Let me ask you something: could you ever see a zombie banker? The short answer is no way. Aside from the fact that you would be as uneasy making transactions as a horse approaching a rattle snake, it just would not be practical. Zombies would mess up your deposit slip, clumsily tear money, fuddle the keys on a calculator and try to grab you every time you withdraw money from an atm. Now what about a vampire? Vampires are adept at counting (Sesame Street capitalized on this when they signed Count Dracula to teach your kids how to count), have fantastic instincts, and think of life in terms of centuries. However, even though they would make amazing bankers, you would never see a vampire doing any of these menial human tasks. This is not only because of traditional banker’s hours (which apparently do not work for vampires either), but also because of their sheer wealth.
Pop culture would have us believe vampires do not work because of mounds of money stashed in a castle room funded solely from the bank accounts of victims. It is true that vampires tend to pilfer the bank accounts of humans; Lestat from Interview with the Vampire victimizes Louis by changing him into a vampire in part because he owns land in New Orleans and can offer financial security. It is very unclear as to where Bram Stoker’s Dracula gets his rooms of wealth from, which leads our imaginations to assume the worst. And Alice from Twilight has the ability to foresee the future so insider trading on the stock market was how they came into their riches. But I argue that unlike their other undead counterpart—the zombie—vampires are adept at actively managing their finances by their very nature. They may have come into lump sums of money from victims, but they manage it like a smart human with an eye towards eternity, giving them the freedom to pursue other ‘interests’.
Vampires have one huge impulse in life: blood. Just like humans, blood sustains a vampire’s life. The catch is that they don’t come with their own supply so they constantly crave a fresh supply from humans. Yet this impulse does not entirely consume a vampire; vampires exercise a certain control over their need for blood. This control opens up an entirely different world for them in which they can somewhat live and even thrive among humans. Some vampires like The Cullens from Twilight have so much control over their impulses that they do not seek humans for blood, but rather animals. Edward from Twilight carries on an entire human-like relationship with a person, even though he craves her blood like “…lock[ing] an alcoholic in a room…[with] a glass of hundred-year-old brandy, the rarest, finest cognac…”
Having some control over their impulses has also led vampires to be vain. This allows vampires to mesh with humans and carry out day to day monetary transactions. You will always see a vampire dressed in the trend of the times. Not only do they like their own hair to be in place, but they choose who to bring into their undead world partially based off of their looks and general temperament. When one first becomes a vampire in the likes of Lestat and Louis from Interview with the Vampire, they learn how to travel the world without raising suspicion and how to live a wealthy live in the manner of a grand lord or lady. In many ways, they carry on an upper-class human lifestyle.
Life does not just happen to vampires; they plan the life they wish to lead. Vampires build learning from experience and so over centuries they become very wise. They apply this knowledge partly in blood-seeking escapades, and partly in planning for the future. Lestat from Interview with the Vampire chooses the humans he changes to vampires for specific reasons, such as Louis due to his wealth and land ownership. Bram Stoker’s Dracula hires an accountant to oversee his estate so that he can continue on with his ‘extracurricular activities’. Some of their money may be accumulated from victims, but they manage it well so that it will last an eternity.
Zombies’ sole mission in life is to eat human flesh. In order to carry out this mission they need to find humans. They can accomplish this mission during the day or night, which would seem to give them a distinct advantage over their undead counterparts. However, this appears to be the only advantage they have. Deformed with an IQ in the low teens and a signature walk even more recognizable than John Wayne’s, Zombies cannot camouflage easily in with humans.
This sole mission and uncontrollable impulse is to the detriment of everything else—even to their own survival. They can lose an arm, a leg, catch on fire, or experience any other catastrophe that would make the normal being (undead or alive) stop and collect themselves for the sake of self preservation, but the zombie will just continue on to find flesh. This all-consumption with the present gives them no time to come up with a strategy (admittedly they probably do not have the brains for it either). In Victorian England when etiquette and marrying above your class was the singular focus, zombies took over Netherfield Park in Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. In one of the most outward forms of rebellion the British have ever seen, the zombies could care less about Mrs. Bennet’s futile attempts to marry off her daughters within a short supply of men made even more scarce by the occasional zombie attack, the ball where Mr. Bingley first made an entrance, or the dances each Bennet girl had secured for themselves. Instead, the zombies marched in zombie-like fashion, dressed in tattered ball gowns (Mrs. Bennet took note), and going after the girls’ flesh. Zombies just do not care about anything else but flesh.
Why Vampires Rule the Undead Finance Realm
In the world of personal finance, vampires will always outdo zombies for a number of reasons. First of all, zombies have no element of choice: it is flesh or bust. Vampires can control their impulse, which opens their lives up to the other rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, even up to the highest peak of self-actualization. In a version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs fashioned specifically for undead beings, zombies are perpetually stuck on the bottom row.
Both vampires and zombies are instinctual in sniffing out blood and human flesh, but zombies have no instincts beyond just the primordial ones dictated by a cerebellum missing a few spark plugs. While vampires are busy setting up Swiss bank accounts, zombies are wondering how to score their next leg.
Finally, life for vampires is not just about immediate and physical gratification. Vampires have a healthy and extensive view of the future in their decision-making. Unless met with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Van Helsing, or an angry ex with garlic and a wooden stake, vampires will live for eternity. They are smart enough to realize that eternity can actually be a curse if not handled properly and so they put great care and forethought into planning for the future in terms of finances.
Takeaways for Your Own Personal Finances
We do not live forever, which is a blessing, but this also means that we do not have the advantage of time that vampires do in order to build up large wealthy empires that will ensure our stability, security, and every want or need into the next century. But there are ways that we can emulate vampires in their control and management of money in order to increase our own for this one lifetime that we do have. Controlling our shopping and other impulses, partnering up with reputable financial advisors, learning from financial mistakes in the past, taking the time to educate ourselves about our finances, and thinking more long-term (with a healthy appetite for the present) will ensure that healthy finances does not elude us in this life.
On the other side of the coin, it is best for us to not emulate Zombies when it comes to our finances. Sloppy portfolio management, focusing solely on one area of our lives to the detriment of all others, and caring so little about our appearances that we would surely get fired is not a healthy way to live or to manage finances.
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