Hustle 101: Piano, Private School, College – That’s It
February 12, 2021
My siblings and I met virtually for various family reasons and the subject came up on how much do you give your children? It’s funny how life has taken each of us in different directions but our core values are the same. For those that are given much, much is to be expected. That much is what one contributes to the world. Yes, we don’t want to end up like societal leeches that accomplish little like the Trump children and the teen children from all those reality shows that are just horrible with ennui so early in life. But also in terms of material wealth, you should leave them something but not too much. Money should certainly give one security in case there is a grandchild or family member with some unexpected medical condition that needs long-term care, but otherwise money too early or the knowledge there is a pot at the end – will take away one’s chance to earn one’s place in the world.
What is earned is so much more valuable than what is given. The picture above is my son from the back, home from Cross-Country. He is proud to wear the jersey every sports season because he earns it from running 3-7 miles a practice. Those are real miles run, foot to the dirt. Pounding that he voluntarily subjects his body to. It’s part of growing up and this is why sports for so many kids is character building. It truly isn’t about how fast one is or how you place. It’s the journey, and the miles run.
And for that, I was just thinking about my own life trajectory and how my family lives these financial values. Mr. Plastic Picker and I both have student loans that are very little now, because we’ve been paying them diligently since the day we graduated from medical school. I check our financial health and where we are, and each dollar is earned by us. Dollars saved and then diligently invested every month. Money transferred to a safe target-fund mutual fund, or a college savings account, or a few thousand here and there squireled away for a future rental property. Planning on a vacation to us that seems very fancy, but is at a mid-level hotel that is 25 miles from the main town center of the vacation area that we will go to. We plan to cook in the kitchen and bring food from home.
I’ve told the children that they too will learn how to Hustle. It will be harder for them, because they’ve both piano lessons, live in a bubble of a private school, but really that’s it. We’ll pay for college and those accounts are fully funded. Mr. Plastic Picker and I always funded their college accounts before buying fancy things for their childhood. We would drive down to New York and stay with his family for “vacations” and sleep on the floor of the guest bedroom. We ate with family rather than eating out. Our tween daughter was asking about new outerwear for school and if there were options other than the sweatshirts that she has, and I told her honestly that it was $5 used versus $50 for a new item. But we could check next time and see. She was okay perusing the used bins for her school clothes, and the used bin from her fellow classmates are practically new clothes anyway. Really rich families (which we are not) or ones that think they are rich buy too many school uniforms and donate them back to the school.
So this is how we think about inherited wealth. I was reminded that the best thing my parents ever did was make me work. I’ve been working at the family business or as a physician since I was 8 years old. The greatest gift we can give our children is our values. Why would one risk their moral and spiritual health by giving them too much? Excess wealth that is not earned actually attracts unsavory people and spouses. If you know me in real life, you know that Dr. Plastic Picker abhors waste and abhor those that don’t pull their weight in society. If I’m not seeing patients, I’m always doing something useful. It may be napping at lunch, but I’ll also pick up a bag of trash or poking my head around the organization trying to make things a bit better.
Signing off your sometimes overbearing litter-picking pediatrician just thinking about life at 610am in the morning. If I sound preachy, I apologize. But really, it’s my blog. And I’m just typing out nonsense in the morning in between work emails and trying to figure out how to save the planet and not have money ruin my children. Sending hugs to your own children, and I am hoping you embrace them in your family’s own traditions – whatever those traditions may be. Your hard-working pediatrician who has already prepped my visits and placed all my vaccine orders last night! LOL