Let me start by apologizing for the length of this post. I thought the background information was necessary and didn’t want to split it up into multiple posts for this one. I started out trying to write a review of the Legacy Journey Live event, and ended up spilling my heart out instead. You are warned! There will be more posts coming up on the theme of Legacy and what we are leaving for our children and children’s children. Not just materially, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Be watching for it in the next month!
A year and a half ago, HubbaHubba and I were blessed to have been able to take Financial Peace University at our church. Let me start .by saying, if you have never taken FPU, get yourself to Dave Ramsey’s Website and look up a local class and commit to joining before you read any further
Ok, you are now registered for a class? Good. You may now continue reading.
FPU was a massive game changer for us. Knowing what the Bible says about debt is one thing, finding practical ways to implement it in our consumer driven excess of a society is a lot harder. We both came from homes where money was just not really talked about. In my family, if my sister or I asked financial questions, we were always told it was none of our business and not to worry about it. My mom would worry about money a lot. Dad was more of a free spirit and didn’t worry about credit card balances or having money in the checking account at all, so mom took control financially of everything. And I mean everything. She paid all of the bills, did all the shopping and no one had any say in anything at all. Asking if we could buy something she deemed as an extra was always met with derision, scorn and then shaming. No matter what it was we asked for (something more fashionable to wear, a better pair of sneakers than what she had decided we could get, flowers for the dining room table, a different brand of ketchup than what she decided was acceptable…) was always shot down. Wanting something new and especially for ourselves was a sign of greed and selfishness and not being grateful for what we had. Going out with friends rarely happened, especially if it involved money. I learned from her that wanting anything for myself was tantamount to a sin. To this day, I can hardly spend any money on myself. Just ask my poor husband about me spending what I felt was a rather large amount of birthday money on myself last year (it was hardly over fifty dollars…). I’m surprised he was able to be so understanding and kind to me while I vacillated for two hours with hitting purchase on my cart at Amazon….then after I clicked the mouse to purchase that cart load of books I had been dying to read and the Firefly series, I about had a panic attack. Why he didn’t commit me over that, I’ll never know.
It probably didn’t help that my dad really has never been too great when it came to managing finances. If he saw something he wanted, he would buy it. One time, he had no cash and my sister and I did (we were given a small allowance as children, but we were never allowed to spend it. We would sneak it to Wal-Mart in a purse and pretend we could spend it secretly in our heads) and Dad saw something he wanted to purchase. Knowing mom would have had a conniption if he used any of the family’s money for such an item, he asked to borrow the cash my sister and I had on us. Having had the “obey your parents” thing drilled into us so much, we had learned not to question and went ahead and let him have our money. He promised to pay us back. It’s been twenty five years. Dad was also unemployed most of my high school career, which also added to the stress and strain at home. One time, he was laid off from his job for several weeks before I accidentally found out. If my parents had had their way, I probably never would have known about that particular layoff (I was a senior in high school at the time).
So you see, I don’t deal well with money. When I was single, I would earn my paycheck, shove it in the bank and pay my bills and go as cheap as I could on groceries. I also had a habit of having jobs that didn’t pay very well. I thought that was normal. I thought it was normal to have just enough to get by but barely, because I wasn’t worth having enough money. I never bought myself new clothes. Having to replace my shoes caused me to freak out so I always bought the cheapest off the clearance rack, no matter how they really fit or if I liked them. The day I broke down and bought myself a cell phone nearly caused me to have a panic attack and was met with derision from my family, as they believed they were a fad and unnecessary.
FPU showed me how messed up my thinking towards finances was. I knew there had to be a better way to live than how we were (through a series of events we had been living paycheck to paycheck well under the poverty line for our family for most of our marriage. That is another story for another day perhaps. One of God’s provision for sure). I had to confront the way I personally thought about money, how it made me feel, and realize for myself that I can spend a bit of cash on myself and I don’t have to feel guilty over it. I am a work in progress. Sometimes I can handle having money, other times I still freak out over buying groceries and paying the utility bills.
