4 Quotes by John D. Rockefeller That Will Teach You How to Build Wealth

John D. Rockefeller (1839 to 1937) was one of the most successful American businessmen of all time. He became the world’s first billionaire in 1916. At the peak of his business, he would have had a net worth of $418 Billion in today’s dollars.

John had is total rags to riches story. He came from a modest family and his father was pretty much non-existent in his life. Yet still, he was able to build a company that at its peak had a monopoly over the oil industry in the United States. To this day, he is considered one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.

There’s a lot we can learn from the many great things he said about building wealth. The lessons themselves are fundamental and can be applied to any time, business, or situation.

Here are 4 of his best quotes about wealth building and how you can really apply them today.


“Save when you can and not when you have to.”

People who struggle with saving often have the same excuse: “I can’t afford to.” They complain about how they don’t have any money left over after their expenses. But then, when you look at their expenses, you see a lot of waste.

Extra drinks at the bar, fancy accessories for the car, and video games and movies. Then when they do want to save for something important like a great vacation, downpayment on a house, or investing for retirement, there’s nothing left. The problem here is that these people are choosing to spend before saving. As a result, the priority of saving and money is taking a back seat.

If you want to build wealth, you need to make saving and investing your money a top priority. After the very basic expenses of food, clothing, and shelter (all of which should NOT be extravagant), saving should come next. That way, you can ensure you are consistently putting aside a sizable amount of money for the growth of your wealth.

How to apply it today

Have separate bank accounts for basic expenses, saving, and leisure spending. The order in which you distribute your paycheck should always be basic expenses account first, then saving/investing account, and leisure spending last. You can have each of the accounts get a set percentage of each paycheck, like 60%, 30%, and 10% respectively. That way, you are guaranteeing and automating that your savings get a higher priority.


“The impression was gaining ground with me that it was a good thing to let the money be my slave and not make myself a slave to money.”

Getting used to saving money is great, but in order to build true wealth, you need to make your money work for you. You have perhaps heard this kind of advice before, so let me give some real context to explain why this gives you a massive advantage.

When you work at a day job, you will be earning a fixed salary. It doesn’t matter if you work 10 hours or 100, your salary is fixed. Even if you’re working for an hourly paycheck, you still have a fixed amount of hours in a day. Basically: your income has a limit.

But when you have your money working for you, your income has no limit. You can invest in the stock market and watch that money grow as you sit back and relax. You can lend money to someone to collect interest. At the very least, you can put your money into a high-interest savings account to earn 2% per year. None of those investments are tied to your time whatsoever, so your earning potential from them is limitless.

Point being: use your money to make money. Change your mindset to see money as a tool. It can work to make more money just like you do. So use it to your advantage.

How to apply it today

Once you have an emergency fund of 6 to 12 months of expenses saved up, the rest of your money should be working for you. You can invest in stocks, bonds, real estate, high-interest savings accounts, or even early-stage startups. Do whatever you feel comfortable with and knowledgeable in. You can diversify with different investments and by using Dollar Cost Averaging. But at the end of the day, put your spare money to work, don’t let it sit idly.


“The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets.”

This quote is an absolute classic among the world’s best investors.

Many people buy when the markets are increasing in value, thinking that it will continue to go up and make them money. But this is the wrong mindset for long term wealth building because it ignores the fundamental balance of economy: supply and demand.

The laws of supply and demand will always make sure that when demand is low, prices will come down. When there is a market crash and “blood is in the streets,” people are panic selling their investments as they see their wealth implode. In that scenario, investor demand is low (no one is buying) while supply is quite high.

That balance drives prices down, which is your opportunity. You can purchase assets at a lower price than normal — it’s a discount! Once the economy stabilizes, investors will start coming back in and prices will increase. But you’ve already purchased your assets at a discount, so they will gain value. Investing when the market is high doesn’t present such an opportunity as you are buying the same assets at a premium price due to the high demand.

How to apply it today

Be even more aggressive during down markets than up markets. You should constantly be investing your saved money, but it doesn’t hurt to keep some extra set aside when the markets are up. That way, when the market goes down, you can spend that money on the assets at discounted prices.


“I would rather earn 1% off a 100 people’s efforts than 100% of my own efforts.”

The final step in amassing wealth is to use leverage.

Your time is fixed, but your potential wealth is unlimited. According to this, time is the most valuable asset you have. You need to use it as efficiently as possible. The best way to do that is by running a business that employs other people.

When you run a business, you are effectively multiplying your impact and wealth potential by many, many times through leverage. Maybe on your own, you had the potential to earn $100k per year. Then when you hire someone else, maybe you make $50k per year profit from their work (a little less due to salary and expenses). Now your total income is $150k per year, but you’re still using up the same amount of your time. When you scale this out to many more employees, your income scales too.

That’s the power of leverage. Using other people’s efforts to grow your own wealth, without expending anything extra yourself.

How to apply it today

You can start a business, any business, today. Just look at the work you do and find a way to pay someone to do something similar for you. You can pay someone to write blog posts, program a website, or create some sort of physical product. Those are assets that you then own and can sell for your profit.

In Summary

  1. "Save when you can and not when you have to."
  2. "The impression was gaining ground with me that it was a good thing to let the money be my slave and not make myself a slave to money."
  3. "The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets.
  4. "I would rather earn 1% off a 100 people’s efforts than 100% of my own efforts."

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