How Not to Make Money

Sar­cas­tic Prac­ti­cal Ad­vice Series: 1 How Not to Make Money

I’m call­ing this a se­ries be­cause I would like it to be a se­ries, feel free to write your own post on “how not to do some­thing many peo­ple want to do”, es­pe­cially you, fu­ture me.

I’m very good at not mak­ing money, and maybe this is a skill you have found your­self need­ing to perfect.

But worry not. Stop ra­tio­nal­iz­ing! I’ll teach you some of the craft be­fore you can say all the pal­in­dromes in the Fin­nish lan­guage.

(1) Be one of those peo­ple who ac­tu­ally turn knowl­edge, gen­eral knowl­edge, into per­son­ally de­signed ac­tions/​poli­cies. The kind of peo­ple who, upon learn­ing that driv­ing is more dan­ger­ous than be­ing at­tacked by spi­ders, and ex­pe­rienc­ing the first per­son evolved fear of spi­ders, un­der­stands that he should be as afraid of driv­ing badly as he is of spi­ders, or much more, and drives ac­cord­ingly.

(2) Un­der­stand that there is no meta­phys­i­cal Self, only a vir­tual cen­ter of nar­ra­tive grav­ity (Read Den­nett), whose man­ner of dis­count­ing time is hy­per­bolic (Read Ge­orge Ainslie), weirdly self-rep­re­sen­ta­tive (Read GEB), and ba­si­cally a mess.

(3) Read Rea­sons and Per­sons, by Parfit, and re­ally give up on your Naïve in­tu­itions about per­sonal iden­tity over time. Us­ing (1) act ac­cord­ingly, i.e. screw fu­ture re­tired you.

(4) Go through a uni­ver­sity pro­gram in the hu­man­i­ties, so no one tempts you by throw­ing money at you af­ter you grad­u­ate—This has hap­pened to an aca­dem­i­cally ori­ented friend of mine who grad­u­ated a Med­i­cal Doc­tor, but ac­tu­ally wanted to be in the lab play­ing with brains. - If you can make into Greek Mythol­ogy, or Ira­nian Liter­a­ture, good for you, Philos­o­phy is ok, as are so­cial sci­ences, as long as you do the­ory and don’t get into poli­tics or in­sti­tu­tional de­sign later on. If you go to psy­chol­ogy, you are dan­ger­ously near Hu­man Re­sources, so be sure to be do­ing it for the rea­sons Pinker would do it, be­cause you want to un­der­stand our in­ter­nal com­puter, not to treat peo­ple.

(5) Have some cash: This seems ob­vi­ous, but it’s worth re­mind­ing if you are a ma­chine dis­count­ing hy­per­bol­i­cally, you’d bet­ter be safe for the next two months.

(6) Study re­search on hap­piness and money: Money doesn’t buy hap­piness, and when it does, it’s by buy­ing things to oth­ers, re­gard­less of Price. Giv­ing a bike, a Porsche, or a Star­bucks coffee to your friends pro­vides you the same amount of fuzzies. Use (1) act ac­cord­ingly.

(7) Be cu­ri­ous: If you are the kind of per­son who knows by heart that the Finish lan­guage is more propense to pal­in­dromiza­tion, you are in a great route not to make money. If you get re­ally ex­cited about space, good for you. If you are so moved by cu­ri­os­ity you can’t sleep be­fore you fi­nally figure it out, worry not, money ain’t com­ing your way. Don’t for­get all those re­ally cool books you want to read.

(8) Avoid be­ing An­he­do­nic: An­he­do­nia is one of the great en­e­mies of those who don’t want to make money. If all feels more or less the same to you, there is great in­cen­tive to go af­ter the gold, it won’t harm you much, and it will af­ford you the num­ber one value of the An­he­do­nic, a false sense of se­cu­rity, and the illu­sion that hap­piness lies some­where ahead of you in the fu­ture. If you can be thrilled or ex­cited by the lat­est Adam San­dler movie, if a dou­ble rain­bow will make you cry like a baby even in a video, and if you watch this sax video with a young, healthy, fer­tile fe­male more than once be­cause it’s a good video, rest as­sured, you’ll be fine.

(9) What do you care what other peo­ple think?:
Feyn­man nailed this as­pect of the no-money mak­ing busi­ness. You may not have no­ticed but ev­ery­one, es­pe­cially your fam­ily, thinks you should make money, Gra­ham says

All par­ents tend to be more con­ser­va­tive for their kids than they would for them­selves, sim­ply be­cause, as par­ents, they share risks more than re­wards. If your eight year old son de­cides to climb a tall tree, or your teenage daugh­ter de­cides to date the lo­cal bad boy, you won’t get a share in the ex­cite­ment, but if your son falls, or your daugh­ter gets preg­nant, you’ll have to deal with the con­se­quences. - How to do what you love.

