Some say that money makes the world go ‘round—while others warn about focusing too much on just one kind of wealth. No matter where you’re from, you’ve likely been given some advice about money or finances in your life. This roundup of famous quotes about money includes a lot of wisdom from different regions and time periods. Which one is your favorite?
Money Quotes from Around the World
Are you familiar with all of these sayings? Chances are that some of these names are familiar, but plenty more may be new to you. From humorous to serious and in between, there’s a quote here for everyone.
Advice from the Ancients
1. “Frugality includes all other virtues.” – Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher, and writer who tried to uphold Republican principles in the Roman civil wars. He came from a wealthy, landowning family, but always believed in the inherent value of frugality. He thought that saving money and living on the smallest amount possible was the best way to prosper and to contribute to society.
2. “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” – Epictetus.
Epictetus lived in Ancient Greece, where he was a Stoic philosopher. He believed that philosophy is not just a way of thinking, but an important piece of life experience. In his worldview, all external events are beyond individual control. That means we should all accept life’s obstacles calmly, but remain in control and self-disciplined about those things we can influence.
3. “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.” – Seneca
Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger, usually just called Seneca, was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and satirist of the Roman Imperial period. He was one of the most wealthy and powerful men in Rome, but he was mostly invested in the ideas of Stoicism. As this quote suggests, he believed that true wealth was learning to be content with little.
Artists and Entertainers
4. “I am not biased against the rich because they are rich, but the most lively people are those without money who would like to have some.” – Errol Flynn
Errol Flynn was a beloved Australian actor who was celebrated as the movie screen’s foremost swashbuckler. Flynn was the son of a prominent Australian marine biologist and zoologist.
5. “I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.” – Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso is a Spanish painter and sculptor and perhaps one of the best known and most influential artists of all time. He is credited with pioneering Cubism and Post-Impressionism and became world-famous during his lifetime, which is still rare for an artist.
Toward the end of his life, he became quite wealthy, leaving behind a multibillion-dollar empire upon his death. This quote speaks to his experience of how difficult it can be to manage such a legacy. His true wish was to remain living as simply as he had when he had little money, but also to enjoy the comforts and peace of mind that large fortunes bring.
6. “Money is good for nothing unless you know the value of it by experience.” – P. T. Barnum
Founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, P. T. Barnum was one of the wealthiest men in America in the mid-1800s. He was a remarkable entrepreneur and entertainer, and an icon of American ingenuity. He advocated using money to enjoy life, rather than hoarding it or penny-pinching just to accrue more wealth.
7. “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.” – Will Rogers
Will Rogers was an American entertainer, radio personality, film actor, and writer. He was best known for his Broadway and film performances, his folksy persona, and his pithy humor.
Not only that, but Will Rogers was also an unofficial ambassador of goodwill in America. He was a big advocate for giving money to the needy.
Business and Political Leaders
8. “Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.” – Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was a prolific thinker, inventor, and writer who also served terms as the first Postmaster General of the United States, Minister to France, Minister to Sweden, and President of Pennsylvania.
He has been referred to in history books as “the most accomplished American of his age.” His portrait is currently on the U.S. $100 dollar bill, and he had plenty of wisdom about money, savings, and personal finances.
9. “Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 32nd President of the United States. He governed the nation during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and his policies to alleviate poverty, collectively known as the New Deal, remain influential today.
10. “If money is your hope for independence, you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.” – Henry Ford
Henry Ford was an American automobile manufacturer who created the Model T Ford in 1908. His business did so well that he became a world-famous business leader, but he always asserted that money could never substitute for knowledge, experience, and ability.
11. “Money is like manure. You have to spread it around, or it smells.” – J. Paul Getty
Paul Getty was an American-born British industrialist who founded the Getty Oil company in 1942. He grew up learning about how to make wise investments from his father, and at one point he was known as the richest man in the world.
This quote, which is related to an older British saying, advocates for business people to spread their assets around in different investments to see their fortunes grow.
12. “For every minute that I spin, there is in me the consciousness that I am adding to the nation’s wealth.” – Mohandas Gandhi
The quote was taken from the book “Mahatma Gandhi : A Multifaceted Person.” Mohandas Gandhi, often called by his nickname “Mahatma,” a term of reverence or respect, was born in India in 1869. A fierce patriot, Gandhi campaigned for India’s freedom from the colonial United Kingdom.
