[Welcome to round II of our new Financial Confessions Series! We often think about how awesome it would be to have grown up rich and have tons of access to money and opportunity, but this story here shows that it’s not always as glamorous as it looks. Huge thanks to “Jeremy” for letting us share his story and being so open about it! I get glued to these!]
I’ll start by saying that I am very proud of my dad for all he’s accomplished in his life despite his childhood. He’s the funniest guy I know and one of the smartest, too, but he’s also one of the biggest assholes I’ve ever met.
My dad’s story starts as one of the poorest families in his hometown. I’ll spare the details (think emptying chamber pots in the late 50’s when plumbing wasn’t a thing, and being beaten for eating out of turn) but his upbringing also motivated him to be hugely successful in business.
Growing up, we took grand vacations (Christmas in Hawaii, family condo in Cabo San Lucas), had amazing cars (I learned to drive a manual transmission on his corvette), lived in a beautiful 4,600 sq ft house complete with wine cellar and full bar, and every weekend I was up at 6 am ready to help him build houses (all 4 of us kids were expected to work 7 days a week).
As a kid I didn’t complain and just did as I was told to, because saying no was never an option. Then I moved to Kentucky in my late teens and my dad disowned me for 2 years. It was then that I learned about the strings attached to Dad’s Money, and how he used it to manipulate those around him.
His money made him demand respect from all of us, but taught us that he will never give us that same respect himself… I think he still owes me about $5,000 in back wages which I’ll never collect on.
Moving away also taught me where true happiness comes from, and while I may not have the fanciest house or condo in Mexico, I’m at least not ruled by my money. I’m much happier than my dad is right now.
I never cared about labels and I didn’t want to go through life working to pay some astronomical mortgage and not live my life. I was quite content shopping at Mervyns (West Coast chain) or getting my brothers’ hand-me downs and driving an old ’83 Prelude I bought myself.
My dad equates success with people admiring him for his nice things. Money is essential to live on for bills and much needed vacations, but it is not an excuse to treat people with anything less than kindness and respect.
I believe that now at my dad’s age he’s starting to understand that. He recently sold his beloved house in L.A. for a much smaller house in Washington State. He still spends money on his wants (restoring an old car, paying cash for a brand new truck and RV), but he’s realizing that all we ever wanted as kids was his time and we couldn’t care less about how much he made.
When people who have known me for years comment that I grew up rich, I have to remind them it was all my father’s money. Though they do fondly remember all those awesome parties I threw in high school. :)
That last part about the kids kills me every time as a father of two little ones :( I can’t even imagine not loving and spending time with them!
All good things to think about for sure though. Life isn’t always as it looks on the outside, and I give Jeremy here mad credit for doing his own thing and sharing it with us today. Thanks man!
If anyone else ever wants to get something off their chest, you know where to find me ;)
PS: Here’s the 1st confessional we posted up the other week in case you missed it: “I Became So Obsessed With Being Rich That I’m Now Sitting in Prison”