Sunday, July 29, 2007

Judge no man by his clothes, but by his wife's clothes

Judge no man by his clothes, but by his wife's clothes

This saying was probably more appropriate in the days when men were the main bread winners but with a hint that the ladies were more in control than might be thought. Men generally are less concerned with their own appearance but take a pride in the attractiveness of their womenfolk. In some societies it was the custom for a man who was making money to buy gold as a form of saving and investment that was then worn by his wife in the form of jewelry.

A tradesman in dingy work apparel might have a well dressed wife at home proud of the fact that her skilled, hard working, though somewhat unkempt, husband was earning a lot of money. His pleasure coming from the happiness and enhanced attractiveness of the girl he loved and who enjoyed spending his money.

Nowadays many women earn more than their husbands so perhaps we will have to reverse this saying.

And yes, you can make up your own jokes about this!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Adversity makes a man wise not rich

Adversity makes a man wise not rich.

In adverse circumstances you can either flee or face up to the problems and deal with them.
To take them on requires knowledge and understanding i.e. wisdom. This wisdom comes from experience, observation, trial and error and the counsel of others. Over time and with test and trial this mix refines itself into rules of thumb and guiding principles. It enables us to cope, and that is often all that we will be able to do.

It makes a great story when someone overcomes many obstacles and difficulties and goes on to great triumph and financial reward, so it is a story to be told and retold. For most of us, no matter what the hardships and dangers overcome, we can but expect to survive and carry on.

No bard will sing our praises, our tale will languish untold, except perhaps to our nearest, but we will have survived and have the personal satisfaction of knowing we faced the worst and somehow overcame adversity - and have become a far wiser person as a result.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Prosperity lets go the bridle

Prosperity lets go the bridle.

When learning to ride a horse you make sure to keep a firm grip of the reins and pay close attention to the actions of your mount. If you get over confident, let your attention wander and the horse gets spooked, you could be in for a hard landing.

People experiencing financial hardship learn the disciplines necessary for their survival. Money must be carefully budgeted, earnings must be maximized where possible, savings must be made whenever they can be, and waste eliminated. Your affairs must be constantly scrutinized to make sure you are making the most of what you have. If, after a time, your prudent management and hard work brings a measure of prosperity the tendency is to relax and enjoy. Soon relax becomes slack and then downright excess leading to debt and galloping expenses.

In the old mill towns of Industrial Age Britain they had a saying: "clogs to clogs in three generations". The first generation were poor and worked hard to get on. Their children knew poverty in childhood but witnessed their parents struggles and learned the habits of thrift and industry, and with the meager gains of mom and pop went on to do well and achieve such prosperity that their children never knew hardship. The unfortunate result was a squandered inheritance by the third generation and back to poverty - no more expensive leather shoes but a return to the cheap wooden clogs of their grandparents.

By all means enjoy success but never forget the hard lessons and keep a tight rein on spending.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Many are called but few are chosen.

The Many are called but few are chosen.

The world is full of wannabes and simple statistics tell us that only a small number can succeed: there just aren't enough success slots for everyone.

The filters that separate the wheat from the chaff include genuine ability, suitability, qualifications and things like being in the right place at the right time. Who you know is more important than what you know is another relevant saying here and is probably as true now as back in the days of aristocracy and wealthy capitalists. Some make it by trickery and dishonesty using charm and guile to evade detection and retribution. The human race is a many-faceted group and ingenuity will often find unexpected paths to the coveted goals we, sometimes mistakenly, call success.

And what of those who are left behind? Do they spend the rest of their days in miserable ignominy? Some might but most just shrug their sholuders and get on with it. Success doesn't always bring happiness, as Kipling put it: "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat these two imposters just the same; ... you'll be a man, my son."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A man without money is a bow without arrow.

A man without money is a bow without arrow.

Ability requires opportunity and resources in order to show its worth.

If a good hunter and a bad hunter set out to find food for the tribe and the best one has an accident and loses his arrows he is unlikely to return with any game. The poor archer might get lucky and make a kill. If not the tribe will starve. Should common sense prevail the less able bowman will give his arrows to the proficient one and they will share the catch.

In the modern world bows and arrows can be bought but we have more sophisticated ways of "bringing home the bacon". Anyone starting a business so that they have the means to support their family will usually find it necessary to have start up capital. If they have a lot of ability but are unproven they might find raising this very difficult whereas their less able cousin who has the good fortune of a legacy will have an inbuilt advantage. Again a pooling of resources might bring the most advantage to all.