Life’s more serious events seem to get people more serious about finances.
I know when my wife became pregnant with our daughter; all sorts of questions were raised.
- Will you stay home with the baby or continue working?
- How do we pay off remaining debt so that we can afford additional expenses?
- Should we begin investing in our child’s future education (even before he or she is born)?
- What does it cost to have a baby?
With all those questions bouncing around in our heads and popping up over dinner conversations, our desire to find the answers seemed to well, just help us to really focus on financial stewardship.
In hindsight, it’s too bad it takes such big events (good or bad) to cause a more positive shift in one’s focus. But yet, the motivation for financial responsibility somehow emerges whether it’s from within or after seeking some help from a friend or counselor.
Leave An Inheritance
Certainly, as parents the wrong attitude would be to spend all we have in order to enjoy it before we die. A component of stewardship, and getting serious about finances, is managing money wisely so that we can invest in the future of our children.
A good man leave’s an inheritance to his children’s children (Proverbs 13:22).
In fact, I believe it’s Dave Ramsey who often discusses in his teachings that getting your financial situation under control is an opportunity to change your family tree! Let’s dissect that for a moment.
Your Actions Today Can Change Your Family History
Have you ever thought about how your actions today can change your family history? Let me be more direct. The mismanagement of money could impact some of the financial struggles your child may or may not face in the future.
Most people were not brought up under sound money management instruction and guidance within the family. Unfortunately, education within our school systems and even in our immediate family was and is in many cases, still absent.
As an aside, I think every child should go through two courses at the appropriate age: 1) Biblical financial principles; 2) Practical steps and tools for managing money.
Today is an opportunity to change that for your children and their children. By leaving an inheritance, they have an opportunity to start their lives in a more financially stable position.
Get To The Wealth Building Stage ASAP
So as financial stewards and looking beyond providing for college, families should try to get to the wealth building stage so they can create further financial stability and inheritance for children when they become adults.
For me, that sums it up right there. Why tinker around with accumulating debt, paying off debt, accumulating debt, paying off debt, etc. It’s spinning your wheels.
Rather, we should make forward progress and get to the wealth building stage of our destinations so that our family tree can be changed forever. This includes becoming debt free and funding an emergency savings plan so that retirement investing can be started and finally, the savings towards a child’s education.
Ensure Children Avoid College Debt
I think about debt when it comes to saving for children’s education. My parents provided much of my college needs and I’m grateful for that. I know they had to take on some debt to do it, but as loving parents they did everything they could to help position me to leave college with as little student loans as possible.
I want to extend that even further by providing debt free education for my children. I want to pay for their college with cash so they can leave without us both owing anything!
Building Momentum For Your Children
So, in summary, instead of your children digging, scraping and clawing their way to getting out of debt and building an emergency fund, they could skip some of the Baby Steps or Money Map Destinations and go right into wealth building.
That’s right, have you ever considered the importance of this? For many of us, we’re working hard to take steps to move forward on our respective journeys. There is certainly something to be said for hard work.
But, if I we can teach children principles of financial stewardship, practical money management techniques, but also advance them (or start them) further on the Money Map journey, we will have followed the principles from Proverbs 12:22.
Do you plan to leave your children an inheritance? If so, what steps are you taking today to do so?
This is a vey important concern of mine–however, I don’t think it should take precedence over yourself. For example, if you are in debt, why contribute to a college fund for your kids?
You should fix yourself first and then take care of your kids.
Or so I’ve read in many places
David/Yourfinances101´s last post ..Blogging for Dollars
Jason @ One Money Design says
David, I would agree with you. Definitely need to follow the plan of paying of debt and saving towards emergencies before saving for your children.
Yes I plan on leaving my children an inheritance. I am doing that by continuing to pay down debt as fast as possible. I am also funding retirement so I won’t have to bother them with my poor financial situation.
Jason @ One Money Design says
Well done, Ken!
I agree with instilling good financial, biblical advice in your children. I also agree that funding their college education is important. However, as long as I have enough to pay for my own funeral and don’t have to be a financial burden on my children when I am alive, it doesn’t matter to me whether they receive anything above that when I die. I don’t want to spend my whole life working hard and being frugal so that I can die rich. I’ll probably own a house by then, but whether I give that to them when I die is something I will decide in the future. I don’t want my children assuming they will get anything because that encourages laziness on their part. Plus, I’ll probably live to be in my 90s and if they don’t have their financial situation under control by their 60s, they never will.
