Do “C” Students Deserve “A” Lifestyles?

Do “C” students deserve “A” lifestyles? I don't think so. But it is probably because “C” students think they deserve “A” lifestyles that there is so much tension, debate, and misery in the workplace.

“C” Students And “A” Lifestyles

Back in the 9th grade, I remember goofing off quite a bit with my buddies. We skipped class, stayed out late, and essentially did a lot of stuff that was detrimental to our grades.

Despite working with plenty of Spanish speaking colleagues during my part-time job at McDonald's, I still only got a “C” in Spanish because I didn't care.  All I wanted to do was have fun, eat all the apple pies I could and get paid my big $4 an hour!

My parents were clearly perturbed by my lack of effort (hey, isn't working at McDonald's from 6am-1pm on Saturday's pretty good?) and spoke to me one evening and asked, “How are you ever going to be a great business man if you can't even get an “A” in math? Do you think award-winning scientists get “Cs” in high school chemistry? Do you think Andre Agassi doesn't practice hard every single day?”

Crap, I think they are right. Shoot, if I ever have surgery, the physician better not have slacked off in surgery class!

Related: The Most Ridiculous Trip To The Principal’s Office Ever

A Mansion Party Gave Me Hope

My parents' questions stuck with me because ever since I was 12, I wanted to be a “businessman.”  I remember getting picked up in a sweet Mercedes 300 SEL by one of my father's friends to take us to their mansion party.  The car was jet black with matching black tinted windows.

Inside, there was a couple bottles of coconut juice, and the seats were covered in some kind of fur.  The whole experience with the infinity pool, fancy car with driver, all you can eat lobster, and servants made me want to do what they did, whatever that was!

After the pep talk, I began caring about my grades through college. I didn't want a silly thing like poor grades to get in the way of my dreams. You might still have your head in the sand thinking that grades don't matter, but I can assure you, it's better to have great grades and more opportunities, than mediocre grades and have less opportunities.

Don't listen to people who say that grades don't matter. They probably screwed themselves in school and are just trying to justify their poor results. If you can't get ahead on your own, another way is to try and bring everybody else down.

Do "C" Students Deserve "A" Lifestyles?

The Question Everyone Should Ask

It's pretty rational not to study, because studying sucks. Most people are probably “C” or “B” students given the law of natural distribution.  Hence, do “C” or even “B” students deserve “A” lifestyles?

If you were a mediocre student, who went to a mediocre school, who works at a mediocre job, why do you think you deserve more than a mediocre lifestyle? 

You don't, because there are hundreds of thousands of “A” students who are striving for that “A” lifestyle and you don't have much chance.

The Solution To Save America From Financial Disaster

To get people out of debt, we need to make people realize they are unworthy of the stuff they buy, even though they see their neighbors live it up.

Maybe your neighbors all got straight “As” at some prestigious university and are all doctors, lawyers, bankers, or successful entrepreneurs?  We can't compare ourselves to others, because we don't know for sure what others make.

It's so much easier to just say that the Jones are all living extravagant lifestyles due to debt.  It's the easy way to justify why we can't afford what others can afford.

Well guess what? There is much more wealth out there than you think with firemen, policemen, and dockworkers making $100-$250,000 a year, and government employees at the Department of Transportation averaging $180,000!  29 year old first year MBAs from the Top 10 schools all make on average $120-$140,000 a year.

Heck, janitors in the Bay Area make over $200,000 a year.

Let's Make Big Government Even Bigger!

Given we have such an omnipresent government, and most people want big government or else the Democrats wouldn't be in power, perhaps we should make it mandatory for everybody to have their grades and universities revealed before they are allowed to purchase anything above a certain amount.

For example, only people with 3.5 or higher GPAs are allowed to buy Armani clothes and Mercedes Benzos. 3.0 GPA folks, sorry, only Gap and Hondas for you!

The government can also pass legislation that limits your line of credit depending on what grades you got.

If you were a C or lower student, you aren't allowed to get a credit card to blow your finances up.

If you get a B student, you get a credit card with a limit of $1,000, which increases by a certain percentage each year you maintain a 700+ credit score.

If you are an A student, you can get a higher level of credit and have easier hurdles.

The government can regulate spending by those who need the most regulating assuming there is a correlation between grades and commonsense of course.

Commonsense would dictate that you study hard and get good grades to give yourself the best possible chance of finding employment and achieving financial independence. 

Just imagine if we had this big brother program for potential home buyers 10 years ago. We'd limit the number of people who had no business buying homes, and our economic downturn probably never would have happened!

Be Congruent With Your Efforts And Expectations

The people love big government and massive spending. Taxes are likely going up too. Hence, having government control our spending based on how well we did in school is a very rational thing to do. 

In reality, all we can do is be cognizant of our own achievements and spend accordingly. If we can knock some reality into the average person, then maybe, just maybe people will spend in-line with their incomes.

Let all the go-getters who are passionate about everything they do soak in all the success.  Let those who never complain and work when others are playing make all the money. 

The rest of us can just kick back, whine about why life isn't fair and tell ourselves why we deserve better.

Start An Online Business

Let's say your grades aren't that great, your alma mater isn't very impressive, but you're just as good as anybody else out there. Why not start an online business where it's almost entirely about meritocracy? Screw the man!

It's been over six years since I started Financial Samurai and I'm actually earning a good passive and active income stream online now. The top 1% of all posts on Financial Samurai generates 31% of all traffic. In other words, after putting in the hours to write some very meaty content over the years, 10 posts consistently generate a monthly recurring income stream that's completely passive.

I never thought I'd be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total of ~$175,000 that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, creating, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress site like mine in 15 minutes today.

Blogging For A Living Income Example: $300,000+

You never know where the journey might take you.

About The Author

116 thoughts on “Do “C” Students Deserve “A” Lifestyles?”

  1. Waal Streeter

    If you get the opportunity to go to ANY school, why aim for less than As? You should try the hardest because there are people all over this world who can only dream about the opportunity for higher education.

  2. Smart Cookie

    OK so yes, people who work harder and more intelligently have much more earning potential. Of course.

    But have you taken a second to consider it’s mostly C students who run the world? Yeah, sure, if you’re an A+ student who also happens to have fantastic social skills, you have a good chance at climbing up the corporate ladder. But then again, who made that corporate ladder? Quite more regularly than not, a B or C student. And what if people just plain don’t like you? Your A+ doesn’t mean much if people don’t like you. Less “perfect”ly performing people often have to develop other skills to compensate for their academics to achieve the same (exact) level of financial success.

    To me you sound like you’ve got a chip on your shoulder academically. Many people are out of college within the first 25 years of their life. Do you really think that people can’t change as they get older? I know of many people who’ve flunked out of high school and straight on turned it around and made more than all of the A+ elitists.

    There have been a wealth of high school dropouts turn millionaires, and college dropouts turn millionaires. And out of the few billionaires there have been on earth, an interesting amount have had dismal performance in “academics”. Academics isn’t a one size fits all thing as you may already imagine.

    Your grades don’t set ANYTHING in stone, often times they correlate to your work ethic but believe me when I say, not always.

    The whole thing about grades should determine your lifestyle just cracks me up. There are plenty of A+ students out there who work in careers where they make just the basics. Keep in mind because they’re hard workers they aren’t starving, but they might be below average earners financially. And like already stated there are plenty of people who were terribly performing students who make more money than you would know what to do with.

    There are plenty of people who make more money merely because they’re in the right industry, in the right place, at the right time. And plenty of people who make way less even though they were the mythological A+ student.

    Life’s not fair as in 3.0s, 3.5s, and 4.0s. In an even more interesting point, there are one too many Harvard MBA all stars who severely destroy companies because even though their GPA was perfect, their performance in business is absolutely terrible. I’m just saying. Many companies are even changing up their policies for finding talent due to realizing a 4.0 isn’t always the employee they need. Sometimes the 3.0 student can hustle much better than the 3.8. I’ll let you think what you want, but I believe this article is incredibly out of touch.

  3. I find it amusing how many folks have taken the grades analogy *literally* here. I see citing “C students” and “A Lifestyles” as purely metaphoric. What Sam is saying is that folks who put in a half-ass effort seem to have an expectation of an “A” lifestyle, despite the fact that they’re not putting in A-level work.

    I see it as being completely about personal responsibility, and I agree wholeheartedly. I think the affluence of America that began with the Baby Boomer generation really corrupted the general work ethic of an awful lot of Americans. Too many of us came to take for granted a standard of living that, really, we were just plain lucky to enjoy. We forgot about the hard work required of earlier generations just to achieve what we would consider a “livable” existence.

    That “forgetfulness” is biting an awful lot of the middle class in the butt now, as technology and globalization are eating our lunch. You cannot sit smugly back and expect an easy living; you have to work for it.

  4. Sorry I don’t agree, the average students, the high school drop outs(my parents and most my family). Are actually the most successful, hard working, financially free people I know. My parents are first generation born and raised in Africa. We are of East Indian decent, they fled Africa in the 70s when E.D. Amin took over in Uganda and kicked all Asians out. They had a good life and were successful there too. They left the country with barely nothing and just the clothes on their back. They started from zero in England… Hard work and dedication got them where they are now. So grades and education don’t mean a damn thing IMO if you have a strong will to succeed. Granted if you want to do some more specialized like be a doctor, lawyer, engineer your grades will make a difference most likely.

    1. With nothing my Father started working, saved enough money to lease his own store and eventually buying it. Then also went on to buy several other commercial properties and rent them. As well as buying homes and apartments. Fixing them up and renting them and or selling them. This was all mostly through the 80s and 90s, properties are all paid off providing him great rental income and high resale value should he need to sell. An my father is not even a high school grad, but he sure knows how to do simple math, and wise business choices.

      1. Yes, as a teacher it should be the teachers a job to push kids to do better. But we all know there is so much a teacher can do, it also comes down to the parents too!

        To answer your question about do C students deserve A lifestyles. Well it can not be handed to them either, they still have to work hard to deserve what they get to get that A lifestyle.

        As a high school student I was a B average student(3.0 to 3.1). Some classes I would get A’s, but you give me chemistry or physics then a B- or C even. My point is my grades did not reflect what I was truely capable of in the real world. My high school friends who were getting better grades than me are still not doing better than me financially. I would like to say when it comes down to the real world I ended up being harder working then most my high school friends. Most of them who went on to college, did okay, got masters degrees too. But once graduated, they felt they were owed something, they felt that 100k job should be just handed to them because they had that grade or diploma. Competition is tough out there, not all employers will just look at your grades. They do consider things like, did you volunteer during school? play sports? join any academic clubs? did you work internships unpaid or paid. Did you pay your way through college with a part time job?

        If all you can bring to the table is that the fact you can get high test scores and that’s it. It shows to an employer that your good at taking tests. But if your some one who can have a very balanced life, it shows them you have leadership skills, organizational skills, and multitask many things going on at the same time as well as get average scores, you maybe better fit for the job than the person who got that 3.8 to 4.0 GPA.

        I guess what I am saying is grades only don’t paint the full picture.

  5. I think school grades really don’t have any correlation to life at all. I got B’s and C’s in high school, and A’s in college. Yet while other A-grade students are working McDonald’s jobs, I am building something that I enjoy doing. And I know of a few friends that got worse grades than I did are doing the same thing.

  6. I’m a little disappointed in this article. There is too much emphasis on literal A’s and B’s. To that extent, I would say that grades are somewhat irrelevant in terms of success. Two very poor students that dropped out of school to pursue their entrepreneurial goals: Steve Jobs and Richard Branson. I’m not saying that getting straight A’s isn’t advantageous, because it is. The point is, you could classify the moguls I just mentioned as “C” students yet definitely live a AAA lifestyle.

    Realistically, A’s, B’s, and C’s are relative and aren’t created equal. I really don’t understand the fixation on literal letter grades when there isn’t realistically a correlation between grades and financial success. And seeing how this is a financial blog, why is there so much emphasis on the literal grade itself. I see this as more of a philosophical dilemma: harder working individuals can be seen as “A” individuals where lazy, less motivated individuals might be seen as “C” students. Motivation and interest determine where you go, not letter grades.

    I will concede on the fact that today’s job market is more competitive, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an outstanding GPA, but it isn’t a rule. There are too many exceptions to the rule to say that an A = success. Besides, wealth and success are also relative terms, meaning different things to different people.

      1. I’m still a student. I have a cumulative GPA of 3.5. I will admit I have sustained this GPA with very little effort, but had I made thee extra push, a 3.7-3.8 wouldn’t have been out of my league. Then again, I’m not in an Ivy league school either.

        I agree with you that those who don’t put in enough will never get out enough, but it seems like through your comments you are very fixated on the letter grade itself: as the only means to success, with no exceptions.

        I find it very ironic that I wasn’t even searching for this, but I stumbled across it:
        “21 Ways Rich People Think Differently”

        The actual author of the book has spent a lot of time interviewing successful individuals as well as employing many other facets of research.

        Obviously, if you read through that, two things catch your eye:

        1. Average people have a lottery mentality. Rich people have an action mentality
        This obviously goes along with the fact that we both agree on: you can’t expect to not work for a successful lifestyle. This seems like too much common sense though.

        The second point is more profound:

        2. Average people think the road to riches is paved with formal education. Rich people believe in acquiring specific knowledge.
        It basically goes on to say that the wealthy (define as successful) aren’t concerned with the method that is carried out to achieve the result.

        I am in NO way shape or form discounting working hard to get excellent grades, and am certainly not discounting the fact that many recruiters would choose a 4.0 GPA graduate straight out of Harvard or MIT in some circumstances over others. I am, however, pointing out that there are too many variables at play to concretely assume that letter grades determine success in life. If you meant this post to be strictly analogous in nature, sure, but it seems like you are being too literal with grades.

        1. Ricky, of course grades are not the only variable to success. To think so would be foolish. Get the best grades possible to give your best chance possible.

          3.5 is fine, but it’s not high enough to get an interview at firms like Google, McKinsey, and Goldman, especially if you are not at an elite university. I wish you luck post graduation. Please keep me up to date with how you do.

          1. As a Google Software Engineer, my GPA is 3.0. I didn’t come from an Ivy league school either. I worked hard on deliberate practice for years, contributing to opensource, doing my own pet projects and had an experience being a software engineer at a company before I got hired by Google just recently. :-)

  7. “Don’t listen to people who say that grades don’t matter. They probably screwed themselves in school and are just trying to justify their poor results. If you can’t get ahead on your own, another way is to try and bring everybody else down.”

    Public Relations Senior Vice President. A position that pays extremely well and requires no special education. One example of many. Soft skills, politics, white teeth, firm handshakes, and answering e-mails at late hours is all that’s required.

    Grades don’t matter.

  8. Kathrine White

    Hmmm… I agree with your post to an extent… Although it does seem that grades usually make a huge difference whether or not you do well later, that has definitely changed over the past few years. Things have become more quality dependent than quality. E.g. Obtaining a Job – yes, a company will look at your grades and qualifications, but they also now look at your personality, drive and presentability. In addition to this, experience ‘clears the bar’ compared to grades. I think employers have realised that it’s all about knowing how to translate your learning into something that can be industrially beneficial. I know a lot of my friends have tried to get jobs, but were unsuccessful even though they have great qualifications.

  9. What about the countless wealthy people that never went college?
    Do they not deserve a great lifestyle if they earn good money
    and are frugal? Or this reserved only for college grads?
    If yes, then college truly is a bubble.

    Surely with so many people attending college it is better to find another
    path, then just enter the funnel? There is limitless opportunity in the world, find a new angle. I am a college grad from a top 5 uk university. But I have plenty of colleagues that earn much more than me, less debt and a better lifestyle.

    I don’t want to be rude, but why are you such a sarcastic person in your posts.
    I can only assume that you are insecure about something.

  10. you are wrong wrong wrong. actually, most of the C or B students i knew in highschool are doing much better than the A students- who have plenty of degrees, A marks and work allllll day long. want to know why? CONNECTIONS- their parents or their sugardaddies or mommies, whatever- and guess who gets left behind? If you have A’s and no connections- good luck in this world! you will most likely end up with a useless phd, getting paid LESS than someone out of college- and no, I am not talking only about the liberal arts.

