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Investing in your family’s future pays huge dividends

May 2, 2011

(I originally wrote this 3 weeks ago.  Whoops, a little slow in getting it posted)

Vail, a little more exquisite than the Bullock-Long Funeral Home. My preference is for Bullock-Long.

This past weekend was one of contrasts for me.

On Saturday my daughter, Quincy, and I visited my parents in Grant, Neb., where we also saw my aunt, 86-year-old grandma, sister-in-law and Quincy’s three cousins who live nearby, as well as my brother and sister-in-law from eastern Nebraska.

While we ate pizza that night, my grandma reflected on life. She recently stopped driving, which has been a pretty big blow to her independence. She always enjoyed the freedom of being able to hop in her car and go town where she wants in town. This could have been a time for her to lament her loss of mobility, but instead she chose to talk about her contentment.

My grandparents ran the funeral home in Grant as the family’s second-generation owners until my parents took over the business. In a small town, running the funeral home can be very lucrative. Both my father and grandfather have been very successful funeral directors, both in how they ran their business and the service they provided to grieving families.

The business gave her a comfortable lifestyle in a small town, but that was not what my grandma wanted to focus on. She wanted to talk about family — namely her pride for the strong relationships in our family. She also shared how thankful she is that she has two of her children living nearby to help look after her.

Even though my grandma can’t drive anymore, she is thankful she lives in a place where there is a mini-bus service to take her wherever she needs to go in town.  She is thankful to live in a town of 1,200 people that can meet all of her needs.

As she spoke about contentment, I reflected on the things for which I am thankful. It begins with my upbringing, the solid foundation my grandparents and parents gave me.

My grandparents and parents both used their successful business to invest in the future — not necessary in building a huge retirement fund, but in investing in their children. The support my father and his siblings received and the support my brothers and I have received from our parents have helped in our security and success.

My brothers and I had a good advantage in life due to the support our parents gave us. They could have spent their money on things for themselves, but they chose to invest in their family. Wanting to see their children’s lives enriched by their good fortune, they assisted us through college and with other major life events such as buying our first homes. To be able to start an adult life with no debt has been a huge blessing for me as I started my own family.

After spending time with family Saturday, I drove to Vail on Sunday for the Future Business Leaders of America state competition. The amount of money in that mountain town is tough for me to comprehend. Restaurants and stores charge twice as much for the same products we can buy in Sterling.

As I look around this beautiful mountain town, I think about my grandma and parents who are just as happy to be in Grant, Neb. They can afford to have ritzy vacations, but they chose to invest in their family.

The things you buy today will not last forever. You cannot take them with you when you die. The way you choose to spend your money will shape your family’s future. No matter where you came from, you can build your wealth and change your family tree.

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