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On the uses of (modest) wealth

The Bradman Museum at Bowral devotes a lot of space to World Series Cricket, with a short film and various displays explaining how it happened and how it changed the way that cricket is televised and played. One of the plaques notes that Kerry Packer, the the series’ chief financial backer, lost $2.9 million on the first season of World Series Cricket before it took off in later seasons and eventually forced the Australian Cricket Board to make a deal with Packer and his television network. Looking over the generally positive commentary that the museum presents, I thought it’s amazing what you can achieve with enormous amounts of money.

I have neither $2.9 million to lose nor any plans to re-make cricket or anything else just the way I like it. But being a (formerly) well-remunerated professional in a wealthy society I do have an amount of wealth significantly greater than what is required to keep me alive and that I’d like to use to its best effect. I am so far finding this surprisingly difficult.

I’ve set aside some of my savings for renovations to my house, and some to seed my consultancy. Some more will no doubt go to cover my living expenses while I wait for the consultancy income to pick up, and some will go towards holidays. This still leaves me with a sum that I’d like to think is large enough to achieve something greater than allowing me to drink beer on the beach (say) but not nearly so large as to build a human settlement on the moon, eradicate malaria, or get popular sports shown on my television network.

Of course I could give it to charity or some other cause so as to pool it with the resources of other like-minded people into a fund that is large enough to achieve such things. I do give to several charities and of course I pay taxes but I’d also like to do something more direct and not outsource all of my support for causes that I want to be a part of.

Another glib answer might be to “invest” it, which immediately begs the question of what to invest in. Perhaps I could increase my wealth by investing in things like property, shares, or bitcoins, but doing so (successfully) would simply mean having even more wealth for which I have no plans.

It seems that one of my projects ought to the one of finding a project on which I can make good use of the wealth that I have. More charity? More art and culture? Invest in companies doing things I’d like to see happen? Or do them myself, seeing as I have some spare time as well? As it stands, I’m unused to thinking about such things, and I don’t suppose there’s any great rush to use money, so please don’t expect the Nick Sheppard Foundation to be offering grants any time soon.

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