    1. Waal Streeter

      You are absolutely right on the money about connections being important but that’s not what he’s saying in this post (he has another good post about connections being worth more than $$). He’s saying the “A” students are more likely to get a better shot later in life when hiring managers are checking GPAs. And in some fields I have seen they won’t even consider you as an applicant if you have under a certain GPA and you are dealing with numbers as an accountant, finance, etc.

      Generally (although there are some exceptions), “A” students love learning, which means they probably will continue to be live-long learners and gain more skills and knowledge that make them more marketable throughout life.

  11. I made some C’s in school, many A’s, so what? Question is: did the author of this article make good grades? He doesn’t even know that “ahead” is one word and not two –No thanx spellczech.

    1. Jordan, channel your frustration into the realization that not everybody can be wealthy, successful and cherished. If you accept your reality, you will be much happier.

  12. I think it depends some peoople are unfocused when it comes to undergraduate classes. They mature when they get to graduate school and their grades soar because the classes are not as tedious and it actually has to do with what you want to do.

  13. I think ultimately what matters is desire.

    Yes, we can talk about connections, grades, experience, and all these other secret methods that open doors. These traits are all traced back to the desire to do something. As an engineer, I like to think about the root cause of things. :)

    To me, grades are only one of an infinite amount of methods to open doors. In my opinion, overwhelming desire is what will help you develop these different door-opening tools

    Personally, I always had the desire to make a lot of money. This resulted in me reading tons of personal finance books, researching how to negotiate salaries, make connections, research companies that were interviewing me, etc.

    (I went straight from undergrad to grad school, but had a summer internship in between. I got this internship because I expressed extreme desire to work for this company, because I knew it would open doors to the industry that I am in.)

  14. Highly interesting post.

    I graduated from undergrad engineering with a GPA a little over 2.5 then went to a less competitive grad school and got straight A’s. Coming out of grad school I got a job paying well over 100k. I would say I worked hard coming into grad school, but I was still lazy. The main thing I was very diligent about was preparing for job interviews. After my graduate degree, I interviewed with tons of companies (mainly because of my 4.0 GPA) and received nearly 10 job offers. Using the multiple job offers, I used them all as leverage against each other to negotiate a higher starting salary.

    I like working hard, but only if I can see the direct benefit. Engineering classes bored me to death when they forced the students to do all sorts of tedious work. I am very lazy when it comes to that. I would do the work if I was making money for it, but not in school, where I am paying THEM!

    I also have very good communication skills, which I think are something that grades (especially in engineering) don’t take into account.

      1. I was lazy as hell in undergrad. I didn’t study for a single test until my junior year. The classes bored me to tears. I was just completely unfocused. I had a few job interviews in a bad economy after graduating undergrad, but no offers. I think I would have gotten a job eventually at a 60-70k salary. I was able to get internships through connections during undergrad and these companies were interested in hiring me after graduation.

        1. So you are saying grades don’t matter really and what matters more are connections because there are people who will always take care of us no matter what?

          Did you work btwn grad school or go straight?

    1. Why do you need someone to get As? Ah well, to be young. Also, what is success? There are plenty of people who are smart, but who don’t know how to treat a human being or other creature! Also, perhaps if people stopped looking down on others we would all be better off. Instead of standing on the sidelines, did you ever stop to help anyone who needs it? The economic crash was not caused by “dummies”, but by ivy leaguers who got greedy on the stock market and at the banks. Also, where are all the jobs? There are plenty of people who were in the workforce for years, then lost their jobs due to no funding etc. Sometimes people also get money due to luck etc.

  15. OMG…I’m a little late to the party with 76 comments already…someone started some controversy!

    I think there are a lot of people who feel entitled to stuff they didn’t earn. But our whole education and financial system seems to reward debt and punish savings (until you actually need your savings in retirement). Also, too many people have turned over their self-financial control to the government, which is just wrong.

    1. But heck, if the government is going to bail us out so conveniently, why not right? Why not just kick back and NOT SAVE since we have great 99 weeks of unemployment and health care.

      The gov’t has showed us time and time again that it is the irresponsible who get the most help.

  16. I think it’s the effort people put in that matters more than the grade itself. If someone got an A just because they cheated and didn’t do the work is just not cool. Someone who gives it their all and only gets a B- or a C is the better winner in my book. And if someone can earn A’s on their own merit that’s even better.

    1. Well, definitely a cheater is worse than someone who gets a C and tries hard. But, if you get a C, but still think to the world you deserve an A, that’s when unhappiness consumes you!

  17. Grades are indicative of academic success. Grades should be taken in context too. Straight “A’s” in Sociology or Geography is different than Accounting, Engineering or a hard science. Yes, he/she mastered his/her work, but may not be successful in life. As a former employer, my ideal candidate would be a B/C GPA at a good school (UCLA, for example) and a variety of other activities. The other activities may include some of the following: sports, fraternity/sorority, clubs/organizations, student government and part time work. This ideal candidate would demonstrate that he/she could handle a variety of things well at once.
    Personal financial responsibility has nothing to do with grades or education in general! To reward good grades with things may or may not work. Responsible use of credit or your income stem from your personal value system and a few other character traits such as discipline, self control, and knowledge (financial Literacy).

    1. I just don’t understand why anybody would want to get mediocre grades.

      I will gladly compete against your firm with only C/B students with my company with the best and brightest. This is why I love to compete, bc many folks think they still have a shot without fruit as hard or with average assets. In the long run, it’s going to be tough!

      1. People need to be well rounded, that’s it period. There are “bookworms” who don’t relate to people, and there are socialites who don’t relate to books, and all that in between. Also, what’s your point with this blog? Also, many credit card companies are now trying to get people in debt that is people who actually paid off their cards. Credit cards should not exist: they were the start of trouble!

  18. Cosmopoint Kota Kinabalu

    Hi There!

    Do “C” Students Deserve “A” Lifestyles?
    hmmm…. it sounds to me like do low IQ students, deserve a better lifestyles…
    My answer… well yes. Definitely.

    So many examples in the world how C get better lifestyles. Bills Gate… one example.
    Well actually he is brilliant, only he got no passion in other field, that is why he drop out from Harvard.

    I’ve known people that get better CGPA in their education, but so-so in their career.
    and i’ve known people that just over the pass gate in their edu. but getting good lifestyles.

    it is a choice i think…. and a bit of luck… a bit ;-)

    Personally, i not really care about high I.Q… i more concern about High & Good E.Q
    I believe with High & Good E.Q, can save you from bad/desasterous debts. huhu…

  19. Sandy @ yesiamcheap

    I’d rather be a “C” student at an Ivy league school than an “A” student elsewhere.

  20. Readers, do you believe that a main reason for tremendous consumer debt is because there are delusional people who think they deserve more than they can really afford?

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    I think this is definitely a main reason for consumer debt. It really gets me when I hear people say “I don’t have the money but I work hard so I deserve to take a nice vacation.” Um…. sure, take a vacation, but two weeks in Fiji? How do you “deserve” that? Why not take a ride to a beach house you can rent for a week for $800 on VRBO? What about a relaxing “staycation.”

    Don’t get me started! (too late?)

    1. Nick, so if you agree, what about creating a law with regards to college/high school grades and what you can spend, so people don’t blow themselves up?

      Big government is here to stay, since the people voted them in!

  21. Ashley Ambirge says that having a 4.0 is worthless. She’d rather have had the experiences of a 3.5er.

    Also, Gen Y is experiencing grade inflation, where everybody gets an A. So, the natural distribution curve gives an average around A-. Is that fair? Not exactly.

    But as a result of grade inflation, employers know that your GPA has little impact on your value as a worker. What it does show is your ability to follow directions.

    My GPA in high school was 3.98. Like most college students, the only things I spend money on are food and books.

  22. Hi Forest,

    Very interesting story you tell. Of course, there are examples arguing both sides. In America, we are being led down the path of total government control, so I thought it’d be nice to throw in a draconian type of measure such as implementing spending policy based on grades.

    I think it’s very natural for those who didn’t do well to argue that good grades aren’t necessary. It’s very rational. Implementing this policy is elitist, only if you didn’t get good grades though right? Stay tuned for another post!

    Best, Sam

  23. What if you were an A student in one area and a C in another? I excelled in the humanities but struggled in math and science. I guess I would average out to a B student and deserving of some mid-level brands like J. Crew and Banana Republic?

    From my observations at work, there is little correlation between grades/schools and financial success. For example, our most successful salespeople did not graduate from great schools and are not the book smart types. They definitely make more than many of the straight A student types!
    .-= oilandgarlic´s last blog ..Please Save My Red Sauce! =-.

  24. [i]Do you believe that a main reason for tremendous consumer debt is because there are delusional people who think they deserve more than they can really afford?[/i]

    Late to the conversation (quite an impressive conversation, to boot). To the first question, yes, I’m sure that’s a factor. Everything from ads to the media tend to promote the idea that simply for being an American (or more broadly, a human) you deserve to have all your wishes and desires fulfilled. Not sure that that’s a bad thing; hopefully, most people whose reach exceeds their grasp will try hard to improve their financial situation, rather than going into debt. Although, we all know that’s just not the case.

    [i]If people want all the fancy things in life, why don’t they just work harder in school, be the best employee, or invent something successful to accommodate their desires?[/i]

    Well, it’s not that simple; unfortunately, there’s not a direct correlation between hard work and financial success. If you’re a minimum wage slave working a dead end job, it’s unlikely that simply working harder will be enough to greatly improve your financial situation. (Let’s not even get into people in other parts of the world, where working all your life in back breaking conditions may not even get you enough food to feed yourself, let alone your family).

    Same thing for being a good employee or being inventive. There are thousands of great employees who can’t get ahead in life for any number of reasons, from bosses who take all the credit to social issues that prevent them from effectively promoting themselves. That’s a good number of inventors who struggle all their lives to see their inventions become reality, but for one reason or another, never have much financial success. (For a truly depressing example, read about Nikolai Tesla sometime; poor guy was brilliant, but unlucky in his financial life.) There’s just no single reason why hard work and knowledge isn’t (always) the key to financial success.

    [i]What GPA did you get in HS/College, and will you be justifying your spending habits in the discussion below?[/i]

    A 3.89 in college (in biochemistry, no less), and off the scale in high school (because my school did some weird things with how they calculated GPAs with regards to college level courses. And no, I won’t be justifying my spending habits; I know that I need to spend less, and I’ll make no excuses for my current spending.
    .-= Roger´s last blog ..Financial Samurai’s Alexa Challenge =-.

    1. Roger – As always, some great comments by you. Yes, it’s not easy studying hard, working hard, spending another 3-5 hours on your side project after 12 hours at work, and coming up with creative ideas…. but look around. Every single product out there was dreamt up by someone. There are too many success stories in life NOT to be inspired and to realize that there is a strong correlation with work ethic and success.

      Everybody has a different definition of success, but the one thing I can’t stand is complaining. Once can’t complain why he or she has it so good, when one isn’t giving 1000%. Hence, I conclude with how I concluded…. no complaining, no whining, there’s nobody to blame but ourselves.

  25. Plenty of C students who are far from average income earners, I don’t think you can make a blanket generalization just based on the grades someone got, and certainly no real judgment just because they went to some unknown college, I believe that we all should be enjoying the nice stuff that comes to us.

  26. @admin
    I’m sure loads of desk jockeys were C students. State colleges aren’t super-exclusive, and besides, machinists can get paid more than accountants.

    “So, rightly or wrongly, poorer grades means less effort.”
    I continue to disagree. I breezed through school and got a 93 coming out of high school. I could have gotten better grades, but why? I’m good at test taking. I work hard now, but I have a good motivation, and it begins with $.

    Perhaps your post is better retitled “do people who put in minimum effort deserve a maximum lifestyle?” And I think that if they’re capitalists and they’ve figured out a way to get a maximum lifestyle on minimum effort, that shows the success of the system. If we were all rewarded based on how hard we tried… that’s “from each according to his ability”, or however the quote goes.

    More food for thought:
    Good Grades Predict Success? from another blog :)

  27. Financial Uproar

    I’m reminded of something a lawyer once told me.

    “Once you’re sitting on this side of the desk, no one ever asks you how well you did on tests during law school.”

    As Financial Engineer pointed out, the correlation between grades and future success is, at best, spotty.

  28. @admin

    Right, I think you’re misinterpreting my point. They weren’t dummies at all. They “could” have graduated with honors, but they didn’t…

    What they did do was take their intelligence, ambition, and ideas OUTSIDE of the “system”. You refer to ‘big brother’ government – what are schools under?

    Along the lines of the other comments, what I believe I originally was trying to get at was that GPA can only loosely be attributed to someone’s overall success. This is where the rapper reference came up.

    It can be used as a predictive metric to see how someone may potentially do, but basically ends there. You get good grades in high school to get into a good college – you get good grades in college to get a good job – you get a good job and all of the sudden you’re little fish in a big pond…

    my original post,

  29. @LeanLifeCoach
    Haven’t we identified the whole solution to our consumerism problem? If we can institute something as draconian as only “A” students can buy certain things, and “B” students can buy less, than we may very well fix a lot of our debt spending problems!

    Unfortunately, it’s too hard to measure “effort/laziness” so grades are the easiest way to go. So, rightly or wrongly, poorer grades means less effort. It is definitely a point of contention.

    Valentina, always good to hear from you! I have to disagree with three words “brilliant C students”. If you were brilliant, you wouldn’t purposefully get a “C” to handicap your life!

    Bill Gates and Zuckerberg aren’t academic failures at all… they worked their butts off to get into Harvard University! You know they would have graduated with honors if they wanted to. They just didn’t want to, which is part of my points.

    1. 1. The idea here that we take away people’s choice in lifestyle because of how the did in school is the most asenine idea I have ever heard. Let’s not forget we need C students to fight our wars, fix our cars, and build our homes. The world needs C students who work hard too, and this article suggests we tell them how they can spend their money?

      2. Another big issue is government funding for schools. There will be kids in certain demographics/geographys that will never get into a top tier school and if they do, they likely will be behind the curve in what they have learned.

      3. Just because you didn’t get an “A” GPA in subjects like history, science, and art does not mean that you lack talent in other areas. Think for a minute about athletes.. should they not be well compensated because they did poorly acedemically? Their talents fill up our sports venues and bring in millions and millions of dollars for citys and businesses. The same is true for other entertainers.

      4. Lastly, money management has little to do with grades and all to do with personal temperment, conviction, and family upbringing.

      I’m glad I came across this article, I couldn’t disagree with it more.

      1. Excellent thoughts! Does this mean you are voting Republican in 2012? Because the current administration is about big government, big regulation, and the personal medlings in all our lives i.e. child tax credit, income phaseouts, etc. Thx!

  30. I’ll be living with some friends and teaching English classes at the University.

    As far as providing a weekly snapshot of your fund goes, I’d be happy to give it a try. Unfortunately, I have a 3 year old macbook that is the smallest size that they had at the time (I’m a cheapo :D), so I don’t know if I’ll be much help.
    .-= Jon´s last blog ..5 Investments for Gramma =-.

  31. Hi … always good to visit here. The read is always enjoyable, the topic thought provoking (in a funny, bent off the wall kind of way which I love) and the comments are enlightening.

    Soooo…. should the slackers in HS and College enjoy the same good life that the “A” students do. OK…. here is where I weigh in with my thoughts but first let me say that I think your parents are wonderful and there should be more like them.

    You know there are two types of A students – ones that work hard for their grades and then there are those for whom things come easy. There are also C students who are brilliant but are bored to tears because the average curriculum does not cater to brilliancy. Now the B’s just BS all the time … ok, ok…. I couldn’t help myself, the devil made me say that….

    Here is what often happens in real life (of course there are exceptions):

    The A student that worked hard for her grade developed a good work ethic and that has stood her/him in good stead throughout their life. They may or may not be the top earners but its a good bet that they enjoy a better than average income and lifestyle.

    The A student for whom things came easy eventually hits a wall and does not have the discipline to tackle it. Not used to having to fight for something s/he walks away from the situation saying that it’s “not worth it” … this happens with annoying regularity. One such A student will continue this life pattern and end up living a C class or even below life. Another such A student gets frustrated, knowing full well that s/he is smart and this is not the way s/he wanted to live his life. Pulls himself up by the bootstraps and begins to apply himself. Once s/he begins to apply himself often outperforms the hard working A student. I don’t know why … but that has been my observation (hey, I’ve got kids that are probably most of the reader’s age here)

    The brilliant C student may end up living life as a drifter, too independent to knuckle down to anything, a maverick if you will. Sometimes through stint of circumstances, s/he is thrown into just the right situation where the intellect is challenged and thereby stimulated to such a degree that critical thinking and action mesh – these are often the entrepreneurs who rise to dizzying heights both in personal and financial stature. Their maverick nature stands in good stead because they really don’t care what people think of them and so will take informed risks based not on what others will think of them but on what the “risk” offers as a payoff. This is a rare human being.

    The Beeez ………..oh they just keep on buzzing along and do either fine or OK.

    Now another point that I want to make here.

    The A’s who are making truckloads of dough are often just as financially strapped as the the poor C’s (the ones that were not brilliant). It’s a case of understanding our relationship with money and how to manage it. It is not so much how much you make, but how you manage what you make.

    My quarter’s worth …………… :-)


    Me? Oh yeah … but I did not grow up here and yes, I was a straight A student (but I won’t tell you which type)
    .-= Valentina´s last blog ..Meet My Friend: Author Wendy Atkinson =-.

  32. @admin “It’s not easy to get straight A’s.” sez you!

    Do people that are lazy bums but gifted with the smarts deserve the easy lifestyle they get? What about lazy heirs to fortunes? What about people that aren’t so bright but are pretty hardworking?

    I always question deserves.

    And for the record, it’s more interesting when I don’t completely agree. For me anyway!

  33. @Jon
    Yeah, a real pity about Toyota. Are you up for providing a weekly snapshot of the fund btw once you join? I can’t snap more than 17 entries with my 12″ monitor and would like your help.

    South America sounds sweet! What will you be doing out there? $500/month is so cheap. I may have to follow!

    @Ryan @ Planting Dollars
    Yes, I think a 4.0 GPA English major would do better in life than someone who got a 2.5GPA in finance FOR SURE! You have to try hard to get a 2.5 GPA. I’d put my money on the 4.0 GPA any day. That’s why so many firms hire people from different backgrounds, so long as they are excellent in their field of study.

  34. Yo Sam, I’ve been a bit busy at work but figured I’d drop by. Looks like your site is progressing nicely- congrats! And the fund is doing all right… pity about Toyota- stupid pedals sticking…

    High school/college- I made decent grades but nothing amazing. Definitely could have put more effort in there. Right now my cost of living is pretty low, and when I move to South America in March my cost of living will be around $300-$500/month. Hopefully I’ll be in a position to finally save some money. The only extra costs that might be hard to justify will be weekend excursions to the beach to go surfing.
    .-= Jon´s last blog ..5 Investments for Gramma =-.

  35. Do you believe that a main reason for tremendous consumer debt is because there are delusional people who think they deserve more than they can really afford?
    Yes – A good amount of people are completely financially illiterate so they don’t understand their limits, high college gpa students included.

    If people want all the fancy things in life, why don’t they just work harder in school, be the best employee, or invent something successful to accommodate their desires?
    Because it’s work! haha.

    What GPA did you get in HS/College, and will you be justifying your spending habits in the discussion below?
    3.3 with a finance degree. I live on $1,000 a month and prefer to live below my means to gain experiences rather than BMW’s. Living the “mediocre” fun life at the moment after meeting a ton of unhappy corporate businessmen who ended up spending their money on Mercedes’ and parties because their life sucks.

    This is an interesting take, but I don’t think GPA would be a good correlation.

    GPA is a reflection of how well you do in a structured environment. Play by the rules, get an A, play by the rules, get a raise. I found that the classes I did worse in were the ones I didn’t care about, simply because they weren’t intellectually stimulating. Power point slides and vocab tests are not how to learn business, or anything for that matter. The world is not structured and opportunities are often seized by those who break the mold.

    Wealth is not a function of your college gpa, it’s a function of your ability to manage money which can be learned by reading a David Bach book on a Sunday afternoon. Most of the millionaires I know don’t have college degrees, but did have a motivating driver to change their lives (could this be the same motivator as getting a college degree?? not sure). Most of the average “rich” people with college degrees or doctorates that I know have second mortgages and a lexus in their driveway. Maybe because as an A student, they feel more entitled to nicer things and thus dig a bigger hole.

    Would an english masters student with a 4.0 GPA be better suited to handle being rich than a 2.5 Finance major?

    Here’s an interesting article about the paths of valedictorians who would be given the most options in a system like this.

    I’m sure there might some correlation, but studying extra hours on your flashcards or learning more about Greek Gods (for us liberal arts grads) doesn’t mean you’re motivated to bust your hump in the real world. It could mean you just make a great career student.
    .-= Ryan @ Planting Dollars´s last blog ..The Part Time Job Search =-.

  36. @Darwin’s Finance
    Hmm, I’m impressed with your friends who were able to have a grand daddy good time, go to b-school, and then make multiples of your income! Just goes to show that if you want to make more money, you can, and don’t really have to bust your butt in college if you are willing to go to grad school.

    Ahh, sometimes I believe the community conspires against me, but that’s alright! It’s fun to be challenged. I may really be a “C” average student, ya never know.

    It’s not easy to get straight A’s. It’s smarts plus work ethic, a couple attributes commonly found in a lot of very successful people we hear about!
    .-= admin´s last blog ..Creating Powerful Friends: Samurai’s Alexa Ranking Challenge =-.

  37. “I for one believe there is a correlation between good grades and work ethic and smarts.”

    I’m noticing a divide here between @admin who probably studied and was rewarded for it and is miffed that people buy nice things even if they are lazy bums… and the people who were lazy bums or bad test takers but living it up due to luck with jobs. :) It’s pretty evenly split considering.

    I for one am lazy but extremely lucky in my job/major selection and my common sense with money (common sense isn’t that common, so anyone here with some of it is ahead of the game). I’ll have my A lifestyle in a few more years with no major risks if all goes well :)

    1. As an older person here, what is an A lifestyle? Maybe if we just let each other be instead of labeling each other by work , then we would be better off. Things do not make you happy. If you like yourself, then you will be happy. We went into debt due to car loans, credit cards etc. That started happening when jobs started being outsourced overseas. What would you say to a hard worker whose job was outsourced?

  38. Another fun post!

    I worked harder than any of my friends/housemates in college. Chemical Engineering with Honors while they goofed off with History, Economics and Anthropology degrees. Nothing against those majors, they just got Bs with very little effort honestly. My electives like Astrophysics were hard than their capstone course. They partied hard pretty much every night while I kept mine to 1 night a week and worked either a job or studied virtually the other 6. They went on Spring Break every year while I was assigned week long take-home projects the Friday before break started. Our professors pretty much made sure it was impossible to live the same “college life” so many others did. I got out of school with a very good starting salary. However…

    Here’s the funny part. While I was working my butt off as a night shift/weekend biotech supervisor, they all went to get MBAs (with no financial undergrad or aspirations), went on to get jobs on Wall Street and at Hedge Funds and they pretty much make 2-4 times what I do now.

    Can’t say there’s a strong correlation with GPA and earnings specifically; I think major, when you graduated (i.e. into a hot or crappy job market), and many other intangibles that can’t be predicted in advance determine ultimate earning power.

    Now that’s also somewhat unrelated to the actual problem in America. This happens with the full spectrum of earners – lack of self-control. People want what other people have. It takes some discipline, a good example from your parents, making some mistakes and some luck to actually have a decent financial balance sheet. At this point in time, I’d wager that the majority of Americans in their twenties have a very poor balance sheet. People wise up by their thirties, freak out by their forties and then college costs/retirement jitters hit in the fifties/sixtees. Some people never grow up.

    It’s really quite a cycle – the American story…
    .-= Darwin’s Finance´s last blog ..Winners and Losers Under Obama’s New Tax Plan =-.

  39. Okay, I’m coming from a teacher’s prospective, but the No Child Left Behind act calls for all students to be proficient by 2013. This means all students needs to be a C+ or B average at least, throwing out the bell curve research of yester-year. Does this mean that these same students will have a better future in the employment market? Maybe. Does this mean the that those students who now have a B average will acquire more things? I hope not, for the environment’s sake.

    Gordie, above, commented on how the US educational system doesn’t prepare students for a world of finance. That is really true. However, education as a whole is trying to change that by increasing their math skills and problem solving skills. Maybe the next generation will have a better handle on finance. We can only hope ;)
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..Home Architecture, and Little House Floor Plans =-.

