The art of leaving a legacy
Dear Money Lady Readers,
I have written about legacies before but wanted to share this with you again as we enter a new year.
I often travel across the country doing speaking events and this past December I had the privilege of speaking to a charitable organization. After the event, I spent some time with a group of women, all over 70, who were very active in their communities. As I worked my way through the group, meeting all these wonderful women, I realized each had single-handedly enriched their retirements by supporting a cause they believed in. They seemed younger than their years and they were happy and vibrant. They came from various backgrounds, most were widowed or single, and they were from both urban and rural areas of their province.
I was very impressed. You see, they had all created unique legacies through the act of service to others. It struck me that these women had true purpose, they were all involved in different things, and they were very happy. This is not the norm. Most retirees are quite the opposite, with Statistics Canada saying in 2020 that three out of four Canadian single retirees over 74 suffered from depression (due to illness, lack of mobility, or loneliness).
So, how can we make this year better than the last?
When we reach our elder years, many retirees tend to lead very solitary lives, either because of lost mobility or through boredom. Most watch far too much TV. I agree that television can sometimes be a fun way to pass the time but watching too much – especially the news shows on a daily basis – can cause depression or even deepen it.
This year I challenge all of us to get off the couch and create our own personal legacies. It’s almost guaranteed that getting involved in something will bring you happiness, a sense of purpose and the magical feeling that comes with helping someone, no matter your age.
So, what is a legacy? A legacy is something either monetary or meaningful that represents a single person – you. It speaks to what you believe in and should reflect all your values over a lifetime, ensuring that your memory has a positive and lasting impression long after you have passed away.
Here are some examples of ways you can create your own legacy, get involved to help others, or start feeling better about simply being there for someone in need.
• Leadership or community legacies – This is a legacy that supports a public cause. It may be something that you set up in your community to motivate others to evoke change and create goodwill. You will most likely would need to invest a great deal of time and effort, but if it is a cause you believe in, then do it. Some examples are helping the homeless, feeding children school lunches, cleaning up and refurbishing a park or creating a group to rescue stray cats.
• A charitable gift of your time – There are so many organizations that rely solely on the generosity of people helping a cause. For example, if you love animals, you could donate your time at the SPCA. If you like reading, donate your time to read to someone in the hospital. Or, if you like to sew or knit, make baby clothes or tea towels for a women’s shelter. In Canada, there are over 85,000 registered charities. Another thing to consider is donating your time on a board or council. Charities and corporations are always wanting well-seasoned professionals that can assist their boards of directors.
• Gift of life legacies – Why not give blood or, better still, donate your time at the Canadian Red Cross. You could also donate your time at a local hospital, as they are always looking for help and support.
• Reflective legacies – This is your opportunity to tell your story – literally. Reach out to relatives you haven’t seen in years and rekindle some old stories. Have a monthly dinner or cocktail party and invite old friends. You could even have a tea party for your grandchildren and spend the afternoon telling them about their family history and your life story. Guaranteed, they will cherish this time with you, and you will have created a lasting memory.
Remember, everyone should try to live their life in a way that creates lasting memories to provide a meaningful legacy to their family and others.
Ask the Money Lady
Christine Ibbotson is a Canadian finance writer, radio host and YouTuber. For more advice check out her YouTube channel: Ask the Money lady – Your Canadian Finance Coach. Visit her website at www.askthemoneylady.ca or send a question to email@example.com