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Lucky Rich Kid
I’ll just give the definition of rich, middle class and poor kid.
Rich kid: A kid who gets everything they want, their parents have good jobs, has a good life and has a lot of expensive things. Their parents generally fall into the upper middle class/lower upper class or the upper class.
Middle class kid: A kid who has some things, their parents have decent jobs, they have a good life and has a lot of average priced things.
Poor kid: A kid who doesn’t have a lot, their parents may have a low paying job or no job, they have a decent life and doesn’t have very much.
Rich kid: My parents bought me a hoverboard and a $300 pair of beats! Damn straight.
Confessions From A Spoiled Rich Kid
Flying Over San Francisco For Fun
The following is a guest post from long-time reader, Samurai Marco.
When Sam first mentioned that he was accepting guest posts from his readers, it made me wonder what, from my financial journey, I could share. After all, you’re already all a bunch of financial samurai’s yourselves, right? Is my journey interesting enough? At 43 years old, have I made enough mistakes?
I grew up a spoiled rich kid in Cupertino, California, about an hour south of San Francisco. My father was a one of those, and I hate to use this term, “Serial entrepreneurs.” He started a lot of technology companies, a couple went public, some were acquired and, of course, a few failed. I remember my Dad, back in the early 80’s, bringing home the first prototypes of the Macintosh and Compaq computers and even the first cell phones.
His summer parties were filled with the “who’s who” of Silicon Valley. I remember, in particular, one Christmas party in 1997, Gil Amelio and Steve Jobs made the deal for Apple to buy NEXT that night at my Dad’s house. The Forbes reporter, who was there, leaked it the next day I’ve gone flying with my Dad and Larry Ellison. I’ve talked stocks in the swimming pool with Eric Schmidt. So yes, I was surrounded by a lot of money and power and got a lot of attention for being my father’s child.
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To say I grew up spoiled really is an understatement It’s taken me a long time to realize how “out of touch” my reality was back then. We flew first class to Italy every summer, sometimes twice a year, to visit family. We lived in a big house with a swimming pool in a “safe” neighborhood. My parents bought us whatever we wanted.
LIVING LARGE GROWING UP
My first car was a brand new convertible BMW and I was just seventeen years old. We were members of the tennis club and I took as many lessons as I wanted, whenever I wanted. By the time I was 21, I had a pilot’s license and my own single engine airplane stationed at Santa Ana airport. My dad paid for everything, all my housing and education including a BA in Sociology from UC Irvine and an MBA from Santa Clara University. I never worked in college and, in fact, my dad was giving me a hefty monthly allowance, for as long as I can remember, even after college.
When I left for college in 1988, it was a reality blow. Growing up in a rich kid in Silicon Valley, I realized that not everyone was living as comfortably as I was. People were talking about “debt” and having to “work” one or two jobs, while they were in school. I could not believe that people, in addition to studying for classes and preparing for exams, had to work too?! What kind of life was this!?
My parents were divorced by now. My dad was on his third major company that would add even more millions to his treasure chest. So I did what a rich spoiled college kid does when in college. . . .PARTY. I made friends, joined a fraternity, flew around in my plane, drove around in my BMW, experimented with alcohol and drugs and really just had a blast. I got my BA in four years graduating with a 3.35 . .not bad for a spoiled rich kid, huh?
WORKING ON LIFE INSTEAD OF WORK
My first two years out of college had nothing to do with working. In fact, I had never really planned to actually work. Instead, I lived in Lake Tahoe for a year in my parent’s house, skiing and studying classical guitar. The second year I backpacked through Europe with a girlfriend. I bet you’re asking, “Your parents just let you do this?” and the answer is yes, I could pretty much do whatever I wanted. Maybe they didn’t know any better or it was their way of showing me love. I really don’t know. Anyway, at the time it was fine with me and yet, looking back, confusing as hell.
In 1994, after studying music in Tahoe and traveling, I moved into my dad’s mansion in Los Gatos and started my MBA. I lived there, rent free, in the maid’s quarters and was paid a fat allowance. I ended up living here for about five years, getting my MBA and eventually getting a job, through a friend of my Dad’s, at a tech PR firm in Redwood City.
In 1995, I took control of my trust fund. I had no idea what to do with the modest amount of money, as my only experience had been spending it! Eventually, through the advice of another family member, I started investing in stocks like AOL, Dell and Microsoft. By April of 2000, five years later, the original amount had multiplied by almost 15 times! The technology bull run had made me a millionaire on paper! About a month later, that same family member told me the markets were getting sketchy and too volatile and advised me to sell. Sound familiar? I hesitated and eventually followed his advice and sold everything. I took some of the money and bought the condo I still own in San Francisco.
A year later the dot com crash happened and I was the only one my age I knew, other than my brother, with any money. I was thrilled, totally confused, and didn’t know what to do with my life. I fell into a bit of a depression. I was totally burned out. I quit my PR job, left my girlfriend and for the next couple years I was just hanging around SF going to therapy, reading self help books, practicing guitar, playing tennis, and spending time with my brother and his family. I felt unworthy of the money and the extravagant lifestyle I had been living for the past several years.
HOW LIFE IS NOW
Fast forward to 2020, and not that much has changed. I’m still bouncing around! I spent the rest of my thirties and early forties trying to figure out what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. I’ve been experimenting, working for a few years as a tennis instructor and musician for Club Med, almost four years as a live music venue owner in San Francisco, again in tech PR in in Los Angeles, and, most recently, as a restaurant owner in the Dominican Republic.
Would I have ended up like this if I had been raised differently with stricter parents? Probably not and, frankly, we’ll never know, so who cares?! Today, I try to view work more as a form of play. Looking for things that are challenging and push me toward my higher self. Maybe it’s been easier because there’s always been money around . .maybe it’s my personality. Probably a bit of both.
Even so, my forties have been a big slap in the face. All of a sudden you’re not really “young” anymore. You can still occasionally act like an idiot, even though people expect a certain level of maturity from you. This has been hard for me. My whole life, I’ve been able to do whatever I want. Turn on a dime and go in any direction. I’m still trying!
As of today, I’m living in Montreal with my lovely and loving girlfriend of three years, in the process of selling a Punta Cana condo I bought in early 2020, trying to sell a Punta Cana restaurant I bought in late 2020, looking for some kind of stable work, and choosing to have gratitude for how this crazy journey that keeps unfolding before me.
What keeps making me want to work, Sam asks? Why do I still have some ambition, even though I could probably get by, fairly comfortably, without ever having a job again? I’m not sure what it is. Sometimes I think I have too much energy for my own good and just like staying busy. Maybe I’m trying to outdo my Dad? I’ve always seen my personal life and business as two sides of the same coin, so whatever I’m doing, if there’s an opportunity to make a buck and secure my future that much more, why not? It’s also nice to know that I can leave some money and assets behind to the people and causes I love.
SOME LESSONS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT MONEY
1) Get therapy quick!
Seriously, if you’re a narcissist, as I was and still am a bit, fix that as soon as possible. As soon as I “let go” and forgave my past, especially issues with my parents not being there as much as I would have liked them to be, opportunities stared knocking again. If you’re stuck in a “poor me” attitude, whether you’re poor or a billionaire, you’re going to be unhappy and unlucky. I went through a lot of therapy, read a lot of psychology and self help books and began writing daily in a journal. This has saved my life, for sure.
2) Spoil your kids with love, not money.
I don’t know if it was a generation thing or just my particular experience. For most of my life, I thought that money grew on trees and I could have as much as I wanted whenever I wanted. I had to read and learn so many things for myself. Parents, please teach your kids the value of money and work and, please, place love and nurturing ahead of money. Lead by example by being loving and present with your kids. If you set aside a trust fund, make sure they don’t get it until they are in their 30’s or later. In fact, maybe skip the trust fund!
3) Take a break!
Burn out is normal and, if you don’t take breaks, you will probably not succeed at anything. For some of us, a weekend is enough of a break. For me, sometimes I need a month or a year to let things sink in and start on a new path. Know yourself, your situation, and the amount of time you need before your next big burst of energy.
4) Continuously manage your relationships.
Geez, this one is so cliche and so important. Money comes from people, not from some robot cash dispenser. If you have a network of people you trust and trust you and your skills, you will be OK. If you go at it alone for too long, you’re going to be in trouble down the road. I’m a bit in this situation right now, as I’ve moved around so much, it’s been hard to nurture relationships, both professional and personal. So, please big shot VC … get back to me!
5) Try not to look back.
You have to believe that there is exponentially more opportunity in the present moment than there ever has been in your past. Even those big moments you think you missed. . that’s your mind playing tricks on you. Your past, like the present, really is an illusion. Even this post, it’s based on images from my past that I’m choosing to remember and write about. Take a snap shot of your financial situation right now and see if you can make some decisions without letting the past OR the future blind you. I struggle with this every day.
6) Be OK with starting over.
Could I have had done better financially considering my background, early start and education? Hell yes! You can always have done better. That kind of thinking is a waste of time and energy. There’s always a chance to start again. Remember, the present moment is always 100% pure potential and you can make a decision at any moment that can turn your world around.
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Author Bio: Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 to help people achieve financial freedom sooner, rather than later. He spent 13 years working in investment banking, earned his MBA from UC Berkeley, and retired at age 34 in San Francisco in 2020.
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Rich Stanford says
I’m not sure when you posted this, most responses seem to be from 2020 or lesser, but here I am a drunk rich kid whos just turned 21 and google searched about rich kids experiences because I myself am so damn miserable. Here I am living in an exclusive neighborhood where we own not only our personal four million dollar home but multiple estates as small rental property income as well (100k)+ but still unhappy. at 18 my first car was a range rover sport. We live next to celebrities, the people that some would kill to get a picture with are my daily encounters. I don’t care. i live in a house where our $40,000 property taxes per year arent nearly as much as our yearly dues as golf members. My parents like the author of this article enable this type of behavior. I club whenever i want, have a limitless amex card, and pick up the hottest milfs because of it. IM 21. and im miserable. These things arent what make you happy. I know what will, i just lack it. Sincerely, drunk rich kid whos dad sold a company for 9 figures. It might be 2020 but still keeping it real. Most reading your post are poor and envious. I feel your situation.
The older you get and the more you contribute to society, the happier you’ll become. There is nothing more gratifying than creating something of your own. At only 21, your life is just beginning!
If you want perspective, fly to India and live there for a month. I’m sure you will appreciate more of what you have.
I can probably help out. I’m a 29 year old educator, not as similar of a childhood, but also similar economic background and knowing a lot of people like that. I would recommend working with people in a safe, normal environment to give you perspective.
anne Lallerstedt says
MY life wasn’t garbage but most of the people in it were. Had alot of fun, raised great kids,but it all kind of fell apart. I had two strokes so I’m a bit of a mess right but I think I’m always living off the little things that make me happy. Ioffered my rebellious family a way out of their money issues but not one will accept. I wouldn’t like to die with everyone messing up in life, how can I get family to participate? One daughter is back home with a dead beat boy friend and baby we support. Husband is nightmare of a human. I have a very doable program but they are scared and frozen comes across as pig headed always? I don’t want them to have to suffer like I did it makes life so hard.
