Over the past few weeks PathForward Blogger extraordinaire, Samantha, has been exploring timeless fiscal advice offered up by some of history’s best known and most accomplished financial minds – which we have collected here. While the money-making gurus featured below may no longer be with us, their words and insights live on, continuing to resonate to this day. Read on to see what Benjamin Franklin, Sadie Alexander, Walt Disney, and Booker T. Washington had to say about making the most out of every dollar and every day.
Benjamin Franklin on Saving your Benjamins
In 1758, Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay called The Way to Wealth, which is essentially a systematic code to secure your financial future. Much of Benjamin’s advice was based the theme of frugality – sounds cheap, I know. But it’s legit and there’s a reason why this viewpoint is still relevant even after 250+ years.
“Buy what you don’t need, and you will sell what you need.”– Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin believed that success in finance requires self-discipline and the ability to separate wants and needs and delay those "wants" until you can actually afford them – sorry, not sorry AMEX. So how can we save money but still enjoy things? Here's my 21st century take on it:
Between gym memberships, music, streaming, and life-style subscriptions, expenses have a way of going from 0 to 100 real quick. IDK if it's just me, but it seems like every time I need to run out to “grab something,” it ends up costing me a Benjamin (no pun intended!). Saving money is hard when you live pay-check to pay-check, got bills to pay, and an expensive taste in cosmetic products. But what I've found to be really helpful and empowering is a savings account that offers automatic transfers- TG for technology! Having that auto-withdrawal capability makes saving and living within your means so much easier for three reasons:
#1 You don't have to think about it
Automatic saving transfers simply take the guesswork out saving. I love not having to think about how much I need to put aside each month because my account does the work for me. The only thing you gotta' worry about is increasing your transfer amount once you get that raise or promotion – like that’s a bad thing, lol!
#2 False promises
Imagine yourself on Friday night after getting paid. Does "I'll put some of this money away later" sound familiar? Been there, did not do that. An automatic savings plan keeps you from making excuses and prevents the (sigh) disappointment of not following through with your goals.
#3 Living within your means
Practicing “frugality” doesn't necessarily mean you can't treat yourself. I mean YOLO, right? Rather, it's about taking action on your financial goals. An automatic saving plan ensures that you're paying yourself first and offers peace of mind for those ‘treat yourself’ moments - like that $25 face mask that guarantees fewer wrinkles after one use.
Sadie Alexander on Making it Happen
Talk about girl power! Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander overcame some MAJOR obstacles as an African-American woman in the early 1900s; a time well before the advances of the civil rights movements of the mid-century. But Sadie refused to let social adversity come between her ambitions, becoming the first black woman to receive a doctorate in economics from the Penn’s School of Education (now University of Pennsylvania) in 1921. And as if that wasn’t enough, she later enrolled in Penn’s Law School where she graduated with a law degree in 1927.
As you can imagine, earning two advanced degrees as a black woman in the early 20th century was no easy task. Sadie struggled with racial discrimination from both her peers and professors. But boy, did she prove em' all wrong! Her will to succeed coupled with her elite academic achievements allowed her to become the first woman to practice law in Pennsylvania – talk about a boss babe! Sadie's triumphant accomplishments made way for a successful career advocating against racial discrimination and social inequality.
"I never looked for anybody to hold the door open for me. I knew well that the only way I could get that door open was to knock it down; because I knocked all of them down." – Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
Sadie's remarkable accomplishments prove that hard work and determination are the doorways to success. And while her words are mostly about overcoming obstacles, her outlook on work ethic and self-reliance is the cornerstone for improving financial wealth. Let's talk about it:
Unless you hit those lucky lotto numbers, you gotta' work to get that money. When I first started on my career path, I switched jobs a lot. LinkedIn recruiters prob hated my profile, but I refused to stick with a job that didn't sharpen my skill set and support my future goals. Could I have stuck with the same position and continued to make a less-than-average salary just because I was comfortable? Sure. But I choose to better myself and get as much experience as possible to eventually land a job that fulfilled me and my bank account. So how can you knock down walls towards greater financial success? Allow me (and Sadie) to inspire you:
#1 Invest in yourself. It pays the most interest!
In college, I was studying to earn my degree in Marketing. But I loved personal training and considered changing major to Exercise Science. I called my mom to discuss, but her response was, "you want to live in sweatpants for your entire life?" Buzz kill! Long story short, I graduated with my Marketing degree but later invested in a NASM Personal Trainer Certification, which landed me a General Manager and Header Trainer position at two brand-new kickboxing gyms. Despite opposition, I followed my dreams to one of the best investment decisions I ever made. Investing in furthering your education can open many doors and take your career and financial wealth to the next level!
#2 Say YES to (almost) Everything
One of the best pieces of advice I've ever gotten came from my grandfather. He told me that if I wanted to be wealthy and successful, I needed to say yes to (almost) anything that would help me get a foot in the door. For example, if your boss asks if you'd be interested in joining a new project team, say yes! If there's an opportunity to mingle and network with other professionals, go for it! If you’re offered a new role that doubles-up your responsibilities, say yes, even if the money isn't there just yet. Remember, growth doesn't happen in your comfort zone! When you open yourself up to opportunity, the possibilities are endless.
#3 Self-Reliance is Power
Is there anything more powerful (and empowering) than being self-made? Our girl Sadie Alexander wasn't waiting around for someone to hold the door for her. She knew she had to knock doors down to make life happen. When you are self-reliant, you empower your ability to charge ahead by killing it at your job, opening up a savings account, investing in education, or simply setting new goals and working your @%$ off to reach them! Don't forget that you are the only one who can determine your success. Now go out there and get it!
