How Society can Affect Your Net Worth.

The song “No man is an island, no man stands alone” says it all, even down to how much wealth we might accumulate in our lifetimes.

Society affects each of us – what we give and get from others. Others affect us.

How can society affect our net worth?

We want to fit in.

For the human condition, there is safety in numbers. Our remote ancestors found this to be true when fighting off the beasts and we still see and feel the need to be part of a group. Often times, we benefit from being part of a group.

The first group we are part of is usually a family. Families influence us immensely. Each family grouping has unique expectations.

Some families traditionally work for others for a living and therefore expect us to do so as well. Some families start their own business and are disappointed if their children don’t start one too. Some families expect kids to drop out of school and earn money for the family. Other families encourage kids to go to college and be a professional. Each of these could affect our ability to generate wealth and grow our net worth.

We tend to rise (or fall) to the level of expectations set – to fit in, to avoid disapproval. If you are expected to go to school, learn well and earn good grades, you are more likely to do so than the child who is ridiculed for being a ‘geek’.

We model our behavior by watching those around us.

Kids learn so much more by observing than they do through lessons. If your parents were savers, you probably are a saver as well. If your work associates discuss investing, you may be more prone to think about putting money in the market. You do what you know.

Wanting to fit in can influence your ability to generate wealth.

Perhaps you feel like you must go to the bar, out to lunch, shopping with the girls, to the game to the greens and etc to join in with the group. Joining the group at times can be very advantageous, but joining in every time can limit your opportunity to accumulate wealth.

We compare ourselves to others and compete.

The things that we want from life are influenced by those we see around us. We consciously and subconsciously are always comparing ourselves and our possessions to what others have. We judge our relative value through these comparisons – even though we shouldn’t.

Sometimes we feel we have to spend money to obtain what we perceive as a comparable level of wealth. Keeping up with the Jones can be a wealth drainer.

For example, when we work in a professional field (like surgeons), we may feel we have to maintain the ‘right’ image by living in a certain neighborhood, driving a certain kind of car, dressing a certain way, belonging to the right club and etc. Maintaining this image can be a wealth drainer.

We rely on others.

Others may provide or withdraw opportunities than could help us get wealthy.

The boss might decide to challenge you by giving you a big opportunity. If you succeed, that opportunity might lead to bigger and better things. Likewise, the boss could hold you back by denying opportunities or refusing to acknowledge your skills or shunting you off onto a sideline that has no advancement potential.

Words CAN hurt your ability to accumulate.

I believe it is much easier to do great things when you receive support and encouragement from those around you. Ridicule can quickly kill your desire to achieve.

If your spouse makes fun of your thriftiness, or down plays your ability to start that super star business, you will be tempted to just drop the idea. If she yells at you when you spend money on certain things. or he gets mad if the checkbook isn’t subtracted out right away you may retaliate or you may avoid doing those things in the future. The ways you interact with others about money can influence your ability to be wealthy.

Early experiences with money issues can have a life long affect. If your parents punish you for spending or reward you for saving, it can have an emotional impact years into the future – and not necessarily the one your parents intended.

What has society done to alter your net worth?

Best Movies to Teach Kids Persistence

Learning doesn’t have to be boring.  Kids can learn from movies – especially if you take the time to prep them to watch and to have a discussion afterwards about what you hope they discovered.

Persistence is something I am trying to help instill in my own grandchildren.  It is, I feel, THE most important characteristic to have to get where you want to go.

Below are a few of my favorite movies to teach tweens about persistence.

Unstoppable PG-13 (2010) Starring Chris Pine & Denzel Washington

In this thriller, a runaway train must be stopped before it hits a populated area and goes off track and explodes. Denzel is Frank, the experienced train engineer running engine 777 with Will (Pine) as his conductor – just out of training.

Frank and Will initially try to get their engine 777 out of the way of the runaway – heading straight towards them on the main track. Once the runaway passes, Frank decides to try backing up to hook onto the end of the train to slow it down so that someone can climb on and take control. Through multiple challenges, and in direct opposition to what the bosses are saying, and even though he has been notified that he is being retired early, Frank persists in trying to stop the train.

