In my industry, we are taught to shy away from words like “best” as that term is subjective and may be impossible to prove. So, the attorneys in my company try and protect me from trouble by training me to never use terms like “best”. But this past week, I have quite literally found myself looking back at my work with my clients and for several of the people I helped, I can’t think of any other term but “best”. I quite literally gave these folks the absolute best financial advice I could ever give.
I can hear you now: “WHAT WAS THE ADVICE”??? Everyone wants their share of the best of anything. In these cases, the advice was simply this: money is damaging your family to the point of causing lasting harm.
This was a trying week of dealing with very serious items for my clients. It wasn’t a week where I was simply dealing with asset allocation or savings rates. Nope. This past week dealt with the incredible pain that my clients were dealing with as a result of having money and also having people close to them try and take that money from them.
I had full-grown adults sitting in my office with real and painful tears streaming down their faces because they couldn’t handle the pressure of their family members begging them for money. And none of the cases were simple. It wasn’t as if the family members needed the money because of a one-time circumstance beyond their control. They needed the money because of a life of continuous bad decisions that have robbed them of the ability to understand the value of earning their own money.
It wasn’t as if my clients had the money to give. They didn’t. By writing the checks, my clients would suffer irreparable harm. In one case, it would cause a woman to have to return to work simply because she gave all her money away.
So, while money makes life more comfortable, money is rarely the solution to a problem. Sometimes, money just makes a bad problem worse. If you know someone in your life that is not able to handle money in a responsible fashion and you give him or her more money…you are harming them. Yes, that’s tough. I know it is hard to hear. But writing a check is the EASIEST thing for most people to do.
My best financial advice to my clients is to engage with people rather than to simply give away money. It’s way harder to really help someone through their struggles than it is to just blindly write a check, but if you truly want to help someone…invest in them with your time and wisdom and not your money.