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Financial Advise Buried in the Tragedy of Hamlet

I made it through 31 years of life without reading or seeing the Tragedy of Hamlet by William Shakespeare. It is fantastic, and I do not regret taking the time to read it now.

This story contains many great and memorable lines — memorable in part because they have become a common part of the lexicon of Britain, America, and other English-speaking parts of the world.

“In my mind’s eye…” – Hamlet, 1.2.193
“This above all: to thine own self be true” – Polonius, 1.3.84
“To be or not to be — that is the question” – Hamlet, 3.1.64

In reading this play, I encountered a wise piece of financial advise from Polonius. It stood out to me because it aligns with advice I have read and heard from other quarters such as the Book of Proverbs (from the Bible), and financial advisors such as Dave Ramsey. You may not be accustomed to taking financial advice from fictitious characters, but pay consideration to these words.

Polonius, Act 1, Scene 3, lines 81-87

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell. My blessing season this in thee.”

In summary, don’t take loans or make loans. Loans often results in losing money, and losing friends. Borrowing dulls the ability to cultivate (husband) your own money and financial resources.

By Calvin Freitas

I am a Senior Front-End Engineer in the Seattle area. I'm the creator of the Verses for Life website and app. I'm an Amazon veteran and currently living the startup life.