5 Money Lessons From Ben Franklin That Still Strike Lightning Today

Ben Franklin is well known for his wisdom. Poor Richard’s Almanac remains as applicable today as it was nearly 300 years ago. Here we look at 5 money lessons from Benjamin Franklin that are relevant today.

You’re probably familiar with the saying that “time is money.” Well, it turns out that some money lessons are almost timeless themselves.

Benjamin Franklin didn’t just help form the United States when it came to politics, law, literature, and technology. He was also a self-made entrepreneur who is also thought to be the country’s first millionaire. Thanks to his financial smarts, the man doled out some solid advice for saving your pennies and viewing money in a healthy way.

It doesn’t take a pair of bifocals — invented by Ben Franklin himself — to see that some financial wisdom stays true through the ages. Here are five big money lessons from this Founding Father, which are still relevant today.

“A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned.”

This is probably the most popular quote people bring up from Ben Franklin. It’s also a simple idea that you might easily forget.

It is so easy to forget the value of putting money aside in a world where we can make purchases with the click of a button. When you’re not actually counting pennies, do you really value them?

Allowing your money to evaporate as soon as you receive it can make it seem like you’re not earning money at all. At the very least, you may feel like you don’t make enough to support your needs, when in reality, your wants have simply been too high.

Ben’s words serve as a reminder that sometimes the best way to give yourself a raise is to reevaluate your spending. Start setting more money aside in a high yield savings account, and look for ways to cut expenses on everyday things.

Debate: Would You Rather Earn More or Spend Less?

“Diligence Is the Mother of Good Luck.”

It may seem like the people around you simply have good luck when it comes to finances. However, most people with padded savings accounts, robust investments, and good credit scores actually have long histories of being diligent with money.

Let this quote inspire you to evaluate whether you’ve been proactive enough with your own money. Maybe you’ve been hoping for a stroke of good luck to cure all your financial issues. Or maybe you’ve been actively and diligently pursuing a stronger financial standing.

Either way, Ben’s words are a reminder that you shouldn’t just look at money as something to earn and spend. Instead, you can — and should — cultivate it to help you reach your goals. That way, you can enjoy a bit of “created luck.”

“Rather Go to Bed Without Dinner Than to Rise in Debt.”

Now, you don’t have to take this quote literally. There’s no need to actually go to bed hungry for the sake of saving money.

However, you can take a rich lesson from these words. It’s better to end your day with a list full of wants and luxuries than to give in to them all and financially set yourself back.

Related: 4 Steps to Take When You and Your Spouse Don’t Agree On Spending Habits

So maybe you skip out on pricey meals and drinks with dinner. But you won’t regret that when your credit card bill arrives. Or maybe you’ll drive around in an older, paid-off car rather than giving in to your hunger for a shiny new one.

Making small sacrifices and skipping some unnecessary expenses could help you to make strides in your financial life and avoid spender’s remorse.

“Never Keep Borrowed Money an Hour Beyond the Time You Promised.”

Old Ben really hit the nail on the head with this one. It comes to the root of so many financial problems that still haunt people today.

Unpaid debts can cause serious credit issues and take an emotional toll on the person who owes money. Paying interest, being charged late fees, and dealing with the financial effects of a lowered credit score all dig the financial hole even deeper. Combined, they make it incredibly difficult to climb out.

Make a plan to pay off any of your debts on time, at the very least, to avoid higher interest and late fees. If you’re currently in debt — even if you’re making payments on time — use a system like the debt avalanche to get out of debt as soon as possible.

How to Take Charge and Get Out of Debt… Fast

These will make it easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to avoid ever going back in.

“Don’t Give Too Much for the Whistle.”

This quote could have you scratching your head if you aren’t familiar with one famous story from Ben Franklin’s youth. In it, he gave all of his money to another boy in exchange for a simple whistle that caught his eye.

The whistle in your life could be any impulse buy or large purchase that is likely overpriced or simply unnecessary. Many people fall into the trap of overpaying for “whistles” in the forms of homes that cost more than they are really worth, gadgets that don’t really have any long-term value, or vehicles that lose value the moment you drive them off the lot.


It would be hard to argue that Benjamin Franklin was not an incredibly smart man. Between his financial successes, political achievements, and slew of still-valued inventions, he was certainly one of the wisest men our country has seen.

Luckily, he left behind a number of money values that still stand strong. They were worth following in the 1700s, and they’re worth following today.

Topics: Personal Finance

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