Incentives to Make Money More Effectively, Should We List Them?

by diegocaleiro3 min read30th Oct 201213 comments

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Personal Blog

There is a bit of nice and recent discussion going on about money here, "money" in the sense of the common peasant "I want more money" not in the senses of "Unit of caring" "Utilon buyer" "Trade-able entity unavailable for acausal trade" etc...

There is also, on the web, and in your local store, hundreds of thousands of advices on how to make money: fast, more, passively, selling your body, or brain, or virtual structures. 

People who have money (entrepreneurs, owners), study money (economists) or focus on money (stockbrokers) have a lot to tell you about something closely related. Incentives. They studied and understand when incentives work and when they don't. Some have become masters of creating the right incentives, for employees, customers, CEOs, everyone.

I wont lie, usually, the incentive is money. Pure, abstract, trade-able, feeling-of-power causing, money. Sometimes (Citibank, Safra Bank) also travelling.

What I don't see around a lot, and would like to ask you to help me brainstorm, and list (later I'll edit by adding suggestions and maybe commenting) are the incentives to make money themselves that work, and those that don't.

There are a lot of LWers, I know, who excel at domain X and are emotionally averse to making money, out of X, or sometimes, at all. Money-making is, in a word, impure! Item 6 will deal with that.

I'll say some random unconventional things and open the discussion for those with more experience:

1)Belonging to a society that lacks money and money making altogether is a very powerful incentive for wanting money. The Indians of Brazil (my homeland) frequently engage in juridic battles and bureaucracy to obtain more money from governmental organs, more time than they would dedicate to get medical attention, for instance.

2)I've heard that having a lot of money is an incentive to make more, by making it easier to do so. Spiteful Billionaire meme makes fun of this hypothesis

3)Also heard that not having money is a great incentive to make more. This seems more logical. When you see the empty plate in the horizon, or being thrown in the streets, some sort of alarm must trigger. (If you have experience with this, relate it please)

Yet, I find that even though there is a strong correlation (within the brazilian cultural elite I hang around with) between having a job and not having money at ages 18-28, there is no correlation at all between not having money and efficiency of making money (by either already be making a lot, or in a career with such prospect). It is as if the emergency button can get you to hike a hill, but not to climb a mountain.

4)Morals against munching on others. Traditional, moral or religious frameworks of mind will make an individual believe (probably truly) that munching on friends, family, couchsurfers, franciscans, altruists and other exploitable folk is a bad/undesirable thing to do. One who doesn't want to munch has a stronger incentive to get his own money.

5)Pride. Lots of people are very very proud of having money, theirs or familial. I never understood that, but here it is, just a fact, stated.

6)Nobility times. My mum points out frequently that in our day and age (in Brazil, but also in the states) there is an idealization of making money. Sometimes it is great, sometimes it is nauseating. Her point though is that during the medieval ages when social class was fundamentally determined from birth, working was seen as a lower activity. It was nearly opposite of Self-Madesmanship. Only the needy, with little status shall work. Same view was held by Aristotle, who, in his conception of working, never worked a day in his life. Something like how we see manual tough labour nowadays, but looking down on every worker. Some people, her and me included, were raised somehow in this anomic (mislocated) environment which persists in many European colonies and perhaps among the descendants, within Europe, of past nobles. Worse for them in a changing world.

7) Your suggestions will be listed here soon...

I ask you to suggest things which are incentives for, or against making money. And I don't mean "Good Reasons" and "Bad Reasons" I mean which incentives, in economic jargon, work effectively as an incentive for people to make more money. Then after that you can write about their goodness and badness.

 

 

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13 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 11:13 AM
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Eh. I can imagine many different reasons why having money would be great. Being able to read LW all day, and travel to all meetups around the world would be just one of hundreds. You really don't have to give me 7 more reasons.

Maybe it's different for other people, but I have trouble imagining a person who could make millions -- I mean really has the necessary skills, both external and internal; not just imagines having them to raise self-esteem -- and just avoids it because they see absolutely no benefit in doing so. If someone told me they are that person, I would still give them 99% chance to just rationalize. (The number could change in some circumstances, for example if they would show me how they made millions in the past.)

Also this topic has some bad connotations... in my experience when someone tries to motivate people about having more money, they are usually making them ready for some kind of scam. Because people usually want to have a lot of money, they just don't have a realistic plan to follow... and after such motivational speech, usually some prefabricated plan is provided to them, and it typically includes contacting all former classmates and selling them expensive life insurance.

There is also, on the web, and in your local store, hundreds of thousands of advices on how to make money: fast, more, passively, selling your body, or brain, or virtual structures.

Yes, there is a lot of advice; the problem is quality. Some of the advice does not work, or only works randomly like a lottery. Other advice works only if the reader has specific skills, which most of the readers don't have.

Eh. I can imagine many different reasons why having money would be great.

Unfortunately many people who fantasize about wealth tend to engage in Richie Rich thinking about it, instead of Scrooge McDuck thinking. They imagine buying all the crap which they can't afford now and so forth, as we see many emotionally immature and not particularly bright celebrities do when they get their short-lived windfalls of money.

This way of viewing wealth ignores its real advantages, namely:

  1. You can exert more control over the use of your time. You don't have to go to a job you hate every day, when you could just sleep in and go to Fight Club every night, if you choose.

  2. Related to 1, you could also live according to your natural cycles instead of, say, guzzling those disgusting energy drinks advertised on TV to keep you awake at the office so that you can stay employed.

