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Celebrating National Leadership Day with Pioneers in Personal Finance

Painting of Asian Man with Beard - National Leadership Day

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Credit Sesame celebrates National Leadership day with a list of pioneers in personal finance and credit health management, starting with Confucius.

National Leadership Day is one of many holidays celebrated on February 20, 2023. Concepts, ideas and management advice around personal finance and credit health have been around for over 2,500 years. Well before blogs, Facebook, YouTube videos and TikTok. Today, we use National Leadership Day as a forum to celebrate thousands of years of advice from pioneers in personal finance.

1. Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC, China)

Confucius was a Chinese philosopher and politician who had a significant impact on Chinese culture and society. His teachings emphasized the importance of ethical conduct, personal responsibility, and the value of education. In addition to his philosophical works, Confucius also provided practical advice on various aspects of daily life, including the management of personal finances. He believed in living a modest and frugal lifestyle, and taught the importance of saving money and avoiding debt.

2. Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC, Greece)

Aristotle’s work on ethics and politics laid the foundation for the concept of personal finance. He believed in living a life of moderation and avoiding excess. He emphasized the importance of prudence and foresight in managing one’s financial affairs.

3. Chu Chia-Hsin (fl. 1280 – 1310, China)

Chu Chia-Hsin was a mathematician and astronomer who wrote on the subject of financial management, including methods for calculating interest and compound interest.

4. Luca Pacioli (1445 – 1517, Italy)

Pacioli was a Franciscan friar who wrote the first book on double-entry bookkeeping, which is still the basis for modern accounting. He also wrote about financial management and personal finance.

5. Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici (1360 – 1429, Italy)

Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici founded the Medici Bank, which was one of the most successful banks of the 15th century. He was instrumental in developing modern banking practices, including the use of credit, double-entry bookkeeping, and the bill of exchange.

6. Richard Cantillon (1680 – 1734, Irish-French)

Economist and banker, Cantillon is considered one of the early pioneers of economics, and his book “Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General” was one of the first to provide a comprehensive analysis of the economic system. Cantillon’s ideas about money, credit, and financial markets laid the foundation for modern economic theory and helped shape the development of modern financial systems.

7. Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790, United States)

A polymath, Benjamin Franklin was known for his contributions to science, literature, and politics, but he was also a prominent figure in the world of personal finance. He is credited with founding the first public library, fire department, and postal service in the US, as well as publishing “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” which contained a wealth of financial advice for the common man. He also developed the concept of the “rainy day fund” and is credited with inventing the modern concept of the American penny. Franklin’s ideas on personal finance continue to be relevant today.

8. Eliza Lucas Pinckney (1722 – 1793, United States)

Eliza Lucas Pinckney was a plantation owner and agricultural pioneer in the 18th century. She is credited with introducing indigo as a cash crop in South Carolina, which helped to transform the local economy. Her success in managing her plantation and her finances as a woman in a male-dominated society was a remarkable achievement.

9. Adam Smith (1723 – 1790, Scotland)

Smith is considered the father of modern economics and wrote extensively on the subject of wealth, money, and finance. His book “The Wealth of Nations” remains a seminal work in economic theory.

10. Mary Katherine Goddard (1738 – 1816, United States)

Goddard was a printer, publisher, and postmaster who became the first woman to hold a federal position in the US government. She is also known for publishing one of the first almanacs specifically for women, which contained advice on personal finance and household management.

11. Alexander Hamilton (1755 – 1804, United States)

A founding father of the United States, Hamilton was also a prominent figure in the world of finance. He played a key role in establishing the country’s first national bank, as well as developing the financial systems that helped spur the growth of the US economy.

12. James Wilson (1805 – 1860, Scotland)

Scottish economist and businessman who founded The Economist magazine and helped establish the modern credit reporting system. Wilson recognized the importance of credit information in making lending decisions, and he founded the world’s first credit reporting agency in 1841. His efforts to improve access to credit information helped to reduce financial risk for lenders and borrowers alike. Wilson was also an advocate for free trade and international commerce, which he believed would stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty.

13. Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870, England)

A famous English novelist who wrote extensively about social and economic issues in his novels. He highlighted the struggles of the working class and the importance of financial literacy and responsibility. In his works, Dickens depicted the harsh realities of poverty and the negative consequences of irresponsible financial behavior, such as debt and bankruptcy. He also advocated for financial education and the need for individuals to take control of their finances to achieve a better life.

14. Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852, England)

Lovelace was a mathematician and writer widely recognized as the world’s first computer programmer, having written the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine. While Lovelace is not typically associated with personal finance, her work on early computing technology laid the foundation for the development of modern financial technology, including online banking, digital payment systems, and financial analytics tools. Additionally, her contributions to the field of mathematics helped to pave the way for the development of modern financial modeling and risk analysis techniques.

15. Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906, United States)

Susan B. Anthony was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement and fought for women’s rights, including the right to own property and manage their own finances. She also founded the Women’s Loyal National League, which worked to abolish slavery and promote women’s rights.

16. Leland Stanford (1824 – 1893, United States)

Stanford was a railroad magnate and politician who founded Stanford University. He is known for his efforts to promote financial literacy and education in the United States, including the establishment of the first chair of economics at a U.S. university.

17. Hetty Green (1834 – 1916, United States)

Hetty Green, also known as the “Witch of Wall Street,” was one of the wealthiest women of her time. She was a savvy investor and known for her frugality, which helped her amass her fortune. She was a pioneer in the field of finance, and her success paved the way for future female investors.

18. Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919, United States)

Carnegie was a steel magnate and philanthropist who is best known for his efforts to promote education and the establishment of public libraries in the United States. He also wrote extensively on the subject of personal finance and financial management.

19. Mary G. Harris Jones (1837 – 1930, United States)

Mary G. Harris Jones, also known as “Mother Jones,” was a labor activist who fought for the rights of working-class Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was a skilled organizer and a powerful speaker who advocated for fair wages and better working conditions, which are important aspects of personal finance. She was a strong advocate for unions, and her work helped to improve the economic situation of many working-class Americans.

20. J. Pierpont Morgan (1837 – 1913, United States)

Morgan was a banker and financier who was instrumental in the development of the modern financial system in the United States. He is known for his role in the creation of U.S. Steel and the consolidation of the banking industry.

21. John D. Rockefeller (1839 – 1937, United States)

Rockefeller was an industrialist who founded Standard Oil and became one of the wealthiest men in the world. He is known for his philanthropic efforts, including the establishment of the Rockefeller Foundation, which supported research into public health, medical education, and social sciences.

22. Eliza Orzeszkowa (1841 – 1910, Poland)

A prominent novelist and social activist, Orzeszkowa also wrote extensively on the subject of personal finance and household management. Her work helped to empower women and promote financial independence in a time when women had few rights.

23. John Maynard Keynes (1883 – 1946, England)

John Maynard Keynes was an economist and author of “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,” which has had a significant impact on modern economic theory. His ideas on government intervention in the economy, including deficit spending and the use of monetary policy to manage economic growth, have been influential in shaping modern economic policy.

24. Henry Ford (1863 – 1947, United States)

An industrialist who revolutionized the automobile industry with his innovative production methods, including the assembly line. Ford was also a strong advocate for fair wages and financial literacy for his workers. He implemented a $5 per day minimum wage for his workers, which was significantly higher than the prevailing wage at the time. He also offered his workers financial education programs, including a savings and investment plan, to help them manage their finances and achieve financial stability.

25. Thomas Rowe Price Jr. (1898 – 1983, United States)

Thomas Rowe Price Jr. was an investment manager who founded the investment firm T. Rowe Price in 1937. He was a pioneer in the field of growth investing, which involves investing in companies with strong growth potential. He also emphasized the importance of diversification and long-term investing.

26. Alfred Winslow Jones (1900 – 1989, United States)

Alfred Winslow Jones is considered the father of the hedge fund industry. He founded A.W. Jones & Co., which is credited with creating the first hedge fund in 1949. His innovative investment strategies, including the use of leverage and short selling, paved the way for the development of the hedge fund industry.

27. Milton Friedman (1912 – 2006, United States)

A Nobel Prize-winning economist and influential advocate for free market economics. He emphasized the importance of personal responsibility, limited government intervention in the economy, and individual freedom in achieving economic prosperity. Friedman was a prolific writer, authoring numerous books and articles on economics and public policy, including “Capitalism and Freedom” and “A Monetary History of the United States.” He also served as an economic advisor to several U.S. presidents and was a popular commentator on economic issues in the media. Despite controversy surrounding some of his ideas, Friedman’s work has had a lasting impact on economic theory and policy around the world.

28. Paul Samuelson (1915 – 2009, United States)

A Nobel Prize-winning economist who wrote extensively on personal finance and investing. He is best known for developing the efficient market hypothesis, which suggests that financial markets are generally efficient in processing and reflecting all available information. Samuelson also authored several influential textbooks on economics and finance, including “Economics: An Introductory Analysis,” which has been used by students and professionals around the world. He was a strong advocate for financial education and believed that individuals could achieve financial success through education and informed decision-making.

