Writing about wealth doesn’t entail revealing your net worth, bank balance, or what you hope to inherit from granny. Or at least it doesn’t normally.
But like it or not, or finances do play a significant role in our life-style, the opportunities we’ve been afforded, and the decisions we’ve made. Though difficult, writing about wealth or lack of wealth can give others a deeper understanding of family dynamics.
For instance, a few days ago Gary Lee introduced himself to Twitter with a moving story of family finances. In the screengrab below, you’ll see, it was actually more about family and country than it was about wealth.
Similarly, I know that growing up poor left a mark on my mother. She straddled the fence between purchasing frugally and making sure her children didn’t go without.
That’s not unusual, and it happens on the other end of the financial spectrum as well. In “Keeping the Family Tree Alive,” Paul Sullivan suggests that generations of shared business ownership not only insures a family’s prosperity, but can be the ties that bind the family together.
Writing about Wealth: What does it mean to you?
We don’t all dream of mansions and private islands. How would you define financial wealth?
Have you reached your financial goals? Did you always struggle financially? Were you satisfied personally, but didn’t quite measure up to the standards of the rest of the family? Write these stories down!
What’s your Relationship to Wealth
In 2011, Kansas State University and the Klontz Consulting Group developed an inventory of core money beliefs as a predictor of financial behavior, such as money avoidance, money worship, money status, and money vigilance. Reading through the questions is interesting, and assessing if you fall into any of their categories.
How do you relate to money? Are you a big spender, depleting your monthly income? Are you a saver, building savings for your sunset years and a legacy to pass on to your off-spring? Are you generous to a fault, giving beautiful gifts then struggling to make your own ends meet? Do you spend to give you family experiences? Do you like nice things?
Or do you avoid having too many things and being too beholden to the mighty dollar?
What do your spending habits say about you or your family members?
Often, our outlays say more than that we’re fiscally conservative or “bad with money.” Think about the following. Do any describe you or a loved one you’re writing about?
Do you spend and invest as a steward of the family legacy?
Is spending an expression of love, providing things for others for the pures joy of giving? Do you tend to spring for nice things or are you more interested in arranging experiences for you and/or your loved ones?
Are you like my mother, with childhood deprivations motivating your spending and saving habits?
Do you lead a life-style, at least in part, to project an image?
Family history of business
Whether it was a mom and pop store that your immigrant parents started or a vineyard that’s been in the family since the 9th century, document your family’s business ventures. Did offspring apprentice in the family business as children? Or, was the family business something that was passed on to the eldest male, much like land?