In 1748, Benjamin Franklin wrote a great little letter entitled Advice to a Young Tradesman. It’s packed with wise advice, but the language is outdated for most readers today. So without much ado, here’s an updated version of Ben Franklin’s “Advice to a Young Tradesman”.
TO MY FRIEND, Y.P.:
You asked me for my advice, so I’ve written these tips for you. They worked well for me, and they’ll work for you if you’ll follow them.
Don’t forget, time is money. Let’s say you can earn $200/day. Now if you sit and watch TV for half the day, you can’t count the $3 you spent for cable as your only expense. You’ve really spent – actually, you wasted – $100 besides that.
Don’t forget, credit is money. If a man is late collecting the money I owe him, he’s giving me the interest that can be earned on it. This extra interest can add up if we’re talking about a lot of money.
Don’t forget, money can compound. Money can give birth to money, and its babies can give birth to more, and so on. A hundred dollars used well can become two hundred. That two hundred can become four hundred, and so on until you have ten thousand dollars. The more money you have, the more you can make each time you use it well. Then your profits will increase faster and faster. But if you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, you destroy all the eggs you would have gotten in the future. If you murder a hundred dollars, you destroy all that it might have produced, even ten thousand dollars.
Don’t forget, that $1,825 a year is only $5 a day. For that small amount (which you can easily waste in time or money) a man with good credit could cover the interest on a personal loan of $20,000. That much money put to quick work by a diligent man gives a great head start.
Remember this saying, “The man who pays his loans on time owns another man’s bank account.” If you always pay on time and as you promised, you’ll never have trouble borrowing more money. This can be very useful. After hard work and frugality, nothing brings more success to a young man than punctuality and justice in all he does. So never keep borrowed money an hour longer than you promised. A bad mark on your credit history could close the bank for a long time.
Pay attention to even the smallest things that can affect your credit. If your creditor knows you’re working hard, he’ll give you a break. But if he sees that you’re being lazy and not trying to pay him back, he’ll be demanding you pay him back all of his money tomorrow.
Your diligent work and long hours will show that you remember what you owe. It also makes you appear to be a careful and honest man, and that will improve your credit as well.
Don’t live like everything you have belongs to you. Too many people with a credit card make this mistake. To avoid it, carefully track your income and expenses for several months. If you take the time at the beginning to track even the smallest things, you’ll have great results. Here’s why. You’ll see how tiny amounts pile up into larger amounts of money. Then you’ll know where you’ve wasted money and how you can save it in the future with very little inconvenience.
Here’s what it boils down to. The way to wealth, if you really want to know it, is as clear as the way to Target. It depends mainly on just two things – diligent work and frugality. Waste neither time nor money. Make the best use of both. Without hard work and frugality you’ll get nowhere. But with them, you can go anywhere. The man who gets all he can honestly and saves all he gets (except what he needs to live) will definitely become rich. Provided, of course, that God (whom everyone should ask for blessing on their honest work) doesn’t have other plans for that man.
An Old Pro
It’s amazing how advice given over 200 years ago is still relevant today.
A lot of the reason we go astry or mess up badly is because we tend to think Ben Franklin and other brilliant minds of earlier times have no relevance today. That dooms us to keep making the same mistakes that people in every generation since have made for the same reason.
.-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..15 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill to the Bone =-.
Thanks for your comment, Kevin! The basics of personal finance haven’t really changed much over the years. That’s why we can find timeless wisdom about money in the writings of Franklin and others.
As Christians, I think there are ways we could apply these principles but with the goal of honoring God instead of just gaining wealth. But I didn’t want to include my thoughts on that here as this was meant to be only a rewrite of some great advice from Franklin.
Goes to show that if we go back to the basics we can get the desired results.
Yep! The basic steps to financial success aren’t really all that complicated.