America’s favorite case study of familial fame and dysfunction made its way back to the headlines last weekend. Fresh off driveway disputes over the late King of Pop’s estate this summer, the latest Jackson family gossip has LaToya Jackson stepping up to take the heirs of the family fortune under her wing. According to reports, LaToya signed all three of her brother’s children to her Ja-Tail enterprises talent agency. Her nieces and nephews would be the agency’s only clients. LaToya later denied the claims.
It’s tempting to judge the Jacksons. But we have to remember, when money’s involved it’s always about more than money. Money triggers emotions. Add in family drama and income equality and it’s easy to understand how things repeatedly get out of hand.
The breadwinner of the family seems like the best role to be in in all this mess, but the position comes with responsibility and stress. Just ask Michael and Janet. Money gives you more power in business and family. An imbalance of power means one thing – drama.
Even if you haven’t eclipsed your family’s earnings yet, it’s probably something you should start preparing for if it’s in your future. Women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners of their households. And the income gap between rich and poor continues to grow.
We’ve combed the web for advice from financial and relationship experts to help you navigate the rocky terrain where family and funds overlap. Paris Jackson, this one’s for you.
Understand That Money Makes People Crazy
Don’t take it personally when your sister feels you owe it to her to pay her credit card bill, or your cousin tells your aunty you’ve changed. Psychiatrists have proven that people generally feel worse about themselves the more they feel they earn less and have lower social rank than those around them. Try and be empathetic to the emotional impact your difference in wealth has on your family.
Have A Plan For Your Money, Honey
When you experience an increase in wealth, the first step is one of adjustment and planning. Decide what type of life you want to live and the personal financial goals you want to set for yourself. Don’t think about your family during this stage. This is your money, so take care of you first. You can’t help anybody if you’re broke too.
Empower, Don’t Enable
Money doesn’t fix everything. If a family member comes to you with a need, discuss other options that could remedy their problem. Asking for money is a simple solution, but it might not be the best. Use your wealth to empower your family to be self-sufficient rather than taking care of them. That goes for friends, too. Learn from MC Hammer and his 40-member entourage.
Give What You Can & Don’t Keep Score
Only lend money you can afford to lose. If you won’t miss the money, just give it as gift. Money is a notorious relationship destroyer. Avoid feeling bitter about a transaction later by being upfront about your ability to part with the money, and the other person’s ability to pay it back. Furthermore, communicate! Address problems when they arise. If you plan on leaving your money to your kids and giving your siblings the cold shoulder, say that while you’re alive. A lot of money problems are made worse because people are so uncomfortable talking about them.
C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).