Crackerjack Greenback Prudent Advice for a Prosperous Future

December 18, 2008

The Way to Wealth – Nuggets of Wisdom from Benjamin Franklin: Careful Whom You Trust

Filed under: Prudence,The Basics,The Way to Wealth — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 4:00 am

       Last week, we talked about Leisure in Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth. Striving for leisure as an end in itself is never going to afford us any real leisure. But careful use of our time and hard work can provide comfort and leisure. However, it’s far too easy to let your hard work go to waste if you’re not careful whom you trust. Here is today’s quote:

       Trusting too much to others’ care is the ruin of many; … but a man’s own care is profitable; for, saith Poor Dick, learning is to the studious, and riches to the careful … And farther, if you would have a faithful servant, and one that you like, serve yourself.

The Way to Wealth – Benjamin Franklin

       When I wrote “Ripped Off: Can You Trust Your Financial Adviser?“, my main focus was looking at how financial advisers (stock brokers, bankers, realtors, financial planners, insurance agents, lawyers, and accountants) get paid and how that can affect the advice they give you. Franklin sums up the cautionary advice quite well: “Trusting too much to others’ care is the ruin of many.”

Shopping Around by Fabio Mascarenhas on Flickr       Whether you’re getting financial advice, paying for home repairs, or simply trying to run your business, you must always be careful who you trust. Even when you find a trustworthy adviser, repairman, or employee, you need to find a way to check up on their work. This could mean getting a second opinion, shopping around, or setting up a system to review and reward people. In anything you do, it’s wise to be careful and cautious when trusting others.

       Finally, if you can’t find anyone worth trusting with a task, it might be best if you do it yourself. Study up and decide if it is something that’s worth your time and within your abilities. If it is, you just might be the best person for the job.

December 11, 2008

The Way to Wealth – Nuggets of Wisdom from Benjamin Franklin: Leisure

Filed under: Earning,The Basics,The Way to Wealth,Values — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 4:00 am

       Last week, we talked about Little Strokes in Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth. By diligently working towards our goals little by little, we can accomplish great things. Does all this talk about diligence, hard work, and industry make you feel like Franklin doesn’t expect us to ever take time for leisure? Here is today’s quote:

       Methinks I hear some of you say, must a man afford himself no leisure? I will tell thee, my friend, what Poor Richard says, employ thy time well if thou meanest to gain leisure; and, since thou art not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour. Leisure is time for doing something useful; this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man never; so that, as Poor Richard says, a life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things.

The Way to Wealth – Benjamin Franklin

Yipeeee!!! by lepiaf.geo on Flickr       Much of Franklin’s writing is devoted to the power of industry and frugality, but what about fun? Without hard work, you’ll never have much time at all for leisure and pastimes. If you don’t work hard enough to save some money while covering your basic expenses, how do you ever expect to be able to take time off for relaxing (and be able to afford it)?

       Instead of viewing leisure and laziness as the ultimate goal in life, focus on using your time well and profitably. Labor brings more comfort than idleness. When we’re bored or idle, we often get ourselves in trouble. And we can’t sit around on the couch all day forever—eventually, we’ll need to work for something lest we starve or go homeless. Though the life of idleness and no work sounds appealing, it often leads to a lack of meaning and complete boredom. This is why many people find out retirement isn’t as great as they had once thought while they were slaving away at a job they hated.

       Find useful things to do with your time that you enjoy and work hard at them. Once you begin to enjoy your work and the results of your labor, you may start to view leisure in a different light. Success is likely to follow your hard work, and you’ll get the leisure time you’ve been dreaming of.

December 4, 2008

The Way to Wealth – Nuggets of Wisdom from Benjamin Franklin: Little Strokes

Filed under: Goals,The Basics,The Way to Wealth,Values — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 4:00 am

Black & White Stones & Water by Johanna Garlike on Flickr       Last week, we talked about Time Management in Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth. Even with top notch time management skills, we can often run into huge tasks that seem impossible or become so busy that it seems like we’ll never get anything done. Franklin’s advice is to remember that we can accomplish great things when we tackle them little by little. Here is today’s quote:

       ‘Tis true there is much to be done, and perhaps you are weak handed, but stick to it steadily, and you will see great effects, for constant dropping wears away stones, and by diligence and patience the mouse ate in two the cable; and little strokes fell great oaks, as Poor Richard says in his almanac, the year I cannot just now remember.

