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Let These Ancient Romans and Greeks Give You Sound and Ageless Financial Advice

Personal finance principles stand the test of time. Always earn more than what you spend. Learn to accept rainy days and prepare for their consequences. Enjoy work but don’t let it dominate your life. These financial fundamentals can never fade away as ancient Greeks and Romans followed them too; many of the personal finance core principles are equally relevant for modern budgeters, consumers and savers. Five gems of key financial truths handed down from the ancient Romans and Greeks, are:

Epictetus in Enchiridion

Epictetus said that some things can be controlled while other could not. We could control pursuit, desire, aversion, opinion and whatever else is within your own action. Those you cannot control are property, body, command, reputation and whatever is beyond your actions.

Humans can possibly control their personal desires, thoughts and bodies and little else, try as they may to exert influence over others. With strong desires and emotions racing through your body, your control over those feelings and acting on those impulses, enable choices. Do you cave in to short-term temptations or can you resist them? This always remains your personal choice. Should you decide to act on your temporary desires, is the choice impacting your financial life.

At the Mall when you’re tempted to buy some bauble, do you resist that urge or indulge? Comfortably ensconced on a couch you are tempted to have food delivered rather than cook something simple. Make the meal or call that delivery number? These choices have real costs with a real impact.

Sophocles in Antigone

Sophocles said that nothing in the world can demoralize us, as money can.

Money is a strong tool of exchange but not having enough, is demoralizing, as goals remain unmet and you cannot acquire the things you want. Every consumer, checkbook in hand tries to make ends meet and realizes how difficult it is, if not impossible, to manage the purchases they’ve dreamt about. This requires strong underlying principles for your finances. With deeper understanding of your underlying values, sticking to core principles like spending lesser than you earn and valuing every single dollar you spend, will guide you well in life.

Marcus Aurelius in Meditations

Marcus Aurelius said that we should seek and find our own governing principles. For this, look towards the wise, what principles do they hold dear and what do they shun.

Unsure about right choices in life? Learn to trust your core principles and values. What is important and what do you value most? Careful consideration enables you to assess and understand what is really important, in good and bad times. If you need help in life’s journey, evaluate the principles of the wise people in your life. Learn about values of those you respect, and reflect on these ideas, possibly even adopt them. With strong core values that define what you do, these constantly guide you forward in life.

Plato in The Republic

Plato said that those people who chase money can make for tiresome company, since everything to them has only monetary value.

The most obnoxious are those who are capable of selling out their values, principles and relationships just to make a quick buck. Shady salesmen selling overpriced goods or pressurizing car sales, are legendary as are pushy friends trying hard to persuade you to buy in some project he’s selling. You don’t want to be that person. A person who will drop someone like a hot potato if a marginally better offer comes along, is a person who is difficult to love and trust. Understand your relationships and commitments and live up to those connections. Money enables you to live a life in accordance with your values. If money shapes your moral code, your core values are suspect.

Epicurus in his Letters

Epicurus said that those who cannot be satisfied by having a little, can have nothing satisfy them.

A dangerous financial path to go down is the one where we become obsessed with acquiring more material belongings and shiny new things. The modern society strongly encourages this affluence by constantly talking about the latest, greatest and newest products. It’s possible not be satisfied with all aspects of your life, as that can lead to your personal growth. If that dissatisfaction is channeled into the objects one possesses, you end up on a path where you are constantly searching for new acquisitions, and you never reach a state of satisfaction. Possibly the most powerful word in personal finance is “enough.” One must learn to use this often.

Titanic battles are waged over personal finance by all, over the ages. The same struggles continue even today with the answer as always, within us.

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