Financial lessons from Dr Martin Luther King Jr

It is time to celebrate one of the most important civil rights activists in the US who made a lasting impact on our society. Did you know he also campaigned for economic freedom and financial rights?

lessons Martin Luther King Jr
"I Have a dream!" It doesn't take long to resonate with that idea. We all have dreams that we want to make true. But how meaningful are they? On Martin Luther King Jr Day, let us take a moment to remember his work to end racial segregation and racism. Did you know he had a ton of thoughts and insights on economics and finances too?

In this article

MLK knew what it meant to have financial independence and the importance of it. In his memory, on Martin Luther King Jr Day, here are 3 financial lessons we can all learn from his life and legacy.

Live within your means

“Do you ever see people buy cars that they can’t even begin to buy in terms of their income? You’ve seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don’t earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford. You know, economists tell us that your automobile should not cost more than half of your annual income… But so often, haven’t you seen people making five thousand dollars a year and driving a car that costs six thousand? And they wonder why their ends never meet.” 

 Dr. Martin Luther King

In Dr. King’s “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon, he talks about spending beyond our means. What he meant by “instinct” is that people tend to like being front-in-center and showing off, sort of like a drum major. People always like to satisfy their instinctual feeling with flashy and expensive items over and well beyond their budgets. It gives them a false sense of security.

He advises people to not spend beyond their means. And now that we are in a new year, what better time to revisit your budget.

Keep up with no one

 “And they just live their lives trying to outdo the Joneses. They got to get this coat because this particular coat is a little better and a little better-looking than Mary’s coat. And I got to drive this car because it’s something about this car that makes my car a little better than my neighbor’s car.”

Dr. Martin Luther King

Buying stuff to outpace your neighbor doesn’t bring you happiness. On the contrary, it will stress you more, especially if you’ve got other expenses at your disposal. It’s an unhealthy way to find joy and it needs to be avoided. It can and will affect your wallet and mental health. 

What you can do instead is create a financial plan for the next few months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years and beyond. Achieve your goals one at a time. That way you compete against no one but yourself regardless of what people have around you. This will give you greater joy and a sense of accomplishment. Ensure that your goals are realistic and specific. Also, ensure that your short-term goals build on each other. 

Invest in yourself

“We refuse to believe there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.”

Dr. Martin Luther King

Regardless of what was occurring on a national scale, Dr King always believed that investing in education is a good start to financial security. Perhaps this is your year to get that additional certificate, pursue your MBA, or even start investing money. 

When you invest in yourself, it will lead to greater financial outcomes in the future. If this is the year you finally start investing, remember how compound interest works. Rest in knowing that the earlier you start investing the better.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr is a monumentally important figure in our history. Most did not realize that he was passionate about economic and financial equality and justice. So, while we explored some crucial financial lessons from Martin Luther King today, we hope that 2022 is your year.

Make 2022 the year you get a handle on your budget, create a financial roadmap for your future goals and start investing in yourself! And if you need a partner through your financial journey, Line is always here to help. 

This page is purely informational. Line does not provide financial, legal or accounting advice. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide financial, legal or accounting advice and should not be relied on for the same. Please consult your own financial, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transactions.

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