Financial Confessional: “I Turned My Back on My Wealthy Parents to Live a Life of My Own.”

by J. Money - Published January 27, 2017

walking away from money

[Welcome to round II of our new Financial Confessions Series! We often think about how awesome it would be to have grown up rich and have tons of access to money and opportunity, but this story here shows that it’s not always as glamorous as it looks.  Huge thanks to “Jeremy” for letting us share his story and being so open about it! I get glued to these!]

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I’ll start by saying that I am very proud of my dad for all he’s accomplished in his life despite his childhood. He’s the funniest guy I know and one of the smartest, too, but he’s also one of the biggest assholes I’ve ever met.

My dad’s story starts as one of the poorest families in his hometown. I’ll spare the details (think emptying chamber pots in the late 50’s when plumbing wasn’t a thing, and being beaten for eating out of turn) but his upbringing also motivated him to be hugely successful in business.

Growing up, we took grand vacations (Christmas in Hawaii, family condo in Cabo San Lucas), had amazing cars (I learned to drive a manual transmission on his corvette), lived in a beautiful 4,600 sq ft house complete with wine cellar and full bar, and every weekend I was up at 6 am ready to help him build houses (all 4 of us kids were expected to work 7 days a week).

As a kid I didn’t complain and just did as I was told to, because saying no was never an option. Then I moved to Kentucky in my late teens and my dad disowned me for 2 years. It was then that I learned about the strings attached to Dad’s Money, and how he used it to manipulate those around him.

His money made him demand respect from all of us, but taught us that he will never give us that same respect himself… I think he still owes me about $5,000 in back wages which I’ll never collect on.

Moving away also taught me where true happiness comes from, and while I may not have the fanciest house or condo in Mexico, I’m at least not ruled by my money. I’m much happier than my dad is right now.

I never cared about labels and I didn’t want to go through life working to pay some astronomical mortgage and not live my life. I was quite content shopping at Mervyns (West Coast chain) or getting my brothers’ hand-me downs and driving an old ’83 Prelude I bought myself.

My dad equates success with people admiring him for his nice things. Money is essential to live on for bills and much needed vacations, but it is not an excuse to treat people with anything less than kindness and respect.

I believe that now at my dad’s age he’s starting to understand that. He recently sold his beloved house in L.A. for a much smaller house in Washington State. He still spends money on his wants (restoring an old car, paying cash for a brand new truck and RV), but he’s realizing that all we ever wanted as kids was his time and we couldn’t care less about how much he made.

When people who have known me for years comment that I grew up rich, I have to remind them it was all my father’s money. Though they do fondly remember all those awesome parties I threw in high school. :)

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That last part about the kids kills me every time as a father of two little ones :(  I can’t even imagine not loving and spending time with them!

All good things to think about for sure though. Life isn’t always as it looks on the outside, and I give Jeremy here mad credit for doing his own thing and sharing it with us today. Thanks man!

If anyone else ever wants to get something off their chest, you know where to find me ;)

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PS: Here’s the 1st confessional we posted up the other week in case you missed it: “I Became So Obsessed With Being Rich That I’m Now Sitting in Prison”

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Smart Provisions January 27, 2017 at 5:13 am

Touching confession, Jeremy!

Proud of you and your experiences to learn that money and possessions aren’t always everything and that there are more important things in life like our family and friends.

Thank you both, Jeremy and J$.

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2 The Green Swan January 27, 2017 at 5:46 am

Thanks for the confession, Jeremy. Good for you for figuring out for yourself what you want in your life and making changes for the positive. You don’t need to be tied down by the strings from your dad’s money. Family is important though so hopefully everyone can find a way to patch things up.

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3 LegoPterodactyl January 27, 2017 at 8:59 am

See, I’ve seen enough irredeemable family disfunction to know that sometimes cutting family off is the healthiest way- and endless well meaning people just won’t stop pestering people about reuniting. I urge you to reconsider being one of those people, since guaranteed there are already enough people in his life who think they know better than him about his own situation. If you can’t support a strong dedication to health over dysfunction, maybe don’t say anything.

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4 J. Money January 29, 2017 at 2:44 pm

I get what you’re saying here, and agree that he knows his family more than anything else, but I don’t think there’s any harm in *hoping* for a beautiful outcome. I would imagine anyone in a dysfunctional relationship is also hoping for the best even if it’ll never be a reality?

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5 Band of Savers January 27, 2017 at 7:23 am

Important reminders Jeremy. While I was reading this I kept being reminded of the book Mind Over Money. There are several things that Jeremy said that would have made this story the perfect example of some of the cases that those authors studied. I loved that book, it’s still one of my favorite money books of all time.

Here’s a review of that book I put together a few years ago – http://www.bandofsavers.com/2015/12/mind-over-money-book-review.html

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6 J. Money January 29, 2017 at 2:44 pm

oh cool, will flag it for our book review series over at Rockstar Finance – thanks :)

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7 Mrs. Mad Money Monster January 27, 2017 at 7:25 am

That is truly a powerful story; thank you so much for sharing it with us. I grew up on the other side of the tracks and also had to work very hard, but not as hard as you. Wow.

Our childhoods shape who we become and it sounds like you could’ve easily turned out worshiping the almighty dollar and treating people the way your father treated people. Fortunately, it sounds like you chose a different path and value people over money. There are so many people in this community chasing after a high net worth that I think we need stories like this from time to time to remind us that MONEY isn’t really what it’s about. Money is just a catalyst to give us options for a better life and to be able to easily care for those people we love. Thanks again for sharing.

Mrs. Mad Money Monster

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8 Go Finance Yourself! January 27, 2017 at 7:41 am

Thanks for sharing this story! It’s so true that all kids ever want is time. I had a poor relationship with my dad growing up. He always pushed me very hard and is one of the reasons why I’m so driven today. But frankly, he was a dick. He could be a mad man at times if I didn’t meet his expectations. I grew up completely scared of him, and as a result, we never really developed a relationship. To this day, normal conversations between us are just awkward. We had money growing up. Not super rich but more than a lot of my friends. I was never spoiled but big gifts around Xmas and birthdays was a regular event in my household. My parents never quite understood that the gifts were not what I wanted. All I wanted was to have them support me, and not push me further down if I failed at something. Today, it makes me sad when I hear about the crazy parents who live vicariously through their children when it comes to sports. Just support your kids, teach them values, and always pick them up when they fail. That’s all that kids really want.

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9 J. Money January 29, 2017 at 2:48 pm

I hate hearing that so much man, I’m sorry :(

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10 Mr. SSC January 27, 2017 at 7:51 am

Thanks for sharing and you’re right about kids not caring how much their parents make, they just want to spend time with them. My dad was super broke, I mean his job paid well enough he just sucked at being good with his finances, but we had loads of fun hanging out at home, going hiking, or camping or doing whatever. It didn’t matter as i got to spend a lot of time with him and wouldn’t trade that for anything today.

The flip side to that is because i came from such a broke background money was my goal – get money, more money, etc… I was a slow starter, but after getting to a point where I haven’t had to worry about money for years now, I realize money is great for gaining freedom, but not the end game. I’m way more focused on time with family, and not looking to FIRE and retire early, but rather make a Lifestyle Change so that I can enjoy the time with my kids and family now. Only a few years left but that hasn’t stopped me from already slowing down and giving more focus on family priorities and free time over work and the almighty $$.

Great story and thanks again for sharing.

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11 J. Money January 29, 2017 at 2:49 pm

So interesting hearing your story compared to Go Finance Yourself’s above. One with money and less time with kids, and one broke with more time with kids!

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12 Mustard Seed Money January 27, 2017 at 7:53 am

Thanks for your courage in sharing your story. I think it took a lot of guts, and I commend you for it.

I’m sorry your dad wasn’t there for you in the ways you needed him most. The bright side is that now you have a deeper conviction to live your life in a much better, more fulfilling way. Way to figure out how you should truly prioritize your life! Thanks for the good read.

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13 Mike B. January 27, 2017 at 9:14 am

That’s some pretty raw stuff. For me the key takeaway is not to let money interfere with your relationships; no matter how much you may be making. And you’re probably much happier to be living on your terms, Jeremy! Thank you for sharing, very grounding.

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14 JayP January 27, 2017 at 10:11 am

Great point and great story. I was watching a Netflix movie about happiness. Interesting fact – going from $5K to $50K makes a big difference in happiness – but from $50K to $500K(I may be wrong about the upper limit, but in this ballpark) results in no observed changes in happiness. Something to ponder.

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15 J. Money January 29, 2017 at 2:52 pm

I can def. attest to that! i remember hitting $60k and being on top of the world and then anything after that – even hitting $160k one year – didn’t do drastically more in happiness. Not that i don’t prefer that amount of course, haha, but still :) Besides the obvious parts of being able to live comfortably, i wonder if the happiness isn’t moved up because of all the new responsibilities and stuff more $$$ usually brings? In terms of career stuff?

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16 Ms. Montana January 27, 2017 at 10:23 am

I have one of those people in my life. It’s pushed me harder to become financially independent, because I don’t want them to have the power to dictate my life.

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17 Mrs. Picky Pincher January 27, 2017 at 10:36 am

Maaaaan. This is suuuuch a good point. It’s not worth the money if you have to be around someone who is toxic to you. It’s just not. worth. it. I’m glad to hear there are glimmers of hope for your dad. Given his tough upbringing, it makes sense that he developed such a sense of self from his money–it still doesn’t make his attitude or actions correct, though.
Bravo for going off on your own so you could live on your own terms. It sounds like you had a tough work ethic instilled in you, and that’ll take you places no matter how much money you have or don’t have.

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18 Lisa O January 27, 2017 at 10:41 am

Life is all about checks and balances and it sounds like Jeremy has found his! Money is not everything and being rich isn’t the only thing in life. When you are working 7 days a week … are you really living?

Sometimes a simpler life is a richer life!

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19 J. Money January 29, 2017 at 2:53 pm

I ask myself this every weekend when hop on to hustle… like, right now on a Sunday afternoon! :)

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20 Paulie @ droppedcoin January 27, 2017 at 10:43 am

Jeremy, your article was emotionally very loaded, well done for sharing. So many successful people in life were driven by deprivation in childhood. However, they often seem to be unhappy as well – perhaps the toll of grafting their way out of poverty leads them to focus too much on the ‘work’ side of the work/life balance, as your father did. We only hear about the success stories and I wonder if those we don’t hear about are also unhappy, but poor as well!

As a father of a young child myself, although I am able to provide a comfortable life for him I do often think about how I can best approach and motivate him to understand work, life and money. We would all love to raise a well-balanced, successful child. But all people are unique and thus we fathers all face a unique challenge with no guarantee of success! Ain’t hindsight a wonderful thing?!

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21 Finding the Ceiling January 27, 2017 at 11:20 am

When I was younger (think 6-12), my father was quite high up on the corporate ladder. He brought in good money and made life comfortable for the family. Unfortunately that meant that he was off on business trips constantly. I don’t have many memories with my dad from that period of my life and I know the trips wore on my poor mother. My dad saw this and realized he was ready for a career change for two big reasons – instead of the distant corporate job, he wanted one where he could connect to people; more importantly, he wanted to be able to spend time with the family and be a part of our lives.

I’m very fortunate that my father was observant and self-aware enough to change for the benefit of our family. The new job has meant considerably less money but I think we’re all happy. Thank you for that confession Jeremy. Best of luck in the rest of your journey.

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22 J. Money January 29, 2017 at 2:56 pm

YAY!!!! A happy ending!!! This is largely why I turn down a lot of travel/speaking/conference gig stuff.. I’m so afraid of becoming “that” dad!

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23 Mr Defined Sight January 27, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Very touching. That would take a lot of courage to walk away from that but I totally get it. There comes a point to where we need self reflection and to choose our own direction in life. Money doesn’t always buy happiness. Thank you for this reminder.

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24 Physician on FIRE January 27, 2017 at 12:04 pm

OK.

The father may actually be an a-hole, and has made mistakes in the past, but he’s still the guy’s father and by the author’s own admission seems to be changing his ways.

I feel like I missed the part of the story that spells out if, how, and why “Jeremy” actually turned his back on his father. He is wise not to do exactly as his father did and forge his own path, but if he has disowned his father because his father gave him more money than time as a kid, I can’t say I agree with that at all. That’s not at all uncommon or unforgiveable.

Best,
-PoF

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25 J. Money January 29, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Not sure if it being “uncommon” is a reason to not disown, haha (tons of people do stupid $hit in this world and we don’t copy them!), but true that a lot is left out of this post… It was literally just an email meant for me and not a “life story” type deal, but unfortunately because of it we don’t get the full picture :(

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26 Nita January 27, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Happiness is really a state of mind. For example, I follow several travel blogs. One blog I love is the World Travel Family, they are a family of four that travel the world with backpacks and on a modest budget. They aren’t rich and splurged on a home in Romania for about $15K that was a fixer upper. They travel by being creative and house sitting, staying in hostels, backpacking, working online or working where they are traveling. Are they saving a ton of money to be wealthy? Nope. However, they are actually living the dream that many have about retirement. Even so, many people who you would tell, oh, this family traveled the world and all they had was a backpack a piece – some would say that the people sound ‘homeless’ and are ‘poor’ but I see someone who is truly rich.

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27 J. Money January 29, 2017 at 3:01 pm

Agreed!! That sounds like an incredible lifestyle! :)

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28 Joe January 27, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Thanks for sharing. I have some issue with my dad too. He has a difficult childhood and it makes him tough to live with. I’m glad you found your own way, but try to understand your dad too. I try not to judge my dad too harshly even if he behaves like a 6 year old kid sometime..