Jason @ One Money Design says
Noah, you bring up an interesting point. We definitely don’t want an inheritance to be a substitute for our children learning how to earn and work hard. I would think it’s finding the right balance in providing an inheritance and the timing of making it available to them.
I agree. I think the best idea is to put it into a college fund for either children or grandchildren. I guess a will is something that has to be continuously updated depending on how old you and your children are :)
I’d rather have money go towards a grandchild’s education than simply write my children a $50K check.
I agree. This is one of the few things that I disagree with Dave Ramsey on. I think leaving a big inheritance causes the children to have a sense of entitlement and they don’t have any incentive to go out into the world and find their own way and learn their own lessons. And as @Noah says above I might live to be 90 or 100 so really what would that help my children do (maybe not save anything for retirement because they are counting on my money!!!)? And if they are already having money problems they will just blow through it anyway. I will probably give most to charity and then find a way to help with college funds or house downpayments for grandkids and great-grandkids.
My dad is in his 70’s and I hope he lives to be 100, and I’m not counting on anything from him. If he leaves something small for the grandkids that would be great. There is one family member that is really struggling and if he left something big to them, they would soon be in trouble all over again. Maybe there is a way he could just pay off their multiple mortgages or something to make sure the money goes somewhere good! :-)
Michael Prytula says
Two books that unfortunately arent kingdom centered but do have good information to contribute are: Choaking on the silver spoon and Wealth in Families. Wealth in families is interesting in that its written by the major fundraiser for Harvard University and he was able to see firsthand how wealth destroyed Americas wealthiest families and how if stewarded properly could leave lasting legacies.
Kick debt off says
Great Post J!
For me the greatest inheritance you can leave for your child is to teach them how to manage their money. Also as the readers above have noted paying off all my debts and not passing them over to my kids is great; but also understanding that we are it is through our children that we are able to truly demonstrate God’s unconditional love for us.
It’s biblical thing to do Proverbs 13:22 “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.”
Kick debt off´s last post ..Time to write your will
Jason @ One Money Design says
Yes! Well said. I agree that the most important thing we can do is teach children how to be good managers of their money. We should also set examples for them by paying of debt, building an emergency savings, etc.
Joe Plemon says
Well said! It seems the recurring theme is that until we get our own finances under control, leaving an inheritance is only a fuzzy notion. You clarified the hows and whys. I like the idea that an inheritance doesn’t need to wait until you are gone…helping kids through college is an example of a living inheritance.
I think we all agree that the life lessons we teach our kids is the best inheritance we can give.
Yes I plan on leaving an inheritance. I dont want to spend every last penny on myself, then die. My hope along with my kids/grandkids that I can support a couple charities as well leaving a legacy in the family’s name.
As a family we are doing that by staying out of debt, saving for a 6 month emergency fund, saving 15% for retirement, having term life insurance that is 10 times my income, having a college plan for the kids and getting the mortgage paid off early.
I will sacrifice short run “fun” experience for the benefits of the long term prize of hearing “Well done good and faithful servant”.
Karen S says
My mom died and left everything she had to one sister, in a family of 3 children (house, savings, etc.). This obviously caused a lot of hurt and pain in the family beyond the loss of mom. My other sister asked my dad what he is going to do when he dies, and he told her he was going to make sure she (we) get nothing. My dad is remarried and has no other children, and is only concerned with his 2nd wife’s financial situation after he dies. I was raised as a Christian, and both parents are Christians, but is this even Biblical?
“…only concerned with his 2nd wife’s financial situation after he dies”…
Of course that’s Biblical. And for the record, she is not his ‘second wife’ (unless he is currently in a pluralistic marriage?). She is simply ‘his wife’; and therefore his responsibility to her is God ordained.
If your mom were still alive, would she as his wife be his beneficiary upon his death? Or would he not ‘be concerned about her financial well-being after his death’, bypass her and leave it to his daughters? Of course she would have been his beneficiary and on her death if there was something left to give, she would have left it to their children. So the problem is not that he is leaving it to his wife, but that his wife is not your mom – which means she may choose not leave it to you upon her death – especially if she has children of her own. But if they are all Christians, this won’t be the case. She will do what is right in God’s eyes and treat all the children equally and fairly, and honor your father’s legacy. If she doesn’t, then that would be between her and the heavenly Father to sort out.
