5 Money Lessons From Presidents Past

It’s election season, so that means one thing: never-ending jokes. That’s true especially for the person in the Oval Office. No matter what you do as president, somebody is going to crack a joke, make a snide remark, or even create a whole comedy sketch about you.

The truth is that some of our past presidents were incredibly sharp. Before becoming Commander in Chief, they were lawyers, inventors, engineers, journalists, professors and business leaders. And we can learn from some of the statements they’ve made—even when it comes to saving and investing.

George Washington

“To contract new debts is not the way to pay old ones.”

The first president wrote this over 200 years ago, but our government today doesn’t get it. Yes, the world is a different place now and things have changed, but this truth about money still stands. Debt is just a bad idea. No person, business or country can reach its full potential while being sacked with debt.

Thomas Jefferson

“Never spend your money before you have it.”

This advice is taken from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to his granddaughter, “A Dozen Canons of Conduct in Life.” Ironically, Thomas Jefferson died with a lot of debt—although much of it was inherited from his father-in-law. However, the advice is solid, and it sounds like something you might hear on the Retire Inspired Podcast!

Abraham Lincoln

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”

Honest Abe knew the secret to success. And it applies to you, whether you’re trying to get out of debt or working toward your retirement goals. If you want to succeed, you’ll succeed. If you just kind of, sort of want to succeed, then you’ll never get out of debt, work toward your dream retirement, or even write that book you’ve had brewing in your mind.

John F. Kennedy

“No matter how big the lie, repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.”

That’s exactly why our culture has embraced credit cards and debt. We’ve been sold debt for so long that we’ve come to believe it’s normal. But if you’ve worked hard to get yourself out of debt, then you know how much better life is without worrying about payments. JFK wasn’t talking about debt when he made that statement, but the principle still holds true.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The older I get, the more wisdom I find in the ancient rule of taking first things first. A process which often reduces the most complex human problem to a manageable proportion.”

Was Eisenhower talking about planning for retirement? Probably not. But the truth in this quote can definitely be applied to saving for that chapter of life. By attacking your retirement number (how much you’ll need to live on in retirement) in smaller, manageable proportions, you allow yourself to win small battles that eventually lead to you winning “the war” and enjoying the retirement of your dreams!

Truth is truth, regardless of who’s speaking it. We can learn something from our presidents, whether we like their politics or not. Listen to their wisdom, apply it, and take charge of your financial situation. You’ll make progress. And as Theodore Roosevelt said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”