Proverbs are awesome. They were super helpful back in high school when I needed to start an essay. As an adult, they make great memes and Facebook status updates. And if I can remember them off the top of my head, I look tres sophisticated (even more so for using a French word)!
But sometimes proverbs suck. I mean, just because you can make a pithy sentence with rhymes or parallel structure doesn’t mean you’re right. Par example (more French!), here are five financial proverbs and the reasons I don’t care for them.
“Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.” – English Proverb
Penny wise and pound foolish is how you describe someone who is perhaps overly frugal in small money matters and spendy in large money matters. For example, someone who saves money by reusing coffee grounds, but then takes lavish vacations over summer. My issue with this adage is that as far as I’m concerned, if you’ve taken care of your financial obligations, you can spend your excess on whatever you want. If that means that you do some serious couponing so your precocious little child can do pageants and entertain thousands of people across the country (I love you, Honey Boo Boo Child!) then do your thing. On the flip side of that, if you forgo designer handbags in order to pay for daily lattes, name brand cereal and kitchy refrigerator magnets, I ain’t even mad.
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” – Ben Franklin
Does it also make you lonely? Because nobody is going to call you to hang out if you go to bed at 8 p.m. so you can get up at 4 a.m. I know this from experience – I used to work a job that ran from 4:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. I definitely wasn’t healthy – I was constantly tired and sick. I was an assistant at the time, so I certainly wasn’t wealthy. And it’s debatable if I’m ever going to be wise. So take that, Ben Franklin!
“Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get slaughtered.”
This is a common Wall Street saying advising against greed. But let’s be real. If this were accurate, it would read, “Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get a public slap on the wrist and a bailout.” Also, pigs get slaughtered in real life. But outside of questionable practices at circuses and rodeos, when do bulls and bears make money? Maybe they get royalties for being popular team mascots, I don’t know.
“Money is the root of all evil.” – 1 Timothy 6:10 (King James Translation)
Really? All evil? I feel like there’s a lot of evil that stems from a traumatic childhood or indoctrinated hate. Don’t get me wrong. Money messes up a lot of stuff. But let’s not get carried away with the sweeping generalizations.
“A fool and his money are soon parted.” – Thomas Tusser
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While it is true that the financially illiterate may not know how to hold on to their money, if you’ve got enough money, you can partake in all the tomfoolery you want. So jealous.
“A word to the wise is enough.” But they have to be the right words. (Proverbs were also helpful when writing conclusions.) These time-honored sayings, while they have their place in the annals of financial wisdom, just aren’t doing it for me. C’est la vie, I guess. (My French is on fire!)
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