In 1748, Benjamin Franklin, the immortal axiom builder, as Mark Twain once described him sat down to write a brief letter to his friend, on money matters. As much as it caters to financial tact, it is also essentially a counsel for a better life from the polymath who realized that a virtue is a reward in itself.

The advices

Franklin advises his friend A.B., that time as well as credit is money and that money brings in more money. Here both time and credit, follows the third principle- they beget themselves. In this manner by reminding the nature of credit, time and money, Franklin hints at the fundamental input, process and output of financial success.

After enlightening the cyclic nature of money, the next 4 advices, at a deeper level corresponds to the fact that money is behavior. It is our reward and punishment. It determines our sense of worth, our character and even our brains. It illustrates our will to negotiate with the future in an abstract way. In this way money, our bargain with future, essentially being a matter of human behavior, is how fortune favors the bold. It is the nuanced strategies and algorithms of this trick that Franklin alludes to in his aphorisms on finance. In this way, Franklin charts how money speaks a lot about ourselves than the things they buy, a sentiment echoed by Lynn Twist.

It is worth noting how Franklin’s ideas transcend the notions of rational choice and extends to the intricacies of behavioral economics. He suggests impression management to distort the perceptions of the creditor. This is manipulative in that it can trigger the availability bias of the creditor. When we are usually told to avoid debts totally, Franklin instead asks us to run the risk with safety measures, a sentiment echoed in the pulse of economics. As much as this advice seem just on the surface, it is ingenious in its depths, an ode to the cunning genius of Franklin.

Franklin’s parable when complemented with his seven advises, reveals the nature of our complex relationship with money. Money offers us an opportunity to express and experience our own soul. This could be why these 7 pieces of advice continue to stand the test of time.

Let your soul inform your money and your money express your soul.

Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money

One thought on “Advice to a Young Tradesman

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