The Way to Wealth – Benjamin Franklin

       In nearly everything we take on, there is much to be done but often little time to do it in. Franklin’s advice is to “stick to it steadily” or keep at it until you accomplish your goal. Nature provides us many great examples of this truth. Some of the most amazing rock formations on Earth were formed by the power of steady work from water. Even a tiny drop can bore a hole through the thickest rock if given enough time. We, too, can reach astounding goals by simply working at them little by little over enough time.

Johnson's camp by flickr-rickr at Flickr       I really like the quote “little strokes fell great oaks”. It’s easy to remember and it’s a powerful example. Have you ever chopped down a tree with an axe before? Each stroke of the axe only takes out a tiny bit of the tree, but after enough strokes the tree falls over. Taking small steps to achieve your dreams may seem trivial at the time, but every little step gets you that much closer to the goal. Even the tiniest step forward is better than standing still or moving backwards.

       Do you have some huge task waiting for you right now? Perhaps it’s a large project at work, or starting your own business, or getting your finances in shape. Even if it seems like you’re a long way off from finishing these things, start taking small steps to achieve them now. A little progress here and a little progress there—you’ll soon be done!

November 27, 2008

The Way to Wealth – Nuggets of Wisdom from Benjamin Franklin: Time Management

Filed under: Earning,The Basics,The Way to Wealth,Values — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 4:00 am

       Last week, we talked about Wasting Time in Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth. Part of the solution to wasting time is time management. Here is today’s quote:

       Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy, as Poor Richard says; and 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, as we read in Poor Richard, who adds, drive thy business, let not that drive thee; and early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

The Way to Wealth – Benjamin Franklin

       By carefully managing our time and working hard, we make it much easier to get things done. If we get a late start to the day, we can hardly catch up. Keeping a schedule and giving time to the tasks we need to accomplish helps us avoid wasting time and get more done in a day than if we wander around aimlessly.

Time by John-Morgan on Flickr       Having control over your business and keeping track of your plans is important to successful work. If you let emergencies and interruptions dictate your activities for a day, you’ll probably find it difficult to do any of the stuff you wanted to. Distractions destroy our focus and make it tough to do anything very well. This is part of the reason why multitasking is a myth.

       Finally, we have one of Franklin’s most famous quotes. Getting enough rest at night is very important to keeping our bodies healthy and our minds clear. If we avoid sleeping in late we have more time to work, which invariably leads to wealth if successful. Franklin’s point in this quote is that careful time management makes our lives easier and less stressful, and hard work is bound to make us successful when combined with time management.

       If you have some time you’d like to spend learning more about personal finance, make sure you check out this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance. But make sure you don’t neglect the more important things you might need to do right now!

November 20, 2008

The Way to Wealth – Nuggets of Wisdom from Benjamin Franklin: Wasting Time

Filed under: The Basics,The Way to Wealth,Values — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 4:00 am

       Last week, we talked about The Lazy Tax (or the tax of idleness) in Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth. This week we’ll talk a little more about wasting time. Here is today’s quote:

       But dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of, as Poor Richard says. … If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be, as Poor Richard says, the greatest prodigality, since, as he elsewhere tells us, lost time is never found again …

The Way to Wealth – Benjamin Franklin

Love Life? Then Don’t Waste It!

Old Clock by macinate on Flickr       If we truly love life, then we’ll quickly realize that when we waste time we are wasting our lives. What counts as wasted time? I can’t answer that question for all people as we’ll all value our time differently. But I think we can safely say any time that passes by when we don’t derive some value from it (however you define that value) is wasted.

       Once we waste time it’s gone. There’s no way to get it back. The average human in the world has a little over 578,500 hours in a lifetime (over 657,400 if you’re American). Waste one of those hours and you can’t really get it back. Sure, you can do things to try to make up for that wasted time. But in truth, there’s no way to recapture the value of the time you have wasted.

