A Valuable Legacy

bike_dadWhen I think of the word legacy, I might see tangible assets being left to my children, family and community. This type of thinking flows from my background in finance, where success is measured in dollar bills.

As a father, I’ve come to see that many of my successes are hidden.

  • The conflict not engaged in
  • The harsh word not spoken
  • The anger not acted upon

Might the absence of certain experiences be a valuable legacy to leave my children?

  • The absent father not indulged
  • The distant mother not reinforced
  • The angry parent not encouraged
  • Keeping myself from becoming a casualty in my later years

In working on the above, I might make my kids aware of my faults, my failings and the techniques that helped me manage them.

A different, but valuable, inheritance.

Pleasure, Happiness and Joy

pancakeI came across a book that shared many stories about happiness.

One of the stories is how we fool ourselves by mistaking pleasure for happiness. An example might be…

  • 1 square of chocolate is pleasure
  • 20 squares of chocolate is a tummy ache

The slogan being… Pleasure Consumes Itself

The risk being… we become slaves to chasing pleasure.

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A story…

Our three-year old was having a tough morning and we weren’t making progress getting him ready for school.

So I picked him up, picked his socks up, picked his shoes up and picked his bag up…

…and headed out the door with the little guy in my arms.

He was screaming that he wanted to go back to the house and put all his stuff on, himself.

As that’s what I wanted him to do, originally, I agreed.

However, I said,

Sure you can go inside. First you need to calm down. We’re going to do it together. I’m going to count to three and we will take a breath after each number.

I held his hand, looked into his eyes, smiled and said…

One, big breath, hold, exhale

He was still crying but took the breath with me.

I said…

Two, big breath, hold, exhale

By this point, he cracked a smile through his tears.

Three, you did it. You’re calm. I’m so happy!

And we walked back into the house to have a “do over” on the departure.

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In reflecting on this story, I noticed that my son taught me to be happy with another person’s success, his own.

I also noticed that I would have been unable to learn without experiencing the pain of his initial meltdown.

The joy we shared was much deeper than anything offered by a piece of chocolate.

I also noticed that I can remember his success and bring myself back to that moment.

If a three-year old can transcend himself then what’s my excuse?

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Effective Wealth – Legal and Strategic Considerations

alvinIn my first¬†piece on effective wealth, I laid out…

  • Individual wealth => 5 to 10 years cost of living
  • Generational wealth => 10 to 25 years cost of living
  • Multi-generational wealth => 25 to 40 years cost of living
  • Surplus¬†(excess?) wealth => beyond 40 years cost of living

We hold our individual wealth in Living Trusts – these have the benefit of being fully revocable (assets in and out easily) and transparent to the IRS (easy for taxes and administration).

TIP Рfive years cost of living in a debt-free balance sheet will change your life and make you far less susceptible to corruption and influence. Once you hit ten years cost of living (in a debt free balance sheet) then you should consider cutting expenses and working part time. At a minimum, 5-10 years worth of wealth should trigger a sabbatical to consider personal wellness and how you allocate time.

Generational wealth is held in an irrevocable Grantor Trust that benefits my spouse and kids. I can’t get the assets back nor can any creditor or petitioner. In my lifetime, I retain the obligation to pay taxes on the trust as well as the ability to swap assets in/out for fair consideration. Admin is about the same as¬†managing a partnership/LLC with similar assets/earnings.

TIP Рonce you are nearing 20 years cost of living in a debt-free balance sheet you are close to the breakout point where you can stop working, forever. Now is the time to shift towards personal wellness!

Multi-generational wealth Рthis is small part of my family balance sheet, because I followed my advice at each of the above segments. We use a Private Trust Company (in a state without income tax) that oversees a trust that benefits my descendants. We also use 529 (college) accounts.

TIP Рthe first time you realize that you might be making money for your adult children STOP and undertake a life review that focuses on how you allocate time and personal wellness.

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What does all this cost? Charging market rates for my work, I oversee the structure for less than $5,000 per annum. Living Trusts/Will were $5,000 to set up. Grantor Trust was $5,000. Private Trust Company and Family Trust was $10,000. These are Boulder, not New York, rates.

How does this give you peace of mind? My personal assets are the smallest of any adult in my family tree. By value, I own less than 1% of the above structure. I am free to give my family the gift of service.

I’ve said what needs to be said.

I’ve done what needs to be done.

I’m free to focus on loving those that love me.


 

The legal and tax consequences of an error in your family structure can be severe. Take expert, local advice. Nothing on this site should ever be considered professional advice.

When Assets Become Liabilites

noodlesThis Q&A with Warren Buffett is packed with gems like the following:

Money has no utility to me anymore as I am very happy with what I have but it has enormous utility to others in the world. More possessions to me would actually be a liability than an asset.

I don’t know Mr. Buffett but I am friends with a well-adjusted member of his demographic.

Last spring, I asked my wealthy friend if I could store a bike in the garage of his 22,000 sq ft house and he shared…

You know, I already have way too much stuff in there. So best if you keep it at your place.

For what it’s worth, my pal’s garage is less full that my own!

What’s going on here?

Another story… last year, I was helping a friend put together a financing for his business. The money was raised and I was invited to a lunch with the key investor. The investor is about twenty year older than me. He’s a fascinating guy with a son that’s in private equity. We had a lot in common, including enjoying health and wellness.

Over the course of the lunch, I learned he had a house locally, a cabin in the mountains, an ocean-going yacht and a winter home in the Southern Hemisphere. In 2005, I was trying to create his life situation for myself!

So what’s it like?