Andrew Carnegie made it clear to his wife and daughter that he would NOT leave them his fortune. The prenup stated that she’d get their two homes, an endowment, and nothing more. The bulk of his money was going to his libraries, universities, and museums. Today, his descendants all have well-paid jobs.
Now look at the John Paul Getty clan. His descendants are drug users, wastrels, playboys, and layabouts. Even the Kennedy’s didn’t do as well as they claim. The British nobility are also full of drug addicts and bums. When the money runs out (and it always runs out) all they have left are their lovely manners.
Look up 8ball & MJG – Confessions
This guy is in hs forties and sounds still so seriously out of touch with reality. Casually mentioning taking months or years vacation like normal human beings can relate to that.
Wow what a spoiled brat. Mommy and daddy will give him everything and never understand the value of hard work people like him should leave if you do not work and get everything handed to you leave America does not need spoiled brats like you we need hard working Americans. Not rich bratty kids that end up ruining the lives of good hard working Americans. I hate rich kids not out of jealousy but our of the lives of millions of Americans who have their lives ruined because of them. People like them are better of killing themselves no one will miss them.
Jealous and I’m sorry says
I found this article by searching “I hate rich kids” on google. A person like me, who has not had much love from my parent, since they neglected me and left me with no money, since they had none, feels envious. I am working, going to school and all the motions of a normal human just so that I can afford a house, or a trip to Italy one day. I am also happy for you, and it’s nice that people do get to live lives like this, and manage to help others. Congratulations. But it’s upsetting at the same time. I know that I shouldn’t derive my happiness from money, but it’s hard not to. Thanks for sharing your story.
By destroying the lives of real hard working Americans doubt it i hope someone finds him dead in a ditch somewhere spoiled entitled rich kids leave our country we do not like you. Good move to Italy we have no love for spoiled brats here that have everything handed to them. All that crap claiming you gone to school and work is a lode of crap you just got all your money from mommy and daddy and never worked hard in your entire life like all rich people. I hate all you rich spoiled people not out of jealousy but the countless lives you ruined because you too selfish to help the poor who work their butt off so you fat cows can get rich.
You are 43 yrs lived 15956 days.
In the remaining days learn know feel live who is really Jesus and as he promised the Helper
Get married and have kids..
Judy Hawkins says
I think spoiling a child, whether it is on the grand scale he related, or even a modest one is extremely harmful to them. How can you properly relate to a world in which most people are working very hard to have a decent existence? How can you feel pride in yourself if you have zero to strive for? I grew up in a (barely) middle class new suburb in the ’60s/’70s. I became passionate about motorcycles @ age 7. Drooling over the primitive minibikes in the Sears Catalog, it took ’til the age of 10 to realize my parents would NEVER buy me such an extravagant gift, even if they could afford it. You had to work hard for stuff! At age 11, I picked strawberries and did yard work in summer. I babysat year ’round, @ $0.50 an hour. I saved for 4 years, and when I was 15 I bought a brand new, full size street legal 100cc dirt bike. The pride and satisfaction of accomplishing that goal did a large part in what modest success I’ve had in life. I’m forever grateful for the work ethic they instilled in me.
I know this post has been up here for quite a while but I’m really hoping you get to see my comment.
I read your post through and through and honestly it touched me a whole lot. The things you experienced while growing up are the stuff I see on TV or in movies.
I’m an African, a Nigerian to be precise. An average family’s life here is hard to say the least. Growing up in such a family with 3 younger ones to cater for is no joke.
I always wanted to be a writer. Words were my escape. I loved how things came to life on paper with several ideas bursting in my head.
I had to drop that career line though because my parents felt it wouldn’t pay enough to support me.
But considering my country’s economy, it’s kinda true. I’m 18 years old girl and in my second year in college. I’m about to get a BSC in computer science.
I love the course too and I’m really good at programming and coding. But funds to support me through school are gradually running out and I don’t know what to do.
Part time jobs are really hard to get here and it’s been really difficult with my younger ones to cater for too.
Please it would be really helpful if you could reach out to help.
I’d be really grateful.
Reminds me of my own life. Resonates so much with me. I am so tired of hearing about how people go from rags to riches, how people tell me I am lucky and life could have been so tough if I didn’t have rich parents. But only few people really talk about the difficulties of being a second generation wealthy kid. We never experience hardships and that makes us soft. We screw up, go crazy, create our own problems which can’t be solved n are mostly in our own heads, cos we don’t have actual problems like the so called less fortunate people have. And we feel guilty that we don’t deserve ant of that and that makes us act more spoilt cos we worry we might one day lose all we got, which we will cos we are soft n not so smart with money. We just inherit loads of it, but not the knowledge n experience to manage it.
Sam says…you also need to listen to 8ball & MJG – Confessions
Here is a different slant, I grew up in a big family in Ohio, I got into sales and have moved up quickly in the Auto industry, I have worked miracles as a CEO of large groups, I have always been principally guided, and have still not come close to wealth.
My Integrity has always been my guide, and I have taught my children this. I always look for the good and believe there is greatness in everyone of us, I have watched people who I believe aren’t as passionate or honest become rich, yet I still struggle, I have a deep faith in god Ibelive we all have a responsibility to leave this life making this a better place, etc…
Any help or advice would be welcome..
Hi Dave – Money is a certain type of energy and, like people who have similar energy, it flows to where it feels the most comfortable. Put yourself in money’s shoes and ask if money finds you attractive. Do you find money attractive? I see money a bit like a girl who likes bad boys. You gotta get her attention and keep it! Integrity and discipline, which sounds like you have that covered, are awesome and definitely play a role. I suggest letting go of this idea of others being less or more passionate and honest and, as a result, more or less deserving of money than someone else. That’s one of the oldest tricks in our capitalist society for keeping the victim-minded person angry and out of the money flow. Look into tapping into the darker side of money, in the form of creativity, playfulness and more self-confidence.
Agreed. The goal is to guide your kids. And allow them to change course and have as much flexibility as possible to try new things and stay DRUG-FREE. If they want to go off and do crazy things that’s fine too! Life is a journey and a learning experience for all of us!
Thank you for this article, and for one of the most intriguing comment threads I’ve seen lately. May I pose a question to the comments section?
The question is about a contradiction I noticed in the unfavorable comments, the ones that raged against the unfair privileges of a wealthy upbringing compared with the sufferings of those who have nothing. I’m not going to dispute that premise; its truth is obvious. However, it seemed that the rage-commenters were angry with Marco for two specific things:
1. Not working at paying jobs, whereas poor people need to work even if they hate it
2. Working at paying jobs, thus taking them away from poor people could really use them
My question: if Marco is to be hated for not working, and also to be hated for working, what is he supposed to do? Is there anything he can do that will satisfy the rage-posters?
And on a related subject, what about philanthropy? If Marco gives money to people and/or causes, is he being a gracious benefactor, or an arrogant meddling plutocrat? Both? Neither?
I think at bottom, Marco himself is asking the same question. To quote his reply to one poster above: what would you have him do?
There are rich people born one inch from the finish line, and poor people whose struggles and sufferings are doomed and hopeless because of their poverty, and that sucks. It seems clear therefore that the Marcos of the world are the ones with the most agency, so they’re the obvious candidates to do something about it. But what? Going by this comment section, no matter what Marco does, it’s going to be the wrong thing. But there also seems to be a lot of anger because he hasn’t done… something. It’s not clear what.
So that’s my question. What is Marco to do?
Thanks in advance for your answers.
Hi thanks for your insightful perspective on the comments. I’ve decided it’s clear what I am to do: CELEBRATE LIFE by PLAYING, creating, LOVING GOD, being joyful, here, NOW, always.
Rich, poor and in-between, we all have our own individual experiences and we all want to live a life that we can ENJOY and be PROUD of. I do this by praying and loving god, teaching tennis, spending quality time with family and friends, traveling, meeting people, reading, writing, meditating, piloting, journaling and writing and playing live music. I love my life and it’s all because I choose to do, think, feel and be around things I love. Life is 100% what YOU make it. Peace.
I recently stumbled across this article, and I must admit I can somewhat relate. I was raised in a wealthy family, with loving parents. Despite this, I lived a relatively normal life. I wasn’t overly spoiled, went to public school, volunteered frequently, and started earning my own money at 10 years old. I was taught the value of money and relationships.
As minimal and trivial as OP’s story may seem to people who have less, I don’t think feelings should be invalidated due to wealth most of the time (unless your problems are how you can’t get the Rolls Royce you wanted.) There are generous and nice rich people who are told they can’t feel depressed/lonely because they have money. That’s like me telling other posters on this site, ‘Stop complaining about how you struggle to get a job and provide for your family! There are poor people who literally have nothing!’ Everyone has feelings.
Wealth is relative. There will be rich and poor people. Some people will be born into money, others will have to work for it. You can scrutinize others for wasting opportunity, but that’s their life to live, not yours. Meanwhile, focus on living your own life to the maximum. Complaining about their lives won’t change your situation, nor will it change theirs.
I was lucky, being given the opportunities I had. I am very thankful as well. I’m independent now and living a modest, average lifestyle. I wish OP and everyone else the best of luck.
I can somehow relate to this, cause I come from wealthy family too (multi millionaire level though, not some crazy wealth like OP, but they really spoil us with love and opportunities)
I often lack a sense of purpose though. I love to work not because of noble reasons such as good work ethic, ensuring my future, making something out of myself in this world etc, but because it feels much better and keep me busy compared to playing around aimlessly, if that adds money and security I consider it an extra bonus
I often don’t do everything to my best ability because I know that my parents can help and bail me out anytime, I’m still working on those though
I sympathize with OP because rich people have problems too, I can understand if people hate the douchebag kind rich, but decent rich people are often lonely, being too hard on themselves, miserable cause lack of people to relate to, and doesn’t trust people much cause of circumstances
I’ve seen it enough to the point that I never jealous of those with better “toys” (house, cars, yacht, boat, women etc, you name it), and I often sympathize them to use money as escapism (many rich people do and buy ridiculous things because of hobbies, social status, boredom, or loneliness too. I seriously sympathize those who do it for boredom and loneliness)
Sure the rich are often the employer and gains the most profit, but if you aren’t the douchebag kind, ensuring that the business keeps running while our employee can make a decent living is a fucking headache too
Hi Marco, thank you for a great post.
I am a certified teacher who gives private lessons to spoiled rich kids.
I’m getting concerned with their lack of motivation, and worry for their future.
If you are still checking these messages, and don’t mind me picking your brain, please send me an email at [email protected]
That was an interesting read.
I think all of us, at the end of the day, rich or poor, feel this need to have a purpose to give meaning to everything. The rich may be distracted by the baubles of their wealth, the poor distracted by the daily struggle to get by– however, if lucky enough, there would be that moment of silence and clarity in our mind where we begin to ask what the hell all this is for and where is this headed, the big picture. Honestly, to be visited by that momentary epiphany is a blessing, privilege and burden rolled into one.
You’re lucky in the sense that you have the tools to help you get to where you think you should head, and with the level-headedness and self-awareness you obviously already possess, I’ve no doubt you will find what you are looking for. It is more frustrating the other way around, to not have the tools to achieve your goal, no matter how altruistic… very, very frustrating to have to search for people who may want to support it. I regret not giving importance to financial security, essentially for being naive about how it will allow follow once you figure out your “mission”.
I actually came across this blog and your blog post while randomly surfing after being shown an Instagram account called Rich Kids of Russia and, I believe there are other incarnates of that (pick a nationality). One can only hope those kids manage to walk the similar awareness journey you’re on, for their own sake.
Good luck and thanks for sharing your story.
Matt Powell says
Oh and i forgot to give an example of the two that I am looking at here they are – BMW X5
Matt Powell says
You know, just because you’re not rich doesn’t mean you can’t look rich. For example, if you want a shiny new BMW X5, why not just buy a used one a few years old? If it’s it great shape most people will think it’s new anyway! The link is a couple examples that I am already considering and so should you if you are on a budget but feel the need to impress.
This was such a great article describing the difference between the social classes being 22 I am just graduating college and love using these sites to focus on building wealth for my future never getting married want to travel the world.Hey Marco I know this article is old but I am writing a paper I would love some insight on how school as for you I am writing about cost of education over the years and how it changes from different classes of people let me know if you see this thanks have a great day.
Hey there – Thank you for the comment. May I kindly revise one of your quotes below?
“When it comes to Business and even life in certain regards, DONT EVER TRUST PEOPLE like the OP (original poster), I wouldn’t take anything this guy says seriously and I mean that 100%, just ignore them they don’t count and don’t *ever* feel bad for them.”
“When it comes to Business and even life in certain regards, CONSIDER TRUSTING PEOPLE like the OP, I would seriously focus on the positive lessons in anyone’s experience and I mean that 100%, just enjoy their unique perspective, they count just like anyone else and, what the heck, wish them the best!”
Wishing you all the best
Daddy issues. that’s what it really comes down to no amount of money can replace a father’s presence in his children’s lives and the necessary development that happens Marco sounds like he has daddy issues like he is spending his life trying to find himself and spoil himself because he feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere and it feels negative everywhere this is pretty common with people grew up without a father present every day happen to me too
Daddy issues, probably true in some ways. Hard to say exactly why anyone turns out the way they do with so many genetic and environmental factors. We’re constantly changing and I already feel a lot different today than the person I was when I wrote that article.
as a child of a single working parent with multiple siblings, I left home at 17 and when I could I became a medic with the Marines and went to Iraq in 2005 and 2006, seeing young poor kids like me getting killed for a rich mans war.
When I got out I went back to farming and then worked every winter as a mountain guide in Colorado.
My time in the service put me through college and I actually gave a shit so I got a good job when I got out and now I’m putting together my own business and making more money than I thought I would.
You’re story is disgusting. Your lesson is ‘don’t look back’? You need to look back, you need to realize regret. With what you’ve been given you could have really had an effect on the world.
What a worthless life- I feel completely justified judging you. Not that you just wasted all that money, but that you made the excuse to actually do nothing with your life for other people, you never challenged yourself- your biggest priority was always your immediate happiness, i.e. pilots license, constant vacation, etc.
I hope you’re not actually proud of anything you’ve accomplished. The only way you’ve grown up is that you’re parents don’t wipe your butt anymore, other than that you seem to have the maturity of a 5 year old. “I want it now!”
Modest trustfund? you’re a joke. quit the therapy, give away 98% of your money to a well researched charity, and get a real frigging job kid.
Hmm, I’d what to get from this being a veteran on the the poorer side of the spectrum.
Seems like you earned multiple degrees without any remorse or thought of maybe it’s not the right career path for yourself, for the only reason that you could just do it.
I don’t know how that feels seeing as I could not pay for education until I resigned from the military and to which I only have 3years worth of education.
Then you tell how you have an emptiness because you feel you should be doing more with your life. But this is not just something that rich spoiled kids or adults have. It is something that sums up everyone.
On the bright side you have been able to live off your parents and travel or obtain expensive licenses or activities plus a trust fund.
I had to buy my first car which I still have, didn’t know what a trust fund was until I was 21.
You were able work all different kinds of jobs even though you did not need to work, it’s comembral to a certain degree for yourself…
But you probably prevented others from a Carreer they actually needed.
Ive been out of the military for a year now and still am having a tough time finding a stable job to where I can take care of my family.
And still continue education without using loans.
Ya your life was tough… not really if at all.
And who gets to take a month a year off from everything? I agree with breaks but come on. People have bills. The everyday person can not just work for amusement, but because they have to.
Did you even know there is something as sad as the working poor. People who work jobs who can’t make enough money to get out of debt or feed themselves.
Should have something on this article before reading it that says if your from the .1% of wealthy people in the world read this.
Hi Seechat – Thanks for the comment. You say my story is disgusting and I respect your opinion. Anyone will read any story and have different opinions based on their own experience and background. In my case, your experience and background qualifies me as “disgusting.” I find that interesting, as many people also found my story “inspiring.” To me, my story is neither disgusting or inspiring. It’s just a story. A recollection of my past and if I were to tell it again today, I’m sure it would be different than the post I wrote about a year ago. Yes, I’ve lived a strange, unconventional and perhaps “disgusting” life and, like anyone, I’ve done the best I can with the cards I got dealt. For me, focusing on enjoying myself and having as many experiences as possible was, and in many ways still is, my way of making sense of the world.
You’re from a military background which honors duty, responsibility, rules, loyalty and working hard and I respect that. Probably could have used more of that growing up. Those of you who say I wasted some of my potential and some money are absolutely right, I did. My question is What would you have me do? Curl up in a corner, loathing myself and living in constant regret of my past? I too am living my life, changing, growing and expanding my possibilities. I didn’t write this for the .1% or the 99%. I wrote this because I like to write and share my thoughts and experiences with the world. Is there something wrong with that? Believe me, there are weirder more “disgusting” stories out there than mine. One of my values is to accept other people, even when they are different from me, physically, sexually, culturally and financially. To feel justified judging anyone for anything seems a very dangerous place to be in your heart. I wish you the best.
Dear Marco, I am so very grateful for your gift of writing. Like your parents, though not divorced, we chose to raise our children in a similar way. Actually there are so many children of the Baby Boomer Gen who have. Our adult children have struggled, blame us at times but also now in their 30’s (still struggling but growing like you) see how fortunate they are. Like you they have kind hearts, live life in a bit of confusion and have made their mistakes. You have many talents and experiences but best of all you are kind and loving. This is probably what your parents wanted. You are correct, you are a Writer! Sensitive, gentle and a person who sees the good in the world you have messages to tell. The best things have nothing to do with money but with purpose and passion! Be kind to yourself, be grateful and be still. It’s all going to be fine. This is life, embrace it all! You are a wonderful person! Hang in! Good Luck!
Hey I’m so glad you wrote this! It gets pretty lonely when someone grows up the way you did, like myself, and not really have any support or guidance..mainly because few can relate.
Thanks Alicia. Sounds like you grew up around money as well. What was your experience like? What are you doing these days?
Thank you June. I appreciate your kind words.
First off, a 3.35 in sociology is not very good. It is very, very substandard. The only 3.35 in college that is acceptable is in an engineering major.
Your school was ok but considering your advantages in life also very disappointing.
I concur with the previous poster; you’ve really not amounted to much of anything. Alcohol, drug use, and partying in college…right. What about volunteering at the soup kitchen, doing research, or inventing things?
Of course I’m just a dumb kid that went to a much higher ranked school than you, being raised without a parent due to death, another sibling lost due to traumatic circumstances, got a 4.0 (barely) at a top HS, became a physician, never used drugs or alcohol, and bring honor to my family.
HonestJerk – I seriously doubt that you are a dumb kid. Sounds like you went through a lot of challenges and pain growing up and have some repressed anger you need to let go. I wish you the best.
Yerdanos Asmelash says
Your post is surprisingly interesting, just because we are on totally opposite ends of the spectrum. I often try to understand the point of views a lot of people similar to you have because they are intriguing.
Let me tell you a bit about myself:
Despite the fact that I came from a low-income home, eating ramen noodles and drinking tap water,
I am in college now. and thankfully, I am pretty caught up… I’m working my ass off to become a doctor…caring and serving others is my dream…the sense of happiness I got from encouraging an illiterate patient to learn how to use the computer to go for that desk job she always dreamed of…to making fun of myself to a visitor of how embarrassing it is that I kept getting lost when directing him to his daughter that just got out of surgery, just to relieve his stress (his daughter was beaten) is what I strive to do through medicine.
but it seems that all odds are against me to make it happen. I’m not even sure I can even imagine some of the luxuries you described in your post if they are not similar to what I see on television. Flying to Italy is a dream I will soon make happen while on a studying abroad opportunity that I am working on funding.
What led me to this post was actually an encounter I had as a new volunteer at a local hospital this morning.
I frequently got asked why I was volunteering and if it was for a credit. A lot of the volunteers are old with nothing to do – so they like to volunteer and all. But surprisingly I met a young boy my age who was also working to be a doctor. He had similar experiences as you (I wouldn’t say to your extent but you get the point..). Just by conversation I can tell everything came easy for him. His grandmother looks for and applies for all of his scholarships to pay off his tuition while he gives her essays he’d like her to include, his mother owns a huge company that refurbishes/renovates buildings, his uncle is the chief of surgery at a hospital I one day dream of working at, and so on… This blew my mind because I search 2+ hours a day and come up with nothing for scholarships to ensure my place to live and food to eat, my family is poor so it’s extremely hard for me to network (I have to pretty much chase down every employer for an opportunity hahaha), and not to mention, I’m crazy in debt already…
You can imagine all he really has left to do though is study and apply to medical school. Which is a bit aggravating but…
The worst part is that he is the most non genuine person I’ve ever met as far as caring about the needs of others…which is contradicting to the profession he wants. But one thing is for sure-he will definitely reach his goals…But it hurts to think about my passion of relieving the pain of others may not be fulfilled through the practice of medicine, just because I am poor with many obstacles to face, despite my amazing ability to think.
I appreciate being able to read your confessions, it was really insightful and I wish more people rose and spoke up about their life styles. I can imagine you may have received hate from those who aren’t so lucky with money but I’ve wanted to learn more through actual contact with those like you. There’s a free flowing, positive, life-loving nature that I appreciate within people of higher classes. Most of all, I’ve always wanted a mentor of higher class…I feel like you are one of many who’s side I have yet to learn from.
if you ever want something to do, give back, not through charities, but through one on one relationships.. The feeling of gratitude a person feels when receiving opportunity because of you will damn near make you cry. & That might be where your passion lies.
-Signed, Yerdanos, 20 yrs old.
I’m sorry this was so long, but hopefully it was an interesting read!
yerdanos asmelash says
Would you be willing to help me achieve my dreams?
Hi Yerdanos – Thank you for reaching out. Your post was very inspiring. Do you have an email I can reach you at?
Yerdanos Asmelash says
Be sure to copy and paste it! My name is easily misspelled…
Wow…That was a DEEP story. Thanks for sharing. I actually found this site because I wanted to search for elite kids of San Francisco and maybe find things in the City that I would be able to have my kids experience. It’s really rare to be brought up in such luxury.
I had my time in my early 20s when I felt I had so much money, I just didn’t know what to do with it. I treated friends out, parents out, Myself out, bought all the material things I wanted and gave to my parents as well but still felt a sense of emptiness…
Later, I lost it ALL…and I really just took it all for granted.
Fast Forward…I started over again and started saving money…I felt I was doing everything right—-volunteering, had a great steady job, started traveling, basically what I thought was success…Modesty aside, It also was not hard for me to get dates.
I didn’t know what I was doing wrong or why I was feeling empty STILL…
This may sound so CLICHE….So I did something that I would have not thought I’d do….’
I PRAYED for God to come into my life and mind you—I usually base everything on logic and science…But I decided one day, Let me dedicate myself and read the bible just for a month (just myself in the privacy of my own room) and in return maybe I’ll find what it is that every God believing person seemed to find—Happiness.
I KID YOU NOT….In one month—So much has happened that changed my life in positive ways…I was also and still am a reader of inspirational and self help books, but nothing has changed my life until God came into it.
Maybe the same can be done for you.
Thank you for the inspiring message Ann. Happy to hear that you have found happiness.
I’m 25 and in a similar boat…wealthy but can’t keep a long-term project. A lot of bouncing around could reflect borderline ADHD. Since your dad was a serial entrepreneur, you may have inherited this ADHD trait. Google “Explorer’s gene.” Essentially our brains have to move on to something new (innovation) or else we get bored. The downside is we can’t hold down one project. I have found satisfaction in becoming a full-time investor…love to find new companies to invest in. Finally, you need to find your natural talents at an organization like JOCRF. If you use all your natural-born talents, you are more likely to enjoy whatever project you partake.
Hi Jay – thanks for the comment. I agree with you that it’s all about finding and using our natural born talents. I like to call these our “gifts” and we all have them. It’s part of being human. Lately, I’ve been exploring my gifts via a life coach and I’m discovering some amazing things. My calling is to be open and free and to share my creativity with the world. You’re right about my “explorer” tendencies, as that theme continuously comes up as well. Good for you that you’ve found your calling through investing. Any hot tips!? I have a company I’m preparing to present to the angel community. Let me know if you’re interested. Sam, you too!
Hey Samurai Marco,
I think I can help you find answers about life. Also I got questions for you about culture.
hit me up. Like most people said above, nice post. I agree burn outs are normal, people need to know this. Also, as an adult having to limit our silly you can be can be a bit annoying, but its needed to properly parent children and conduct business.
correction: “Also, as an adult having to limit our silliness can be a bit annoying, but its need to properly parent children and conduct business.”
Thanks for the comment. What’s your question about culture?
I love this idea that ‘burn-outs are acceptable’- this is of course unless you are in the majority of the population that can’t burn out for a week at a time and take off work- or if you are the single mom who’s worked her way up at 7-11 and after 15 years she’s managing the store for $15 an hour- when she burns out rent doesn’t get paid.
I suppose this advice is only for rich people, specifically those born rich. I’ve known a few self made millionaires, they were born poor and they have all worked harder than anyone in the company, even though they’ve owned it
maybe this should be more clear that the article focuses on advice for the .01% of the population born into enough wealth to live forever as ten year-olds? Congrats- you started a restaurant! that’s a lot like a lemonade stand, right?
Hi thanks for the comment. How do you think your life would have been different if you had grown up with a lot of money around you?
I grew up in a home which struggled a lot financially. I would give anything to have been born rich. You’re very lucky.
Wow, you nerds think 45,000 yearly income is chump change huh? Whoa, stop the presses. I’m over 50, worked my entire life BY CHOICE, had many good careers in different areas and loved every job I ever had. I never made over 100,000 annual income, but I had something money can’t buy, true friends, a supportive and loving family, true happiness and faith and I’ve always loved people and life and always will. Here’s the deal kiddies, one can and does live WELL on 45,000 annual income, you just gotta do it right. Oh and please remember in the 21st century, we don’t all need huge homes either. Big spaces are not where its at, it’s being HAPPY with the space you have and making the most of it. Peace out people. Universal love for our planet and all the life on it is where it’s at -go EARN that with money, but that’s not how that works either. Money is superficial and so are many of you. I feel sorry for some of you people too. Get your head and your spirituality in check before you leave this world.
Don’t think wanting to earn more is a bad thing.
If you have a choice, why not shoot for a higher income than a lower income?
I’ve found only the poor or super rich say money doesn’t buy happiness. Funny isn’t it?
If I had a choice (which I do), I’d shoot for more personal/professional satisfaction rather than focussing on the income (assuming I have the essentials covered – being from the south west of England, I could easily live well on £1500/mo, not just covering the essentials but also having a few luxuries). Being happy with what you have eliminates “lust for more”. With that, it’s much easier to focus on getting one’s head and spirituality right.
Great story Marco. Although my Dad wasn’t as well off and I had fewer toys, it feels very familiar to me. I had a private school life followed by years at college partying while driving a company car and having a salary by Dad’s company. Today I wrestle with several decisions I wish I made – law school, career – and strive to move on. Currently I am also re-starting and this article was a great reality check and therapeutic.
PS – welcome to Canada
Thanks Fatboy! Canada is awesome!
I know this sounds cliche, but I think this post helps reiterate the notion that true fulfillment comes from having less, not more. When you have to earn every break, or bonus, or opportunity, you wind up looking forward with relish to whatever you are treating yourself to. The smallest things can bring the greatest joy if your life is well balanced. From the middle class point of view, that ten days you spend in Paris after three years of saving up is magic, as opposed to just ordinary if you can go whenever you want. Paying for flying lessons after saving for five years is a much grander reward than being able to take lessons because you have an itch and follow it up with owning your own airplane. I have nothing against wealth or the so-called one percent – these riches are what keep us ambitious and without ambition our society dies. But having unobstructed access to whatever you want will reduce your life to trivialities. Conflict and challenge are essential to bring the stark relief we need to experience joy and contentment.
Marco, Thank you for such an insightful and honest post!. I appreciate your journey and your willingness to share with us your life’s lessons. Your experience was certainly not my experience, but I can relate to the points about trying to find yourself and your purpose upon this Earth. In this society of dog eat dog type behaviors, materialism and greed; it’s often a challenge to stay focused enough to carve out your own little niche/path. I struggle with this daily, as well as, forgiving myself for past mistakes ( financial & otherwise) so it helps to see there are others out there who can relate.. Keep your head up, Do You & let the haters do what they do best…HATE ( lol) & continue your evolution. Be Blessed!
thanks very much for your post. It was very instructive and illuminating. Also welcome in our nice city of Montreal from a lifelong MTLer. I had my son’s 4th birthday this week-end and because of a recent divorce we only had his cousin come over and played in a park and sang him happy birthday and ate cake. That’s compared to the all out party of the last two years. Now I’m feeling ok about doing it low key like that. Thanks to you.
Its hard to find a truthfully personal post like this one. The story is a bit on the sad side, but the ending points really express great advice for anyone facing life issues. I feel many people are struggling with, a finding yourself mentality now a days. I believe our society plays a role in this, and our ability to learn or grow as well. Thanks for the story Marco best of luck.
I love your post for your honesty. I grew up in a $45k household with a single mom trying to feed three kids and make ends meet. She literally never had any money in the bank when we were children. For me and my siblings, the age we were when our parents divorced also had a lasting impact on us, as our different personal natures did. How my mom made little luxuries and family traditions so special to us, and celebrated our childhoods, also had a lasting impact on us. How much money we didn’t have growing up was actually pretty irrelevant. We never talk about growing up poor or think of our lives or childhoods in that way because she made sure that we never wanted for anything. She is a super frugal miracle worker. I have two degrees because of a fierce expectation she set on me around the importance of getting an education, especially as a woman (she has no formal education). I’m working on getting my financial head on straight but I think it’s connected more to my nature and susceptibility to our consumerist culture…I struggle to make the daily sacrifices that she made. Of course money is important, but it you stripped that out of your story, as you pointed out in the end, it’s all of the other things that matter more. Thank you for sharing your story.
Wow, first world problem. It sounds like you’re doing quite well and are happy with life in general so that’s great. It’s good to know the rich have their struggles too.
Anyway, thanks for sharing your story. Everyone has to find their own happiness. It’s not easy for rich people either. Money makes things easier, but happiness is still elusive and you need to work at it.
Thanks Joe. Yes, it’s true that everyone has their struggles, regardless of their financial situation. If you don’t have money, you’re trying to get some. If you have money, you’re trying to figure out what to do with it. Either way, it seems we all tend to get a bit too caught up in it. I was happy to see your comment, as I really enjoy reading your blog.
Marco are you still in Montreal? I would like to connect with you re a possible opportunity in your field of expertise – tech PR. Someone had asked me to keep an eye out for senior folks in Montreal. Are you up for a call?
steve varga says
Why work? A sense of purpose. I remember thinking those multimillion Nigerian scam emails were actually true but didn’t reply. Now got that it was a scam. Even though it was in my mind real I said I have to work I can’t just take the easy way out, would be boring, and deadly. Was making a $4.25 an hour at that point cleaning bathrooms. Doing a bit better now 20 years later.
Young Werther says
After reading the comments to this post, I felt like I had read a different story. This guy is a rich kid by birth. His narcissistic tendencies are seeking approval of others by posting about his new found love of tough work such as selling a condo and restaurant he bought with trust fund money. He still is frat boy, albeit with a tenuous grasp of the reality that for most people it is just plain hard to pay for college, while he had a plane and played hard his whole life.
I hate rich kids. No, that’s not right. I hate poor kids. No, that’s not it either. What I really hate is ignorant adults. No, I try to love people even if I don’t like them or feel sorry for their limitations. Does a rich kid any more elect to be rich, than a poor kid elects to be poor? Do those herein who’ve expressed not being able to relate to the “rich” have a patent on the inability to relate to those they’ve never been alike. Those who have written on this post as “normal” or “poor” kids, are all considered arrogant, wealthy Americans by the majority in this world. How does that feel? Can we change it? Would you give up what you have? I’d love to know your thoughts considering your certainty about so much. Please share something thoughtful. Just not liking someone unlike yourself. Isn’t that being spoiled in and of itself, too? Love and listen – genuinely. Then, we will have something to add to the world. Be able to listen, it is how we all learn about those unlike ourselves and avoid repeating history. Love, me
Thanks for sharing your story.
You mentioned that you have a brother, I wonder if your brother went through the same thing as you? I asked because I wonder if own personality has anything to do with the things you do in life, even if brought up the same way.
Rich or poor, everyone has their own struggles in life.
Hi Jay – This is a good question and my brother and I have talked about it. We definitely ended up living different lives. He met his current wife when he was fifteen and is now married with two amazing children, with a solid job, living in Marin in a nice home. The turmoil of my parent’s divorce when we were very young affected us differently. In a way, it caused him to settle down with one person very early in his life. It had the opposite effect on me, where I’ve been single almost my whole life, bouncing around, and just recently have gotten into a long term relationship. As for the money part, we’re also very different. I think I ended up more conservative than him. He’s always been financially very savvy and amazing with numbers.
