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The problem with easy money

We all dream of hitting the big time but rarely consider the cost.

By Karen Datko Aug 18, 2010 9:16AM

This guest post comes from Lauren at Richly Reasonable.


The other evening Husband and I had a very existential discussion ... about "Jersey Shore." I'm betting that even if you don't watch the show, you've heard about it. Cast members have been in the news recently over their reported contract negotiations for more money. 


For those of you who don't know, the premise of the MTV show is a group of guido-types (as they call themselves, not me) live in a house together, go to clubs, lift weights, and tan. I've watched it and it's slightly entertaining. Don't judge me.


"What could be existential about a reality TV show?" you ask. I mentioned to Husband that I feel bad for the cast.  That's right, I feel bad for people who get paid $10,000 every time an hour of their "dirty laundry" gets aired to the world. 


You couldn't pay me enough for my reputation. Easy money isn't always as easy as it looks. We all dream of hitting the big time but rarely consider the cost.


Here are some of the problems I found with a few types of "easy money":


Winning the lottery. Full disclosure: There is a lottery ticket sitting on my dresser for the next drawing. Hello, Kettle, I'm Pot.  

Celebrity. Before you serious actors and athletes out there go getting your panties in a twist, I'll concede that some of these professions require actual talent and work. However, considering that the odds of becoming a pro athlete, by one estimate, are 0.0000565 to 1 (with a similar stat for actors), you've already won a form of lottery. 

Lawsuits. I hear, "You could sue them for that," a lot. Most of the time I'm thinking, "Yeah, but do I want to?" I am for reasonable lawsuits and reasonable compensation. Say I sue a small-business owner for spilling hot coffee on my lap purely by accident (without serious injury):


What I lose:

  • My time. We'll be in court long after my lap cools off.
  • My self-respect (maybe this is just me). I'm not interested in profiting off of an accident.

What we all lose:

  • A sense of justice. 
  • Businesses that can't afford to risk these types of lawsuits. 

Inheritance. I really shouldn't have to point this one out, but to inherit a great fortune requires that somebody die; usually one of your relatives. I mention this only because in the classic movie plot, the inheritor is usually more stoked about the moolah than distraught over the family member's death. 


What's your problem? With easy money, that is.


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