Christian Financial Planning, Budgeting & Investing

Why Leaving a Legacy for Your Kids Matters

Why Leaving a Legacy for Your Kids Matters

“You can’t take it with you when you die, so spend it all now.”

Maybe you’ve heard something like that said before—basically, spend all your money now because you can’t take it to the grave!

But that type of thinking is so backward and selfish. What about your kids? What about your grandkids? What about your friends and other family members who need hope?

When you build wealth with the idea of helping and serving, you set yourself up to leave a legacy. What if you could buy a house for each of your kids when they get older? Or what if you could take the entire family—your kids, their spouses, your grandkids—on a vacation you paid for with cash? What if you could do that for your kids someday?

Don’t misunderstand. This isn’t about spoiling, enabling or catering to every single whim your kids have. I recently heard a story of an adult who wanted his aging mother to pick a cheaper nursing home in order to protect more of “his” inheritance. How terrible!

You know the type. They were born on third base and think they hit a triple! But leaving a legacy isn’t about that. It’s not about raising spoiled, bratty kids who don’t work and who live off their parents until they’re 35.

This is about changing your family tree. It’s about changing how you think about money—rejecting the idea that debt is normal and embracing the idea that you can do things like pay cash for a car and even a house!

That’s a message my dad, Dave Ramsey, and I taught when we recently filmed our new Legacy Journey course. With The Legacy Journey, which is our follow-up class to Financial Peace University, our goal is to help people start thinking about what’s next after they get out of debt and begin investing. We want people to think long-term, outside of themselves, and make a difference in their families.

Start teaching these principles to your kids as early as you can. We have no problem teaching our kids how to drive safely, but we’ll send them out into the world without any idea how to manage money! That’s nuts!

That doesn’t mean we have to beat them over the head with financial lectures. Remember, more is caught than taught. A lot of times when I was growing up, my mom and dad didn’t even realize they were teaching me anything. I just watched how they lived, worked and managed their income, and those lessons became a part of me.

My parents taught me a work ethic. When we were teenagers, we all had jobs of some type—whether it was babysitting or working retail. When Truett Cathy’s (the founder of Chick-fil-A) kids were growing up, they worked around the restaurants, took out the trash, and even scraped gum off the bottom of tables.

Those are the types of things we need to teach our kids. That way, when they get older and receive their inheritance or step out into the world to make their own way, they will use their talents and resources wisely—like providing hope and allowing their kids to do things they were never able to do.

That’s how you change your family tree. That’s how you leave a legacy for generations to come. No, you can’t take it to the grave with you, but you can leave it behind to bless someone else.

Growing up as Dave Ramsey's kid, Rachel Cruze learned the basic principles of money at an early age. She travels across the country teaching those same principles, in a personal and passionate message of money and hope, to teens and young adults. Rachel’s also the creator of The Graduate’s Survival Guide and the host of Generation Change. To find out more about Rachel, visit or follow her on Twitter at @RachelCruze.

Publication date: August 5, 2013