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10 Money Quotes and Lessons from Great Americans

Did you know some of our most famous Americans had opinions and wisdom to share about money? Here's ten quotes and pieces of wisdom from some great Americans. 

Pieces of Wisdom from Famous Americans

"We must consult our means rather than our wishes." -George Washington

Washington was speaking to fellow leaders here, but the wisdom holds true for our own households. When making spending decisions, we should think about what is within our financial means instead of just what we want. You might want to go out to eat every night, but will that be supported by your budget or by credit card debt?


“A penny saved is a penny earned.” -Benjamin Franklin

This is a tidbit most people have heard before, but what does it mean? Franklin wisely observed that keeping money in your pocket (or bank account) is the same as earning money at a job. Earning is important, but saving is perhaps even more important. 


“The failure of this experiment of communal service ... proves the emptiness of the theory ... that the taking away of private property ... would make a state happy and flourishing." -William Bradford, Leader of the Pilgrims

Bradford was the leader and governor of the colony the pilgrims established when they came on the Mayflower. Did you know he instituted a communal and socialist system as part of their colony in the new world? They quickly learned how disastrous this was to the colony. Bradford observed here that when people work for the interests of their own family, society as a whole benefits. 

“Nothing venture nothing have” -Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams is known to most as the wife and first lady to our second president, John Adams. History and her letters have uncovered that she was tremendously influential in the early founding of our country. She was also a savvy investor and businesswoman. One of her fond sayings is the quote shared here. People often refer to this as "nothing ventured, nothing gained." I prefer Adams' version and the sentiment behind it. She learned that it's difficult to make any money without some element of risk. 

"Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don't want..to impress people that they don't like." -Will Rogers

We all have times when we think stuff will make us happy or make others think better of us. Rogers lays out, as only he could, the silliness of this instinct. 

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." --Thomas Edison

How many times in your life have you known what has to be done to get to a goal, but were scared of the amount of work it would take? Edison knew that hard work could overcome most obstacles. He famously described his many failures at making the light bulb as an important prelude to making one that actually worked. 

"A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore." -Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra could turn a phrase like none other. His observation here is about how over time money loses its value of experiences what we call inflation. Inflation has been around as long as money has been around. The Romans dealt with it too! Inflation is not something to worry about, but it is something to remember when we make plans for our finances. 

"Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver." -Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand, whose novels had a lot to say about economics, observed her a simple truth about money. Money can accomplish some things you may want, but you still need to keep an eye on where you are going. 

"He who loses money, loses much; He who loses a friend, loses much more; He who loses faith, loses all." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Roosevelt puts the loss of money in context here. At some point, we all experience a financial loss of some kind. The key is to put it in context with the rest of your life and remember what is important. 

"If all the economists were laid end to end, they’d never reach a conclusion." -George Bernard Shaw

Shaw makes a funny joke with this quote. It also happens to be true. Are you surprised when the weatherman or a sports announcer makes a prediction that does not come true? Of course not. When economists predict the future of things like the economy or the stock market, don't be surprised to see these predictions fall short. 


What other quotes from famous Americans about money do you know? We would love to hear them! 

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