Contributed by: Thayer Willis

A few weeks ago, in a rise of curiosity about social media, I started posting tips, observations, and resources on LinkedIn and Facebook. Though I had had accounts on both, I had rarely used them. I appreciate it when people find what I have posted useful, and then like, comment, and share it.

For those of you who enjoy reading my newsletters, there is a lot more for you to see on my social media. I have two Facebook pages; click here to see my personal page, Thayer Willis, or here to see my company page, Thayer Willis LLC. As many of you know, LinkedIn is mainly for professionals, and you can find me there under the name Thayer Cheatham Willis, or simply click here. Some of the posts go up in all three places, but some are tailored and appear only where appropriate. I invite you to take a look and connect with me!

Here is a recent post that I have been told was most helpful. There is a slightly different version of it on LinkedIn that I wrote for professional advisors to wealthy families.

How to Use Beyond Gold for your Own Family

I wrote Beyond Gold to be an interactive workbook, helping clients identify and clarify their values, thought processes, and priorities. This naturally leads to better action planning. Now, I would like to share with you my suggestions on how best to utilize this workbook to ensure maximum effectiveness, deep thought, and rich dialogue for those participating in the learning experience of the book. I framed the book to be effective without my presence or active involvement. Unlike other workbooks, mine contains a bit more text, with the written and spoken exercises all designed to personalize the concepts and to make them more meaningful to the reader.

I recommend taking your nuclear or extended family through the book one chapter at a time. All of the chapters except the first have exercises in them. So, assign a chapter or group of chapters, bring your family together again, and now you are ready to help family members build on what they have learned in the book.

One important note: people will self-select into Chapter 8 or 9 depending on whether they are married or not. This will be a straightforward distinction for them to make, of course, but there is no need for anyone to work through both chapters, as the first one addresses dating and the next is “after the honeymoon.”

Sometimes the motivation to work through a book like this is a crisis, or pain that has increased to a point that a family member is not willing to live with anymore. For these readers it is workable to just cherry pick what is needed from the book. This is especially useful if a family member has a specific kind of crisis on their hands. Help them go straight to the part of the book that addresses their challenge. For instance, a young adult may have a friendship crisis, which brings up the challenges of unequal wealth. Go straight to Chapter 7, which is about this, and start there. The rest can wait until later. It is a book that a reader can jump into anywhere and work around in, following their interests.

The chapters and exercises in the book cover all of the major territory of the psychology of wealth. By mapping this territory out in chapters with exercises to support all of the teachings in the book, Beyond Gold is a ready-made tool for you to use to add dimension to financial literacy in your own family.

For instance, Exercise 4.3 “Financial Values You Caught,” is a short worksheet designed to help the reader identify how their financial attitudes and behaviors have developed, and how these are working in their lives now. Once completed, for another step of learning, it is a great springboard for discussion. Another exercise, which appears at the ends of chapters, is a gratitude practice. This exercise helps each reader reflect on the gratitude they have in the area of the chapter content, progressively one’s self, one’s parents, siblings, extended family, and more. The real value of this exercise is the repetition of it and the experience of cultivating a gratitude practice.

A key bookend exercise is the “Wealth Attitude Assessment.” It appears at the very beginning of the book and is the first exercise readers will encounter. “Wealth attitudes” are recognizable to all of us, but hardly anyone ever talks about them. This exercise is a self-assessment, and presents statements such as: “I have not yet taken charge of my life or of my wealth” and “I’m afraid to ask for help for fear of embarrassing my family.” People know the attitudes they have about these subjects, and can use the rating scale to define how true the statements are for them. A scoring chart follows the exercise, so that readers can see how to interpret their “wealth attitudes” as they begin their journeys through the book. The same “Wealth Attitude Assessment” appears at the end of the book. It is the last exercise in the last chapter of the book. After working through the entire book, the reader’s score will inevitably come down (this is positive), and it is an effective means of showing the development of healthier attitudes about wealth. Seeing this tangible evidence of one’s own personal growth encourages everyone. Family members will associate you with their success, and this is affirming for you too.

On the exercises that call for more private introspection, I often invite participants to discuss their answers in pairs. Afterwards, I bring everyone together for a group discussion and simply ask for anyone to volunteer something they learned. I don’t ever put anyone on the spot or go around the room and have everyone say something. The volunteer response approach is more respectful. Some people learn very well in these kinds of written and spoken exercises. Most people benefit by interacting with others on these topics, which are rarely spoken of in other contexts, and really learn a lot from others’ experiences.

Working through this book together as a family adds great depth and dimension to family meetings. It is an opportunity for you to give your family the gift of basic financial literacy, awareness, and maturity.

© 2015 Thayer Cheatham Willis. All Rights Reserved.

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