It was 2007. The stock market was blazing. Property prices were climbing. The sky was the limit.
Until it all came crashing down. Stocks plunged. Real estate caved. Banks closed their doors. Corporations cut back. Unemployment sky-rocketed. People lost their jobs in record numbers. Some lost their homes. Household savings and the value of personal wealth plummeted.
The consumer merry-go-round came to a grinding halt, and everybody on it had to abruptly—and quite painfully—adjust their way of life. The party was over.
I witnessed all this with a sense of disbelief, anger, and frustration. This shouldn’t have happened to decent, hardworking people. People who had honored their commitments, but had bought into a twisted narrative of the ‘American Dream’. People who believed the skillful but unscrupulous marketers who told them they could have it all now…and pay for it later.
Millions of families were overextended, duped into upside down mortgages, crushed by credit card debt. I couldn’t believe that people had gone so far astray, obsessing over material possessions. I couldn’t believe that so many Americans were so far in debt. New cars, big screen TVs, and McMansions were the new idols. Too many had sacrificed common sense and mortgaged their futures to pay homage.
My frustration grew as I saw how many people had forgotten how prosperity was really created: through hard work, persistence, and living within your means. I ranted and raved to my friends. I moaned to my wife. I cursed the sky and kicked the dirt. We as Americans were better than this. The warning signs were everywhere. Why was everyone ignoring the obvious?
I was supremely irritated by how off track people seemed to be in their thinking, but I had no idea how to address what I was feeling. Then I visited some friends in Boston. They were unphased by the economic downturn that was gripping the nation. Unlike so many, they had managed the Financial Crisis with enviable ease. Their lifestyle hadn’t changed—in fact, nothing seemed to have changed for them at all. Soon, I realized why.
They were leading a values-centered life, based on certain priorities and habits, not a life that revolved around material possessions and spending. Not only did they have a ‘general idea’ about these things that were important to them, they had codified these concepts into a way of life, a culture. And that culture was known as Old Money.
Now, it all made sense. These proper Bostonians lived in spacious but discreet houses in Brookline or cozy, almost claustrophobic town homes in Beacon Hill. They sported traditional well-made, timeless clothes. They drove reliable but aging cars. They seemed allergic to conspicuous consumption and addicted to self-reliance. They worked hard, even thought their family wealth could easily have allowed them to loaf. They prioritized education, placing tremendous importance on the college experience. They maintained a healthy life style. They exercised every day. They walked to their place of worship each week. They traveled and enjoyed vacations regularly. They lived fully. And they shopped, but only when they absolutely had to. (Just kidding. Sort of.)
Most importantly, they drilled these time-tested values into their children early and often. The result was a discreet but no doubt high standard of living and an obviously stellar quality of life, passed down from generation to generation, often for centuries. They had the formula down, and most of them didn’t even realize it. It was like asking a fish about water. They just swam in it naturally.
During my conversations with these Old Money Guys and Gals, I realized that this way of living was second nature. This was the way it had always been. There was the assumption that everyone managed their lives in this fashion: earn, save, invest wisely, and spend less. Simple. The idea of advocating for their way of life never occurred to them. They never felt the need to talk about it. They’re very private people.
However, after seeing the destructive effects of the financial crisis, I knew I had to share these principles. I returned home, sat down, and wrote The Old Money Book. About a year later, I was told I should create a blog to go with it. So I created The Old Money Book blog, which as been visited by over 1 million readers since 2014.
It all just kind of happened, but it happened because of what I believe. I believe everyone wants a good life, and that most people are willing to work to create one. I also believe that with a little guidance and information, you can change your life. You can actually turn it around and overcome tremendous obstacles.
Are people are hungry for an anecdote to the hamster wheel of shopping, spending, clutter, debt, frustration, stress, depression, shopping, spending, clutter, debt…? Absolutely. They’ve been advertised to, and they’ve been, literally, sold a bill of goods. Now they have to find a way to pay for it, get out of that cycle, and make sure they never get into it again.
Material possessions haven’t delivered the happiness that they promised, which is why we’re constantly looking for the next new thing—something new to feed the purchasing addiction. But values—concepts like family, health, education, the work ethic, manners, privacy, and financial independence—do deliver. Both in terms of quality of life and in terms of satisfaction and fulfillment. And that’s what I’ve presented in The Old Money Book.
Of course, I didn’t invent these Old Money Values.
I’m just the messenger.
So, what exactly is in The Old Money Book?
The first section of the book details the Core Values of Old Money, concepts like:
• Financial Independence
• Manners, and
…just to name a few.
These concepts may seem simple and obvious, but they require recognition, affirmation, and diligence in order to make them a daily part of your life. They also need to be understood in the context of the culture of Old Money.
The second section of the book is entitled How Old Money Does It. This section details the techniques used for decades by affluent, privileged families as they structure their lives and acquire possessions, including clothing, cars, and home furnishings. I also explain how using these strategies can save you money as well as increase the quality of your life.
Finally, I reveal four key lifestyle choices that can dramatically increase your chances of building a substantial nest egg by the age of 30, regardless of your socioeconomic background.
Not everyone can have all of the advantages of being born into a wealthy family, but you can enjoy the advantages of knowing how Old Money families think, prioritize, and spend.
The Old Money Book gives you that insight, and that advantage.