Benjamin Franklin, (1758).

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The Way to Wealth

THE CLASSIC FRANKLIN SUMMARY OF HIS ADVICE FROM POOR RICHARD’S ALMANAC.

with proverbial sentences. as the means of procuring wealth. to you.) I considered it as a proper vehicle for conveying instruction among the common people. and commonly called Poor Richard’s Almanac. and thereby securing virtue. how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate. vending annually near ten thousand. then. that I reaped considerable profit from it. I have heard. it being more difficult for a man in want to act always honestly. Istopped my horse lately. Judge. chiefly such as inculcated industry and frugality. who bought Scarcely any other books. (scarce any neigbbourbood in the province being without it. it was continued by me about twentyfive years. I endeavoured to make it both entertaining and useful. that occurred between the remarkable days in the Calendar. where a great number of people were collected at an auction of WEALTH AND POWER INSIDER 2 . and it accordingly came to be in such demand. as (to use here one of those proverbs) It is hard for an empty sack to stand upright” Courteous Reader. And observing that it was generally read. I therefore filled all the little spaces.In 1732 I first published my Almanac under the name of Richard Saunders. that nothing gives an author so great pleasure as to find his works respectfully quoted by others.

and replied. what think you of the times? Will not these heavy taxes quite ruin the country? How shall we ever be able to pay them? What would you advise us to?” Father Abraham stood up.” said he. as Poor Richard says. but we have many others. and four times as much by our folly. and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness. we might more easily discharge them. “Pray.” They joined in desiring him to speak his mind. three times as much by our pride. and something may be done for us. “I. by allowing an abatement. The hour of the sale not being come.merchants’ goods. “If you would have my Advice. by WEALTH AND POWER INSIDER 3 . they were conversing on the badness of the times. Iwill give it you in short. However. as Poor Richard says. old man. for A word to the wise is enough. but idleness taxes many of us much more.. if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay. and one of the company called to a plain. sloth. and. God helps them that help themselves. Father Abraham. “the taxes are indeed very heavy. and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us. he proceeded as follows. with white locks. let us hearken to good advice. and gathering round him. clean. that should tax its people one-tenth part of their time. to be employed in its service. It would be thought a hard government. “Friends.

for that is the stuff life is made of. that The sleeping fox catches no poultry. and doing to the purpose. and wise. Let us then up and be doing. wealthy. let not that drive thee. “If time be of all things the most precious. and what we call time enough. as Poor Richard says. always proves little enough. as Poor Richard says. Sloth. How much more than is necessary do we spend in sleep. and Early to bed. as he elsewhere tells us. and early to rise. then do not squander time.bringing on diseases. and shall scarce overtake his business at night. Sloth makes all things difficult. Drive thy business. and he that lives upon hopes will die fasting. the greatest prodigality. if we bestir ourselves. wasting time must be. WEALTH AND POWER INSIDER 4 . like rust. consumes faster than labor wears. “So what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? We may make these times better. so by diligence shall we do more with less perplexity. and that There will be sleeping enough in the grave. Lost time is never found again. as Poor Richard says. forgetting. absolutely shortens life. as Poor Richard says. makes a man healthy. Industry need not wish. and He that riseth late must trot all day. But dost thou love life. while the used key is always bright. as Poor Richard says. that Poverty soon overtakes him. but industry all easy. while Laziness travels so slowly. since.

when there is so much to be done for yourself. Never leave that till to-morrow. At the working man’s house hunger looks in. He that hath a trade hath an estate.There are no gains without pains. and you shall have corn to sell and to keep. we shall never starve. which you can do to-day. then help. or. or neither the estate nor the office will enable us to pay our taxes. for you know not how much you may be hindered to-morrow. while despair increaseth them. as Poor Richard says. Then plough deep while sluggards sleep. and God gives all things to industry. your family. your country. ashamed that a good master should catch you idle? Are you then your own master? Be ashamed to catch yourself idle. Diligence is the mother of good luck. to-day is worth two to-morrows. remember. nor has any rich relation left you a legacy. and your king. Handle your tools without mittens. Work while it is called to-day. and the calling followed. would you not be. If we are industrious. that The cat in gloves catches no mice. It is true there is much to be done. as Poor Richard says. If you were a servant. as Poor Richard says. for Industry pays debts. Nor will the bailiff or the constable enter. and he that hath a calling. hath an office of profit and honor. but dares not enter. One. if I have. and further. What though you have found no treasure. and perhaps you are weak-handed. for. WEALTH AND POWER INSIDER 5 . but stick to it steadily. they are smartly taxed. hands. for I have no lands. but then the trade must be worked at.