Walt Disney on Getting it Done
Walt Disney has gotta' be one of the most impressive success stories of all time – hello, DISNEY WORLD! Walt was just like any other kid growing up. There were no silver spoons or trust funds. He was just a farm boy in Missouri who loved drawing cartoon pictures of his neighbor's horse. Walt's family later moved to Chicago, where he started taking classes at the Chicago Art Institute and illustrated for the school paper. In his very early career, Walt began his own cartoon company called Laugh-O-Gram, but his business didn't make enough money, forcing him to declare bankruptcy.
But this financial failure did not stop Disney from chasing his dreams! He moved to Hollywood and created the first animation with sound, Steamboat Willie, starring the now beloved Mickey and Minnie Mouse. This major accomplishment in Walt's career was just the beginning of his lasting success and the path that led to the opening of Disney theme parks. Talk about NEVER giving up.
"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." – Walt Disney
Walt Disney believed that success was achieved by making a plan and taking the steps to see it through. In other words, stop sleeping on your dreams! Think about how many missed opportunities we've experienced in our lives from procrastinating. Let’s face it, the voice in our heads can be our own worst enemy and to be successful in money, and life in general, we need to stop overthinking and start doing. Easier said than done? Here's my take on it:
#1 Write Down Your Goals
As I've gotten older, I’ve realized that New Year's Resolutions shouldn't be an afterthought. Resolutions allow us to start something new and make strides to reach a higher level of success. For me, I keep a journal where I jot down my goals for the year and plans/ideas to get me there. And while some destinations may be more long-term and carry over from year to year (like making six-figures!) my journal holds me accountable for taking action. You can journal any time of the year and don't have to procrastinate on this simple exercise until 2021 – got ya! Today is a great day to begin.
#2 Get Support
I've found that talking to people who inspire, motivate, and challenge me has helped me further my career and financial wellbeing. For instance, when I need savings and 401K advice from a money expert, I talk to my father. At work, I have a go-to colleague who provides me feedback which helps me finetune my craft. And when I need to see things more clearly, I talk to an intuitive Psychic on the regular. Getting support and perspective from people you trust can help you overcome roadblocks and spark inner growth.
#3 Follow Your Dreams
Walt Disney showed us that you gotta' get back up and try again no matter how many times you fall. Even if your dreams seem far out of reach, you're empowered to make life happen. If you're sick and tired of your job and want to switch career paths, invest in yourself and your education. If you're tired of living paycheck to paycheck, start practicing frugality and saving techniques. You're capable of anything you put your mind to, and sometimes failure is our greatest teacher.
Booker T. Washington on the Power of Perseverance
Booker T. Washington was one of the most influential African American educators and leaders of his time. His early life was not easy, and his story is one of struggle and strength. Moving from slavery to freedom to working long, exhausting hours to support his family, education seemed far out of reach. But Booker T. was passionate about learning and did not let adversity stand between him getting an education. Washington attended night school and later walked over 500 miles to attend the Hampton Institute, one of the few institutions offering education to black freedmen. Booker T. was an excellent student and highly regarded amongst his peers and superiors. This positive support system paved the way for his future successes. In 1881, Booker T. founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now known as Tuskegee University) and taught higher education to black people throughout the south. He dedicated his life to providing others with the same educational opportunities as he had. An educator, author, orator, and adviser to multiple Presidents of the United States, Booker T. Washington had an achiever's mindset and demonstrated that hard work and ambition conquers all.
"I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed." – Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington believed that success is measured by the distance you’ve come in relation to your starting place. In other words, where you are "now" is defined by the obstacles you've faced along the way. This quote is a reminder that comparison is the thief of joy, and that anyone who's reached a high level of success has worked through their own challenges to get there. We all gotta' start somewhere, and sometimes we need to rock our rose-colored glasses to see the bigger picture. Taking notice of how far you've come will help you put things into perspective and move you closer to your financial goals. Here's my take on it:
#1 Celebrate your success
You owe it to yourself to be proud of how far you've come! No matter how many crappy jobs or life-sucking experiences you've been through, those challenges have, in some way or another, paved your path towards a better outcome. 9 years ago, straight out of college, I started as a secretary in a medical office. Was this job ideal? No. Was I making the big bucks? Not at all. But I learned through this experience that I love helping people and this spark of passion guided my career path forward. From secretary to personal trainer to health educator to healthcare marketer, I knew these jobs were not my end-all, but steppingstones to where I am today, professionally and financially. My advice is never to regret your experiences, but instead use that knowledge to set bigger and better goals.
#2 Stop comparing!
We all do it. We are human, after all. But STAHP it! When we compare ourselves to other's success, it's an instant vibe killer! Every single entrepreneur, motivated professional, or financially successful historical figure has overcome challenges and failures along the way. You need to focus on YOU and surround yourself with people who support, inspire, and motivate you – like Booker T. Washington! Be patient and trust in your path because sometimes it takes a little longer to get to where you wanna' be. Take it from me. I'm the girl who expects things to happen yesterday. But I've learned to trust my process, not force things, and keep moving forward!
#3 Who are you trying to impress?
Are you overextending yourself to look more successful? I'm guilty as charged! Between Sunday brunches with friends and shopping for material things, there was a time where I didn't save a dime. I wanted to show off my fancy shoes and clothes because, in my mind, this made me look "successful" to others. And truthfully, I regret it. Who was I trying to impress anyway? IDK! One of the greatest lessons I've learned is the value of saving, and that material things are great as long as they don't put a halt on your financial goals. What's more important, buying a house or that Gucci belt? When you put things into perspective, saving money becomes a no-brainer.
And there you have it, our full suite of Budgeting Tip from Beyond. We hope you find the insights offered to be as illuminating and helpful as we did! If you still find yourself unsure about your next steps, talk to an accurate Psychic and see what the future has in store for you!