top of page

A simple rule of thumb to remember for life

Do you ever wonder where the phrase 'rule of thumb' comes from?

There are some theories about how this phrase came to be. But there is one popular theory.

And it's kind of dark.

The story is that 18th-century judge Sir Francis Buller stipulated that a man could beat his wife with a stick no wider than his thumb.

There is no proof of this law ever being in existence. And no evidence of Sir Francis Buller ever saying it. However, word got around, and he became the butt of many jokes.

We'll probably never know the true origins of the 'rule of thumb.'

But that won't stop us from discussing the rule of thumb to have in life. You know, things to keep in mind as we move forward.

As we all know, things change all the time, but rules of thumbs give guidance and help us with the challenges we face.

So what's the rule of thumb I want to discuss?

Well, let me bring in Gracian before telling you this explicitly.

"Always have something in reserve. This will secure your position. Don't employ all your means or draw on all your strength every time. Even where knowledge is concerned, something should be kept back, for this doubles your perfection. There must always be something you can draw on in a tight spot. A relief force, being valorous and honourable, achieves more than an assault. Good sense has always erred on the safe side. Even here we see the truth of that sharp paradox: the half is greater than the whole."

Now for my own words.

Always have something in reserve. This is a good rule of thumb because it teaches you not to exhaust yourself early and to hold back a little. Because with whatever sucker punches life throws, you'll be somewhat prepared with your reserves coming in to help you out.

I could end the article here, but I want to discuss this rule of thumb for two things.

  • Money

  • Friends

Why these two?

Well, these will be items you will be dealing with for a lifetime, and it's best to have a rule of thumb to help you make the most of them.

Enough talk!

And on to the first section.


It's obvious, but to most, it isn't. Saving is hard for most, and I can't blame people for it. There are increasing bills, unexpected expenses, etc.

That said, you don't have to fall for the same trap. You can think more critically and make saving a priority.

Now, I am not saying to be a miser like George Constanza. Of course, you can spend money on things you like and live your life. But do this within reason.

You don't want to blow all your money, nor do you not want to save every penny you can get. No extreme is ever the correct path.

So with money.

Create a realistic budget to splurge on your favourite things and put money aside. One book that is pretty decent on money management is Ramit Sethi's book, 'I Will Teach You to Be Rich.' I am not a fan of Ramit Sethi, but I can tell when good content is produced, and his book is that.

Beside budgeting.

The way to apply the rule of thumb of having something in reserve with money is to ensure you have 3-6 months of emergency savings. This is crucial since this is money that can help when needed.

You have to remember Life will surprise you, especially financially, so why not be ready for it?

Anyways, I am not a financial blog. But you can call me a social blog since I talk about friends too much.


Now this one can seem a little tricky. How do we apply this rule of thumb here?

Honestly, it's pretty simple.

Always make friends whenever you can. This sounds like a monumental task. Since it's hard to make friends as adults, especially in the West.

But it's worth the effort to have lots of friends.

Because when you need help, you will be surprised by how they can assist you.

Your friends are a hidden resource. Mind you, each friend can be helpful in their own way. So it's essential to have many friends from many walks of life.

A friend can help you find a job.

Another friend can help you with business.

Or a friend can introduce you to potential romantic partners.

Your quality of life is impacted by the friends you have.

And to be more nuanced when integrating this rule of thumb into your life. Make sure to only ask for help when you genuinely need it. If you ask for it all the time, they will feel used and tired of the friendship. So make a bunch of friends, but keep them in your back pocket when needed.

Switching gears, some might find this rule of thumb of always holding back restrictive. Some might even say we are not giving our fullest to live.

This is fair to point out.

But we can enjoy all of life, even when holding out. We don't have to go balls to the walls; otherwise, we'll burn out financially and socially.

Life is hard.

It will throw sucker punch after sucker punch. So it's our responsibility to be mindful of this and act accordingly. And to show you that this rule of thumb is practical, let me give you personal examples.


In August 2022, I got laid off. It sucked because I loved the company and job. But what hurt even more, was getting into the job hunt again. Which is such an emotionally exhausting process.

But alas, I hit up a friend.

Mind you, this is a friend I talk to once in a while, but every time we chat, it's a blast. And when I spoke to him and told him about losing my job. He told me to apply to his company, and he'll refer me.

And after a few weeks, he got me a job.

Whenever I was looking for a job in the past, I never reached out to him. But when I genuinely needed his help, I did.


In 2018, I had a large sum of money saved. And when I needed to go to therapy and my insurance didn't cover it all, my savings got me through it. I didn't expect to ever use my money for therapy, but when it was needed, it was there.

Always having something in reserve can help you. Yet, even when people agree, they can sometimes fall into this common mistake.

Not taking this rule of thumb seriously.

You can read this article, get hyped up, and then forget about it. You must remember that Life is random, and we must prepare ourselves.

It may seem like this requires so much effort, but it doesn't. All you have to do is tweak your habits.

Make it a habit to save.

Make it a habit of being social.

Just small habits.

And when it's time, you can utilize your reserves to help you out. Trust me, Life can come at you fast. And while some things are out of our control, some are, and this is where we have to master them.

So no matter what happens to you, you have something in reserve to come to rescue you.

And to rescue you from this article, let's summarize.

  • A good rule of thumb to have is always to have something in reserve.

  • Two things to always have in reserve are money and friends.

  • For finances, make sure to have a budget where you can save, plus emergency savings.

  • For friends, try to make as many friends from all walks of life. So when the time comes, you can ask for help with different problems.

  • Although this rule of thumb seems to hold you back, it's there to help you when Life throws a sucker punch at you.

  • A common mistake is not to take this rule of thumb seriously.

I hope I didn't bore you too much.

Or repeat something you already know about this topic. But these things are easy to forget and essential. And I wanted to give you some simple advice for the new year.

No hype, just something practical.

Where you can make 2023 into something special. And not a joke like Sir Francis Buller


bottom of page