Become Money-Smart with Founding Father Financial Advice

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    In the 21st century, and especially in the last decade and entry into the digital age, we have seen a significant change to styles of employment, benefits, investments, accumulation of material goods, and the management of finances. Everyone in some capacity manages money, maybe as we look forward we can also look back and see what advice the Founding Fathers shared that might still ring true today.

    Ben Franklin:

    In his, The Way to Wealth (, Ben Franklin shares some of these insights:

    I. It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their time to be employed in its service: but idleness taxes many of us much more; sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life.

    In other words, stay active, busy, productive, healthy, and working towards ones interests and goals

    II. Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee

    Take care of that which takes care of you. Ensure that how you make a living is nurtured, developed, and treated well. Wether it’s being healthy, learning new skills, forming great relationships with those you work with, delivering exciting work results. In a way, one gets what they give.

    III. If you would be wealthy, think of saving, as well as of getting. The Indies have not made Spain rich, because her out-goes are greater than her incomes.

    Save more than one spends. This might be easy for some and challenging for others, though even small efforts compound over time, and make even the most daunting challenges possible.

    Thomas Jefferson

    Jeffersons Canons of Conduct ( includes some advise from a renowned personality. Now he might also add “Do what I say and not what I do.” to his list :), as he ended life in significant debt, though wise advice nonetheless from Jefferson is as follows:

    I. Never spend your money before you have it.

    When ones goes into debt it creates a promise for future payment. When possible, only spend money once it is earned, thereby freeing up the future for whatever it might be

    II. Never buy a thing you do not want, because it is cheap, it will be dear to you.

    Acquiring things because they seem financially inexpensive might seem appealing at first, though there are other less obvious costs that might prove dear in expense later. These include storing things, moving them, insuring them, cleaning them, and later getting rid of them. If these things are unnecessary to begin with, they have served only to cost little money up front, and much time down the line.

    III. Take care of your cents: Dollars will take care of themselves.

    Focusing on the details will be effective, and the larger things will take care of themselves. When one focuses on the cents, they eventually add up to the dollars without even having to think about dollars.

    George Washington

    In a 1799 Letter, George Washington talkes about debt (

    I. To contract new Debts is not the way to pay old ones.

    Creating debt to reduce debt in general, only perpetuates debt. Paying debt down is the direct way to reduce it.

    These are some great insights. If you practice any of these definitely share how it’s working out. Do you have any others to add?

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