To Be Great with Money, You Must Master the Basics

It starts with the most basic concept in personal finance

Ben Le Fort
12 min readJan 9, 2024

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Photo by Jordan Sanchez on Unsplash

Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.

— Jim Rohn

When I was in grad school studying economics, we had a guest speaker who was an alumnus from the University I was attending who was a big-shot economist at one of Canada’s top banks.

The only thing I remember from that day was during the Q&A session, one of my classmates asked him what was the most important economic concept he learned during school that was most helpful in his career as an economist.

He answered: “Supply and demand.”

I recall my 23-year-old self rolling my eyes at that. Supply and demand is what you learn on day one of Econ 101 in undergrad. Surely, the advanced formulas in grad school econometrics or game theory must be more useful. After all, these are much more complicated, and few people have these tools in their toolbelt.

At the time I write this, I am 10 years into my career as an economist, and if I were asked which economic concept has been most useful, I might very well answer supply and demand.

Mastering basic — but essential — concepts that you use every day will get you further in life than knowing advanced strategies that few people know — but are hardly ever needed in the real world.

In every arena of life, to be great, you need to master the basics.

Budgeting is the most basic concept in personal finance

It’s also one of the most important.

A 2019 survey measuring the financial capabilities of Canadians found that those who use a budget are in a much stronger financial position than those who don’t.

  • Budgeters are half as likely as non-budgeters to fall behind on their bills and debt payments.
  • 18% of budgeters spend more than they earn, compared to 29% of non-budgeters.
  • 31% of budgeters use credit cards and other forms of debt to cover day-to-day expenses, compared to 42% of non-budgeters.

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Ben Le Fort

I write about behavioral finance & evidence based investing. Want to work with me? e: info@benlefort.com Here's my Substack: https://benlefort.substack.com/