I was telling a friend recently that in general people have a strange relationship with money.

At one level it’s difficult to talk about with anyone other than your spouse, banker, or financial planner. At another it’s often the cause of significant consternation when trying to do something as simple as splitting the check.

Talking about what you do or don’t have is often considered to be either boasting, or feeling sorry for yourself. There’s a lot of shame around both having and not having money.

I do want to talk about it, and though I won’t get into specifics I don’t want to be seen as boasting. I had to think long and hard about posting this publicly, which goes to show that how we feel about money can be very complicated.

I’m grateful not for what I have, but for what it enables me to do.

My thinking is that it’s probably obvious that Microsoft was good to me.

I spent eighteen and a half years there: 1983 into 2001. They were good years for Microsoft. (I think of them as Microsoft’s “golden days”, but I may be biased. 🙂 ). And they were good years for many of Microsoft’s employees. I’m exceptionally grateful to have been one those who benefitted.

More than anything I’m grateful for the freedom it’s allowed my wife and I to enjoy, and I’m grateful for my ability to help others — both personally, when the relationship allows, and philanthropically.

My parents were savers, and I inherited that from them. The flip side is that it sometimes makes spending surprisingly difficult — even when there’s a need or obvious benefit to doing so. Honestly, I’m OK with that. I’ve seen too many of my contemporaries from my Microsoft years get themselves into financial hardship by virtue of spending their resources a little too easily.

There is no doubt that I am “privileged” in most of the ways that term is currently being used. But rather than avoid the label let me acknowledge it.

Let me acknowledge it and be deeply grateful.

Let me acknowledge it and aspire to have the wisdom to use that privilege wisely.