Sam, I must say I’m disappointed in this choice of article. It seems that you just posted it with no other purpose than to be inflammatory and sensationalist.
I’m open to new perspectives Jason. And id love to have yours too on money. You think you can share an article about your learnings with me so I can publish here?
This is one of the best ways to get through disappointment. To show others how things are supposed to be with your writing.
I really don’t understand these confessions and never will. Kudos of course for realizing whatever you realized but if I had kids and family and was a millionaire-billionaire, I wouldn’t teach them about any of that. What’s the point? Killing yourself by barely making ends meet? What the hell is the value of money anyways? Its all in your mind and in fact it has no value so there is nothing really to teach. If you have millions or billions, just spend it all away! You only live once, life is futile anyways and its a pointless zero-sum game.
Your kids would do whatever they want with the money you left them (as much as possible, and not the scraps billionaires are planning to leave their progeny) and all this talk about love, social skills, flexibility, bla bla is just that – TALK. Verbal diarrhea that has nothing to do with the real world.
Over the billions of years life had been on this little planet, we had absolutely ZERO effect on anything in the universe so what hubris it is to assume that suddenly all of these microscopic life journeys on a little rock that formed accidentally from star-dust would in any way matter at all whether they’re poor or rich.
If you’re extremely wealthy, just spend it all and let your kids enjoy life to the max without having to work a single day for it. What is work after all? Its slavery and how is slavery perpetuated? Daily through births and capitalism.
Stop bringing kids into this mad world. Let’s just end the human race and this futile pursuit of greed, power and syrupy confessions. No offence.
Wow, really? You sound like you have no hope on humanity.
cheer up, and look at things in a positive way, instead of everything doom and gloom.
Thanks for writing this up and sharing your experience. Sounds like you had a great time, and decided to make some different choices. Thank goodness your mentor stepped in and provided some critical guidance at the right time. (that was your “Moonlight Graham moment). We all can look back a few times and wished we had not wasted valuable time on trivial things. I sure can’t fathom the thought of wasting 40 years of my life as in your case.
You have an unfinished life and plenty of time to create a lasting legacy and contribution through other people that cash cannot fund. Cash and toys are commodities, Time on this planet is not.
I enjoyed reading your story. How fascinating how life unfolds in so many different ways. I can imagine wishing you could have spent more time with your parents growing up. Very successful business people tend to work a lot of hours and get absorbed into projects that require a lot of focus.
But I think everyone wishes things were different in their childhood, nothing can ever be perfect. And what’s more important is focusing on now, letting go of “what ifs” and grudges, and making the most of our lives.
Thanks for sharing your story with us!
You bought a restaurant in late 2020 and in mid 2020 you’re trying to sell it? Why not try to make it work?
You mentioned “maybe you were trying to out-do your dad” but it seems like you don’t stick to something long enough to find success in it. Obviously I don’t know anything more than what you’ve shared, it sounds like your dad was very, very productive but may he was focused on the business thing.
Do you think if you didn’t have the money you’d be more prone to focus in on on or a few things or would you still have the tendency to go whatever way the wind was blowing you?
If I had the kind of money you seem to have and was single I’d be a flight risk. I’d just roam around the world, modestly, almost backpacking. To me that would be ultimate freedom…and having a my pretty lady with me would make it paradise every day.
Sounds like you’ve had a fun life, cheers to making it a long one…for all of us!
Very interesting read and nice to hear the perspective coming from a privileged background. My first reaction is that we would have nothing in common. On the other hand, you have humbled yourself in your writing that I think we could have a meaningful conversation. I’d love to know if you have any plans for philanthropy in the future.
I spend much of my typical day observing my reactions to people and events, and trying not to judge them based on my values.
That said, I feel sorry for the writer. It sounds like a nice life on the surface – all the money you could want, not having to work, bouncing around without too many responsibilities – but then I think about the moments wasted, the opportunities lost, and it just makes me sad. I admit I’m projecting my values on someone else, and presumably the author is happy with his life, but I have to say, I’m glad to be living mine instead, even with, or perhaps because of, the various difficulties I’ve faced and overcome.
I think if you ask most people, they would say they’d much rather be living their own lives instead. Don’t feel sorry for Marco, as I’m sure he’s not feeling sorry for himself.
We are all humans. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter how we live our day to day lives as long as we are happy during those days. Happiness doesn’t come in one shade.
I kind of sense you’re trying to justify your own values by saying you feel sorry for him. In no way would I feel sorry for him or anyone else for their financial situation. We’re all human and we all have our own struggles, big or small. Even small struggles to some are big to others. “Meaningless” struggles Marco might have would probably be frivolous to you. It doesn’t mean they aren’t profound and impactful to him. And vice versa.
Marco, I have a question. What is your relationship with your parents like now? Are they people that you’d go to for advice on anything?
Hi Ralph – Thanks for the question. I don’t go much to my parents for advice anymore. In fact, for some things, like investing, I will often do the opposite of what they would do. I know it sounds harsh and it’s actually nothing against their judgement. Perhaps it’s a generation thing. I just find that many baby boomers still make financial decisions based on fear and greed. I’m trying to make decisions that are more in line with my personal values, such as simplicity, freedom, joy and love.
Rob in Munich says
If your still around, your feeling are still valid
I suggust clickig through to the link to read the comments.
I absolutely love your blog…and thoroughly enjoyed this post.
On a separate topic, I’m wondering if you’ve written about life insurance policies in the past. If not, I’d love to see a post on the topic, and how it plays into responsible personal finance.
Welcome to my site. I have some life insurance posts, and ones I’ve edited
Sam – This may not be a subject of interest to you (though it is of me), but I would like to hear your thoughts on the whole v. term insurance. Others may be interested too. If anything, it always brings out passionate commentators.
This is such a fascinating story. Teaching kids to work at a young age makes a huge difference! I remember going to school with some rich kids who never had to work through college, and once graduation came around – they had absolutely no idea what to do with themselves.
Marco, really appreciate your honest self-awareness, and telling your story. fwiw, please don’t be so hard on yourself. While your life may have been different from most, everybody has the same struggles with finding meaning, embracing responsibility, and the impermanence of relationships.
One thought on self-discovery through talk-therapy and books…they can have great value, but sometimes people take refuge in ‘seeking a reason’, and, in doing so, mistake the ‘seeking’ for ‘action.’ Not saying this is your case, but some people continue to read books instead of acting to change, and this continues a form of narcissism. I admire anyone who desires to change and improve, and wish you continued success on your journey.
Thanks for sharing.
It is quite insightful. Yes, this is a blog for the super frual.
It doesn’t chance the fact that yes, some people do in fact “make it”, and it’s interesting to think of what happens when that does happen.
I’ve always wondered how one should handle the situation of being wealthy, especially since I’m not particularly materialistic.
I don’t see any point in dying with millions of dollars in the bank.
I also don’t think it’s healthy to just unload millions of dollars on your kids.
Would they know how to handle that, or blow it like some lottery winners?
However I also don’t think it’s necessarily good to buy millions of dollars of stuff and raise your kids in that sort of ‘abnormal’ environment.
So how should wealth be handled?
I wonder, given your experiences, how you personally would handle wealth?
Or, taking the same question a different way, how would you have preferred your parents handle their wealth?
For example, would you have preferred (in the long run) not having an allowance?
Or just a signifigantly smaller once, so you at least have to consider what’s ‘worth it’ or not? Or would it have angered you that your parents had so much money, and aren’t sharing it?
I don’t think it’s realistic for your parents to try to hide/pretend they aren’t wealthy – I think it’s normal for rich people to at least spend a small portion of their wealth.
Frank, do you really see this as a “super frugal” blog? If so, I’d love to get some examples of posts that have that point of view.
I’m always curious to understand how others view this site, and whether it jives with how I view my site. thx
Some of your posts are borderline frugal. Especially the 10% car rule. I much prefer when you stick to posts like “Avg Net Worth for Above Avg Person”. In fact that’s the post that brought me to your blog.
I would not have changed anything about how I grew up financially. I just wish my parents had taught me the value of money and hard work earlier in life. Perhaps they didn’t because they didn’t have those values either. After all, my dad arrived in Silicon Valley in the 70’s and partook in the largest bull run mankind has ever seen. Maybe money ended up being too easy for him as well?
Thanks for the encouraging words Jeremy. I don’t know why some people are born into money and some are not. Like most things in life, it’s all a mystery. We all come from such different backgrounds, upbringings and genetic predispositions. I shared my story to reveal one, unique situation and because I enjoy writing. I’m sure that your story and anyone else’s on this blog can be just as interesting. It all depends on the point of view.
I like to see it as karma. For example, you were a good and generous person in your past life Marco, so in this life, you were born into a life of riches.
Too much or too little of everything is always a problem. It is about balance and sounds like you struggled alot seeking that. Thank you for sharing your experience, and your suggestions.
Aviation Guy says
Interesting article. I work in corporate aviation. That in itself sounds like a big thing, but I work on the ramp. I tow the aircraft, help with passenger and crew luggage, driving passenger’s cars to the airplane, delivering catering, and welcoming the passengers with the best customer service their money can buy. I see celebrities from time to time, but mostly I see corporate CEO’s and other corporate heads.
I landed on this article after an exceptionally brutal night at work. And I have to thank the rich teens for that little bit of misery. I googled “Why are rich kids rude?” to maybe get a little insight. Not all the kids are rude, but the majority I encounter probably wouldn’t give a damn if I had dropped dead in front of them.
The adults I serve are usually (and I emphasize usually) respectful and courteous. I do encounter the occasional asshole but it doesn’t bother me. When I give the same service to their kids, and I’m speaking of teenagers, it becomes cringeworthy. That becomes unbearable when it’s a flight of only teenagers on a corporate jet. They are at the age where they understand how fortunate they are.
The smugness and entitlement flows heavy in the air and I bite my tongue to get through it professionally. I do my best to greet each kid without any bias, hoping that I would receive the same respect in return.
Recently, I brought a Gulfstream 550 into it’s parking spot and waved the limos to the aircraft. There were five cars, each with impeccably dressed drivers. I then unloaded the bags from the rear cargo door and brought them to the vehicles. We don’t know which bags go into which vehicle so we rely on the passengers to help us. There were five or six teenagers and an equal amount of adults. As the pilots and I were sorting the luggage into their respective vehicles, the teens were bunched together pointing at myself and my co-workers while laughing. I had a job to do and blocked it from my mind. As we finished loading the last of the luggage, we were each given a gratuity from the adult passengers, for which we never expect but always appreciate when given. It was at that moment that the teens burst into laughter while still gesturing towards us and looking straight into our eyes. My blood boiled and I don’t know how I maintained my composure….. but I did.
I do not know these kids, just as they don’t know me. I served in the military for ten years, deployed to Iraq for a combat tour, and left the military at the end of 2008 during the height of the recession. Talk about a bad time to leave the military. It has taken me a decade to get out of the hole that it left financially. I joined the military just as these bastards were conceived and now I have to endure their arrogance and laughter with a smile. Conversely, I try to sympathize with them. Not because they were born into a wealthy family, but because these kids lack a moral compass. Having humility and morals is the best quality that one can have and it pays dividends throughout life.
