We are the products of what drive us. Our families, our careers, our goals and dreams. Often for many long years, we work hard to bring our visions to life. We give so much of ourselves to improving the lives of those around us. We hope we give the best of ourselves, that our efforts would ideally leave this world better than we found it. Although wealth and property can be a powerful part of this, it is how we lead our lives that leave the greatest legacy. Passing on wisdom, our family values and our love can often be the most precious inheritance we can gift to others.
A wonderful way to begin building this legacy is to set an intentional plan for the giving of your time and your money. Start now, so you can see the seeds of giving that you are sowing in the world. Money is a wonderful way to contribute to your community, but it is your time that is often most valuable. Set aside a certain day of the week or weekend for giving back. Homeless shelters, animal rescues, soup kitchens, food banks, nursing homes—there are so many organizations that are in need of your helping hands. While giving can be very personal, consider including your family in your volunteering work. Encouraging your children to be generous, showing them how to help and expect nothing in return, these are gifts that will last much longer than any dollar amount.
A legacy could impact your children for years to come. One of the wonderful ways of doing this, is fostering within them a healthy view of money. Starting at a young age, we encourage you to use money to build character and not entitlement within your children. Most kids will not be able to work for a paycheck until they are legally allowed to do so, but that doesn’t mean they can’t build a relationship with money before then! Show them that money is a reward for work, not a right (because they are related to you). When they are old enough to enter the workforce, they may well thank you for their work ethic and financial habits. Often times it is not the most talented employee that gets paid the most, it’s the one who shows up and does their job. They may not like having to work for their money when they are younger—but they will thank you as adults.
Generosity is a trait that grows when practiced. If you always have a few dollars for the man who needs help, the stranger on the corner with a sign and a cup full of change—the people in your life will notice. Your children will know that the ten-dollar bill, the pack of crackers and new pair of socks that you keep in your car, is for the people that need it. Maybe you could put a basket together when they get their first car, a giving-back-basket, for those who need it. Part of your intentional plan may include sitting your family down to decide how to give your money away. Choose a cause that you can all agree on, choose an amount that you would like to reach and then choose to contribute to that fund regularly. We urge you to start with 10% of your kid’s earnings from their chores. If they can watch their giving grow, they may want to continue long after they are earning paychecks as adults.
You don’t have to be wealthy to leave a legacy behind. You don’t need to have an above average income in order to give back. You don’t even need children to teach future generations how to make the world a better place! All you need is a vision for a better community, an intentional plan and showing up to do it. What seems like a small amount of money or time or effort on your part, could make a huge difference to someone else. Even when the money is long spent, the crackers eaten, and the socks worn out—the man who needed your help will remember your kindness. And someone else, whether it’s your children or a stranger in the car next to you, the will remember it, too.