Guess what day it is, guess what day it is!
HUMP DAY PEOPLE!!!
This is my first day back in the office since last Friday so I am enjoying the prospects of a short week plus a pay-day on Friday (what, what!?) I hope all of you are getting prepared for the holiday season which is fast approaching. Last night the wife and I were watching TV and I started to notice all the Christmas commercials and I had to comment to her that I simply am not ready for Christmas or the holidays. I wasn’t talking about not having my shopping done (which isn’t) but rather I am just not mentally, physically or spiritually prepared for the onslaught that is this time of year. There is just so much happening between now and the end of the year for us this year.
I am thankful that I have a bunch of vacation time I need to use up before January 1 to try to recharge and get caught up on things. Right after Thanksgiving my wife turns 30 and then I have to fly out the next day to Orlando for 4 days of training related to my promotion. When I come back there will be parties, time off and a quick trip back to Minnesota for Christmas. Throw in a church conference next week and the fact I am writing my thesis and the next month and a half is crazy! I am just trying to find time to balance everything and not get all crazy with holiday madness.
Enough about that stuff! Let’s get into the meat of today’s blog. Let’s first start with a scripture I read this morning:
“Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.” Proverbs 13:6
I have recently become addicted to the television show “American Greed” which airs on CNBC Prime (I think that is what they renamed the station, formerly MSNBC.) I am not entirely sure why I am addicted to the show to be honest. Almost every episode retells the story of some greedy person (or persons) who started some Ponzi scheme and ripped off people for millions of dollars. The stories are always heart breaking and unbelievable. The things some men have done in the name of greed is staggering. The devastation they leave behind is enormous. I often find myself wondering how people can continue to pull off Ponzi schemes and no one gets wise until it is WAY TOO late. With so many examples (Bernie, Tom Peters etc.) I am not sure how people keep falling for these investments.
Well it doesn’t take long to figure it out. People fall for these questionable transactions because of greed. Men commit these crimes in the same name. What is also amazing is that the very nature of a Ponzi Scheme has a finite ending. That ending is rarely freedom and more often than not it is significant prison time.
If you aren’t familiar with a Ponzi it is pretty simple. Bernie takes Rick’s money (usually claiming they are investing it somewhere) and puts it in his pocket. Bernie than takes Susan’s money (similar claims of investing) and then turns around and uses Susan’s money to pay Rick back his “gain” on the fake investment. Bernie then has to find additional investors as he goes along to pay the first investors and so on it goes. The problem is eventually Bernie is going to run out of investors and in turn money in order to pay off the earlier investors. It always happens the same way. It cannot go on forever and eventually a person gets caught.
While I am reluctant to place a ton of blame on the victims they certainly deserve some of the blame unfortunately. Anytime someone is offering you a ROI on your money at a rate higher than 8% over a year, you should immediately be suspect. I don’t care what they say, how the present it or even if you are getting checks right away in such an investment. Something stinks. The only reason people get caught up is because of greed. They want to make even more money than they have. Sometimes it is only a modest retirement account they want to invest. Other times it is millions. It all comes down to wanting more, more and more.
There is a theme of unhappiness or a failure to be satisfied with our current station in life that is an undercurrent in all these stories. Both in the criminals and the victims. No matter how much integrity you have or honest you believe you are the temptation of greed is always lurking around the corner waiting to snare you.
As men, we need to be extra careful in this regard. Whether you agree with it or not, men are programmed to provide for their families. We feel that stress everyday of our lives even when things are going well for us financially. The prospect of cutting corners and yet making a ton of money, while not logical, at the right time (or wrong time) can make us an easy target. I am always worried what would happen financially to my family if something happens to me. We are trying our best to be prepared for it but we still have debt from our wedding to pay off and school loans etc.
My point is this guys: we need to stay on the straight and narrow and keep our focus dead ahead. Once you have a wife and start a family there is too much at stake to take such a huge gamble with your finances. I understand when investing there is always some risk (usually well calculated risk) but that doesn’t mean you cast off all logic and due diligence. Most of the people on these shows claim they did due diligence and asked around etc but the truth is they never were asking the right questions. They never spent the money on a background check or the like. If you are going to give someone $800,000 you would think you would care who that person is and what their story was.
Don’t allow greed to darken your senses. The future of your kids and grandkids depends on you making smart decisions. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste when some shyster tells you he can get you a 20% return on your money. Be smart.
That is all I have for today! Until tomorrow, make it a better day!