Give Before You Go: Create a Living Legacy Today

I’ve always been ambivalent about my own wealth. You might even say that I’m obsessed with implementing a plan to give it all away (after we’re gone, of course). To that end, I wrote a post about a year ago on finding a financial “steward in the age of blended families.”

The gist is that it can be tough to appoint someone to safeguard and disperse your wealth in accordance with your wishes after you’re gone — particularly if you don’t have children and aren’t close with your siblings. You need to find someone trustworthy and like-minded (and who is reasonably expected to outlive you) to take on the responsibility. As of this writing, my search for this person continues.

But What About Giving Today?

The personal finance community mostly talks about “accumulation” and budgeting. I’m not saying I’m finished with all that, but there are some other things I’d like to focus on.

One of my recent influences has been @savemycents who uses Instagram to inspire and teach about personal finance. Her core message includes a goal of 10% tithing which I find admirable and motivating. It made me consider how I could give to others before my passing. I’ve noticed that people talk a LOT about how good it is to give. But for me, pulling the trigger on making it happen requires thought and effort.

Why It Matters Right Now

Next week, I’m going in for an operation to have my hip replaced. It’s one of the few times in my life where I’ve had to “go under the knife” for something serious. I’m mentally ok with it right now, but it raises some issues about things I want to have taken care of before that happens. Just in case. You see, while my wife and I have a will established, the document doesn’t contain instructions for how to bequeath specific items.

What I’m Doing About It

I’ve been thinking about how I can make a positive impact on my world, my circle, today. It occurred to me that I have a couple of options. I can set someone else up for success — or I can give someone a thoughtful gift. I ultimately decided to do both.

Provide an Educational Edge

After speaking with a good friend of mine, I decided to set up an educational fund for his grandson. My friend’s daughter is a single mom to the child so this would be a great way to help the family out. With no children of my own, this would also be an opportunity to support the education of a young person.

My ultimate goal is to create a fund that will grow to a balance of 10k and can be used for any scholarly expense deemed appropriate. It’s not necessarily earmarked for college — that’s too far off. I want to provide him with a real educational edge to compete in the future – starting now.

I let my wishes be known to my wife and I’m scheduled to have lunch with my friend next week. Letting others in on the plan makes me feel better about it being carried out.

Give a Thoughtful Gift

Two men who give each other support and friendship.
Kindred New Yorkers

Me and my friend (the grandfather I referenced above), have shared some good times since we became buddies at a former mutual employer back in 2007. Since I’m a transplant New Yorker and he’s a native New Yorker, we hit it off. He’s a few years older than me, but we share enough of the same generation that we have a lot of common ground. One of those shared experiences is an admiration for the basketball superstar, Julius “Dr. J” Erving. Thinking about that shared ground the other day, I came up with an idea that I wanted to make happen.

Recently, I’ve been having some of my sports memorabilia items “certified“. I wanted to give him one of my “certified” basketball cards that has a decent value. This card (below) depicts a few things that we share. One black player, one white player — both joined by Julius Erving. Sometimes it seems like life writes itself…right?

Bird, Erving, Magic Rookie card

I discussed this gift with my wife even though I acquired the card before I met her. This card symbolizes a lot about an era. The value is roughly $1K, so it’s a good step toward my goal of sharing my wealth now. I’m not really sure how much of a “practical” gift this is, because I doubt he’ll ever liquidate it. But I know he’ll be a good steward of it and it’s something he can share with his grandson which, in some way, ties us all together.

Final Thoughts

While I certainly don’t want to give away the farm right this second, I’ve come to realize the importance of being generous in the present. With some careful consideration, I can brighten the world around me at any time. The ripple effects of my kindness will go on infinitely in some way — and it feels good to leave a legacy before I’m gone.

Tell me — what are you doing to create your living legacy?

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