Benjamin Franklin learned early in life that incentive is everything in managing money. Specifically, he learned that you are never as careful when managing other people's money as you are when managing your own. During some of his early travels, he received a sizable sum of money from an acquaintance of one of his brothers. As recipient, Franklin was charged with safeguarding the money until it was called for by his brother's friend. Following the receipt of the money, Franklin unwisely chose to use some of the funds to finish financing his trip back to Philadelphia.

Worse yet, Franklin allowed a friend of his to use some of the money. This particular friend had a drinking problem and returned often for more money, always promising to pay the money back soon. Ultimately, the relationship between the two friends went sour. Franklin's friend departed for Barbados with a promise to repay after he received money from his new employment, but Franklin never heard from him again. Franklin later classified this mismanagement of funds as the first great mistake of his life. Fortunately for Franklin, his brother's friend did not call for the money for several years, giving Franklin ample time to replenish the funds.

Excerpted from Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management