    1. Little House – Insightful comments. A “B” student doesn’t need to acquire more things, as an “A” lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean more things. I was just using the material items as examples.

      I guess I’m trying to figure out the reason why more students don’t try and get “A’s”, if they know that grades and eduction are important to improving your standard of living. I ask b/c in 9th grade, I just didn’t want to get “A’s”, i wanted to have fun. When I decided I wanted to get “A’s”, I did get A’s… i just had to study harder and care. So long as there wasn’t some evil person pointing a gun to my head saying I shouldn’t get an “A’s”, I felt I could do well in school.

      Lovingkind – You’re right, as it’s hard to generalize. I just wonder though about effort. If people put in the effort, they have a higher chance of succeeding. Like many have said already, grades are just about taking exams and paying attention. That takes effort imo.

  40. A “C” student might be a slow learner but had all the good essence in life – honest, gentle heart, no evil thoughts and knew what he wanted (or wanted to be), he (she) could achieve his goal. If a “C” student became a “C” student because he (she) didn’t care and if he (she) brought the same attitute to adulthood, most likely he (she) would not succeed.

  41. Lots of people definitely think they deserve more than what they can afford or deserve. Many people also can’t accurately judge what they’re good at and what they should leave to the pros – this is not the best example, but how many terrible auditions have you seen on American Idol where the contestant truly believes he/she is worthy of winning when they can’t even sing in tune? At least it makes humorous entertainment.

  42. Millionaire Acts

    It’s good to visit Financial Samurai again. Although I’ve been off in blogging at Millionaire Acts, I am still busy blogging at other blogs in the form of news optimizing high traffic trends because that’s where the income is. Anyway, you seem to have a lot of advertisers already and your alexa rank has grown a lot. Congratulations!

    Back to the topic, I think that the media is the one creating the hype in the society. It’s not a matter of C or A students. The media is exposing “rich” as to have a lot of material possessions displayed like mansions, luxury cars, etc. It’s a show off. They are conditioning our minds that those lifestyle is the one that everyone should immitate. However, the question is do you really need those things or are you just buying them because of status quo that the media says its good?

    If you can remember, one of the world’s richest person Warren Buffett lives in simplicity. No need to buy those expensive lifestyle even if he can afford.

  43. ” do you believe that a main reason for tremendous consumer debt is because there are delusional people who think they deserve more than they can really afford? ”

    I am sure it happens but how often have you met someone that thinks they “deserve more than they can really afford?” No doubt many people buy more than they can afford, in my experience most people really believe they can afford more than they truly can by our measures. Just goes to show that even if you can get an A it doesn’t mean you truly understand how to manage your dollars.
    .-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..How To File Taxes – Let Me Count The Ways =-.

  44. @Lauren
    Sorry to hear you’re not living large with your 4.0 GPA from Berkeley! :( However, it sounds like you are living well within your means proving my point that you are totally good. I’m not talking so much about the correlation of grades to wealth, but the fact that people with mediocre grades believe they deserve the world.

    Good points Tracy. People do make choices, and the choices we make are the choices we have to live with. Who’s to say who’s more deserving than others.

    It is elitist to say who determines who is worthy of what. It’s also a detriment to the rest of the hard working citizens of America who see their home equity decline because some knucklehead decided to buy a house they couldn’t afford, foreclose, and drag down everybody with them?

    This is the discussion that needs to be had b/c the government is deciding to say what we can and cannot do, and infringe on all our rights.

  45. Allan @ Rich Money Habits

    I totally agree with Tracy…it has anything to do with grades. It is more to do with each person’s resolve to better his life. Either superficially by spending more than what he earns…or improving his life to a lifestyle that even if he spends luxuriously, it is still much much lower than what he earns.

  46. Okay…I still don’t think it has anything to do with grades, but more of an over consuming cultural conditioning and the availability of credit, not to mention the sales pitch behind the credit. People make choices and those choices ultimately determine their earnings more than grades or other measures that don’t really tell you about a person’s character. Grades measure a skill set. It was easy for me to get A’s, but it was much harder for one of my sisters to get B’s. She had to work a lot harder than I did, but in the end, in spite of early setbacks in school, she graduated from college (at the age of 36) and earned a master’s degree. She still doesn’t earn enough teaching disabled children to buy a BMW, but I for one think she deserves one, and if I was able to give it to her, I would.

  47. I think our overconsuming culture is a result of wanting more created by the media. It’s appalling how much commercials are a part of a 30 minute sitcom. I alsothink consumers think more stuff equals more happiness…not so much true. Once someone reaches a decent lifestyle other things (they didnt realize) bring happiness. Adult peer presssure also plays into it. If he/she can afford that I have to also. Happiness is based on outside appearance.
    .-= Ken´s last blog ..Weekend Roundup =-.

  48. I don’t know man… I got a 4.0 from Berkeley and I get Wal-Mart and a Bike.

    There’s no sound correlation between GPA and financial wisdom. You articulated the problem well – a sense of entitlement and the desire to own what the neighbors have contribute to excess and debt. But what is at the root of a sense of entitlement and desire? Psychological and spiritual illness?

  49. @admin

    True – no argument there. There was two sides to the coin on my argument. The other generalization would be the academical “failures” – Bill Gates & Mark Zuckerberg. They had a strong intellect, but technically failed out of the established system and can now wipe with 100s.

    It’s not so such what grades you actually receive (almost 4 HS, over 3 but not with honors college, living like I’m on academic probation), but how you utilize your intelligence in the real world. It also extends beyond intelligence of rote knowledge (book stuff), to how intelligent you are at gaming the system (e.g. better test taking skills).

    My college roommate made straight A’s doing zero work and now lives somewhere in South America earning money as an online poker player.

    People are always reaching beyond their tier. Whether you have a double first name and are eying your neighbor’s new hunting ATV or comparing your dinky 40ft yacht to your neighbors new mega yacht.

    You should check out the new book – Stop Acting Rich: …And Start Living Like A Real Millionaire

  50. Kevin – Nothing wrong with having nice things and enjoying more luxurious things.

    We’re talking about over consumption here, not the definiton of what an “A lifestyle” is.

    Since you mention you are a CPA, what were your grades, and where did you go to school?

  51. As someone else pointed out here, some people work really hard to achieve ‘c’s and others, myself included, found it pretty easy to get ‘a’s. That particular skill set did not make me a better manager of my perfectly acceptable earnings or I would never have gotten into debt in the first place. Don’t you think it’s just a bit elitist to decide what others deserve based upon a situation that is frequently determined by an individual’s opportunities and upbringing? Everybody doesn’t start out with the same access to education, much less with quality teachers that motivate and encourage students to believe in themselves, which is often where the trouble starts. Where does the trust funder with crappy grades, but got into the best schools because daddy is a donating alumni and got a great job in daddy’s multibillion dollar company fit into this idea? Does he deserve all of the luxuries he enjoys on the basis of his birth? How about recognizing that our system teaches us all to rat race like crazy, but not necessarily how to manage money? That our culture glorifies unsustainable consumerism over personal responsibility? There are an awful lot of academic success stories out there that end in serious debt and bankruptcy for school to be the determining factor in what someone “deserves.” Financial education should start in grade school, right along with math to prepare kids with life skills as much as anything else. I guess that is the phrase I’m uncomfortable with…are they “worthy” if only they are just like you? What if someone got bad grades, dropped out of school, worked as a janitor, carefully saved and invested his meager earnings and then bought the right stock at the right time, then another, and another. At what point do you decide he is deserving of a BMW? Or do you look down on him because he had a hard time passing tests in school and had to drop out to get a job when his dad abandoned his family? It’s just not that simple.
    .-= Tracy´s last blog ..Money Saving Tips That Happen To Be Green =-.

  52. Moneyreasons

    I agree “A”s are better! I was getting them in my major at the end of my college years. If only I could go back… But I think I’m turning out okay.

    MON had a decent day today, but then again most stock did ;) Hopefully they can keep it up!

  53. @The Genius
    Of course if I was offered a Hyundai and a BMW I’d take the BMW….and promptly sell it and buy something less flashy or expensive to maintain. A car is just something to get me to point B from point A. If more people in this world figured that out instead of seeing it as a status symbol or compensating for their crappy life….well I’ll stop there. I guess my point is more that it is sad people see having all that crap as an “A” lifestyle rather than figuring out what lifestyle they actually want. My ideal lifestyle has nothing to do with what brand car I drive or clothes I wear.

