Benjamin Franklin is known to most as a scientist and inventor, and possibly as a politician. What most people are probably not aware of, however, are Franklin’s contributions to personal finance. In his book, “The Way to Wealth”, Franklin shared his unique perspective on wealth and spending.
The Way to Wealth was written in – believe it or not – 1758, and it still rings surprisingly true today. In a few paragraphs, Franklin quickly transmits the wisdom that made him a fortune.
The genius of Benjamin Franklin was that he placed all of the principles into a story that painted a picture of the benefits and consequences of either knowing and applying these principles or ignoring them and suffering the consequences.
I think most people need to see how some of the principles in the book work together to form a solid, prosperous and successful life and that’s the aim of today’s article. We’ll explore of few of Franklin’s maxims and how they tie together, namely the importance of industry and frugality to achieving financial freedom.
The focus of the first section of the book is on the importance of being industrious and using our time wisely:
Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise
Diligence is the mother of good luck
Dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of
There are no gains, without pains
Plough deep, while sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and to keep
One today is worth two tomorrows
Have you somewhat to do tomorrow, do it today
Be ashamed to catch yourself idle
For industry pays debts, while despair encreaseth them
Little strokes fell great oaks
The first half of becoming wealthy is industry: working hard, using time wisely, and paying careful attention to the little things. Industry generates opportunity. Industry generates income. Industry puts you in the position to become financially free. As sexy as it sounds to become rich overnight and by not lifting a finger, most successful people worked for years before reaching the tipping point when their hard work paid off.
In the second section, Franklin emphasizes the importance of being frugal. It isn’t enough just to earn money, you have to be smart about what you do with it after you earn it. In this collection of sayings, Franklin describes how a lack of frugality will cause financial ruin and describes the dangers of debt:
A man may, if he knows not how to save as he gets, keep his nose all his life to the grindstone
Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship
Buy what thou hast no need of, and before long thou shalt sell thy necessaries
Think of saving as well as of getting
Fools make feasts, and wise men eat them
When the well’s dry, they know the worth of water
If you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some
He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing
‘Tis easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it
When you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty
So many people have not achieved financial freedom simply because they don’t manage their money well after they make it. The world Is full of HENRYs, “high earner, not rich yets”. Don’t be one of them. By frugality, Franklin was not suggesting being cheap. Frugality is spending wisely and avoiding unnecessary expenses. The “aspirational wealthy” buy a bigger house than they can afford, an expensive car with payments that they can barely make, and expensive things just so that they can look rich. This undermines all the hard work they do to make money in the first place. Simply put, to build wealth you must save the money you earn.
Benjamin Franklin knew the way to wealth, the way directly to the top. Through hard work, diligence, and frugality he made a fortune. And so can you if you’ll read and apply the principles in this short, simple book. Most money problems are easy problems to solve once you learn the principles that have made so many people successful and prosperous.
I do not know of any other book that has so much wisdom packed into so few pages. The lessons in this book can give you the power to take control of your destiny, build wealth, and lead happier lives. Franklin’s quotes are timeless and his lessons are straightforward. They are indeed the way to wealth.
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
Latest tweets from Monty!
“Don’t let the mediocre convince you to be satisfied with where you are. Keep growing. Compare yourself to your potential, not to others.”
“Not saving regularly? Be prepared for a job later that requires you to wear a “greeter” name tag. It’s easier to keep up than catch up.”
“Discipline is not painful. It’s liberating. When you’re disciplined, there’s not a single doubt in your mind that you will get things done.”
Ready for more tips on how to achieve the free life? Check-out these articles from the blog archives: