The first day of class
It is Monday, the first day of school and the eighth grade sociology teacher walks into class and puts his name on the blackboard and next to it the number 59 with a circle around it. He then proceeds to tell his class that he is Mr. Smith and the most important thing they will learn in his class involves the number 59. He tells them to look at it, think about it, and study it. After about five minutes Mr. Smith then taught his first class, never mentioning the encircled number again.
On Tuesday Mr. Smith goes though he same process to start the class.
He writes a large 59, draws a circle around it and tells his students that the number is life changing, that it is important for them to understand its true meaning, and that once they do they will have a better life. After which he sits down, giving them time to think about the number. Once again, he does not discuss the circled number.
On Wednesday and Thursday the same drill occurs.
No one says a word in the class as the students sit looking at the number 59 in a circle. After about five minutes Mr. Smith begins teaching and follows the same pattern of not talking about 59 throughout his entire lecture.
Finally, on Friday a student can’t take it anymore and questions Mr. Smith about what could possibly be so important about the number 59. After all, the young man said, it is just a number. Mr. Smith smiled at the young man and thanked him for his curiosity and answered the question.
“You see,” said Mr. Smith, “I am quite sure that this class will turn out like all of my other classes. Some of you are going to struggle in life, some will do well and some will do very well because that is how life works.
But all of you should pay close attention to the rule of 59 because it will make your life more successful and much less stressful.
This is what it means. If you make $59, then you cannot spend $60. If you do not follow this rule, you will set yourself up for financial failure in life. It does not matter whether you make $5,900 or $59,000, you cannot spend $6,000 or $60,000. You cannot spend more than you make and it is that simple.”
It is interesting how such a simple concept–don’t spend more than you make—has been abused by so many on so many different levels. Overspending is addictive and extremely difficult to reverse.
Mr. Smith was a smart man and a very good teacher. He clearly understood how important money would become in his students’ futures. Too bad more people did not have a Mr. Smith in their lives