When it comes to the topic of gift giving, moms are always the best, am I right? If you’re a male reading this and thinking Dave, what are you talking about? I give great gifts! Turn to your closest female friend or family member and ask what birthdays, holidays or special occasions are coming up. You’ll be surprised that there’s a whole separate calendar of all of these dates, unbeknownst to men – that only women have the ability to keep track of, often only in their heads.
This is proven over and over in my initial planning conversations when I ask a married couple how long they’ve been married – the guy always knows how long, but what stumps him is the date. It’s 50/50 whether he answers with a question back at his better half, or just looks to her to provide the answer.
Some could say this speaks ill of men, but that’s not my take. Historically, men tend to be hunter/gatherers, and our better halves tend to be the nourishers and the keepers of history. Which brings me to my point (no, I wasn’t actually talking about Cave Man and his Woman). In every family, there is someone who is responsible for the bad jokes and family lore. And there’s someone else whose role is to pass on the family legacy, traditions, recipes, work ethic, religion, or the basics in how to create a home and seasonally decorate.
No one remembers which parent helped them turn on the water and electricity in their first apartment. But I bet you remember the first birthday or holiday card, or thinking-of-you card, or care package that you received from a woman in your life, whether mom, grandmother, aunt or first girlfriend. In light of this, I often wonder why there aren’t more women in the male-dominated field of financial planning. I turn to my dad to talk about certain things for sure, but I talk to my mom about the details of life, and the stuff I might be embarrassed to talk to dad about. Mom would never judge or make fun, and while her answer might not be what I wanted to hear, it will always be wise and spot-on.
When it comes to giving the gift of financial planning, we in the industry often think, hey, just write us a check and we’ll help out your kid. (Note – we’re totally good with checks and referrals!) But what’s often overlooked – whether you’re a mom to your own children or favorite aunt to someone else’s – is the gift of your life experiences, memories and financial wisdom. That could be your childhood memories, your first interactions with money, how your family viewed money, or what you valued. Everyone has an uncle who hit oil out in Wyoming (or at least I do, even if I have nothing to show for it…). But you may also have someone in your family who had that entrepreneurial spirit and started a business from home, just like my great-great-grandmother would shake the pecan trees in Marietta, Georgia so she could send my grandfather to Bible College where he would become roommates with this Graham fellow who went by Billy. Of course we all also have that uncle who shows you what not to do in life, but that’s a story for another day.
I encourage you all to think back and make notes on your own stories, experiences and family lore (whether you’re proud or not), and take the time to share that with the next generation. To put it in business terms, when I first got my brokerage license back in the late 90s, they told me to pick up the yellow pages, make calls, introduce myself, and ask every person who answered if they were concerned about the price of oil and gas. Fast-forward 25 years and I’m pretty sure that exact conversation still works.
For those of you who lived through the Vietnam War, the oil embargo and high inflation in the 1970s, the first devaluation of the ruble, the savings and loan banking crisis, Tiananmen Square, the tech bubble, the housing bubble, and then somehow survived this pandemic, maybe there are a few stories and lessons you can pass on to the next generation. What have you lived through, and what have you learned? Are today’s problems really that different? There’s always an opportunity to give the gift of your life experiences to your family members, and that’s something that only you can give them — no one else has lived your life.
So yes, while we certainly want you to send us your family, coworkers, neighbors and church friends, we also want to remind you to take the time to share your life story and the financial and life lessons you’ve learned with your loved ones. And if you’ve read this far, write a couple of those stories down and share them with us in your next planning meeting. The entire Family Financial Partners team would love to hear them.
Article by David Smyth, Senior Partner at Family Financial Partners — a financial services firm in Lexington, Kentucky.
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