The Art of Money Getting by P. T. Barnum

The Art of Money Getting


  • It is super easy for people in good health to make money.
  • Many possible ways for both man and woman to engage in lucrative employment but one has to be very wiling indeed.
  • One who desires to attain an independence, have only to set their minds upon it, and adopt the proper means, as they do in regard to any other object which they really wish to accomplish.
  • It’s easier to earn money than to keep it.
  • Making money is simply expending less than we earn.
  • Many people think they understand economy when they really do not.
  • Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish i.e. don’t care about trivial things so much that you stop worrying about bigger things which would cause a more impact.
  • True wealth consists in always making the income exceed the out-go. Wear the old clothes a little longer if necessary; dispense with the new pair of gloves; mend the old dress; live on plainer food if need be; so that, under all circumstances, unless some unforeseen accident occurs, there will be a margin in favor of the income.
  • A penny here, and a dollar there, placed at interest, goes on accumulating, and in this way the desired result is attained.
  • This is difficult to cultivate but once used to it, one finds that there is more satisfaction in rational savings than irrational spending.
  • When one finds that one has he has no surplus at the end of the year and yet a good income, mark down every item of expenditure in “necessaries” and “luxuries”. It could be noted that the latter colum will be significantly bigger than the former.
  • This says that the real comforts of life cost but a small portion of what most of us can earn.
  • It is the eyes of others and not our own eyes which ruin us.
  • One doesn’t get ahead by vanity and envy.
  • A handful of aristocrats run up a false standard of perfection and in endeavoring to rise to that standard, we run up a false standard of perfection, and thus we constantly keep ourselves poor.
  • One cannot accumulate a fortune by taking the road that leads to poverty.
  • One who is accustomed to gratify every whim and caprice, will find it hard at first, to cut down their various unnecessary expenses, and will feel it a great self-denial to spend less.
  • Slowly adding to your pile feels amazingly rewarding than squandering the new found wealth.
  • Prosperity is a more severe ordeal than adversity, especially sudden prosperity. “Easy come, easy go” is an old and true proverb.
  • Many people as they begin to prosper, immediately expand their ideas and commence expending for luxuries, until a short time their expenses swallow up their income, and they become ruined in their ridiculous attempts to keep up appearances, and make a “sensation”.
  • Remember the song “Hotel California”. It explains about the effects of luxuries.
  • A person cannot accumulate a fortune very well when he is sick. He has no ambition; no incentive; no force.
  • The closer we keep to the laws of nature, the nearer we are to good health, and yet how many persons there are who pay no attention to natural laws, but absolutely transgress them, even against their own natural inclination.
  • The “sin of ignorance” is never winked at in regard to the violation of nature’s laws; their infraction always brings the penalty.
  • One of the harmful habits is tobacco.
  • Another perilous feature is that this artificial appetite, like jealousy, “grows by what it feeds on” when you love that which is unnatural, a stronger appetite is created for the hurtful thing than the nature desire for what is harmless.
  • Habit is second nature. But an artificial habit is stronger than nature.
  • Boys stick to tobacco and alcohol and persevere until at last they conquer their natural appetites and become the victims of acquired tastes.
  • The more a man smokes, the more he craves smoking; the last cigar smoked simply excites the desire for another.
  • A tobacco consumer’s palate has become narcotized by the noxious weed, he has lost, in a great measure, the delicate and enviable taste for fruits. This shows what expensive, useless and injurious habits men will get into.
  • Stop intoxicating drinks. To make money, requires a clear brain. A man has got to see that two and two make four; he must lay all his plans with reflection and forethought, and closely examine all the details and the ins and outs of business.
  • As no man can succeed in business unless he has a brain to enable him to lay his plans, and reason to guide him in their execution, so no matter how bountifully a man may be blessed with intelligence, if the brain is muddled, and his judgement warped by intoxicating drinks, it is impossible for him to carry on business successfully.
  • How many good opportunities have passed, never to return, while a man was sipping a “social glass” with his friend!
  • How many foolish bargains have been made under the influence of the “nervine” which temporarily makes its victim think he is rich!
  • How many important chances have been put off until to-morrow, and then forever, because the wine cup has thrown the system into a state of lassitude, neutralizing the energies so essential to success, in business.
  • The use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage, is as much an infatuation, as is the smoking of opium by the Chinese, and the former is quite as destructive to the success of the business man as the latter. It is an unmitigated evil, utterly indefensible in the light of philosophy, religion or good sense. It is the parent of nearly every other evil in our country.

