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COLUMN: Ask the Money Lady – Create a personal legacy

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Dear Money Lady Readers: I have written about legacies before but wanted to share it with you again as we enter a new year.

I often travel across the country doing speaking events and had the privilege of speaking to a charity in December. After the event, I spent some time with a group of ladies, (all over 70 years), who were very active in their communities. As I worked my way through the group, meeting all these wonderful women, I realized each one had single handily enriched their retirements by supporting a cause they believed in. They seemed younger than their years, they were happy, vibrant and all beautiful women. All from various backgrounds, most were widowed or single, and all from urban and rural areas of the province. I was very impressed. You see, they all had one thing in common: creating their own 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 Stats Canada, (2020) saying three out of four Canadian single retirees over 74 suffer 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 do very solitary activities, either because of lost mobility or simple boredom. Most watch far too much TV. I agree that TV sometimes can be a fun way to pass the time, however, watching too much TV; especially the news shows on a daily basis, have been proven to create depression or even deepen it.

This year I challenge all of us to get off the couch and create our own personal legacy. Guaranteed – getting involved will bring you happiness, a sense of purpose and that magical goodness of helping someone; no matter what your age. So, what is a legacy? A legacy is something that is either monetary or meaningful and 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. This may be something that you setup in your community to motivate others to evoke change and create goodwill. You most likely would need to invest a great deal of time and effort, however if it is a cause you believe in, then do it! Examples could be: helping homeless, feeding children school lunches, cleaning up and refurbishing an area for a park, providing a group for stray cats, etc.

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 (they are always looking for people to help). 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 here is to donate your time on a Board or Council. Charities and corporations are always wanting well-seasoned professionals that can assist on their Board of Directors.

Gift of Life Legacies: Why not give blood or better still donate your time at the Canadian Red Cross. Donate your time at the hospital (they are in dire need for help and support).

Reflective Legacies: This is your opportunity to tell your story – literally. Reach out to any relatives that you haven’t seen in years and rekindle some old stories. Have a monthly dinner or cocktail party to 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. It is important for you to make your “mark” before you die. Make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to do so. For more information about other types of Legacies, please watch my YouTube videos at ASK THE MONEY LADY or you can always email me your questions on my website at: www.askthemoneylady.ca

Christine Ibbotson is a Canadian finance writer, radio host & YouTuber. For more advice check out her YouTube channel: ASK THE MONEY LADY – Your Canadian Finance Coach.

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