  3. You can afford health care, disability care and retirement for yourself and your loved ones. And you would also have the means to pay for your children's educations or fund their business ventures to get them established on their own.

  4. And perhaps most significant given today's headlines, you would also have the means to move yourself and your family out of harm's way.

BTW, regarding the last, I saw a news story the other day that said that nearly half the American population has fewer than $500 in savings. I can believe that from my business experience, because I encounter people all the time who tell me not to charge their debit cards for trivial amounts of money (on the order of $100) until they can deposit their next paychecks. I submit that financial irresponsibility presents a more tangible and corrigible existential risk to ordinary Americans than many of the speculative things discussed on transhumanist websites.

Villiam Said "Maybe it's different for other people, but I have trouble imagining a person who could make millions -- I mean really has the necessary skills, both external and internal; not just imagines having them to raise self-esteem -- and just avoids it because they see absolutely no benefit in doing so. If someone told me they are that person, I would still give them 99% chance to just rationalize."

That depends on several factors. I do not posses millions. I do possess more money than the average american savings (which is not hard to do, $500! , but I mean I have enough to live 2 or 3 years). I guess I have 40% chance of making millions if I wanted. 55% of making a single million. and the rest distributed.

But do you know (I assume you know, most people do) how long it takes to do that? Do you know how much energy, time, and effort must be spent to obtain those millions? There are friends of mine working 12 hours a day to make $6000,00 per month, the beggining of a career that could very well end up giving them millions by the time they are 45-60.

Now what has the wisdom of the ages (namely, positive psychology) taught us? The most important thing, for longevity and for happiness, is having 5-6 close friends and 1+ girlfriend/date/wife/bodyfriend. It is just a tiny bit more important than not smoking. I think, if you do the math, that this is actually more healthy than having health insurance, but would not confirm. I know it gives you a bit more than 12 extra years (which is what not smoking does).

So I didn't make the choice (not yet at least) of trying to go there and make millions. I would probably try doing it the Tim Ferriss way (because it is for personalities similar to the ones aimed at by The Mistery Method, a PUA book that I have mastered when I felt like teaching PUA back in the day). I might be able to, but I didn't.

Instead I look forward to the next awesome posts in LW, I interact with the Effective Altruist Community. Direct a Transhumanist institution in Brazil www.ierfh.org , read the best philosophers ever (Russell, Dennett, Bostrom, Nietzsche, Hofstadter, Pinker, David Lewis, Chalmers, Putnam etc...). Try helping X-risk, find tickets for free for strange trips around the world (there are loads) bikeride to the university to learn Norvig's AI book, pretend to be doing a masters of a book I've already written.

And some personal stuff I don't want to disclose here. Now, do you blame me for not trying to make millions while I'm young?

Just curious: If you would precommit to never work more than 40 hours a week, but otherwise you would try your best, what is the probability you could make millions? Not just you personally, but any rather intelligent and rational person.

I understand why having friends, families, experience, or just enough time to relax, is more important than making millions. My question is how much of a dichotomy it really is; in other words whether refusing to work 16 hours a day, for decades is the true rejection, or just a socially acceptable excuse.

I don't know whether working really smart and hard 40 hours a week is enough or not to make millions. Or more precisely, I believe it is possible, but the important question is how probable it is. So far I can just say I don't seem to have the personality traits necessary to work really smart and hard 40 hours a week for long time periods. Which I classify under "not having necessary skills". But I believe that assuming the necessary skills, it is possible and decently probable (I just have almost zero evidence to support this belief, so I am not very confident about it).

That depends a lot on what I did the hours that don't belong to the 39 hours of work. Depends on my interests, social life, who I know, which contacts I may have, my natural networking ability. I think your question was general, so my response is "depends on the person"

If it was personal to me: I'd probably pull off one million with high certainty, and several 25% would be my expectation. Meaning how much money would be in the bank when I looked at it when I was 55 years old.

The more relevant issue though is what is the 10% for a given person. Is my best 10% both in luck and effort around 5 millions? 15 millions?

Is anyone's 10% billions?

The most important thing, for longevity and for happiness, is having 5-6 close friends and 1+ girlfriend/date/wife/bodyfriend.

How well controlled is that for correlation vs causation?

Unsure, but 5-6 is much more than the girfriend thing, as far as I recall.

Ask user joaolkf, maybe he remembers. http://lesswrong.com/user/joaolkf/

find tickets for free for strange trips around the world (there are loads)

Can you please elaborate?

I won't elaborate much, sorry, but israel, buddhist monasteries, wealthy institutions, cryonics, puneet sahani... are all cryptic info that might lead you to some. I can only show you the door, you are the one who will have to walk through it.

But seriously now, I bet mormons and all those wacky religions in the US might have exploitable things. Universities frequently do as well (if you are in a free governmental University)

[-][anonymous]9y 0

Maybe it's different for other people, but I have trouble imagining a person who could make millions ... and just avoids it because they see absolutely no benefit in doing so.

Me neither, but I wouldn't surprise me if someone could make millions but avoids it because they think the benefits in doing so don't outweigh the cost (time, effort, etc.).

Jealousy/envy of people that have money. It's worth a simmering frustration and, more importantly, short bursts of action, for me.

[-][anonymous]9y 0

Misanthropy. Money made more efficiently means less time in the company of people not of a misanthrope's choosing (co-workers or clients), including the time-amount of 'none.'

Mortality. Money made more efficiently means less finite life span wasted, thus more time to make money or not make money.

Covetousness. A covetous and efficient money maker can better prevent others from making money.