It’s not just par­ents; ev­ery­one gets more shares of your money than of your ex­cite­ment. If this was not the case, Effec­tive Altru­ists would be ad­vo­cat­ing rol­ler coast­ers and vol­cano lairs with cat peo­ple, not high in­come ca­reers.

(10) Couch­surf and meet couch­surfers and world trav­el­ers: If you never did it, go around couch­sur­fing for a while. As it hap­pens, due to many fac­tors, trav­el­ling all the time, a dream of the ma­jor­ity, is cheaper than stay­ing in one spot. Meet­ing world trav­el­ers like 1Mac Madi­son, 2Puneet Sa­hani, 3Fred­erico Balbi­ani, and 4Rand Hunt made me re­al­ize, re­spec­tively, that: 1 It’s pos­si­ble to travel 23rd of the time as a CS ma­jor; 2 In­dian Ci­ti­zen­ship and zero money won’t stop you; 3 Not speak­ing English or want­ing to work with what gave you de­grees doesn’t stop you; 4 Spend­ing 90 dol­lars in 100 days is pos­si­ble. You’ll feel much less pres­sure to make money af­ter meet­ing similar peo­ple and be­ing one of them.

(11) Don’t ex­pe­rience Sta­tus Anx­iety: The World suffers from an in­tense af­flic­tion. Alain de Bot­ton named it Sta­tus Anx­iety. You are not just richer than most peo­ple nowa­days. You are uni­mag­in­ably, un­be­liev­ably wealthy (in term of re­sources you can use) in com­par­i­son to ev­ery­one that ever lived. But the point is, the less time you spend com­par­ing, re­gard­less of who you are com­par­ing with, the hap­pier you feel.

(12) Be per­suad­able by in­tel­lec­tu­als out­side tra­di­tional sci­ence, like De Bot­ton and Alan Watts, but not by re­ally ter­rible The Se­cret style self-help.

(13) Con­sider money over-val­ued: In eco­nomics, the price of things is de­ter­mined by the sup­ply and de­mand of that par­tic­u­lar thing. The in­ter­est­ing thing is that de­mand is not mea­sured by how many peo­ple want some­thing how badly, but this mul­ti­plied by each per­son’s wealth… If so many (wealthy) peo­ple value Rolex watches, they will be over­priced for you, es­pe­cially if they are pay­ing in luck, in­her­i­tance, or in­ter­est, and you are pay­ing in work (though both use money as a medium).
Money is a medium of trade, how could it be over-val­ued?
Sim­ple, there are many other mediums of trade (be­ing nice, be­com­ing more at­trac­tive, be­ing a good listener, go­ing to the “right place at the right time”, knowl­edge, en­vi­able skills, pres­tige, dom­i­nance, strength, sig­nal­ing, risk – i.e. steal­ing, Ve­gas, or bit­coin - , sex, time, en­ergy). If you think these items are cheaper than money, you go for them as your medium of trade. And in­deed they are cheaper than money, be­cause ev­ery­one knows that money is valuable, and nearly no one thought con­sciously of the trade value of those things.

(14) Fake it till you don’t make it: My fi­nal ad­vice would be to try out not spend­ing money. Do it for a month (I did it for two), set a per­sonal un­bear­ably low bar­rier ac­cord­ing to your stan­dards. Dine be­fore go­ing to din­ner with friends, by bike, of course. Carry wa­ter in­stead of buy­ing it. Deny any so­cial ac­tivity that would be some­what costly and sub­sti­tute it for some per­sonal pro­ject, in­ter­net down­load, or analo­gous near-free al­ter­na­tive. Ex­er­cise out­side, not in the gym. Take notes on how good your days were, you may find out, as did Kingsley that: “We act as though com­fort and lux­ury were the chief re­quire­ments of life, when all that we need to make us happy is some­thing to be en­thu­si­as­tic about.” Fur­ther­more, with Barry Schwartz, you may find out that less is more, and when you have fewer op­tions of what to do, this gives you not only hap­piness, but ex­tra ca­pac­ity to use your psy­cholog­i­cal at­ten­tion to ac­tu­ally do what you want to do, do as Obama did, save your pre­cious share of mindspace.

There, I hope you feel more fully equipped not to make money, should you ever need this hard earned, prac­ti­cal life-skill. You’re wel­come.