Greed Is Good

I recently watched the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. It was chilling because it played back the volatile time in the US stock market just two short years ago and the dramatic impact on the US economy (which impacts the global economy), still going on today. While it was only a movie, it was following the real timeline of US events. To see it condensed down to a summary in two short hours was, as I said, chilling. It got me to thinking about some things.

First, has the memory of those events faded in the minds of Americans?

How many people really understood what happened? Personally, I don’t think the American people will ever know what REALLY happened. Call me a skeptic, but I think a lot of the “behind closed doors” scenes in the movie reflect reality. A lot happens that we, the American people, are never told. Add it to the list with the Kennedy assassination, 9/11, and so on. The point is that we should never forget those times and should learn from what happened.

Second, what have we learned?

Want vs. Need

That seems to be the scales used for what people do with their money these days. Of course it could be said that it should have always been this way, but as Gordon Gekko said “Greed is Good”, and we bought into that. Many Americans lived in excess and luxury. We thought it always would be this way. Every generation, except our grandparents or great-grandparents, had never really lived through a difficult economy; a Depression. Mortgage companies, banks, credit card companies let us have access to money we couldn’t afford to pay back with little or nothing invested or at stake. It was all so easy. We were tempted, like Eve with the apple in the Garden of Eden, and we gave in and took a bite. It tasted good and we wanted more.

Fast forward to today. With access to credit restricted, or cut off, people have begun to re-evaluate what they spend money on. This credit collapse has gotten Americans to use cash again. People are spending what they have, not what they can borrow. It makes one choose differently. We ask ourselves more now….”do I want it or do I need it.” BIG DIFFERENCE! As David Bach writes about “the Latte Factor” in “Start Late, Finish Rich”, we ask ourselves more now “do I need that $5 latte and muffin, or do I want it?” We ask ourselves now what we else we NEED that $5 for. The Latte Factor shows how the power of $5 a day saved over time can compound into a LOT of money. When we understand the power of saving and compounding, we look at that coffee and muffin, or things like that, and have to pull out the scales to weigh the want vs. need. It’s that or finish poor instead of “Finish Rich”… choose.

Third, is greed good?

Yes, it can be! It’s good if we’re being greedy for our family; for our future. Learn how to make your money work for you, so you don’t always have to work for money. Play out “what if” scenarios. What would your life look like if you ___________? Dreams can become reality. It’s all about choices. Be greedy. It’s o.k. sometimes.

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