He taught himself to spin cotton yarn from raw fibers on the charkha and insisted on doing so for at least half an hour every day. This was significant in that the cotton was grown in India, the charkha was Indian, and the finished yarn, cloth, and textiles were pure forms of an independent Indian economy.
13. “Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.” – Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was South Africa’s first Black president, as well as a tireless anti-apartheid activist. His election as the country’s leader resulted from the first democratically free election in the country. He knew that to live a full life, Black South Africans needed equality and the freedom to earn the same wages as white South Africans.
14. “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” –Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison was an American inventor who held more than 1,000 patents and created the world’s first industrial research laboratory. He was an inventive genius and a shrewd entrepreneur, and he knew the value of hard work. When he died in 1931, he left behind him a $12 million estate.
15. “Never spend your money before you have earned it.” – Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson is the American president who appears on the nickel and the $2 bill. The $2 bill is rarely seen these days, but is still printed by the U.S. Mint.
Modern Financial Experts
16. “Money moves from those who do not manage it to those who do.” – Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey is an American personal finance guru with his own radio show as well as a number of books on managing personal finances. He strongly advocates establishing an emergency fund, investing some income in retirement accounts every month, and buying real estate to build wealth.
This quote reflects his belief that people cannot accrue wealth unless they deliberately manage their money.
17. “As we spend money, we must have the courage to do a self-audit and admit what emotion is driving our spending.” – Deborah Smith Pegues
This quote was taken from the book “The One-Minute Money Mentor for Women.” Deborah Smith Pegues is an American financial writer whose books focus on the emotions and internal stress related to money. She believes people must confront their money issues from the inside out to gain control of their financial future. Her work is often aimed at women specifically, who have traditionally been left out of financial education.
Naval Ravikant is an Indian-American entrepreneur and investor. He is the co-founder, chairman, and former CEO of AngelList, a job listing site for innovative tech companies, and he was born in India but grew up in the U.S.
He is known for making his fortune from smart investments in companies like Uber, Twitter, and Yammer. Despite the vast amounts of money he has amassed, he stands behind the belief that time is much more valuable than money. He lives in such a way that he can make enough money to afford time off to enjoy life—and suggests that others do the same.
19. “It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.” – Robert Kiyosaki
Robert Kiyosaki is an American businessman and author of the popular personal finance book “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” His philosophy toward money, as suggested by this quote, is to work hard and be smart with your finances.
He encourages people to educate themselves on personal finances, so they can make informed choices about money.
20. “Stop buying things you don’t need, to impress people you don’t even like.” – Suze Orman
Suze Orman is a popular American author and financial advisor. She has a wide following of fans and readers who adore her approach to personal finances. This quote is a great example of her no-nonsense approach to finances. She advises people to focus on their own deepest needs, rather than worry about appearances.
Philosophers & Other Thinkers
21. “If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free. If our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.” – Edmund Burke
The philosophical founder of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke was an Irish statesman and economist who served in Parliament between 1766 and 1794. He authored a popular book called “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” which dealt primarily with the concept of wealth. He strongly believed in having an attitude of prudence toward money, and urged everyone, as this quote reflects, to acquire savings.
22. “Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much.” – Eric Fromm
Erich Fromm was a German social psychologist and psychoanalyst who was known for developing the concept that freedom was a fundamental part of human nature. He was a very humanistic philosopher, and a democratic socialist who very much believed that material accumulations and wealth should be divided and shared more fairly among society.
23. “Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Many people refer to Norman Vincent Peale as “the father of positive thinking.” An American minister and writer born in 1898, he authored several books on his famous formula of faith and optimism and remains one of the most widely read inspirational writers of all time.
Proverbs from Many Cultures
24. “Get the money honestly if you can.” – American proverb
This proverb, from the early 19th century, derives from the classical world and the poetry of Horace. He said, “If possible honestly, if not, somehow, make money.” It is meant to impress the idea that the best way to earn money is through work and helping others.
