Some say money is the last frontier, even harder to talk about than sex. Yet whether we have $10 or $10,000,000, money affects us from early childhood to the day we die, touching nearly every aspect of our lives.
Many years ago, the three of us had inherited wealth drop into our lives. Although we were certainly excited, we also felt isolated and longed for others with whom we could non-judgmentally explore what the money meant to us. Fortunately, each of us stumbled upon conferences organized specifically for people who, like us, were questioning how to use their surplus to benefit the wider world. We were moved to see newcomers in tears at these gatherings. People clearly felt enormous relief, finally talking about wealth with like-minded peers after years of holding private their deepest concerns. Why couldn't these liberating discussions keep going between conferences? Why wasn't there a way to connect with people who didn't attend these conferences? These questions led us to plan the publication you hold today.
Although many of our stories will be from people with inherited wealth, we intend More than Money to be for anyone grappling with the practical and ethical issues of having more than others. "Having more than others" is a blessing and dilemma that connects people of various financial means - after all, even working class people in "developed" countries are tremendously wealthy on a global scale. We hope that by reaching beyond the secrecy that normally shrouds personal money choices, More than Money will help build greater understanding between people of different backgrounds.
We were drawn to focus the first issue on money between friends because we've witnessed the emotional charge this subject brings up for many people, no matter how much or how little money they have. Moreover, it's a hot topic for us personally. For years, the three of us have given amply to non-profit organizations and very little to individuals. Sure, it's been a deliberate choice to dedicate our surplus towards creating social change. But in part, we have been afraid. We have heard so many horror stories about mixing money and friendship: loans never repaid, good friends avoiding each other, relationships destroyed by resentment and shame. Because we three have chosen lifestyles similar to our less-wealthy friends, our wealth is not obvious. Will sharing some of our surplus with them accent our differences and increase our friends' envy and alienation?
At the same time, we watch in pain as friends struggle to pay for child care, to make ends meet through times of unemployment, or to try to buy a home when it would not be a financial hardship for us to do any of these things. It feels uncarimg to withhold assistance.
Although we are cautious after hearing horror stories, we've also heard of and experienced times when money loaned or given made an enormous difference in someone's life and actually deepened the friendship. Was there some essential wisdom we could extract from listening to both the excruciating and the uplifting experiences?
As a humble start to this hefty question, we are sharing some stories and lessons taken from interviews with a wide range of friends and acquaint-ences. In offering positive examples, we by no means intend to minimize the potential pitfalls of mixing money and friendship. We simply wish to share some rarely-found encouragement and practical ideas so friends reaching across the gulf of financial differences may have a better chance at success. Researching this issue has given us courage to start experimenting. For instance, Anne has asked her closest friends, "Could we talk together about how the money I have could make a difference in your life?" She made her most substantial loan ($5,000) implementing the hints in this publication, and was repaid in timely fashion.
We hope you enjoy the first issue of More than Money and help us launch it by showing it to your friends!
--Allen, Anne and Christopher
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