Author Topic: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?  (Read 8219 times)

teltic

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 290
I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« on: October 14, 2018, 07:18:02 PM »
Hello fellow Mustachians!

I'm unethical.  I'm greedy. Side story: 5 years ago I was fired as a server for "misappropriations of assets".  They had a promotion in December... Buy a $50 gift card, get a $10 gift card free.  So I decided every customer paying cash turned into $50 gift cards ($50 card would immediately be applied to tables tab), so I could make an additional $10 (to cash out on another cash table later)... Anyway $1500 later I was caught and fired.

Anyway... I thought I learned my lesson... But here I am, trying to find ways to increase income, at all cost.

I currently work in finance and was relocated to another state.  Company is paying for my rent while I'm out here... They gave me a budget ($2500 a month); use it or lose it.  So I got a nice apartment and grabbed a roommate to pay me (free apartment, plus $1250 from roommate... Yay!).

Anyway... Now they want me to end my lease and move back home.  I'm sad to see this come to an end earlier than expected (should have lasted until Feb 2019)...

I'm thinking of dragging my feet to collect an extra month of rent... I'm also thinking of ending my lease, but not telling them to collect a few extra payments... I deserve it right?!? I'm technically underpaid... So this is a way to get my true market value?


CLEARLY I KNOW I'M IN THE WRONG.  I'm sad/mad/disappointed I have a brain like this.   Anyone else have this unethical mindset?  What do you do to help yourself?  God I want the money.  Money is my favorite drug.  But I understand that getting the money this way isn't the correct way of doing it.  Any books you recommend?  Meditation? I know this is all a fairly silly post.. But really... What do I do?

Thank you very much in advance :)  Please be gentle with me.

Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1757
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2018, 08:30:03 PM »
Therapy?

FamilyGuy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 314
  • Location: NC
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2018, 08:34:08 PM »
Curious what fellow mustachians has to say. PTF.

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3001
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2018, 08:41:28 PM »
Ethics aren't the problem here. You wouldn't believe what rich people get away with.
You can think these thoughts but you want to stay in the clear in with your company, assuming you don't want to get fired.
The problem is obsessing with these thoughts. That's where therapy can come in, cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful with obsessive thoughts.

You need to explore these 2 thoughts more deeply:
You think you are underpaid. Can you switch jobs, get a promotion? There are healthier ways of getting more money.
You say money is your favorite drug. Well money isn't a drug.
I think you are addicted to the story that you are "bad" that's what you need to work through in therapy.

Mrs.Piano

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 57
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2018, 08:56:13 PM »
What happens to the roommate in all of this? As to how to develop ethics, you are beginning or you would never have written the question.

teltic

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 290
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2018, 11:24:37 PM »
I've notified my roommate in September that it could happen... Then first week of October I told him it is happening. He's actually been looking for a job out of state... So it's only increased his efforts.  I just chatted with him after posting this question... He needs another month (end of Nov), which I'm totally fine dragging my feet to help him out (since I can pocket his $1250 one last month).

As for switching jobs, it doesn't make sense financially until June 2019 (401k will be 100% vested, $15k tuition reimbursement clause will be over).  So I'm underpaid by about $15-20k, but I will lose $15-20k if i leave any earlier (so technically I'm not underpaid?).

Maybe money isn't a drug... But I am obsessed with it to the point that it's probably an issue.

Interesting idea that I'm addicted to the story that I'm bad... I'll admit it is fun to talk about how I take advantage of my current benefits (they gave me 12 round trip flights to visit family, I've used them to travel the world... didn't give me a budget for car rental... I rented a Tesla.. etc). 

I still think ethics is the issue.  While there are other rich people being unethical... That doesn't mean I can be unethical as well? But then again maybe I'm overthinking it and should submit fake invoices to cash the rent payments.

mrmoonymartian

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 170
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Brisbane
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2018, 02:32:01 AM »
You just have to decide to control your behaviour so that you minimise harm to others. That includes financial harm to customers, investors, other employees, etc. It's not rocket surgery.

"The shortest and surest way to live with honour in the world is to be in reality what we appear to be." - Socrates

"Of more worth is one honest man to society than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived." - Thomas Paine

"As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters." - Seneca

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." - Gandhi

"As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"It is never too late to be what you might have been." - George Elliot

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2018, 05:07:39 AM »
It sounds like you need to ask your boss ďis this OKĒ before coming up with any more clever schemes using work benefits. Thatís an easy filter.

Itís nit clear from your post - are you being sent home because of your subleasing, or something else?

Louisville

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 499
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2018, 07:16:08 AM »
You're a compulsive thief. 
The good thing is, you realize it. Just start seeing a shrink.
I have an immediate family member who struggled with this. She got help and got past it. But, it's like a recovering alcoholic. She's "recovering" forever.

lonegun

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2018, 08:00:38 AM »
I think a LOT of people including forum members are trying to game the system in some way.

I recommend watching the TV show "The Good Place". The main character is a "Bad" person accidentally sent to the Good Place and tries to fix herself ethically to be allowed to stay. The show is very funny and clever as ethics are discussed  and is very thought provoking.

teltic

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 290
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2018, 08:41:59 AM »
It sounds like you need to ask your boss ďis this OKĒ before coming up with any more clever schemes using work benefits. Thatís an easy filter.