    BTW, I’m a CPA.

  54. @Jason @ Redeeming Riches
    Greed is definitely the word, and not being satisfied with what you have.

    @Kevin M
    Don’t be disturbed. Armani and BMW’s are used to compare against Gap and Hyundai to demonstrate an “A” lifestyle. They may not be the “A” lifestyle, but they are certainly perceived as much more luxurious brands than the latter.

    To your point about letting people be, please read:

    I absolutey do believe grades, income, wealth and lifestyle are correlated. Why do colleges use GPA as one of the key entrance determinants? The more prestigious the school, the higher the average HS GPA, for example. It’s not a coincidence that all our presidents went to univerisities with the highest grade standards for example.

    The cure for the US could very well be to limit “C” and “B” students to spend on “C” and “B” things to prevent personal finacial catastrophes. If everybody who makes an average income, spends commensurate to their average income, then a good portion of this financial implosion could have been avoided.

  55. A great man whose name is Billy once said “Should I try to be a straight A student, if you are then you think too much.”

    I don’t think people necessarily believe they deserve more money, but don’t understand that by spending more money than you actually have can seriously cause issues.

  56. Eliminating consumer access to debt would go far if you do not believe in wearing borrowed feathers so to speak. Incidentally, there is absolutely no correlation between grades and common sense (as the recent banking scandal should abundantly illustrate) or grades and wealth for that matter (if I had a dollar for each doctor being close to broke). For employees there is some correlation as people with higher grades make better cogs and thus are paid more. Of course you don’t really need high grades to make a lot of money in corporations: the biggest payouts tend to be close to the money streams (marketing, sales, …) rather than close to where actual innovation occurs i.e. R&D. In that regard, you just have to think back on which persons were successful in HS: The jocks or the cheerleaders or the geeks? The guy that facilities the copying of the homework will be more successful that the few persons who actually do the homework.

  57. My opinion… I don’t think grades and income are related. I know plenty of people who buck the trend. I also don’t think that effort and income are directly correlated either – I know plenty of hardworking individuals who never have, or will, earn much.

    So instead of focus on that, I think the issue is more what you hint at in the title: entitlement. Many people have been led to believe they can have anything they want, when they want it. And mainstream media is doing everything they can to promote that message (at the behest of their advertisers).

    It’s not about living an “A” lifestyle or a “C” lifestyle, but living in the style which you are comfortable and can comfortably afford – whatever style that may be.
    .-= Patrick´s last blog ..Marginal Taxes and 2010 Federal Income Tax Brackets =-.

  58. “To get people out of debt, we need to make people realize they are unworthy of the stuff they buy, even though they see their neighbors live it up.”

    I’m not sure what disturbs me more – that sentence or the fact that you think owning a BMW and wearing Armani is an “A” lifestyle.

    I was lucky enough to be born with book smarts so I didn’t work very hard to get A’s in high school and A’s & B’s in college. I knew a lot of folks that worked much harder than me and still got C’s or below. So should the judging standard be work ethic or just final results? How about we let people make their own choices and live with the consequences?

  59. There’s plenty of “smart folks” who are up to their eyeballs in debt. Are they delusional? Could be.

    My theory is that we all view our lifestyles through our socioeconomic lenses – so once we achieve a certain bracket we begin to look at others in that bracket and realize they have more money than us and so we get a sense of wanting to justify our spending to catch up to the ones we think are ahead of us.

    I think it’s a common mindset that sets itself up in all people without regard to brains, work ethic, social status etc.

    In a word – it’s greed!
    .-= Jason @ Redeeming Riches´s last blog ..Confessions of a “Receiving” Addict =-.

  60. @RainyDaySaver
    I know, nobody fell for my “what’s your GPA’ question except for Don, who is not delusional! I have a feeling that those who got straight A’s are the ones who would say so, and those who didn’t, wouldn’t. Whatcha think?

    Good stuff Don! You are not delusional at all. My question to you is, why not get “A’s” instead of “B’s”?

    I think Monsanto won Fortune Magazine’s “company of the year” award! Fortune or Forbes, I always get them confused. So, good job! lol.

    I think you’re spot on regarding “bridging the gap” betwn where they are and where they “should” be.

    I’m not so much talking about the connection between good grades and wealth, I’m talking about the DISCONNECT between mediocre students who expect superb lifestyles.

    Pharrell from the Neptunes could have gotten straight A’s, yah never know! The lead singer from Rage Against The Machine went to Harvard. “Equal pay for equal work” is right. I’m just talking about why people expect more than their average selves.

    It would be great to have a personal finance course, at least in college. But maybe, it’s just so obvious not to spend more than one earns, that a course can’t possibly be dedicated to PF?

    @Kyle C.
    How did you do in HS and College? I have to imagine that there is a correlation with work ethic, grades, and therefore knowledge and wealth.

    Would you be against the Big Brother idea of prohibiting people with average grades to buy above average items?

  61. I think the connection between grades and weath tends to be exaggerated. People who got good grades in school are more likely to be comfortable, above average, upper middle class–what ever you want to call it. But attaining wealth is where the connection dulls.

    In order to achieve wealth it takes more than academic brilliance. You have to have people skills, market sense, ability to anticipate, etc. Those are more akin to street smarts than book smarrts. You can get good grades and have all of that, but you could also be missing it.

    On the question of consumer debt, I think people use debt to bridge the gap between where they think they should be and where they are, in much the same way we might use alcohol or drugs. There’s a society wide sense of entitlement that drives it. If you don’t have that sense of entitlement, you’re bucking the trend, which is something significant in itself.
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Social Media – How Do You Find Friends and Followers? =-.

  62. RainyDaySaver

    Interesting discussion, as always — and notice no one’s falling for the ‘what was your GPA’ part of your question! (okay, I was an A student, but that doesn’t define who I am today, financially).

    I don’t think there’s a correlation between grades and spending habits. I think it’s more closely tied to personality and the environment you’re raised in.
    .-= RainyDaySaver´s last blog ..Fix-It Friday: New Toilet Seat =-.

  63. With regards to people being unworthy, a similar argument said differently – it’s that the entitlement bar continues to be raised. People victimize themselves by self-entitling.

    But successful individuals aren’t the cause for concern. Sure, my heroes include Richard Branson and the like, but that’s why all of us are on these blogs.

    The primary culprits are those who contribute little to society yet reap unearthly rewards. How many American rappers had 3.5 GPAs? How many rappers make multiples of multiples of what I can only dream to make? This is why grades aren’t necessarily the best metric.

    We briefly hinted at it before, but maybe we could collaborate on a post about how out-of-whack our reward/income system is. Similar to how the women’s movement called for “equal pay for equal work” – we could modify it to say “equal pay for equal contribution” to demonstrate how people should be compensated, based on their contribution to society.

    1. I have an idea which I have presented to politicians before. Everyone can make a contribution. For people who got the can with the economy, how about volunteerism or community service? It’s a great way to contribute. Also, what is making a contribution? Is it helping a neighbor, teaching someone something that’s practical( like a survival skill) or is it just making money? Yes, it is important to pay bills ect. and do what you can, but that;s not all it takes to being a good partner in society. Man, I am glad I’m the age I am, if that’s what society looks forward to! We need more bartering, trading ( for skills etc.) rather than just making money. If you’re so smart, can you grow food, make clothes, build something ? Also, whoever made the comment about C students “just” being laborers in so many words, how elitist! Remember, you cannot eat a computor. Stop patronizing, and start helping more than yourself!

  64. @Kyle C.
    Sounds like you are justifying poor grades and a poor school Kyle. Just saying.

    The good majority of millionaires are NOT high school drop outs. See what the media does to people? The majority of millionaires worked harder than others and got better grades and went to better schools.

    Got a 3.8 from a Top 25 university, and I did bust my butt compared to my peers. You make a good point regarding delusional people with poor grades from podunk U who think they deserve more. They don’t.

    Too much entitlement mentality!
    .-= The Genius´s last blog ..Questions of governance =-.

