Family Risks

cargobikeWhen you consider risks to your family’s capital, what sort of things pop up in your mind?

  • Stock market crashes
  • Unemployment
  • Death of main breadwinner
  • Divorce
  • Underperformance of family business
  • Change in political situation
  • Change in interest rate policy
  • War and civil unrest

If we broaden the scope to human capital, what might you add?

  • Addiction and Substance Abuse
  • Remittance dependence
  • Health and wellness
  • Dementia and eldercare

I’ve known five generations of my family and we’ve experienced all of the above.

Surprisingly, the top-of-mind risks are not our source of greatest loss.

Aside from mental illness, our greatest source of turmoil has been due to developing an abnormal sense of normal. More specifically, we’ve looked up to friends & family that led us astray with regard to our financial aspirations.

DaddyGIf you happen to be a self-made individual then you will, quite rightly, say “it’s my life and I’ll live the way I darn well choose.”

You are right.

I commend you.

Self-reliance is a wonderful gift to our communities and I hope to teach it to my kids.

…but I remind myself of the cost of benchmarking at ever higher levels of achievement.

  • The cost comes in time not spent with my spouse and kids.
  • The cost comes from choosing work that is ethically ambiguous.
  • The cost comes when spending time becomes spending money.


This caution also applies to risk.

As a young man, I tracked into higher and higher levels of “acceptable risk.” A good friend died. Another went bankrupt.

Teach your kids to notice risk-seeking behavior in themselves, and others.

  • Mountaineers => good, great, dead
  • Property Developers => good, great, bust
  • Professional Athletes => good, great, disgraced


Finally, consider the impact of neighborhood and peers.

A friend jokes that his daughter was one of the few kids at her Bay-Area school that didn’t have an elevator in her home.

What’s my children’s definition of normal?

Choose wisely.