A Novel Gift for Christmas: Create Your Family Book

In The Rum Rebellion this week, my attention is on the most precious asset we have…family.

The true extent of the damage done to businesses and households from the quarantine restrictions placed on society are yet to be fully felt.

The temporary safety nets of increased welfare entitlements, rent relief and debt moratoriums have cushioned the fall…but the threads holding those nets together are slowing being unravelled.

A lot of families are going to be forced to deal with some pretty challenging times ahead.

A Novel Gift for Christmas

In the spirit of ‘instead of being something to everyone, be everything to someone’, here’s a novel idea for a Christmas gift this year.

And when I say novel, that’s literally what it is. A novel.

It’s said that everyone has a book inside them. Is this economic adversity the opportunity for you to unleash the inner author?

Right about now you might be thinking ‘that’s not for me’. Don’t retreat so soon.

There is method in my madness.

I’m assuming you’re reading The Rum Rebellion because you have an interest in financial matters.

Whether you recognise it or not, your experiences have taught you something — good and bad — about managing money.

You’re in the financial position you are today because of decisions you’ve made. Lessons have been learnt along the way.

Why not pass these and other life lessons on to your loved ones? Who knows, one small piece of advice from you could save them from making a big mistake.

Yours could be a tale of inspiration. How you overcame a setback in life. How you discovered the creativity needed to persevere.

Your book should not just be about money. You want to give your family a gift that’s far more valuable than that.

Money for money’s sake is a doomed legacy.

When your sole purpose is to acquire money, your principles become interchangeable. You will say and do anything if it means making a dollar…look at Bernie Madoff and Elizabeth Holmes (Theranos). No low is too low in the blind pursuit of money.

The deceit, cunning and ruthlessness required to acquire wealth from climbing over other people are not qualities we should want in our younger generation. When that’s a person’s sole driver, money becomes a curse rather than a gift.

Whereas adding value to people’s lives and giving back to society…now, that’s a gift that can keep on giving. Strongly held values and principles stand the test of time. Respect is held in higher regard than remuneration. Money is viewed as a means to achieve a better end.

If these views accord with yours, then you have the qualities to be the author of a Christmas gift your family will cherish.

The most difficult thing about writing is starting. Writer’s block afflicts us all at varying times. Staring at a blank screen and thinking I’ve got nothing. Or, you have the opposite. Too many thoughts and ideas crowding out the clarity needed to say what it is you want to say.

Knowing these obstacles exist, is why I’ve prepared a guide to get you started on how to… 

In this free guide, discover how a currency crisis could drain the supply of circulating cash…and how you can keep your standard of living when going through it. Download the free guide now.

Create your family book

Gaining clarity over your motives for wealth creation begins with a few questions…

  • Why did you work so hard?
  • Why did you take those risks?
  • What lessons have you learned along the way?
  • What sacrifices did you make and why?
  • What challenges were you faced with and how did you resolve them?
  • How did you add value to the lives of others?
  • What were the dreams you had for when you created wealth?
  • Have the dreams been realised, or did they change along the way?
  • And if they did change, why?

The answers to those questions could well lead to other questions. But for starters this gives you a lot of great material to start with.

The better the questions, the deeper the soul searching…and the better ‘the introduction’ to your family book.

Telling your story, in your words — with passion, honesty and reflection — guarantees you a page-turner.

And the real benefit in committing your story to paper, is that it’s there for your family to read over and over again at their leisure.

And every time they do, a couple of things happen…it reinforces your values and they pick up a subtle piece of information that — due to their stage in life — has greater meaning to them.

I know this to be true from having written a book for my daughters.

‘The introduction’ sets the tone of your family book.

It lets your family know ‘why’ passing on your values is important and the vision you have for future generations.

The other chapters

The Introduction is a great start, but the family book needs to add some meat to those bones.

These are suggestions for some other chapters…

  1. The family mission statement — the mission statement sets out what your family is seeking to accomplish, why this is important and how wealth (if need be) can be used to live by these values on a daily basis. For some guidance on a family mission statement, this is from Stephen Covey (author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families):

    A family mission statement is a combined, unified expression from all family members of what your family is all about — what it is you really want to do and be — and the principles you choose to govern your family life.

  2. How your wealth was created — the introduction primarily deals with the ‘why’ of wealth creation, this chapter covers the ‘how’. The humble beginnings. The successes. The failures. The lessons learned. The people you learned from. Anyone who has made and lost money has a story. Share the knowledge gained with your loved ones.
  1. Your principles and beliefs — what are the guiding values that have determined your success in life? Values that apply equally to your family, social, career and community life. Honesty. Fairness. Compassion. Commitment. Cooperation. Appreciation. Elaborate on how these values have paid long-term dividends and enhanced the lives of others. And, you may also like to share how staying true to yourself does come with a personal cost…not everyone stands tall in the face of peer pressure.
  1. The balance sheet — depending on the age of the next generation, you may or may not want to include this chapter just yet. Also, you may only wish to give a generalised account using generic headings like — investment property/ies, shares held, bank accounts, superannuation fund, business assets, bank loan/s etc. The reason for committing the family balance sheet to paper, is that in the event something unexpected happens to you, the family has a starting point of where the family wealth is…you’d be surprised at how many people do not share this information with their spouses and children (by design or by default).
  1. Insurances — detail the insurances in place in the event of death, total permanent disability, temporary disability and/or keyperson insurance/s with your business. Also, the insurances for home, contents, motor vehicles, boats, investment properties etc. This will save your family a lot of time fossicking through filing cabinets. The other benefit in doing this is it demonstrates to your family how seriously you take the responsibility of risk management and risk mitigation.
  1. Entities — families with a degree of wealth to protect generally have trust structures. Let your family know the details of these structures and why they’re in place…asset protection, tax planning etc. Knowing ‘why’ these structures exist, helps in their financial education.
  1. Estate planning — these are the details of your wills and enduring power of attorney. If there’s anything contentious in your will or in the appointment of your enduring power of attorney…address it up front in this chapter. Get it out in the open. Otherwise, it risks becoming a lawyer’s picnic.
  1. Advisors­ — list the contact details of all the advisors you use. Accountant. Solicitor. Stockbroker. Financial planner. Real estate agent. Mortgage broker. You can even add in here the external resources you access and/or subscribe to that help keep you informed…I did this in my own book A Parents Gift of Knowledge.
  1. Philanthropy — list the charities and community causes you support and why it’s important for you to give back to society.
  1. The conclusion — why it was important to write this book and what you hope to achieve by investing the time to share with your family the details in each chapter.

Your family book does not need to be a Harry Potter-type tome.

It can be as simple as one page per chapter…depending upon the amount of information that needs to be shared.

It’s about quality, not quantity.

A gift of knowledge that comes from the heart is the best Christmas present you can give your family…and to yourself.

Who knows what gems of wisdom you might find in your quest to source quality information for your family book.

Knowledge that could make you a better investor and mentor.

A true win/win exercise.


Vern Gowdie Signature

Vern Gowdie,
Editor, The Rum Rebellion

Vern has been involved in financial planning since 1986.

In 1999, Personal Investor magazine ranked Vern as one of Australia’s Top 50 financial planners.

His previous firm, Gowdie Financial Planning, was recognised in 2004, 2005, 2006 & 2007, by Independent Financial Adviser magazine as one of the top five financial planning firms in Australia.

In 2005, Vern commenced his writing career with the ‘Big Picture’ column for regional newspapers and was a commentator on financial matters for Prime Radio talkback.

In 2008, he sold his financial planning firm due to concerns about an impending economic downturn and the impact this would have on the investment industry.

In 2013, he joined Fat Tail Investment Research as editor of Gowdie Family Wealth. In 2015, his book The End of Australia sold over 20,000 copies and launched his second premium newsletter, The Gowdie Letter.

Vern has since published two other books, A Parents Gift of Knowledge, all about the passing of investing intelligence from father to daughter, and How Much Bull can Investors Bear, an expose on the investment industry’s smoke and mirrors.

His contrarian views often place him at odds with the financial planning profession today, but Vern’s sole motivation is to help investors like you to protect their own and their family’s wealth.

Vern is Founder and Chairman of The Gowdie Advisory and The Gowdie Letter advisory service.

The Rum Rebellion