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An Open Letter to My Daughter
My father passed away when I was around the age my daughter is now. That’s made me think over the years that, should something ever happen to me, I’d like to know that I was able to pass on some of what I’ve learned.
With that, I decided to write a letter to my daughter with some of my thoughts.
I consider this a work in progress. There’s ultimately too much information to share at one time, so I’ll probably update this post or add an additional letter at a later time.
I’ve made the decision to share the letter to my daughter because I’m hoping that, as she gets older, she might appreciate this site as a document of our family’s journey to financial freedom.
This letter seems to fit well with our journey.
To the Inspiration of My Life:
Since the day you were born, I’ve been blown away by just how beautiful and special you are. And with each passing day, you amaze me with just how smart and mature you are. Nothing makes me happier than watching you learn and grow.
Although you’re not quite seven as I write this, I wanted to take some time to put some thoughts and advice in a letter just in case I don’t get the opportunity to tell you these things for whatever reason.
Now, don’t assume that I’m thinking that I know everything – I don’t. In fact, I keep learning every day. But learning from someone else’s mistakes tends to be so much easier than learning the hard way.
Most of what I’ll tell you relates to money. Not because money is the most important thing in life… it’s not. But money can make your life much easier and give you an opportunity to chase after your dreams. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy you freedom – freedom to do the things that do make you happy.
Learn and question
The most important piece of advice I want to share with you is to learn and question. The more you know, the more choices you’ll have in life. Learn from school, learn from books, videos, and seminars, and most importantly, learn from experience. Try new things and go to new places – it’ll be well worth your time.
On the same front, don’t be afraid to question. Just because you’re told something, doesn’t always mean it’s the truth or the best answer.
Sure, some things are a given – the world is not flat, what goes up tends to go down, etc. However, there will be things you’re taught – even from very smart teachers or friends – that might not be right.
For example, you’ll be pushed and encouraged to do well in school so you can go out and get a good job. The advice seems to make sense because that just tends to be what the majority of people do.
But, if you stop and ask yourself “why”, you might find that there are other (maybe even better) options.
If you find a way to make money even when you’re not working, doesn’t that sounds a little better than to be shackled to a job until you hopefully get to retire later in life?
I learned that lesson late in life. I’m grateful that I learned it when I did though or I’d be working until I was old and gray. My eye-opener happened to be from a book by Robert Kiyosaki – Rich Dad’s Prophecy. That led me to even better books he had written – Rich Dad Poor Dad and The Cashflow Quadrant.
Hopefully, you’ll find your eye-opener and at a much earlier age than I did.
For me, what made the most sense was buying real estate and renting it out. I also started a couple of small businesses as well as wrote and published a couple of books. The point is that there are several avenues to make money that don’t require you to work for it every day.
However, this isn’t a lesson that’s taught in school so not very many people go down this path. Working for yourself and building a business requires a lot more work at the beginning, but the rewards can be tremendous.
When you question things, you tend to find that alternative, and sometimes better options exist. The hard part is that so few people can open their minds to other possibilities. So when you do question ideas, know that teachers, friends, and even family may shoot down your thoughts. Don’t be deterred.
Treat everyone with respect and understand that many folks won’t accept thoughts outside of the norm. In most cases, if they don’t want to question these norms, you’re better off letting it go and finding people who are open to these other possibilities.
You’ll be told that you have to work until you retire when you’re old. Why?
Don’t get caught up in the trap of “stuff.” Most people will work for the rest of their lives just because they can’t stop buying junk they think they need… and they don’t.
A lot of folks, including me, were generally taught that you save your money and buy the biggest house you can afford. Why? You don’t need an enormous house, new cars, giant screen TVs, or the latest gadgets. These are some of the traps causing you to have to work forever. It becomes a vicious loop of becoming a slave to work in order to afford crap you don’t need.
Stuff doesn’t make you happy. In fact, having less stuff will probably make you happier. If you’re spending money, focus on experiences – those are the key to life and will create a lifetime of great memories. Just continue to save half of what you make while you do it and you’ll know happiness.
If you can always save half of everything you make, you’ll be set for life at a tremendously young age. At that point, you’re now free to do whatever makes you happy. And if you’re ambitious enough to retire early, there’s a good chance you’ll end up working again. But this time, it will be because you found something you love to do because money likely won’t be a factor.
I hope with my heart that you didn’t inherit the manic depression problems that my dad had and that I have had to work through in my life as well. If you did, though, just remember that the sun always comes up tomorrow.
If you had told me that saying when I was struggling, I would have just shrugged and thought “whatever.”
However, somehow my eyes opened later in life and I realized something… the sun does come up tomorrow. Life might be throwing you a curveball – even a major one – but chances are, whatever you’re struggling with now, will be much better in the future.
So my advice to you is that when your world comes crumbling down and you feel it can’t get much worse, try to think forward. Imagine yourself a year from now or a few years from now and think “is this problem really that big of a deal that it’s going to matter years from now?”
If it will be – fix it. But chances are it won’t. Whatever problem you might have will probably be just a small blip in your past once time has passed.
Don’t let the depression win. It will get better – I promise.
It’s your life… live it to the fullest
If you noticed, nowhere in here have I mentioned not to enjoy life. Some people spend everything they have on junk they don’t need and are still unhappy.
Others save every penny they get and never get to really experience all the joys in life.
From what I’ve seen and learned, the sweet spot is in the middle. You need to enjoy life – it’s precious and it passes by way too quickly.
Know that you can make your life whatever you want it to be. If you’re not happy with something, change it. If you think something can be better, make it better.
You’re in control of your life and you only get one chance at it, so make it count.
Be the best person you can be and treat others with respect and compassion. Everyone has a story and listening to theirs can help make them feel appreciated and can help you to understand who they are better. Be humble.
Don’t be afraid to say no to your friends. If they’re true friends, they’ll respect that and you’ll be a stronger and better person in the long run.
Most importantly, have fun. People take life too seriously. Enjoy every day you have. Make jokes, smile, talk to everyone, establish new friendships, and make every day the best day of your life.
You’re the heart and soul of my life. You brought tears of happiness to me the day you were born and you continue to amaze me every single day. I love you more than you’ll ever know!