Personal Improvement

Be Like Benjamin Franklin

Last Updated on January 13, 2019 Last Updated on January 13, 2019
benjamin-frankin-quotes

Among the Founding Fathers, perhaps the greatest collection of Americans in history, Ben Franklin was a rock star. He was the only Founding Father who signed all three of the documents that unyoked America from Britain, The Declaration of Independence, The Treaty of Paris, and the Constitution.

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He was a writer, a publisher, a statesman, an inventor, and a renowned ladies man. Ben Franklin was a civic activist, an abolitionist and founded the Philadelphia Abolition Society, the first abolition organization in America. He was the first person to petition Congress to abolish slavery two months before his death in 1790, decades before the country fought a Civil War over the issue.

He was timeless because Benjamin Franklin quotes are still relevant today.

And he knew a thing or two about money because Forbes ranks him as the 89th richest man in American history. That even though he never patented any of his inventions. He preferred to gift them to the public as so many were things he invented to make everyday life easier.

There are smart men, and there are wise men, rarely do you find a man who is both smart and wise. Ben Franklin was both. In his wisdom, he has much to teach us. So in an age filled with greedy, stupid, vulgar politicians, let’s all strive to be like Benjamin Franklin.

Accept Full Responsibility For Your Life

“Having been poor is no shame, being ashamed of it is.”

We can find ourselves in a bad financial situation for lots of reasons, some of them are our fault, and some of them are not. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is accepting that the responsibility to fix those bad situations is ours.

Beating yourself up over your circumstances and being ashamed of them is not helpful. When we’re ashamed of something, it can prevent us from seeking help. When you’re too ashamed to talk about something, you aren’t going to face and address the problem.

You’re in credit card debt. Maybe due to medical expenses or maybe because you saw a credit card as free money and spent accordingly. Even “little” expenses add up when you’re putting them all on credit cards.

It doesn’t matter how it happened although if it was because of your inability to use a credit card like a responsible adult, you need to understand how and why it happened so you can prevent it from happening again.

What matters is how you’re going to get out of credit card debt. You can apply for a debt consolidation loan with Lending Club, you can call each card and ask for a lower interest rate, and you can use the snowball or stacking method to pay the cards off.

Blaming someone else for your problems doesn’t fix them. Accepting responsibility for them is the first step towards fixing them.

Own it, fix it, learn from it, and move on.

Steady Diligence is the Way to Wealth

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

Ben Franklin didn’t spring from the earth the American genius we see him as today. He wasn’t born to a wealthy family; he was a working man for his entire life. Franklin always understood the value of money and a good bargain as evidenced by perhaps his most famous quote, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

His success was constant proof that if you work hard, you can create the life you want. There is no such thing as an instant success rather success is built from doing small things every day that will help you reach a goal. Rich men and women aren’t made overnight.

That’s the concept behind Acorns. By investing small amounts of money often, you can grow your spare change into real money without even noticing.

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Invest In Yourself and Don’t Get Stuck in Your Ways

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

“When you are finished changing, you’re finished.”

“Many people die at twenty-five and aren’t buried until they are seventy-five.”

College in the United States is insanely expensive leaving people are mired in student loan debt. But education will make you a better man or woman and the right degree can pay for itself many times over.

student-loan-refinance

College isn’t the only option for learning, and you don’t have to be 18 to learn something new. Do you hate your career and want to make a change but don’t have the time or money to go to or back to college?

There are more than 25,000 courses available at Skillshare. Some courses could help you start a new career like coding, accounting, and marketing. Some courses could be for fun, a way to learn something new like watercolor painting, calligraphy, and knife skills (for cooking, not stabbing people).

New experiences are the stuff life is made of.

Don’t stop learning, exploring, trying, and failing and trying again.

Map Out Your Day

“What Good Shall I Do This Day?”

There is bliss in routine, something Ben Franklin understood.

Ben Franklin's day

Notice how early he got up, 5:00 am. I know many people balk at getting up early but I’ve been doing it for years, and it has improved my life in lots of ways. Most significantly, I’m much more productive.

Every afternoon, Franklin looked over his accounts. We don’t recommend looking at your Mint account every day, but you should be checking it at least once a month, more often if you tend to go over budget. A small leak caught early can mean avoiding a deluge later.

Notice how long Ben gave himself for lunch. He wasn’t gagging down a sandwich at his desk. The clue is in the name, lunch “break.” You need a break in your workday.

