Money Can’t Buy Me Love

Money Can’t Buy Me Love

Say you don’t need no diamond ring
And I’ll be satisfied
Tell me that you want the kind of things
That money just can’t buy
I don’t care too much for money
Money can’t buy me love

The Beatles

Other than love, what are the kind of things money just can’t buy?

Trust. Respect. Knowledge. Honesty. Loyalty. Wisdom. Experience. Character. Purpose. Passion.

These must be earned…not bought.

Our world seems to be in a (even greater) state of flux.

Pandemic. Floods. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Wall Street wobbling. And, sadly, the passing of Shane Warne.

The outpouring of love for Warnie, prompted a mate of mine to send me a quick email:

Vern you’ll appreciate this clip of Warren Buffett talking about The Meaning Of Life. The older we get the more it makes you realise just how true this is. Warnie nailed the meaning of life, I would hide him. Enjoy mate.

The relevance of ‘I would hide him’, will be evident when you watch the clip.

Buffett is known as a ‘value’ investor…but, as you’ll see in this three-minute clip, his search for value doesn’t start and end with stocks. In his typical matter-of-fact style, Buffett tells us where to find real value in life.

It’s important to stand back from the everyday noise and take stock of what really matters in life…and it’s not money.

Those fleeing Ukraine are leaving their material possessions behind. In the grand scheme of things, these are not important.

The primary concern is the health and well-being of their families.

Warnie earned his love and affection

In all the tributes for Warnie, have there been any mentioning how much money he has?

None that I’ve read.

They’ve all been about his love of family. His character. His passion for life. His cricketing knowledge. His loyalty to mates.

The personal and public love and affection for Warnie was not bought with money.

You cannot buy the love, trust, and respect of people…it must be earned.

Real family wealth

To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.

Dr Seuss

While we may not walk the world stage like Warnie did, we are (or we should be) the world to our family.

For several years I wrote a weekly newsletter, Gowdie Family Wealth.

Creating genuine family wealth (a truly rich and rewarding life for all family members) takes an enormous amount of time, effort, and patience.

In the quest to find the true meaning of life, there are no shortcuts.

You have to live a life that inspires others to be the best they can be…to be people who others would want to hide.

A few years ago, someone asked me, ‘Why is family wealth so important to you?’.

Even with the passage of time, this edited response still articulates my thoughts and feelings:

Why is family wealth so important to me?

I had to pause.

Surprisingly, the question triggered a flood of thoughts and emotions. I wasn’t expecting that internal response.

The primal response is “so my children can have access to a better life”.

That’s true, but it goes much deeper than that.

When I was growing up there was no spare money.

With one wage to feed, cloth, educate, transport, and shelter seven people, my parents ran a very tight budget.

Dad’s pay packet was carefully allocated into envelopes bearing the labels of the various household commitments.

At the time I did not appreciate the lesson I was being taught about respecting the value of a dollar.

There was no envelope labelled investment.

While I didn’t learn anything about investing, I did learn about right from wrong, the value of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, love, respect, and the importance of family.

Again, the values in these lessons were not apparent to me at the time. You think everyone operates under the same guiding principles. Life taught me this is not always the case.

When you don’t have money, you think people with money are problem free…not a care in the world.

As you go through life, you realise this is not so. People with money just have a different set of problems.

Look at Kerry Packer. A larger-than-life character. We all loved his irreverence. However, it’s well documented he had a long-time mistress. What example did this set for his family? What was the atmosphere like in the home when the Big Fella went off to spend the night with his mistress? Both James and Gretel each have two failed marriages. Did their father’s infidelity have a subconscious influence on their relationships? Perhaps, but we’ll never know.

Wealthy families do have problems and those problems can perpetuate through the generations.


Because the lessons we learn in our formative years tend to influence our lives — whether we realise it or not.

When you appreciate how powerful your words and actions are on impressionable young minds, you begin to realise the responsibility you’ve been given as a parent.

Building a solid family foundation was critical to my wife and I — long before we had any money.

Fortunately, both my wife and I came from homes with good, honest, hardworking, and loving parents as role models. We’d been blessed with positive experiences we could pass on to our children.

My thoughts on how to build a family culture were based on that acquired knowledge.

When reflecting on the concept of family wealth, the family component definitely came first and foremost for us.

The wealth came later and that was a much steeper learning curve.

Without any investment experience, you rely on the basics — work hard, save, borrow to invest, buy some shares, buy a rental property, go into business.

But I learned there are bigger, smarter, and just downright morally bankrupt people who play in the investment and business playground. They do not play by the rules. There are lots of traps for young players.

Many an investor has done the “basics” and saved hard — only to lose the lot to some shyster dressed up as a property developer, fund manager, sharebroker, financial planner, accountant, solicitor, relative or a hiding-in-plain-sight scam artist.

In my professional life as a financial planner, I witnessed and invested in the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

Valuable lessons were learnt. It was the experience gained from years of successful and not-so successful investing that I was determined to pass onto our daughters.

Unlike my childhood, our family conversations included money, business, and politically related topics.

The story telling method proved to be very interactive — fielding questions like “Then what happened? Why didn’t they stop it? How could they do such a thing? They must be really smart?”.

Engaging young imaginations was a highly effective method in them understanding the lesson to be learnt.

In my opinion, the girls were receptive to these discussions because we took the time to build the foundations of trust, respect, love and cultivated a desire to learn.

Importantly, they remain open today to ideas, robust discussions, and our opinions.

Although they’re still determined to learn some lessons the hard way…that old shoulders young head syndrome.

Upon reflection the concept of family wealth has been near and dear to me for longer than I care to remember. I just did not categorise it as “family wealth”. To me it was a responsibility we were passionate about.

Family wealth, for me, is a deeply held set of values that are to be practiced every day.

Family wealth to me is intriguing and a continual learning process.

What I have observed is life can become very complex when there is wealth and family.

It is easy to get lost in the detail.

It is for this reason I try to keep to the basics — the “keep it simple, stupid” rule.

The basics for me are:

  • Spend time communicating with the family — keep the lines of communication open and honest.
  • Talk to your professional advisers (accountant and solicitor) annually to make sure the proper tax and estate planning is in place for your family’s circumstances.
  • Focus on asset classes rather than trying to identify the next big trade. In the scheme of life’s “unders and overs”, the odds are that for every big winner you have, there’ll be at least one or more big losers. Take the slow and steady approach. Managing a handful of investment positions is far less stressful.
  • Stay healthy.
  • Be happy. Do not envy other people’s money…you have no idea what problems they have.
  • Enjoy the moment. There is so much to be thankful for. As they say — every day above ground is a good day.

We subscribe to the principle of “teaching our children how to fish rather than giving them a fish”.

They will earn that better life and when they do, they’ll be in a position to pass on that knowledge to their families.

The true meaning (and wealth) in life can be found in investing in your family. Be the world to them.

With commitment, your wisdom, purpose, and passion will earn you their love, trust, and respect.

Vale Shane Warne…he most certainly did not die with the music in him.


Vern Gowdie Signature

Vern Gowdie,
For The Daily Reckoning Australia