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- Over 250 years ago, Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay on money and success in “The Way to Wealth.”
- The tips are written as proverbs but offer mindful advice around wealth-building principles that are still relevant today.
- Diligence, frugality, and debt-avoidance are just three of the qualities the historic figure credits with building success.
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Over 250 years ago, Benjamin Franklin strung together a handful of proverbs about wealth and success from his yearly publication, “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” which he wrote and published for 25 years under the pseudonym of Richard Saunders.
The proverb-filled essay was published as the preface to his 1758 almanack before being reprinted in over 100 languages and titled “The Way to Wealth.”
Read on to see how Franklin’s insights about accumulating and growing wealth are just as relevant several centuries later.
“A man may, if he knows not how to save as he gets, keep his nose all his life to the grindstone, and die not worth a groat at last. A fat kitchen makes a lean will. … If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.”
While rich people focus on earning — they tend to have at least three streams of income — wealth is also defined by how much of your income you keep and invest. As Ramit Sethi writes in his bestseller, “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” “On average, millionaires invest 20% of their household income each year. Their wealth isn’t measured by the amount they make each year, but by how they’ve saved and invested over time.”
If you want to get rich, you have to pay yourself first — and you have to start as early as possible, because if you’re investing, when you start to save outweighs how much you save.
“The taxes are indeed very heavy … but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly.”
Mastering your money has a lot more to do with psychology and mindset than you might think. Rich people think differently than the average person — for instance, they find comfort in uncertainty; they focus on earning; they avoid thinking nostalgically; and they see money as a friend.
As self-made millionaire Steve Siebold writes, “Getting rich begins with the way you think and what you believe about making money … Let’s set the record straight once and for all: Anyone can become wealthy.”
If you want to separate yourself from the crowd, start with your mentality, and lose the idleness, pride, and folly that are more taxing than the cash that goes to the IRS.
“Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy. He that riseth late, must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night. While laziness travels so slowly, that poverty soon overtakes him. … Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
The wealthiest, most successful people put in more hours — and they have fun doing it.
After studying the lives of 177 self-made millionaires over the course of five years, author Thomas C. Corley found that 86% of rich people work an average of 50 or more hours a week, and only 6% of the wealthy people surveyed found themselves unhappy because of work.
Most of them find extra hours before the sun rises. Nearly 50% of the self-made millionaires in Corley’s study woke up at least three hours before their workday actually began.
“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”
To start making your own good luck, get used to persisting, particularly in the face of failure. “Persistence makes you unstoppable,” Corley writes in his book “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life.” “Persistence allows you to learn what doesn’t work and continuously experiment until you find what does work. Persistence is the single greatest contributor to creating good luck. Those who persist, eventually get lucky.”
“You may think perhaps that a little tea, or a little punch now and then, diet a little more costly, clothes a little finer, and a little entertainment now and then, can be no great Matter; but many a little makes a mickle, and farther, beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”
The seemingly insignificant purchases can add up. “Society is now designed to help you ‘latté’ your future away,” financial adviser David Bach writes in his book, “Smart Couples Finish Rich.” “There’s no getting around it. Money is easy to waste. It’s especially easy to waste on the small stuff … The challenge is that the small stuff adds up — and before you know it, you’ve cost yourself millions.”
He recommends recording every expenditure you make for at least a week to determine where you can cut back. Next, redirect the money saved on those unnecessary daily expenses to a retirement account or other investment account so it can accumulate and grow into thousands of dollars over time.
“The reason this simple concept is so important is that if you can get yourself to believe you can find an additional $10 a day to put away in a retirement account, you can begin to take advantage of the concept called the ‘miracle of compound interest,'” Bach explains.
“Drive thy business, let not that drive thee.”
There is a significant difference between how rich people and average people choose to get paid: While the average person tends to work for money, the rich have money work for them.
“If you work for money, you give the power to your employer,” Robert Kiyosaki writes in the personal finance classic, “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” “If money works for you, you keep the power and control it.”
Working for money is the easier path — it’s what we’re taught in school (how to write a résumé, get a job, and work hard). Having your money work for you — by starting a company, being your own boss, or investing — requires calculated risk and a level of comfort with uncertainty.