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It turns out that when you sit down to write about what kind of financial legacy you’d like to leave your children (all six of them), you don’t write a lot about finances. At least that’s been the case for me.
The financial legacy I want to leave my children is one of principles and lessons learned; they look a lot more like desirable character attributes. If I can teach, model, and train them up to embody the following principles, I have no doubt that they’ll get along with money just fine.
Love learning. Love the process of improving your understanding and skills as it relates to any subject. Learn for its own sake.
Be honest to a fault. Being dishonest is a risky way to live your life. It’s expensive—mentally, financially, and emotionally costly. Recognize that honesty is an economic driver. As it becomes less common it will become even more valuable.
Understand that money is the currency of life. What you choose to do with your money is what you are choosing to do with your time, and quickly, that adds up to your life. (Surely, at some point when they are older, I’ll have them read, Your Money or Your Life, a book that had a big impact on my own understanding of this important truth.)
Find joy and satisfaction not just in the accomplishment, but also in the struggle to get there. Get comfortable and appreciate what it feels like to grind it out. Patiently persevere. In this day and age, you may need to seek opportunities to do these hard things. They may not come to you automatically. But if you can find joy in being consistent, showing up, and pushing through, even when it’s hard, it will benefit every area of your life.
Spend your energy doing good in the world. Find a niche where you can honestly say that the world is a better place because of your efforts, and give it your all.
I’m full of practical financial advice. I’ve been writing, teaching, and sharing about money and budgeting for more than a decade. But when I sit down and think about what I really want my kids to learn about money—what I want my legacy to be, in them and through them—it is so much bigger than money.
In the end, if they truly understand that their money is their life, they’ll make choices that align their money with their true priorities. And it is at that crossroads—where money and priorities collide—where they’ll find peace, contentment, and satisfaction.
If they are honest, hard-working, and always learning, I’m confident they’ll be gainfully employed as long as they like; If they’re doing good in the world, I trust they’ll be rewarded for it.
To have six financial legacies like this would make me very proud. Now, back to the work of teaching them (by example).
Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)
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