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 What the Buddha taught on personal finance

The Buddha once told Dighajanu, a layman, that there are four things which are conducive to a man's happiness in this world:

* He should be skilled, efficient, earnest , and energetic in whatever profession he is engaged,
  and he should know it well (utthana-sampada); 

* He should protect his income, which he has thus earned righteously, with the sweat of his brow, 
  from thieves, etc. (arakkha-sampada); 

* He should have good friends who are faithful, learned, virtuous, liberal and intelligent, who will help him
  along the right path away from evil (kalyana-mitta);

* He should spend reasonably, in proportion to his income, neither too much nor too little, i.e.,
  he should not hoard wealth avariciously, nor should he be extravagant - in other words, he should live
  within his means (sama-jivikata). 

Then the Buddha expounds the four virtues conducive to a layman's happiness hereafter: 

* Saddha -- he should have faith and confidence in moral, spiritual and intellectual values;

* Sila      -- he should abstain from destroying and harming life, from stealing and cheating, from adultery,
                 from falsehood, and from intoxicating drinks; 

* Caga    -- he should practise charity, generosity, without attachment and craving for his wealth;

* Panna  -- he should develop wisdom which leads to the complete destruction of suffering,
                 to the realization of Nibbana.

(Angguttara-nikaya, IV:280)

Sometimes the Buddha even went into details about saving money and spending it, as, for instance, 
when he told the young man Sigala that: 

He should spend one fourth of his income on his daily expenses (including
charity donations),  invest half in his businesses (and investments),  and put aside
one fourth for any emergencies.


(Sigalovada-sutta, Digha-nikaya No.13)

Again, when speaking to Anathapindika, the great banker, the Buddha said that
a layman, who leads an ordinary family life, has four kinds of happiness.

* The first is to enjoy economic security or sufficient wealth acquired by just and righteous means;
* the second is spending that wealth liberally on himself, his family, his friends and relatives,
    and on meritorous deeds;
* the third is to be free from debts;
* the fourth happiness is to live a faultless and a pure life without committing evil in thought,
   word or deed.

The first three are economic and the Buddha finally reminded the banker that economic and material happiness is "not worth one sixteenth part" of the spiritual happiness arising out of a faultless and good life.

(Anguttara-nikaya, III: 44)




 The five wonderful precepts