Enjoy your father while he is still with you, and don’t let petty grievances ruin the moments you still have. Treating people like a golden egg in life or like a winning lottery ticket in death is demeaning – and unChrist-like. God took your mother home early and God later brought this woman into your father’s life to be his wife. With the focus of the children apparently being on the loss of their parent’s money as much as or more than the loss of the parent themselves – I suspect God knew exactly what He was doing and why.
Karen S. says
KLJ – I did not explain the whole (very painful) story, and should have framed my question differently, but your version is a nice story but has no basis in reality. My Bible thumping father was a serial adulterer and left my mother and the family. God did not “take my mother early”, she remained alive and endured great emotional pain because she still loved my dad and would never have divorced him, then she died of cancer. I will not spend much time entertaining your completely false fairy tale, but I seriously doubt that his second wife will do anything differently when my father dies than she has done while he is alive… enjoy the fruits of marrying a much older, wealthy man. Your veiled and demeaning comment that God knew exactly what He was doing and why was probably supposed to put me in my place and sting a bit, but you cannot hurt me more than my father already has. You do remind me of him though; quick to insult and throw God in the mix to make is sound good. As for the loss of my parents themselves, that is a pain we experience already – mom is dead and dad abandoned us years ago, but you will likely blame us for that too given how godly and wise you have been thus far.
There are so many articles about leaving a inheritance, but none, ( biblical perspective ) on how to distribute it, among children, two 4 or in my case 6. I understand that we need to look at multiple angles and calculate so many factors, or just take the easy route and split it all. Is there anything in the bible that supports anything about the older child automatically getting more, or any advice on how to use biblical scripture to support a formula for distribution?
My mothet will get a huge amount of inheritance from her parents but she decided that she will not give us a share. Not even a thousand for us to get buy. I am struggling and sometimes I cant move my arms up coz I need to work hard. I barely earn a lot coz I do odd jobs.
My stomach ache for days when she told me that. She knows my family is struggling. . She said it is her money and she wants to enjoy everything before she died.
I saw selfishness in her. I am not lazy. Ive been working hard and didn’t asked for money from her. I don’t expect her to give us a huge amount but a little to share so I could rest a week without worrying if we have food to eat or to pay the rent.
And she is a born again Christian. .
I lost respect love for her.
The love of this world that she has was revealed to me. She has a good work and she can still work with benefits. While me not a rebel never a problem to her was not helped by own mother.
Until now im hurting. . I wish that the happiness of her own greed give her peace and joy.
My she spends her money not on medicines .
LaToya Watts I says
I am loving this…tho I am 6 odd years later…? Thanks for the blog!!!
Larry Bass says
My Mom is 80, in decent health, and owes nobody anything – but love. Her 3 children, of which I’m the youngest and most successful, are still living. I’ve tried to gently encourage my Mom – for the last 12 years, since my Dad died – to write a will. She can’t seem to commit to it. She is debt free, and lives comfortably on social security and medicare. I recently heard from my oldest sister that Mom is considering signing her home (her last asset) over to the middle child. Mom has already signed all of her vehicles (car, truck, camper) over to this middle sister. My older sister and I believe that Mom is enabling the one child who is least able to handle their/her finances. We are feeling left out in the cold. Advice please…
I didn’t read all the responses however the ones I have read all talk about a financial inheritance as the greatest inheritance. I do not see that in scripture. The greatest and biblical inheritance that we can leave is a Spiritual legacy of following Christ faithfully. Money always runs out but faithfulness lived last from generation to generation. I believe leaving money for your children is not wrong if you have it but leaving the mark of Christ is the greates value.
What if your child is 30 without a job for 2 years and you are not sure she is looking and you have to carry all the costs and are a semi pensioner and can’t afford to just give and give and then shemail gets abus I’ve. Do you still give or stop. You still live her and do and do ways will but is there a time to say enough is enough
Is it a good idea to give children their inheritance before you die? Children work and financially stable. We have a good nest egg to provide for our needs the rest of our lives. We are in our 80s. Children are not Christian.