Ben Franklin is known for his thrift, but what many do not know is that he did not patent many of his greatest inventions: he sacrificed a potential fortune for the public good.
Here is a very nice essay written in honor of Ben's birthday: http://www.americanvalues.org/Blankenhorn/benfranklin.htm
I love Franklin's Autobiography, an early self-help book:
Franklin makes a list of 13 virtues in his effort of arriving at "moral perfection": one is "Frugality: Make no Expence but to do good to others of yourself: i.e. Waste nothing."
But he also attributes his success to reading and to learning how to write. So note what he spends his money on: "From a child I was fond of Reading, and all the little Money that came into my Hands was ever laid out on Books."
He becomes a vegetarian to save money on food: "This was an additional Fund for buying Books."
While many may turn to Poor Richard's Almanack for pithy comments on frugality, such as the famous "A penny saved is a penny earned," I must say that The Autobiography is my favorite. If you don't want to buy it, check it out of the library, something for which we can also thank Franklin, who helped launch the Library Company in 1731.