Itís nit clear from your post - are you being sent home because of your subleasing, or something else?

I'm being sent home early, as the work that was required was a lot easier than anticipated (I did what they wanted in 12 months, in 3... Then I sat around for another 5 months sitting on my hands.). 

I'll have to watch that TV show!  Sounds pretty good!!


Regarding asking my boss if its okay... The most I could do is show how much money I am saving the company, and ask for a bonus.  I'd say I'm saving $7500 (in my eyes I'm losing $7500).  Maybe asking this way is the right way, but I know they will pat me on the head and give me no more than a $2k bonus (which will get taxed heavily).



The first step is done... I can admit it.  I like the "compulsive thief" word.  I love gaming credit cards & bank signon bonuses... So gaming my benefits is just another way to pump up my returns (although it starts to get grey...).

I'll update you guys on what I actually do!  My gut tells me to play nice and only drag my feet for one more month, to help my roommate out (and collect $1250), then cut the lease.  I'm still tempted to say I can't cut my lease, but really do, to collect $2500 x 2 months)... :|


Tass

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1614
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Southern California
  • Working on a PhD...
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2018, 09:19:06 AM »
For me, there is a clear difference between dragging your feet on finding a new place in order to help your roommate and yourself vs ending the lease and claiming you haven't. The first is grey ethical territory. The second is black and white: you are telling a lie to continue collecting money you didn't deserve/need/earn. You could easily get fired if caught, and it could impact your search for a new job. That doesn't seem worthwhile to me.

Realistically, one of the big reasons that I tend to be a rule-follower is simply to avoid the anxiety of getting caught if I were breaking them. It's not a daily ethical struggle, it's just the simplest path, and there are still plenty of fully rule-abiding benefits to collect (i.e. credit card churning). Does this kind of anxiety not bother you?

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14042
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2018, 09:41:37 AM »
You need to carefully consider the risk/reward for the scenarios you're involved in.  Is the risk of losing your job (and potentially having future employers find out what you did - making future employment more difficult), worth the reward of a few hundred dollars?

I've found that most of the time the risk/reward comes out in favour of doing the right thing if you consider things from a long term perspective.

terran

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2127
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2018, 09:52:27 AM »
I still think ethics is the issue.  While there are other rich people being unethical... That doesn't mean I can be unethical as well? But then again maybe I'm overthinking it and should submit fake invoices to cash the rent payments.

There's a difference between taking full advantage of the benefits provided and breaking the law.

Renting a place at the top of the budget they gave you, then renting part of it out and keeping the income is questionable, and probably against what they'd WANT you to do, but unless there's an explicit prohibition against doing this (which there very well may be) then that's just what it is. Similar with renting the Tesla. And with quitting soon after your 401(k) vests and you don't have to pay back tuition reimbursement. These aren't how they want it to work, but as long as it's within the terms of employment, it comes down to what you feel ok doing.

My wife left her previous job shortly after completing a degree they paid for (there was nothing in her employers policies to prevent this). On the one hand this was a huge benefit, and I'm sure they would have liked her to stay and use her new knowledge while working for them. On the other hand she worked there a few years longer than she probably would have if she wasn't in the program, so they got a few extra years out of her in return for paying for the degree.

Submitting fake invoices for an apartment you're no longer renting, and pretending customers bought gift cards they didn't so you can get a discount that you apply to other customers and pocket the cash are both straight up fraud and theft. You deserved to get fired, and probably have criminal charges brought for those -- consider yourself lucky that you just got fired for the latter, and I wouldn't feel bad for you at all if worse happened if you do the former.

There are also grayer areas. There may be policies like "Employees are expected to travel by the most economical means practical." Clearly the Tesla doesn't fit that policy, but you're probably not breaking any laws (just policy). While I probably wouldn't feel comfortable renting the Tesla, I'd probably feel ok spending a few bucks more to rent something slightly above the cheapest econobox. Since the difference is literally dollars, I might even do that if it was my money.

A couple of methods you could try: Only do things that cost your employer money that you would do yourself if it were your money. Only do things you would be comfortable telling your boss you were doing. If you feel like you can justify spending a little more than you absolutely have to, I think that's fine. For example, I don't think it's reasonable for your employer to expect you to eat at McDonald's for every meal while you're traveling even if that would be the cheapest option for them. You'd probably feel perfectly fine telling your boss that's not reasonable and you expect to be able to eat something more healthy without coming out of pocket. But I'm sure you can think of restaurant options you wouldn't try to convince your boss the company should pay for.

FINate

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1361
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2018, 10:43:21 AM »
I think you need to consider both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators as ways to improve your ethics. One or the other may work best for you, or even a mix of both.

For me the intrinsic motivators are most effective, though maybe this is because I'm an introvert with a rich inner world :) YMMV. In any case, an intrinsic motivation for ethics is focused on how your actions affect others and your internal view of self (as opposed to external consequences/rewards). In essence this is empathy. How would you feel about someone who's always trying to take advantage of you, trying to scheme against you? Is that how you want to treat others, including employers?

In the case of someone or some employer mistreating you (e.g. feeling underpaid, someone cheating you) the ethical question is still "is this how I think people should be treated in general?" And so returning the favor, so to speak, is lowering your internal ethical standard to to their level which then erodes your own integrity. The ethical response is to treat them with the integrity they do not deserve while seeking proper recourse (finding a new job, legal options, so on).

If, however, you have Antisocial Personality Disorder (lacking empathy, concern for others, etc.) then seek therapy.

As for extrinsic motivators, you need to consider how useful your scheming actually is relative to other possible efforts. I had a friend in highschool (damn, that was a long time ago) who was always scheming, usually very gray area ethically and legally, occasionally outright illegal. I was always amazed at how much effort went into these schemes as compared to how little they yielded. In the end he would have been better off instead focusing on getting a degree or learning a career skill.

Similarly, I have a relative in law enforcement who often comments at how hard criminals work at being criminals. Almost all would be better off just getting a minimum wage job. Would be less work and make more money, all while staying out of trouble.

In the case of your gift card scheme, how much time and effort did you have to put into the $1500 payout, and how much income did you lose after getting fired while finding another job? In other words, is your behavior actually beneficial compared to the more ethical life? <-- I think this can be effective, though I find it unsatisfying because there are instances where unethical behavior produces a much higher monetary payout even though this erodes one's self. So for this reason I still prefer intrinsic motivators.

JanetJackson

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Location: United States
    • How I actually made $50 just for taking a survey and being in the healthcare marketplace
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2018, 11:06:40 AM »
This entire post/thread is very interesting to me.

I must admit that having grown up poor, I tend to SEE the opportunities for borderline unethical behavior that could result in cash much more often than peers or friends who grew up with more financial stability.

I have never acted on those opportunities except for ONCE when I was 24 and I chatted up the guys at the dealership repair shop and they gave me 2 decent tires that they were supposed to be sending to recycling.
I had made it clear that I needed tires to go visit my family for the holidays and that I would REALLY be stretched if I had to buy them.  Both of these statements were true, but I feel like I really laid on the 'sob story' here, and I also think I used my relative attractiveness as a 24 year old female (I was a fairly conventionally attractive human at the time) to elicit machismo and sympathy for my benefit.

In short, I feel like I manipulated them, and I've never forgotten it.  This was ten years ago and I still feel VERY ICKY about it.

The thing is, I still notice the opportunities that others don't.
If I were a server at the same place you were, YOU'D BETTER BET I'D HAVE CONSIDERED DOING THE SAME THING... but I wouldn't have done it, for risk of losing my job or being charged with some type of criminal activity for manipulating funds.  Unethical?  Eh... But something that could get me fired?  DefinitelyÖ so I would not have done it.


I think having a somewhat bleak outlook on life contributes A LOT to this type of behavior and mindset. 
I too, always think someone is trying to cheat me. 
I also think that everyone is constantly trying to cheat one another... nonstop. 

Every boss is trying to milk the employees for more than they're being paid... every employee is trying to do as little work as possible, or only doing a lot so that they can make a promotion in a few years to milk more money out of their boss... and all of those people are shopping for the cheapest crap to fill their homes with on the backs of workers who are working in conditions that are juuuust good enough that they won't quit... but ideal for the company to milk the most out of them, etc. etc.  and on down the line...
Honestly, if your thinking is similar, I'd recommend therapy.  It's painful and dangerous to have that worldview.  Take it from someone who does. :/

charis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1738
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2018, 12:37:49 PM »
I have never acted on those opportunities except for ONCE when I was 24 and I chatted up the guys at the dealership repair shop and they gave me 2 decent tires that they were supposed to be sending to recycling.
I had made it clear that I needed tires to go visit my family for the holidays and that I would REALLY be stretched if I had to buy them.  Both of these statements were true, but I feel like I really laid on the 'sob story' here, and I also think I used my relative attractiveness as a 24 year old female (I was a fairly conventionally attractive human at the time) to elicit machismo and sympathy for my benefit.

In short, I feel like I manipulated them, and I've never forgotten it.  This was ten years ago and I still feel VERY ICKY about it.

Maybe I'm ignorant on the topic of tires, but I don't understand how getting two older tires, on the way to being trashed, for free is in any way unethical.   Or even manipulative, really.  I'm not doubting your attractiveness, but I am doubting that much sympathy needs to be mustered to give away two tires being sent out to pasture. 

Dianalou

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 35
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2018, 12:55:40 PM »
I think it's true that we all dabble in the grey area now and then, but you need to give yourself a check and balance. It sounds like the advice of, 'Would my boss be OK with me doing this?' is a good starting point. You legitimately committed fraud and stole from your company with the gift card thing. I'm surprised they only fired you to be honest. The rent sublet arrangement seems to be borderline, but probably still on the up and up if you read the fine print. I think that following the letter of the law but getting the perks isn't bad, like keeping the bank account just long enough to get the sign on bonus, or cancelling your free subscription after one month. You followed their terms, it just didn't end how they wanted it to. I think going to therapy really is a good idea. Sounds like there is more behind what's going on.

Personally, I do all the online ordering for my company of office supplies etc. I order everything through ebates and get the cash back. BUT I always price compare so it's not actually costing the firm anything extra. And I told one of my co-workers about it who is in the finance department and she was totally fine with it. I have an extremely guilty conscience though, I can't tell a lie to save my life.