1. Don’t Mistake Your Vocation

  • The safest plan, and the most sure of success for the young man starting in life, is to select the vocation which is most congenial to his tastes.
  • If you teach some against his wishes or natural inclination, he will learn what you are teaching eventually but all through life he would be working up hill and seizing every excuse for leaving his work and idling away his time.
  • Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature, and best suited to his peculiar genius, he cannot succeed.

2. Select the Right Location

  • After securing the right vocation, you must be careful to select the proper location.
  • Location determines size and growth of the business. You also have to carefully understand the dynamics of supply and demand with respect to each cost and each revenue center.

3. Avoid Debt

  • Young men starting in life should avoid running into debt. There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt.
  • Debt robs a man of his self-respect, and makes him almost despise himself. Grunting and groaning and working for what he has eaten up or worn out, and now when he is called upon to pay up, he has nothing to show for his money.
  • You should take debt to invest in land or expanding business.
  • If a young man will only get in debt for some land and then get married, these two things will keep him straight, or nothing will.
  • Getting in debt for what you eat and drink and wear is to be avoided.
  • It is a foolish habit of getting credit at “the stores” and thus frequently purchasing many things which might have been dispensed with.
  • If you take debt then the creditor goes to bed at night and wakes up in the morning better off than when he retired to bed, because his interest has increased during the night, but you grow poorer while you are sleeping for the interest is accumulating against you.
  • Money is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
  • When you have money mastering you; when interest is constantly piling up against you, it will keep you down in the worst kind of slavery. But let money work for you, and you have the most devoted servant in the world.
  • There is nothing animate or inanimate that will work so faithfully as money when placed at interest, well secured. It works night and day, and in wet or dry weather.
  • Do not let it work against you; if you do there is no chance for success in life so far as money is concerned.

4. Persevere

  • When a man is in the right path, he must persevere. I speak of this because there are some persons who are “born tired”; naturally lazy and possessing no self-reliance and no perseverance.
  • Davy Crockett: “This thing remember, when I am dead, Be sure you are right, then go ahead.
  • It is this go-aheaditiveness, this determination not to let the “horrors” or the “blues” take possession of you, so as to make you relax your energies in the struggle for independence, which one must cultivate.
  • How many have almost reached the goal of their ambition, but, losing faith in themselves, have relaxed their energies, and the golden prize has been lost forever.
  • As shakespear says, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
  • Solomon: “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
  • Perseverance is sometimes but another word for self-reliance. Many persons naturally look on the dark side of life, and borrow trouble. They are born so. Then they ask for advice, and they will be governed by one wind and blown by another, and cannot rely upon themselves. Until you can get so that you can rely upon yourself, you need not expect to succeed. I have known men, personally, who have met with pecuniary reverses, and absolutely committed suicide, because they thought they could never overcome their misfortune. But I have known others who have met more serious financial difficulties, and have bridged them over by simple perseverance, aided by a firm belief that they were doing justly, and that Providence would “overcome evil with good.”
  • The one without perseverance wants time to reflect; his hesitation is his ruin; the enemy passes unmolested, or overwhelms him; while on the other hand, the general of pluck, perseverance and self-reliance, goes into battle with a will, and, amid the clash of arms, the booming of cannon, the shrieks of the wounded, and the moans of the dying, you will see this man persevering, going on, cutting and slashing his way through with unwavering determination, inspiring his soldiers to deeds of fortitude, valor, and triumph.

5. Whatever you do, do it with all your might

  • Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.
  • Many a man acquires a fortune by doing his business thoroughly, while his neighbor remains poor for life, because he only half does it. Ambition, energy, industry, perseverance, are indispensible requisities for success in business.
  • Fortune always favors the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself.
  • Idleness breeds bad habits, and clothes a man in rags.
  • One might do what all one can for himself, and then trust to Providence, or luck, or whatever you call it, for the rest.

6. Depend Upon Your Own

  • The eye of the employer is often worth more than the hands of a dozen employees.
  • No man has a right to expect to succeed in life unless he understands his business, and nobody can understand his business thoroughly unless he learns it by personal application and experience.
  • The possession of a perfect knowledge of your business is an absolute necessity in order to insure success.
  • Rothschild: Be cautious and bold. One must exercise caution in laying the plans, but be bold in carrying them out. A man who is all caution, will never dare to take hold and be successful; and a man who is all boldness, is merely reckless, and must eventually fail.
  • Rothschild: Never have anything to do with an unlucky man or place. This is because even though a man may appear to be honest and intelligent, yet if he tries this or that thing and alwayus fails, it is on account of some fault or infirmity that you may not be able to discover but nevertheless which must exist.
  • Like causes produces like effects. If a man adopts the proper methods to be successful, “luck” will not prevent him. If he does not succeed, there are reasons for it, although, perhaps, he may not be able to see them.

