More Than Money
Issue #14

Young and Wealthy

Table of Contents


We (the editors) were 24 when money cascaded into our lives through an unexpected inheritance. At the time, almost everything about our lives seemed awkwardly up in the air--whether or not we would stay together, where we would settle, what each of our life's work would be--yet our essential values and directions were well-formed. We just weren't sure how to use our money in service to those values. Fortunately, some older people with wealth reached out to us, acted as mentors, and hooked us up to others our age who were also grappling with wealth. Step-by-step we found our way.

Now entering cozy middle-age, we have frequently wished to offer timely support such as we received, particularly to those people with wealth in their 20's who could use a hand in connecting with peers and other resources. But where are these younger adults with financial abundance? Some people assume More than Money readers are youthful. (Is it the purple ink and cartoons?) But so far only 5% of our subscribers are under 30 and only 25% consider themselves "beginners" in money issues.

So we ask for your help. Whatever your age, enjoy the issue, and then please pass it on. If you are older, might you send it to younger relatives, or the grown children of friends? If you are younger, could the issue open a conversation you've wanted to have but didn't know how to start?

For the past year, we have been working with The Comfort Zone, a collaborative between representatives from six Boston-area organizations and young people with wealth. We have developed an information packet for affluent young adults, and we are reaching out on campuses around New England. This statement by The Comfort Zone aptly describes the context for this issue of More than Money :

"Recently the media has been interested in an issue that some people deny exists, and others gape at: the problems of young rich people. Since economist Robert Avery announced that the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth in history is taking place over the next few years, numerous articles have appeared on the 'perils of family money' and other wealth-related topics. Most of the attention has been given to the pitfalls that young people with wealth face: guilt, boredom, a sense of alienation, 'affluenza', etc. Less attention has been paid to the significant number of young people who have worked through the issues that their money has brought and are making creative choices about their lives and their wealth, using both to help change the world."

Stereotypes come easily, it seems not only to the news media but to the human species. Our aim in this issue is to counter generalities by offering snapshots of the lives of some real people with all their particularities. From these encounters, we seek to distill some of what is unique to being young and wealthy in the late 1990's. What happens when age, money, and historical moment intersect?

Most people in their 20's deal with certain identity-forming issues: independence from parents, defining work, developing lasting relationships, becoming active members of their communities. How are these issues different for young adults who also have wealth?

Likewise, people with wealth, no matter what their age, deal with certain issues that are different from those of people with lesser financial means: freedom of work choice, lifestyle questions, directing their money towards some greater purpose. How do the pressures and opportunities sit differently for those in their 20's? How is being young and wealthy different now, in the 90's, than for generations that came before? What historical forces have put a different slant on the experience?

For More than Money readers of all ages, we hope this issue provides useful food for thought about the needs of different stages of life. You older readers may find it interesting to reflect on how you dealt with money in your 20's, and what additional help would have been useful then. We also hope this issue increases your ability to assist your younger friends, relatives, or clients with wealth. For our younger readers, we hope you feel inspired to discuss with others about what wealth means for you and to embrace the significant challenges and opportunities it brings.

--Anne Slepian and Christopher Mogil, editors

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