My Motivation to Achieve Financial Success – Legacy

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Before today’s post, I wanted to share that I recently took part in the Behind the Screen Interview Series at FamilyMoneyPlan. You can check out my interview with Andrew here.

My Motivation to Achieve Financial Success – Legacy

A brand-new home with every amenity.

Freedom from stress and the day-to-day rat race.

Full control over your life and your finances.

When it comes to money, we all are motivated by different factors. Those motivating factors can also change over time based upon our formative life experiences.

However, for as long as I can remember, my motivation to achieve financial success has always been about one primary factor:


My motivation to achieve financial success has always been about one thing: legacy.

My Model of Motivation

I have written extensively in the past about the impact my Grandpa had on my life and my outlook on work ethic, success, and money. Since he passed away just over three years ago, a day has not passed in which I fail to think about him and the incredible legacy he left behind.

While many people do not aspire to leave a legacy or make a profound impact upon their loved ones, my Grandpa knew exactly what he and my Grandma were doing. I learned this at a very early age.

As a young child, I vividly recall the long walk to the lake one warm July 4th evening. As was customary, the entire extended family – Grandpa and Grandma, several aunts and uncles, and far too many cousins to count – had set out well before dusk to stake out our seats for the evening firework show.

To be clear, I cannot recall if my memories of what happened next are firsthand or simply recollections of the story; strangely, time has a way of clouding memories. Regardless, I will always remember the words my Grandpa spoke to my Grandma and as they walked side-by-side and lead the way to our usual seats.

“Look what we did, Mother,” he said, glancing over his shoulder at our entire family.

We were Grandpa’s proudest accomplishment. We were his legacy.

With my Grandpa in 2012
With my Grandpa in 2012

I think back on that story often. In many ways, it ranks as one of the most formative experiences of my childhood. In that moment, I learned a valuable lesson on what is truly important in life.

In my eyes, my Grandpa had it all: a long, relatively-healthy life; a beautiful home; considerable, though undeclared, wealth; and the freedom to do as he pleased. Yet, his family meant far more to him than all earthly possessions.

Yes, my Grandpa loved money. In fact, when I spoke at his funeral, I shared the true story of the time he opened his wallet and a moth flew out. Like a typical, hard-working Dutch man, he was not in any hurry to spend his hard-earned money. But he had his priorities in order. He was generous and kind when it mattered most, especially to family and friends.

I often wonder if my priorities, too, will stand the test of time.

On the surface, I have no doubt that many of my friends and loved ones completely misunderstand my money motivations. To many of them, I am sure I appear to be greedy, miserly, or a workaholic. Some may even think I must be self-obsessed and vain.

However, I believe short-term sacrifice is worth the long-term gains waiting to be realized. Over my lifetime, I have learned that it is the motivation behind one’s actions, not the actions alone, which deserves scrutiny.

My wife and I aren’t working hard to inflate our current lifestyle, live it up in the present, and run the risk of burn-out. No, we are sacrificing in the short-term in order to build our ability to focus on what is truly important to us five, ten, and twenty years from now. In a culture which places the highest value on instant gratification, we are embracing the opposite.

Once in a while,  when it feels like I’m burning the wick at both ends, I like to hit the streets for an evening run and clear my head. Invariably, my thoughts drift and I begin to form visions of the future: our future kids playing in the yard, sending them off to college without any debt, walking my daughters down the aisle on their wedding days, and taking the entire family, grandchildren included, on a two-week getaway to Disney World. Those thoughts are the magical panacea for my weariness.

In the present, those visions represent a future worthy of current sacrifice and hard work.

Those thoughts – my future family and the experiences I hope to provide for them – will be a significant part of my legacy.

What motivates you to achieve financial success?



31 thoughts on “My Motivation to Achieve Financial Success – Legacy

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, it’s a great one, I’ll add a link to it.
    Your grand pa must have been a really nice person and he obviously had a strong influence on your decisions. It’s always a great motivator to have a role model you can identify with, especially when they’re so close.
    With such a strong motivation to reach financial success, I have no doubt you’ll succeed.

    1. Thanks, MM. Grandpa was a little rough around the edges – he knew that and embraced it. But on the inside, he was a big teddy bear.