SillyPutty

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2018, 12:58:37 PM »
"I'm still tempted to say I can't cut my lease, but really do, to collect $2500 x 2 months)... :|"

Do it. Your employer will find out, and you'll get fired, and maybe it'll be enough to break you of these habits.

(Just kidding thoughódon't do it. That's theft, and could be a felony where you live.)

JanetJackson

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Location: United States
    • How I actually made $50 just for taking a survey and being in the healthcare marketplace
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2018, 01:13:24 PM »
I have never acted on those opportunities except for ONCE when I was 24 and I chatted up the guys at the dealership repair shop and they gave me 2 decent tires that they were supposed to be sending to recycling.
I had made it clear that I needed tires to go visit my family for the holidays and that I would REALLY be stretched if I had to buy them.  Both of these statements were true, but I feel like I really laid on the 'sob story' here, and I also think I used my relative attractiveness as a 24 year old female (I was a fairly conventionally attractive human at the time) to elicit machismo and sympathy for my benefit.

In short, I feel like I manipulated them, and I've never forgotten it.  This was ten years ago and I still feel VERY ICKY about it.

Maybe I'm ignorant on the topic of tires, but I don't understand how getting two older tires, on the way to being trashed, for free is in any way unethical.   Or even manipulative, really.  I'm not doubting your attractiveness, but I am doubting that much sympathy needs to be mustered to give away two tires being sent out to pasture.
Haha, I understand and didn't think you were questioning my former attractiveness (I'm much older now and look QUITE different).  They have to turn the nicer tires in for some kind of credit (I think they sell them in bundles to those used tire places), so they're technically not allowed to give them away.  These tires were pretty decent.

Slee_stack

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 854
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2018, 01:41:43 PM »
Are you naturally unethical in all things?

Is it just a You against your Employer thing?

Would you screw over a stranger to get ahead?

I do believe everyone is unethical, at least in some small way....even if its just gaming some system legally (ie CC churning, sick day, whatever).

I like to think I'm more of the 'white lie' unethical type though.  i do believe that 99% of the time, I do the 'right' thing.


Except for work...I do think I slack off a good deal more than I should.  Oh well.  Maybe I am a bad person  :P


meghan88

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 702
  • Location: Montreal
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2018, 02:24:36 PM »
Posting to follow.

Plugging Along

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 106
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2018, 08:09:10 PM »
Do you really want to change? 

I can understand  why one would want to take advantage of things when they donít have money.  I was taught to fight and work for what I wanted.   That being said, I believe in karma and you reap what you sow.  Unless itís a life or death situation, how I view myself is much more important than money. 

I Have found if I view the world as a negative place where everyone is out to get everyoneís it leaves me in a negative state of mind.  I found when I try to look at things in a positive light and try to find the good, I feel much more at peace with things.   I remember watching some shows on happiness, and one of the biggest determinations was ones perspective and point of view.  If people looked at the negative and tried toeven out the universe, then may end up with more stuff, but they werenít happy.

So I have chosen to be happy.  With that, it means that I do things because itís the right thing to do, as a result I know I can always live with myself.  I donít care what others have or what is perceived to be unfair, I will do something about it. 

If you are truly interested in changing, you can look inside yourself to see why you feel itís okay to do the things your do when you know you shouldnít.  There is usually something there.  Looking inside will give you longer term change.   However, in the short term, ask yourself, if I do this and it was disclosed in public about yourself, would you and others be okay with that?

SunnyDays

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 457
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2018, 09:32:32 PM »
Having thoughts of scamming others to get ahead probably isn't very unusual, but whether you actually DO it comes down to your character.  What kind of person do you want to be?  Honest or dishonest?  A series of "scams" that get found out affects your reputation long term and without that, you really have nothing.  Perhaps your obsession with such schemes comes from feeling like a victim in life?  You know, the "I'll get back at them" mentality.  Is it really about the money or just the satisfaction of pulling one over on people?  How much money would be enough to not think these thoughts? How much is a positive self-image worth to you?  I once read that if you wouldn't be willing to publicly announce your actions, then you shouldn't be doing them.  Seems to me that's a good guideline to live life by.  Best of luck wrestling with your conscience.

mrcheese

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 134
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2018, 01:57:35 AM »
I know a few 'naturally unethical' people, they make fantastic salesmen but aren't great at playing the long game.
One is now in his seventies and went from having it all to living on the age pension in subsidised seniors housing within 2 years and he's still trying to wheel and deal to get those big bucks again.  He has nothing to show for a lifetime of entrepreneurial-ism except multiple failed marriages and some ongoing court cases.
Another is close to my own age and married my former flatmate, that marriage has failed (it was only surprising in how long it lasted) but he still has money for now so even though he is rather plain, the gold diggers will still talk to him.
You've recognised you may have a problem - that is good and future you will thank you for it.
Just remember you've also got to play the long game.

Minnowstache

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 354
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #25 on: October 16, 2018, 03:31:38 AM »
I think it is an entitlement thing you need to work through. My brother is a bit like this  - feels life owes him for the shitty hand he was dealt - and he is not wrong - his childhood was worse than mine - which is saying something.

But I got a job at 12 delivering papers 6 days a week - when I was 15 I got a job in a supermarket 6 days a week and gave him my paper round - he got fired in a month for taking the subscription money - and boasted to me just a couple of years ago that he used to steal all my tips from my room when I had it. He even got caught stealing money from the church donation box.