25. “The sun is rising and setting [and] the moon is waxing and waning.” – Chinese proverb
The original quote in Chinese is “日有陰晴，月有盈虧.” It means that things are constantly changing, and no one will stay wealthy or poor forever. This proverb encourages people to work hard and stay diligent.
26. “One cannot both feast and become rich.” – Ashanti proverb
The Ashanti people are a major ethnic group in Ghana. The ancient Ashanti Kingdom occupied present-day Ghana and stretched past today’s borders. A fierce fighting nation, the Ashanti people were also avid farmers. Ashanti proverbs are beloved for their pithy wisdom. Check out this compilation from UCLA for more of them.
27. “Keep your pockets lined.” – Greek proverb
Many people in Greece believe in this proverb, which asserts that if you empty your purse, wallet, or bank account, it will bring you financial misfortune later in life. This superstition holds that you should always have a little money saved—which is why when giving children their first piggy bank, parents usually fill it up with a few coins first.
28. “With money, the dog dances.” – Mexican proverb
This humorous quote rhymes in its original Spanish: “con dinero baila el perro.” In other words, money talks. Mexicans use this saying about politicians who work for bribes—but also, broadly, regarding anyone or anything motivated by money.
29. “The rich would have to eat money if the poor did not provide food.” – Russian proverb
For much of its history, Russia was characterized by strict class divisions. The serfs worked the land to provide food and raw materials, while the landowning class managed them. Above the landowners was the royal family. In the early 20th century, discontent among oppressed workers sparked the Russian Revolution.
30. “Stretch your arm no further than your sleeve will reach.” – Turkish proverb
Turkish proverbs like this one imply that you shouldn’t spend more money than you have. Many cultures these days are dealing with huge problems of debt from personal and government loans, credit cards, and other sources, and this quote warns us not to get ahead of ourselves.
Traditional Turkish folklore also teaches that holding gold in your hand while you sleep helps you be financially successful in life—a nice lesson that teaches that if we concentrate on attracting money, it will come to us!
31. “Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” – Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand was a Russian-born American writer with a number of successful novels centered around individualism and laissez-faire capitalism. She believed anyone could amass a fortune if they made smart investments and followed their instincts. Her beliefs are controversial, but remain popular in some circles.
32. “It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.” – George Lorimer
George Lorimer was an American journalist and editor of The Saturday Evening Post. He was a beloved personality in the early 1900s and offered advice to middle-class America about money and many other topics.
This quote encourages listeners to not get carried away with their desire for riches, and to remember that some of the most irreplaceable things in life have nothing to do with work or earnings.
33. “For the sake of life on Earth, we must put a limit on wealth.” – George Monbiot
Monbiot, a British writer, is a citizen of a country that has largely moved on from its industrial past and is seeking less damaging economic stability. In his view, immense wealth is the result of the capitalization of the means of production, which generally means a relentless use of natural resources. Wealth, therefore, translates to negative environmental impact.
34. “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” – Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau was an American naturalist, essayist, and philosopher in the 1800s. His work advocated living a life based on simplicity, and he believed that value is not inherently monetary and can be found anywhere. This quote reflects his belief that money is not essential to a joyful life, but that it does allow one to experience life more fully.
35. “A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.” – Jonathan Swift
An Anglo-Irish author, Jonathan Swift wrote essays, poetry, and a novel in the early 1700s. He believed that the key to managing a person’s life was to remain responsible and clear-headed about money, but never to let greed or selfish desires trump love and the spirit of the heart.
36. “When I was young, I thought money was the most important thing in life. Now that I am old, I know that it is.” – Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde was an Irish wit, poet, and dramatist, as well as a spokesman for the late 19th-century Aesthetic movement that advocated art for art’s sake. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant playwrights of the Victorian era, and was known for his tongue-in-cheek style of writing and sarcastic wit. He worked his way up through the ranks of society in money-conscious England and formed a career based on his talent and personality.
37. “Money often costs too much” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American poet, essayist, and philosopher, and the leading exponent of New England Transcendentalism. His lectures and work influenced generations of Americans, from his good friend Henry David Thoreau to John Dewey, as well as Europeans like Friedrich Nietzsche.
Emerson felt that everyone should do something with their money—spending, earning, and saving to promote a healthy society.
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