One of the more challenging aspects of wealth is how to share it. This time I don’t mean charity, but instead with friends and family. Life is a great journey and we are lucky when our loved ones have our backs in bad times, but just as important when we can share the good parts.
While generosity is a noble quality, there can be a thing as too much. Throwing money around can allow people to take advantage, fuel other’s misperceptions of you or themselves, and cause imbalances in relationships. On the other side, most wealthy people I know want to share some of the cool things wealth offers, help others when able, and just have a good time with those they love.
So how do people find that balance? One friend of mine plans and throws destination weekends, often footing the bill for many aspects, while requiring others to “do their part” by arranging and paying for their own transportation and incidentals. Another takes a different approach and just pays for everyone, forcing him and his friends to get over any weirdness. Some I know spend their money less on parties or travel, but things that are more acceptable to share, like vacation homes.
It’s something I constantly struggle with. I do have a few rules that I try to follow:
- I never fight over a bill. If someone wants to pay or really doesn’t want me to, I don’t force it
- I will often try to pick up the tab, but not always, and almost never with people who I don’t know
- I try to pay for little things (like a round of drinks after dinner), in non-obvious ways
- A gift, once given, is no longer mine and comes with no unspoken obligations
- I always graciously accept other people’s gifts in return
- I work hard at being inviting and open to everyone equally
- I try to focus my friendships around time and energy – money and things are secondary
I’m not perfect at it. I’m sure there are some in my life who feel embittered about my paying for something, and those who feel I don’t do my part. While I don’t necessarily worry what other people think about me, I would prefer those around me to know the authentic John, and would like my interactions to be based on authenticity and intimacy, not money or power.