Law 40: Despise the Free Lunch


What is offered for free is dangerous—it usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation. What has worth is worth paying for. By paying your own way you stay clear of gratitude, guilt, and deceit. It is also often wise to pay the full price—there are no cutting corners with excellence. Be lavish with your money and keep it circulating, for generosity is a sign and a magnet for power.

Being open and flexible with money also teaches the value of strategic generosity, a variation on the old trick of "giving when you are about to take." By giving the appropriate gift, you put the recipient under obligation. Generosity softens people up—to be deceived. By gaining a reputation for liberality, you win people's admiration while distracting them from your power plays. By strategically spreading your wealth, you charm the others, creating pleasure and making valuable allies.

Are You the Opposite Pole to the Powerful?

The Greedy Fish
· The greedy fish take the human side out of money.
· Cold and ruthless, they see only the lifeless balance sheet; viewing others solely as either pawns or obstructions in their pursuit of wealth, they trample on people's sentiments and alienate valuable allies.
· No one wants to work with the greedy fish, and over the years they end up isolated, which often prove their undoing.
· Greedy fish are the con artist's bread and butter:
· Lured by the bait of easy money, they swallow the ruse hook, line, and sinker.
· They are easy to deceive, for they spend so much time dealing with numbers (not with people) that they become blind to psychology, including their own.
· Avoid them before they exploit you or play on their greed to your gain.

The Bargain Demon
· Powerful people judge everything by what it costs, not just in money but in time, dignity, and peace of mind.
· This is exactly what Bargain Demons cannot do.
· Wasting valuable time digging for bargains, they worry endlessly about what they could have gotten elsewhere for a little less.
· The bargain item they do buy is often shabby; perhaps it needs costly repairs, or will have to be replaced twice as fast as a high-quality item.
· The costs of these pursuits—not always in money (though the price of a bargain is often deceptive) but in time and peace of mind—discourage normal people from undertaking them, but for the Bargain Demon the bargain is an end in itself.
· These types might seem to harm only themselves, but their attitudes are contagious.
· Unless you resist them they will infect you with the insecure feeling that you should have looked harder to find a cheaper price.
· Don't argue with them or try to change them.
· Mentally add up the cost, in time and inner peace if not in hidden financial expense, of the irrational pursuit of a bargain.

The Sadist
· Financial sadists play vicious power games with money as a way of asserting their power.
· They might, for example, make you wait for money that is owed you, promising you that the check is in the mail.
· They hire you to work for them, they meddle in every aspect of the job, haggling and giving you ulcers.
· Sadists seem to think that paying for something gives them the right to torture and abuse the seller.
· They have no sense of the courtier element in money.
· If you are unlucky enough to get involved with this type, accepting a financial loss may be better in the long run than getting entangled in their destructive power games.

The Indiscriminate Giver
· Indiscriminate Givers are generous because they want to be loved and admired by all.
· Their generosity is so indiscriminate and needy that it may not have the desired effect:
· If they give to one and all, why should the recipient feel special?
· Attractive as it may seem to make an Indiscriminate Giver your mark in any involvement with this type you will often feel burdened by their insatiable emotional needs.

The greedy neglect everything power really depends on: self-control, the goodwill of others, and so on. With one exception—death—no lasting change in fortune comes quickly. Sudden wealth rarely lasts, for it is built on nothing solid. Never let lust for money lure you out of the protective and enduring fortress of real power. Make power your goal and money will find its way to you.

The Power
· You must have grandeur of spirit.
· They can never reveal any pettiness.
· Money is the most visible arena in which to display either grandeur or pettiness.
· Best spend freely, then, and create a reputation for generosity, which in the end will pay great dividends.
· Never let financial details blind you to the bigger picture of how people perceive you. Their resentment will cost you in the long run.
· If you want to meddle in the work of creative people under your hire at least pay them well.
· Your money will buy their submission better than your displays of power.

5 Simple Lessons

1. Friends who offer favors without asking for payment will later want something far dearer than the money you would have paid them.
· The bargain has hidden problems, both material and psychological. Learn to pay and to pay well.
2. Bait your deceptions with the possibility of easy money.
· People are essentially lazy, and want wealth to fall in their lap rather than to work for it.
3. For a small sum, sell them advice on how to make millions (P. T. Barnum did this later in life);
· That small sum will become a fortune when multiplied by thousands of suckers.
4. Lure people in with the prospect of easy money and you have the room to work still more deceptions on them.
· Since greed is powerful enough to blind your victims to anything.
5. And as the Yellow Kid said, half the fun is teaching a moral lesson: Greed does not pay.