The Miser and His Gold

“The Miser and His Gold”Aesop’s Fables:

A Miser had buried his gold in a secret place in his garden. Every day he went to the spot, dug up the treasure and counted it piece by piece to make sure it was all there. He made so many trips that a Thief, who had been observing him, guessed what it was the Miser had hidden, and one night quietly dug up the treasure and made off with it.

When the Miser discovered his loss, he was overcome with grief and despair. He groaned and cried and tore his hair.

A passerby heard his cries and asked what had happened.

“My gold! O my gold!” cried the Miser, wildly, “someone has robbed me!”

“Your gold! There in that hole? Why did you put it there? Why did you not keep it in the house where you could easily get it when you had to buy things?”

“Buy!” screamed the Miser angrily. “Why, I never touched the gold. I couldn’t think of spending any of it.”

The stranger picked up a large stone and threw it into the hole.

“If that is the case,” he said, “cover up that stone. It is worth just as much to you as the treasure you lost!”

The moral: A possession is worth no more than the use we make of it.

On this beautiful ol’ Memorial day, don’t forget the purpose of all our saving and investing and millionaire-wanting ways: to achieve FREEDOM. Something our proud men and women in the armed forces continue to fight for so we can afford such a luxury.

Money is to be harnessed to set ourselves up with a life of our own choosing – not to be hoarded or obsessed over, or even grown just to see how much we can amass. At some point we’ll need to start shedding our wealth, so this is a good reminder that it’s all part of the process. Lest we want to end up like our bad bearded friend, the miser ;)

As Ayn Rand once noted,“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” A good thing to keep in mind, today!

PS: When I was searching for this fable, I came across a site that asked people to come up with their own morals after reading the passage. Most were pretty lame, but one in particular was pretty funny :) You can find it here if you want to look for it.

Illustration by Milo Winter – Aesop for Children, 1919

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  1. Kemkem May 25, 2015 at 5:16 AM

    Word! You can’t take it with you.We aim to shed some of it in Marrakesh, starting tomorrow :-). Enjoy your holiday!

    1. J. Money May 25, 2015 at 10:49 AM

      Hot damn! Bring me back some coins for my collection while out there :)

  2. Chris May 25, 2015 at 6:16 AM

    Isn’t this the truth.

  3. MyMoneyDesign May 25, 2015 at 6:26 AM

    That was kind of like the ole-timey equivalent of identity theft. :)

    Good lesson for Memorial Day.

    1. J. Money May 25, 2015 at 10:51 AM

      Yes – many other takeaways here for sure :)

  4. Ramona May 25, 2015 at 6:46 AM

    There is a balance we need to obtain when to comes to our money: we need to learn to think about ‘tomorrow’, but also not let ‘today’ pass us by. We don’t live twice anyway.

    In the past years we tried to make sure our lifestyle is fulfilling (even without spending too much), but also make sure we save something for the days to come.

  5. diane @smartmoneysimplelife May 25, 2015 at 7:37 AM

    True. There’s no point in saving it for its own sake, it’s all about making it work, so you don’t have to!

    Doesn’t hurt to be reminded of that every now and again.


  6. Dee @ Color Me Frugal May 25, 2015 at 7:56 AM

    Too true. Happy Memorial Day!

  7. Mr and Mrs Geek May 25, 2015 at 7:58 AM

    Great fable indeed.
    “spend it or loose it!”, I prefer “invest it or loose it”
    Mr Geek

    1. J. Money May 25, 2015 at 10:53 AM

      Yeah, I wonder how miser’s go about earning more and more money/gold for their stash to salivate on? You’d think they’d be all about those investments to get even more! (Or perhaps those are the lessons for the greed fables? ;))

      1. Mr and Mrs Geek May 25, 2015 at 12:13 PM

        Specially with gold where there is so much volatility. When USD is strong gold is down. At least stocks in the long term they increase in value and pay dividends ;)

  8. Reelika @Financially Wise On Heels May 25, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    Money is definitely a tool and should be used the most efficient way. Fortunately there are so many options out there for it. And freedom is huge, I know it, I grew up without it.

