Starting a Legacy That Will Last a Lifetime and Beyond

Father taking son surfingThe following is a guest post from our friend John @ Frugal Rules.  If interested in submitting a guest post, please read our guest posting policy and then contact us.

Society communicates various things that they think should define a man. He is to be rugged, without fear, doing everything on his own and never showing weakness. While some of these can be debated as to how manly they really are, many of them miss the point that as men we have a responsibility to care and provide for those around us. To teach others; pass on your knowledge and wisdom. The father and son relationship. If you have a wife and family, this is especially true; it is our role as men to provide and care for our families. If you’re not at that stage in your life yet, don’t assume that you’re off the hook as this time can be used to grow some of the traits that will be needed later in life and many of the things can be applied to your life even now. If we’re not to listen to what society has to say about what manhood looks like, then what should it look like? One vital thing that should be present in our lives as men is the desire to build a legacy for our family that will ideally last long after we’re gone from this earth. The legacy I want to share with you today is the financial legacy we should be looking to leave.

Starting a Legacy Begins With Managing Expenses

When I was growing up, I was in a common middle class family. I had what I needed and was well cared for. However, nothing was taught to me about the need to be fiscally disciplined or budgeting. I know that budgeting can be seen as a bad word by many and call it whatever you will, but a budget is meant as a plan for your family’s money. I, for one, love budgeting, but even if you don’t, you can still maintain a budget. It’s as simple as watching your expenses and putting pen to paper as to what money is coming in and where it’s going out. Establishing this practice early can help your family begin to live a disciplined life financially. If your financial life is a mess, then leaving a legacy will be a challenge. Determine what is important to you and your family and set trackable goals that will help you get there. We have a friend who says that you can tell a person’s priorities by looking at their checkbook. Don’t have your look like a mess, but have it be reasoned and disciplined with an end goal in sight.

Growing Wealth is Vital to Starting a Legacy

While budgeting may look more at the day to day activities of where your money is going, then investing in the stock market is a more long term approach. I don’t know about you, but I do not plan working 50 hour weeks when I am 90 and investing is vital to avoiding that. Investing is the only true way to begin to build wealth. Whether you’re investing in the stock market or in real estate the key is to be doing it and doing it early. Time is the greenhouse to growing money and the earlier you start the better as it will have more time to grow and develop. Even if you only have a small amount to start investing with each month or quarter, don’t allow that to stop you. What if you find yourself in the situation of having little knowledge of investing? That is perfectly fine and understandable, but do not allow that to be an excuse. There are numerous resources available, and many free ones at that, to help you become a confident, educated investor. Seek them out and use them to your advantage.

Prepare for Your Departure

I hate to break it to you, but we will die. Our time on this earth is limited and only God knows the time we have left. Now that we know this, what can we do? We can put a plan in place to care for our family in the event of our passing. That means two things become very important in your life: having a will and having life insurance. Without a will, depending on the state you live in, your family could possibly see your assets tied up for months to come. If you pass with young children this could cause a serious problem for your wife and family. I know wills are not sexy, but they’re vital in preparing a legacy and providing for your family in the future. The other “sexy” thing that’ll be needed is life insurance. Try to buy it when you’re young to lock in lower premium rates and purchase enough to cover the cost of your funeral as well as provide financially for your family into the future.

The point in all of this is that we have been given a responsibility, to provide and model for those around us how we are to live. Our days are ordered and numbered by God; do not allow yourself to leave your family without a flashlight in the event of your sudden passing, there is nothing manly about that.

What are your thoughts? What other things could be used to help prepare a financial legacy for your family?

John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a finance blog that regularly discusses investing, budgeting, and frugal living. John is a father, husband, and veteran of the financial services industry who’s passionate about helping people find freedom through frugality. Follow him on Twitter.

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  1. Great post John! I was well taken care of as a child, but there are so many things I’d wish I’d learned about finance. Maybe it was because I grew up in the 70’s and there was still a mentality that guys would be taking care of things financially, but it’s important for everyone to learn how to best take care of themselves. Sounds like you are off to a great start!

    • Thanks Tonya! I would tend to agree with you there. I grew up in the late 70’s- early 80’s myself and I definitely saw that. The problem that creates is that it’s making it dependent on one person as opposed to leading your family and instilling basic skills that will help all grow so they don’t make mistakes later in life.

  2. Great guest post John! I can only hope to arm my kids with half of the knowledge that I have by learning the hard way. It is a great gift of responsibility. As far as preparing for departure, it is true; it takes a true Fearless Man to do it!

    • Thanks Tony! I feel the same way about raising our kids. I have learned many things in life, and a lot of that through stupid mistakes on my part. It would be foolish and unloving for me as a parent to not pass those lessons on in order to help establish a solid foundation for them.

  3. I’d say that financial wisdom is a much more important legacy that the actual money. If you pass on what you learned from your own mistakes, your kids will probably do better in life than if you could afford to buy them everything and leave them a big windfall when you pass.

    • That’s a good point Edward. I’d much rather pass on the wisdom before the money, but in the long run both are important, just for different reasons. I say this because what happens if you have young children and you or your wife have an untimely death? That’s where something like the life insurance or assets are extremely important. Those need to be there to provide for your family if you or your spouse pass on.

  4. Starting a legacy is one of my greatest motivating factors when saving money. That’s would I love most about the Roth IRA. Just imagine would a few hundred thousand will look like in a hundred years with compounded interest. One can only hope that future generations will be as financially responsible when they’re given money they did not work for.

    • I could not agree more JW! That is a huge factor for me as I save/invest money so we can hopefully provide for future generations in our family. The key is to dovetail that with educating your children and providing an example of what prudent financial living is so they do appreciate it.

  5. Great post as always John. I agree that we need to take responsibility for ourselves. If you don’t plan for the future then you may end up requiring your children to care for you. So rather than leaving a legacy to strengthen your family you end up taking away from their ability to leave a legacy of their own.

    • Thanks Justin! That’s a great point, and one that I think a lot of us often miss. Not only do we need to prepare ourselves for our future, but also our children. The last thing I want to be is a drag on my children when I am older because I did not plan earlier.

  6. A will is essential. A few friends got into nasty fights with their siblings once their parents passed, even though there was plenty of money. Saying what is going to each kids may lead to resentment on the short term but at least they don’t fight over who gets what.

    • You’re exactly right Pauline! I’ve seen those fights as well and it’s always so sad and just a bit ridiculous. Not that a will avoids all of that, but it makes it much easier to take care of the entire process.

  7. John this is such great content!! Thanks so much for making this addition to our site! Great title work too!

  8. Great points…especially prepping for your death. So many people feel like they’re invincible. Sadly, nobody dies when they’d planned. Take care of it now.

  9. Great post John.
    It’s amazing how many (myself included) don’t think about or even do any preparation for the departure.

  10. I think the best legacy you can leave is by having children who are well prepared for life’s challenges. It’s hard to balance reality with keeping their dreams on the forefront, but if I can leave behind a child who is self assured and productive, that’s the legacy I want.

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