This month I was able to celebrate the second birthday of my niece and nephew, Avery and Gabriel. My wife and I became an uncle and aunt back in September of 2012 and since then my sister and brother-in-law have brought four amazing kids into our lives. What an exciting and emotional time it was on that fall September day when our first niece and first nephew were born. Aunts and uncles are special, as are grandparents. We have special rights, relationships, and it’s all because of one thing--we aren’t their parents!
When my oldest niece turned two years old back in 2014, my wife and I decided to start funding long-term savings and investments for her to use in the future. Did we need to? No, certainly not, my sister and brother-in-law are very financially responsible, but more importantly, we wanted to. Wants over needs drive so much of our actions throughout our lives. For example, I really need to eat healthy, but I really want that cheeseburger! I’m getting the burger because it’s what I want, not something I necessarily need. The same goes for the love of family and their well-being which is why this month we began funding long-term savings and investments for our newest niece and nephew. I want my nieces and nephews to enjoy their young adulthood and I want them to have options and opportunities, and if I can directly provide that, in some way, I have succeeded in this life as an uncle. Beyond the life lessons of catching their first fish, babysitting when their parents need a date night, or learning how to drive; I want to be remembered as someone special and instrumental in their lives.
My grandfather saved money to help fund my college education, and while I still have student loans to this day, his savings helped. Even if it was only $1, I’d be thankful for his discipline and sacrifice to plan for my future when I was only a small child. My grandfather didn’t have to save for my future, he was retired and should have spent that money on himself, but he wanted to, and I am forever grateful.
There is a quote by James Carville that I think of often: “The best time to plant an oak tree is twenty years ago, the next best time is today.” My grandfather planted an oak tree for me to help me in my future endeavors. My wife and I planted an oak tree back in 2014 and planted two more oak trees this month through monthly deposits (not huge monetary amounts), but contributions that will grow by the beautiful power of compound interest. And for what purpose? That’s the beauty, it’s up to our nieces and nephew and my wife and I to decide when the timing is right. Maybe it’ll be for a down payment on a car, to help start a business, college tuition, or because they need money for a down payment on a house. But these oak trees will grow and will provide options for their future and maybe a little shade and comfort in a challenging world ahead.
My hope is twofold; that my nieces and nephew do the same thing for their children or nieces and nephews, and that maybe my wife and I will be that special aunt and uncle that planted oak trees for them years ago.