Lately I have been reflecting on the importance of values as a compass for our lives. Now that the boys have moved out I can’t help but wonder if they will eventually live the values that we worked so hard to instill as parents. I am grateful for the roles my parents and grandparents played in making me the person I am today. As we honor our parents at this time of year, I think of how long it took me to come to that appreciation for their efforts. Here’s something I’d love to hear from my kids one of these days…perhaps well into the future, but I’m patient, that’s part of parenting after all:

Dear Dad,

I never really understood financial planning. It seemed abstract and complicated. I remember how we used to have long conversations about money, especially when we were considering a big purchase. We talked about the virtue of saving and how that would allow us to “invest.” I remember talking about whether stocks were up or down at breakfasts and whether people would be happy or not. You always wanted us to be able to take care of ourselves, have some direction in our lives and invest for the future.

Now that I have kids of my own, I can fully appreciate your guidance to live within our means. Now I know why you let me have a credit card at age seventeen! I got into just enough trouble to learn that I don’t want to be burdened by debt, as it prevents me from saving for a “rainy day.” And yes, I do want to save for that proverbial day because I understand that life has its ups and downs and having some cash in the bank is a good thing.

You were right – it is important to save and plan for the future. You used to say that to get where you want to go you need a plan. As we accumulate savings we want to invest. You told us that part of our strategy should be to invest according to our values and priorities. We want to put our money to work in ways that are meaningful to us personally and invest in socially responsible ways.

I welcome the opportunity to use our prosperity to benefit others. We live in such a great country and I can envision using our wealth to build better communities and to help those in need. I, too, share the desire to help our fellow man that you always talked about.

In closing, we share many important values: saving, modeling good financial behavior for our kids, planning and investing in accordance with what we feel is most worthwhile. Being clear about our values around money helps us to make better decisions regarding our wealth. Our values define us. Living by values we cherish allows us to lead lives of integrity, especially concerning money. We can contribute to others and to our world. Living these values is really the key to a happy life.

Receiving this letter would make for a joyous Father’s Day…maybe one day in the future!

In honor of all parents, who do their best to encourage and inspire us, thank you.