I should end this comment by reiterating that not all wealthy kids act in this manner. From time to time, I encounter wealthy kids who make my day much better than it began by engaging in a normal conversation or by saying please and thank you. Those two words mean so much to those who serve them. Much more than they could ever understand. The service they receive also becomes much better and we make sure to remember them when we see them again. I don’t care about the tip. I just want to see that they are as grateful to me for the help I provide as I am to them for just being kind. Rich or poor, the simplest act of kindness is always remembered.
Thanks again for sharing your story. I’m just wondering several things:
* If you grew up poor, and then your parents became as rich as they were, do you think you would be happier and appreciate your wealth more? It’s my belief that if all you do is go on vacation, vacation no longer becomes as fun. Work and progress makes us appreciate our vacations more, for example.
* I’m assuming despite it all, you are still very wealthy with your trust fund intact no? If this is the case, what gets you motivated to work hard if you don’t really have to?
* If you have kids, how would you tell them about their trust fund if ever?
* At what income level do you think you need to make in the Bay Area where happiness goes no further? My theory is $200,000 per person, and I’d love to hear yours!
Thanks for the questions.
If I’d grown up poor and my parents became rich later in life, I’m sure my financial situation would be much different. Perhaps, due to a better work ethic, I’d probably have a more stable income, a more stable career and who knows what my net worth would be. In that situation, whatever wealth I would have accumulated, I’d probably appreciate it more, due to the fact that I would have really worked my ass off to get there and probably without a lot of help from my folks. Not saying that I don’t appreciate what I have today as, in my own way, I have worked my ass off by educating myself, minimizing my spending and maximizing my passive rental and stock/bond income. And yet, like you said, there’s nothing more satisfying than earning active income. I make $16 an hour teaching tennis right now and I’m still giddy when I get my checks!
Yes, I would still consider myself relatively wealthy, considering I own my SF condo in the clear and still have a good amount of liquid stocks/bond/cash on hand. However, in San Francisco terms, I wouldn’t say I’m that rich. That’s why I don’t live there anymore. I’m trying to make what I have work for me in a lower priced area with a good quality of life. I pay $1300 Canadian a month for rent in Montreal that would cost probably around $3500+ in SF.
What motivates me to work hard?
Enjoying it. It has to be fun and fulfilling or, at some point, I will lose interest, not matter how much it pays. Maybe that’s the spoiled kid in me? Is that so bad?
I don’t have kids and I don’t think I’d leave them a trust fund. It’s too weird for me now. I’d leave them property in their name or give them some lump sum while I was alive, assuming they were already working and not insane drug addicts.
Ideal income in SF? Even at $200,000 with rent and lifestyle prices where they are right now, I’m not sure all these techies are saving as much as we think. Given that, I agree that, if you’re smart about it, $200,000 should be more than enough to live comfortably in any major U.S. city. In the end, I don’t think your salary is that important. It’s way more about your attitude, social skills, flexibility and your saving and spending habits.
In no way am I projecting pity but I find it a little troublesome to believe that you started out with sky’s the limit and now must budget – to an extent?
You kind of skipped over the part where you made so much money in the late 90’s through successful stock trades and bought the condo and now are worth what sounds like pennies on the dollar compared to what could of been had you managed it all. Did the extensive breaks drain you that fast?
I’m only curious since I just can’t fathom the lack of inquisition from yourself as a 20 something.
I’ve never been “the skies the limit” rich and even if I was, I’d still budget.
Lack of inquisition as a 20 something sounds about right.
“I’m trying to make what I have work for me in a lower priced area with a good quality of life. I pay $1300 Canadian a month for rent in Montreal that would cost probably around $3500+ in SF.”
I think your comparison is a bit off.
Montreal is the most cultured and most happening city in North America. I’d even give it nod above Boston, but at 2/3’s the CoL, with fewer pretentious ppl.
In contrast, SF is the most overrated place to live in with the highest CoL. The ppl in SF are superficial and self-centered.
If you keep your financial history private, the average Montrealer will treat you like a regular person than a trust fund baby which let’s say, is very common at places like Williamsburg in NYC.
MTL is one of the best kept secrets on our continent and you’d discovered it serendipitously.
Great story. Thanks for sharing. It’s nice to hear you learned to focus on what matters most – relationships! I have the opposite situation – my parents did well (but not nearly as well as yours) – paid for school and grad school, but that was the end of it. Now they even expect me to buy whenever we eat out, even though they are in a much better position to pick up the check.
I think it’s an honor to pay our parents back BH! They hooked you up for 24 years it sounds like, so why not pay them back for 24 years, even if it costs a dinner
Money Beagle says
One of the first shows I ever started watching with my now-wife was (don’t judge me), The OC. And, i would always watch it wondering just how these people didn’t see at all how the ‘rest of the world’ lived and was it for real. Your post kind of answered that. You know what you know, I guess.
Thanks for sharing. Very interesting perspectives and it’s always thought provoking to get different world views.
The First Million is the Hardest says
Thanks for sharing! It’s always interesting to hear the stories of people with very different backgrounds than most of us grew up with. I agree that rich parents should try to avoid showering their kids with money. It’s a shame to see kids with all the resources and opportunities they could want in life lose any drive or motivation because their parents always handed them anything they wanted.
What kind of plane do you have? Cherokee?
Thanks for sharing your story-Chris
Each human condition has is own disadvantages and advantages.
But what is good, is that there are alwasys lessons to learn and steps to take to improve.
Thank you for sharing your story, Samurai Marco.
Sorry but this seems to be a sad tale of a wasted life so far.
Living off others, even if they are family, for so long could not be very fulfilling.
A spoiled rich kid is not funny…just spoiled.
Not sure that this post was meant to be funny, but a confession of the way things were and Marco’s introspection and guidance for others who might be in his same situation. Takes courage to put yourself out there.
If you’d like to give it a go, let me know.
I would agree that I hate spoiled rich kids, and part of that is probably some jealousy mixed in, but I think with Marco, that he’s seen that he was that way and is trying to live his life in a more fulfilling way is admirable.
I agree with Sam and some others in that if you’ve only know the “rich” life, how can we condemn that person if they truly have never seen the struggle most of us face…it’s all perspective I guess.
A lot of folks are commenting that Marco “wasted” his life which comes across as a little petty/jealous, but I also wonder how his life was wasted if he got a degree in college, and MBA, made some money in the stock market, dabbled in real estate and restaurants, learned how to fly a plane, learned and is teaching tennis, and become a decent guitar player? I was reading those thinking I’d like to do some of those things when I become FI…? Am I missing something? I think the tone in which Marco wrote his story as a guy trying to figure stuff out, comes across like he wasted his life, when if you look at the things he has done to date, it’s not so bad. He’s only in his 40’s as well, still a lot of life to life yet.
Thanks Sam and Marco for sharing this story…
Thanks Sundeep. My intention was to show people that growing up as a spoiled rich kid, as fun as it can be at times, is not necessarily that fulfilling. And, in fact, it’s not growing up rich that’s the problem, it’s the spoiled part.
As for a “wasted life”, I don’t know what that means. I’d just be careful if you’re muttering those words, as I’m a big believer in the “spot it, got it” philosophy.
Your right. You go through the various stages of life without a true calling or identity. Psychologically it is extremely painful and confusing. My story is similar and I’m in my late 30s …
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about things like this; my sister would call it “trustifarian”. When money is less of a concern you begin to look for a deeper meaning and drive. This often results in some kind of existential crises. My personal value system is very different and I just can’t empathize with someone who is overeducated, has the ability/funds/connections but lacks the drive. I would always be out there trying and doing. Even if I fail time after time. But, that’s just me. I know plenty of people like you and it just doesn’t compute for me.
We all grow up in different ways. If all you knew was growing up rich around fellow rich people, would you really feel that rich? I doubt it.
It’s very hard to motivate yourself sometimes when you don’t have to do a thing.
I think that is short-sided. You never know who is reading your post, and how that might affect that person. For example, when I was reading your post, it made me feel small, as I have suffered from what you would call a “lack of drive” in past years. This was in part, due to access to my parent’s monetary success. Have no doubt about it, this access can cripple you. Being “given” everything, you never get the opportunity to accomplish anything. Think about that. You never get the opportunity to fail and get back up. This is what makes you strong. This can result in a person lacking self-esteem and confidence. This, in turn, can lead to other consequences. Perhaps, re-think that personal value system of yours to include some kindness and empathy for everyone. it took me a long time to learn to stand up on my own two feet.
What year is your Piper Cherokee?
That photo is a plane I rented . .it’s a piper 152. Very small.
I’ve long found this blog to be an interesting read for practical advice on managing and accumulating money. This story, while interesting, is misplaced here. Advice from the super wealthy I want? how to develop a relationship with a person who can help time the market. Advice I don’t want? How to raise my kids and get therapy.
Thank goodness for the advice of your family member and thank goodness you listened!
You also give some really great tips that aren’t usually on personal finance blogs – getting therapy is the one that stands out the most. I’ve done therapy years ago but it might be time to admit some if my financial issues are tied up in very emotional matters.
I agree. Any financial issue you have is almost always traceable back to an emotional issue.
Suze Orman is big on this and I’ve learned a lot listening to her podcasts.
Even Steven says
Thank you for sharing your story that can be the toughest part of writing just putting yourself out there.
I’m going to skip over the this is how I lived like a Kardashian reality piece that covers 3/4 of the post. I lost interest after getting through this, the part where you purchased a restaurant or a condo and are working on selling it would have been interesting, but studying guitar while living in the maid’s quarters or Dad’s mansion lost me again. This was the best I could do at being positive, I think I have a Napoleon’s complex for rich kids, does that exist?
Rich kids, poor kids, whatever. . we were all just kids at some point and all we really needed was our parents love and guidance. Spoiled acting kids drive me nuts and, for some reason, there is always a clueless arrogant parent nearby to put fuel in the flames.
Marco, you really nailed it with this comment. What impresses me about you is your humility despite coming from a privileged background.
I agree. I’ve blocked a couple pretty nasty comments. Not sure why people want to hate on someone who made a confession. Confessions are all about listening, accepting, forgiving, learning, and moving on.
We all have our flaws. It’s what we do with them that matters.
Jealousy and envy always leads to hate.
Great article! Love your honesty, but you will never comprehend/feel/understand STRUGGLE. In “SOME LESSONS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT MONEY (5) Try Not To Look Back…I struggle with this everyday.” I had to pause for a second. Now I’m not saying you have never struggled in life but you understand exactly what I mean. If you don’t then you are still that “out of touch, spoiled rich kid”.
Of course you are gonna get all defensive and explain all the struggles you’ve been through but save it. Back in ‘93 (13 years old) I had an encephalitis that caused brain damage and epilepsy. Couldn’t even recognize my own mom. I’ve had over 1000 seizures and gotta have a legal guardian for the rest of my life. This is not a feel sorry for me reply but an eye opener for you. You are blessed beyond imagination. Take that blessing and make our Lord the Father proud!