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29 Miss Mazuma January 27, 2017 at 1:22 pm

Hey Jeremy! Thanks for sharing your story. It sucks to have had an awesome childhood full of wants but lacking in the emotional needs that kids (and adults) truly desire. My BF kids are going through the opposite situation where all the kids (via their parents) around them have tons of money to do whatever they please which makes the BFs kids feel poor in comparison. I keep telling them how lucky they are to have a father who will drop everything to spend time with them, who passes on things he needs in order to support them in every activity they want to do, and who makes it to every game they play in. Unfortunately, all they can see is the fact that they don’t have the lastest and greatest. Your story is a prime example of how getting every “thing” but no quality time leads to the disconnect in a relationship. I hope you are able to heal that connection as your father gets older. I’m not sure your age, but there is a great song by Harry Chapin that correlates to this experience, Cats In The Cradle… have you heard it?? Hopefully we learn by example what not to do and are able to break that cycle with our own kids. :)

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30 J. Money January 29, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Dang, that sucks having that perspective as kids :( I’m sure I did too growing up anytime I couldn’t get a pair of Nike Air Jordans or whatever my friends were rockin’. If only we could get it through our skulls earlier in life :)

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31 Team CF January 27, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Love these confession stories, gives a bit of a glimps around peoples drives around money, and forgetting the life portion…

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32 Kraken Fireball January 27, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Wow, what a story. These confessionals are meaningful to me because they are so outside of the realm of things I thought would/could happen in the world. Rock on Jeremy for taking your path and learning from your father’s mistakes rather than repeating them yourself. Cherish what he taught you, the good and the bad.
Thanks J$ for sharing these stories!

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33 J. Money January 29, 2017 at 3:02 pm

I’ll try to keep finding more!

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34 Full Time Finance January 27, 2017 at 5:10 pm

Raw stuff. It’s too easy to let the pursuit and usage of money get in between you and your relationships. Those are what really matter.

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35 Stephen January 27, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Nice story to help keep things in perspective

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36 Mr. Zero January 28, 2017 at 4:42 am

Jeremy – Thanks for sharing your story. I would never presume to judge someone’s perception on life and what life brought them. I think we all have our own challenges. I don’t have the greatest relationship with my father, although I do credit him with teaching me many life lessons and laying out a path that I was sure that I did not want to follow.

My wife’s grandmother said something that really stuck with me just after we announced we were having our first baby. She said, “don’t worry too much about doing everything right for your kids. Just love them. That is all you can do. The truth is that no matter what choices you make in raising them, at some point in their life, your kids will focus on the things that you didn’t do.”

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37 J. Money January 29, 2017 at 3:04 pm

That’s what our nurse said to me with our first baby!! Well, at least the “just love him – that’s all you need to do” part when I asked how the heck we were supposed to raise him without any sort of manual, haha… But anytime I struggle now either with him or his younger 2 year old brother, i just hear those words in my head and go straight back to loving again :)

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38 Kelly January 28, 2017 at 8:23 am

Great story. I am glad that you moved out and had a life of your own. I know it widened yours perspective in life and made you a better financially responsible person. It’s really the experience that taught us valuable lesson in life.

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39 Jason Butler January 28, 2017 at 8:51 am

Jeremy has his head on straight. A lot of people would have continued to live life the way that they’ve been doing it. Jeremy went a different way and it seems like it helped him become well rounded.

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40 Shin January 28, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Wow, Jeremy.

That’s some story. I imagine, though, that it’s not unique to you. I’m sure others have the same background.

Sounds like you came to better place in life with your beliefs and goals.

All the best to you, and thank you for sharing.

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41 Freedom 40 Plan January 28, 2017 at 7:04 pm

Good job forging your own path and not being beholden to your Dad. Thanks for sharing.

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42 ZJ Thorne January 28, 2017 at 10:35 pm

It’s great that you learned something out of such a terrible lesson. I wish all parents valued their children more than they valued prestige and money. I’m glad you learned that wealth isn’t everything.

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43 theFIREstarter February 1, 2017 at 3:22 am

This is something most of us can relate to I think! I think there was much more social pressure on his generation to aquire wealth and status symbols though. As time goes on I think possessions are becoming less of a *thing* as people are realising this is not the key to happiness, and the internet is helping to spread that word quicker than ever

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44 J. Money February 1, 2017 at 9:40 am

You think so? I feel like it’s getting worse with how advertising has ballooned over the decades :( I think we’re just so obsessed with personal finance online that our own worlds are full of more conscious people, haha…

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45 Ten Factorial Rocks February 3, 2017 at 11:01 am

What a story Jeremy, and thanks J$ for bringing this out. Your story reminds me of a Buddhist saying (which is often mis-quoted) that “Love of money is the root cause of all suffering”. It is often wrongly quoted as “Money is the root cause of all suffering”. If you love money more than the people who love you, then it ain’t a grand life. It’s amazing you grew up in such impressive wealth but yet managed to develop such healthy attitudes on life.

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46 J. Money February 6, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Amen to that.

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