10 Laws of Money from History’s Greatest Leaders

by Erin Schollaert


Money rules our everyday life, from where we live to what we can eat: so it makes sense that the rulers and leaders of the past had a lot to say about it.

The laws of money can guide you into good financial health and ensure that you use it well instead of wasting it on momentary success.

These are some of the greatest leaders from history, and what rules of money governed them while they led the people that counted on them.

1. Your Wealth is Not Yours


Mahatma Gandhi’s life was a very extended mix of highs and lows that made it impossible to pin down a direction until he was in his thirties.

Married at 14, before failing as a lawyer and eventually becoming introduced to activism in South Africa, he had to live many lives before realizing his need to protest and make something larger for himself while he learned the secrets of wealth.

In 1942 he was working to convince the British Government to withdraw from India and was fighting to unify a nation of people into realizing that their country belonged to themselves.

In this address, he made it clear that wealth isn’t just for the individual but also for the society you live within.

Instead of investing in policies that could cause social harm, it’s vital to use that money to push the greater good and offer the chance to better society. Gandhi was also a master communicator and often used numerous negotiation tactics.

A society that invests in itself gains a higher quality of living and the chance for more innovation and creative thinking, which can still further your income.

2. Achievement Matters More Than Money

Franklin D Roosevelt was the 32nd president of the USA, taking over when the Great Depression was in full swing and standing as the last president to be allowed to serve for three terms.

Wheelchair-bound due to being disabled, he worked hard to show his faith in the American people.

He tried to achieve as much as possible during his presidency- to the point that when he was unable to work, his wife stepped in and worked in the shadows as president in his stead.

Stepping into a country that had dealt with incredible amounts of debt, joblessness, poverty, and starvation: he understood the strain the average person was under and created a ‘New Deal’ that helped shift things so this great depression would end.

This series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted ensured that the average person could afford to eat.

Instead of sitting back and enjoying his office and income: he made sure people had food, a place to live, and could be financially independent again, and is remembered for that most of all.

Roosevelt worked hard to prove that action and achievement were worth far more than money and died three months into what would have been his fourth term as president.

Tactics for Success

  • FDR added constraints to the banking industry to help inflate the government: focusing on getting the individual money instead of the institution. This helped fix the US economy after the Great Depression and allowed for the funding of infrastructure and improvement projects, which then created jobs. Knowing what’s causing a financial issue and targeting it specifically can make a major change.
  • Although FDR inherited most of his money, he built himself up in the same way he fixed the US economy, focusing on his merit and value instead of his family’s.

3. Regardless of Short Term or Long Term, Results Matter

Eva Peron led a short life, passing away at the age of 32, but spent her time on Earth making a huge impact on those who knew of her.

Starting her life in poverty as the youngest child of five, she was an illegitimate child and was treated poorly until she eventually moved away at fifteen.

Still young, she used her clever wit and good looks to climb social ladders until she met Juan Peron, the eventual president of Argentina. She possessed tons of charisma, which continues to be a high income skill to this day.

In her position as first lady, she worked diligently to fight for women’s suffrage and improve the poor’s lives, becoming a folk hero and national treasure more popular than her husband.

Over time she made it clear that the most important thing with money wasn’t how long you invested: but that you had your eye on the results before all else.

4. Money Doesn’t Have Morals, How You Use it Matters Most

Martin Luther King JR is one of the most influential people in America’s history, and because of this has spent the last sixty years becoming a legend for this country to learn from.

Famously the preacher’s child, he understood the importance of finances on a person’s life and how gathering a community could make a change.

While fighting hard for social change and the rights of people across the nation, he made it clear that although people tried to say he hated money: he knew that money wasn’t the issue.

Condemning the misuse of wealth to put people down, he clarified that it’s not bad to have money: it’s bad to use it in cruel ways.

This can be heavily considered through both social needs and the importance of being aware of the companies and people you invest in. We talk with our wallets, and investing in things that align with your beliefs makes the profits sweeter.

Trends on the Rise

Almost a third of American buyers research to ensure that the company they’re buying from is ethical before they make a purchase. Although the green industry has grown by over a million dollars in the last five years: being green doesn’t mean that the environment has to be the main focus of your company. Instead, trading out plastic for paper packaging and being mindful in sourcing will give your business the green boost.

5. Investing In Financial Recovery Benefits Everyone

Napoleon Bonaparte lived for just fifty-two years and built a life that’s one of the most famous known worldwide.

As a French military general, he understood the importance of good leadership and revolutionized the military’s organization and training, putting serious effort into education.

Many would think a war general would be more heavily focused on the spoils of war: but in most of his quotes, he discusses the need for social reform and a thorough understanding of the banking system.

Frustrated with how banks and those with financial power seemed to make the largest decisions in a country, he made it clear that money needed to be treated as something for the common good, instead of just for the banks and the wealthiest to enjoy.

During tough economic times, it’s smart to pursue recession proof jobs.

After France went through the strong recession of the revolutionary period, he invested in the people before banks or anything else. He wanted to show that economic growth was about spreading money, instead of focusing on one institution.

