Old Money: In Their Own Words

I wanted to write you and address an issue that many people who suddenly make a lot of money might face and how they might handle it differently, that is to say, better.

Life involves hassles. It requires engagement to solve problems and even to enjoy things. Some people think that when they get a lot of money, all the hassles will go away.

Not true. You’ll have a different set of issues to face. You may be able to more easily address certain issues (the rent, for example), but life is still out there, and the person you are is still in you.

These two realities sometimes get the better of newly rich people, and they decide to retreat behind the gates of a big house or on the top floor of a tall apartment building.  Money didn’t solve all their problems, and they have the luxury of not dealing with the world, or dealing with on their limited terms, in order to make it more palpable.

That’s not the best, highest use of financial independence. You don’t retreat. You don’t go into hiding. You have the opportunity to more fully engage in the world, and you should.

Two acquaintances of mine are musicians. They’re household names. Both came from middle class families. One lives in a large apartment and goes from there, to the studio, to the concert venue, to the hotel, to the private plane, to the next city, and then back to the large apartment. You get the idea. His feet barely touch the pavement. He doesn’t interact with people in a general sense. He lives a very interior life.

The other acquaintance is rich and famous, too. He travels (albeit with a bodyguard), walks the streets, eats at restaurants with friends, takes a pony and goes trekking across the Himalayas. He records his music and goes on tour. People approach him on the sidewalk. He lets them get a selfie in and then goes on his way. He uses money as a tool for convenience, as leverage for a fuller experience. In a conversation we had a few years ago, he told me he made a conscious choice not to box himself in, not to be fearful, not to be a prisoner of ‘luxurious isolation’.

Money isn’t a permit to go and hide. It’s a ticket to ride all the rides.

I think people should remember that as they make money, move into a nicer residence, join a private this or have a private that. It’s nice, but you’ve got to interact, you’ve to relate. You’ve got to keep on getting out there and mixing it up with the world.

  • Donna



9 thoughts on “Old Money: In Their Own Words

  1. Nice, Byron. Thank you. I liked what Amy said in a past reply…”You can’t buy a meaningful life. You have to go out and earn it.” I may have misquoted a bit and apologies for that….but that was the general idea.

    1. Bev, we have a saying in our house that mirrors Amy’s thoughts nicely: “You can’t buy yourself our of applying yourself.” I’m so glad that someone else (many someones, in this case) feel similarly!

  2. Yes Bev, that was the gist of it.

    Paragraph 4: ” … in order to make it more palpable”? I think she meant “more palatable”.

    I once heard Mick Jagger say he thinks a significant factor in Elvis Presley’s death was the fact that Elvis retreated behind the walls of Graceland and hid from the world. He said he thinks one reason the Rolling Stones have not succumbed to a similar fate is that they have remained fully engaged with life and are out there in the world experiencing as much as they can.

    Speaking of which, I once bumped into the Rolling Stones’ drummer, Charlie Watts, in a Polo Ralph Lauren store in New Orleans on a weekday afternoon. (The Stones were playing in New Orleans that weekend.) He was completely alone, not even a bodyguard with him. I recognized him and we chatted for a few seconds. He was very pleasant and genial, and when I left he gave me a big smile. Out there in the world. Not hiding. Can I nominate Charlie for honorary OMG status?

  3. This a bit off tangent, but another misconception about money is to believe you’ll suddenly be interesting to everyone. Nope. If you haven’t cracked a book in years, and spend leisure time watching Simpsons reruns and going to the mall, then money will not automatically make you a fascinating dinner guest. Living life like the first musician won’t either!

  4. In response to Mary…….. You will, indeed, become interesting to people, because lots come out of the woodwork looking for “loans.” I’ve seen it happen to a family member years ago who was outed as wealthy. “Friends” stopped talking to this person when their requests for “loans” were denied. It was sad. You really see who your true friends are.

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