Money and Meaning: What Grammy and the Beatles Taught Me

money purse As you may know from my bio, I began investing while I was in high school, which I admit was a bit unusual. I was also obsessed with the music of the Beatles. That was also a bit weird in the late 80's, long after the Beatles were "fab" and long before they were retro fashionable again.

My high school was just a short distance from my grandmother's house and I often stopped by on my way home for a snack and a chat. Grammy was a remarkable woman who knew how to relate to people on their own terms. For her teenaged grandson, that meant lots of food and a side of finance...the Beatles were more of a solo pursuit. While munching on fried chicken still warm from her black-iron skillet, we would discuss what I was learning about the stock market.

Wisdom from Grammy & Paul McCartney

Grammy took a sincere interest in what I was saying,  and sometimes we would look over the portfolio that she and Grandpa had assembled through years of hard work. Grammy would pull out a big 3-ring binder of neatly organized broker statements and ask me my opinion. Opening that notebook to my eyes felt like an incredible expression of love and validation that she viewed me as an adult. Money was not something that one discussed with a teenager and people certainly did not reveal the private details of their finances. It was a powerful gesture to a 17-year old and I felt honored by her confidence.

Looking over her modest, but respectable portfolio, Grammy shared a nugget of wisdom that has always stuck with me. She said, "Michael, I am the wealthiest woman in the world and if I don't live too long, I might be able to leave some money to my family too." Grammy measured wealth not in terms of the hard earned dollars on those brokerage statements, but on the abundance of love and connection she had accumulated from all who knew her. Her view resonated with my favorite quote, from my favorite Beatles album:

Quotation marks And, in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make.
--Paul McCartney, "The End", Abbey Road

Boundless Wealth, Enough Money

Grammy measured money separately from wealth. While the wealth that life had to offer was boundless, her yardstick for money ended at "enough." She and Grandpa had accumulated enough money to achieve their life goals: raise their family, give a bit to charity, and enjoy some nice luxuries, like traveling internationally several times. Unfortunately for those who loved her dearly, she achieved her final goal too by passing away at age 78 with a bit of money left over for her family.

And in the end, I learned about money and meaning. Wealth is the many forms of abundance that life offers. Money, if managed wisely, helps us experience wealth.

What does wealth mean to you?

Read more