Maybe I’m alone in this, but lately I’ve been fretting about trust fund babies. I mean who is less equipped to deal with economic upheaval? While  their wealthy parents were showering them with things, they took away the really valuable stuff such as personal initiative and innovative thinking.

That’s not true for everyone who inherits enormous wealth—particularly if you’re the offspring of Warren Buffett—but there are plenty of examples of squandered lives.

During the height of the Human Potential Movement, a program was started in San Francisco to deal with the issues of guilt experienced by trust fund recipients.

Nobody really talks about much about the downside of inherited wealth, of course, but one heiress who ultimately became a wildly successful entrepreneur did.

Gloria Vanderbilt, heir to an enormous fortune, said the only money that meant anything to her was the money she had earned  by her own creative efforts.

This week, a story’s been making the rounds about Vanderbilt’s famous son, Anderson Cooper, who will not be inheriting any of her wealth. Cooper’s just fine with that. He understands that unearned wealth can be crazymaking, as numerous lottery winners have sadly demonstrated.

So what’s a healthier approach?

Former Cirque du Soleil acrobat-turned-yoga-teacher Alvin Tan wrote, “There’s a lot of doom and gloom going on here in the States. The economy feels like it is teetering on a fragile balance and good news is a distant wish. That’s the story that we hear anyway. I disagree.

“I am reminded of a comment by a dear friend that this could be the best of times for this country, this people. He believes that we are finally getting back to basics. What fantastic insight!

“In moments of fear, people cut back and return to essentials. It’s an opportunity to discard all the useless junk we’ve accumulated  and keep only what’s truly important.

“Can you train your mind to let go of the things you think you need? Acrobatic mindset training begins with using only what you need and nothing else.”

I keep thinking about those last words: use only what you need and nothing else. Perhaps a new definition of wisdom is having the certainty to know what is needed.

That fits so well with the concept of Less is More that has fascinated me for the past 30+ years.

One of my handbooks for that was a book called Cheap Chic by Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy which applies the concept of Less is More to our closets. They write, “We’ve become spoiled in America. Surrounded by mass manufacturing and mass marketing, we stuff our closets with masses of mistakes….The most basic element of Cheap Chic is the body you hang your clothes on. Building a healthy, lively body is far cheaper than buying a lot of clothes to distract from it.”

Back to Basics.

What I find stunning about revisiting this 39-year-old book is that the photographs seem timeless. Nothing looks dated at all. “Find the clothes that suit you best,” advise the authors, “and then hang onto them like old friends.”

Cheap Chic echoes Diana Vreeland’s observation that being well-dressed is a matter of good taste and a severely limited budget. That also describes many good businesses.

Although  I’ve quoted it countless times before, it’s worth repeating again because Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens nailed it when he said, “In the absence of capital, creativity flourishes.” Stephens didn’t get that from a business school textbook; he discovered it building his own little business.

The trick for entrepreneurs, it seems to me, is to keep the creative flame burning once there’s an abundance of capital. It can be done, of course, and Zappos (and a few others) are demonstrating that. In fact, one of the 10 basic values of the growing Zappos enterprise is Do More With Less.

When I look at the businesses that I find inspiring and fun to watch, I notice that creative thinking is a constant. Perhaps that’s simply inevitable when your starting point is to use what you have and only what you need to move ahead gracefully.