Of Expenses by Francis Bacon –Line by line mmeaning


RICHES are for spending, and spending for honor and good actions. Therefore extraordinary expense must be limited by the worth of the occasion; for voluntary undoing may be as well for a man’s country as for the kingdom of heaven.

Meaning .. Money and wealth are to be spent one day. People spend money for enhancement of one’s own standing in society and for better living. Money is also spent for charity, social good, and other such benevolent causes. While spending large sums of money or investing a god amount of wealth, one must weigh the wisdom of such parting of resources. Spending for the cause of one’s country, or for noble and lofty causes can be justified as good enough reasons.

But ordinary expense ought to be limited by a man’s estate; and governed with such regard, as it be within his compass; and not subject to deceit and abuse of servants; and ordered to the best show, that the bills may be less than the estimation abroad.

Meaning .. Normal day-to-day expenses of the apparently routine type need to be done commensurate with one’s income and assets. No money should be spent for furthering dishonest and immoral causes. Servants are valued human assets, and the employer must never spent any money to dishonor or humiliate them. Expenses must be less than the income, and should not exceed it.

Certainly, if a man will keep but of even hand, his ordinary expenses ought to be but to the half of his receipts; and if he think to wax rich, but to the third part. It is no baseness for the greatest to descend and look into their own estate.

Meaning .. Ideally, expenses must be around half of one’s income. For those who want to become rich, their expenses should be a third f their incomes. To be calculative and cautious in spending is not a mean thing. Keeping an eye on the income while spending is a prudent policy.

Some forbear it, not upon negligence alone, but doubting to bring themselves into melancholy, in respect they shall find it broken. But wounds cannot be cured without searching. He that cannot look into his own estate at all, had need both choose well those whom he employeth, and change them often; for new are more timorous and less subtle.

Meaning ……Some people do not stick to these principles of judicious spending not only out of negligence, but also for the fear of feeling sad. Inevitably, abandoning caution in spending leads to their financial ruin. If a ruined man wants to rebuild his finances, he must entrust the job of scrutinizing his budget to someone else, who can do the job dispassionately. A person can’t scrutinize his own spending pattern himself, because he will be biased. Even, the ‘Finance Manager’ brought in to restore the health of the finances needs to be replaced periodically. This is because, a newly-recruited Finance Manager will tend to be very alert and strict.

He that can look into his estate but seldom, it behooveth him to turn all to certainties. A man had need, if he be plentiful in some kind of expense, to be as saving again in some other. As if he be plentiful in diet, to be saving in apparel; if he be plentiful in the hall, to be saving in the stable; and the like.

Meaning … A person who is too pre-occupied to manage his own business, property and wealth, must hand over this charge to an outsider who knows the job better. Due to certain circumstances, if a person over-spends on something, he should cut his expenses on other items to neutralize the excess outgo of funds. For example, if he spends too much on food, he must economize on his clothing expenses. In the same way, if a person spends excess amounts in furnishing his living quarters, he must spend much less on building his stable.

For he that is plentiful in expenses of all kinds will hardly be preserved from decay. In clearing of a man’s estate, he may as well hurt himself in being too sudden, as in letting it run on too long. For hasty selling is commonly as disadvantageable as interest.
Meaning ……A man who spends without restraint, is bound to come to grief, sooner than later. Consequently, he may impulsively sell his estate, or liquidate any such wealth to free himself from the creditors. Such sudden action is really very harmful to his long term interests.

Besides, he that clears at once will relapse; for finding himself out of straits, he will revert to his customs: but he that cleareth by degrees induceth a habit of frugality, and gaineth as well upon his mind as upon his estate.
Meaning …The man who frees himself from his debts so suddenly will revert to his of ways of extravagant spending. This is devastating. On the other hand, a debt-ridden person who liquidates his loans gradually by incremental cut in his expenses, will be really happy in the long run. This is because, the period of contoled spending will change his extravagant habits, and he will imbibe the habits of thrift and caution.

Certainly, who hath a state to repair, may not despise small things; and commonly it is less dishonorable to abridge petty charges, than to stoop to petty gettings. A man ought warily to begin charges which once begun will continue; but in matters that return not he may be more magnificent.
Meaning ….Lastly, it is much less embarrassing to make small cuts in one’s expenses, than to become a bankrupt, and invite ridicule from the society. A man in such distress might resort to petty and often criminal ways to get some money. This is the worst case scenario. A man who judiciously steers clear of such pitfalls will be treated with respect by the society.

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arish usmani
arish usmani
2 years ago

Very useful and genuine..

2 years ago
Reply to  arish usmani

Thank you.

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