Financial Freedom Fairy Tales teach the young, and young at heart, financial lessons through the power of stories. Here, we meet a young man with red hair who dreams of marrying the miller’s beautiful daughter. Will he get his wish through hard work, and paying the occasional cost?
You can find more Financial Freedom Fairy Tales here.
The Young Man with Red Hair – a Financial Freedom Fairy Tales by Doug Weller
There was once a handsome young man who was known across the country for his fine head of bright red hair. The young man was of an age where he needed to find work, so he visited the windmill near his home.
The door to the windmill was opened by the miller’s beautiful daughter. He saw her admiring his thick, red hair. The young man knew at once that he wished to marry the girl. But he new he had too little gold for that to ever happen.
“Can I help you,” the miller’s daughter asked.
“I am looking for work. Is your father home?” the young man replied.
The miller appeared beside his daughter and ushered her away. He examined the young man’s shabby clothes with a suspicious gaze.
“See this heavy sack of grain. I would like it to be sold at the market,” the miller said. “If you see it for me to the nearest town, I will pay you a share of any gold I make.”
The young man agreed immediately. He picked up the heavy bag of grain, slung it over his shoulder, and carried it towards the nearest town.
On his way, he came across a fast flowing river, and saw a bridge crossing it in the distance. He carried the heavy grain to the bridge, and asked the toll-keeper for permission to cross the river.
The toll keeper looked at the sack of grain on the young man’s back and smiled.
“If you want to cross this bridge, you must pay me with a handful of grain,” the toll keeper said.
The young man quickly agreed because he had with him a whole sack of grain and the toll-keeper wanted only a handful. He reached into the sack and gave the toll keeper his grain.
With another smile, the toll keeper allowed the young man cross the bridge and enter the town.
Once the young man reached the market, he sold it for nine gold coins. Pleased with the money he had made, he returned to the windmill, and gave the bag of gold to the miller. But when the miller counted the gold coins, anger grew on his face.
“That sack of grain should have sold for ten gold coins, but you have brought me back only nine. What has happened to the last gold coin?”
The young man explained that he had paid the toll keeper a handful of grain, and so there was less grain to sell at the market.
The miller was very unhappy.
“This grain cost me nine gold coins to make, so I now have made no profit. And because I have no profit, I cannot afford to pay you for your work.”
So the young man left the windmill that day with his pockets empty.
The next day, the young man returned to the windmill. He apologised for his mistake and asked to be given a second chance.
“Very well,” the miller said. “Take this heavy bag of flour, and sell it at the market. In exchange, I will pay you a share of any gold I make.”
So, the young man put the flour on his shoulder, and carried it towards the town.
When he came to the river, he knew not to pay the toll keeper so he looked for another way to cross. He saw a ferryman waiting on the bank of the river and asked if he would could help.
The ferryman nodded enthusiastically. “I will ferry you across the river,” he said. “In exchange, you must pay me a cup of your flour.”
The young man quickly agreed because he was carrying a whole sack of flour and the ferryman only wanted one cupful. He opened his sack and the ferryman scooped out a cupful of flour.
Satisfied, the young man was ferried across the river. Once there, he carried the flour to the market and sold it for nine gold coins.
When the young man returned to the windmill, he gave the bag of gold to the miller. But when the miller counted out the gold coins, he was furious.
“That sack of flour should have sold for ten gold coins but you have brought me back only nine. What has happened to the last gold coin?”
The young man explained how he had paid a cupful of flour to cross the river.
“The grain used to make that flour cost me nine gold coins,” the miller said. “So I have made no profit. Because I have made no profit, I cannot afford to pay you.”
So the young man left the windmill, yet again, with his pockets empty.
The next day, the young man knocked on the door of the windmill. The miller’s daughter answered the door. The young man took off his cap and revealed his lustrous red hair.
“My father does not wish to see you,” the miller’s daughter. “But can I just say that you have wonderful hair.”
The young man thanked her for the compliment and explained the mistakes he had made. The miller’s daughter took pity on him and called for her father.
Because the miller was a good man, and because he loved his daughter, he agreed to make a final bargain with the young man.
“But this is your last chance,” the miller warned. He then explained that his daughter had baked ten loaves of bread. If the young man took the loaves to market, each one should sell in the town for one gold piece. And so, the miller expected the young man to bring him back ten gold pieces.
“I will come back with ten gold pieces or die trying,” the young man replied. He ran his hands through his thick red hair and thanked the miller and his daughter.
As the young man reached the river bank, he passed by the bridge. The toll-keeper sniffed the air and smiled.
“You may cross this bridge,” he said. “In exchange for just one loaf of your delicious-smelling bread.”
But the young man had learned from his previous mistake paying to cross the bridge and so he politely bid the toll-keeper a good day.
Then, the young man passed the ferryman. The ferryman sniffed the air and smiled.
“You may use my ferry in exchange for one loaf of your scrumptious-smelling bread,” he said.
But the young man politely bid the ferryman a good day.
He then walked along the river bank unsure what to do. He saw an old man standing by the river, who’s head was as bald as a piglet’s rump.
“Do you need some help with that sack of delicious-smelling bread?” the bald man asked.
The young man explained that he wished to cross the river so that he could sell the bread at the market.
The bald man thought for a moment and ran his hands across his bare scalp.
“I could carry you across the river,” he offered.
The young man hesitated, remembering the grain and flour he had previously paid to cross the river.
“What will it cost for you to carry me?” he asked.