So, rolling on 40 years he is in social housing and unemployable.

 I have a $1.5m house and good salary.

The difference is attitude - I never blamed anyone or anything for my situation or thought I was ďunderpaidĒ so I deserved ďitĒ. I realised that I was the only one who could change my fortune - so I did it - and so can you!

 If I want a pay rise I get a better job by getting a good reference and selling myself to the next employer. I use charm to get ahead not to fool people or gain a short term advantage.

Turkey Leg

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 201
  • Location: US
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #26 on: October 16, 2018, 05:01:36 AM »
I do believe everyone is unethical, at least in some small way....even if its just gaming some system legally (ie CC churning, sick day, whatever).
How is credit card churning unethical?

I can see how answering questions untruthfully on credit card applications would be unethical. But Iím a casual churner, and Iíve never once liedónot on an app and not when closing a card.

Turkey Leg

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 201
  • Location: US
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #27 on: October 16, 2018, 05:03:39 AM »

Villanelle

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2957
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #28 on: October 16, 2018, 05:36:33 AM »
I agree that this seems like it has to do with a sense of entitlement.  And therapy can likely help with that, but it will probably be hard, emotional work and require some brutal self-assessment.

Also, on a small scale, you can remind yourself that you are being foolish.  Risking getting fired and losing your income?  That runs contrary to your stated goal of getting more money.  This doesn't even address how you probably (hopefully) feel about yourself behaving in ways you clearly know are unethical.  Just from a practical standpoint, your CC scheme got you fired (and may have been illegal, depending on how you ran the charges), and it sounds like this rent thing might put your employment at risk, too. Penny wise, pound foolish.  You got $1500 but lose your job. 

These things go beyond gaming the system, because generally gaming the system doesn't require dishonesty. 

charis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1738
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #29 on: October 16, 2018, 07:03:51 AM »
I do believe everyone is unethical, at least in some small way....even if its just gaming some system legally (ie CC churning, sick day, whatever).
How is credit card churning unethical?

I can see how answering questions untruthfully on credit card applications would be unethical. But Iím a casual churner, and Iíve never once liedónot on an app and not when closing a card.

I agree - how is this unethical? Are we talking signing bonuses? Because they work exactly like they are supposed to, even for churners (lying on an application is a very different matter and basically fraud).  Is it unethical to submit an application to a company that can grant or deny opening an account for basically any reason?
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 03:50:06 AM by jezebel »

Noodle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1194
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #30 on: October 16, 2018, 07:30:07 AM »
Honestly, when it comes to changing long-term patterns of thinking, that's what therapists are for. They are trainers for your brain like you might hire an athletic trainer at the gym to help you improve your physical fitness.

If that's not practical, however--are these behaviors just something that goes on at work, or something you see throughout your life?

If it's just work, it might help to remember a couple of things. First of all, although it's often an unwritten rule, most employers will assume that part of professional behavior is good stewardship--taking care of their assets--just like you are responsible for the professional reputation of your company (ie, even if you're not on the clock, you really shouldn't be a sloppy drunk while wearing company-branded clothing). So even if you aren't breaking a specific policy, you may be violating this unwritten rule. And secondly, people notice what you're doing. Even if there are no specific consequences, there may be indirect consequences (ie, someone who later gets promoted to manager doesn't hire you for a job you really want because they think you have iffy ethics.)

And yes, definitely watch "The Good Place." Here's an article I hope you can read: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/04/magazine/good-place-michael-schur-philosophy.html Scroll down to the end for the discussion of the show's moral philosophy.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14042
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #31 on: October 16, 2018, 07:36:36 AM »
Honestly, when it comes to changing long-term patterns of thinking, that's what therapists are for. They are trainers for your brain like you might hire an athletic trainer at the gym to help you improve your physical fitness.

I like your analogy, but not your conclusion here.  You don't need an athletic trainer to get fit, and you don't need a therapist to change your behaviour (although either might help - particularly if you've failed to develop life skills in that area).  You need to recognize the problem, be willing to change, map out a course of action, and then regularly monitor progress.

snogirl

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 367
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #32 on: October 16, 2018, 09:30:48 AM »
I've learned I'm responsible for my second thought first action.
First thought = Use customers money to buy gift cards
Second thought = I could lose my job.
First action = Take cash from customer and run through register give receipt to Customer. Keep job.
It's a choice. Own it.

Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk


thesis

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 185
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #33 on: October 16, 2018, 09:55:20 AM »
There's a difference between taking full advantage of the benefits provided and breaking the law.

This.

One of the FI bloggers (can't remember who) told a story where the tax accountant he/she hired had the philosophy that, "if you aren't being audited you aren't claiming enough deductions". Every year that blogger used that accountant, they were audited, but the audit turned up clear - everything they claimed was a good claim.

From that perspective, you are naturally skilled at optimizing your resources. So you need to channel this strength away from specifically unethical behavior and towards optimizing your position in "the system". I suspect this is what makes you so interested in FI and why you are on these boards :).