  65. Don@Moneyreasons

    I was a lazy “B” student. I remember in class one I got the highest grade in the class without trying hard, (I felt like a misfit) and I started wondering if everybody was just drifting by, so I started to drift by too. It didn’t help that certain family members reinforced my inaccurate belief…

    So I don’t believe that grades should be the determining factor on what you can and can not purchase. I was a solid “B” student in high school and college but I’m going fine. I live within my means.

    I got lucky though, I’ve always had an interest in finances. I was also fortunate enough to have read “The Millionaire Next Door” in my early 20s. That made me believe that it was possible to be financial independent. I still have a long long way to go, but I’m above average with me financial acumen (though you wouldn’t think so, the way “MON” is going “The Samurai Fund” :)).

    I blame overspending primarily on 2 things:
    1.) People don’t understand finances and need to before jumping into the financial pool. These people are more often than not very smart (look at smart bloggers like fabulouslybroke), but make bad decisions earlier in their young lives…
    2.) TV and movies make everything have a happy ending. Plus seeing all the stars in all their glitter definitely doesn’t help either.

    There are other reasons too, but this is enough from me…

  66. @Sal
    Hi Sal, but what if your neighbor with the Lexus actually paid cash and makes much more than you think? I think it’s admirable you are driving a beater and keeping your finances in check.

    @David @ MBA briefs
    Thanks for getting what i’m trying to say. I didn’t get through to some, so I may have to clarify.

    Evan, sorry I didn’t make the message clear enough. The thesis is simply: most people are average, but most people believe they deserve to have an above average lifestyle. As a result, the average people overextend themselves and get into financial trouble.

    I for one believe there is a correlation between good grades and work ethic and smarts. Personal finance is just common sense (don’t spend more than you earn).

    Careful Mike, the gov’t may institute new legislation to determine what people can and can’t buy based on grades! You never know!

  67. David @ MBA briefs

    Do you believe that a main reason for tremendous consumer debt is because there are delusional people who think they deserve more than they can really afford? Sam, I understand the point you’re trying to make and yes, I think a large number of people wrongfully believe they are entitled to “luxury” items they had no business purchasing. I know couples whose combined income is less than mine yet they always have nicer cars, clothes, houses, etc. In some cases neither went to college and weren’t that great of students in high school either. Brings to mind the story of the ant and the grasshopper.

    If people want all the fancy things in life, why don’t they just work harder in school, be the best employee, or invent something successful to accommodate their desires? Because that would make too much sense. I didn’t get a chance to finish my Motivational Monday post and will post it this evening, but I have to take a poke at the people who buy into “The Secret” garbage and are told they can make things happen if they and be rich beyond their wildest dreams if they just follow The Secret, which wasn’t really a secret to begin with. People don’t want to work harder, or smarter for that matter. They just want the easiest way to get rich, which is why our lottery coffers will always be full even in the midst of the deepest recession.

    What GPA did you get in HS/College, and will you be justifying your spending habits in the discussion below? I worked my tail off in college and was an officer of my high school honor society, but I didn’t go to big schools either. Even if I did though I wouldn’t use that to justify my spending.

  68. I don’t get the whole GPA to Purchasing power discussion. Who gives a sh!t what someone got an exam (or series of exams) 10, 20 or 30 years ago?

    Notwithstanding, “do you believe that a main reason for tremendous consumer debt is because there are delusional people who think they deserve more than they can really afford? ”

    1,000,000%! You hit the nail on the head. I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU (well not you Sam, but others) IS FAIR – IF YOU DON’T MAKE ENOUGH MONEY YOU DON’T DESERVE A BENZ, FLAT SCREEN OR HIGH SPEED INTERNET!

    Your inalienable rights have nothing to do with consumer goods.

  69. C students are pretty lazy if you ask me. So no, C students are delusional to think that they deserve anything better than an average lifestyle.

    I was a B student and I didn’t try as hard as I suld have, so I’m fine with the life bestowed upon me.

    1. That is so negligent of you to say. I am currently a C student, but it has no correlation to how intelligent I am. I am a double Major in Spanish and French and a minor in Anthropology, on top of that I work 32 hours a week. I may not be handing in my homework on time or always getting 100%’s on my tests, but I am making a substantial effort. My hard work may only land me a C, but at least I am a well rounded individual. Ever hear of the phrase “C students rule the world?” Grades are merely a reflection of every individuals lifestyle, nothing more and nothing less. It has no indication of intelligence what so ever. So before you start saying C students are lazy, that may be because you were merely just a kiss ass B student.

      1. There’s nothing wrong with being a C student, so long as you don’t expect t have a A lifestyle. C is average, and that’s fine with most people. The problems occur when expectations are out of line.

        1. You’re so full of shit. You’re telling me because I got a C in quantum physics, I’m
          not smarter, harder working, and more intelligent then the vast majority of these
          bullshitters majoring in finance or business? You have no conception of how easy
          those classes actually are. I could ace those classes without even going to
          them. The fact is, If I’m going to be rich, its because I worked hard and challenged
          myself, not because I got a pat on the back the whole way through some crappy
          contrived grading system

          1. Correct. If you got a C in quantum physics, and a C average for everything else, then it’s probably best not to expect an A lifestyle. You will be miserable if you do.

  70. Grades are just a measure of your test taking skills. Mediocre students can do well on tests by cramming, memorizing or even cheating. I hate to generalize but certain students from certain parts of the world are much better at test taking. Does that mean everyone from those parts are more successful than the rest of us?

    1. SunTzuWarmaster

      Grades are a measure of your performance in a class. In some classes, that means taking tests. In some classes, that means writing papers. In some classes, that means dancing.

  71. Agreed that people buy things that they can’t afford.

    Interesting idea that GPA can be used as a requirement for purchases. Haha!

  72. I view life as a gift from a loving God. So I don’t feel that I “deserve” anything. I like nice stuff and fun experiences. When I get them, I feel that the proper attitude is one of gratitude, not entitlement.

    I agree that those who work hard merit a reward for their efforts. But there are many cases where a person gifted with less intellect works harder for a “C” than the person gifted with greater intellect works in obtaining an “A.”

    Those who have been given greater gifts have more of a responsibility to look out for those who were given smaller gifts, in my view. I believe that we all should be enjoying the nice stuff that comes to us. But I also believe that we should be looking out for others. When you begin thinking that the good stuff you have was “earned,” you start down a path that can lead you to feeling indifference toward those who have “earned” less. Just because they have less does not mean that they have earned less.


  73. Entitlement, lack of personal responsibility, and blaming others for things are at the core of the high consumer debt

  74. Sorry to pile on. Good grades, often, but not always, mean that someone knows how to follow orders. They’re great employees. Lousy innovators.

  75. It makes you beg the question on the stats that a good majority of millionaires are highschool drop-outs. Look at Einstine – another great example of when someone didn’t think they would go far, and despite all odds, they “made it.” I think a lot of it stems from a person’s determination to do whatever they want to do. There may be some things stopping a person, for instance, me. I want to become a Veterinarian. In order to get into Vet school, I MUST keep my grades up, otherwise I won’t be able to attend school and then practice afterwards.

    It is a fine line between what drives a person and what society can regulate. I agree with the thought that we don’t need to compare ourselves to others…I know I have a hard time with this, but I am constantly working on it, trying to tell myself that it is ok for me to drive a Ford Focus while neighbors on both sides have either a Porche or a Lexus in the driveway. My wife and I are trying to get out of debt right now, and one thing that we understand is that when we are out of debt, driving around in our beater cars that are paid off, the neighbors will still be making payments up to their eyeballs on their nice, shiney, new cars and house…oh, what a day that will be to get my wife a new Lexus…with cash instead of making payments. Here is to a disappearing FICO score <— where DOES it go when you have no debt anyway?

  76. There are plenty of C students who are far from average income earners. My grades in High School or college have no relevant relation to my earnings or how I spend my money. I don’t think you can make a blanket generalization just based on the grades someone got, and certainly no real judgement just because they went to some unknown college. I would say it is just as likely that someone who attended a Grade A college with straight A’s is trying far harder than I am to keep up with the Jones’ and it costs a hell of a lot more for them to keep up.

  77. The thing is that the current education systems do almost nothing to teach us about financial literacy. You can get good grades and spend more and get into debt, or you can get average grades, spend less and still get into debt. The whole education system needs to be overhauled but no governments seem to have the balls to do it.

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