STrICT, A HISTOrY
“The eldest son was sitting on Attila’s own couch, right on the very edge, with his eyes fixed on the ground in fear of his father.” beautiful dresses I give her... as she cares about me!”
But even if the parents’ salaries do not appear in public documents, most families that are luckier than average show it in some way. Kids look for clues about where they stand, and they find them in all sorts of places you might not expect. I went hunting for my parents’ tax returns when I was a teen— and found them.
So when the question of your net worth comes up, as it eventually may, consider how the response will go over if you refuse to answer. What message does it send? One of trust? Of transparency? An acknowledgement of money’s power? Sure, you can tell the younger ones that they don’t have the context to understand the answer quite yet. But once you’ve done your job of teaching them about money, an evasive answer won’t be satisfying for an older teenager who is reasonably discreet and ought to know the real deal.
Besides the concern that a teen will blab, many parents worry about entitlement, or the loss of a proper work ethic, if kids come to believe that they will have a lot of money coming to them sooner rather than later. But all such wealth transfer decisions are reversible, and you can rewrite trust documents fairly easily. Nothing is guaranteed, and our children should know that, too.
And so it goes in the Krawcheck household. The kids—the son is now 23, out of college and teaching English in Taiwan, and the daughter is a 20-year-old student—may have a bit of money coming to them as part of the family’s estate planning, but the amount declines over time. If the parents live a long time, a lot more money will go to the University of North Carolina, where Krawcheck was a Moorehead Scholar (perhaps the most prestigious undergraduate award for an incoming student in all of America).
Meanwhile, her children are well aware of the trade-offs that their mother has made to get her new business off the ground, including downsizing to a smaller apartment in Manhattan. What about when her oldest returns from overseas? “There will be no housing allowance,” she says, chuckling. “And we’ve told him he’s not moving back in. We don’t even have a bedroom for him.” Throughout the ages, rich and famous parents have tried all sorts of strategies to avoid spoiling their kids.
wAstE NOt, wANt NOt