Because you simply can’t relate on any level with this guy’s story. I have a similar story but the wealth / success of family was on a much lower scale. $6-$8M net worth. I’m in my late 30s, have a BA in finance / business management from a top school and basically haven’t done much since college other than travel and photography. Sad but true
Income Surfer says
Thanks for sharing. I really appreciate you being willing to talk about getting therapy. Two different times in my life I’ve gone to a few therapy sessions, and found that an outsider can really help put things in perspective. I recommend it to anyone struggling with ANYTHING.
Also, I think you had two really really good pieces of advice. 1. Forgiving myself and my past were critical to my current happiness, so I can relate to you there. 2. Accepting that you need to start over is huge. Too many people I know cling to what they had, instead of accepting that things have changed and they need to move on.
Again, great story and thanks for sharing
Thanks Brian. A big part of why I went into therapy was I was driving family members crazy with my anxiety and insecurities about everything. I noticed when I had someone else to talk with, I was able to be more present with them and focus more on their problems instead of mine.
Thanks for sharing. When come to terms with your mistakes is when you can actually move on. I grew up with rich successful parents who never gave the appearance of wealth. They brought my brothers and I as if we were poor. Emphasis was on work, values and skills. I got what I needed vs. what I wanted! I received a good formal and informal education and passed it on to my children. I did not value my parent’s strict upbringing at the time, but I turned out okay. I could never get enough of my parent’s time because they were always so busy 24/7. Balance is key in bringing up children. I was successful in my own right and achieved financial freedom (38 years old) without any financial help. I spent a great deal of time developing a relationship with my children. They turned out to be successful adults.
Wow, being raised by busy rich parents who taught you the value of money and somehow made you feel loved in the process. That must have been an amazing experience. Lucky you and lucky your children!
Sometimes I wonder about nature vs. nurture. While I had a lot of privileges (not crazy wealth, but eventually good parental income), to this day I always save and invest more than my parents and have a completely different outlook.
While I didn’t really get much and had to live for a while on a tiny allowance in Manhattan, I’ve been naturally frugal and constantly evolving. I can trace those tendencies WAY back into my childhood without any apparent cause …
Nature or nurture is not an either or statement! I think both contribute to who we become. I was always interested in business and money, but I was always around my entrepreneur parents. I worked for them (reluctantly) from as early as 5 years old every weekend. If my parents were something else, would I have the skills and interest to do something else? Who knows!
Thanks for sharing your story, Marco. It’s one very few of us are familiar with from personal experience.
How do you think your life would be different if you had grown up in a $50k a year household?
Oh, $50k per year household. Dear lord, it would have been so different I can’t even answer that question. Maybe my parents would have never left Sicily in the first place and never gotten divorced? That would have changed everything, as my Dad, perhaps, wouldn’t have become so obsessed with work to numb the pain and make up for his failed marriage. And maybe, he would have been more present with my brother and I, and taken more time to show us the things that took me fifteen to twenty years longer to learn. Again, I’m not blaming my dad for anything anymore. He did his best with the situation he had and, at least, he killed it financially and all the family benefitted in some way from this.
I’m pretty sure I would probably have had a more stable and consistent career path. Perhaps I would have stayed in tech PR for the long run and, by today, I’d be a VP of Communications at some agency or corporation pulling in at least $200k. Would I be happier. . I have no idea. Also, I’d probably would have gotten married and had children, as I didn’t see family life, up until recently, as a positive thing.
I don’t regret it anyway. Your life happens the way it happens for a reason.
Great story… I had a nice lump sum in the nineties as well but like you made sure to get the education (BS,MBA) as a backup. The journal you mention is the single most important therapy you can have IMO. Skip the therapists and minimize the books. We have what we need in our head just dedicate the time. I figured that out in my teens thankfully. I don’t think the money is a problem it really is bring present in your kids lives. I give my kids everything and that includes my time, love, and energy most of all. I don’t force them to be hyper-competitive but instead be true to themselves, us, and others creatively, artistically, technically, critically, and respectfully. Work is necessary but not all-encompassing and certainly not something I would EVER define a life through. It’s just one aspect and in the 5-10 range of priorities. Nurture your relationships #1.
Cool Rob – Good to hear from another avid journal keeper. Sometimes I feel guilty because I’ve stopped writing it by hand and now send myself daily “Soul Notes” via email. It’s easier to just write something in the moment and send it to myself than waiting to have my pen and pad ready.
And yes, totally agree that you cannot, and should not, define yourself through work. After all, what is the definition of work really? Aren’t we always kinda working on something anyway? Sometimes you’re getting paid and sometimes your not. One of my goals, lately, has been, a la Samurai style, to get paid big money for work that I love doing, whenever I want and as often as I want. Right now I’m teaching tennis part time and it has all the qualifications I mention above . .just need to figure out how to raise my hourly rate from $16/hr to $300 .. any ideas anyone.
You know, I wonder if writing this blog is my form of therapy much akin to your journal writing? It must be quite similar no?
I’ve been able to get through sorry, disappointment, and fear through writing. I’ve got many posts unpublished, but just being able to write them has helped me tremendously stay level.
You’re lucky because your therapy is a part of your livelihood. More and more, that’s the kind of work I’m looking for.
Find a way to coach Eugenie Bouchard (or the next Genie) ! Great post!
Coach rich folks who can afford $300/hr?
I come from a working class background and never had much as a kid, in terms of material things and even less so with money. But I had the love of my grandmother who was selfless and generous. That was what saw me through my childhood and teenage years, not money and things (although it was always awesome when I was given money and gifts).
I’m in my early 30’s but I’ve always been a drifter, always felt lost. I flunked college, and had no idea whatsoever what I wanted to do with my life until I hit my 30’s. I spent my 20’s trying to find myself, trying to figure out my life, and atoning for stuff I did. Now I have an idea of what I want to do professionally (so I’m trying to get to a place where I can start freelancing), and I know who I have the potential to be as a person, so I’m always making sure I’m moving in the right direction at my own pace.
Thanks for sharing. It’s always great to read stories like yours.
I forgot to add, great point about letting go of the past. Too Perfect is an awesome book about obsessive compulsive behavior and letting go of the past. When we learn to use the past as a learning tool and not regret it is awesome.
Cool thanks for the comments Mark. I’ll check out Too Perfect!
Wow, what a story! Thanks for sharing, Marco. It is really interesting to get a glimpse into this kind of life. Growing up the way you did, do you feel that it was harder to find your life’s purpose? Did your father ever serve as a mentor to you and help shape your path? From your story it sounds like he was really busy and you were off on your own a lot with little life guidance.
From your story it also sounded like you had access to an abundance of successful people, including your father. Are there any questions you wish you asked them about life when you were in your 20s? Do you still keep in touch with people from your childhood?
Hi Shyla – Thanks for reading and asking these questions.
“Growing up the way you did, do you feel that it was harder to find your life’s purpose?”
Yes, I would say growing up as spoiled as I was, finding a life purpose or even a stable career has probably been harder than someone with a stricter upbringing. It’s like a dog.. if you don’t train them, they’re all over the place, hard to control, anxious and unable to focus. For many years I was mad at my folks for being so uninvolved in my life. At some point, I accepted the positives and negatives of my upbringing, forgave myself and my parents and began living my life. Now I see my purpose as being loving and grateful, sharing my knowledge, skills and experiences through teaching and ENJOYING life as much as possible.
“Did your father ever serve as a mentor to you and help shape your path?”
This is weird because my dad was so successful in the external world of money and power and, at the same time, he was almost invisible at home. It was like he was hiding from the world. Looking back, I think my dad was depressed and never really recovered from the break up with my mom. I feel like, at times, he did try to guide me and for some reason it just didn’t stick. Maybe because our relationship wasn’t strong enough and I didn’t feel like he really cared that much. And I know this sounds like I’m playing victim and I’m absolutely not. I’m just saying that to be a mentor to someone, you have to really take the time and nurture the relationship. My dad wasn’t really around as a “Dad” so I guess it makes sense that he wasn’t really much of a mentor either.
“From your story it also sounded like you had access to an abundance of successful people, including your father. Are there any questions you wish you asked them about life when you were in your 20s? Do you still keep in touch with people from your childhood?”
When I was in my 20’s I didn’t really have many questions. I was a nervous dog running around doing what I thought I should be doing. As far as questions I wished I’d asked them back in my 20’s, I really don’t know. I guess I’d ask them more philosophical questions like “What makes you do what you do?” “What’s your definition of success?” “Is your family happy?”
Some people take a lifetime to find their life’s purpose.
I’m not sure what mine is other than to be helpful and do the best I can with what I have. Do you know what yours is?
As Tolle recommends, I’ve turned my life purpose inward .. to remain present as much as possible. When you do that, everything tends to take care of itself.
What an interesting story. At least you know that you were spoiled and can recognize now how different your upbringing was. Many people don’t! Your life seems so much different than mine, but an adventure nonetheless! I think it’s easy for parents to spoil kids with money instead of love (if they have it) because they think it’s a replacement for time. But it’s not. I can also vouch for therapy — it can do wonders!
Very cool story!
My plans for my kids are to help them as much as possible by teaching them how to make money have a great attitude. I don’t think that can be done by buying them cars and giving them as much money as they want. I was not bought any fancy cars or given a monthly stipend in college, but my parents did pay for tuition and room and board at a state college. I worked during the summers and had part time jobs during school for spending money. I also racked up as much credit card debt as I could. Lol.
After college I couldn’t find a finance degree so I started working for my dad in real estate. That provided enough money to buy a modest house, but I never saved any money trying to follow his system. Then I started making goals and creating my own niche in the market and things took off.
I really think people need goals and things to shoot for to be successful. Maybe if samurai Marco set some very specific and difficult goals it would help him create some direction and a sense if purpose. I think if you follow some one else’s plan or path, or just drift along without having your own dreams its hard to see a point or be challenged. One reason why I think the corporate world makes it tough to get A head. Your are always chasing and working for someone else’s dream.
Great story and thanks for sharing. You sound like you have got your head on straight.
I’ve never been a fan of therapy though, I think you can sort things out yourself with the proper level of introspection. Getting away to do this is not a bad idea, whether by doing a long day or multi-day hike, or psychedelic drugs in the desert you will eventually find the answers you are looking for from inside.
Your story reminds me of a Buddhist quote that even rich people go through their own type of suffering and it is not worthwhile to envy anyone else, it is better to feel compassion for others.
I hope your journey continues to be productive, your philosophy is in alignment with personal growth. As is said, when the student is ready the teacher arrives.
What I want to say to the richest kids in the world
Right now some of the richest kids in the world are meeting at something called the Nexus Youth Summit. Their last powwow was at the White House and now through July 26, they are meeting at the United Nations.
According to its own website: “Nexus is a global movement of 2000+ young people from over 70 countries working to increase and improve philanthropy and impact investing by bridging communities of wealth and social entrepreneurship.” The “community of wealth” contingent includes some of the richest young heirs on the planet; people worth millions and in some cases billions.
Here is what I want to say to them and you might as well listen in.
