Old Money: In Their Own Words

As you all know, this blog is about the values, priorities, and habits of Old Money. Obviously, these posts are from my perspective and based largely on my experience. That being said, I thought it might be helpful to include comments from others who grew up in an Old Money home. There are some real pearls of wisdom here. Enjoy.

“There is no specific definition of “old money”, so this certainly isn’t a definitive statement. But as someone who grew up with more money than most everyone I knew, and had at least one parent who also grew up in a monied environment, and have children who have also grown up in a monied household, at least I can give you my personal impression.

“In our case, money was never discussed, was never flaunted, and was never consciously an issue of any kind, in and of itself. Rather, it was the absence of money as a limiting factor that was probably the most important thing. Never in my life was I ever told that anything was “too expensive”, or that I couldn’t do something or have something or go somewhere because it cost too much.

“By taking money completely out of the equation, everything ultimately was forced to stand on its merits: was this the “right” thing to do? was this gift “appropriate” for someone of my age? would doing or buying something make other people feel uncomfortable?

“I received an allowance from as far back as I can remember, but it was divided into thirds: one third for enforced ‘savings’; one third for spending (although I always saved mine anyway); and the final third for charitable contributions to the cause of my choice (religious, civic or otherwise.)

“Although times in general have changed, and we are not raising our own children in the same manner, I grew up in large, luxurious households (both primary and secondary), with a full complement of staff (cook, maid, butler/chauffeur, laundress, gardner). Vacations were spent traveling through Europe with large sets of matching Vuitton luggage, my siblings and I all went to private schools and Ivy League colleges, our family parties were often black tie affairs with full catering staff (the same caterers for 40 years, so they became almost like full-time staff).

“In retrospect, what I find surprising is that although this was quite a bit more than almost anyone else we knew (although now I realize that a number of my childhood friends came from families that were even richer than we were), virtually all of the memories of my family life were of the warmth and people and activities, with the money and surroundings playing only a supporting role.

“So I guess the bottom line is that, at least in my case, “old money” means the lack of a need to worry about money, combined with a strong sense of responsibility to ‘do the right thing’ and contribute back to society.”


8 thoughts on “Old Money: In Their Own Words

  1. Thanks for sharing. I read “The Old Money Book” and learned a lot. Old money lives a very different life compared to the sports stars and celebrities that America seems to idolize. Keep it coming!

    1. I couldn’t agree more with this comment. I’ve recently read your book, Byron, and I found it very inspiring. All anyone is ever exposed to anymore regarding wealth is sports stars and celebrities. It’s gets very old. It was refreshing to read about having values and allocating your financial resources according to values that are time-tested. Kudos to you. By the way, I’m not old money by any stretch, I came from hard-working Irish roots, but now in my later years, I realize my husband and I are millionaires and didn’t even know it. It came from owning our own small business, being conservative with spending, but still enjoying life, and good old-fashioned hard work. We hope to enjoy our later years with peace of mind and help our grandchildren with their education when the time comes. Thanks for the work you do here.

      1. Hi Bev, thank you very much for your kind words. And congratulations to you and your husband! Enjoy your success! And I’d say that those grandchildren are very lucky…I’m sure they’ve been blessed with Old Money Values from their parents and grandparents. – BGT

  2. The person you quote here does a good job of describing what it feels like to grow up in an old money family, with one exception. I have known quite a few old money families, both growing up and today, and I come from one myself. In my experience, although it is common for an old money family to have a maid and a gardener, it is not common to have a cook, butler, chauffeur or laundress. Maybe it has something to do with flinty New England independence and self-reliance. This gets to a topic you have not touched on yet, which is that OMGs usually recoil at the notion of paying somebody to do something that they are perfectly capable of doing themselves. OMGs are usually comfortable, but they are rarely lazy or self-indulgent.

    1. You’re right, Amy. I think it is the New England DNA. The days of having a large staff are over for most families. So few actually need anything more than a maid and a gardener because their style of living is, as you know, very low-key. Thank you for another keen insight. – BGT

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