ruin us. If all the world were blind except myself I should not care for fine clothes or furniture.' It is the fear of what Mrs. Grundy may say that keeps the noses of many worthy families to the grindstone. In America many persons like to repeat 'we are all free and equal,' but it is a great mistake in more senses than one.
"That we are born 'free and equal' is a glorious truth in one sense, yet we are not all born equally rich, and we never shall be. ...
"...[Y]ou will not get ahead in the world, if your vanity and envy thus take the lead. In this country, where we believe the majority ought to rule, we ignore that principle in regard to fashion, and let a handful of people, calling themselves the aristocracy, run up a false standard of perfection, and in endeavoring to rise to that standard, we constantly keep ourselves poor; all the time digging away for the sake of outside appearances. How much wiser to be a 'law unto ourselves' and say, 'we will regulate our out-go by our income, and lay up something for a rainy day.' People ought to be as sensible on the subject of money-getting as on any other subject. Like causes produces like effects. You cannot accumulate a fortune by taking the road that leads to poverty. It needs no prophet to tell us that those who live fully up to their means, without any thought of a reverse in this life, can never attain a pecuniary independence."
-P.T. Barnum, 1810-1891