I read this line over at Trent’s blog, The Simple Dollar, where he was talking about people who can afford nice things.
”To get to this point, you either had to make some tremendous sacrifices along the way – often damaging relationships and missing out on life-affirming experiences and going through painful “salad years” without much at all – or simply have had the ability and opportunity to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of it – to which I say “good for them” instead of really being jealous of them.”
Anybody see the invisible scripts here?
- People who have money have terrible lives, including severe sacrifices like “damaging relationships”
- Or they were simply lucky
As a counterpoint: I have done pretty well in the last few years and, while luck had a lot to do with it, I also worked very hard — and I have not had to go through terrible ordeals or damaging relationships to do so. In fact, I live in New York and San Francisco and go out enough that I can drink most of you under the table on any given Wednesday night.
I’m not picking on Trent specifically, but I want to make a larger point:
Whenever you read pop culture — including this blog — you’ll see implicit biases and invisible scripts appear. They’re often so subtle that you won’t recognize them, and after repeated exposure, you may begin unconsciously agreeing with them.
This is why some people believe:
- Wealthy people are evil and must have done something bad to attain their wealth
- Taxes are always bad
- If someone earns money by selling a product/information, they are out to “get you” and you should try to resist as much as possible…no matter how valuable their product/info is
- There is no way they can earn more money
- If only they had [some advantage], they would be able to “really” succeed (this is the Shrug Effect)
Here’s a perfect example: a comment from Reddit where the author writes about how evil wealthy people must be.
”The central lie here being getting rich through hard, honest work. I don’t think anyone has ever gotten rich without the determination of screwing other people out of their money.”
How many people do you know that believe this? How successful are they (and I don’t just mean financially)? Or are they simply whiny complainers?
In truth, I can’t just blame them. I understand this script — especially today, seeing crooked politicians and corporations taking as much as they can, leaving ordinary people behind — but that doesn’t mean the “wealthy people=evil” script is correct. Virtually every wealthy person I know has gotten that way through extraordinarily hard work, taking advantage of their social advantage, thinking cleverly to overcome a lack of social advantage, lots of luck…and a clear understanding of what wealth means to them.
These scripts — that wealthy people are bad and must sacrifice their happiness — reinforce people’s implicit beliefs. Those who are struggling in this tough economy read about the evil fat cats making money and it’s understandable that they’re angry. These people have read the frugality sites, done everything they’ve been told — including cutting back on discretionary expenditures and “hunkering down” — but they still can’t seem to get ahead.
Perhaps there’s another way.
Perhaps it’s not just about painting others with a broad brush, but looking at ourselves and automating our finances, not wasting our limited willpower on one-off $5 or $10 purchases.
Perhaps it’s about understanding the psychology of money and then using advanced techniques against ourselves, rather than the illusory satisfaction we receive from judging our neighbor’s $20,000 wedding.
And perhaps it’s about cutting costs to a reasonable extent…and then shifting to the critically important area of earning more.
Here are quotes from my students on how they’ve gotten ahead:
I have secured, as of this morning, better than $10,000 in side income over the next two months from one mega client, with prospects to continue with similar compensation. This is up from roughly $100 per month before. I have not only met my goal for the course, but met my goal for the remainder of the year! I owe this success in no small part to the Earn1k course. I think that once I invested my own money (and more than just $50 for a book), that added enough incentive to get off my ass and make things happen. A 2000% return on investment doesn’t seem too bad to me, either, especially considering the course is only about half over. Thanks, Ramit.
— Ben D.
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You can sit and complain about wealthy people being evil, or…
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