When I first started working in the financial services sector, it quickly hit me that the rich don't think about money like the rest of us. Luckily, my mentor Alvery Bartlett helped me see the world of money with a new set of eyes from those with which I viewed it when I was a wee lad.
Carol M. Schleif, deputy chief investment officer at Abbot Downing, elucidates this idea nicely in an interview with Lorie Conish of CNBC. When she invokes the "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves" proverb, I want to believe that she's studied up on James Hughes, Jr., who has as thorough an understanding of those words as anybody.
Schleif lays out four financial lessons that the rich like passing on to their children. What's interesting about these four lessons is that they seem a little dull on the surface. See for yourself:
Start with your money message [make sure your kids know money's not that important]
Put your children to work
Agree on a family strategy [for maintaining its wealth]
Give back [through charitable causes]
Sure, we all look at this list and think, "Too easy, too cliche. The right answer has got to be something more complex that the rich are keeping secret." However, putting these things into practice is challenging. It's easy to get caught up in piano lessons, soccer games, and chores. But it's hard to be deliberate about teaching your kids about money and work.
The first point is tricky for me because money sure feels important to our family at this time when we're struggling to make ends meet. Maybe this is something the rich say with ease because they're not worried about it at the moment. Regardless, I'm certain that Schleif is correct in advising us to teach this message to the kiddos.
The second point is the most intuitive of the four. Who doesn't love making their children work for them? Okay, so it's a massive pain to bark orders every other second and to keep the little ones on task, but I know that I'm doing the right thing there. Maybe one day my kids will enjoy working more than I enjoy making them work.
As for the third point, we've only now started putting together a family strategy. Heck, I'm building a whole podcast and blog just so that I can figure out a family strategy. No guilt at all there.
I constantly dream of making the fourth point applicable in our family. Honestly, it's this last point that drives me each day. I want my children to see me and Christina doing good so that they will understand the joy that comes with helping others. I can't get through an interview on the podcast without asking guests what their favorite charitable cause is.
You may think that Schleif's list is too simple, but she's most certainly right.