Greed: It’s never good

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It’s April and in addition to Uncle Sam wanting a piece of our financial action, it is also Financial Literacy Month.

There is no shortage of ways to gain a financial education—high school, college and after grad classes, websites, investment tips, books, etc.—but year-after-year studies continue to show that most of us still have plenty to learn.

One reason might be because financial literacy—as in learning all about money, it’s management, how to invest it, what to do with it, plus plus—is ever-changing throughout our lives. So, as we age so do our financial and money needs. Learning about all things financial requires attention from pretty much cradle to grave.

Forbes.com ran a piece last year, “11 Financial Words All Parents Should Teach Their Kids”, that suggests parents start teaching their kids about saving money at age 4.

I suggest teaching your little darlings about money and its many uses after the Tooth Fairy makes her first visit—provided that’s something that happens in your home. After all, kids learn to love—and expect—money very early on in life. They also learn money behaviors from their parents and peers; greed being the sourest.

Ask me why America is in the financial fix it is in today—millions not earning enough to pay their way or able to save for their futures, a national debt that’s soaring, incompetence in Congress, a growing ignorant class, too much money in too few hands, etc.—and I’ll say the underlying reason is because too many people have become too greedy.

It would be convenient if there were someone—other than ourselves—to blame for our greediness, but their isn’t. Greed shows up in both our personal and professional lives. It is a choice. We can choose to be greedy. Or not.

I’ve often wondered if Oliver Stone and screenwriter Stan Weiser wish they hadn’t written the line, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good”, spoken by Michael Douglas, whose played the fictional character Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street.

That movie was about the insider trading scandals of the 1980s. But in the 30 years since its release there have been no shortage of scandals on Wall Street, or, greedy behavior within our financial markets. It’s almost as if ‘greed is good” warped into some kind of guaranteed formula for success that has caught on as a value rather than a vice.

As Financial Literacy Month winds down, one practice that can make a positive difference in your life going forward is this: Don’t be greedy. Greed is not good. It never has been or ever will be.

 

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