29. Warren Buffett (born 1930, United States)

A renowned investor and philanthropist, Buffett is widely regarded as one of the most successful investors of all time. His investment strategies and philosophies have become the subject of countless books and articles, and he is considered a leading voice on personal finance and wealth management.

30. Robert Kiyosaki (born 1947, United States)

An entrepreneur, author, and investor, Kiyosaki is known for his popular “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” book series. His work emphasizes the importance of financial education and personal responsibility in achieving financial independence

31. Andrew Tobias (born 1947, United States)

An American author and financial commentator. Tobias is known for his practical and humorous approach to personal finance. He has written several books on personal finance, including “The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need” and “My Vast Fortune.” Tobias has also been a regular contributor to publications such as Time and Money magazines, and is a vocal advocate for financial literacy and responsible investing.

32. Elizabeth Warren (born 1949, United States)

An American politician, lawyer, and professor. She is a former Harvard Law School professor and was the driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which was created in response to the financial crisis of 2008. She has been a vocal advocate for consumer protection, particularly in the area of credit card reform, and has written extensively on the subject.

33. Haruki Murakami (born 1949, Japan)

Murakami is a contemporary Japanese writer who explores themes of individualism, self-discovery, and the search for meaning in his novels. His works often contain financial elements, such as his novel “Norwegian Wood,” which deals with the financial struggles of university students in Tokyo during the 1960s.

34. Suze Orman (born 1951, United States)

Suze Orman is a personal finance expert and television personality who has written several best-selling books on personal finance. She is known for her practical advice on managing money, including strategies for saving, investing, and paying down debt. She also emphasizes the importance of having a solid financial plan and being prepared for unexpected events.

35. Alvin Hall (born 1952, United States)

A financial educator, author, and media personality, Hall is known for his work in bringing financial literacy to the masses. His numerous books, radio shows, and television programs have helped millions of people gain a better understanding of personal finance and credit health.

36. Gail Vaz-Oxlade (born 1959, Canada)

A Canadian personal finance expert and author. She is best known for her television shows “Til Debt Do Us Part” and “Princess,” which focus on helping people get out of debt and improve their financial situation. Vaz-Oxlade has written numerous books on personal finance and has been a vocal advocate for financial literacy in Canada.

37. Dave Ramsey (born 1960, United States)

Dave Ramsey is a financial advisor and radio host who has helped millions of people get out of debt and achieve financial freedom. He is known for his “Baby Steps” program, which offers a step-by-step plan for paying down debt, building an emergency fund, and investing for the future. He also emphasizes the importance of living within your means and avoiding debt.

38. Jean Chatzky (born 1964, United States)

Jean Chatzky is a personal finance journalist and author of several best-selling books, including “The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times.” She is known for her practical advice and approach to personal finance, which emphasizes the importance of developing good financial habits and making sound financial decisions.

39. Farnoosh Torabi (born 1980, United States)

An Iranian-American personal finance expert, author, and television host. She is best known for her work in educating young adults about personal finance and money management. She has written several books on the subject and has hosted numerous television shows and podcasts. Torabi’s work focuses on helping people achieve financial freedom and independence through education and practical advice. She is a US citizen.

40. Ramit Sethi (born 1982, United States)

Sethi is an American personal finance advisor, entrepreneur, and author of the New York Times bestseller “I Will Teach You to Be Rich”. He is known for his practical and accessible approach to personal finance, focusing on earning more money, optimizing spending, and investing wisely. Sethi’s advice has been featured in major media outlets, and he has also created online courses and resources to help people improve their financial literacy and achieve their financial goals.

41. Erin Lowry (born 1989, United States)

Our final addition for National Leadership Day is Erin Lowry. Erin is an American personal finance expert and author, best known for her book “Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together”. She was born and raised in the United States, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and a Master’s degree in Information Science from the University at Albany. Lowry is passionate about educating young adults on personal finance and has been featured in various media outlets, including CNBC, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. She also hosts the “Broke Millennial” podcast, where she shares tips and advice on money management and financial literacy.

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Author disclosure

To research this article I used ChatGPT, an open AI language tool. The tool responds to typed questions with detailed answers. You can have a conversation with it, sort of. It is a remarkable research tool but has limitations, not least that its sources are dubious. I asked for a list of references for the finance pioneers. It obliged, but half the links did not work. Also, you have to tweak and cajole until you get what you need and even then the dialogue is repetitive. The end result has to be edited anyway. Still, this particular topic would have been very time-consuming without ChatGPT and the information seems credible.


Disclaimer: The article and information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Katrina Boydon
Katrina Boydon has been consulting in web content and media operations for over 20 years. When she’s not strategising, devising topics, editing or managing distribution, she likes to put fingers to keyboard and create original articles on a range of topics.

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