Ray’s Take Webster defines legacy as “something received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.” Our personal legacy is what we are remembered for; the contributions we have made to our family, our community, and our world.
We might not have the enormous financial abilities of a Bill Gates or Warren Buffet to shape and improve the future, but we all still leave some kind of mark on the world after we’re gone. The lessons we’ve taught our kids, the people we’ve mentored in the workplace, the causes we’ve contributed to financially or through volunteer efforts are all part of our legacy.
It is worth taking the time to think what you want your legacy to be. Instead of just continuing to consume or accumulate material things, think of how you can deliberately craft a legacy for the future – both by giving of your abilities and time and through financial commitments.
How do you want to be remembered? How would you like to brighten the future? Think about what you want your legacy to be and form strategies to achieve it. Your legacy doesn’t have to change the world. It can be very local. However, the only way you can shape your legacy is to take steps now – and in the future – so you are able to mark your progress toward achieving the legacy you envision.
Of course, many people leave a legacy they actually never see to fruition – think of John F. Kennedy and the space program. I often encourage people to leave a financial legacy through their estate plans. Planned giving to an organization like the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis can have a lasting, positive impact on your community that reaches far into the future.
Dana’s Take Those of us who have children may see them as our legacy. What kind of legacy are we leaving the world? Will our children’s financial habits today cause problems in their futures?
Ray says the best financial advice is to spend less than you make. Are your children starting with good financial habits? As parents we seem to be nudging our kids into bigger and better lifestyles and we don’t expect them to pay the tab.
How many kids and teens have a $600 iPhone with a $40-per-month data obligation? Lots. How many of them are actually paying those bills? Not many. If a teen has a $4-a-day Frappuccino habit, is he or she saving for those purchases? What about the manicures and pedicures? Unlikely.
Children learn what they live. If we want them to learn responsibility, we have to expect them to act responsibly. That includes their money habits. As you make daily decisions with your children, think about the legacy you and they will leave.
Ray Brandon is a certified financial planner and CEO of Brandon Financial Planning (www.brandonplanning.com). His wife, Dana, has a bachelor’s degree in finance and is a licensed clinical social worker. Contact Ray Brandon at firstname.lastname@example.org.