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Four Financial Lessons To Learn From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is known for his role in the American Civil Rights Movement and advocacy for nonviolent protests, a deeper examination of his life offers several valuable financial lessons. From fiscal responsibility to estate planning to the value of education, here are four things to learn from the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Financial Prudence

Despite his fame and influence, Dr. King lived a modest life and made many financial sacrifices to support his commitment to the civil rights movement. Having strong financial discipline allowed Dr. King to focus on his activism and charitable work while supporting his wife and four children without stressing about how to pay the bills.

This discipline extended to Dr. King’s work with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a civil rights charity he helped found in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King emphasized fiscal responsibility and transparency to ensure that all funds the charity raised were used to expand its mission of equality. This has allowed the SCLC to maintain its status as one of the leading civil rights charities operating in the U.S. today.

Value of Education

Dr. King was highly educated, even at a time when most adults didn’t have college degrees. After finishing high school early, Dr. King enrolled at Morehouse College when he was only 15. He then transferred to a seminary to earn a bachelor’s degree in divinity. He didn’t stop there. In 1951, he became Dr. King after earning a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston University.

Dr. King encouraged others, especially those in the Black community, to seek higher education. He once wrote that “the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and critically.”1 He knew the potential for education to lead to better financial opportunities by creating a more curious, motivated, and well-rounded person.

Community Investment

Dr. King’s work centered around building stronger communities. He especially believed in the importance of supporting small businesses to create economic opportunities and decrease poverty. His commitment to social justice highlights the importance of considering the broader impact of your financial decisions. For example, you may want to research eco-friendly consumer options.

Legacy and Estate Planning

Dr. King’s tragic assassination was a stark reminder of the need for estate planning. Unfortunately, despite his financial conservatism, Dr. King died without a will. This created serious—and unnecessary—problems when it came to distributing his assets and continuing his fight for social justice.

Dr. King’s premature death highlights the importance of creating an estate plan to make sure your financial legacy is distributed in the exact way you want. What’s more, it could help avoid placing any additional burden on your surviving loved ones during the most difficult time of their lives.

Important Disclosures:

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

This article was prepared by WriterAccess.

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1 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes That Inspire SOE Faculty and Staff