Smart Reasons to Save, Use and Invest Money

The Hare And The Tortoise Revisited

We all know the classic tale of how the Tortoise, through a steady (albeit slow) pace wins the race (and life) by sticking to the course and not deviating.

Well today I saw something that reminded me that many times, if not most of the time, the Hare really wins.  As I was driving home, I was close to passing a car coming the other way when a little bird flew very quickly in front of the car in the other lane.  It barely escaped!  Did it slow down?  No, it realized that I was right on it too, so it was flapping like crazy to avoid my car, again barely escaping.  A slower bird would be getting a free car ride in my grill.

What does my bird story have to do with the “Hare and the Tortoise“, well sometime, being slow and thoughtful isn’t enough.  Sometimes great speed is the key that makes the difference.  When I was in Tae Kwon Do, I would spar against better trained individuals, but I was able to out spar them because I was faster.

In the workplace, the Hare especially has an advantage.  He comes up with the ideas first, this environment is where the fast talking smooth operators stands out.

In the sports world, the Tortoise is sitting on the bench, while the fastest Hare is the star that all the females notice and want to be with.

The theory is that the Hare lost in the original story because he overestimated his opponent and relax, basically goofing off.  But I think most Hares would go after the jugular and try to win as quickly as possible.  I think the original story was baseless and flawed.  IMHO, the Hare is equivalent to a Type A personality and generally these are the types that get ahead and win in the long run.

In finances, you get ahead when you created the largest savings delta as possible.  If you can’t make that “saving delta” happen, then you never really get to accumulate wealth!  The two components of the savings delta is “income earned” and frugality.  If you don’t make enough money, your saving delta will be very small or non-existent.  The Hares are the big income winners, and many of them are clever enough to be frugal too.  So based off of my analysis, I would think that most of the wealthy are Hares instead of Tortoises.

Readers, Tell me what you think!  Do you know many Tortoises that are wealthy?


17 Responses to The Hare And The Tortoise Revisited

  1. Well, it depends. If the Hare is rushing to wealth by taking on a lot of risk, he may be first to the ‘wealth’ finish line, or end up homeless. If the Tortoise accumulates wealth slowly and in a safe manner, he very well may win the race.

    Overall, I do agree that the Hare usually wins in most facets of life. That is assuming he isn’t dumb and careless!

  2. @Everyday Tips
    I tend to overanalyze decisions for too long, and in the end missing opportunities. I think if I were more of a Hare instead of a Tortoise, I would be more wealthy. Especially in the day of the Internet, when the Hare can digest information more quickly, thus enabling them to move on things more quickly.

    I’m willing to bet most CEOs are more like Tortoises than Hares.

    So am I saying it’s a futile race for Tortoises? No, we’ll all get to that finish line, but it will take us Tortoises a bit longer.

    I think this classic story had more weight of validity in the past versus this day and age.

    For example, look at Buffett (or Bill Gates), he was (normal) rich at a relatively young age…

  3. I guess it depends on what tortoise and hare mean to you. In investing, the tortoise strategy (indexed funds) often beats out the hare strategy (chasing stocks, active funds). In sports, it can be the other way around, as you said.

    I think there is a time and place for both. I do know tortoises that are rich, and I know hares that have put themselves in a lot of debt. Maybe we all need to draw on a little bit of tortoise and a little bit of hare, depending on the situation.

  4. You should forward this to JD at Get Rich Slowly. 🙂

    Anyway, I think the hares of the world have the potential for great wealth like Everyday Tips said…if they don’t rush too much and screw it up.

  5. @Kevin@InvestItWisely
    When I think of the Hare, I think of a person that has a type A personality and is always thinking and moving. Not necessarily the investment vehicles to get there.

    For a Hare, I would think it would be someone who tries to get rich in 10 or 20 years by being frugal and investing the majority of their money in real estate, stocks or whatever the believe will get them there the quickest with an exceptable amount of risk for a prudent person. The entrepreneur would be within this group!

    A turtle would be someone how goes slow and calculated in matters of life. And is willing to take 40 years to finally become rich. Unfortunately, I would be considered in this group.

    Comparisons of the 2 animals beside, I’d rather be rich sooner than at 65 by putting in the work and having the ambition and drive to be better… It’s hard for me, because I wasn’t born with the drive, but I’m trying to develop it.

  6. @Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
    The great irony of J.D. (the excellent blogger at “Get Rich Slowly”) is that he is getting rich more quickly than average. Through his excellent work, he is getting rich quickly by being an Entrepreneur. I think it runs in his family though…

    Does it make his site invalid? No, his message still rings true! I’m sure there are tons of Hares and Tortoises that visit.

    I think if you are a smart Hare, you’ll be rich sooner than later. But I also think that the tortoise will win too.

    I prefer to think of the race as a distance race, perhaps a marathon. As long as you cross the finish line… you win 🙂

  7. Remember, type As also get heart attacks and suffer from nervous breakdowns 😉

    I might be a bit of type A myself, but I also am working on building up the entrepreneurial spirit. I think it is independent of personality, actually, and personality just affects the way that you choose to express it.

    I think if you can balance out Type A / Type B and add in some entrepreneurial charm to boot, you just might get there!

  8. @Kevin@InvestItWisely
    That’s true. Me, I’m more of a type B+ kind of presonality. Once I get started I’m golden, but often times, it seems I don’t start fast enough…

    I’m a huge fan of trying to be as balanced as possible too! 🙂

    I do need to work on the entrepreneurial portion of my life. I’ve dabbled in soft pursuits (ebay, lawncare), but nothing with vigor or depth…

  9. For short term goals, I’m definitely a hare. I like to bang things out as quickly as possible.

    For long term goals (like retirement, house payoff, kid’s college) I’m more of a tortoise and pay a little extra in every paycheck.

    The short term goals, like saving for a car or home project, keep the long term ones from bogging me down and feeling like I’ll never achieve them.

  10. I think the moral of the original fable was that just because you have the abilities to out-do someone doesn’t mean you should take those abilities for granted. The Hare took his abilities for granted, he fell asleep by the tree thinking the Tortoise, who was diligent and perservered against the odds, was just way too slow. The point of the story is to perservere even when things are going against you; slow and steady wins the race. I don’t necessarily think the story was supposed to be taken literally! 😉

  11. @Little House
    I agree with your interpretation of the story. But today, the employement landscape it’s more competative than ever. Hares are much quicker and goal oriented that previously.

    I think the loophole that existed back then has been filled in via the Internet and technology in general. CEO will become richer than I ever will, and it’s not because they are slow and steady. They are fast and determined.

    Yeah, I might accumulate weath too, but I won’t be a billionaire like the Hares of society.

  12. I think you need a to keep a tortoise and a hare in your pocket.

    For the most part, with most of your assets, be the tortoise. But for that 10-20% where you can risk it all, UNLEASH THE HARE!

    Ive made a boatload and lost a boatload with the Hare. It’s fun, and it keeps you sharp and on your toes!

  13. @Financial Samurai
    lol, yeah I should at that 🙂

    I’m just finally getting to the point where I can push some more money towards the Hare activities… Most of my money is in a boring 401K mutual funds… but that’s okay! For the most part I’m a tortoise…