My mom recently sent me an email about my grandparents and their approach to wealth and saving. She said at one point when her parents had a home and three children and two cars and a comfortable life, they decided they had everything they needed. From then on, all bonuses and extra money went into a savings account and into assets such as stocks and bonds. Christmas was generous but not over the top. They paid cash for all big expenses and lived well below their means. Family vacations were spent traveling to the Carolinas from Texas to visit relatives.
What was their goal? Why did they do this? They could have had much nicer cars and clothes and vacations. Their ability to live below their means and invest money wisely enabled them to pay for their children to attend college and for many of their grandchildren to do so as well. My mom expressed to me how grateful she is for this, despite not fully appreciating it at the time. My grandparents recognized that if they spent money intentionally, they would be able to create a legacy for their children and grandchildren. It’s not just the college tuition they paid for: they created a situation in which their children and grandchildren would not have to go into debt to pay for college, like so many people have today.
What do you want your legacy to look like? How do you want to be remembered? You don’t need children to inspire a legacy. You don’t need a lot of money either. It can be purely philanthropic, it can be a modest real estate portfolio, it can be art or books or even just journals or letters to friends and family. Your legacy should be authentic and true to who you are.
Something we should all do to build a simple legacy is strive to be a good person every day, treat others the way we want to be treated, and be generous with what time and money we have. These are modest things that can have an enormous impact on people in our lives. You don’t need a lot of money to be generous, to be good, or to treat others with respect.
Personally, I want to be able to spend as much time as possible with my future children and grandchildren, which is why my wife and I are so enthusiastic about acquiring real estate. We recognize this is a great way to build generational wealth. I believe that time is our most valuable commodity, and if we’re able to acquire enough passive income streams, we can spend more time with family and friends than we spend working and achieve this well before traditional retirement age. This takes sacrifice though. We have a high savings rate and forego buying many things others our age buy. We still go out to eat and go on vacations, but we are not impulsive with our money: we try to focus on needs not wants.
Our legacy is about more than real estate and passive income streams, though. We want to be generous with both time and money. My wife and I really enjoy parrots, and there are many of these birds in need of a good home. Some species have a lifespan of up to 80 years, so it’s common for them to have multiple owners during their lives. We have begun the process to start fostering some of these birds while other volunteers search for permanent homes. Also, this blog is a way that I personally try to give back to the military community through articles and discussions on personal finance and real estate. Financially, we donate to charities through the Federal Government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), which is a fantastic way to find a cause that interests you, and be able to donate money automatically out of your paycheck (Federal employees only).
The concept of legacy creation can seem daunting and far-away, but there is no reason to delay. Start with a simple conversation with your spouse, or write your thoughts on your legacy in a journal. Every marathon begins with a single step, and legacy creation is no exception. Take action today. You’ll be glad you did.
Please share your thoughts on legacies in the comments below. Or if you would prefer, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your thoughts. Be sure to follow @honorandequity on Instagram as well.