Oct 22, 2020

Enough To Do Anything, Not Enough to Do Nothing

[Warren] Buffett does not believe that it is wise to bequeath great wealth and plans to give most of his money to his charitable foundation. Having put his two sons and a daughter through college, the Omaha investor contents himself with giving them several thousand dollars each at Christmas... 
Buffett is not cutting his children out of his fortune because they are wastrels or wantons or refuse to go into the family business -- the traditional reasons rich parents withhold money. Says he: "My kids are going to carve out their own place in this world, and they know I'm for them whatever they want to do.'' But he believes that setting up his heirs with ''a lifetime supply of food stamps just because they came out of the right womb'' can be ''harmful'' for them and is ''an antisocial act.'' 
To him the perfect amount to leave children is ''enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.'' For a college graduate, Buffett reckons ''a few hundred thousand dollars'' sounds about right.

- "Should You Leave It All to the Children?," Fortune Magazine, 1986

As usual, the 'Sage of Omaha' nails it. As someone who has acquired more wealth than my family had growing up, I have thought a lot about this question. Now, thanks to Rory Sutherland quoting the Buffett line above, I have a great aphorism to help me decide how much money I should give to my children... 

Enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing.