Typically, this column focuses on the wealth creation, tax savings strategies and estate transition planning. At this time of year, it is critical that we take a different perspective in providing you guidance as to the definition of “true wealth”. We work hard all year focusing our efforts generating income and support for our families, communities and charitable organizations. What actually is your net worth based on “true wealth”?
To define “true wealth” one must understand what is most valuable to her and focus on increasing the value of the item through commitment of mental and physical energy. For example, relationships that are important in your life (i.e., children, parents, grandparents, friends, etc.) require investment of time to truly yield the greatest return. I am not implying that you should expect any return from your input of respect, consideration and friendship but it is a typical response by someone who receives these “investments” to return the contribution in similar form.
Another asset of “true wealth” is charitable giving. How does this process help grow your wealth? By giving of yourself, you will receive an internal increase in your self-esteem. This process of giving was instilled in me by my parents. When I was a very young boy, my dad asked me to go with him to a pie supper. I did not know what a pie supper was but the word “pie” had my interest! My father, responding to my rapid-fire questions such as “Will they have a chocolate pie? How about a pumpkin pie? Coconut cream? Finally, as if I were badgering a witness on the stand in a courtroom, my dad relented and simply told me to get in the truck to see for myself.
Upon arrival at the high school gymnasium in a small Oklahoma town, I was shocked as to the number of people who liked to eat pie. I observed the gymnasium floor covered with tables that were filled with pies and a small stack of paper in front of each one. My dad walked over to a pie and wrote on a piece of paper. He then walked to another, and another until he had written on several pieces of paper. Now, I am really confused. He wrote on pages for pies that I don’t even like to eat!
After what seemed like four hours (but was really about one hour), a man started picking up the pages in front of each pie. This man, with a boisterous, deep voice, started yelling out names and amounts. Intrigued, I asked my dad why did he call your name and say $50.00? My dad explained that he bought the pie for $50.00 and our family would be taking it home to enjoy. I was only 7 years of age but I knew the value of a dollar in 1972 and told him mom would be upset that we spent so much money on a stinking, apple pie. He just smiled and told me to listen as other names and amounts were called.
After all the names had been called, I quickly added up the total of the amounts called after my dad’s name and it was $200. Oh my goodness! This was time in our country when $100 of groceries would fill a pickup bed and new Converse Chuck basketball shoes cost $16. We just spent $200 on pies?!?!
Once we loaded all the pies in the truck, my dad explained to me the purpose for the pie supper. A family friend in our little town had lost their home, furnishings, clothing, everything in a house fire. The proceeds of the pie supper will help the family with needed items to continue to survive. My dad told me that he had not “spent” any money today but rather “invested” it in his friend and community to help others.
My eyes were opened that day to charitable service. This Thanksgiving Season many families will not be as fortunate as you. Consider giving in a manner that aids those in need to experience the passion and compassion of our community.
To me, “true wealth” is all about family, friends and charitable investments. Trust you will enjoy the best of the Thanksgiving Season and help others to do the same.