Picture yourself walking down a street surrounded by a dozen other pedestrians moving in both directions when suddenly a wind full of money blows through. Bills in the air, arriving in the wind, landing on the street and blowing by at head-level. We’re talking tens and twenties, with a few fifties and hundreds here and there. How are you going to act? How to you expect the random strangers around you to act? What if this was all staged for a television show like Candid Camera? When the television show airs, how are you going to feel about the way you acted verses the way all the strangers around you acted?
This would be an excellent character test. Now I’m not suggesting that to pass this test you should be refusing to grab any bills that come your way, or that you should try and start preaching a sermon to everyone around you or something. Quite the contrary, I think that accepting the blessings which are bestowed upon you (along with being thankful for them) is quite healthy. But I’m wondering just how vigorous you would be in accepting this particular blessing.
Would you be content to grab the bills which were blowing into your immediate airspace, and bending down to pick up the few which were landing right in front of your feet? Do you picture a happy, giddy little crowd of people laughing in gay wonderment at the dream-like phenomenon which has materialized? Or would you be running around frantically attempting to grab everything you possibly could, stuffing as much as possible in your pockets, including the $100 bills which were landing right in front of another person? Do you picture a rugby-like scene with people being pushed around, knocked out of the way, while the fastest and strongest take the majority of the booty?
How you would react to this situation says a lot about your character. And truth be told, sadly, the percentage of people in society who would pass this character test are a minority. With a dozen people selected at random to experience this unique event, you can safely bet that there would be a couple who would push an old lady out of her walker to grab a c-note that she was leaning towards, even with twenties flying in all around them in the wind. What should be a happy, gleeful event for all would likely turn into a stressful sporting event as most participants attempt to maximize their financial gain (and thereby minimize that of everyone around them).
Something like that happening should be a blessing upon all who are involved. If you are there, then it’s a blessing for you too. Reach out and grab what is blown to you. Look around and laugh with the others at the amazing storybook scenario unfolding. But running and grabbing and hoarding like some kind of animal is very uncouth.
If by some chance it were staged by a television show, most likely the ones who exhibited the most deplorable behavior would be the ones most proud of themselves. And that’s the thing which really speaks the most about the sad condition of our society.
When payday comes around, do you often hear your co-workers profess their utter relief that this day has arrived? The exclamation Thank God it’s Payday is unfortunately a popular phrase uttered across the entire country on the first and fifteenth of the month. And it’s pathetic. While sharing the details of your financial status is normally considered to be socially awkward, millions of people across America let everyone within earshot know that they are totally inept at managing their finances with this statement. Many are in the habit of saying it every single payday. Hey - you aren’t one of these people, are you?
If you are, there are a couple of things you need to do - and fast. The first is, quit letting the world know that you are such a financially irresponsible dolt. If you utter that phrase every single payday it’s a safe bet that everyone at your workplace, including your boss, knows you are not capable of handling your own finances. That doesn’t bode well for your chances of future advancement. Most likely the spouses of your more financially responsible co-workers have heard about this as well. If they ever meet you at the office Christmas party they will be thinking: Oh yeah, the stupid spendthrift who is living one step ahead of bankruptcy.
The second thing you need to do is get your financial act together. If you couldn’t comfortably skip your next paycheck entirely then you are doing something really, really wrong. What is going on with you? What are you thinking when you decide to spend money on anything but an absolute necessity if you need each paycheck to keep creditors off your back?
Perhaps you have fallen for the bill of goods being sold by financial institutions offering credit. It’s a pack of lies designed to make a slave out of you for life. They tell you that as long as you have a job you deserve any luxury in life that suits you. Just use that shiny credit card they gave you. It’s a reward for you being so smart and responsible to have gotten a decent job. This extends to car loans and, until very recently, home loans as well.
Maybe you have also bought into the great social hoax that you need to be a homeowner, otherwise you are a second-class citizen. Even though that house payment eats up more than half of your family’s take-home pay. Hey, everybody’s doing it. You don’t want to be a crummy renter, do you? No - you must own your own home! It doesn’t matter what housing prices are or what it does to your expendable income - if the lenders will approve the home loan, buy it! Even if you must sit for three hours in traffic everyday in order to do it.
