Jan 24 2011

Changing your family tree

lonely tree in the snow

(Photo Santorizzuto)

Dave Ramsey often discusses what it means to change your family tree. When you get your financial house in order, your efforts can have a strong impact on your family.

In the short-term, if family sees that you are working hard to pay off debt, build savings, and live below your means, your family might be inspired to do the same. They might share ideas for cutting expenses or beginning new streams of income.

The positive effects can extend beyond that simple influence.

If you have children, you can show them how to be smart with their money. You can teach them how to spend less than they earn, avoid debt, and save for the future. If those lessons take hold and your children teach their children, then you are really reaching a large portion of your family tree.

And if you’re in the financial position to do so, you’ll be able to help your children by saving for their futures. At the very least, you (hopefully) won’t be a financial burden on your children.

The Bible tells us:

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.” (Proverbs 13:22 ESV).

If you get out and stay out of debt, make savings a priority, and buy life insurance, then yeah, you probably will be able to leave something to your grandchildren. Pretty simple, really. And yet, pretty cool!

I like to think that my own children will be responsible with money and that it will extend to their children and beyond. And if I am able to leave my grandchildren a financial inheritance, I hope that they will use it in a way that will keep on improving the family tree.

Consider what might happen if you’re heavily in debt. You won’t be in a position to financially help your children get a head start in life. You probably won’t be able to give them much money (if anything at all) for college. If they don’t get a full ride, they’ll probably have to borrow money for their education. It could take them a decade or more to pay off, and if they don’t buckle down and pay it all off as fast as they can, then the cycle could continue with their own children.

I think most parents want their children to have it better than they had it.

Have you considered the impact you’re making on your family tree?

2 Responses to “Changing your family tree”

  1. I LOVE this post! Generational poverty is such a real concern and I see it happening with my own family. My parents could not afford college, so I have a hefty amount of student loans on my plate. I was not as frugal in college as I should have been, so I definitely own a big piece of that.

    I am so thankful that my husband and I have had very frank talks about finances and getting out of debt. We want to be responsible and make sure that we discuss finances with each other and with our children. I think a big part of our financial mistakes are due to the lesson our parents taught us that it is ‘taboo’ to speak about finances. So, we’re a little late to the party, but we’re cleaning up our act and we definitely want to save for our retirement and for our children’s future. Hopefully we can be frank about finances and teach our children from our mistakes and our triumphs!

  2. Courtney, you are absolutely changing your tree! Your kids will be in great shape thanks to your current sacrifices in getting debts paid. I know you will teach them well! Also, I know you’ve done well in showing others how to coupon and get deals at thrift stores. You are so inspiring!

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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