  9. Kathy May 25, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    I, too, have been obsessed with accumulating money. To the extent that even though we have a reserve fund for special expenses like real estate taxes, I’m very reluctant to take the money out for the purpose for which it was saved. I’m working on that, finally realizing that that pile of money does you no good if you never use it. I’m trying to strike a balance.

    Happy Memorial Day and bless all of those who sacrificed so we can have all our riches.

    1. J. Money May 25, 2015 at 10:54 AM

      On the plus side, it’s a better problem to have than always spending it all and trying to save more :)

  10. Mrs. Frugalwoods May 25, 2015 at 9:42 AM

    Too true. Money is only as valuable as what we want to achieve with it. And I think there’s a good lesson in here about helping others with our money too (as opposed to burying it in our gardens ;) ).

  11. Kalie May 25, 2015 at 10:33 AM

    Great post; thanks for sharing this perspective that money is not ultimately about saving, though saving is good. It’s about what we do with it, and thinking through those decisions carefully rather than mindlessly going with the cultural flow.

  12. maria@moneyprinciple May 25, 2015 at 11:34 AM

    Well remembered and well said, Jay. Hope more people will take notice of this lesson.

    1. J. Money May 25, 2015 at 12:16 PM

      Thanks Maria – hope you and the fam are well across the sea!

  13. jennydecki May 25, 2015 at 12:31 PM

    I couldn’t resist checking the comments on the other post. I think that bludgeoning your neighbor is always a worthy moral to a story. I laughed out loud for real. It was a great payoff for the thirty second investment!

    1. J. Money May 25, 2015 at 12:34 PM

      We’re all about good payoffs here ;)

  14. Richard Anthony May 25, 2015 at 12:50 PM

    Too bad that the Miser couldn’t use Paribus–“the app that gets your money back;)”

    1. J. Money May 25, 2015 at 1:03 PM

      hah! good one!

  15. Dawn May 25, 2015 at 1:13 PM

    This reminds me of a Facebook poem I just passed on. We are always ‘dying’ to achieve the next goal…graduate high school then college then a good job then a house then retirement until one day we really are dying and realize we forgot to LIVE!
    God bless are Service men and women who fight for our freedom to Live!

    1. Pengepugeren May 25, 2015 at 3:11 PM

      Perhaps we like working towards new goals? :)

  16. Lindsey @ Cents, Sense & Sensibility May 25, 2015 at 2:05 PM

    Money for money’s sake is not really a fun game, is it? You may have X amount in the bank but if you don’t have a plan for why it’s there or what you’re doing – what’s the point?

  17. Financial Underdog May 25, 2015 at 2:15 PM

    It’s interesting that the story is probably a thousand years old but it’s still true today. Us young people (ok, youngish in my case) love to poke fun at older generation about how outdated they are and how we’re smarter. But then you read something like this and you understand – we’re not smarter. Everything under the moon has been known for quite some time. Some things never change!

    1. J. Money May 29, 2015 at 12:17 PM

      Yup! Reminds me of when I was talking to my grandma years ago about kissing a girl and that “she wouldn’t understand.” She was like, “Honey, everything you’ve thought about – and will think about – I’ve done and tried.” Haha… I don’t know why the older community gets such a bad rap when they’re the smartest out of everyone!! They’ve lived the most!

  18. Shannon @ Financially Blonde May 25, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    Amazing that almost 100 years later and this story is still a great cautionary tale of spending mindfully and making meaningful money choices. I have a number of clients who end up like the miser and the dollars in their bank account are really only as good as what they plan to do with them.

  19. Gen Y Finance Guy May 25, 2015 at 4:29 PM

    Something super important for all us freedom fighters to remember.

    Money is just the MEANS to an end. That END is living life by design.



  20. Prudence Debtfree May 26, 2015 at 5:53 AM

    A good reminder to everyone who is focused on paying off debt and/or saving hand over fist. The numbers can get weirdly exciting, but they’re not what it’s all about.

  21. Hannah May 26, 2015 at 9:47 AM

    My moral of the story: Broke people and fearful people are poor wealth advisers (pun!), and bullion is always a stupid investment.

