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?