7. Use the Best Tools

  • Men in engaging employees should be careful to get the best. If you get a good one, it is better to keep him, than keep changing. He learns something every day, and you are benefited by the experience he acquires.
  • Those men who have brains and experience are therefore the most valuable and not to be readily parted with; it is better to keep them, at reasonable advances in their salaries from time to time.

8. Don’t get above your business

  • Young men after training, will often lie about doing nothing. They say, “I have learned my business, but I am not going to be hireling”.
  • There is no greater mistake than when a young man believes he will succeed with borrowed money.
  • It is more difficult for him to accumulate his first thousand dollars, than all the succeeding millions.
  • Money is good for nothing unless you know the value of it by experience. He does not know the value of it; nothing is worth anything, unless it costs effort.
  • Without self-denial and economy, patience and perseverance, and commencing with capital which you have not earned, you are not sure to succeed in accumulating.
  • The road to learning is a royal one; the road that enables the student to expand his intellect and add every day to his stock of knowledge, untill, in the pleasant process of intellectual growth, he is able to solve the most profound problems. So for wealth. Go on in confidence, study the rules, and above all things, study human nature. One might find that while expanding the intellect and muscles, your enlarged experience will enable you everyday to accumulate more and more principal, which will increase itself by interest.
  • Young men loaded down with other people’s money are almost sure to lose all they inherit, and they acquire all sorts of bad habits which, in the majority of cases, ruin them in health, purse and character.
  • Any legitimate business is a double blessing – it helps the man engaged in it, and also helps others.
  • No profession, trade or calling, is overcrowded in the upper story. Wherever you find the most honest and intelligent merchant or banker, or the best lawyer, the best doctor, the best clergyman, the best shoemaker, carpenter, or anything else, that man is most sought for, and has always enough to do.
  • One who excels all others in his own line, if his habits are good and his integrity undoubted, cannot fail to secure abundant patronage, and wealth that naturally follows.

9. Learn something useful

  • Every man should make his son or daughter learn some trade or profession, so that in these days of changing fortunes – of being rich today and poor tomorrow – they may have something tangible to fall back upon.
  • This provision might save many persons from misery, who by some unexpected turn of fortune have lost all their means.

10. Let hope predominate but be not too visionary

  • Many persons are always kept poor, because they are too visionary.
  • Every project looks to them like certain success, and therefore they keep changing from one business to another, always in hot water, always “under the harrow”. The plan of “counting the chickens before they are hatched” is an error of ancient date, but it does not seem to improve by age.

11. Do Not Scatter Your Powers

  • Engage in one kind of business only, and stick to it faithfully until you succeed, or until your experience shows that you should abondan it.
  • A constant hammering on one nail will generally drive it home at last, so that it can be clinched. When a man’s undivided attention is centered on one object, his mind will constantly be suggesting improvements of value, which would escape him if his brain was occupied by a dozen different subjects at once.
  • Many a fortune has slipped through a man’s fingers because he was engaged in too many occupations at a time. There is a good sense in the old caution against having too many irons in then fire at once.

12. Be Systematic

  • A person who does business by rule, having a time and place for everything, doing his work propmtly, will accomplish twice as much and with half the trouble of him who does it carelessly and slipshod.
  • By doing one thing at a time, one can find leisure for passtime and recreation.
  • Whereas the man who only half does one thing, and then turns to something else, and half does that, will have his business at loose ends, and will never know when his day’s work is done, for it never will be done.

13. Read the Newspapers

  • Always take a trustworthy newspaper, and thus keep thoroughly posted in regard to the transactions of the world.
  • He who is without a newspaper is cut off from his species.
  • Many improvements in many branches of trade might not come to the notice of the person who doesn’t read newspapers.

14. Beware of “Outside Operations”

  • Men with fortunes who suddenly become poor mostly because of gaming, and other bad habits.
  • When he gets rich in his legitimate business, he is told of a grand speculation where he can make a score of thousands. He is constantly flattered by his friends, who tell him that he is born lucky, that everything he touches turns into gold.
  • However successful a man may be in his own business, if he turns from that and engages in a business which he don’t understand, his strength has departed, and he becomes like other men.
  • Never let a man foolishly jeopardize a fortune that he has earned in a legitimate way, by investing it in things in which he has had no experience.