6. Choosing Your Investments Wisely Can Change Everything

Catherine the Second was the last reigning Empress Regnant of Russia, from 1762 until 1796, and led her country into participating in the political and cultural life of Russia.

Living nearly seventy years, she spent a lot of her life ensuring that her government had the same chance at success and dynamic growth as any other.

Her country grew at unprecedented levels during her reign due to international credit and agricultural expansion. She ensured a healthy trade balance for as long as her power continued.

Although there were geographical limits and problems with serfdom, she confirmed that Russia was improved as long as she was at the helm.

Fighting against tradition and allowing herself to be seen as overpowering, she ensured that her investments were sound and that her country was left stronger than it was when she received it.

This was one of the largest changes a monarch has put a country through, and it allowed the government to flourish for another hundred years after her death.

Trends on the Rise

Investments have been a hot topic in the last couple of years, with things like the brand new NFT market already worth seven billion dollars. Just because something is popular now, doesn’t mean it’s a wise investment, though. It’s vital that, like Catherine the Second, you pay attention to what’s causing the rise in value and how much it takes to invest in a market before putting money into it.

7. Money Can Change in a Moment’s Notice, Be Prepared

Maria Theresa was an archduchess of Austria and the queen of Hungary and Bohemia between 1740 to 1780.

The wife of the Holy Roman emperor, she was able to be extremely well educated and understood the importance of knowing about all parts of her country.

Putting in huge financial reforms to strengthen Austria’s military and economic and bureaucratic efficiency, she oversaw the unification of the Austrian and Bohemian chancellors in 1749. As a result, she made major strides for her country’s economy.

Known as the most important ruler at the age of Enlightened Absolutism, she worked hard to ensure that all money was treated intelligently and that investments were made wisely because finances could change at any moment.

A great way to guard against financial volatility is knowing effective ways to save money quickly.

When she started, she described it as finding herself without cash, credit, army, experience, or counsel because nobody had faith in her: but she built this faith by hand and created one of the most successful economies of the time.

8. The Freedom to Make Money is More Important Than Money Itself

Nelson Mandela is famous for many things, but the most important is that he stands his ground and understands the importance of freedom.

After becoming involved with the anti-apartheid movement in his 20s, he joined the African National Congress in his late thirties in 1942.

After that, he did everything he could to further the support of the people he knew supported it.

This led to him being arrested multiple times for treason, leaving the country, and eventually 27 years in prison.

He was confined to a small cell without a bed or plumbing and spent his time thinking about the inequalities of everyone and the need for major reform.

However, he didn’t let this time go to waste, and instead of giving up continued to push for the reform and change he knew that people deserved.

Being imprisoned pushed him to put his words to paper and made it clear that money isn’t what matters: it’s the freedom to make money and build your own life.

The average person is fortunate enough not to have to spend nearly thirty years in prison to learn this lesson from him.

These days people are getting creative with how to pursue their passions, such as living with parents after marriage.

So it’s important to remember that although money matters, what agendas that money presses and what freedoms could be taken away from it are more important.

9. Creating Ways For Money to Make Itself Matters

Genghis Khan is best known as a man who ruled and conquered ruthlessly, taking over large swaths of land and spreading their empire.

Of course, this behavior isn’t something anyone should aspire to: but it allowed him to build a massive fortune.

Most would expect him to keep this money and hoard it: but he was surprisingly not greedy with the winnings.

The money was spread out amongst his people, and the average Mongolian person was able to enjoy a lifestyle that few got to have in this era.

He pushed for religious tolerance, established dedicated trade routes, and changed how many companies and countries do business.

Because of this, he was a big advocate for using money to make more and giving back to the social needs of those in his empire.

He was still brutal and a man to be feared, but the financial value he offered to those he ruled over was unprecedented and is still something most countries don’t provide.

10. Money Should be the Servant, Not the Master, of Humanity

Abraham Lincoln is one of the most famous American presidents and was able to build a legacy around the idea of giving people the opportunity to lead their own lives.

But, unfortunately, living the classic American folk hero story of coming up from humble origins and rising to amazing heights only to be knocked down tragically has overshadowed a lot of the interesting parts of his life and belief systems.

A self-educated lawyer who gained public acclaim for the cases he’d take on, he worked hard to build a connection with the American people.

Going through several career changes, from boatman to store clerk, surveyor, and even militia soldier, he was able to see first-hand the importance that money has on the average person’s life.

Although when he died, he was wealthy and was able to pass on cash through his legacy, many still remember his humble origins first.

His belief that money should be the servant, not the master, of humanity is something that many people struggle to understand and believe.

The point of this statement is that we shouldn’t waste our entire lives desperately trying to make money; it should instead be used for us to improve our quality of life.

Wrapping Up

Whether you’re trying to save money for a home or starting your own business and need guidance from the greatest voices from history: it’s important to reflect on the fact that every experience is different.

If there’s anything these people all agree on, it’s to spend wisely, invest in ways that make sense, offer a good sum in return, and don’t let money rule your life.

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Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.

About the Author

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Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.