The man on the $100 bill has the answer to whether money brings happiness.
How will the math work out at the end of the month? It’s times like these when desperation knocks on the door that it helps to hold on to quotes and advice from people who set the course of history, teaching a new way of dealing with money. For example, Benjamin Franklin.
He is one of the “fathers” of the American nation. Having produced important work in technology (he attempted to launch a freezer in the mid-18th century), journalism, ethnographic studies, meteorology, ethnography, and oceanography, but also domestic and foreign policy, he was one of the statesmen who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of America.
Today, he is considered the most important “president” of the USA without having passed the presidency and is depicted on the $100 bill. His life can provide useful financial lessons to this day.
1. Recognizing the value of things
When Benjamin Franklin was 7 years old, he saw a kid in his neighborhood playing with a whistle. He was immediately so taken with the toy that he gave him all the money he had in his pockets to buy it. When he returned home, however, reality landed on him uneventfully: His parents, upon seeing the whistle, argued with him, because to acquire it he had paid four times more than its value.
This incident became his beacon of truth in seeking the true value of things.
2. Make what you need yourself
His father wanted to bring him to the church and devote himself to the study of the clergy. But then, he decided to take him to work, to teach him how to make candles.
He wasn’t having much fun at this job. Then, his father took him as an assistant to various craftsmen he knew. Although Benjamin Franklin ultimately became neither a builder nor a cabinetmaker, these experiences inspired him, and as time passed he saw this inner need for independence grow steadily.
This need prompted him to make some small but significant attempts at emancipation: First, as a student, he learned to cook for himself and with the money his family gave him to pay for the food in the school’s canteen, he bought more books.
Then, when he decided to write and publish his first texts, he saw that there were no printers in the Philadelphia area where he lived, with every manuscript being sent to England (!) for printing. Then he found the solution: He became the first American to make his own printer and his own ink.
3. Invest in yourself
The real “capital” that each of us has to preserve and invest properly, according to Benjamin Franklin, is ourselves. Thus, he had learned to close his ears to the education and work that his father wanted to impose on him. Instead, he preferred to read relentlessly, to “suck” libraries in order to find the things that could give him not only a good career with generous salaries but also a beautiful life, with partnerships, friendships, and relationships that would last in time.
Guess what: He did it even more.
4. Find people with the same values
In one of his first business attempts, he found himself in London, with the intention of opening a printing company. There he found himself with his childhood friend James Ralph, who was trying to find a job in England as an actor, journalist, or even a civil servant. So as he was trying to set up his business, Ralph was constantly lending him money, being an unemployed man who couldn’t get a job.
When the knot came to an end, Franklin decided to stop acting as his roommate’s piggy bank, and the two broke up. Then Benjamin Franklin decided to seek only friends with whom he shared the same values.
5. Time is money
One of the first known stories of the “bring me your responsible child” category has been told and it is worth remembering.
It was a passerby who wanted to buy one of the printed books in his shop. “How much do you want for that,” he asked the clerk, and he replied, “$1.” It seemed expensive to him. “Can I give you less for that,” he asked insistently. Then, in his turn, the employee also insisted, saying that the price is the same and will not change.
“Is Mr. Benjamin Franklin in the store,” asked the exasperated customer. “Yes, he’s working, he doesn’t want to be disturbed,” replied the employee. But the customer came in and asked for a better price for the book he wanted to buy. “The best price I can do is $1.50,” he then confidently replied. “Well, your clerk was giving me $1,” the customer replied in bewilderment. “Indeed. But I just lost a dollar interrupting my work to talk to you,” she explained and shut him up.
It is worth emphasizing that the man bought the book, giving what Benjamin Franklin asked for. The phrase “time is money” goes back to the central protagonist of this text. As much as it sounds like a cynical capitalist saying, it is very true. Every job you leave in the middle: that you cancel/postpone for a trivial reason, can directly have an impact on your pay.
6. Be patient and dedicate yourself to what you love
“I try to dedicate myself to every job I do and not distract myself from work with various get-rich-quick jobs. Patience is the surest means of finding real wealth through work,” wrote Benjamin Franklin himself when he was only 20 years old.
Of course, setting up his own print shop was no easy feat. Within a period of 10 years, he tried to work in a printing house in London, to learn the job perfectly, to find the necessary funds and the space of his dreams.
Until then, he lived meagerly, but with his eyes fixed on the future of his working independence, on the object he loved.
7. Money does bring happiness
Wealth for Benjamin Franklin was not measured by luxury, but by the improvement of life. He associated the acquisition of financial comfort with a life that included his favorite pursuits such as reading (in great abundance) and the ability to spend creative time in the company of people with whom he shares the same ideals and the same way of thinking.
Such was the real happiness that money brought him when at the age of 40 he managed to sell his printing press, having accumulated enough money for the rest of his life.
Contributed by Nil Lenon
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