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by Emma Newbery | Published on Sept. 15, 2022
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From the ancient Greeks to present day heroes, these quotes are worth pinning on your wall.
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Money has been around for thousands of years. In that time, all kinds of great minds have shared their views on how to manage it, spend it, and save it. But even after thousands of years, it can still be a challenge to juggle the never-ending demands on our wallets. Here are some pearls of wisdom from philosophers, presidents, investors, and even musicians — going all the way back to Roman times.
Buffett isn’t the first person to talk about buying stocks during bad times. As far back as the 18th century, Baron Rothschild said, “The time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets, even if the blood is your own.” The thinking is that when times are good, people feel optimistic and even quality investments can become overvalued.
When prices are falling, people get scared and panic sell. That’s when shrewd investors can pick up solid investments at lower prices. But like many pieces of investment advice, it’s easier said than done. You still have to identify assets that will perform well long term, otherwise you’re simply buying a failing asset that could fall further.
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The best-selling author, speaker, and financial coach who wrote Your 33 Day Money Action Plan and other books on managing your money, sums up why borrowing is not always a great idea. Sure, there are different types of debt — a mortgage loan is different from carrying high interest credit card debt. But at some point in the future you’ll have to pay back what you borrow, plus interest.
If you’ve ever found yourself tempted to put a vacation, new outfit, or restaurant meal on your credit card because you can’t pay for it upfront, keep Morris’s words in mind. You are heaping pain onto your future self so that you can buy things you don’t really need today. Rather than taking on debt to buy something now, put money aside so you can pay upfront in future.
It’s all too easy to put off making a budget, but it is a great way to keep track of what you’re spending. It can also reveal a lot about you. The way we spend our money is a powerful indicator of what’s important to us. If you aren’t sure where your money goes each month, try using a budgeting app to help track your spending. You might be surprised at what you discover. A budget can identify ways to save money, but it can also help you make sure your spending aligns with your values.
One of the core tenets of handling money is to spend less than you earn. That way you can avoid taking on debt, squirrel away savings for emergencies, and invest for the future. It’s not easy when you’re juggling seemingly endless demands on your purse strings, but it really is a method anyone can use to slowly build wealth.
Compound interest is essentially the way that you can earn — or pay — interest on your interest. It’s a powerful force that can add up to big savings. For example, let’s say you invest $1,000 in stocks and are able to earn a return of 7%. In 10 years, that $1,000 could be worth almost $2,000. And if you leave it alone for 30 years, it could be worth over $7,500.
However, as Einstein points out, it can also cost you dearly if you carry debt. Let’s say you carry a balance of $1,000 on a credit card that charges 18%. If you make a minimum payment of $25 each month, the amount you owe will keep accumulating interest. It would take you over five years to pay off the debt, and you’d pay an extra $500 in interest.
We jump from the words of a 20th century physicist to an ancient Greek philosopher. Epictetus was a former enslaved person who eventually founded his own school of philosophy. There can often be no end to the things we want — you save up for a new tablet, but then you want accessories to go with it. Or you buy a fashionable dress, only to see another incredible outfit you want just as much. Epictetus’s words remind us that sometimes wealth is about an attitude toward life rather than the things we own.
There will always be people who have more than you do, as well as those who have less. Bear in mind that many wealthy people don’t live in fancy houses or drive expensive cars. And a lot of the people who live flashy lifestyles aren’t necessarily wealthy. If you focus on the things you don’t have, you’re more likely to take on debt to buy things you don’t necessarily need.
This advice from Dolly Parton’s mother applies to various parts of life. Giving can often be its own reward, but if you don’t also look after yourself, you can end up in difficulties. Whether it’s the way you work, the way you approach your money, or the way you relate to others, keep something back. Save a small percentage of your income, make time to do the things you enjoy, and try to find a work-life balance.
Money is something we use every day, but many people are nervous of talking about it and often just hope it will work itself out. But a lot of the wisdom from all these great thinkers boils down to being conscious about what you do with your money. Whether it is being aware of how your desires influence your ability to save, or avoiding high-interest debt so that your future self doesn’t have to pay it off, understanding how money works is the first step to building strong financial foundations.
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Emma owns the English-language newspaper The Bogota Post. She began her editorial career at a financial website in the U.K. over 20 years ago and has been contributing to The Ascent since 2019.
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.
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