It is not hard to imagine how different it was in 1788 compared to today. There were no smartphones because the phone was not even invented yet, the conception of the Internet was still over 175 years off and the idea of traveling into space would have been laughed at since it still took weeks to get a letter across the State. Times were very different but some things that were true then are still true today. I was wandering around the Internet the other day and was greeted by a quote from Benjamin Franklin, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” I started thinking about how old wisdom was still true in these modern times.
Old wisdom was based on simpler facts. In 1788 you could see what was around you using the naked eye. In 2013, we can use an electron microscope to see at the subatomic level and conversely use a telescope to see to the furthest reaches of the cosmos. It was simpler then because they could not fathom that there was that much more to the world. I started wondering if that old wisdom could still be relevant today. I decided that I would use Benjamin Franklin as a benchmark and see how his words of wisdom from over 225 years ago could still help us today.
What follows are sixteen quotes from Benjamin Franklin. Over the next several weeks I want to take each quote and apply it to modern times. How do they fit in with today’s concerns in our financial lives and what wisdom can we derive from words spoken all those years ago?
- A fool and his money are soon parted.
- Creditors have better memories than debtors.
- Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt.
- A penny saved is a penny earned.
- Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
- By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
- An Investment in Knowledge Pays the Best Dividends
- In the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.
- Time is money.
- Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.
- Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.
- When in doubt, don’t.
- When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.
- It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.
- Never confuse motion with action.
- Those that won’t be counseled can’t be helped.