Will initially lets home problems interfere with work, causing him to make mistakes. Frank persists in demanding that Will pay attention to work and teaches him to do it right. In the end, Will, with an injured foot, jumps from the engine (going 70 MPH) into a truck bed which carries him to the front of the train where he is able to climb aboard the runaway engine

Wall-e G (2008) – Disney Pixar animation Starring voices of Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin

Wall-e, Eve, Burn-e and the little robot who cleans up Wall-e’s messy tracks all consistently persist in their goals. Wall-e and Eve try and try to get the little green plant to the spot on the ship that will take the ship back to earth. Burn-e overcomes many frustrating problems to replace a light bulb on the ships exterior and the little robot who cleans the floor is practically anal about keeping it clean!

Pursuit of Happyness PG-13 (2006) Starring Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith

Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a risk taker who put his life savings on the line to buy portable medical scanners to resell at a profit. He persists in selling the scanners, even though they are hard to sell. He sees a chance to try for a financial broker internship (which turns out to be unpaid and highly competitive) and takes it once his wife leaves him.

In spite of doing multiple really stupid things (like leaving his expensive portable scanner with a stranger on the street), Gardner persists in keeping his son by his side through homelessness, getting thrown in jail for traffic tickets and other adversity and works smart and hard to meet his goal of winning the financial broker job.

Secretariat PG (2010) Starring Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Margo Martindale

Penny (Diane Lane) inherits a race horse from her parents and sets herself a goal of getting the horse to race and win. She goes against wishes of her spouse and her brother and multiple horse ‘experts’ to reach her goal.

My Fair Lady G (1964) Starring Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway

In this classic musical Eliza demonstrates remarkable persistence in learning how to change the way she speaks so that she can become ‘a lady in a flower ship’ instead of a street girl selling cast off flowers to passerbys. She succeeds in spite of working without any acknowledgment of her efforts.

Ratatouie G (2007) Disney Pixar animation Starring voices of Brad Garrett, Lou Romano, Patton Oswalt

Remy the rat (Patton Oswalt) has a dream. He wants to become a great French chef despite being a rat and going against society’s inborn phobia of rodents as well as his rat family. He persists despite the ridicule of his family, not knowing how to cook, the need to team up with humans and the disapproval of his father.

Chicken Run G (2000) Dreamworks animation Starring voices of Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Phil Daniels

Ginger the chicken (Julia Sawalha) tries and tries to find a way to organize a great escape (for all the fowls) from the chicken coop. When Rocky the rooster (Mel Gibson) comes flying over the fence, she just knows he can teach them all to fly. However, she soon finds out he is shot from a rocket at the local fair and can’t fly at all. Ginger persists in searching for ways to free them all and eventually succeeds, following several mis-steps.

A League of their own PG (1992) starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty

Although Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) is the ‘star’ of the movie, it is really Kit Keller (Lori Petty) her sister who is the persistent one. When major league ball takes a hit due to the men going off to fight in WWII, league owners organize a women’s league. Kit gets wind of it and is stoked to join up, but the recruiter is more impressed with big sister Dottie. He finally agrees to take Kit if she convinces Dottie to join up. But once on the field, it is Dottie who becomes the persistent one – finding ways to bolster flagging ball game attendance by showing the women how to be more flamboyant players. Along the way, the women convert has been player, now coach – Jimmay Dugan (Tom Hanks) from being a drunken side stander to becoming an active and involved coach.

Erin Brockovich R (2000) starring Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, David Brisbin

Former beauty queen and unemployed Mom – Erin (Julia Roberts) persists in convincing Ed Masry (Albert Finney), the lawyer who unsuccessfully defended her in a car accident case, to give her job as a legal assistant. When he hands her a case, expecting her to do some simple followup, she goes on the road for days to interview the plaintiff and gather facts. She persists in developing the case against giant PG & E despite being ridiculed in the office, doubted by her boss, and beset with child care issues. Due to her persistence, folks who suffered cancer due to PG & E illegal dumping of toxic wastes, end up getting financial compensation to help with medical bills.

True Grit G (1969) starring John Wayne, Kim Darby, Glen Campbell

Teenager Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) is seeking vengeance against the murderer of her father. She is in town to pick up her father’s belongings to take them home, but decides to hire the best qualified person to help her hunt down the murderer – Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Wayne). This teen age fire ball, in a time way before women’s rights, speaks out, stands up and fights for what she wants – over and over again. She persists at every turn when society, Cogburn and others try to dissuade her from her goal. she hires her man, fights to go with him, and speaks her mind at every turn.