What Money Legacy Will You Leave Behind?

written by Bari Tessler October 13, 2020
What Money Legacy Will You Leave Behind?

Dear Friend:

Here we are, at our last Money Mocha for this year, and this one’s a tender one. It’s about legacies…money legacies. Those we’ve inherited from others and those we’ll leave behind for others to inherit from us.

I often tell people that money touches every part of our lives. Every. Part. The way we relate to money even affects other people’s lives long after we’ll leave this Earth for the great journey beyond.

Not many people think about what money legacies they’ve picked up from their parents or other relatives that were around when we were growing up. And fewer people think about what money legacies they’ll leave for others to pick up.

But today…we’re going to put it on the table. Something deeper and more meaningful than what you’re probably used to thinking about when it comes to personal finance.

I’m going to tell you the story about the time my father had a stroke and I went to be with him in the hospital…and all that I learned in my time with him about money legacies.

Money, meaning, and what really matters in life.

What money legacy will you leave behind when you’re gone? What are you teaching those around you right now about how to do this money dance?

Join me for a short money legacy story here, and then spend some time journaling about this and see what dreams may come:


A tender story about money legacy. This is a story about my father and I; The money legacy I received from him, what I am choosing to do with it and what money legacy I want to leave behind.

It took me years to unravel all the money dynamics my father and I created together, to forgive the hurt, to claim my own worth and value and to recognize the gifts he gave me even in our toughest challenges. You see, we all inherit a money legacy, but it’s our choice what we do with it. And, we all leave behind a money legacy. It’s our choice what we do with it.

Whether you leave behind 14 grandchildren, a circle of friends or close colleagues and clients, whether you leave behind trust funds, inheritances and real estate or nothing more tangible than memories – although those are all equally as important – even if you never explicitly talk to anyone about money, your attitudes, beliefs and values will touch those around you and outlive you. It’s up to you to consciously choose what money legacy you want to create. If you admire your great grandmother’s thrift and generosity, you can claim these values as part of your money legacy and amplify them in your own life.

If you inherited wounded, stressful beliefs around money from your grandfather, you can choose to transmute those beliefs and pass on something far kinder and gentler to those who survive you. Money legacy is the loving combination of past, present and future. It’s noticing what parts of your past need to be healed, shifted and honored. It’s bequeathing compassion and mindfulness to those who survive you and it’s living the legacy you want to create right here, right now.

We can choose to release the traumas and hurts of our past. We can choose to emphasize our strengths. We can bring our deepest values into our money relationship. There’s so much suffering in the world around money. This area of our lives is laden with karma and taboo, wounding and shame. But we can choose to face this and forgive in our own lifetimes. When we become more conscious, healed and compassionate with money in our own lives, we model a new, more honest and mindful lifestyle for everyone around us and for generations to come. Please sit back and listen as I tell you the story of the turning point in my relationship with my own father and his own money legacy and my own money legacy.

This was recorded at one of my live readings of my book tour in the summer of 2016, so please forgive the audio quality, but I really wanted to share this story with you. I hope it touches your heart and I hope that it inspires you to honor your own money legacy and create a money legacy that you can be so proud of.

Your Money Legacy

The hospital room was quiet. The hush broken only by the hypnotic beep-beep of my father’s heart monitor. The lights were soothingly dim, though I could glimpse the brilliant white snow out of the window, blanketing Madison in silence. Nurses and doctors moved slowly and meditatively through the ICU and I squeezed my father’s hand again, ever so gently, careful not to disturb the IV in his vein.

My father, who had always been such a strong, stoic figure, was now utterly vulnerable. Earlier that day, I received the phone call. My mother, her voice cracking, told me that my father had suffered a severe stroke and they weren’t sure whether he would live. By what felt like miraculous timing, I was only a five hour drive from my parents, celebrating Christmas with my husband’s family in St. Louis. I packed my overnight bag and with quick and emotional goodbyes to my family drove straight to Wisconsin.

When I arrived, my father was conscious. He knew I was there. I held his hand, he held mine back. I stayed by his side that whole night in ICU and throughout that long night, listening to that beep-beep as doctors and nurses shuffled in and out of my father’s room, sitting there, I had a lot of time to think, to remember, to pray and to feel. We plan our lives like crazy and then life happens. The unexpected, the tragic and the wonderful, too. It is often in those unexpected moments that we transform.

That night in the ICU with my father and the days that followed felt like a right of passage; one of those sacred moments that brings us face to face with what truly matters. For me, this is love, family and health connecting to one another in the simple sacrament of holding a loved one’s hand.

My years of professional training as a therapist and hospice worker had prepared me to offer tender, clear headed support to my mother during that difficult time. Yet, within myself, I could also feel deep emotional stirrings. My whole relationship with my father was being transformed.

Before his stroke, my father was an intense Chicago-tough entrepreneur. My whole life, he focused intently on business, work and money. He was proud of my own entrepreneurial path, though we didn’t always agree with each other’s business values. I fought to carve my own path in life and in money, knowing I needed it to include creativity, intuition, grace and gentleness that had not been prioritized in my father’s life or his money relationship.

All of this hard stuff came up for me during that week in ICU. I held my father’s hand for days as wave after wave of grief, fear and love passed through me. Each time one of those tough memories, harsh judgements or past fights bubbled up, it dissolved into forgiveness and love. None of that mattered anymore. I simply loved my father, held his hand and loved him some more.

In those few days, I made peace with what had defined my father and challenged me my entire life. I felt deeply that his legacy was living in me and wondered what legacy I would eventually leave. That was two and a half years ago and we all, my whole family, got to have two and a half years with my father after his stroke where he changed. Where the aggressive part of him went away. It went away and where he became love.

Whenever I would see him, and I got to spend a lot of time with him, he would say, “You’re so smart. You’re so beautiful.” Really, what any little girl wants to hear from their dad. “You’re so smart and you’re really beautiful and I love you.”

It was huge. It’s been so much forgiveness. My father passed away three weeks ago. He was cremated the day the book was published – and that wasn’t planned. My mother, who was at the book reading the other night, knows he’s living through my legacy. I’m so much like my father. I have his face, I have his legs. I learned so much. To complete this work, it is about our legacy and everything that we were given from our family of origin – the good, the bad, the beautiful, the hard – and our lineage. We can go back. We can go back and go back and go back. We go back to the healing work. It’s, “What do we need to forgive and who do we need to forgive?” What do we need to learn? I learned from him how to be an entrepreneur and be a boss, which has its challenges and its strengths. I learned – I got that from him and a lot of things that I transformed for both of us.

The legacy is where we want to go from here. Again, no matter what age, no matter if we have children or we don’t, no matter where we are, what money legacy do we want to be living and what money legacy do we want to be leaving?

With dear wishes,

P.S. We’ve reached the end of our free Money Mocha series this year, which means we’re only a few days away from the end of the early bird registration period for the Art of Money 2021.

Right now, you can join with a friend of your choosing and get the reduced “AOM Buddy” rate for the two of you, and then you can split that cost. There’s nothing like having an Art of Money buddy alongside you for the journey, and it makes the program more affordable than it’s ever been. I’m not sure if we’ll ever offer this again, but we’re offering it now for a few more days, that much I know. So, if this sounds interesting, now would be a good time to jump on the train.

You’ll also get a train car full of bonuses, like our brand new Covid Care Package, access to my entire archived library of training materials, and a bonus live class just for the early birds that’s coming up on Sunday night! Yay for bonuses. Get all the details and join The Art of Money 2021 right here.

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