Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Micawber Principal of Personal Finance

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery. ~ David Copperfield
One of the things that has held me well in my life is the lesson I learned from this one line in the Dickens novel David Copperfield. I don't suggest following the life of the speaker of this line, one Wilkins Micawber. He was a good man who fell victim to vicious creditors, ending up in debtor's prison.

The lesson itself is sound, the difference between misery and bliss can be as little as six pence either side of income.

I prefer this lesson to the Polonius Postulate:
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend ~ Hamlet
Because there is a certain heartlessness to it. I am loath to borrow money, even using a credit card, and I will loan only such money as I am willing to give as a gift to a needing friend.

The Franklin Philosophy is simple:
Rather go to bed without dinner than rise with debt. ~ Attributed to Ben Franklin

And the Emerson Warning is appropriate to today:
Poverty demoralizes. A man in debt is so far a slave; and Wall-street thinks it easy for a millionaire to be a man of his word, a man of honor, but, that, in failing circumstances, no man can be relied on to keep his integrity. ~ The Conduct of Life

No comments: