Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Successful in America by Not Being Stupid

How do you become successful in America?  It is not hard to do.  All you have to do is avoid the following traps for the unwary (in no particular order):

Credit Card Offers

Frequent Flyer Miles

Prosperity Theology

Believing in Angels, Fairies,Witchcraft, or Fundamentalist Religions

Day-Trading Stocks

Leasing Cars

Funny-Money Deals

Anything heavily advertised

Anything heavily promoted in the Media

Cable Television

Television, Period
Smart Phones

Home Refinancing to Pay off Credit Cards

Payday loans, pawn shops, title pawn, rent-to-own furniture

90 days same-as-cash

Shopping as a hobby
Facebook (the Television of the Internet)

Something for Nothing

Obsessing about Politics

Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

MLM Marketing Schemes

Pyramid Schemes

Buying gold as an investment

Taking your job for granted
Not getting a good education
And so on....

Sounds like a pretty obvious list, right?  I mean, what idiot in their right mind would do ANY of the things listed here?  No one, right?  And yet, all of us have done one or more of the things listed here, or have at least thought about them.  We all are guilty, on occasion, of believing in free ponies.

And if you look at the economy over the last two decades, and see how things have panned out, in most cases, people who have "fallen on hard times" have fallen victim to one or more of the items listed above.  In other words, there are no innocent actors here.

So what is the good news?  Well, it is ridiculously simple to get ahead in America.  You can be a millionaire.  And no, I am not selling some "system" or set of cassette tapes to listen to.   There is no marketing program, no inspirational speaker at meetings.  All you have to do is this:

Not do any of the items on the list above.

Sounds "too good to be true" - don't it?  After all, if you want to be "rich" you can't just save your money, diversify your investments, and work hard.  There has to be a trick, right?  After all, those "rich dudes" all know how to scam the system, right?

Not exactly.  Yea, there are one or two people who, through mostly luck, float their way to the top of the septic tank.

But most successful people in the USA succeeded through the old-fashioned techniques of working hard, saving money, and spending less than they made.  And it does work, over time - although it might mean forgoing that new Camaro SS you've been dreaming about.

And that is GOOD NEWS.  If you have half a brain, you will make out OK in this country.  All you have to do is not fall victim to our media-saturated society and its poor normative cues - to not buy and consume your way into perpetual debt slavery, but rather to live within your means, accumulate enough wealth so that you can afford to retire, and live happily every after.

And when it comes down to it, that is all most of us want, anyway.

But sometimes, we get distracted along the way.  On the way to "happily ever after" we decide instead to go for "happily in the here and now" and convince ourselves that a new car, cable TV, or a fancy house are the things that will make us happy.  And we kid ourselves that they "don't cost that much" or that they are in fact "a good investment."

But again, the good news is, you can turn this around, and you can always improve your lot in this Country.  Despite what the naysayers say, we do have upward mobility in the US - moreso than anywhere in the world.  You can do pretty much what you want to here, without having to worry about the secret police, or the tax man (no really, we have some of the lowest taxes in the world!)

And that is a lot to be thankful for, if you think about it.  We should be thankful that the only impediment to success in this country is usually our own actions or inaction.