My husband and I come from very different backgrounds, money-wise. Both of my parents came from large farming families. Where I grew up, hard work is paramount — my grandfather was still on his tractor the year he passed away, at 92 — and we understand the value of a dollar. Neither of my parents went to college, but they worked tirelessly and put in overtime to be able to help me financially; they paid my college and grad-school tuition and helped me with a down payment on my first house.
My husband comes from a very wealthy family who have long worked in the financial industry. He always knew he’d join the family business. It was an amazing upbringing, but the stark dissimilarities in our backgrounds definitely gave us pretty different ideas about money. It’s something we butt heads about, but overall, we balance each other out well.
When you make millions and have large trust funds — and still get gifts from your in-laws on top of that — there aren’t a lot of money-related stresses in your life. We don’t have debt and don’t have to worry about saving for retirement or putting money away for our kids’ college educations. The most stressful part of having a lot of money is knowing how to properly preserve it. You want to make sure you’re making smart investments and leaving enough for your children and their children. Even though my husband came from great wealth, his family never talked about financial decisions with him, and I didn’t have any tools because I don’t come from money, so it’s been a learning process for us.
The biggest money mistake we’ve made was investing with friends. When you have money, everyone wants to invest it for you. We would never work with a friend again. We’ve realized that in order to get the most out of our assets, it’s important to stay on top of our financial planners; otherwise, we don’t get the best service and aren’t in the forefront of their minds when opportunities come. One of the things we’ve started doing more recently is talking about money with friends who are in similar financial situations. That’s given us tools and tips to use moving forward.
Even though we have plenty of money, we don’t just go buy luxury items on a whim. I don’t feel comfortable waltzing into Gucci and buying a dress, for example. We’ve never had to cut back on spending, but we try to be frugal with buying. We spend the majority of our money on our kids’ educations (we chose to put them in private schools, and the tuition is crazy-expensive) and vacations (we go to Disney at least once a year and do a bunch of other trips each year). Our biggest splurges are jewelry and watches.
The best thing the money has afforded me is that I can have time to enjoy my kids. I quit my job a while back; now, 95 percent of my time is dedicated to my children. I can’t tell you what a gift that is. I want to teach them to understand the value of a dollar and to be good people. I also want them to know more than we did; we want them to fully understand how to invest, save, spend wisely and preserve their fortune. We do spoil them on Christmas and for birthdays, but we make them save their allowance money, which they get for doing chores, to pay for their own toys and treats.
I’ll probably never go back to work, but my husband won’t be able to retire anytime soon, because he works for a family business and needs to be present to keep his footing there. Would our lives be better with even more money? Well, that’s tough, because whose wouldn’t? I’d love to own a private jet and throw the kids in and travel to Milan any old day, or walk into Gucci and buy 10 dresses without having to think about it. It’s all so relative.
— As told to Nicole Scott
First published as “Living in Philly on … $1,000,000+” in the April 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.