    1. J. Money May 29, 2015 at 12:20 PM

      well, I don’t know about the latter all the way (I can think of a lot worse investments), but I def. don’t think those doomsdayers over there are going to see their time come in the near future :) But don’t tell Len Penzo that – he’s been hoarding silver and gold like a mad man!

  22. Warren Lee May 26, 2015 at 1:47 PM

    I like that. Put it to use and make your money work for you or you might as well bury your head in the sand along with that gold.

  23. The Professor May 26, 2015 at 2:16 PM

    Great short, concise story. I see so many people with millions of dollars who leave 5% tips or refuse to buy their friends a round of drinks. It’s crazy!

    1. J. Money May 29, 2015 at 12:20 PM


      Maybe they’re “fake rich” and actually not millionaires? :)

  24. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar May 26, 2015 at 2:35 PM

    The more I have of it, the less I feel like I need. It’s not the money that I want. It’s the freedom that it represents!

  25. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green May 26, 2015 at 4:37 PM

    Oof such a good reminder. Money gets you to where you wanna be but its not my end goal to have money for money sakes.

    Well I dropped a lot of money this weekend for sure! Shopping, good eats, and just plain old having a good time. Let myself go a bit this weekend!

    I loved Aesop fables when I was little. Good stuff and some life lessons hidden in each one.

  26. Jason@Islands of Investing May 26, 2015 at 4:48 PM

    It’s a real tragedy when people get caught up in wanting money for money’s sake. But there’s a dangerous and powerful force in it that can lure us away from discovering and experiencing the things we truly value in life.

  27. Paula Pant / Afford Anything May 26, 2015 at 10:52 PM

    I’ll be shedding away some wealth in Brazil, starting in a few hours!

    Great story and awesome reminder. Money is meant to serve you … not the other way around.

    1. J. Money May 29, 2015 at 12:21 PM

      Woohoo! You’re a mover and shaker over there, baby!

  28. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank May 27, 2015 at 4:36 AM

    Save it and spend it on purpose.

  29. Chris Muller May 27, 2015 at 7:49 PM

    You just blew my mind, bro. This is crazy… It’s like the frugal cheapy taking things to the extreme and not doing anything with his money. Our society OBSESSES over money, and we forget the really important things like family. I say this all the time, but so many of us take things like having food, shelter, a job, health, etc. for granted. We have become too greedy. I’d dare anyone to turn on the TV, walk outside, or talk to someone for any length of time without running into a topic that can be connected to MONEY in some way. It’s running our lives. Question is, how do we stop?

    1. J. Money May 29, 2015 at 12:24 PM

      HAH! Truth.

      I’ve since stopped trying to convince people to change since the only way you do is when you truly WANT to. Like you fine people here reading this :) Now I just try and live as best a life I can and happily answer questions when people ask and wonder. The only time they listen is when they’re ready to :)

      Really loving your blog btw, you’re on my list of up and comers man. Keep pouring your heart out!

  30. Smart Money MD May 29, 2015 at 10:35 AM

    True. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of why we accumulate and make adjustments to our lifestyle in order to grow wealth.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  31. Matthew Olszewski May 30, 2015 at 3:36 PM

    I would add another moral to this story. “True wealth is not money that we have, but our skills”. With age, more and more I am convinced to this sentence. The best way to ensure our future is no savings that we gathered all our life, because anything can happen and we can lose them. What we can nobody would take.

    1. J. Money June 19, 2015 at 10:01 PM

      Amen to that, brotha.

  32. Kennedy June 19, 2015 at 12:29 PM

    What an incredible story, a lesson as well as an advice for those people who just love the idea of just having money with them at the expense of doing an investment which would have been far beneficial. Keeping money with you only makes you poorer while investing it can make one even hundreds times reacher. I love this moral story as it’s going to help me as well.

    1. J. Money June 19, 2015 at 10:09 PM

      Glad you enjoyed :) Thanks for stopping by to tell me so.

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 9:06 PM

      Oh wow – was founded 150 years ago!