By: Matt Addington, WorthPointe Partner and Financial Planner · Fort Worth
As wealth managers, one of our most important responsibilities is helping clients pass on a positive financial legacy to their loved ones. We do what we can to help them avoid pitfalls, lose money in a down market, concentrate in areas when they shouldn’t and take on too much risk.
I just returned from a family-oriented mission trip to San Cristobal, Guatemala, that gave me plenty of food for thought about leaving a legacy – and reinforced how fortunate we are to live where we live and have everything we have. I shared this weeklong experience with my 11-year-old son.
We flew to Guatemala City from D/FW and then had a five-hour van ride to San Cristobal, where we stayed on the campus of a school serving kindergartners to 9th graders. The kids were very curious about us, and we enjoyed hanging out with them; we played a little soccer, taught them some crafts and hugged the littlest students.
Our group, which consisted of my son and me and four or five other families, then went to a public school, where we saw the effect of significant poverty. We played games with the kids for about 90 percent of our time there and spoke and taught for the other 10 percent.
Manual labor was also a part of this trip, as we helped with work projects on the campus where we stayed, digging ditches, busting up concrete, and carrying concrete and dirt in wheelbarrows to support preparations for a new road. And, we visited a market where it was interesting to see people come together to buy vegetables, live turkeys and chickens, and other goods.
The “aha” moments for all of us — including my son — occurred when we visited a local village consisting of five families who lived on the edge of a mountain in what could only be called shanties. They had no electricity, no running water and no sewer — and the kids didn’t even have shoes.
Teams that had visited this village before us had donated water containers that would hold a couple hundred gallons of rainwater. The cost of $160 made such a purchase otherwise unobtainable for these people. We continued the effort by donating a container to ensure three of the five families had fresh water, and raised money for the other two.
Even though the families knew we were coming, the sheer joy on their faces when we presented our container was wonderful to behold. We also brought food, which they accepted with delight.
For the kids, we had tennis balls, soccer balls and footballs, and they were thrilled. My son tossed a tennis ball with a boy who never stopped smiling, and a little girl grabbed a football and held onto it like it was her dearest possession. (It probably was.) It really just broke our hearts to see how much these small gestures meant to these people.
That’s when the issue of legacy hit me — the fact that everyone passes down a legacy, whether it’s good or bad. In this village, the moms and dads go to work but don’t earn much, and their kids often don’t go to school. The legacy that’s being passed down is basically one of work but barely make it; it’s a poverty mentality.
Most of us in this country can do far better than that — and we at WorthPointe are focused on ensuring that your financial legacy is as robust as possible. We really should give thanks every day for what we have.
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