What About Ben Franklin?

by Doris Dobkins

I was reading a book to my kids this week called The Value of Saving: The Story of Benjamin Franklin (Valuetales Series) . It was the story of Benjamin Franklin and what a remarkable individual he was. When Ben was a little boy of around 8 years old, he was already thinking of things to invent that would save him time and money so he would have more of both.

One day when he was walking along the sidewalk he found a penny that a rich man had dropped. When he tried to give it back to the man, the man said he was an honest boy and could keep it. Do you know what young Ben did with that penny? He decided to save it so that when he needed it for something important, he would have it.

When Ben was ten, he began working as an apprentice for his brother; he received no pay. It made him feel so helpless when he didn't have any money. So one day he convinced his brother to give him half the money he spent for his food and he would buy the food himself. Then Ben took the little bit of money he received from his brother and spent half of it on the food he needed and saved the other half for himself. With the money he saved, he would buy books, read them and then sell them to someone else.

Eventually he came up with the idea of a library where books could be checked out for free.

Ben's family was religious, frugal and self-reliant. Ben was taken out of school at the age of ten and decided himself to pursue self-education since his family couldn't afford to send him to school. When Ben was 17, he ran away from his overbearing brother who he worked for as an apprentice. He opened up a print shop in Philadelphia and worked day and night to save enough money to pay back his debts. He couldn't stand being in debt and felt that the only way to be released from poverty was through hard work, thrift and honesty.

Ben then went on to found institutions such as libraries, fire companies, the American Philosophical Society, a school for needy boys and America's first medical center. He experimented with electricity, and invented the lightning rod, bifocals, static electric generator and the Franklin stove.

A lot of this was possible because he had the discipline to save when he had extra, allowing him to have money when he really needed it.

This story was a real inspiration to me about a thrifty and inventive person. I realized these are the characteristics required to be debt free. Creativity is a big part of the process in learning to make do with less, save a little here and there and find unique solutions to the situations we are in.

Ben was very proud of himself and his accomplishments. You should be too. Every time you save a dollar or do something smart with your money, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it.

P.S. You might even want to glue a penny to a wall - just as a reminder.

Doris Dobkins is the publisher of $MART MONEY NEW$. To subscribe: mailto:subscribe@weon.net.

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