Inheriting Poverty

Recently my friend Joe wrote about an interesting point of view regarding inheritance titled “Hey – You’re Robbing My Inheritance“.  It’s a great point of view and I believe there are probably a lot of people who have thought or felt like their inheritance was being robbed from them by irresponsible siblings.  I have another point of view to share.

The comments on Joe’s post were great and I have to say that I relate most to the fact that any inheritance would be blessing rather than something I need or feel entitled to, and I’m way more concerned about my parents well-being while they’re alive.  What a holier-than-thou point of view – right?  Wrong.  I am human and I’m big enough to admit there is an element of selfishness in my point of view.  I REALLY do care about my parents well-being and want them to have enough resources to take care of their needs as they age.  But I ALSO really care about my own resources as I age, so I don’t want to be forced to use my hard earned resources to care for my parents if it can be avoided.

To connect the dots here’s how it all plays out over time:

  • Financially irresponsible kids never learn their lesson and continue to make disastrous mistakes that they can’t afford to fix.
  • Hard working, loving, and caring parents repeatedly help them out by dipping into their own hard-earned resources.
  • Parents eventually retire with little to no resources to provide for their needs.
  • Hard working, loving, and caring SIBLINGS OF THE IRRESPONSIBLE KIDS step in to care for the parents by dipping into their own hard-earned resources.  (the irresponsible kids might WANT to help but they can’t because they never learned and they’re still living hand-to-mouth despite all the help their parents gave them)
  • The kids grow old and broke just like their parents did.
  • Process repeats itself over and over resulting in a growingly popular term called GENERATIONAL POVERTY.

This is a very real problem and it is not a problem that is going away as the average net worth of people planning to retire in the next 10 years is $25,000.  The last time I checked that is not enough to pay for living expenses for very long.  So forgive me for being selfish and not wanting my generation or my kids generation, or their kids generation to be BROKE.  Just as there is a start to all cycles there is a way to stop all cycles.  Each of us makes a difference in breaking the cycle or preventing the cycle from starting – generational poverty does not have to exist.

Maybe families should adopt an atmosphere of open accountability for good or bad financial decisions.  I wonder if that is part of the reason for some of the most prosperous families success.

What are your thoughts?


  1. Great post Mark! I’ve seen this with my parents who had to dish out resources to take care of a parent. Fortunately they have saved very well and were able to do this without killing their own retirement. Now my siblings can relax and know that at the very worst my parents will pay for their own care without us having to worry about supporting them financially.


  1. […] feelings as they kill their financial future and that of their children?  Remember this post about inheriting poverty?  This is your opportunity to end or prevent the […]

Speak Your Mind