So, it was with great excitement when I opened my email back in April to find that Dave Ramsey was going to be in Tulsa on October 10. After confirming with my husband that he would get the time off work so we could go, I purchased the tickets. Dave was coming to Tulsa as a part of the launch of the new Legacy Journey.
The evening far exceeded any expectations I may have had (it was informative, engaging, the Live Events are FUN [never thought I could say fun and financial in the same sentence…] We laughed, learned, got misty eyed and it was incredible. If you ever get a chance to attend a live event, do so. I really don’t think you would regret going.). The theme of legacy fit in beautifully with the theme of my life in recent years. The last year and a half after FPU and the realizations it brought me in how I relate personally to money, showed me about how I react to these things and how our children are learning by my example. They see me when I start to have issues buying groceries so they get scared we don’t have enough money to live on. They see when I have some spending money for myself how stressed out I get and how it affect s my relationship with them. I don’t want to leave that sort of a legacy for my children. While the Legacy Journey is about building a financial legacy to pass on to others (taking care of now, the future, the family and then others and how each stage builds upon the last ones), one that is full of blessing and sharing of financial blessings, it is much more than that. One can have ample money, yet if they constantly worry about it, hate spending it on anything and let the worry of it not being there control them and their behavior and leave a bitter legacy behind them. I grew up in a financially disadvantaged family, but worse than the legacy of being constantly broke, is the legacy of financial fear and shame. I do not wish to pass that legacy on to my children. If I had to choose between giving my children millions of dollars to manage at the end of my life, or being assured that they had a good attitude about money and didn’t let it bring them worry and shame, I would chose to give them the legacy of peace and freedom instead of the dollars.
Leaving a legacy is so much more than leaving earthly possessions behind when we finally are done with this life. Yes, being able to be a blessing to others financially is an incredible legacy to leave. One I sure wouldn’t mind being able to give. However, if I have the ability to give away money and help out tons of people and not try to help their hearts, what good have I done? What good will it be to give my children a solid financial standing in life if I also pass on my phobias about money? What good is it to have money if it brings you fear? I would not be a good steward of the legacy I am passing on to my children if I instill in them a fear of spending money, of being terrified to use money at all. What kind of a legacy filled with burden is that? It is one I have to live with daily and fight constantly in an attempt to find the proper balance with money in my life. It is a legacy I have no desire to pass on to my children.
The Legacy Journey series/study itself looks phenomenal (I hope to be able to get it on the class schedule at church in the very near future. If not there, we will be getting the series ourselves. It wasn’t in the budget to get at the live event unfortunately). Attending the live event lit a fire under us for sure to finish with the steps in FPU and be more disciplined with how we spend the money entrusted to us. We don’t have a car payment, no credit cards. The only debt left is a bit of my student loans and the mortgage. We live on less than the average household in this country, but it is more than we were living on before. And way more than what the majority of world’s population lives on. We have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams, and can’t wait to be able to be a blessing to others in ways yet to be seen. And through this journey of changing the legacy I was given, I have learned so much. I have learned I don’t have to be a slave to the legacy of guilt and shame that has been given to me. I don’t have to pass the same legacy down to the Bugs and the Beans. In fact, it would be wrong of me to do. So, even though the journey to a better legacy is painful, it is less than the pain of knowing that I am passing on what was passed to me; to the girls. The tastes of freedom that I have had on this journey are sweet, and knowing what life should be like for not only the girls, but for myself will keep spurring me on towards freedom.
So I shall continue on in learning the appropriate place for money, to not let myself feel guilt for spending it on things that are necessary for life, and I will work on not getting stressed over having mad money of my own to spend for myself and on myself. This is just part of my Legacy Journey. I have a lot of other areas to work on to leave a better legacy for my children than the one I was given.
What sort of a financial legacy are leaving to your children? For that matter, have you given any thought to the kind of overall legacy you are leaving behind?