How Do You Want To Be Remembered?
Generosity can be a challenging subject to talk about. In fact, I’ve re-written this post a half dozen times this week trying to write it in a way that’s impactful for you, the reader.
Yet talking about generosity and encouraging you to be generous is what God has called me to do. The reason is simple: your generosity creates a bounty of positive impacts. Not only on those that are the receiving end of your generosity. But also on you – the giver. Generosity is intimately linked with joy and happiness in the giver’s life.
What is Generosity?
When I say the word “generous” the first thing that probably pops into your mind is the act of giving money away.
Yet generosity comes in many flavors. Think back to the top 1-2 people that have impacted your life. If you boil down the qualities that made them so special they were likely generous in ways that didn’t pertain to money. Their time. Their attention. Their love. These are precious “assets” that we can be generous with.
There are many ways you can express generosity in your life. Don’t miss that. But I do believe special things happen when you start thinking about how you can be generous with your money. Money is hard to part ways with. When you overcome the hurdle of “I don’t want to give my money away” you’ll be able to see how YOU are able to change the world around you!
What’s Your “Legacy?”
When I’m working with a client on their financial plan, it is by nature numbers-focused. For a lot of people, financial planning means numbers and they’re focused on making sure their numbers are on the right track. Obviously, this is important, but it’s not everything.
I like to ask people a basic question: “How do you want to be remembered?” Try this exercise: Imagine yourself attending your own funeral. What are people saying about you? They’ll chuckle about your quirks, sayings, and other aspects of your personality. And that’s great. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we want to be remembered for more than that.
Here’s why being generous is so important. By nature, generosity is others-focused. And when you’re doing things to positively impact others, they’re going to remember you. And when they have fond memories of you, they’re going to remember you long after you’re gone.
Suddenly you’re known as someone who made a difference in the lives of others. And THAT, my friends, is what it means to live a rich life.
Parents, Teach Your Children Well
Don’t limit the conversation about ways you can be generous to between you and your spouse. If you have children living at home, get them involved as well.
Kids are surprisingly attentive to those in need around them. I give a simple money class to kids at a local retailer and talk about how they can use the money they’ve earned. My basic framework is: Spend, Save, and Give.
Two things have always surprised me in these classes:
- When I present an opportunity to spend the money, save money, or give money to a pretend puppy in need, 100% of the time the kids elect to give the money away. 100%.
- When I’ve talked to kids about giving money, they’ve always had examples of people in their own lives who had needs. Classmates that didn’t have school supplies. Or some charity they’ve seen that made them take notice.
My own daughter has called me out! We were at Costco once and were asked if we wanted to donate money to a children’s hospital in Chicago. I said, “Not this time.” As soon as we walked away, my daughter asked me, “Daddy…why don’t you want to help those kids?” I was blown to pieces.
My point is this, involving your kids in the discussion about how your family can be generous to others can have an impact on them that lasts a lifetime. It gets them to think creatively about how they can help other people. If you’re having these conversations with them on a regular basis, it forms a habit within them to be attentive to the needs of others. It’s conversations like these where family legacies are born and society is changed.
The “Why” Is What’s Important, Not “How Much”
You have to be careful with your mindset when you’re starting to walk with a generous mindset. Since I’m a Christian, I’ll share two verses from the Bible to illustrate some important points to keep in mind.
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.“
Don’t give in order to receive praise from others. We have to be very careful to keep our giving motives pure. If our motivation for giving is to receive praise from others, Jesus warns us that we’re nothing more than hypocrites. We give because it’s the right thing to do. We give because there are real people in need. We shouldn’t be giving to receive adoration within our social circles.
“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
The amount you give isn’t what matters. It’s the sacrifice you took to give that money. Unfortunately, I’ve seen people get bogged down thinking, “Well, all I can afford is $20. That’s nothing compared to Mrs. Smith who just gave $200.”
As Jesus instructs here, it’s not the amount we give but the sacrifice we made to give that money. “Giving out of abundance” is easy. Giving when you’re on a tight budget is harder.
Let me tell ya, I have NEVER seen anyone who gave money on a tight budget regret their decision to give.
Make sure you’re focusing on the “Why,” not the “How Much.” Doing so will lead to a much greater feeling of satisfaction and joy.
Take a chance with being generous
As a financial advisor, it’s important to me that my clients gain a sense of fulfillment and joy from what they’re doing with their money. Saving and investing money for the future is great but it’s not what gets clients out of bed every morning.
Generosity brings out the best in people. I really believe that. And when a client is generous they discover the purpose behind what they’re doing with their financial resources.
Generosity gives you the opportunity to engage in projects and people that are important to you. It gives you the opportunity to shape the community around you. And best of all, it gives you the opportunity to shape the future of your family for generations to come.
So let me ask again: “How do you want to be remembered?”
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