and Little strokes fell great oaks. “Methinks I hear some of you say. but by the want of it. but to these we must add frugality if we would make our industry more certainly successful. “II. and oversee our own affairs with our own eyes.and you will see great effects. Leisure is time for doing something useful. but they break for want of stock. and careful. Fly pleasures. The diligent spinner has a large shift. if he WEALTH AND POWER INSIDER 6 . and now I have a sheep and a cow. since thou art not sure of a minute. this leisure the diligent man will obtain. for A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. not by faith. and respect. . . without labor. but the lazy man never. whereas industry gives comfort. and they will follow you. “III. . what Poor Richard says. So much for industry. everybody bids me good morrow. throw not away an hour. settled. But with our industry we must likewise be steady. . and By diligence and patience the mouse ate in two the cable. for In the affairs of this world men are saved. Trusting too much to others’ care is the ruin of many. A man may. would live by their wits only. and not trust too much to others. . my friend. ‘Must a man afford himself no leisure?’ I will tell thee. and plenty. Many. . and attention to one’s own business. if thou meanest to gain leisure. for Constant dropping wears away stones. Employ thy time well. my friends. . and.

that a little tea. heavy taxes. and Many estates are spent in the getting. but remember. game and deceit. keep his nose all his life to the grindstone. for Women and wine. Many a little makes a mickle. If you would be wealthy. Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting. Beware of little expenses. and chargeable families. A small leak will sink a great ship.knows not bow to save as be gets. You may think. or a little punch now and then. because her outgoes are greater than her incomes. -diet a little more costly. And further.”. and you will not then have so much cause to complain of bard times. A fat kitchen makes a lean will. What maintains one vice would bring up two children. clothes a little finer. can be no great matter. And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting. perhaps. “Away then with your expensive follies. and die not worth a groat at last. and a little’ entertainment now and then. think of saving as well as of getting. as Poor WEALTH AND POWER INSIDER 7 . Make the wealth small and the want great. The Indies have not made Spain rich.

. . through industry and frugality. Here you are all got together at this sale of fineries and knickknacks.Richard says and again. and forced to borrow of those whom they formerly despised. only because they look pretty. . and yet. they will prove evils to some of you. . . but. they must be dear to you. . if they had taken his advice. if you do not take care. as Poor Richard says. the genteel are reduced to poverty. . . Buy what thou. how many want to have them! By these. Remember what Poor Richard says. . he that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing. . go and try to borrow some. If you would know the value of money. But this they might have known before. “These are not the necessaries of life. and ere long thou shalt sell thy necessaries. for. as Poor Richard says. Many a one. as Poor Richard says. . that A ploughman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees. . they can scarcely be called the conveniences. have gone with a hungry belly and half-starved their families. . hast no need of. You expect they will be sold cheap. if you have no occasion for them. but. . Silks and satins. WEALTH AND POWER INSIDER 8 . in which case it appears plainly. but who. scarlet and velvets. and perhaps they may for less than they cost. You call them goods. have maintained their standing. for the sake of finery on the back. and other extravagances. put out the kitchen fire.

“But what madness must it be to run in debt for these superfluities? We are offered by the terms of this sale. as Poor Richard says. think little of payment. as Poor Richard says. at his pleasure. have a right to dress as you please. If you cannot pay at the time. six months’ credit. to deprive you of your liberty. . . who should issue an edict forbidding you to dress like a gentleman or gentlewoman. has induced some of us to attend it. the first is running in debt. you will be ashamed to see your creditor. perhaps. . and. . When you have got your bargain. or of that government. But. “What would you think of that prince. pitiful. downright lying. you will be in fear when you speak to him. you will make poor. Creditors have better memories than debtors. you may. ah! think what you do when. for The second vice is lying. on pain of imprisonment or servitude? Would you not say that you were free. by confining you in gaol till you shall be able to pay him. and sink into base. and such a government tyrannical? And yet you are about to put yourself under such tyranny. but. and that. because we cannot spare the ready money. and that such an edict would be a breach of your privileges. perhaps. when you run in debt for such dress ! Your creditor has authority. WEALTH AND POWER INSIDER 9 . I you run I in debt you give to another power over your liberty. sneaking excuses. come to lose your veracity. by degrees. and hope now to be fine without it.

and frugality. 2. Edited by Jared Sparks. but. great observers of set days and times. but comfort and help them Remember. 1836). ask that blessing humbly. . is reason and wisdom. Vol. Source: The Works of Benjamin Franklin. after all. This doctrine. (Boston. without the blessing of Heaven. and was afterwards prosperous. “IV. though excellent things. and prudence. Job suffered. 2:92-103. therefore. do not depend too much upon your own industry. and. for they may all be blasted. . . WEALTH AND POWER INSIDER 10 . my friends. and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it. .creditors are a superstitious sect.

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