Someone recently asked an AmericaOnCoffee (AOC) colleague a very interesting question and received an insightful response.
QUESTION: “How would you describe greed”? The colleague responded: “Greed is like a mean-faced, air-filled balloon that will soon burst out of its skin”!
6 Ways Greed Keeps You Poor
Greed is a particularly ugly sin. While there are positive characteristics of pride, or even envy, it’s almost impossible to use greed in any way that isn’t an insult. It conjures images of fat cat CEOs hoarding millions, while their workers earn minimum wage. But although Ebenezer Scrooge and his ilk are portrayed as misers with serious money, greed can sometimes make you poor. Here are six examples of the way greed can eat away at your pot of gold.
1. Wanting It All
Not content with their lot in life, some people look at all those things they could have that make life even better. Or so they think, anyway. The latest smartphone. The upgraded car. The bigger house. The 80 inch flat screen TV. The huge deck. The patio. The yacht. Sadly, all those expenses have to be paid, and it can lead to crippling credit card debt, loans that cannot be paid back, and the eventual loss of everything to pay back creditors. As Tyler Durden famously said in Fight Club, “the things you own end up owning you.” So, be very wary of greed. Happiness from those items is fleeting anyway.
2. Living to Excess
More wine. More beer. More junk food. More everything! When greed manifests as the intense and selfish desire for food and drink, it can lead to a plethora of health problems. And as we all know, health care can be very expensive in the USA. Overeating, leading to obesity, is responsible for as much as $210 billion in healthcare costs in the United States. An obese adult spends 42% more on healthcare than someone with a healthy weight, and obesity can lead to many other illnesses.
3. Breaking the Law
Greed can make people do some strange things, which leads to committing unlawful acts. This does not mean they go out and rob banks, or scam people out of their savings online. It’s more that they see an opportunity to make a lot of money for doing something they believe is harmless, albeit illegal. And then, they get caught, and face a prison sentence and a career in ruins.
One example is Scott London, a once successful audit partner at a huge accounting firm. He was earning $900,000 a year, but it appears that wasn’t enough. London decided to start selling sensitive information about some of his clients to a friend. This is known as insider trading, and it’s against the law. Although he made just $70,000 from the deals (a lot for most of us, but for him, a drop in the bucket), he was caught by the FBI and sentenced to 14 months in prison.
However, for others, it may be something smaller that leads to the poor house. Cheating on taxes, even just for a few bucks, is a federal offense. And shoplifting as little as three belts, or a couple of jerseys, has landed people in prison for life.
4. Avoiding Generosity
There is a misnomer that every rich person is greedy, and every poor person is not. This is actually not true, and financial guru Robert Kiyosaki has devoted a one-hour radio show on this subject that is well worth listening to. The basic idea is this: Having a generous spirit, and giving back to the world, will pay dividends. Investing in people, and in projects that have real potential, will reap rewards. On the other hand, hoarding your possessions, never giving to charity, and stockpiling wealth is not a positive way to manage money. Being generous, and doing good, can build much greater wealth than saving every penny and watching it grow a few percent a year in a bank account.