Your wealth isn’t your fault
As you know, being born rich is like being born beautiful—it is not something you accomplished but more like winning a cosmic lottery. The poor and the plain imagine life would be wonderful if they were but rich and beautiful, and our advertisers seem dedicated to perpetrating this myth. But you know wealth and beauty is no guarantee of happiness or even success. Be secure in the knowledge that you are not responsible for what happened before you were born and do not let the judgments and desires of others get you down.
The world does owe you a living
My dad used to tell me, “The world doesn’t owe you a living.” What he meant was that I’d have to work for what I got.
But what he didn’t talk about was how money works. You see, money is debt, and if you have a ton of money then the world does owe you what it takes to live. The world might even owe you a fancy car or a yacht.
You probably know this already, but when I do something or sell something the money I get in return is an I. O. U. drawn on all of us. When I walk into McDonald’s with enough money in my wallet for a Big Mac, then I am owed that hamburger, and when I pay with my money now, McDonald’s is the one owed something; perhaps by employees who provide labor or the factory that grows its food. I’m 61 years old now and I’m living on my retirement savings and that money-in-the-bank simply means the world owes me a living without me having to work any more.
If you are born with enough moola to keep you in hamburgers and houses for the rest of your life then you are born with the world owing you a living. That’s not a crime; that’s just a fact. As I said before, it isn’t your fault.
But you are wealthy only if people poorer than you say so
Reflect on the fact that while you are born being owed a living, nearly everyone else is born owing you one. That was, after all, what my dad was saying; I would have to earn the money others would pay me. But later, even if I accumulate plenty of money, if the people who might do my bidding decide to go on strike then I am not rich no matter how much I have in the bank. Protesters and pundits can rank us by beauty or wealth, but whether we divide ourselves into quintiles, deciles, or the 1 and the 99, the fact is we are all in this together. Whether we admit it or not, the rich need the poor as much as the poor need the rich. We don’t all need to like everyone we meet, but we need to care about each other if this puny thing we call humanity is to survive.
Money should buy freedom, not chains
I am named after my dad’s uncle, Brooke, who dreamt as a child that he would one day dig for gold and become rich. When he grew up he went to the Philippines and did precisely that. But his money did not buy him freedom when the Japanese took his mines and threw him in the Santo Tomas internment camp. They took his wealth but they did not break his spirit; and he did not yearn for renewed wealth but for freedom.
All my dad ever wanted was to be a sculptor. But having children derailed things for a while. From fine art, he moved into commercial art, advertising, marketing, marketing management, and finally management consulting. Then, in my senior year in high school he gave me $500 toward college and then went back to sculpture full time.
As he gave me that money, he said, “Money should buy freedom not chains.” He explained that with money you should be able to do all the things you can do without money plus the things that take money. But for many people money buys chains because they start wanting even more money and they forget about all the things they can do that don’t need any money at all, like watching a sunset or loving a child.
Choose what you want wisely, and denominate your wealth in freedom to yearn, not in dollars you earn.
Money can buy some happiness, but it ain’t much
In that same conversation, my dad said, “It is easier to make money doing what makes you happy than to buy happiness with the money you are paid for doing what makes you miserable.”
Making a boat-load of money isn’t easy whether you like doing what it takes or not. Making lots of money is mostly luck, which is something the lucky mistake for skill and the unlucky imagine must involve cheating. As my career arc took me from mathematics and programming through finance and eventually into hedge-fund management I can report that the key to making money is to do what makes other people happy. If you want to make a pile of dough then do what makes the rich even richer. If what makes you happy is playing video games or watching old movies on basic cable, then all I can say vis. a vis. getting rich is, “Good luck with that.”
The wisdom in my dad’s words comes from the fact that it is very hard to buy happiness when you spend your days making yourself miserable. People who live for the weekend might be two-sevenths happy. You can do better than that.
Besides, happiness is overrated
Ask most people and they will say, “All I want is to be happy.”
On the surface it is hard to argue with happiness, but two things don’t sit right: 1) Happiness is kind of selfish, 2) Happiness is kind of meaningless.
I can hear my dad saying, “Great, so you’re happy. Whoop dee doo. What about everyone else?” Beside’s, happiness is a feeling, not a fact—you can learn to be happy sitting there doing nothing. Indeed, once you learn to master happiness, pretty much everything else is a distraction from being happy. Try it right now; set your worries aside, relax, and be happy. See, you can do it. And if it didn’t happen then practice setting your worries aside and relaxing because that’s the secret to happiness.
But, I prefer satisfaction to happiness. You buy satisfaction with effort, and it is in effort that I find joy—even more than in accomplishment. I’m not sure I know what I’m talking about so you might want to consult an expert. Consider watching this TED video by Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania about what positive psychology has to say about the topic.
You need a purpose
Everyone needs a reason to exist, and the ironic thing is that the closer you are to starving, the easier it is to feel a sense of purpose: If you and your family will die next week unless you do something about it today then you’ve got your work cut out for you. But if you and everyone you care about will be just fine no matter what you do then now you have the makings of an existential crisis.
A financial adviser once told me that he doesn’t dispense financial advice so much as give parenting tips to rich people. He says, “Eventually you can become so wealthy that you must work for the benefit of people you will never meet, and then you will have to choose between people you will never meet who are alive today and people who you will never meet who will inherit your wealth.”
I cannot tell you which way to go, but I can recommend a quote from Rabindranath Tagore who said, “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
Feeling useless sucks. The cure is to be of use.
Start with a dream rather than a purpose
If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, the famous “Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch who had terminal cancer at the time he recorded it. Randy was the co-founder (along with Jesse Schell) of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University.
Ever since 1963, when I had Mr. Reiur in the sixth grade, I knew I was meant to be a teacher. And I still feel that way, even though I have no training in the art. I did not even have an idea of what I was meant to teach until 2004 when my eldest was getting ready to leave home and I began asking everyone what he would need to know that he wouldn’t learn in college. I collected 220 responses but the short answer is, “Everything.”
Now I knew what to teach (everything) but I had no idea how to teach it.
Although I found Randy’s Last Lecture inspirational, I found the key to realizing my purpose in Jesse Schell’s textbook, The Art of Game Design wherein he presents 100 questions to ask yourself about the game you are designing. He begins with questions like: What is the essential experience of my game? Is my game fun? What problems does my game ask the player to solve? and so on.
As I worked my way through the book it slowly dawned on me that if I substitute “game” with “life” nearly all the questions apply to designing a worthwhile life. And his book ends with question #100—which he calls The Lens of Your Secret Purpose—“To make sure you are working towards your one true purpose, ask yourself the only question that matters: Why am I doing this?”
I wrote to Schell and said that I think the secret of his book is that it was really about designing a life, and he responded, “Heh—you figured out the secret of the book, all right!” I drove to Pittsburgh and interviewed him and you can see that here. I tried to convince him to write a book on designing a life and he said, “I’m too young; I’ll write that when I’m 60.”
I was about to turn 60 so I thought I’d give it a shot, and I began by putting together a pretty good set of questions, which you can find at Q54Club.org. As with Schell’s book, I leave the question of purpose for the very end because if you imagine you need to have a purpose to your life before you can do anything significant then you’re likely to never get very far doing anything whatsoever. But if you start by doing things that both interest you and are of value to others then usually your purpose will reveal itself to you. Your purpose can be like a jigsaw puzzle where you don’t know what the finished picture will look like in which case you can only start trying to fit pieces together and see what materializes.
Another reason to leave purpose for later is because if you don’t have integrity, good values, strength of character, skill, and an understanding of how the world works, then a sense of purpose can be dangerous. This is particularly true if you happen to be wealthy; the misguided fantasies of the poor seldom amount to much but if you have enough money and a desire to feed a nation facing drought then if you don’t know what you are doing you might end up bankrupting all the farmers and doing more harm than good. The poor can afford to learn by their mistakes but they cannot afford to learn by yours.
Don’t sweat purpose. Work up a sweat doing hard work for people wiser than you. Your purpose will come once you’re strong enough.
Poor people do not begrudge the wealthy their riches; they begrudge them their cowardice
Another friend of mine became a financial adviser to the wealthy and he told me that the thing he was most surprised to discover is that the rich are afraid of their wealth. People with nothing will take risks and hit it big but once they have money in the bank they will do everything they can to avoid losing it. This well known psychological effect is called loss aversion, and while it might have had survival value back when we were evolving, these days our species gets hurt when the rich get scared.
Since Yesterday, the 1930s in America is a very readable history of the Great Depression. In it, author Fredrick Lewis Allen (not a relative) explains why the rich came to believe the poor wanted to confiscate their wealth and the poor came to despise the rich. He says, “For the rich and powerful could maintain their prestige only by giving the general public what it wanted. It wanted prosperity, economic expansion. It had always been ready to forgive all manner of deficiencies in the Henry Fords who actually produced the goods, whether or not they made millions in the process. But it was not disposed to sympathize unduly with people who failed to produce the goods, no matter how heart-rending their explanations for their failure.”
When times get tough, the rich need to act as shock absorbers because they can bear risk the rest of us cannot. When the poor are out of work, the rich cannot go on strike. Being of use during hard times is the main reason to be rich. When you think of a better reason then tell me, but until then this is the best one I’ve found.
If you are lucky enough to have an existential crisis, then that is the point of your wealth
I was raised to be irreligious and as a younger man I would envy friends who would react to setbacks with confidence that God has plans for them and all they have to do is figure out what they are.
I am still irreligious but I’ve discovered a trick… You don’t have to believe in God to imagine that he exists and that he has a plan for you. Do that, and when you find that plan—as you shall—it does not necessarily mean you have unearthed evidence God exists. It means that we humans are meaning-seeking machines, and we find what we seek, be it a God, a purpose, or a pattern in the plot of a stock price.
A good multipurpose reason to exist is to be of use to people like yourself. Even if you aren’t screwed up, some of your peers sure are. Helping them will help you more than merely helping yourself alone. (See: The Problem with Rich Kids.)
Less wealthy people might imagine that when rich kids get together at places like the United Nations for things like the Nexus Youth Summit it is to plot world domination or at least compare notes on the best places to moor a yacht.
I suspect that is not what you are doing.
My guess is that you’re trying to help each other solve the predicament you are in, and I see that finding a purpose is on the agenda. Bravo!
Tell me what you think
I don’t really know what happens at Nexus because my application to attend was denied; apparently only a very limited number of spots are available to people over 40. That’s OK—I can handle it—after all, yours is a “youth summit.” Besides, my generation didn’t trust anyone over 30, so you’re making progress of sorts.
It doesn’t matter because if you are reading this then I’ve gotten to tell you what I think anyway, and if you write back then you get to tell me what you think. Your response will turn this sermon into a dialogue, and it is more important that we communicate than where we do it or over what drinks.
One last thing
Given how much you are owed by the world, you might ask if you owe the world anything.
You must strive to be the best possible version of yourself that you can be. We all owe that to each other and to ourselves. All other species follow this mandate and those among us who are born better endowed are not exempted from living up to their potential just because they have more of it. You must do your part because we humans are humanity’s only hope. With the possible exception of our house pets, all other species are too busy being the best they can be and they don’t have time to care if we pull through.
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