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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.
Then there’s greed that turns to alcoholism, or drug abuse. While there are definitely other factors involved, including depression and other mental health issues, greed can contribute to a whole host of health problems from drug abuse. Recovery can be costly. And then there are the other problems stemming from an excessive lifestyle, including time taken off work, a lack of drive or motivation, and the sheer expense of maintaining that kind of diet.
Read More: 7 Ways Pride Is Keeping You Poor
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.
5. Gambling Away Everything
You know the stories. You’ve seen the movies. Gambling can bring people great wealth in just a few seconds. But, for the vast majority, it’s a losing proposition. Couple gambling with greed, and you have a recipe for tragedy just waiting to happen. Every year, millions of people try and get lucky, and for most, it’s just a flutter. Win or lose, they walk away. But 2% of people who gamble get seriously addicted, and greed takes over. A win becomes an adrenaline rush. They want more. And more. They want to see the dollar signs multiply. Before they know what’s happened, they have lost everything trying to win back the money they once had.
6. Finally… the Impact of Corporate Greed
Sadly, it’s not personal greed, but corporate greed that is having an impact on our wallets. And in some instances, it keeps people in poverty. From the greedy politicians who take cash to vote against the public interest, to the outsourcing of jobs to other countries, America has a serious greed problem. Many of us feel it a little, here and there. But for some, it’s the cause of great hardships.
One recent example comes from Wendy’s. After the recent minimum wage hike, and plans to raise it to $15/hour, the fast food giant responded with automated self-service kiosks. “We continue to look at initiatives and how we work to offset any impacts of future wage inflation through technology initiatives, whether that’s customer self-order kiosks, whether that’s automating more in the back of the house in the restaurant,” said CTO Todd Penegor (who was compensated over $3 million in 2014). The moral of this story — demand a living wage and you’re out of a job.
The defenders of this say that these jobs are entry-level, but with so many manufacturing jobs going elsewhere, and the employment of low-wage workers who do it “cash in hand,” it’s getting harder and harder to find a decent paying job that doesn’t require an education and a ton of experience; something many people never had the chance to get.
Of course, the massive financial meltdown in 2008 was also caused by massive greed, and that impacted millions of homeowners and led to bankruptcies. It’s safe to say that even if you are the least greedy person on the planet, you will still be affected by greed in your day-to-day life.