Every strength is a double-edged sword, you can use it for good or bad. Don't feel bad that you are good at this, feel bad that you've used it in the wrong ways. Therapy or counseling might help, you may be addicted to the thrill of doing the wrong thing and may need to break free of that. I don't know. But in general, there are some healthy outlets for your skills if you can find them. Even tax loopholes can be the deal, and technically that's what the Megabackdoor Roth is :)

teltic

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 290
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #34 on: October 16, 2018, 11:01:20 AM »
Thank you everyone!  It was fun reading all your comments

1. With the Giftcard scandal; they gave me the option to immediately pay them back & get fired, or else they'd report it to the police (in the state, it would have been 30 days in prison, and of course on my permanent record).  Obviously I paid them back...  Funny how it's only been 7 years and I'm already getting close to this territory of theft/misappropriation of company assets.

2. I'd never do something unethical that would hurt customers/people.  I have this... for some reason, idea that I "deserve" it. "My work is more efficient than others, I need a bonus." attitude.   There's also the fun side of it trying to game whatever benefit they give me... Maximize all opportunities, right?


Therapy could be an option... Although my finance side screams no and that it'll delay my FI date (haha).  So for now I'll face punch myself and go to the library and read a couple self help books. :)

I do need to think long term, and think less of a... cut throat mentality.  Maybe everyone isn't selfish and would break/bend the law to get what they want.  Maybe my company is paying me a fair salary (regardless, it's my decision to stay).



The plan is to help my roommate transition to another place, then terminate the lease and not game the system *sheds 1 tear*.  I'll consider this good practice on doing the right thing :)

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2310
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #35 on: October 16, 2018, 12:54:56 PM »
Interesting idea that I'm addicted to the story that I'm bad... I'll admit it is fun to talk about how I take advantage of my current benefits (they gave me 12 round trip flights to visit family, I've used them to travel the world... didn't give me a budget for car rental... I rented a Tesla.. etc).

Pay attention to this.  Sounds to me that your self-image is that you are smarter than the average bear, and so finding ways to take advantage of a situation -- and then getting away with it -- is how you prove that to yourself and the world.  And every time you cross that line and don't get called to account, you get that little thrill that reinforces that you are special, you are smart, you are on the ball, you are one-up on everyone else. 

So, first, therapy.  This is all about how you talk to yourself about yourself, how you validate your own worth.  A good therapist will help you work through that.

Second, start thinking longer-term and trying to look at your situation objectively.  How are your relationships -- do you have good friendships with people you respect and admire?  How's that career trajectory -- are you moving up as you'd like, are your bosses supporting you?  I am old enough to realize that you get what you give.  People who are close to you will notice all those little things -- even if your boss, for example, doesn't pick up on a particular scam, he will figure out from your behavior with everyone else that you are in it for whatever you can get.  And friends?  Are you attracting the kind of people who reflect who you want to be? 

See, you think that regaling people with the stories of how you put one over on the boss makes you look clever and powerful.  But to those ethical people you say you want to be like, it just comes across as "selfish asshole."  So the picture you paint of yourself pushes away the people you say you want to be like, and attracts the people who think that getting away with borderline theft is cool.  Is that what you want?  And most important, are you creating a "you" that you feel proud of?  Is this guy, right here, the man you want to be?

If you are happy with who you are and how your life is going, then more power to you -- stay on the right side of the law, and go live the life you want.  But if you are feeling some little niggling disappointment or dissatisfaction with some aspect of your life, then that's your spur to change.  You are teaching people how to treat you every day -- and right now you are telling them that they can't trust you, because your top priority is looking out for whatever you can get for yourself.  So if that isn't bringing you the results you want, focus less on yourself and more on how you can do right by others, and see if that doesn't bring you different results.

Turkey Leg

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 201
  • Location: US
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #36 on: October 16, 2018, 01:51:46 PM »

How is credit card churning unethical?

I can see how answering questions untruthfully on credit card applications would be unethical. But Iím a casual churner, and Iíve never once liedónot on an app and not when closing a card.
Thereís a lot more to ethics, though, than simply not lying. Lying can be ethical; doing something without involving a lie can be unethical.
I agree there is more to ethics than not lying. However, I don't see how it's possible to be unethical when signing up for credit cards when you don't lie to the credit card company.

OtherJen

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1588
  • Location: Metro Detroit
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #37 on: October 16, 2018, 01:58:39 PM »
2. I'd never do something unethical that would hurt customers/people.  I have this... for some reason, idea that I "deserve" it. "My work is more efficient than others, I need a bonus." attitude.   There's also the fun side of it trying to game whatever benefit they give me... Maximize all opportunities, right?

Except you DID hurt your restaurant customers by not giving them the option to benefit from the gift card promotion. Instead, you profited from their ignorance. Iíd be furious if I learned that my server did that on my dime. You absolutely didnít deserve that bonus. That benefit was never given to or intended for you.

Slee_stack

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 854
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #38 on: October 16, 2018, 02:26:42 PM »
I thought I might ruffle a few feathers with casually mentioning CC churning as unethical.

Firstly, I CC churn myself (alot!) and have bragged about it on more than one occasion.   I've also convinced family and friends to get in on it too.

However.....I still view it as gaming a system.  Call it a loophole or unintended consequence if you like.   It might be a system that games the larger public itself (and far more negatively) but does one lesser wrong makes a right?


I am fully aware that I am signing up for, and dumping cards to take financial advantage in a way that is surely not intended.

