Sunday, November 12, 2006


Claire is blogging again about money from family. I'm the first commenter on this post.

After reading some of the other comments on Claire's post I think there are some things that I should or could add. Somebody mentioned telling their parents what to spend. I certainly don't do that, except as I said in the post to tell my mother she is rich and can and should spend more money. I only advise on choosing other financial advisers and then work with them to make decisions on investments. My father asked my advice too while he was alive but never gave me any clue about how much money there was in total.

In the posts there is a strong emphasis on the merits of being self-made and self-reliant. I agree that these are very desirable. If I have children (I'm 41 now, but my father was 48 when I was born :)) it is probably something I am going to have to think about regarding them too. I know of cases where people who inherited money young were demotivated. The good cases seem mostly to share the trait that the children worked in the family business alongside the parents and eventually took it over. In my case I had no idea there was as much money as there is till I was 37 years old when my father died. We grew up very much at the lower end of the middle class. My father came from a formerly wealthy family - the main thing we inherited though then was attitudes to investment, risk, debt etc. I sometimes say he was nouveau pauvre - the newly poor and the exact opposite of the nouveau riche - the newly rich. His mother died in 1970 and legal battles among family took up many years after that. What he inherited was art and antiques. His father's family were in the art/antique dealing business. What he received was mainly inventory from his father's business. His father died in 1922 when my father was just 5-6 years old.

Over time he sold most of it. The final sale in 1996 was the biggest. These art works realised far more than the valuation. He was shocked how much he received. At the time he just told me it was much more than the valuation.

The point of this story is that people don't want their parents to sacrifice to leave them money. I fully agree with this. Our case is different in that the core of the wealth was handed down from the previous generation (the little we have salvaged actually - maybe this makes us more upper class than middle class however ludicrous that notion is), though my father saved plenty during his life time too. I think my mother should spend the income on what she has inherited. But she's not.


Anonymous said...

Good for you for discussing this honestly. I was disappointed with the quality of the comments on TBH -- too much 'yes yes' and not enough discussion. I think there's a huge difference between not relying on inheritance and not planning for it or even thinking about it that many people miss but that you address reasonably.

Adventures In Money Making said...

i've never heard of nouveau pauvre so thanks for the interesting link.

My mom has quite a good amount of money in savings but she still works. I guess after a lifetime of working as a doctor and living frugally[don't know where she got it,she grew up rich] she hasn't really developed any hobbies.

However my uncle who inherited [fradulently, i might add] became what you labelled as the newley poor. He spent his life dreaming of inheriting the family wealth and convinced his senile mom to sign everything over to him. He wasted a brilliant career as a physicist in that pursuit. Now finally in his old age he's well off, doesn't have many friends and is widely disliked in the family.

Money is a tool you use to achieve financial freedom and happiness. its never a goal in itself. As the streetsweeper in the link displayed, you don't need it to be happy. And as expressed by TBH the pursuit of it over family is a hollow cause.

mOOm said...

Not sure how you uncle is "newly poor"? My father always worked hard because he enjoyed it or he couldn't get done what he had to to earn his regular salary in regular working hours... so we never experienced the working hard to make extra dollars phenomenon. He worked till his mid-70s as a salesman (earlier was a development engineer) for very little in commissions - less than minimum wage - because like your mother he enjoyed solving clients' problems and didn't have anything else he wanted to do. He also saved and we lived frugally. Often I felt too frugally. In retrospect he needed to save a lot less than he did, we could have lived a lot better (I'm talking about things like saving on heating and being cold). Though there was no way to know how much the art he eventually sold was worth so it was more like winning the lottery. My Mom is still very frugal.