Everyone loves free stuff – it’s human nature; we all have limited resources so if you can obtain something without using your own resources, it pleases you. However, the ubiquitousness of free stuff nowadays has led to some people loving freebies to a fault…let me explain…
Have you ever wondered why a good majority of the time when people get something easily they seem to lose it just as easily.
For instance, people who’s source of income is crime never seem to get rich except for temporary periods of time.
For those of us that abide by the law, when we download free ebooks or get books for free we don’t read the majority of them. I swear, I have loads of free books that I got off Amazon and 80% of them haven’t been read. Of the books that I have paid for, and I have many of those too only one hasn’t been read even after a year and I keep thinking I need to read it.
Well, there is actually a scientific reason for this. People who study human behavior and how the brain functions call it negativity bias: people give a lot more weight to losses and negative events than they do to positive events.
What does this mean for your life and business success?
If you feel you have invested in something, especially learning something new, you’ll take it a lot more seriously. There are two ways you can invest in knowledge: either with money or with time.
If you decide to learn something using all the free internet resources available, even if it’s quite simple you will not find all the information in one place. You’ll likely have to use several sources to figure out whatever you need. You value your time and having done the hard work to understand something you’ll be sure to implement it into your life or business.
I’ll give examples from my own life. In 2010 I paid about £300 ($500) for an online writing course. You were set 10 pieces of work but only received subsequent installments when you completed one set of work. Five years later I still haven’t done 80% of the course.
Admittedly I was an employee when I signed up to the course and therefore was time poor and I was also on a huge, 6-figure salary so the investment of £300 wasn’t significant to me.
Fast forward to 2013. I wanted to join an entrepreneur networking group and program but the fee was £7,000 ($12,000) and I didn’t have that money free. I saved for 6 months and joined the program and to-date I have never taken anything more seriously. I did all the work set to A* standard and I never missed a networking day. That was a lot of money to me and I wanted to get my money’s worth.
One of my favourite authors Grant Cordone expresses exactly the same thought in If You’re Not First, You’re Last.
Whilst time and money are two key ways you can invest in something there are other factors that can drive you such as guilt or a coach that pushes you.
As a teenager I always felt guilty that my parents were investing so much in my education so that pushed me and it does push many other people. The education was free to me but it was costing someone that I love (mummy and daddy) dearly and that was enough to push me towards success.
GIVING KIDS TOO MUCH
There is also a common trend in which one generation works hard to build wealth and subsequent generations lose it. The explanation is the same. The parents invest a lot of time and money building a business and personal asset base. They know the pain of their work and they don’t spend that hard earned cash without careful thought and planning.
Their children enjoy the fruits of this labour but have no real connection to the pains their parents went through or the poverty their parents might have grown up with so that wealth is free to the children.
You can’t really enjoy the sweetness of success without some concept of the pain of hard work. If someone does all the work for you, you don’t have any real goals to get you out of bed every morning. You don’t care about preserving the wealth that someone else created as much as you would if you made it yourself.
In summary, if you want to achieve real success you probably have to roll up your sleeves and get your elbows dirty. Unfortunately that’s the only way success comes. Free stuff won’t take you very far.
If you’re so into free stuff that you fail to see the value that exists in many paid resources then it could be the reason you’re stuck in a just-over-broke (j.o.b) cycle.
Thomas Edison said it best when he said, “We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I’ll change this a little to apply to this new world where many people want things for free by saying, we often miss opportunity because it requires us to invest time or money.
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Heather on Wealth
I enjoy helping people think through their personal finances and blog about that here. Join my personal finance community at The Money Spot™.