Gene Balliett dislikes spoiled brats as much as the next guy, so what’s he doing with a book to his credit called Make Your Kid Rich? Balliett takes a controversial stand regarding the amount of money parents should leave to their children. While many parents choke at anything more than the price tag for four years of college, Balliett believes that parents should do more to ensure their children’s financial security. “The minimalists generally say too much money takes away the joy of achievement that accompanies making one’s own way,” he writes in Make Your Kid Rich.”I agree that achievement is among life’s great joys, but there are greater achievements than making money. Rich and poor kids alike ought to learn in childhood that opportunities for great accomplishments exist even for people who already enjoy financial security. Do you know of any doctors who go to work every day even though they easily could live off their investments? Professional athletes? Captains of industry? Entertainers? Lawyers? Artists? Musicians?”
Balliett doesn’t advocate doling out buckets of cash to irresponsible teenagers, but he’s all for making sure kids are provided for long-term. He argues that with their financial security ensured, adult children are free to explore careers and activities that make them happy and fulfilled, regardless of how well they are paid.
In an open letter to his grandchildren that appears at the end of Make Your Kid Rich (Professional Communications, Inc., 1993), he says it best:
Money doesn’t matter–when you know you’ve got it. Rich is having enough capital to support your lifestyle from its earnings. Rich underwrites living expenses so that you can be whatever you wish, even if the pay is low. Rich is the freedom to do the right thing. Also, rich means not suffering fools. That truth assures your individuality.
[And] once your future financial security is dealt with, you will be free to join the effort to solve the larger problems at almost any pay level. There are some big problems crying out for attention–among them protection for our environment, housing for the homeless, training for the unskilled, drought, famine, revolution, terrorism, disease, ignorance, racism, and every other kind of intolerance. So we need the talents and efforts of every blessed one of us, starting with you and me.
Thank goodness, there are still important challenges for us to meet. Go get ‘em.