Friday, August 17, 2012

My Biggest Fear

I’ve been sharing with my wife lately a lot of my worries and fears and I would like to share one of these with you today.

On our total money makeover path we are currently on Baby Step 6, which for us is the marathon goal of saving up to pay cash for a home. Over the past three years we have paid off all of our debt, built an emergency fund, save regularly for retirement and recently just started setting money aside for our future kids’ college tuition. But I will be the first to tell you that achieving financial peace did not erase all worries and concerns from my life. Yes my wife and I have little to zero money fights nowadays, but one concern definitely is the first to grab my attention when I think about it.

Next of Kin

I don’t have a concern about my next of kin receiving nothing from Social (In)Security or living within a government system that spends more than it takes from its citizens, mainly because I’m going to teach my kids how to be self-reliant. My concern is that the legacy I leave behind not be ruined or tormented by the fiscal wealth left behind or from what they build on their own. Thinking beyond the $1 million mark, my wife and I have sacrificed and prioritized saving and investing and when we leave this world we plan to leave a significant amount of wealth behind.

Though we have yet to draw up formal plans, I have an inkling that we will leave a large portion to a charitable trust and the rest to family trusts. Now while my wife and I plan to raise a household that lives below its means and takes value in time and relationships over stuff, I worry that my children and grandchildren will not have the work ethic and values that my wife and I have been working so hard to build within ourselves. Now without laying out the full estate plan, I plan to be (age-appropriately) honest with my kids about our family’s finances.

They will know that my wife and I worked our tails off to create financial peace. They will pay (in cash) for their own cars and will be under the assumption that they will be paying for their own college education. Obviously for the college part my wife and I will intervene when the kid looks at the true costs and proceeds to sink into despair/a mental breakdown, this will likely be a truly delicate timing balance but I think we can pull it off.

But eventually our kids will grow into adults who were raised in the ways of smart personal finance. Essentially it is out of my control once they become adults who they become and the choices that they make. I am absolutely ecstatic at the thought that my kids will graduate from college debt free and start their lives as adults, around 21, with a fully funded emergency fund and get that much more of a head start to invest and experience the power of compound interest. They will have the potential to build even more wealth than mom and dad.

My fear is that they put their happiness into the accumulation of stuff rather than the value of relationships. The absolute last thing that I want to leave on this Earth are scummy trust fund kids. I want to leave a legacy that produces and gives, both at unprecedented levels. I want a legacy that is not dependent on the government for their well being, only themselves. But above everything else, I want them to know that happiness and fulfillment can only come from within through a life of quality relationships, an open spirit and a strong work ethic.

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