An Empowered Inheritance is Purpose, not Prize

Yesterday was a restful day for Jenny and I – we are in Florida right now enjoying a few days with my brother and his family in West Palm Beach.  Sunday night football was on in the background while the four adults were playing a game and the kids were finally all down for the night or down for the count as it seemed last night  (mom and dad – 1, kids – 0, we may not have the lead again this year, feels good while it lasts).

Back to football – John Madden was in the press box – no longer commentating with Al Micheals, replaced this year by Chris Collinsworth (we rather like the new guy – we had nothing against John).  So we talked about the fact that he never flew to the football games, he always took the bus.  He played, then coached, then commentated the game of football.  Now, he just watches the latest version of the Madden Football video game fly off the shelves.  Likely he has employees that deal with the marketing of these kinds of products using his name.  Likely his name will be worth something for some time to come.  So long as he doesn’t pull a Kobe Bryant or Tiger Woods.  I hope he doesn’t, I like John Madden.

As these conversations go, we quickly turned from the facts to speculation.  A few comments were volleyed back and forth between my brother and I.  “He did just what he loved his entire life.”  “He says he did.”  “He’s set financially.”  “This is likely true.”  “Based on how well he did, his kids and grandkids are also likely set for life.”   “That assumption, I am less sure about”.

Leave your kids a pile of money and all by itself, there is no telling what the result would be.  In fact, the odds are, given only that information and nothing more, the kids will be less happy, less fulfulled and will not likely grow the money but dwindle it.

My hope is that my clients (and John Madden) have thought this through well past a number or a financial net worth.

Here are a few good questions to begin the year:

What do your kids need from you more than they need money/things?

How do we give them these things?

How does this change when they grow up and move out?

What is the purpose for the money I have accumulated or am accumulating?

Is the purpose inspiring – ie: is it worth the pain it will require in order to succeed in the process of accumulation?

Based on the purpose you’ve outlined, what is “enough”?

At the end of his life, JD Rockefeller was asked how much money would be “enough” for him – he replied “just a little more”.

‘”More” is not a purpose and it isn’t compelling or inspiring.

Give your money (and all your resources for that matter) a purpose – and you’ve made it something worth accumulating and even more, worth giving away.

May this new year be one of clarifying purpose both for yourself and the resources you’ve been blessed to accumulate.

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