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The Softer Side of Building Financial Wealth

by Shawanda Greene

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When I was a kid, there wasn’t a single act of dishonesty that wouldn’t provoke my mother’s wrath. Telling a lie was a surefire way to getting beat/spanked/whipped. (Don’t worry. I wasn’t abused.) It’s the memory of my mother’s violent reaction in response to even minor deception that makes it so difficult for me to lie today.

Things got so bad, I’d confess to my misdeeds before my mother found me out. My willingness to admit to wrongdoing urked my sister because I was rarely involved in mischief alone. Sometimes I really wish I was a better liar. Seems like it has its advantages.

But according to Thomas J. Stanley’s The Millionaire Mind, integrity was “tied for first in regard to the percentage of millionaires who rated it as a very important reason for their economic success.” I can see why it’s so important. I wouldn’t want to do business with someone or encourage anyone else to do so if I think a person is untrustworthy. I’d disassociate from them completely once I began questioning their values.

Far less logical arguments for integrity, but ones I strongly believe, are you reap what you sow and what goes around comes around.

I’ve been meaning to write about integrity and the role it plays in building financial wealth for a while. While attending the U.S. Open, I witnessed some unscrupulous behavior that really got under my skin. It’s this behavior that finally compelled me to speak on the subject of integrity.

It may be socially acceptable to freely upgrade your cheap seats when you notice better options open, but to me, it’s stealing. You’re taking something you didn’t pay for. Even though it saves you money, it’s not right. Fortunately, most of the people I suspected of snagging superior seats were revealed when the rightful seat owners showed up and shooed them away. The ushers were also pretty good about checking tickets of the potential thieves and embarrassingly pointing them to their seats.

On another occassion, I waited in a pretty long line to get a $50 gift card when I noticed two seemingly clueless older gentlemen cut in behind me. One of the men motioned to the people behind us and remarked to his friend that it’s possible they’d cut in line. The other responded, “Oh no. They just got here.”

No they hadn’t!!!

Those people were already there! Waiting patiently.

Not once, but twice…I let that idiot know 75% of the people he was in front of were there before him. He simply shrugged his shoulders. Can you believe this guy? If time is money, then I guess this jerk’s time was more valuable than the people behind him. If that wasn’t enough, when we finally got to the counter he said “This line moved a lot faster than I thought it would.” Are you serious?!!!

Other money saving and dishonest, but socially acceptable ways to save money are as follows:

  • Filing fraudulent tax returns
  • Purchasing bootleg DVDs
  • Illegally downloading music
  • Using a neighbor’s wi-fi connection
  • Refusing to pay for metered parking on private property because you know the county police can’t give you a ticket
  • Taking a sick day from work when you’re not sick
  • Keeping silent when the cashier, teller, etc. gives you too much money back

I don’t want to come off as too judgmental. I’ve done some of the above. Although, I’m not telling you which ones. There are some activities I still engage in that some would consider suspicious.

  • When I go on vacation, I put the miniature hotel lotion in my purse every night so housekeeping will give me another bottle everyday.
  • Sometimes I go for a second round of free samples at the grocery store when I know full well I’ll never purchase the product.

Without going into my rationale, I don’t feel bad about this behavior. Does that count for anything?

How do you feel about this matter?

In your opinion, what role, if any, does integrity play in your ability to build financial wealth?

Are there any wealth destroying activities missing from my list?

Did you enjoy this article?
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Carla September 5, 2009 at 2:39 AM

There are things that I do that I dont think twice about, like getting a extra free sample of lotion at Whole Foods or taking an extra conditioner from the hotel for instance. It is dishonest? I guess it depends on who’s watching and who you’re asking. If there is a sign near the sample supplements or lotion that says “take one only” then I take only one. If there isn’t, my limit is two. Other people may take 10. Some people may steal items of the housekeeper’s cart in the hallway of the hotel.

When it comes to the law, written rules or guidelines, that’s a clear line that I do not cross for legal, ethical and moral reasons.

Reply

Shawanda Greene September 9, 2009 at 10:58 PM

I know someone who checks the hospital room cabinets for medical supplies when they visit someone who’s sick. Similar to taking items off the housekeeper’s cart, that’s just stealing.

Reply

Goran September 7, 2009 at 1:54 PM

Take the lotion!
You’ve paid for it.

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Tia September 9, 2009 at 2:03 PM

I think the sick day is a stretch. But I agree with most of what you say. I would also include expecting something for nothing. Like asking a company to sponsor or give you freebies, but then you don’t advertise or purchase their products.

Reply

Shawanda Greene September 9, 2009 at 10:53 PM

Taking sick days when you’re not sick is dishonest. I’m assuming most people have to write or tell a lie in order to get the sick day they’re using as a personal/vacation day.

Reply

Carla September 9, 2009 at 11:05 PM

Assuming they have personal/vacation days. In this country, its very tempting to take a sick day when you’re not sick I rather people lie and give themselves a break every now and then, than to wear themselves out. I’m not saying its right, but its understandable.

Reply

Tamara September 11, 2009 at 12:01 PM

I agree, a personal day to ward off stress is not stealing it is prevention…there’s a difference. You do not have to say you’re sick when calling in.

Reply

Shawanda September 11, 2009 at 12:43 PM

A personal day is one thing, a sick day is another. Let’s say the company you work for gives you 20 vacation days and 10 sick days. The policy is to use the vacation days however you see fit and the sick days when you or a dependent are sick. Illness doesn’t always have to take the form of physical sickness.

However, haphazardly making the decision to increase your vacation package from 20 days to 30 days because the weather is nice is dishonest, and I’m of the belief that it is stealing.

I know someone who took a sick day and her boss caught her at the airport. She was immediately fired. Although she may have felt justified in taking the day off, her employer felt like something had been unfairly taken away, i.e, stolen, from them.

The other side of the argument is when you go to work when you’re sick and should’ve taken a sick day.

Reply

tamara September 12, 2009 at 9:01 PM

I don’t take sick days to travel and I would agree that was unethical. You make some valid points and I will consider them.

Reply

mariacoffeeclothesmiami June 4, 2012 at 2:17 AM

I completely agree, raking sick days when you are not sick is SOOOO wrong. I work in management and I think that is one of the worse things you can do. If you have something you need to do or if you need a personal day off ASK FOR IT.

I think that integrity has a lot do do with building wealth specially when it comes to being accountable to yourself. You have to have self respect to know you need to save instead of spend money you don't have on a credit card.
http://personallyfindnancys.blogspot.com/
My recent post Weekly Recap 5/28 – 6/3

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