I doubt anybody believes that the intent of these CC bonuses is to just give money away.  Its to gain new customers.  If I have no intent of being a customer, am I not being the slightest bit unethical by signing up for the card?

I admit that CC churning might be about as mild an offense on the ethics scale as there is.   I believe it still registers though.



« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 02:28:53 PM by Slee_stack »

Samuel

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Location: the slippery slope
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #39 on: October 16, 2018, 02:48:30 PM »
Credit card churning is not unethical unless you lie or misrepresent in order to qualify. The companies run promotions to attract new customers and set the perimeters very deliberately, knowing a small number of very organized and motivated people will come out ahead. It's still a valid business model because so many people are disorganized and complacent.

The OP has some kind of agreement with his company to provide this housing benefit for this short term relocation. I'd bet money it has a clause about not subletting or allowing non-specified others to live in the unit (for insurance reasons alone). To agree to that and intentionally violate it is clearly unethical, and likely fraud. If there isn't a separate agreement, or if it doesn't prohibit subletting, then sure, you're "gaming the system".

As for how to improve your ethics (when you're not especially motivated to do so) I have two suggestions:
1) Soul searching, therapy, reading and mediation on the spiritual and long term practical value of personal integrity, reputation, and honor.
2) Get caught scamming an employer and lose your job (and possibly your career, finance is a field where thievery is not quickly forgotten). That would probably prompt some self-reflection.

This actually just sounds like another variation of the old "inability to delay gratification" problem.

Turkey Leg

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 201
  • Location: US
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #40 on: October 16, 2018, 07:03:45 PM »
Credit card churning is not unethical unless you lie or misrepresent in order to qualify. The companies run promotions to attract new customers and set the perimeters very deliberately, knowing a small number of very organized and motivated people will come out ahead. It's still a valid business model because so many people are disorganized and complacent.
Also credit card issuers (Chase, etc.) and networks (VISA, etc.) make money on each transaction. Credit card issuers may also charge an annual fee.

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/credit-card-companies-money/

driftwood

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 339
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #41 on: October 17, 2018, 12:03:37 PM »
I mentally do the same with everything. EVERYTHING. I immediately look for a loophole or way to do something easier, or to make money from it.

Normally after thinking about how I could use the system, I move on and just do the morally acceptable thing.

For example:  Most Air Force units will give a member a day pass (free day off) if they score 90% or above on a physical fitness test. Once you score over a 90%, you don't have to retest for a year, but you can do a walk-in test any time you want. So immediately I start thinking... I could take a test probably every 3-4 months, and no one would realize I was doing this so often, and I'd get 3-4 days off a year instead of the 1. Never did it though.

Your scheme with the gift cards was great, I would've done the same thing.

We also get a housing allowance, and if we rent under that housing allowance we get to keep the difference... this leads to all kinds of ideas. Be homeless and use the gym and pocket the whole amount? AirBnB the other bedrooms?

I think you don't need to worry about being 'ethical', but be careful to keep your schemes in the 'loophole' realm and not the 'illegal' realm.

charis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1738
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #42 on: October 17, 2018, 12:49:31 PM »
2. I'd never do something unethical that would hurt customers/people.  I have this... for some reason, idea that I "deserve" it. "My work is more efficient than others, I need a bonus." attitude.   There's also the fun side of it trying to game whatever benefit they give me... Maximize all opportunities, right?

Except you DID hurt your restaurant customers by not giving them the option to benefit from the gift card promotion. Instead, you profited from their ignorance. Iíd be furious if I learned that my server did that on my dime. You absolutely didnít deserve that bonus. That benefit was never given to or intended for you.

Would you feel differently if the customer was aware of the promotion?  I still think it amounts to misappropriation and misuse of funds as to the employer company, but the customer is not getting hurt.

SnackDog

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1284
  • Location: Latin America
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #43 on: October 17, 2018, 01:07:12 PM »
In my experience (strictly secondhand) these behaviors and the consequences escalate over time and in the end the only person who gets screwed is you.  You eventually end up losing a really important job, divorced, in jail, or at the bottom of a lake wearing concrete galoshes.   In the interim, your little scams which get you a few pennies ahead lose you the trust of lots of people, including yourself, to the point that nobody trusts you or wants to be around you.  Pretty miserable life.

You could end up like Phil Silvers here (start at about 12:00) 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLP9Lva1wZI

madgeylou

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2404
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #44 on: October 17, 2018, 01:35:22 PM »
I used to be a lot like you, OP. Felt like I'm smarter than the average bear and entitled to some nice bonuses because of that and also because I was dealt a somewhat shitty hand by life.

What cured me of it was having an 11 year old friend who I saw following in my footsteps. I saw her stealing something and realized she was doing what she had seen me do and brag about and I felt terrible about it, and from that day I haven't stolen or gamed much of anything.

I still do push the envelope a little further than most people seem to -- I take a little more vacation each year than my colleagues, I work from home and do not feel the need to be at my desk all day every day, I travel when I want and assume that work will be OK with it -- but I don't steal or lie or anything like that.

I'm lucky that my "rock bottom" wasn't that bad. Hopefully it's the same for you.

