Pete the Planners Guide to Financial Ethics in the 21st Century

I’ve become skeptical over the last couple of years. Of what? Mainly government spending, corporate America, definitely the financial industry, and, oh yeah, you. Well, us. Look, I’m the first one to find blame with the major institutions that run this country, but I have come to realize that we, too, must strive to be better. To be smarter. To be…ethical. Isn’t that the basis of our country’s financial problems? Ethics? Big business and the financial industry have proven that they are more than willing to sell you up the river for a profit, without regard for even the most basic level of ethics.

I’m a big believer in personal responsibility. I realize that we can’t change these ignoble institutions, but we can hold ourselves to a higher standard. Here is what I’m committing to. Can you join me?

  1. Your employer is not your enemy. How many times have you heard stories of people “getting over” on their employer. It’s one thing to take advantage of your sick an personal days via strategy, but it’s another thing to take advantage of your employer. It is completely wrong to fudge hours. It is absolutely inappropriate to submit fraudulent reimbursement requests. In addition, any act of embezzlement, no matter how small, is flat wrong.
  2. Pricing mistakes you are aware at the register constitute stealing. Did the cashier hand you back a $10 instead of a $5? If you realize, and don’t correct it, then you are part of the problem. It is not found money. It is stealing. Found money is what you find blowing around on the street, or what you find in your letter-jacket that you haven’t worn in 15 years.
  3. You are 100% obligated to pay the debts you incur. Debt of any kind is incurred when you can’t or choose not to afford something. Thus, you go into debt to pay for it. When you default on a debt, the other party in the transaction gets screwed. Flat out. When you bail on your commitment to pay, you literally stick it to the other party. This fact may not bother you, but it should.
  4. Your family should not fall in-line behind your creditors. As you know, I am strictly opposed to lending or borrowing money to or from family members or friends. I believe (and have seen) that it is a recipe for disaster. But if you have ignored me, and currently owe money to family or friends, then don’t ignore your obligation to them. Make it an official priority in your life. Why should this debt fall behind your mortgage or car in regards to importance? It shouldn’t.
  5. Cheating your government cheats your neighbor Have you ever tried to circumvent any financial obligations that you have with the government? If so, you aren’t “getting over” on Uncle Sam, you are screwing your neighbor. Just because you may disagree with the government doesn’t mean you should stick it to your fellow citizens.

Are these reasonable? If so, or if not, let me know by leaving a comment.

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