P.T. Barnum is a popular name in American lore. But like so many historical figures, very little is known about him. The Art of Getting Money (1880) provides a nice glimpse into the man. It’s filled with philosophical quips and general advice – I highly recommend it.

Some of my favorite lines were the following.

“Young men starting in life should avoid running into debt. There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt. It is a slavish position to get ill…Debt robs a man of his self-respect, and makes him almost despise himself.” 

“The safest plan, and the one most sure of success for the young man starting in life, is to select the vocation which is most congenial to his tastes.”

“The foundation of success in life is good health: that is the substratum fortune; it is also the basis of happiness. A person cannot accumulate a fortune very well when he is sick.”

As you can see, Barnum gives common sense advice. And let’s face it…the world needs more common sense. The book is perfect for young adults. The style is direct and engaging, giving sold advice to the emerging man (or woman).

I find that financial books are helpful in the general sense: i.e. Rich Dad, Poor Dad; The Millionaire Next Door, etc. They keep our mind focused on the attributes of wealth. Specific information is omitted, since the “nuts and bolts” of any industry come with experience and are varied. Therefore, the information remains on the surface for a logical reason.

That being said, it still helps to read the words of wise men. When trying to improve at something, we should listen to those that have experience in such matters. P.T. Barnum fits the bill with regards to wealth – his strategies are common sense tidbits and very important reminders.

See Related Article: Short Story Review: “The Lake” by Ray Bradbury

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