Monday, October 8, 2007
Money, Money, Money-its a rich man's world!
I was watching Larry King interview Suzy Orman. They covered a wide range of topics from the mortgage meltdown, to consumer credit card debt and how to accumulate wealth. Larry King asked Suzy how much money did one have to have to be truly wealthy-able to live their lifestyle without touching the money.
Her answer-$100 million dollars. Yes, that is right. $100 million.
I remember talking with my friend Bob Grossman in the 80's about his plan to accumulate $1 million and live off of the $80k in interest. Bob did accumulate his million-but doesn't feel that 80k is enough to meet his needs.
So, where does this leave those of us who haven't accumulated 1 million let alone $100 million. We used to be called the 'middle class'-the people squeezed in between the rich and the poor. We used to represent the bulk of the US population. Yet we are an endangered species. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that the next generation of Americans will be the first generation that can't expect to live better than their parents!
As the middle class is declining in the United States, we are seeing the creation of yet another divide between people. And we can see the consequences of this schism in other countries right now. And it ain't pretty.
We live in a non-middle class area. For me, I could care less. But my daughter has been asking me lately if we are rich? I say, of course, we have are rich in love and laughter and family-we have food, are healthy and have a roof over our heads. What she really wants to know where we stack up in the wealth area compared to her friends-they kids are talking about money and the lack thereof in the third grade. Her friends have moms that don't work, that take vacations to Florida at the drop of a hat. Her friends take tennis lesson, horseback riding lessons, piano, violin, and what ever other lessons their parents believe will make them 'better people. To my daughter these kids have everything.
But, when her friends do come here they have fun and alway wish that their parents spent time with them doing things-raking and jumping in leaves, catching butterflys, baking and other 'middle class' activities. Apple picking in the fall, picking berries in the summer, planting a garden, walking our own dogs, shoveling our own walks, putting money in the piggy bank, donating to local charities and helping wherever and how ever we can. We are just like millions of people all over the country. But, if Suzy Orman and the Wall Street Journal are to be believed, then we are an endangered species-our kids will either be rich or poor.
Given those dire predictions,how do we instill the values that made our country great in our children-a respect for money, the value of earning a dollar, saving vs. spending, and respect for people who don't have as much money as they might.
Money hasn't always been considered an "ism" like racism, sexism ageism etc, but we are getting to the point where we are going to have to face the reality that our kids are going to have another 'ism' to deal with.
Like all other 'isms' the time to start helping your kids understand that money-having some or having none doesn't define the value a person can bring to their lives is right now.