Letter to my Daughter

I’ve been thinking about leaving my daughter a message for some time. You always think you will live forever and be a good mentor/teacher of your children, but if an unfortunate event occurs, how will I pass on what I believe to be so important for my child?

I could give a list of poems and books I have fallen in love with, hoping my emotional attachment would be transferred and influence her thoughts. However, everyone is unique, brilliant and insightful. My takeaways from these poems and book are drastically different than the next person and this does not exclude my own daughter.

My favorite poem is “The Road not Taken” by Robert Frost. The opening sentence is a attention grabber …

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

I suggest reading this poem if you have not read before.

The poem goes on to describe the struggle to make a simple decision. … What road to take? Most likely every day, for everyone, they encounter a simple choice of which road to take. Within seconds, without pondering the future result, we start heading down that road. The last sentence is the most quoted and by far the hardest choice to make for so many.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

So instead of a poem or a book, I want to describe my advise to my daughter in very simple statements on independence and the road less traveled that I suggest. For when you are truly independent, choices you make are not out of necessity but out of what you truly want to do, be and experience.

The path I suggest for my daughter:

- Avoid debt: “what you do when you run in debt you give to another power over your liberty” Benjamin Franklin

- Surround yourself with friends you aspire to be like and avoid the ones that drain your energy especially fiscally irresponsible people.

- Read often and diverse books, it expands your minds reach.

- Hard Work and Diligence (consistent and persistent work or effort) will pay you back 10-fold, just not when you want it to or expect it to.

- Save as much money as possible in your early years and invest it in stocks (like index of S&P 500), save preferably 50% or more of what you make and invest it.

- Learn the tax code and fund your retirement accounts appropriately (max out your contributions)

- Don’t get caught up in an ever-expanding lifestyle, you want your money to work for you not for you to trade your time/energy for money.

- Every dollar bill you have is your little employee, be careful giving away your little employees

- While you are young and accumulating stock investments, every time the stock market drops, be grateful. (Wait what?) Yes, be grateful, for every dollar you invest now buys more shares

- After your investment start earning dividends (always reinvest dividends while accumulating) and capital appreciation is to a level that can support your lifestyle with the 4% withdrawal rule, consider yourself one of the lucky few on our planet that can choose to work where, when and how you want. (Or not work at all)

- Be charitable after you have gained this financial independence, you will be more engaged/genuine and happy to contribute your time, money or insights to those in need.

One last quote to think about to end this letter.

“There are two ways of being happy: We may either diminish our wants or augment our means- either will do- the result is the same. But if you are wise, you will do both at the same time; and if you are very wise you will do both in such a way as to augment the general happiness of society.”

Benjamin Franklin

Photo by Samantha Hentosh on Unsplash