Money, get back.
I’m all right jack, keep your hands off of my stack.
— Pink Floyd
Kathy Trant received several million dollars after her husband was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. She called it “blood money” and ran through the millions, spending it on such things as shoes and trips.
Jack Whitaker won $290 million in the Powerball Lottery jackpot. A few years later he claimed to be “cleaned out.”
Mike Tyson made hundreds of millions of dollars as a boxer, but he ended up filing for bankruptcy. Michael Jackson’s money woes are well documented. Donald Trump has been close to the edge several times.
Many people with big money have a problem holding onto it.
I’ve spent much of my life wondering why people who can handle a monthly paycheck will turn around and blow a large sum when they get the chance.
I’ve gotten some insight about that question from a book about an unrelated topic, Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food.”
He explains why we have a hard time with the fructose corn syrup that is hidden in many of our foods.
According to the book, “Human bodies that can cope with chewing coca leaves cannot cope with cocaine or crack, even though the same active ingredients are in all three.”
Cocaine and crack hit the body too fast for the body to process it.
Big money works the same way.
When money comes too fast, or in too large of an amount, it can overwhelm people.
If you think than wouldn’t happen to you, don’t bet on it. It has been said that 90 percent of people who receive a large sum of money will blow it all within five years.
Lottery winners are the most likely to run through a large sum of money. Unlike someone who receives an inheritance or who has built a business, they don't have time to prepare for a sudden windfall of money.
I've watched numerous interviews with lottery winners right after they’ve hit the jackpot. Almost all say they are going to give money to charity and help society.
A few months later, you read about them getting arrested for drunk driving. A couple of years after that, you hear about them living in a storage unit.
I’m sure some give substantial money to charity. But I’m willing to bet the percentage of lottery winners on the police blotter is higher.
After 27 years of working with people who have suddenly come into big money, I’ve reached the following four conclusions:
1. You can't pick your relatives, but you don't need to subside them.
I’ve noticed that injured people often have the same problem. Their families.
Many injured people have incredibly giving and caring families. I’ve also seen behavior that would make your blood boil. You would be stunned by how many people want to “borrow” money from an injured relative.
Love does not mean buying all relatives Cadillacs. Or even a clunker.
Money often is awarded to injured people to compensate them for their loss. Many will probably never work again. Most have large medical bills. They need to put their own needs in front of Uncle Charley’s.
When all the money from an accident victim’s compensation is gone, and their family has been torn to pieces, you can usually find that “lending” money to a relative was at the root of the problem.
2. You can pick your friends, so pick them wisely.
If there is one personality that I don't understand, it's that of the professional hanger-on. Professional athletes call them “the posse." Like the crew that used to hang around Michael Vick.
Hangers-on have one common trait: No money. They need to be subsidized by their sponsor. They probably don’t have a lot of self-respect. You can’t hold yourself in high esteem if you’re a professional apple polisher.
I would never want advice from a “yes man.” I wonder about the morals of people who chose friends and romantic liaisons based on the size of their prey’s wallets.
I told one lottery winner, "You just became the best-looking woman in town."
I did not intend to be mean, but she didn’t exactly resemble Scarlett Johannson. However, she understood what I meant.
Guys started coming out of the woodwork to romance her. Fortunately, she was able to steer clear of the "fortune hunters" and eventually married a man of similar means.
It’s said that most of people's friends’ incomes are within 15 percent of their own income. That makes sense.
If you have the money to go skiing in Vail, and your friends can't afford to buy a soft drink at McDonald's, you’re either going to subsidize them or not do things that your wealth would allow you to do.
3. Set up systems to control the your cash flow.
You want money coming in to add comfort instead of giving a rush like crack.
I've found the only successful methods provide people a regular income, such as an annuity or a trust with restricted access to principal.
I've seen a lot of other methods, but I’ve seen very few of them succeed.
Almost all entertainers and professional athletes have agents and money managers. Many have systems in place to keep their clients out of financial trouble.
Sports Illustrated had a fascinating story about one of my favorite baseball players, former Cincinnati Red, and now Texas Ranger, Josh Hamilton.
Hamilton’s substance abuse problems kept him out of baseball for years. But after he found Jesus, Hamilton became a major league all-star. He goes everywhere with “special assignment” coach, Johnny Narron. His special assignment is to make sure that Hamilton stays away from temptation. The one day this year that Hamilton was out on his own, he immediately got into trouble. Since then, with Narron in place, he has stayed out of trouble.
Many people who need a Johnny Narron in their lives.
4. Use your money to make the world a better place.
I’ve been reading George Foreman’s new book, Knockout Entrepreneur. Foreman’s tale is fascinating. A heavyweight boxing champion in the 1970s, he made millions of dollars but was really a mean jerk.
Then he had a religious experience that changed his life.
After several years, Foreman came back to boxing to support his church. His “nice guy” persona now shines through, and he has made millions with his George Foreman grill and other endorsements.
A lot of super wealthy people, like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, are giving the vast amount of their fortunes to charity.
They recognize that big money can have a big, long-lasting impact.
Giving back is much better than spending it on booze and strippers.
Money, get back.
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