The why is what steers the ship. This industry is full of how propositions, but few advisors are willing to ask the more important question to their clients: Why? There’s a tendency to short- circuit the relationship – a reluctance to dedicate the time needed to understand clients and their values. As a consequence, few of us consider our why when we think of our financial futures, the choices we make to direct our money, and our legacies.
After years of philanthropy-guided financial planning, I can say, unambiguously, that charitable giving is the most powerful tool we have to leave an impactful legacy. Giving is a practice that extends beyond our financial futures and our nuclear families. It lays the infrastructure of what we leave behind and the positive impact we make upon the world, and of how well we serve the greater good. Society reaches greater heights when individuals have a motivation to share. But getting comfortable with giving while feeling secure in your financial future can be difficult.
Ultimately, even the lowest earners in society can give with the right planning and an unequivocal why. Just ask Oseola McCarty, the washerwoman from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who saved every nickel and dime she could. Before she died in 1999 at the age of 91, she was able to give $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi to set up a scholarship fund in her name. Her inspiring philanthropy is proof that with the right attitudes, we can all improve the world around us.
The question then becomes, how can we find a why like Oseola’s? That answer, and the ways in which we reach it, will be different for everyone. We’re all on our own journeys and have had unique life experiences that will inevitably shape our answers. As such, there isn’t one simple and succinct answer. There are millions. There are, however, ways of thinking about your life and approaching your money that can help you drill down to the bedrock of your why.
Change Your Perception of Money
Not one of us wants to be Ebenezer Scrooge, stacking our coins at the expense of an extra coal
on the fire and the comfort that would come with it. In our youth, it was so easy to get caught up in the money game – money becoming an end, in and of itself. We can grow beyond that view to understand that money itself isn’t the important thing, but rather all else that it affords us – our independence, our homes, our families, our lifestyle, our legacy. When money becomes merely a means to those ends, we can begin to think more clearly, and more fearlessly, about our why.
Craft a Detailed Value Statement
Spell out what is important to you in plain detail. Commit it to paper. You likely already have a rock-solid plan in place for the futures of your children and grandchildren. What does the rest of your list look like? Has a certain disease impacted your life or the life of a loved one? Is there a
cause like education or your community that you feel passionately about? What changes do you want to see in society and the world around you? Conducting an audit of our values is how we uncover the things we hold most dear. From there, our why comes into focus.
Finding your why is the first step toward building a legacy that counts, and the road to get there won’t always be an easy one. As long as your heart is committed to the causes you care about – your why – and you’re able to establish a solid giving plan with a trusted financial advisor, your stewardship and the positive changes you make to society can secure for you a lasting legacy that will make you and your family proud.
*All content provided in this blog is supplied by Patrick Renn and is for informational purposes only. Barclaycard takes no position as to the views, and makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.
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