Sit away from your desk to eat, get outside for a few minutes, even a quick walk around the block in the fresh air and sunshine can energize you for the rest of the workday.

At the end of the day, he tidies things. A cluttered home is a cluttered mind.

“Clutter, physical and mental, can interrupt your flow —your ability to move and to think. It turns out that your well-being could also become victim to what we call the “clutter effect.” A collection of recent studies on stress, life satisfaction, physical health, and cognition all speak to the value of streamlining.”

Ben winds down before bed. Having a bedtime ritual, a bath or shower, a cup of herbal tea, listening to music or reading for a bit can signal to your body that it’s time to start shutting things down for the night.

Either Write Something Worth Reading or Do Something Worth Writing

“If you would not be forgotten As soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing.”

Don’t just do something to be doing something and do it half-assed. Your time is not infinite, how do you want to spend it? Watching TV, playing video games, living in a place you hate, working a job you hate?

You control your life. Do something with it.

“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in sunlight.”

This quote isn’t paraphrased and I think it speaks to all of us. Consider the last thing you were anxious about. Did that thing happen? Probably not.

Everyone has worries, and some of them are legitimate, but the worst usually doesn’t happen. What did happen is you wasted a lot of time and energy and worked yourself into a state of high anxiety over….nothing.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Learn to recognize unrealistic worries from the real ones and then find ways to prevent the real ones from coming true.

Worried you’re not investing enough for retirement? Find ways to cut expenses and make more money so you can start investing more. Worried the market is going to crash and you’ll lose all your money? Well, it is. No one knows when but it will happen.

What can you do to prevent it? Nothing. What can you do to avoid losing all your money?

Dollar cost average, diversify, and start an opportunity fund.

And always try to look on the bright side, a cliche I hate so we’ll use Ben’s much better, “Keep in sunlight.”

What’s the bright side of the market crashing? You and your opportunity fund swoop in and scoop up some awesome bargains.

Be Content and Don’t Compromise Your Integrity for Money

“Contentment makes poor men rich; Discontent makes rich men poor.”

“Honesty is the best policy.”

There is nothing wrong with striving for more, we all want to better ourselves in some way. But you have to find a way to be happy with where you are right now. If you’re always chasing after the next thing, you’re going to miss out on a lot.

This quote is similar to one that really smacked me in the face.

“Remember when you wanted what you currently have?”

For years what I wanted more than anything was to move to New Orleans. And now I’m here. Whenever I’m feeling unhappy with some aspect of my life, I remember that quote. I have lots of things I want, but I have the thing that at one time, I wanted more than anything else.

French Quarter

Try it; it really does make you feel better.

Most of us have probably had the opportunity to get something we want by compromising our values or beliefs.

Andrew and Laura wanted LMM to make money, or at least to stop costing them money. And they had a lot of sponsorship offers that would have made that possible a lot sooner than it happened. But some of those sponsors were pushing products that they felt were not in the best interest of anyone trying to improve their finances and some that were downright harmful.

So they said no, without even thinking about it. They weren’t going to compromise their integrity or that of LMM for a fast buck.

Be Humble My Friends

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”

If you only ever think about yourself, never offering good deeds or kind words to others, your life will be very small and sad and lonely. No matter how much of an introvert you are, you need people in your life to live a full life. Having diverse social groups even improves your physical health.

And plenty of studies have revealed biological theories that may explain what makes us healthier when we feel supported: lower blood pressure, better hormone function, stronger immune systems and possibly lower levels of inflammation.

Having good financial friends improves your financial health too. Peer pressure can help us make good decisions just like it can lead us making bad decisions. Good financial friends won’t suggest dinner at a place you can’t afford just like fitness friends won’t goad you into ordering dessert.

Be Like Ben

The beautiful thing about wisdom is that time doesn’t affect it. Wisdom is always, well, wise. Ben Franklin was a great man, a wise man who still has a lot to teach us. So let’s all be like Ben.

Bonus Quotes

Ben Franklin was a font of inspirational quotes, so I wanted to leave you with a few more of my favorites.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

This is what’s happening when you get sexually groped by a TSA agent.

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”

“I’m sorry,” is a complete sentence. Remember that during your next argument.

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

There is nothing wrong with not knowing; there is only something wrong with not finding out.

“Lost time is never found again.”

Stop procrastinating!

“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”

Je Suis Charlie

Show Notes

Alien Church: A New England IPA

Galaxy Double Dry Hopped Juicy Bits: A New Egland IPA from Weld Works

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