Travel vs. Things: Where Old Money Spends It

Every six months or so, I venture into my closets and drawers in order to consider the fate of clothing items that I haven’t worn recently. There aren’t many, as I purchase for the long haul, avoid trends, and try to take care of my investment (and I do consider clothing an investment.)

But even with the best laid plans of mice and men, it’s inevitable that several still-wearable items make their way to the local charity resale shop every year.

Mixed emotions abound: I feel a sense of relief as I get rid of something I’m not using; I feel grateful that I have the opportunity to give, even something modest, and in doing so provide others the opportunity to get good use out of something they might not otherwise be able to afford; and honestly, I feel a little regret that I spent money on something that I’m not keeping.

Please know: I’m not cheap. I seek value. And when I discard material possessions prematurely, I review the purchase. Did I get my money’s worth? Would I spend money on this item again? And sometimes, as disciplined as I am, I have to ask: what the hell was I thinking?

I contrast those emotions with the feelings I get when I come across a remnant of past travel:  a poster from the Palio in Siena, a photo of a drizzly morning in Paris, ticket stubs from the opera in Verona. The memories flood my brain, and the emotions are all pleasant. I don’t question the expense. I would recommend it to anyone. And I ask myself, why the hell don’t I do this more often?

At the end of our lives, we’re going to look back on the experiences we’ve had more than the material possessions we’ve acquired. That should direct us now, in this moment, to prioritize our spending. Pack a bag and go before you buy a purse and pose. Commit yourself to two weeks on the road before you commit yourself to 36 months of car payments. Invest in a memory that will change you forever, and probably for the better: travel more, buy less.


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Bean Boots

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What Price Opportunity?

I was speaking with a friend of a friend last week. His daughter had recently entered the workforce after obtaining a very good education. The job she’d taken wasn’t exactly what she wanted to be doing, but she was happy to have it. (He was happy she had it, too. Wink, nod.)

He had offered to give her an old family car to start out with. It was a 20 year old Volvo, cosmetically challenged, but reliable. (She hadn’t needed a car in college.) He had also suggested that she reach out to an college friend of his in her new city as a way of locating an apartment that might be a value.

Wanting to be independent and make her own decisions, she declined both offers. She purchased a new car–inexpensive and economical, to be sure, but one that still required a down payment and monthly payments–and signed a one-year lease on a very nice apartment. Flush with a paycheck or two, she furnished the place with brand a brand new sofa and dining set.

A month later, she received an email from a friend about a position she’d applied for a couple of months before. It was the perfect job: in her field, working with people she admired, with tremendous room for growth. The only catch was…the job was across the country, and they wanted someone to start immediately.

The young lady was instantly on the short list for the job, thanks to her friend. But she ran into some problems: she was going to have difficulty getting rid of her car, as there were three more years of payments to be made on it; if she broke the lease on her apartment, she’d sacrifice her security deposit, which she would have used to move into a new place with her new job; and the furnishings that she’d paid retail for were not going to be easy to sell, and paying for moving and/or storage made no sense. All these things stacked up against her as she looked at making a quick move to a new city.

In summary, she couldn’t get her affairs and finances in order quickly enough. The job–and the opportunity–went to someone else. It was painful to hear her father recount the story. He’d read my book, and he’d recommended it to his daughter. She had declined that offer as well.

If you’re just starting out–or just starting over–consider ordering a copy of The Old Money Book. It’s full of advice, insights, and strategies on how you can maximize your opportunities by minimizing your baggage.


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School days 2

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Reality Check

One of the dangers of the internet is that it’s possible to live a primarily virtual life that has little or no basis in reality.  With the cloak of anonymity, we can be someone we’re not, say things we wouldn’t dare say in person, and impact society through our access to and participation in worldwide communication with the click of a button, often without responsibility or repercussion.

We can hurt people with vicious and unfounded comments. We can support poorly thought-out ideas. We can remain silent when others do so. Trust me, there are plenty of opportunities to do these things in real life. There’s no reason to rack up extra bad-karma bonus points online.

A system of checks and balances often exists when we make mistakes or say stupid things in real life. We see the pain we cause. We see the damage we’ve done. We get our ass handed to us. We suffer. We take a hard look at ourselves. We learn. We’re better off for it.

One of the characteristics of Old Money is that it rarely does things in the shadows. An exception to this may be charity, which is often done anonymously, and matters involving family, which are often handled in private.

But overall, Old Money doesn’t do things that it wouldn’t be proud of if they were made public. This makes life simple, if not easy. It makes our behavior something that we could explain to our children without shame, even if the subject matter might be awkward. It enables us to sleep soundly at night.

It’s a code of behavior with demands that are non-negotiable, but with dividends that pay handsomely.

So live life in the daylight. If you’re going to say something or do something, own up to it. Put your name on it. Be proud of it. If you aren’t willing to do that, it might not be the right thing to do.


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Seven Sisters Style – The New Book from Rizzoli

The book discusses how the Old Money look for women came to be. Check it out here.

Seven Sisters Style

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Back Bay, Boston


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