“Almost nothing. All I ask for is a single strand of red hair from your head,” replied the bald man.
The young man could not believe his luck and agreed at once, for he had a thick mane of red hair, and would not even notice the loss of a single hair.
So he plucked the red hair from his head and handed it over. The bald man tucked the strand of hair into his jacket pocket, and then gathered the young man up in his arms and carried him across the river.
Once he was set down on the other bank, the young man wished the bald man a good day. As he walked to the market, he laughed at how cheaply he had managed to cross the river.
Later that day, the young man returned to the windmill and gave all the money he had made to the miller. And when the miller counted the gold coins he was joyous.
“I gave you ten loaves of bread, and you have sold them for ten gold coins. As a reward, please accept one gold coin in payment, for I have at last made a profit.”
The young man thanked the miller, and nodded to the miller’s daughter as he left the windmill with one gold coin.
The following day, the miller’s daughter had baked more loaves of bread, so the young man filled up a sack and carried it towards the town.
At the river bank, he saw the bald man.
“I would like you to carry me across the river,” said the young man.
“I can certainly carry you,” the bald man said.
The young man reached up to pluck a hair from his head but the bald man held up his hand.
“Today the cost will be two red hairs,” he said.
The young man quickly agreed, and plucked a second hair from his head, because he had thick red hair and would not even notice the loss of two hairs.
The bald man tucked the two red hair into his jacket pocket, and then gathered the young man up in his arms, and carried him across the river.
When the young man returned to the windmill that evening, he again gave all the gold he had made to the miller, and in exchange the miller gave him a gold coin for that day’s work.
The following day, the bald man asked for four red hairs, which the young man eagerly paid. The next day the price was eight hairs, and then sixteen, and then thirty two. But every day, the young man laughed to himself that he had gotten across the river so cheaply.
Time passed, and with the profits the young man had made he was able to pay for a home beside the windmill. Every day, the miller would mill flour, his beautiful daughter would bake bread, and the young man would get carried across the river by the bald man.
At last the day came the the young man would have enough gold to ask the miller’s daughter to marry him. He only needed to do one more trip to the market.
The young man arrived at river bank as usual but he could not see the bald man. He asked the toll-keeper and the ferryman but neither of them had seen him. He then walked up to a handsome-looking gentleman, who was stood by the river bank with a thick head of red hair on his head.
“Excuse me, Sir,” the young man said. “I’m looking for a man who’s head is as bald as a piglet’s rump.”
“I take it you would like to cross the river,” the handsome gentleman replied.
Immediately, the young man recognised the gentleman’s voice. It was identical to the bald man. But today, the bald man was wearing a red-haired wig!
“So, do you want me to carry you?” the gentleman-who-was-no-longer-bald asked.
“I do indeed,” the young man replied. “And how many hairs would you like in payment today?”
“Today, I will carry you for free,” said the gentleman-who-was-no-longer-bald. The young man eagerly agreed to this, and so the gentleman-who-was-no-longer-bald picked him up, and carried him to the other side of the river.
When the young man had been set down, he turned to the gentleman-who-was-no-longer-bald.
“I am grateful for your service,” the young man said. “But are you not a fool for choosing to carry me across the river without any payment?”
The gentleman-who-was-no-longer-bald smiled at him.
“It is you who are the fool,” he said. “For all this time, I have carried you across the river when, you could easily have waded through the water yourself for free, just as I have done every day.”
“But why should I?” the young man asked. “When the cost was only a few hairs from my head.”
“In all this time, you never thought to add up the true cost of all those small payments over time.”
The young man shook his head, for he had bought a house beside the windmill. And today, he would have enough gold to marry the miller’s daughter.
Only when he got back to the windmill that evening did he learn the true cost of being carried across the river. For when the young man took off his hat to greet the miller and his daughter, they both screamed. It was then he understood the true cost of the daily transaction fee.
For his head was as bald as a piglet’s rump.
Financial Freedom Fairy Tales Coda
That was, The Young Man with Red Hair – a Financial Freedom Fairy Tales by Doug Weller.
The young man had his comeuppance because he failed to learn a critical lesson from the miller. If you pay transaction costs every time you do something, no matter how small those costs are, they will eat away at your profits.
Transactions costs are any costs you pay in order to buy or sell an asset. For example, when you buy a house, you don’t just pay the house’s market value, you also pay transaction costs like stamp duty and legal costs. Similarly, when you buy shares or bonds, you pay a broker’s commission and sometimes tax.
Keeping transaction costs low is critical for your long term wealth. Consider hard whether the transaction costs are bring you extra value. Avoid making more transactions than you need to as each one is eroding your wealth.
And whatever you do, don’t ignore or discount the costs, like we saw with the young man who used to have red hair.
Want to read more Financial Freedom Fairy Tales?
These Financial Freedom Fairy Tales are written to teach lessons about mastering your money in a fun way. Sometimes, reading dry financial advice can be a little dull, or too complicated at first glance. These fairy tales aim to refresh the parts that other types of money advice miss.
You can read more Financial Freedom Fairy Tales here. Why not start with The Apple Trees – a Financial Freedom Fairy Tales by Doug Weller
And while you’re here – why not learn more about the building blocks of financial freedom?
You could also read why Medium thinks Financial Freedom is not a fairy tale.
I hope you enjoy these Financial Freedom Fairy Tales. You can let me know your thoughts in the comments below. My plan is to keep writing these Financial Freedom Fairy Tales – so if you find them useful, or you think they could be improved, let me know.