       Franklin’s admonishment to us is that we should never waste time—because wasted time is wasted life. If we really want to live a purposeful life and live it to its fullest, we must be on guard against wasting time.

November 13, 2008

The Way to Wealth – Nuggets of Wisdom from Benjamin Franklin: The Lazy Tax

Filed under: Taxes,The Basics,The Way to Wealth,Values — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 4:00 am

       Continuing our series on Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth, here is today’s quote:

       “It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service. But idleness taxes many of us much more, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute sloth, or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle employments or amusements, that amount to nothing.”

The Way to Wealth – Benjamin Franklin

Diamond-Tipped Government?

Fat Sam by Randy Son of Robert on Flickr       When I read the first part of this quote, I wanted to laugh. I personally pay 25% of my income for federal, state, and local taxes including Medicare and Social Security taxes. Franklin says a hard government would tax its people 10%. What would he think of 25%?! 🙂 I often wonder what our Founding Fathers would have to say about the current state of America.

Wasted Time

       On the other hand, how much time do I waste and how much is that time worth? I’m not talking about the necessary leisure to rest from work and spend time with family and friends – but just the shear amount of wasted time where I’m neither working nor involved in some leisure I truly enjoy. How many hours are wasted in front of the television just watching whatever happens to be on (so many better options here)? Or sitting around waiting for a doctor’s appointment (we could be reading instead)? Or time we spend just surfing around on the Internet letting time slip by while we’re so easily distracted with the millions of things you can find online?

       What if we put a dollar value to all that wasted time? How much would it be worth? Would we be able to pay our taxes easier if that money were in our pocket? Would our taxes even need to be so high since there would be more income to tax? Franklin’s point about taxes was that we probably wouldn’t need to complain about them if we actually used our time wisely. What do you think?

November 6, 2008

The Way to Wealth – Nuggets of Wisdom from Benjamin Franklin: Heavy Taxes

Filed under: Taxes,The Basics,The Way to Wealth,Values — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 6:00 am

Benjamin Franklin (Philadelphia - Old City: Second Bank Portrait Gallery - Benjamin Franklin by wallyg on Flickr)       I really like Benjamin Franklin’s “The Way to Wealth”. Taken as a whole, this pamphlet has some very timely advice for the current situation in America. But you can just as easily take it in chunks and find a lot of wisdom in his witty sayings. Well, they were witty for his time and many still are. But some of the words he uses would have been better understood in his day, so I’ll try to put them in context for our time. I’m going to take many excerpts from “The Way to Wealth” and discuss them over several posts.

       “The Way to Wealth” begins with a scene of people about to go shopping who are complaining about the bad times and taxes in their country. (Sound familiar?) One man asks Father Abraham, the main character in this short story, for his advice.

       Father Abraham stood up and replied, “If you would have my advice, I will give it you in short; for ‘A word to the wise is enough,’ as Poor Richard says.”

The Way to Wealth – Benjamin Franklin

       So my posts are going to be short and only discuss one or two nuggets of Old Ben’s wisdom at a time. In case you are wondering, “Poor Richard” was one of Benjamin Franklin’s pseudonyms. Here is today’s quote:

       “Friends,” said he, “the taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; 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; and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement. However, let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us: ‘God helps them that help themselves,’ as Poor Richard says.

The Way to Wealth – Benjamin Franklin

Uncle Sam by AJC1 on Flickr       Yes, the taxes we pay to the government are heavy, but they’re not the only taxes we pay. Our laziness taxes us twice as much as the government does. Our pride taxes us three times as much, and our stupid mistakes tax us four times as much. These heavier taxes cannot be eased by our politicians or tax collectors, so if you want to save yourself from these taxes you’ll have to do it yourself.

       Listen to good advice, take it to heart, and something might be done to help you avoid the taxes of laziness, pride, and foolishness. By the way, “God helps them that help themselves” is not in the Bible, but God does encourage us to work diligently, avoid pride, and seek wisdom many times in the Bible. 😉

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