In the classic fable of the grasshopper and the ant, the hungry grasshopper begs the ant for some food and when winter comes is refused.
One summer’s day, a grasshopper was hopping around in a field, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An ant passed by, carrying with great effort an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
“Why not come and chat with me,” said the grasshopper, “instead of working and struggling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the ant, “and I recommend you to do the same.”
“Why bother about winter?” said the grasshopper, “we’ve got plenty of food at present.”
But the ant went on its way and continued its work. When the winter came the grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it watched the ants distributing, every day, corn and grain from the rations they had collected in the summer.
Then the grasshopper understood: It is best to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.
My take on the fable
I was just a young 8 year old when I first heard this fable and my first impression was how could the ant be so mean? Not willing to help out someone else in need.
Since then I have grown up somewhat, and I am more in the camp of the ant. I have come to realise that a large majority of society are grasshoppers.
When times are good with secure jobs, rising stock prices, and increasing house prices we feel rich. Like the good times will never end. So we spend, spend, spend. Eat, eat, eat. Play, play, play. Sure there are some that are more careful with their money, but I would say only a minority looking at the national statsistics of our savings rates.
I think we could learn a lot from the ant. When times are good we should start preparing for when times aren’t so good. We are constantly hearing how we should be saving more for retirement. I know it’s never easy to be told what we should be doing, but it is true. We aren’t saving enough.
As we get older and our incomes start to dry up we need to access savings. We can’t be like the grasshopper and rely on the government to take care of us with Superannuation. As it sits now, superannuation is not enough to live on. As superannuation becomes more unsustainable it will only get worse. We can’t rely on an inheritance or any other handouts.
No one else cares more about you than you.
We also can’t rely on times always being this good. Unemployment will rise at some point. Interest rates on our mortgages will rise. Inflation will rise. The stock market will crash. Just like winter is coming, these too are certainties. The only difference is we don’t know when.
We can only know they are coming at some stage and prepare ourselves for their eventuality.
I support the ant in this fable because there aren’t enough of us preparing for leaner times and we need more ants and fewer grasshoppers.
However, once we have developed ant like tendencies and habits, there is no harm in being a little grasshopper. I don’t think we should all work tirelessly and worry about the future all the time. The grasshopper had spent the summer singing, whilst the ant worked tirelessly to store up food for the winter. We need to strike a healthy balance of each, where we get to both enjoy the present and the future.
The information contained on this site is the opinion of the individual author(s) based on their personal opinions, observation, research, and years of experience. The information offered by this website is general education only and is not meant to be taken as individualised financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, or any other kind of advice. You can read more of my disclaimer here
Share your thoughts below. What is your interpretation of this fable? Are you an ant, grasshopper, or some kind of mixture (an anthopper)?