Something I hear frequently from potential clients and new clients is: “I’d like to be more generous with my money, but I have to worry about my own family first.” It’s a perfectly logical sentiment. But as clients stay with us over time, I notice it’s one that often changes. One of the goals we pursue with clients is replacing their worry about finances with a sense of being in control. That brings confidence, which often leads not only to being more generous with your money, but to greater financial success in life. This leads to even more generosity, and it all becomes a virtuous circle.
At the heart of this circle is something that financial people don’t often talk about—gratitude. When you appreciate what you have, you steward it wisely. You don’t squander it. You make it grow, but you’re also generous with it.
I’ve seen enough of our clients make this transformation—going from donating, say, a couple of thousand a year to charities of their choosing, to giving $25,000-35,000 per year—that it’s become one of the ways I judge our impact on clients’ lives.
For a couple of prominent examples of this kind of transformation, consider Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, two of the richest men of our time. Early in their careers, they were not necessarily known for philanthropy. Gates was known as the hard-driving, competitive king of the world’s largest software company, Microsoft. Buffett was known as the “Oracle from Omaha,” an investor with a genius for picking undervalued stocks.
Both men were led to reconsider their outlook on life. In 2006, Gates stopped working full time at Microsoft to spend more time working with his wife in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Today, according to Forbes, they have given away $30 billion through this foundation. This outsized generosity doesn’t seem to have hurt Gates’ pocketbook much. He remains the richest man in the U.S.
For his part, Buffett, who is good friends with Gates and considers himself incredibly lucky for the life he’s led, pledged in 2010 to give away 99% of his fortune to charity during his life or at his passing. In making the announcement, he credited gratitude as his family’s reaction to their good fortune, and said that using more than 1% of his income on themselves would not enhance their happiness or well being.
How would you like to get to where, like Gates and Buffett, you are giving from financial gratitude, rather than living in financial fear? It’s a transformation well worth making, and you don’t have to be a billionaire to do it.
On behalf of all of us at PARTNERSINWEALTH, here’s wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude and a holiday season full of contentment and happiness. Part of that happiness should come from feeling you’re in control of your family’s financial life, rather than it being in control of you. If that’s something you’d like to experience, please contact Jim Waters, CFP®, at 713.964.4028 or email@example.com.