There are many different ways to learn important things, such as learning things the hard way -- by trying and doing and sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. Another way is to learn from others. After all, lots of smart people have pursued the same goals as you, such as financial security, and many have shared their advice. Check out the following 10 money quotes, as they can help you think and act better when it comes to money. They can even help you get rich.
Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.
-- Benjamin Franklin
This Ben Franklin aphorism is deeper than it may seem, and it can apply to many things. For starters, perhaps obviously, lots of little expenses in your daily life can add up. There's the now-famous example of a daily $4 fancy coffee costing you nearly $1,500 per year. Or a one-pack-a-day smoking habit costing you $3,000 per year. Less obviously, it also applies to the seemingly small fees we pay in the financial world. Imagine that you invest $10,000 annually in each of two mutual funds that both average 10% annual growth over 10 years. One sports an expense ratio (annual fee) of 0.7% while the other charges 1.7%. The first investment will grow to about $578,000, while the second will only grow to about $512,000 -- a difference of more than $60,000 from a one-percentage-point difference.
There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.
-- Calvin Coolidge
This drives home the importance of living within your means, and not beyond it. Living beyond your means is when you're buying things you can't really afford such as a too-expensive house or a big-screen TV that you charge to a credit card knowing that you won't be able to pay the bill off in full. You're moving away from financial independence and financial security when you do so, not toward it.
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.
-- Henry David Thoreau
This is a good reminder of just how meaningful prices are. If you earn $55,000 per year and you buy a $30,000 car, are you cool with spending more than half your annual earnings on it? If you earn on average $50 per hour, is a $150 dinner at a fancy restaurant or a $150 haircut worth three hours? Doing this kind of math can help keep your spending under control.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
-- Thomas Edison
Edison here illustrates how we often are drawn to the idea of getting rich quickly, perhaps via lottery tickets or risky stocks that we hope will be high-flyers. We would be better off taking the less flashy and more time-consuming route to riches -- diligently saving over time and investing in solid, growing companies with sustainable competitive advantages (such as a strong brand or bargaining power with suppliers) -- or simply investing in the overall market via an index fund.
A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore.
This money quote reflects the power on inflation, which tends to reduce our purchasing power over time. Inflation has averaged about 3% annually over long periods, meaning that the dollars we have to spend in 25 years will only be able to buy less than half what they could buy today. If you expect to travel in 25 years, know that a ticket that costs $300 today could cost $628 in 25 years. A new $20,000 car today might cost more than $40,000 in 25 years. Be sure to factor inflation into your financial thinking and planning.
The stock market is filled with individuals who know the price of everything but the value of nothing.
-- Phillip Fisher
This is a great reminder that stock prices -- or home prices -- alone don't mean much. Their true value matters more. Buying an overvalued stock or house can lead you to eventual losses or only modest gains when you sell. Seek maximum value in your financial life by buying stocks when they're undervalued and by looking for discounts and bargains when you shop, too. That's made a lot easier today with a variety of apps that let you compare prices and find the lowest ones. Check out Slickdeals, BuyVia, RedLaser, and ScanLife, for example.
If you have trouble imagining a 20% loss in the stock market, you shouldn't be in stocks.
-- John Bogle
Money quotes such as this one point out that temperament is rather important in investing. You need to expect occasional stock market crashes and to be ready to patiently ride them -- perhaps even buying more shares of great stocks at now-lower prices. Expect occasional losses due to regrettable investments, too. That's also part of investing -- though the more you learn, the fewer mistakes you'll likely make.
Know what you own, and know why you own it.
-- Peter Lynch
When you're an investor, it's not good enough to buy a stock because someone recommended it or because it has some attractive numbers, such as a low price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio and fat profit margins. You need to know a lot about the company and how it makes its money. You need to have a reason why you're buying -- perhaps because you expect it to double its revenue over the next five years while operating in an industry where it's the leader, with high barriers to entry keeping would-be competitors at bay.
When buying shares, ask yourself, would you buy the whole company?
-- Rene Rivkin
Complementing the money quote above, this one suggests that we should be willing to buy the whole company of any stock we buy. Of course few of us can cough up $500 million or $50 billion to buy an entire company, but still -- ask yourself whether, if you did have the money, you would be willing to buy the company in toto. This can help you figure out whether you're looking at your investment as a speculative gamble or as a serious long-term investment in an actual company.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
-- Benjamin Franklin
Finally, remember that investments take many forms. Investing in a bank account or CD will pay you interest, but you'll also profit from other kinds of investments, such as investments in yourself. Spend a lot of time reading many books on investing and you're likely to end up far savvier and more likely to make money than lose it. Invest in your career, too -- perhaps by furthering your education or earning some professional certifications. Those can help you advance and earn more, which will improve your financial condition. Warren Buffett's partner Charlie Munger is famous for advocating broad reading, as topics as seemingly far-flung as psychology, history, science, and biographies can help you not only be a better investor, but a better thinker, decision-maker, business person, leader, and human being.
These money quotes are on the money -- and can help you save and make more money in your life.