Ben Franklin’s financial advice

Since the following quote is so long, I won’t put it in quote format.


As you have desired it of me, I write the following hints, which have been of service to me and may if observed be so to you.

REMEMBER that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor and goes abroad or sits idle one half of that day though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness ought not to reckon that the only expense, he has really spent or rather thrown away five shillings besides.

Remember that credit is money. If a man lets his money lie in my hands after it is due, he gives me the interest or so much as I can make of it during that time. This amounts to a considerable sum where a man has good and large credit and makes good use of it.

Remember that money is of a prolific generating nature.  Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on.  Five shillings turned is six; turned again it is seven and threepence; and so on till it becomes a hundred pounds. The more there is of it, the more it produces every turning, so that the profits rise quicker and quicker. He that kills a breeding sow, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation.  He who murders a crown, destroys all that it might have produced, even scores of pounds.

Remember that six pounds a year is but a groat a day.  For this little sum (which may be daily wasted, either in time or expense, unperceived) a man of credit may, on his own security, have the constant possession and use of an hundred pounds. So much in stock, briskly turned by an industrious man, produces great advantage.

Remember this saying, “The good paymaster is lord of another man’s purse.”  He that is known to pay punctually and exactly to the time he promises may at any time, and on any occasion, raise all the money his friends can spare. This is sometimes of great use. After industry and frugality, nothing contributes more to the raising of a young man in the world than punctuality and justice in all his dealings: therefore never keep borrowed money an hour beyond the time you promised, lest a disappointment shut up your friend’s purse forever.

The most trifling actions that affect a man’s credit are to be regarded. The sound of your hammer at five in the morning, or nine at night, heard by a creditor makes him easy six months longer; but if he sees you at a billiard table, or hears your voice at a tavern, when you should be at work, he sends for his money the next day; demands it before he can receive it in a lump.

It shews, besides, that you are mindful of what you owe; it makes you appear a careful, as well as an honest man, and that still increases your credit.

Beware of thinking all your own that you possess, and of living accordingly. It is a mistake that many people who have credit fall into. To prevent this, keep an exact account, for some time, both of your expenses and your income. If you take the pains at first to mention particulars, it will have this good effect; you will discover how wonderfully small trifling expenses mount up to large sums, and will discern what might have been, and may for the future be saved, without occasioning any great inconveniences.

In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it, is as plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality; that is waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality nothing will do and with them everything. He that gets all he can honestly, and saves all he gets (necessary expenses excepted), will certainly become rich  – if that Being, who governs the world, to whom all should look for a blessing on their honest endeavors, doth not in his wise providence otherwise determine.

An Old TRADESMAN  (One of Franklin’s pseudonyms.)

We see in that last sentence that wealth is not guaranteed.  Providence might otherwise, or bad luck.

But, the term “time is money” is important to Franklin.

You shouldn’t waste time with something just because it’s free.  That goes for a mediocre film course, worthless networking “opportunities”, or getting your name out on social media.

There is a lot of free advice on the Internet, and on blogs and some of it even looks official.  Some of this is marketing for courses, and some is just some blogger who is trying to get attention.

Bad advice is even worse because it often gets you to waste more time.

Beware of clickbait.  Beware of low-paid “freelancing” opportunities, of freelancing websites that try to get you to work for less than minimum wage, of time-consuming websites like Wikipedia.

Now, in the age post-Franklin, I have another warning.  We have many machines which can make our work more efficient.  Some of these cost money.  You can travel quicker in a car than by foot, but you get more excessive by foot.

Beware of being too efficient, lest you lose your health in doing so.  And, beware of being too obsessed with old technology, lest you lose the ability to compete.

It might be an idea to hire others to do those things that you have no ability in so that you can work more efficiently at those things which do bring in the money.

It might also be an idea to apply for a job rather than start a business.  Leader and good person are not synonyms, and many great people of ability do not have the ability to lead others.

But most of all, beware of any adviser who tells you to waste time.  Those who tell you to blog every day, who tell you to respond to every comment no matter how asinine it is, who tell you to spend all day communicating with those who will never pay you and never love you, who tell you to give to the rich for free what the middle and working classes will pay you for, they are not your friends.  They are creditors of your time and content.

More and more, people are selling DIY products, from self-publishing to websites.  These can be fun, as a hobby, but the learning curve can be expensive, in both time and money.  While they might make you look busy, and keep the creditors at bay, interest will compound while you learn new skills and “have fun” designing your own media.