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When I was a kid, one of my favorite movies was called ‘Ruthless People’. If you are old like me, you may remember it. It starred Danny DeVito and Bette Midler back in the 1980’s. One scene in the movie really resonated with me and it went something like this.
A guy drove a car with a suitcase full of money into the San Diego Pier. Onlookers saw the car dive into the water but they didn’t want to jump in and rescue the driver. One of the onlookers said, ‘I’ve seen sharks in that water’. And other people agreed with him and just let the car sink into the ocean. But then $100 dollar bills started floating to the top. When the onlookers saw this, they immediately jumped into the water. Not to rescue the driver, but to get their hands on the money. Even if they really were shark-infested waters like one of them had said earlier.
I know this was just a movie but that scene really taught me something profound. People will only do something if it benefits them. Now before you call me a pessimist on humanity, this also applies to when people help other people. Whether that be donating to charities, churches, or when natural disasters strike, people often come together and help each other out.
In this case, that makes people feel good and benefits how they feel as a decent human being. But this article is not about the do-gooders of the world. It’s about how people are with money and what motivates them.
Once upon a time, I used to think people did things out of the goodness of their heart. I was way younger and naïve then. But I learned pretty quick this was not how the real world worked at all. Maybe it had something to do with growing up in NYC? In matters of business, politics, money, and work, nobody will go out of their way unless there is something in it for them.
This lesson is kind of obvious but I think it is worth retelling. If you want someone to do you a favor, you need to offer something in return that will benefit them. People will not move their a** unless it impacts or benefits them.
A good example of this is when a politician offers businesses and individuals a huge tax break if they do X, Y, and Z. Whether the politician is telling the truth or not, the hope of this tax break will motivate people to get off their a**es and vote for this candidate. Or they will take action (fill out forms, wait on lines, etc.) and go out of their way so they can get that tax break if the politician is already in office.
Nothing motivates people better than money does. People need to feel they are getting something in return in order to take action out of their everyday lives. Hey, I am no exception to this rule either. I own up to it. Isn’t that why people go to work every day? So they can get a paycheck that will pay their bills with the hope of retiring someday.
Would anyone go to work if they didn’t get a paycheck every two weeks? Duh, of course not. Unless you were a lottery winner and you had nothing better to do with your time.
This is human nature folks. So if you are not a professional salesperson and you are looking to sell something or get people to do something for you, you better have something in it for them.
This is partly why I started this blog. I ultimately want to help people make better choices with their money. I want to find money related solutions for them. I want people to save more and spend less on junk that they don’t need. It makes me feel good to know that passing on my financial knowledge can help someone live a better financial future.
So writing content and maintaining this blog ultimately benefits me because it makes me feel good about myself. Also, I hope to make a passive income off of it. But that’s a different story.
People should examine why they do the things they do every day. You will be surprised to find how selfish you really are. Or maybe that’s just me?
People that go to the gym go because they want to have a better-looking body. Yeah yeah yeah, I know they also do it for their health but let’s be real. They also want to look better naked. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I only bring this up to emphasize my point. Even though most people hate going to the gym, they do it because of the payoff. They hope that with enough hard work, they will be healthier and ultimately have a better-looking physique. That’s what’s in it for them.
This is what sells so many gym memberships every year to customers. They are offering you to have a better body if you pay them to use their facilities.
Have you ever heard the term, ‘There is no such thing as a free lunch’? Well, it’s true in the sense that you have to give up something to get something else. Whether that be your time, money, expertise, etc.
So just like in the movie scene, I described above, if you want people to jump into the ocean for you (or do you a favor), you better offer them something really damn good in return. You’ll just have to watch the rest of the movie on your own to see how it ends.