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Presidents' Day: Financial Lessons from Our Presidents

Presidents’ Day: Financial Lessons from Our Presidents

Presidents’ Day stands as a tribute to the leaders who shaped the nation.

“Beyond the parades and festivities, it’s an opportune moment to learn financial lessons from those who held the highest office,” says Michael Norton, Senior Vice President, Investments at David Lerner Associates, Inc. “While technological advancements have occurred since their time in office, the wisdom of past leaders remains applicable to our financial lives today.”

At David Lerner Associates, where financial education intertwines with history, we embark on a journey to uncover the financial wisdom encapsulated in Presidents Day.

When is Presidents’ Day 2024?

As the calendar turns to February, Presidents’ Day graces us on the third Monday of February. In 2024, this day of commemoration falls on February 19, providing an opportunity to reflect on the financial legacies left by those who steered the nation through its different eras.

History of Presidents Day

Initially established in 1885 to honor George Washington, the first U.S. president’s birthday, Presidents’ Day has evolved into a 3-day celebration of all U.S. presidents.

The shift in focus occurred in 1968. Championed by Senator Robert McClory of Illinois, Congress standardized most federal holidays with the intent to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workforce.

Presidents’ Day was one of the holidays affected by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This ensured that the holiday would never coincide with Washington’s actual birthday, as the third Monday in February cannot occur later than February 21.

This change not only marked a shift in the calendar but also symbolized the acknowledgment of the collective leadership that has shaped the American narrative.

Who Gets Involved in Presidents’ Day?

Presidents’ Day transcends partisan lines, drawing in citizens from all walks of life.

From schools engaging in educational activities to businesses offering special promotions, participation is widespread.

At David Lerner Associates, we see it as an opportunity for everyone to delve into the financial wisdom embedded in the lives and decisions of the nation’s leaders.

Financial Lessons We Can Learn from Past U.S. Presidents

The U.S. observes President’s Day in February, marked by sales and discounts.

Beyond shopping, past presidents offer enduring financial lessons:

  1. George Washington – Founding Father George Washington famously said, “To contract new debts is not the way to pay old ones.” In his farewell speech, he advised against excessive use of credit, emphasizing the importance of using it sparingly. He highlighted that judicious disbursements to prepare for challenges could prevent larger expenditures needed to address imminent dangers.
  2. Thomas Jefferson – Thomas Jefferson, despite his historical significance as a principal author of the Declaration of Independence, struggled with debt throughout his life. At his death, he owed over $107,000 to creditors, equivalent to $2 million today. These financial challenges offer valuable lessons on avoiding lifestyle creep, promptly addressing high-interest debt, and seeking professional advice when faced with overwhelming financial obligations.
  3. Abraham Lincoln – Abraham Lincoln, known for his leadership during a tumultuous era, actively sought diverse opinions by including two of his rivals for the 1860 presidential nomination in his first presidential Cabinet. This approach highlights the importance of seeking out contrary opinions for a broader financial perspective, learning from diverse sources like online resources, mentors, and financial professionals.

Presidents Day Participation Ideas

  1. Financial Leadership Seminars Collaborate with financial historians or experts to dissect the economic policies of various administrations. Discuss how these policies shaped the nation’s financial landscape and share insights applicable to personal finance.
  2. Interactive Historical Tours Partner with historians to create immersive experiences that walk participants through key financial moments in U.S. history. From economic crises to triumphs, these tours provide a firsthand look at the financial challenges and victories faced by past leaders.
  3. Financial Literacy Workshops for Youth Develop workshops tailored for students, integrating stories of past presidents and their financial decisions. Cover topics like budgeting, saving, and investing, drawing parallels between national economic policies and personal financial strategies.
  4. Presidential Investment Challenge Create a simulated investment challenge where participants allocate virtual funds based on the perceived financial strategies of various presidents. Track the performance and discuss the outcomes, drawing parallels to real-world investment scenarios.


As we revel in the spirit of Presidents’ Day, let’s seize the opportunity to learn from the financial journeys of our nation’s leaders.

At David Lerner Associates, we believe that history is not just a chronicle of the past but a guide for the future. Presidents Day beckons us to glean insights from the economic sagacity of those who steered the ship of state.

Through engaging activities and reflections, let’s uncover the financial lessons woven into the fabric of our presidential legacy.

Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable– we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

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