15. Don’t Indorse Without Security

  • Only endore a note which you can afford to lose and care nothing about, without good security.
  • Whenever a man gets money for the time being without any effort or without inconvenience to himself he might be brewing trouble. Be skeptical in such scenario.
  • Don’t lend money to someone to spoil him into being tempted away from his legitimate business.
  • A young man in business should understand the value of money. One must get the first dollars by hard knocks, and at some sacrifice, in order to appreciate the value of those dollars.

16. Advertise Your Business

  • We all depend upon the public for our support. Thus who deal with the public must be careful that their goods are valuable; that they are genuine, and will give satisfaction.
  • One must advertize with the medium which every household/person reads/ accesses for them to tell a story about how that good or service solves their problems.
  • Even if a man has a genuine article, he must advertize and must have a really good article which will easily please customers since anything spurious will not succeed permanently because the public is wiser than we expect them to be. Customer is always selfish and seeking the best value they can get for their money.
  • If you advertize a spurious article, and induce many people to call and buy it once, but they will denounce you as an imposter and swindler, and your business will gradually die out and leave you poor. For a business to do good, you need customers to return and purchase again.
  • The object in advertising is to make the public understand what you have got to sell, and if you have not the pluck to keep advertising, until you have imparted that information, all the money you have spent is lost. The man who advertises at all must keep it up until the public knows who and what he is and what is business is or else the money invested in advertising is lost.
  • The advertisement’s first job is to attract the customer to make him find your product/story.

17. Be Polite and Kind to your Customers

  • Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business.
  • The more kind and liberal a man is, the more generous will be the patronage bestowed upon him.
  • Men who drive sharp bargains with their customers, acting as if they never expect them to see them again, will never see them again as customers. People don’t like to pay and get kicked.

18. Be Charitable

  • Being charitable is a duty and pleasure. The liberal man will command patronage, while the sordid, uncharitable miser will be avoided.
  • The only true charity is that which is from the heart.
  • The best kind of charity is to help those who are willing to help themselves.
  • Solomon says: “There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
  • Promiscuous almsgiving, without inquiring into the worthiness of the applicant, is bad in every sense. But to search out and quietly assist those who are struggling for themselves, is important.

19. Don’t Blab

  • Some men have a foolish habit of telling their business secrets.
  • If they make money they like to tell their neighbors how it was done. Nothing is gained by this, and oftimes much is lost. Say nothing about your profits, your hopes, your expectations, your intentions.
  • Goethe makes Mephistophiles say: “Never write a letter nor destroy one.
  • Business men must write letters, but they should be careful what they put in them.
  • If you are losing money, be specially cautious and not tell of it, or you lose your reputation.

20. Preserve Your Integrity

  • Your integrity is more precious than diamonds or rubies.
  • Prisons are full of dishonest people who understand very late that every avenue to success is closed against him forever.
  • The public very properly shun all those integrity is doubted. They do it in form of stories/gossips through variety of mediums.
  • No matter how polite and pleasant and accommodating a man may be, none of us dare to deal with him if we suspect “false weights and measures.”
  • Uncompromising integrity of character is invaluable. It secures to its possessor a peace and joy which cannot be attained without it – which no amount of money can purchase.
  • A man who is known to be strictly honest, may be ever so poor, but he has the purses of all the community at his disposal – for all know that if he promises to return what he borrows, he will never disappoint them.
  • Dr. Franklin: “Honesty is the best policy.
  • The inordinate love of money, no doubt, may be and is “the root of all evil”, but money itself, when properly used, is not only a “handy thing to have in the house,” but affords the gratification of blessing our race by enabling its possessor to enlarge the scope of human happiness and human influence.
  • The desire for wealth is nearly universal, and none can say it is not laudable, provided the possessor of it accepts its responsbilities, and uses it as a friend of humanity.
  • The history of money getting, which is commerce, is a history of civilization, and wherever trade has flourished most, there, too, have art and science produced the noblest fruits. In fact, as a general thing, money-gettings are the benefactors of our race. To them, in great measure, are we indebted for our institutations of learning and of art, our academies, colleges and churches.
  • It is no argument against the desire for, or the possession of, wealth, to say that there are sometimes misers who hoard money only for the sake of hoarding and who have no higher aspiration than to grasp everything which comes within their reach. As we have sometimes hypocrities in religion, and demagogues in politics, so there are occassionally misers among money-getters.
  • Guys & Girls, make money honestly, and not otherwise, for Shakespeare has truly said, “He that wants money, means, and content, is without three good friends.

Do we wait for the starting gun?

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