Have you heard the saying “Act As If” before? If you’ve seen the movie “Boiler Room” I know you have. In “Boiler Room,” Ben Affleck is training a group of wannabe stock brokers to be fantastic but illegal stock salesmen on Long Island. I won’t ruin the story for you but I want to talk about a specific part of the movie where he’s addressing the group of trainees…
At this point in the movie all trainees have just been hired and are preparing to start selling stock after passing their series 7 exam (the SEC requires any individual who wants to sell securities pass this exam). While conducting a morning sales meeting Ben brings up the fact that many of the trainees, who are all wearing suits, aren’t wearing suits that meet their companies standards. He told them they dress like $hit and need to go out and buy at least one decent suit because the company they work for has a “minimum level of aesthetic professionalism they need to maintain.” He also promises the group that it’s ok to buy an expensive suit even though they’re broke because they’ll be millionaires in a short period of time.
This then led to the “Act As If” speech, which I’ve always loved. Check it out… ***Disclaimer: Ben drops the F bomb in this clip.***
This is how the typical American thinks about money. Most of us spend our money before we’ve made it and it gets us into trouble. Luckily, no job will require anyone to act like millionaires if they aren’t millionaires. I understand that the point of this talk is to build confidence and present an image of success. But, you can’t just go out and buy an expensive suit because you think it’ll make you successful faster by influencing how others think of you. Maybe you’ll boost your confidence for a brief period of time but you’ll become financially successful by being good at your job and telling your money where you want it to go.
I’ve never gone to a doctor because he drives a $100,000 car or a lawyer because he wears a $1,500 suit. I pick a doctor by talking to patients of his and finding out his reputation. Is he smart? Does he have a good bed side manner? Will he be able to keep me from dying if I’m not supposed to die at that particular time? My point is that if you’re good at your job, no one will care what kind of suit you’re wearing or what model car you’re driving.
Like I said, I’ve always liked the “Act As If” mantra. It can be applied to almost any situation, not just money. It pumps me up, it’s motivating and it makes me want to go out, kill something, and drag it back home (metaphorically). However, now that I’ve gotten a little older and gotten control of my finances and career, I don’t agree with this message as it relates to personal finance. “Act As If” sounds an awful lot like keeping up with the Jones’ and no one can build wealth by trying to keep up with all of the other fools who either don’t care or are ignorant about personal finance.
When I was younger, I would blow all of my money right after pay day because, like the characters in this movie believed, I thought that I would earn money so fast that I wouldn’t miss the money I already blew. I think most young professionals feel that way in their early 20’s. It’s hard to think about retirement when you’re just starting a working career. But, there isn’t one person on this earth that won’t run across a difficult time in there lives. It is said that everyone will have at least 1 financial emergency every 10 years. We just can’t keep spending money and expect to make it back, or make more, right away. We have to be prepared!
Fortunately, some of us finally wake up and realize that we work too damn hard for our money and we don’t want to look up after 30 years and have nothing in the bank to show for our hard work.
Success with money and more importantly, the speed with how fast you are successful with money comes from your level of dedication and what you are willing to sacrifice. “Act As If” DOES apply to you and your money but you have to reverse how you think about this phrase. “Act As If” you’re poor. “Act As If” you only make 50, 60, 70% of what you really make. “Act As If” you’ll be working for the rest of your lives if you buy that new car or bigger house…because you actually might if you make a poor decision.
Get rich by “Acting As If…”. How will you “Act As If?”