One of the worst things I’ve ever heard someone say about money is this: “You can’t take it all with you when you die, so spend it all now.”
To me, that’s one of the most selfish attitudes you can have. And I think that’s why you hear so many stories about people getting rich quick only to lose it all in a few years. They’re so focused on the pleasure of today that they have totally forgotten about tomorrow.
What about your family? Your kids? Your grandkids? Even your close friends? Just think about how you could affect them—even change their lives—by leaving behind some of the hard-earned money you’ve made.
One thing my dad, Dave Ramsey, always taught me was that you don’t build wealth for the sake of building wealth. The reason you work hard, save, and invest is so you can leave a legacy after you’re gone. You do all those things so you can help and serve and make a difference.
Think about it from this standpoint: What if you could buy a house for your kids when they get older? Or what if you take the entire family—grown kids, spouses, grandkids—on a paid-for vacation to Disney? And, most importantly, what if you could leave behind the resources to pay for your grandkids’ college tuition? How amazing would that be?
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m not talking about spoiling your kids and grandkids and catering to every wish. No one wants to be around people like that. Leaving a legacy isn’t about raising spoiled, bratty kids who don’t work and live off their parents until they’re 35.
What this all comes down to is changing your family tree! You have to change the way you think about money. The days where whatever comes in goes right back out are over. Debt doesn’t have to be normal, and you can actually do things like pay cash for a car—or even a house!
Once you get these principles into your system, you can begin teaching them to your kids. Most of us have no issues with teaching our kids how to drive safely, but we’ll let them go to college without having the slightest clue how to manage money. How crazy is that?
I’m not talking about boring your kids to death with a financial lecture every day. Remember, more is caught than taught. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t even realize they were teaching me anything. I watched how they lived and worked and managed their money, and those lessons became a part of who I am.
When I was a teenager, I had a lot of jobs—stuff like babysitting and working retail. That was because of the work ethic my parents taught me. Truman Cathy, the Chick-fil-A founder, had his kids work around his restaurants, taking out the trash, scraping gum off the bottom of tables, and doing any little thing to help.
Those are the lessons we need to teach our children. That way, when they grow older and get an inheritance or step out into the world for the first time, they’ll know how to use their talents and resources wisely. They’ll be able to provide hope and allow their children the chance to do things they were never able to do.
That’s how you leave a legacy and change your family tree for generations to come. It’s true that you won’t be able to take it all with you, but you can leave it behind to bless the people you love.