Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield in 1849, but its lessons remain vital. It features a clerk called Micawber, who lived beyond his means. He went to jail because he could not pay his debts. In those days, debtors could be jailed under English law.

Micawber is based on Dickens’ own father, John Dickens. John had the gift of writing, but had no money sense. He owed a baker GBP40, which is about $19.204 in today’s money. John Dickens, the father of eight, was imprisoned with his four youngest children. Charles Dickens, who was then 12, had to seek work in a factory to bail out his old man.

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