He said with a laugh…

We travel the world repairing things.

 

Living The Plantpower Way

2015-05-03 18.22.19Rich Roll and Julie Piatt have a new book, The Plantpower Way.

I loved it.

The book reflects a way of life Rich & Julie are seeking to bring to their marriage and family.

At it’s heart, “The Way” is similar to what I’m seeking to offer my own family.

However,¬†my home life doesn’t involve tranquil meals after a serene afternoon shopping at the local farmer’s market…

So, I caught myself muttering there’s no way their life’s like that

Then I started laughing.

I was laughing because their reality¬†doesn’t matter and, like Rich, my reality is far removed from the craziness of years past.

The book is filled with proven advice:

  • Plants are a foundation of nutritional health
  • Weight management is linked to veggie consumption
  • To get your family¬†to eat better, involve your spouse/kids in menu selection and food preparation
  • Be the (nutritional) change you want to see in the world (and your home)

If you’re already preparing meals then this is a must-have¬†resource. The¬†recipes are simple, quick¬†to prepare and taste great.

If you’re not preparing meals then start by creating a habit of eating real food. After 20 years of better choices, I arrived at three basic meals. Nutritional liberation doesn’t require complexity.

If, like me, you find yourself intimidated by the thought of 100% compliance then remember weak implementation of plant-based nutrition offers strong results. 

Rich did an AMA that lays out the basics of his philosophy. His humility, tolerance and lack of dogma shine through. It’s a refreshing read.

Practicalities:

  • Double all the recipes – Whenever I fire up the stove, I want to get four to five days worth of whatever I’m cooking. Actually, my wife’s been doing the cooking. You’ll need someone to take the lead in your home.
  • It¬†is not about the¬†goji berries –¬†health benefits flow from replacing sugar/starch with veggies. You can be plantpower’d via¬†CostCo.
  • What’s your goal? What are you seeking to achieve in your life?
    • Weight management? Focus on cranking up the veggies
    • Emotional stability?¬†Be the good in the world
    • Fame? Focus on goodness under your own roof
    • Serenity? Focus on relentless simplification

Understand why you are motivated to make-the-change.

If you can transcend your (food) choices then you will have a roadmap to apply throughout your life. Letting go (of animal products) may be similar to releasing ourselves from other habits.

It takes courage to live an open life.

Respect to Rich & Julie.

Parents Suffering From A Lack of Enjoyment

dinoOver Mother’s Day weekend, I put in a 16-hour shift¬†with my kids (6, 3 and 2).

On my big-daddy-day, the rage and anger that would well up inside me, were exhausting. Mother Nature has done a good job attuning my hearing to the whines of my preschoolers.

Why can’t they just get along?!

For the most part, I have enough skill to avoid pointing the anger at the kids, my marriage, the situation or other people. However, I will stipulate to yelling in the car around 12:45pm last Saturday.

My big-daddy-day showed me that I would certainly crack Рthe only question is how quickly.

It also showed that I’m doing a lot right.

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Since our first child arrived, I’ve noticed that my wife is only relaxed when we’re out of the country. I had years of similar suffering, always carrying the trauma of parenthood¬†around with me. More on that here.

Saying that my wife’s trauma strains our marriage would not be true. We have a fantastic marriage.

However, it is difficult to watch the suffering of a person we love.

When I listen to parents, I hear their disappointment.

I wish I could enjoy my time with her.
I wish he would listen to me.
I was so angry at myself (for being angry with her).

Insight came from asking myself…

Are we supposed to enjoy things all the time?
Are kids supposed to listen all the time?
Is reasonable to expect an absence of anger in this situation?

My friend, Justin, wrote a piece about racing triathlons. He pointed out that nobody expects life to be nothing but green lights. However, novices sometimes expect everything to go their way on race day. When an inevitable setback occurs, they start a downward emotional spiral.

Perhaps you’ve noticed this pattern with your preschooler?

You can do yourself, and your community, a great service by breaking the chain of this sort of thinking.

How were the kids?
They were age-appropriate. We are very lucky to have three healthy children.

How are you doing?
I am tired but I’ll be fine tomorrow.

The lesson of my big day was how easy it would be to lose myself and fall prey to the seeds of anger, rage and resentment that live in each of us.

I took my wife¬†out for Mother’s Day dinner and shared:

Someday the kids are going leave and we will be left alone.

Our marriage is what we want to endure.

We don’t serve the family¬†by becoming casualties, ourselves.

Send Prayers Not Panic

flowersMy daughter broke her arm in April. The mini-crisis provided me with a case study in how we cope with stress.

Here’s a typical conversation:

Friend: I’m so glad she’s OK, I couldn’t sleep the night that I heard the news.
G: Your reaction is what I expected. You know, I wonder if the most compassionate thing to do is let situations resolve themselves and not trigger a massive wave of worry through the community. Worry is a distraction from what matters.

Friend: What about prayer? I believe in the power of prayer to help heal Lexi.
G: So do I, and thank you for your prayer. However, looking deeper, was it prayer that kept you up at night? For every prayer we received, I felt¬†so much worry. I don’t think the worry is productive.

In fact, I have seen situations where not communicating with someone triggers anger (because they were denied the opportunity to worry on my behalf).

It’s an interesting conundrum.

I’ve been watching a similar pattern play out, on a larger scale, with the health of Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the greatest teachers of my lifetime.¬†During¬†the small crisis in our family, I followed the lead of this larger community.

I focused on getting expert support for my daughter.

Within my inner circle, I let people express themselves fully, answered their questions and followed up to address their concerns.

…and life continued onwards.