      When I left for college as a freshman, I’ll never forget his goodbye. He shook my hand, sneakily placing a $10 bill in my hand, gave me a hug, and choked back tears the entire time. He was a great role model and sounding board.

  2. It’s great that you had a mentor/role model like your grandpa in your life. My wife and three children provide my motivation. We want to provide the best finance start for our children and be prepared for a great second half for my wife and I.

  3. Thanks for sharing such a personal story.

    I find legacy to be an important motivator for me. I want to leave the world a better place than I found it, even if that is just in small ways or in my impact on the people close to me.

  4. Great post. Our motivation was all of the things that you listed. Your thoughts reminded me of the new(er) Dave Ramsey book that is themed on leaving a multi-generational family legacy with your wealth. It’s a good, short read.

  5. It is always special to learn what peoples driving force is. It sounds like your grandfather was a truly amazing person. It is a great reminder as well for when things feel like an uphill battle (as it does to all of us at some time or another). It may feel tough going uphill, but when you glance over your shoulder and see all that you have accomplished, it feels oh so worth it.

  6. My parents will likely leave us a nice inheritance when they pass but my hope is that we will only be able to add to it and leave it for future generations as part of our legacy. We have sacrificed along the way for our kids, but nothing more than my own parents sacrificed. We also want to be able to give as a big part of our legacy too. Nice post – thanks for sharing!

  7. Love the motivation here! I think for me it’s mainly just never wanting to be someone who has to work till the day they die. Also being able to take an entrepreneurial risk at some point if I have an idea I really want to pursue, while being in a good financial position.

  8. You’re lucky you had such an inspirational grandfather in your life. He definitely left quite an impression on you. I think it’s great you are working hard to leave your own legacy now too. Keep it up!

    1. I also live somewhat far from family, Julie – though we aren’t on opposite coasts. That must be awful.

      With your savings rate, you’re poised to leave a pretty awesome monetary legacy to your family!

  9. Your grandfather seems like he was a great guy! So glad you learned a lot from him. What motivates me to achieve financial success is the seeing from my parent’s lifestyles how damaging lifestyle inflation and debt can be. Both of them made great salaries at their jobs but they also bought new cars often, purchased larger than they needed houses, spent on unnecessary cosmetic home renovations and weren’t really conscious with their money. I never want that to happen to me. So far I think I’ve been doing pretty good! Just have to finish paying off the student loans I have.

  10. It’s funny, you’d think that money in and of itself is a motivator (if not, then why would you go to work for your salary?). But I love how you dug in here, and I think that the more people realize why they’re in this “Money Hunt” (lifestyle, protection, hanging out with Mickey Mouse and the fam for two weeks) the easier it becomes to reach their goals. After all, it’s less about “the number” than what “the number” can allow you to do. Love the post!

  11. This story is beautiful and so touching and I love “Look what we did, Mother.”

    I can see how people may misunderstand your intentions on achieving financial success, but after reading this I completely understand. Thanks for sharing.

  12. I love hearing other people’s personal stories about motivation. Your grandparents clearly had a profound impact on you and I agree with you 100% on how you look to your friends. I probably look like a “cheap *fill in the blank*” to my friends and they have told me that but I’m not doing it for them, I’m doing it for myself so I try not to let it get to me (it does at times).

    My motivation came from my mother. It was a simple sentence she said to me but after she said it, I set my mind straight. Thanks for sharing!

  13. That’s great that you have such nice memories of your grandfather and learned so much from him. It’s funny how so much wisdom is passed by observation rather than speaking too.

    Sounds like you are on the right track and the goals motivating you are the right ones!

  14. Not wanting to have children, I think of my legacy in a slightly different way. I want to adopt causes and people who need love. I want to surround myself in community that I can support in whatever way they need. I want to turn away from work and help a friend in need for however long it takes. I want to leverage my money to have the most impact. Right now, my girlfriend has a short-term high-stress job she loves. It will be over soon. I’m using this time to invest in her. I take care of many of her life-maintenance activities (for cheap) so that she can focus on doing the high-level work she is doing without having to worry about light bulbs, etc. Her life is easier because I’m acting in this way. My legacy will include actions like this, and these actions will only improve when my money situation improves.

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