More Than Money
Issue #21

The Power of Talk

Table of Contents

“Finding Good Places For Money Talk”

Recently, the two of us joined a money support group. Even though most of the seven group members are "old hands" who have been dealing with wealth for a decade or more, there's electricity when we get together; we are awed by the collective power that our earning, giving, spending, and investing could have to support a better world, especially when we imagine this power multiplied by the thousands of concerned people with wealth we know are out there.

If this issue of More than Money has whet your appetite to talk with others about the money in your life, or to interact with a different circle of people than those with whom you tend to spend time, you might wonder where you could find such conversations? Below is a quick "map" of different kinds of money discussions we have come across. You can find listings for organizations hosting various of these in the unabridged version of our newly-revised resource guide,Taking Charge, described in our Resources Section. The guide lists dozens of consultants and organizations (not to mention hundreds of useful books) that will steer you to safe and useful places to talk with others about wealth.

As you research options, please keep in mind that you're bound to enjoy some people more than others, so persist until you find the relationships that are most useful to you.

Many ways to connect

Some organizations offer conferences for people with wealth. Conferences bring people together for an evening, a day, a weekend, or longer, and address personal, political, philanthropic, technical, spiritual, and familial issues related to wealth and values. A number of organizations have on going membership networks for a particular constituency (e.g. women, people in their 20's, widows) or for those who share a particular interest (family foundations, socially-responsible business, public policy).

If you live in a big city there may be local gatherings you could attend, or perhaps you'd prefer to organize one yourself. Discussion groups or salons tend to be open to newcomers, and meet quarterly, monthly, or sporadically to discuss a variety of topics. Support or study groups usually meet more often and require ongoing commitment. If you live in a more isolated area, or just want to interact with more people, discussions on the Internet , such as More than Money 's listserve, offer both relative anonymity and human contact every day, from any location.

Some have also found it meaningful to reach across the boundaries of financial differences. In cross-class dialogue groups , participants talk from a variety of class perspectives about their financial joys, pains, stereotypes, and hopes for the world. There are also programs where people with wealth can take part in hands-on service in struggling communities here and abroad, and then talk together about the significance of their experiences. Even funding interest networks for people who support particular issues (for example, the environment or AIDS) can be stimulating environments for cross- class discussion about money.

Finally, if you have particular issues on your mind, you might also find it helpful to talk with a trained professional , be it a therapist who specializes in wealth issues, an empathetic financial planner, or an estate planner who focuses on values.

The Power of Talk

Some of you may still be asking yourselves: Why take the time to talk with others about money? We believe it is valuable because conferences, support groups, and Internet discussions can expand your possibilities. They can increase your knowledge in specific ways (e.g. "Anyone have a good accountant?," "How do you make a giving plan?"). They can enrich your life with friendship, offer basic release of knowing you're not alone, and even lead you to a long-term mentor for an area of your financial development. Furthermore, joining with others can help you see beyond the bubble of your individual values and experiences, and can offer the potential of increased influence by pooling ideas, money, and actions.

In addition to these personal benefits, talk has always been a powerful precursor to social change. In the 1960's, not every woman who joined a "consciousness-raising group," where women simply talked The Aims of More than Money People with wealth supposedly have it all. Targets of envy and resentment, we rarely have a safe forum for addressing the unique challenges that come with having surplus while deeply caring about others who have too little. More than Money creates a network of kindred spirits across North America (and overseas) who don't always share the same views, but who grapple with some of the same essential questions. By sharing a wide range of personal experiences, the publication explores how money is linked to virtually every aspect of our lives-from how we get along in our closest relationships, to how we feel about work, and how we define and pursue our purpose in life. More than Money informs its readers about inspirational models of people and organizations using their financial resources with unusual integrity and power. It encourages all of us to pursue our dreams and to contribute our money, time, and talents towards creating a more just and sustainable world. together about their lives, ultimately became active in the women's movement, but without such groups, the feminist movement would not have bloomed. In the decades preceding the American Revolution, King Charles II issued "A Proclamation for the Suppression of Coffeehouses." Charles was no fool- he knew what trouble could come from people openly talking about what was on their minds. We hope that talking about money leads to trouble of the best kind: a growing determination to discover how we can use our full clout to further life, liberty, and happiness for all.

For all these reasons and more, we hope that you, dear More than Money reader, not only soak up the journal in the privacy of your home, but find a way to talk with others about the issues it raises and the money questions that burn in your own life.

At the very least, you could begin by showing an issue of More than Money to one or more people you know-a family member, a friend, a financial or religious advisor, or a trusted colleague. Your opening line can be as simple as "Hey, what do you think of this?" If you haven't done so before, you may be surprised at the depth of conversation this opens up, and the energy released when you dare to break the silence.

--Anne Slepian and Christopher Mogil, editors  

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