Leaving behind a legacy is more than just the money you’ll leave to your family — it’s about passing on the values and wisdom that you’ve accumulated to your children and grandchildren. However, talking about money isn’t always a comfortable topic. Here are some tips to help you get the most from these conversations.
Share your interest
Talking about finances can be awkward or uncomfortable. So, to break the ice, begin the conversation by asking your family about what’s important to them. What keeps them up at night? Are they worried about not having enough money to fund their child’s education and retire when they want? What short- and long-term goals do they have, and how do they envision accomplishing those goals? By focusing on your family members’ financial concerns first, you create an opportunity to share how you achieved the same or similar goals.
Share your experience
Experience is often the best teacher. So, share what you’ve learned over the years with your family — the ups and downs, the good decisions and not-so-good decisions. Describe a time when your emergency savings really came through for you and helped you avoid taking on high-interest debt during an unexpected event. Or recount a time when you thought you had discovered the next great company to invest in (i.e., the next Apple or Amazon), only to later realize it was the next great dud. These anecdotes are great educational tools that impart wisdom in a way that’s compelling and memorable. Plus, revealing the mistakes you’ve made in the past can help prevent your children and grandchildren from making the same mistakes in the future.
Share your values
How you spend your money is a reflection of what you value. If you have extra funds at the end of the month, do you spend it on entertainment, hobbies, travel, home improvement, charity donations, gifts for family or friends or investing for the future? Talk to your family about how you were able to balance saving for the future with enjoying the present moment, while also giving back to your community. Perhaps your spending/investing/giving priorities have changed over time. What would you do differently with what you know now? This type of insight can be invaluable to younger generations.
Share your knowledge
Even if you don’t have a formal financial education, you’ve learned a lot over the years. How to make (and stick to) a budget, how to manage debt, how to save enough for big purchases like a down payment on a house — these are all perspectives that your children and grandchildren could benefit from.
Share your contacts
Finally, it’s important to introduce your family (if you haven’t already) to your financial advisor, accountant, attorney or any other professionals who are helping you reach your financial goals. Developing these relationships now will help ensure that your wishes are carried out if you become incapacitated or after you pass and allows your beneficiaries the opportunity to enjoy the same high level of experience in the future.