Aesop on Finances 6

Brent Woyat - Jun 16, 2018

Recently, I came across a story by the ancient Greek fabulist, Aesop that I wanted to share with you. Like many of his fables, this one contains some good common sense that applies not only to our everyday lives…but to our finances as well.  The Mas

Recently, I came across a story by the ancient Greek fabulist, Aesop that I wanted to share with you. Like many of his fables, this one contains some good common sense that applies not only to our everyday lives…but to our finances as well. 

The Master and His Mule

A trader set forth on a long journey driving before him a Mule well-laden with goods. The Mule, as long as he traveled along the plain, carried his load with ease, but when he began to ascend the steep path of the mountain, felt his load to be more than he could bear. He entreated his Master to relieve him of a small portion, that he might carry home the rest, but his Master, thinking only of how his own feet hurt, paid no attention to the request. The Mule shortly fell down dead under the weight of his burden. Not knowing what else to do in so wild a region, the Master took the goods the Mule had carried and placed them on his own shoulders. When he tried to take a step, groaning beneath his heavy burden, he said to himself:

“I am treated according to my desserts. If only I had not worried so much about my present pain and given the Mule the help he required, I would not be faced with a much more painful tomorrow.” 

When it comes to finances, all of us, regardless of our age or stage in life, have the following problem:

How do we balance today’s needs with those of tomorrow? 

After all, there are so many current demands on our money, aren’t there? Groceries, utilities, fuel, repairs, not to mention the money we spend on luxuries like television, internet, vacations, and so on. 

But the future has just as many demands. Retirement. Health care. Unforeseen emergencies. And it’s not uncommon for the future’s demands to be far more expensive than today’s. 

Unfortunately, many people often sacrifice tomorrow’s needs for today’s. For example, they:

  • Take money out of their RRSP, TFSA, or other retirement account to pay for something they need or want now.
  • Take money out of their emergency fund, or fail to contribute to one, because they need a little extra cash now.
  • Take out payday or cash advance loans, paying far more in interest than they received in the initial loan.

While there are occasions when it may be necessary to do these things, most of the time, it’s a bad idea. And people who do often learn what the Master did in Aesop’s story: that relieving a little present pain can cause far more pain in the future. 

One of the most prudent things you can do with your money is make a list of likely future expenses. Then ask yourself: “Am I setting money aside to meet these expenses? Am I investing and saving in a way that will help me secure the income I need once I stop working? Do I have an emergency fund, and am I contributing enough to it on a regular basis?” 

By asking these questions, and by seeking the answers to them now, you can make your future burdens a lot lighter…without necessarily sacrificing the needs of today. More than anything, you can succeed where the Master failed. You can complete your own journey…wherever that journey might lead. 

From the desk of Brent Woyat