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Money Motivators
American Middle Class

Money Motivators

The estimated reading time for this post is 260 seconds

Since the beginning of time, from the silver and gold era economy to fractional reserve banking, money has been one of the most powerful motivators in the world. 

Money drives people’s behaviors and decisions, from pursuing a particular career path to starting a business; the potential financial gains often serve as the primary driving force for people to work hard and take risks.

Money as a Motivator

Money is often considered the most powerful motivator because it can provide many benefits, such as access to material possessions, improved social status, and a better quality of life. 

The desire to earn more often drives people to seek higher-paying jobs or work longer hours. It is also why many people choose to pursue a career in a field that offers high-paying salaries, such as medicine or law.

Money can also motivate people to work harder and be more productive. 

A Society for Human Resource Management study found that 78% of employees reported that recognition and rewards motivated them to work harder. 

Rewards, such as bonuses or promotions, are often tied to performance metrics, which can motivate employees to work harder and achieve better results.

Furthermore, money can also motivate people to take risks and be more entrepreneurial. The promise of financial rewards can encourage people to start businesses or invest in new ventures. This is because the potential for financial gain can outweigh the fear of failure.

Basic needs:  Money as a Means of Survival

Many people’s primary motivation behind earning money is to meet their basic needs. This includes things like food, shelter, and healthcare. 

When people do not have enough money to meet their physiological needs, it can cause stress and anxiety, negatively impacting their physical and mental health.

In many parts of the world, poverty is a significant problem. According to the World Bank, around 9.2% of the world’s population lived in abject poverty in 2017. This means that they lived on less than $1.90 per day. For impoverished people, money is often the only way to meet their basic needs. They don’t have the luxury of aligning personal values, passions, and interests with financial gain. 

However, even for people not living in poverty, the need to climb the social ladder or avoid downward mobility can be a powerful motivator. 

Enough money to cover expenses, save for retirement, and handle emergencies provides unyielding financial security.

This motivation often leads to pursuing high-paying jobs, investing in the stock market, and creating multiple income streams.

The inability to meet these needs can cause significant stress and anxiety, negatively impacting a person’s well-being.

Social status:  Money as a Symbol of Success

Money can also be a motivator because of the social status it provides. In many cultures, wealth is seen as a symbol of success and status. 

The desire to achieve a higher social status can motivate people to work harder and earn more money.

For example, in the United States, there is a strong cultural emphasis on the American Dream. This is the idea that anyone, regardless of background, can succeed through hard work and determination. 

One of the primary ways that success is measured in the United States is through wealth. Therefore, the desire to achieve the American Dream can motivate people to work harder and earn more money.

Americans work, on average, 1800 hours per year which is significantly longer than the 1500 hours worked in France and the 1400 hours worked in Germany. Numerous Americans believe that self-actualization can be achieved through wealth.

Wealth can also provide access to social networks and opportunities that would not be available to lower-income people. 

For example, wealthy people may have access to exclusive clubs, events, and organizations that can provide opportunities for networking and socializing with other successful people.

Financial Independence: Money as a Means of Freedom

Many aspire to achieve financial independence, supporting themselves without relying on others. 

Financial independence provides a sense of freedom, allowing people to pursue their passions and live on their terms.

The desire for financial independence often motivates people to start businesses, work hard to earn promotions, or invest in income-generating assets.

The U. S. is one of the most overworked nations in the world. However, American workers have been curtailing their work habits lately.  

They no longer want to work crazy long hours until full retirement age, 67 or 66, for those born from 1943 to 1954. 

The chief example is the popularity of the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement, which prioritizes investing and savings. The FIRE movement’s disciples’ goal is to save 50% or more of their income so they can retire early.


Money is a powerful motivator that can influence our behaviors and attitudes in various ways. Money can provide many benefits, whether the desire to accumulate wealth, meet basic needs, or achieve a higher social status. 

However, it is crucial to recognize that money is not the only motivator; many other factors can influence our behaviors and attitudes. 

Ultimately, the key to understanding money motivations is to recognize that they are complex and multifaceted and can vary significantly from person to person.

Brooklyn Rapper Fabolous, aka Loso, said best: “Money can’t buy happiness, but it’s a damn good down payment.”


Senior Accounting & Finance Professional|Lifehacker|Amateur Oenophile

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