The Scary Thing About Money

The scary thing about money is that it can make you very deluded.

Recently, someone I know won the lottery. In an instant, it was as if that person was possessed by another spirit! Not only did his personality change, but I’ve never seen someone possess way too much confidence in my entire life. He seemed to have forgotten that all the money was won by sheer luck, and not by his efforts or strategy. Nonetheless, he started speaking as if he had made it that far in life all thanks to his ability. What makes this really scary was that he actually believed in that myth! He firmly and deeply believed in his awesome money-making ability that he began to take on other riskier projects. He was actually sooooooo confident of himself that he was so sure these projects wouldn’t fail at all. I don’t know how it’ll end up, since the story is still slowly unfolding, but I do hope nothing really terrible happens to him.

Anyway, this isn’t the only money-caused delusion I’ve seen lately.

In the past weeks, I’ve been researching as much as I can about finance-related matters. To be honest, I don’t really know a lot about how best to manage my finances (and for that matter, how to invest for the future.). I figured it’s best I start learning as much as I can before I graduate in a year’s time. That way, I’ll be quite ready to embrace the working world, and have my finances set for the future. In the process, I’ve signed up for many talks and lectures about money-related issues.

And that’s where I encountered many other people who have been deluded by money.

Unfortunately, some of these talks have been quite unproductive because these talks have been consistently hijacked by obnoxious people who are so damn sure about themselves and their methods of investing. These talks were free, and I guess they wanted to go there and feel validated by a professional, in one way or another. Often, this involves them arguing and challenging the speaker in quite an unfair manner. Once they have rendered/bullied the speaker speechless, you can immediately see the smirk on their faces, as they feel a false sense of intellectual superiority over the speaker.

Anyway, the impression I got, though, was that these people were not professional investors but speculators who have gotten lucky a few times, and have come to believe that their methods are the best in the world. However, from the things they said, it sounded as if it was more gut feeling and hear-say than a real analysis. The speakers couldn’t give decent answers to tell them what’s wrong only because they were bullied with unfair questioning (and they probably didn’t want to answer them anyway – it’s pointless trying to convince someone who holds such strong beliefs). After a while, you could tell that they were talking rubbish as the conversation began to cover other areas of daily life. I’m surprised they don’t realise how ridiculous some of their words were.

I was quite disgusted by what I saw. But anyway, I found it just as scary too. There, I was surrounded by people who have gotten lucky a few times, made quite a bit of money, and have become so deluded as to believe that they have the best investment methods in the world. I just hope they don’t do anything stupid.

It’s really scary how having a lot of money can make people have so much unfounded confidence. It’s different from the typical kinds of over-confidence you find in other situations. A person who has studied really hard for the exams can feel confident that he will ace the exams.  But the delusion that money can give, makes people feel so confident to the point that they believe they can walk on water! That’s scary!

If there’s one thing the financial crises in the past years have shown (and for that matter, from the lives of the wealthy who have lost a fortune), it’s only when these people lose everything that their delusion shatters, and there they awake from a fantasy so vastly different from the harsh realities of the world. Whether or not they can cope with a sudden change of worlds will be up to them. Those unable to handle the harsh reality of life will embrace death, those who can handle it will embrace life and whatever’s left in life.

Seeing so many people deluded by money within a span of a few weeks has certainly left a deep impression on me. I really really hope that I will not end up like these people. It scares me to know that I too am susceptible to falling prey to such a delusion. And I hope someone will slap me to wake me up from such a delusion if I ever enter into it.