BicycleB

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1576
  • Location: Live Music Capital of the World
  • Older than the internet, but not wiser... yet
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #45 on: October 17, 2018, 04:13:55 PM »
The most striking thing that confirms you are unethical in my view is that you don't see a difference between lying to get money, and getting money in other ways. Many of your schemes are clearly unethical, some are clearly illegal. That you don't naturally "feel" the normal lines of what's ethical is a good sign that your nature is indeed unethical from a normal person's view.

I think that to change, follow every suggestion made so far. Including the therapy.

At some point, you will not change without effort. Dismissing therapy due to cost suggests to me you will not change.

Once I received a lecture from a woman who was in charge of a national investing association. They did a study of big time corporate fraudsters, the multimillion dollar to billion dollar crooks. Most started out by filling out fake receipts for corporate expense accounts. If you want to keep yourself in check, make the effort to follow the suggestions.

Villanelle

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2957
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #46 on: October 18, 2018, 01:07:38 AM »
I mentally do the same with everything. EVERYTHING. I immediately look for a loophole or way to do something easier, or to make money from it.

Normally after thinking about how I could use the system, I move on and just do the morally acceptable thing.

For example:  Most Air Force units will give a member a day pass (free day off) if they score 90% or above on a physical fitness test. Once you score over a 90%, you don't have to retest for a year, but you can do a walk-in test any time you want. So immediately I start thinking... I could take a test probably every 3-4 months, and no one would realize I was doing this so often, and I'd get 3-4 days off a year instead of the 1. Never did it though.

Your scheme with the gift cards was great, I would've done the same thing.

We also get a housing allowance, and if we rent under that housing allowance we get to keep the difference... this leads to all kinds of ideas. Be homeless and use the gym and pocket the whole amount? AirBnB the other bedrooms?

I think you don't need to worry about being 'ethical', but be careful to keep your schemes in the 'loophole' realm and not the 'illegal' realm.
Even though it was illegal and he could have gone to jail for it, and did end up being fired for it?  You later say the OP should be careful to keep his schemes legal, so I'm hoping you just missed the part that what he did was illegal when you said it was "great".

Even you PFA scam, which was legal, would have been a terrible idea. (So "keep it legal" doesn't seem like nearly enough of a line to draw.)  Perhaps is you were getting out soon and didn't care about evaluations or anything else, it wouldn't have mattered, but had your command noticed you doing this (had you chosen to), you would have immediately been a dirtbag in their minds, almost certainly.  There go promotions and other opportunities.  And when someone doesn't go t work their coworkers pick up the slack, so they likely wouldn't have been to thrilled with or gracious about this either.  Penny wise, pound foolish. 

And that's just the practical side, before we even get to the actual ethics considerations. 

JenniferW

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 322
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #47 on: October 18, 2018, 11:01:23 AM »
I my new obsession with credit card hacking unethical ? Do I need therapy? :). Really looking forward to the $500 for spending $3000 on CapitalOne Savor credit card! :)

koshtra

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
    • Mole
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #48 on: October 18, 2018, 12:56:57 PM »
Such an interesting question!

You're not "naturally" unethical, though. You've developed some unethical habits of mind -- some of which you act on, some of which you don't. If I thought as much as you do about how I could game/scam systems, who knows what temptations I might give in to? I don't think the problem is how much you give in to temptation. It's how much you expose yourself to it.

When I find my mind start drifting toward "how could I scam this?" I pull it right back. And it's not because I'm particularly ethical: it's because I don't want to live in a mental world in which I'm not on the same side as the people I interact with. Not even for long enough to do the mental exercise of figuring out the scam. I just really, really don't want to live there. I treasure feeling like I'm part of a group that I trust and which trusts me. It makes me happy -- in that basic, deep-down way of "I belong here and I'm doing what I should be doing with my life."

Of course part of that is that I've found people I DO trust and groups I DO want to be part of. You may not have found those. I also suspect that you've spent too much time around people who aren't as smart as you are. I grew up that way, in a small town that wasn't really full of geniuses, and it gave me an inflated idea of how smart I was -- it made me wonder whether I was really even of the same species as the people around me. It was a bad start to life. I got lucky later on: I found people who were really smart -- a lot smarter than I was. That right there cured me of a lot of bad mental habits.

As far as changing your mind goes -- it takes time and effort. Therapy's one method; meditation is another. You need to learn to change the course of your thoughts in real time. "Oops, thinking out a scam again... let's think about legitimate hacks instead!" It's totally doable. You need to have the motivation clear, you need to identify the trouble spots, you need to have the skill of observing your mind in action, and you need to have an alternate course to nudge it into. Just a set of skills, like riding a bike.

Duke03

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 259
Re: I'm naturally unethical. How do I change?
« Reply #49 on: October 18, 2018, 01:00:11 PM »
I my new obsession with credit card hacking unethical ? Do I need therapy? :). Really looking forward to the $500 for spending $3000 on CapitalOne Savor credit card! :)


Welcome to the club...I remember when I was new and it was all so fresh.  Just wait till you are handling P5 accounts and MSing 50k a month and thinking about bumping it 100k because you've gotten use to first class seats.  That or you get mad at your SO because they went to the grocery store and only bought groceries and not $2500 worth of gift cards...  The other day I thought my credit card was stolen when I only saw a charge for $173 at the grocery store and not the normal $2600-$2800 charge.