Money

Money advice from Benjamin Franklin's 259-year-old book on wealth is still relevant

Actor Ralph Archibald, portraying Ben Franklin, reacts during the start of the one year countdown of the grand opening of the National Constitution Center (NCC) July 3, 2002, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Getty Images

Nearly 260 years ago, Benjamin Franklin wrote a proverb-filled essay about money and success titled "The Way to Wealth."

The essay first appeared in his yearly publication, "Poor Richard's Almanack," and was eventually reprinted in more than 100 languages.

Franklin's insights into wealth are just as relevant several centuries later. In fact, one CEO says the single best piece of money advice she's ever heard comes from the 259-year-old text.

"Ben Franklin for me became a bit of a role model," Katelyn Gleason, CEO and founder of Eligible, tells CNBC Make It. "He was an inventor; he was an entrepreneur; he himself was in debt at one time."

Katelyn Gleason, CEO and co-founder of Eligible
Courtesy of Katelyn Gleason
Katelyn Gleason, CEO and co-founder of Eligible

One insight in particular from "The Way to Wealth" has stuck with Gleason: "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."

It's timeless advice that has worked for the wealthiest, most successful people of today. As author Steve Siebold writes in his book on self-made millionaires, "How Rich People Think," the "world-class would rather be educated than entertained."

The most successful people appreciate the power of learning long after their school years are over, he writes: "Walk into a wealthy person's home and one of the first things you'll see is an extensive library of books they've used to educate themselves on how to become more successful."

While building Eligible in 2011, "I pored over everything I could find online, teaching myself day-by-day how to build Eligible's proof-of-concept," Gleason tells CNBC Make It.

Franklin also touched on more tangible money advice in "The Way to Wealth."

"A man may, if he knows not how to save as he gets, keep his nose all his life to the grindstone, and die not worth a groat at last," the Founding Father wrote. "If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting."

In other words, while making money is important — rich people do focus on earning and tend to have at multiple streams of income — wealth is also defined by how much of your income you're able to keep and make work for you.

At the end of the day, you could make a ton of money, but if you don't save and invest it, even a large salary doesn't mean much.

As personal finance expert Ramit Sethi writes in "I Will Teach You to Be Rich," "On average, millionaires invest 20 percent of their household income each year. Their wealth isn't measured by the amount they make each year, but by how they've saved and invested over time."

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook!

Don't miss: 11 books that will teach you to get rich, summed up in a sentence