We talk about the concepts of Old Money constantly on this site, but there’s nothing like real world encounters to make the concepts come to life.
In this case, the real world encounter is with an OMG (Old Money Guy) I know who recently sold his company and experienced a substantial financial windfall as a result. He grew up on the east coast and would cringe at the prospect of discussing his family’s background.
However, it was a comfortable childhood with educated and hardworking parents and grandparents who instilled certain values in him and his sister. When I spoke with him last week and congratulated him on the transaction, it was obvious that these values had stayed with him.
The first thing he wanted to make sure I understood was that he was very lucky to have had the chance to start his business in the first place. (It started in his parents’ garage.) He emphasized his parents’ patience and support. He discussed hiring really talent and dedicated employees as the business grew and how it was their skills as much as his that led to the success of the company. (Not just hollow praise, as I later learned that each received eye-popping severance packages when the company was sold.) His modesty was refreshing, but I knew he was really, really intelligent and had busted his butt to make this company work.
The OMG talked about his luck in having the right buyer come along at the right time and what the opportunity would mean for his wife and children. (He and his wife could spend more time together and his children’s education was now paid for.) It had been a few years of ten-hour days, and he could take a deep breath.
He talked about having to shift his focus for the time being from growing a business to managing money. He and his wife were having discussions about how much to tell their children about the windfall and how to structure finances so that the children were taken care of but wouldn’t be spoiled. He was asking his parents for much of this advice, which, he said, humbled his highly-accomplished father. “When I told him I wanted my kids to turn out the way I did, he said it was the biggest compliment he’d ever received.”
Finally, after listening to a very modest and circumspect discussion of his new situation in life, I’d had enough and did my best surfer impersonation: “Dude, that’s all fine, you know, but what are you going to buy?”
He cracked up laughing, then had to take another call. Before hanging up, he promised to email me with his list and warned me that I would be “incredibly underwhelmed”.
Sunday, I received his email. “The Conspicuous Consumption Windfall Purchase List”, as he called it, was enclosed. He graciously consented to have it published, as long as he remained anonymous.
So, here’s a list of what an OMG spends his money on when he sells his company for eight figures:
1. Had driver’s seat reupholstered in Volvo. $200.00.
2. At wife’s insistence, purchased new pair of brown dress shoes (wingtips) online from Allen Edmonds. $400.00
3. 3 new pair of khakis from Bill’s, $450.00. And a brown belt, $75.00, both online. Note to self: do not gain weight.
4. LL Bean boots, $100.00. Online. (Yes, I hate shopping.)
5. Half dozen shirts from Brooks Brothers, online, depending on what’s on sale.
6. Leather strap to be replaced on watch (inherited, old) $100.00 est.
7. Dinner with wife. $100.00.
8. Bought drinks at The Hill, paid cash. Total damage: large and unknown. Attitude toward expenditure: do not care.
9. Possible: share costs of Red Sox season tickets with neighbors.
That’s about it.