What does that Godsend of a paycheck which you are so relieved to get on payday really do for you anyway? Allow you to buy groceries, pay the utility bills, make the minimum payment on your credit cards, and then what? Does the $20 extra left in your wallet tempt you to get the latest trick cell phone with all the new gadgets? Can’t you see the patsy you have become?
I am begging you right now to stop with all this nonsense. Sit down and get a grip on your finances. It’s Top Ramen time until you can answer all the following questions with a resounding yes:
1. Do you have 6 months expenses in a savings account (only to be touched for living expenses if you lose your job)?
2. Are you using only one credit card, and are you making at least ten times the minimum payment on that bill every month?
3. Are you presently on track to retire comfortably in your early sixties, with plenty of liquid assets?
If you cannot answer those questions confidently, then you are really acting foolish. You have no business going out to dinner or shopping for a new flat-screen TV until you get a solid grip on your finances. Hopefully by now the myth that ever-increasing home equity will continue to bail you out has been debunked. You do actually have to manage your own money and plan for the future. Otherwise you will be flipping burgers in your eighties to get the rent money for your trailer. Seriously.
If you are by some miracle able to sell your house right now above the zero line, do it. Move into a nice rental at half the monthly housing cost, closer to your work which will save money as well. Drive your car until it actually needs to be replaced, not just until the ashtrays get full. Get your credit cards paid off and then pay the balance off every month. Get fanatical about saving money. Start saving some now (even if it’s just a little) and start to feel the joy of having money in the bank.
In short, start living within your means. Save money for a rainy day. Above all, stay out of consumer debt. That is a trap which has been laid at your feet which is designed to enslave you for life. Don’t fall for it.
What started out being mildly funny has now become embarrassingly stale. Do you still laugh at those cave man auto insurance commercials? Of course not. It’s played. They should really retire that whole concept before it turns into something ugly that does damage to the company image. That is, if you can even name the company who runs those ads. Can you? Yeah, most of you probably can, despite the fact that these commercials have absolutely nothing to do with selling auto insurance.
For those of you that can’t name the company, it’s Geico. This isn’t their only ad campaign currently running. Unfortunately it isn’t their only bad ad campaign currently running either. They also have that stupid gecko with the British accent being followed around by the naturalist (who also has a British accent) observing his behavior. What’s that about? Humor? Couldn’t somebody have told these guys that those spots are not even remotely funny? And what’s with all the English accents when trying to sell auto insurance in America? If this is British humor, that might explain things - but it still doesn’t excuse the bad ads.
All right I’m going to give Geico a break here and recognize them for an outstanding ad campaign that they ran in the recent past. The one where people in perilous situations set you up to hear them answer important questions with I just saved a ton of money on auto insurance by switching to Geico. That campaign rocked. Some of those commercials fooled absolutely everybody until the end when they pulled the “gotcha.” Usually they set you up to where somebody said But I have good news…. It was entertaining, it was brilliant, and most importantly it had everybody in America imitating it around the office water cooler (trying to “get” their co-workers with the But there is good news line).
The current ad campaigns really suck by comparison, especially the Geico gecko. The cave man ads started off being funny, because the characters in the ads are entertaining. But they have apparently played this angle out to it’s full potential. In the beginning just the angry stares of the characters were hilarious. But they were funny in a light-beer commercial kind of way, not in a way that does any real product branding.
It wasn’t long after the ad campaign started before a sitcom with the cavemen hit prime-time TV. It failed miserably and was soon canceled. Apparently they ran out of good plots just as fast as the commercials ran out of usable spins on the concept.
The current angle on the cavemen is having Geico signs pop up in unexpected places, resulting in the cavemen throwing their hands up in the air in disgust. It ain’t funny. It’s not entertaining. It’s…… old. I’m getting sick of these guys and I can’t imagine any new spins that are going to save them. If this company insists on pushing this ad campaign on us any further, they are going to be in danger of generating the same disgust the cavemen have for their company in the people watching the commercials. I am just about there.
And by the way, ads that depict people being disgusted with your company are a really stupid idea, no matter how you spin them.