One of the best ways to learn about personal finance and investing is to learn from the best. With that in mind, here are seven of my all-time favorite personal-finance quotes from top-notch investors, writers, and businesspeople, along with what each one could mean to you.
"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get." -- Warren Buffett
We begin with a trio of Warren Buffett quotes, because the Oracle of Omaha has given so much great advice over the years.
It's important to separate the concepts of price and value, not just in investing, but in all areas of personal finance. The goal should be to maximize the value you get relative to the price you pay. This is the central idea of value investing, and it's a smart idea to stop and think about the value you're getting before spending money on anything.
"You can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant." -- Warren Buffett
Some things just take time, and this is especially true in personal finance. The only way to reliably build wealth is to invest in high-quality assets for a long period. Similarly, while you can build decent credit in a relatively short time, truly great credit takes years to achieve.
"Predicting rain doesn't count; building the ark does." -- Warren Buffett
It doesn't matter that you know unforeseen expenses are going to happen, recessions are going to occur, and other adverse financial circumstances are inevitable if you don't take prudent steps to prepare for them. Having an emergency fund, a solid long-term investing strategy, and other smart financial planning in place is the truly important thing.
"If you spend more than 13 minutes analyzing economic and market forecasts, you've wasted 10 minutes." -- Peter Lynch
Peter Lynch, like Buffett, is regarded as one of the best investors of all time, so this quote may seem surprising. After all, don't professional investors spend lots of time listening to analysts' forecasts?
Lynch's point is that nobody has a crystal ball that can accurately predict what the economy or stock market will be doing at any point in the future, so take the forecasts you hear on TV and read about in the news with a big grain of salt.
"You can be young without money, but you can't be old without it." -- Tennessee Williams
This highlights one of the central concepts of investing and asset allocation. When you're young, you have decades ahead of you to recover from investment losses and turbulent markets, so it makes sense to take some risk in pursuit of strong long-term returns. On the other hand, if you're retired and lose a substantial chunk of your nest egg, it can be devastating, so capital preservation should be more of a priority.
"It's not your salary that makes you rich; it's your spending habits." -- Charles A. Jaffe
If you make $50,000 and spend only $30,000, you're richer than someone who makes $200,000 and spends $250,000. In fact, many millionaires never made an above-average salary in their entire career but saved and invested wisely. Conversely, there are lots of six-figure earners with a negative net worth, thanks to poor spending habits.
"Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant." -- P.T. Barnum
Money can be one of the best tools you can use to live a happy life. There are plenty of smart ways to put money to work for you. On the other hand, if you spend more than you make, you'll end up owing money, and debt repayment can take over your life.