Money Management

Money Poetry – How I Lost Hundreds By Being a Scaredy Cat

I like poetry. It’s fun to read and even more fun to write. I enjoy the rhythm that well crafted words can have as they sit on a page – their hidden accents crying out to be given voice. Most of the poetry I have read in my life has not had much to do with money. It’s mostly about love, or beauty, or love, or the violence inherent in the system, or love. Mostly it is just about love. My favorite poet is probably William Blake – he has this craziness about him that I find appealing and interesting. He didn’t really write about money either, so that is what makes this little bit that I found the other day all that more interesting.

Let wealth come in by comely thrift,
And not by any sordid shift:
‘Tis haste
Makes waste;
Extreames [sic] have still their fault;
The softest Fire makes the sweetest Mault.
Who gripes too hard the dry and slip’rie sand,
Holds none at all, or little in his hand.


Robert Herrick, from Hesperides and His Noble Numbers

This snippet is from a poem that comes to us from a work published in 1648. I think, though, that its wisdom is timeless. Except for the part about the Fire and Mault, which probably meant something 360 years ago but means absolutely nothing to me now, this stuff makes a lot of sense. It teaches me to:

  1. Be honest about how I make my money – read comely thrift > sordid shift. Look mom, it rhymes too.
  2. Avoid get rich quick schemes and wasteful choices – they only lead to you looking like an idiot and losing money (and maybe turning some form of cold, sweet, and delicious treat into a pool of hot, saccharine, disgusting liquid because it gets exposed to fire)
  3. Holding on to money too tightly is a surefire way to lose some of it.

That last one is pretty deep and it reminds me a lot of Princess Leia, who is only 16/17 as wise as Yoda so she is still pretty wise. It particularly reminds me of how when I was still in high school I entered into a reasonable sum of money due to some deaths in my immediate and extended family. At its peak I probably has close to $15,000 in the bank. Unfortunately, that is exactly where it stayed – earning me practically nothing. I had a brother who recommended I invest it in a mutual fund or a CD, but I was too scared to lose some of it investing and was deeply concerned that a CD just wasn’t liquid enough for me and the ripe old age of 17. I mean I could have needed $15,000 at any minute! I held onto my money way too tightly, didn’t take any risks, and ended up paying for it in terms of never realized gains. Money is a tool, so use it like one.