For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to make a lot of money to have the freedom to do whatever I wanted. I’ve also always had the desire to give, whether it’s to my family, friends, or strangers in need.
That much I knew, but I never specified how I will do this—until about a year ago. I had a spontaneous epiphany. It was more than a thought, it was a feeling like I had to do this. I was excited about it.
Since it felt really important, I took out my phone to try to put it into words. What I wrote down was a free flow of thoughts at the moment, without any interruption to devise a distinct explanation. The backspace wasn’t used.
Below is a screenshot of the note I took. I left it unedited from the time I wrote it.
The Family Bank
Reflecting on what I wrote a year later, I noticed that the basis of this goal had actually been a desire of mine for a really long time. The purpose behind everything I do is for this goal in the long term. Every major decision I make, I ask myself “Is this the best decision to help me reach my goal?”
The goal is to create a family bank with the intention to:
- Eliminate all bad debt within my extended family.
- Encourage entrepreneurship in the family by investing capital into business ideas and providing accelerator services (mentorship, office space, connections, and other non-financial assistance).
- Fund any experiences that enrich one’s life; this includes travel and education.
- Provide low-interest loans for other purposes.
Services provided by the family bank are similar to banking products found in commercial institutions, however, the primary goal of the family bank isn’t to earn a profit for shareholders. I want a genuine altruistic service that will first eliminate all financial hardships, then multiply the family’s generational wealth through ownership and wealth creation so that it can become a self-sustaining philanthropic machine that takes care of the family first, and then society.
The proverb “Put your own oxygen mask on first, before attempting to help those around you” inspired my strategy for doing good. Oprah’s version goes something like, “fill your cup up and let it overflow to the others in your life.” The reason for this presumed selfishness is that you cannot help someone if you don’t have much to give. When you do help people, then you can only help them in proportion to what you have. If you are intelligent and wealthy, then you have a lot of tools and resources to do a lot of good. If you are poor and unintelligent, frankly, you will not have much to offer. That is why I choose to strategically fill my family’s cup so that we have gallons to give rather than ounces.
To achieve self-sufficiency, the bank will offer near-zero interest rates (lower than any bank or loan office would offer) and other generous assistance. However, it’s still vital for the bank to earn interest to solidify its longevity for future projects. This way we can fund larger business/philanthropic projects in the future, as well as continue to financially support the family in perpetuity.
By emphasizing this, hopefully, loanees feel not only liable but morally obligated to pay back their loans and to use the money responsibly for the benefit of the entire family.
Our debt restructuring loans will be provided to people with bad debt to avoid alternative unforgiving debt loans and more importantly, bankruptcy. This exists to help regain financial security without too much stress. These loans will have a forgiving interest structure as the goal is to fix their financial problems and not for us to profit from their vulnerability.
Our largest ‘profit generators’ will come from our business loans as the bank will receive equity in the companies invested. Successful businesses will be expected to generate capital via dividends or sales of businesses and encouraged to award grants and pro bono accelerator services to the bank’s clients (family members).
The main purpose of the bank is to first elevate my family because nothing is more important. Once that is taken care of, the secondary goal of the bank is to create the most effective philanthropic organization by doing the most good possible with the resources we have. The leaders of the bank should be extremely selfless and benevolent—even earning minimal compensation. He/she should be creative in their approach and find ways to achieve our philanthropic goals using minimal resources and maximal output efficiency.
I would like to allocate the capital to build schools, infrastructure, and anything that contributes to people’s self-sustainability and access to basic needs. This organization will have minimal bureaucracy and maximum transparency which will lead to very little leakage in wasted resources. Operating this way should also attract other genuine contributors and generate more and better results.
Growing up, I used to have mixed feelings about money. There were periods I pursued it for the wrong reasons and periods when I had a negative view of it. As I evolved, so did my dreams, priorities, and aspirations.
I’m now willing to delay gratification and set aside my ego for a more fulfilling purpose. My desires for luxuries continue to fade as I discover more impactful things I can do with money.
My bank will begin by serving my family first, then as it grows in size and structure, we will expand to serve others, particularly across Africa which holds a large spot in my heart.
As I explain in another essay, generational wealth is typically a paradox with adverse effects. By far, the most difficult part will be limiting opulence despite having wealth. This goal becomes a failure if as a result of the bank, family members are living in overdone luxury.
In my note, I said, “Love is my creator and nurturer and the Crubaugh name should stand by what it was created.” This sentence summarizes this entire purpose. Love is the most important thing in my life; it’s the reason for the existence of this bank. At the end of the day, I owe everything to my family. I hope to reciprocate their unconditional love with all of posterity.
It’s unknown how far along I will make it towards achieving this audacious goal, but I will enthusiastically work towards it until I’m no longer able, and will at least set the foundation for the next generation to prevail.