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Leaving a financial legacy for your family, understanding careless spending and how to handle your personal finances

Leaving a Financial Legacy
by Glen Becker

Most people think that only the rich can leave a legacy to their children and following generations. Since most people are not rich, they never think about their legacy.

Actually, all people leave a legacy. Your real legacy is not your money and property; it is your faith and your values. These in turn not only determine how you handle your finances, but also influence how your heirs will handle theirs. If your wealth has grown because of careful planning and management, then your children’s wealth will likely grow for the same reasons.

But if careless spending or irresponsible investing has left you in debt, your children will likely fall into the same traps. If you have experienced the pain of harassing bill collectors, or the nightmare of bankruptcy, it hurts to imagine your children having to endure them, too.

Think of the legacy you would like to leave them. You want them to be able to live within their means, to be free of debt, to plan and save for the future, and to be generous. You cannot give someone else something you do not have yourself. So, to pass these blessings on to your heirs, you must have them yourself, or at least be well on the way to getting them.

One of our great-grandfathers left a wonderful financial legacy. He came to Texas in the 1880’s from Germany with nothing. He failed as a laborer because he could not work in the Texas heat. Not knowing English, the only work he could find was a low-paying job at a boarding house.

He and a friend hoped to make money selling refreshments and souvenirs to the crowds that would come to Austin for the dedication of the new state capitol. The crowds did not come, and there was no way to repay the money they had borrowed to finance the venture. The friend skipped town, but my great-grandfather cared about his legacy. He may not have been thinking about how his actions would affect his descendents more than 100 years later, but they did, and in a big way.

He chose to repay the debt. It took him years, but he did it. Afterwards, he opened a lunch counter, then later a lumber company, and died a fairly wealthy man, leaving not only a legacy of money, but a legacy of generosity, having made several important gifts to the city. Most importantly, my family has passed on the legacy of generosity and honesty and avoiding debt. Oh yes, we did inherit some money, though not nearly enough to live on. The true riches were not the dollars, but the legacy. Proverbs 13:22 (NIV) says, “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.”

The Lord can do through you what He did through our ancestor. Everything you do, each decision you make builds your legacy. But the most important, long-lasting part of your legacy is choosing to do what is right when it is difficult or expensive. Even the little daily decisions determine your legacy when they are added together. Ask God to give you the wisdom and power to leave this kind of legacy to your heirs.

See other helpful articles at this website and consider the workbook: Financial Freedom in 7 Weeks Plus.


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