One of my great inspirations is the story of my grandmother, a woman with grade school education who fled a wartorn country with her four children. She found a life here in the United States, raising them alone on the edge of Harlem in New York City. She worked night shifts at a hospital while her children had to find a way to navigate this completely foreign world on their own.

My children are 3 generations removed from their great-grandmother, and what a different world they inhabit. They are living the American Dream, in a nice suburban house with access to a great education. They feel safe, secure, and loved. They are well-fed. They have clothes for all types of weather and all types of occasions. They have access to a myriad of opportunities. They have been on many more plane rides than their great-grandmother has in her entire lifetime.

As the matriarch, she continues to leave her mark on our family. My children are a part of her legacy of hope, perseverance, and sheer determination. It’s up to me to ensure that this legacy continues for future generations.

SURVIVAL AND STAGES OF PARENTHOOD

My grandmother literally survived war. I’m surviving modern parenthood. Talk about perspective.

Thanks to information overload, new parents can now obsess over minutiae that leave older generations scratching their heads. We use apps and gadgets to help us monitor our babies 24/7. We ask ourselves endless questions. Breast or formula? Disposable diapers or cloth diapers? To sleep train or no?

Once they get mobile, we ensure that they stay as safe as possible. Food and seemingly innocuous objects become life-threatening safety hazards. We place our children in enclosures, much like we would for a rambunctious puppy. We trail after them on a constant basis, constantly redirecting them because they remain blissfully aware of the countless ways they can get themselves into trouble.

Time away from home teaches them different lessons. They learn how to follow other people’s rules and work in a group setting. When in school, classroom learning goes alongside navigating how to make friends and figuring out where they fit in.

As they become more independent, you wonder: What sort of lessons will they remember once they eventually leave this house? Did I prepare them well enough to tackle the world on their own? What sort of legacy am I leaving for my child?  

THE FINANCIAL LEGACY

I want what all parents want for their children: a happy life free of worry and pain. I also want them to be kind and empathetic people who deeply desire to do good in the world in their own unique way. I can only hope that I can leave these intangibles with my children long after I’m gone.

I am also working towards leaving my kids a financial legacy.

Contrary to what you may be thinking, this does NOT mean leaving them a large inheritance and calling it a day.

What I am envisioning is this: A financial legacy means that my children have learned to be self-sufficient adults who have a healthy relationship with money. I don’t want money to give them overwhelming anxiety, worry, or stress. I want them to use it as a tool with joy and confidence. I want them to eventually teach these lessons to their own children (if they choose to have any) so that they in turn can use their time and energy towards what really lights them up, rather than having the constant worry about money in the background.

I want to model what it means to lead a richer life. A life where you are intentional with your time and your money. A life where you are aligning your money and your values, using your money to lead a life on your own terms.

THE SAVE, SPEND AND GIVE JARS

One common money lesson geared towards children is to split their money into 3 different jars: Save, Spend and Give. The thought is that children will learn the concept of money being used for different purposes. By setting these habits early on, they will be more likely to apply these same money habits well into adulthood.

One could easily go through this activity focusing on just the numbers. However, rather than focusing on the mechanics of saving, spending, and giving, I hope to teach my children that there is a deeper meaning beyond the act of putting their money in different jars.

Here are the money lessons that I want them to learn from each jar:

SAVE JAR

One of my daughters recently wrote that I taught her how to “save wisely.” I was 100% flattered.

There is a lot of power in saving and investing, and the earlier you learn this lesson, the easier it will be to build wealth. Time and compound interest are your best friends when it comes to investing, so you might as well start early.

Building wealth is not about accumulating money so that you can hoard it or impress other people with how much you have saved. It’s about the financial cushion and freedom that comes with saving and investing wisely, tailored to fit your own life goals.

SPEND JAR

As a naturally frugal person, it has always been hard for me to spend money. I am constantly weighing the pros and cons of purchasing pretty much anything. This certainly helps when it comes to saving money, but it is equally important to understand that money is also meant to be spent.

Own your spending. Find joy in spending, free of guilt or shame. The key is to spend on what truly brings joy and value to your life. The concept of joyful spending can be difficult when they are also being encouraged to save for the future, but it’s worth repeating and modeling.

GIVE JAR

There is also much joy in giving, sometimes referred to as the helper’s high . There have been multiple studies showing that giving is correlated with happiness and well-being. We all saw this transformation when we first encountered the story of Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

You should give because you want to, not because you feel an obligation to do so. Giving can also be done in many forms, not just monetarily. One can also donate your time, energy, and talents.

To know that my children are giving of their time, energy, and money towards worthy causes would really make this mom’s heart sing. More importantly, it should make their hearts sing even more.

CONCLUSION

The instant I became a parent, I feel a sense of responsibility that is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before. This idea of being responsible with my money is much more meaningful now that my children are in the picture. Knowing my family’s history, there is a deep drive to continue this legacy of hard work and resilience moving forward. I am genuinely so excited to also pass along this financial legacy that will make a lasting impact for generations to come.

Have you thought about your legacy? What do you hope to leave for future generations? Comment below!

2 Comments

  1. The Vetducator on May 29, 2019 at 11:56 am

    A healthy relationship with money is a great value to instill in children. Growing up, my sister was a teenager while my family was particularly flush with money, so she got accustomed to buying Guess Jeans and other fancy items. But the time I came along, austerity measures were in place so I got used to doing without. As adults, she makes a barely-above-minimum-wage salary and still wants to lease the Lexus whereas I make an amazing salary and buy virtually nothing, enjoying the one 10-year-old Honda my wife and I share. Obviously, there are many other variables in play. But I am grateful to my parents constantly for not cursing me with the desire for Nice things.

    • RLDVM on May 29, 2019 at 12:08 pm

      I think it’s fascinating how siblings from the same family can have very different money personalities!

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