Fourth of July financial wisdom from the Founding Fathers

Fourth of July: Nine thoughts on personal economy from the Founding Fathers.

By , Guest blogger

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    Fourth of July wisdom from Benjamin Franklin (portrayed in 2005 in Philadelphia by actor Bill Ochester): 'An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.'
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Let’s celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence by celebrating some of America’s founding father’s thoughts on personal finance.

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
- Benjamin Franklin

One thing that I feel is never wasted is money and time spent on purposeful education. If you’re genuinely engaged in learning about a topic and growing as a person, the time and money spent learning and growing is among the most valuable you can spend. It increases your body of knowledge, allows you to understand and solve problems of a new variety, and gives you new skills to share with the world (and with potential employers).

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There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.
- John Adams

At the same time, if you do nothing but learning and do not share it, you’re missing out on the flip side of life. Learning is a lifelong journey, but it’s one taken hand in hand with making our way in the world with the tools we have right now.

We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude.
- Thomas Jefferson

In other words, we have a choice between financial independence and financial dependence. If we spend less, we are in control of our own money. We don’t owe others. We have the freedom to change our employment if we so wish. If we spend outside of our means, we are no longer in control of our money. We owe others and we don’t have the freedom to change our employment other than to chase the dollar regardless of how oppressive or soul-sucking the work is. What do you choose?

We cannot make events. Our business is wisely to improve them.
- Samuel Adams

Life happens. Good events happen. Bad events happen. We can’t foresee most of them. The people who achieve their dreams are the ones that hop on board with the good events (and have the resources to do so) and are also able to roll through the bad events. How do you do that? You do that by not spending everything you earn and keeping some of those earnings for yourself, to deal with the bad and take advantage of the good.

That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.
- Thomas Paine

Often, the most valuable things in our lives are the things that seem like they’re constantly there. Our homes. Our families. Our closest friends. That’s where the real value is. What’s genuinely more important to you: your best friend or whatever material item you dream about owning?

Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. It is better be alone than in bad company.
- George Washington

You are impacted over and over again by the people you associate with. Their opinions and attitudes and reputations rub off on you. If you want to fail, surround yourself with negative people with a history of failure. If you want to succeed, surround yourself with people committed to succeeding.

Commercial shackles are generally unjust, oppressive, and impolitic.
- James Madison

Debt is a very painful game to play. The word “shackles” is actually pretty descrpitive, as is the word “oppressive.” You’re stuck when you’re in debt. You can’t make the choices you might want to make in your life – switching jobs, being a stay at home parent, starting your own business. Debt eats those opportunities – and for what?

In the general course of human nature, A power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will.
- Alexander Hamilton

If you allow yourself to be in a position where you don’t have any money in reserve for yourself, you’re completely at the mercy of the people who pay you. You will jump when they say jump. You’ll work neverending hours and subject yourself to countless unenjoyable events. Why? You’ve given your employers all of the power.

The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.
- John Hancock

The ability to communicate with others, state your positions, and convince others to go along with you is one that will serve you well for success no matter what path in life you choose.

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