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Giving Your Money Away (To Your Kids)

By Patsy Trench August 05, 2023 Managing Money

I have just handed a small fortune to my offspring to help them to buy properties and, in one case, to contribute towards IVF treatment.

We all do it, if we are in a position to, of course. My mother was the same: she was generous to me in her latter years while skimping on herself.

In This Regard I Have Become Like My Mother

The generation that lived through WWII and its aftermath were frugal to a fault. With rationing and austerity, they had to be. The problem – if it is indeed a problem – is that frugality can become a habit, and a restriction. My mother admonished me time and again for what she viewed as my extravagance: “That’s the second item of clothing you’ve bought this year!”

I Can’t Afford It

“I can’t afford it” is a complex phrase which could mean what it says, or it could well mean “I don’t want to afford it” or even “I don’t want to… [go on holiday, go to the theatre, treat myself, do something I’ve never done before, challenge myself].” In other words, it can be an excuse Not to Do Things.

I’m Aware This May Be True in My Case

While I’m handing out a five-figure sum each to my son and daughter, I am being ultra-frugal with myself. I hardly ever go on holidays. I don’t take taxis except in extreme cases, even when I am exhausted or lost.

I rarely buy clothes, and I don’t go out as often as I could or go on yoga retreats or join workshops or study courses on new and interesting topics. None of this is because I can’t afford it, although I often tell myself it is. Some of it is to do with indulgence, and some of it, as my mother was wont to say, is because I often think I’m too old.

Am I Too Old?

Perhaps I am too old to be taking unnecessary overseas trips or indulging in expensive dinners, and I have enough clothes to do me for the rest of my life, thank you.

In other words, I have effectively written myself off.

Oddly enough, I don’t think I was aware of this until I handed over those small fortunes. I had genuinely convinced myself I couldn’t afford luxuries, I could barely get by with necessities.

It’s one thing to think I’m becoming my mother, it’s another to realise that I am depriving myself not out of altruism but cowardice. I’m too cowardly to join a group overseas trip. I’m too lazy to take myself out of an evening, and if I did buy myself a slap-up meal at some swanky joint, I would feel too guilty to enjoy it.

It’s Now or Never

I am still fit enough to get out and about without too much effort, and I am aware now that I’m in my late 70s that this may not be the case for much longer. It is far easier to sit back and tell oneself one is too old for new challenges, but we know that is not true, not yet. I still earn a living using my brain and my imagination as a writer and a teacher, I am still part of the world, sort of. But is that enough?

Nowadays, with all the deprivation and hardship – not to mention wars –  that surround us all the time, it is increasingly hard to justify any kind of unnecessary spending. What surplus income one is lucky enough to have could go towards a much worthier cause than our good selves.

Or is that just yet another excuse for not doing something?

Let’s Have a Conversation:

If you have saved up some money, would you spend it on yourself or give it away to children or worthy causes? If you prefer to pamper yourself, how would you go about it? Do you feel you’re too old or are you scared/lazy to go about doing things you like?

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I prefer the happy medium, which means buying nice things for my adult kids while not going overboard and having enough to enjoy myself after working for 40+ years.

Patsy Trench

The perfect balance, quite right Lin!

Rose Guendulain

Well, I don’t have any children. Sometimes it feels like a blessing and other times it feels like a curse.
I am a dog mom of 3. This does keep me from taking cruises and/or flying to take a vacation trip some where.
I am turning 68 years old on the 15th of August.
I feel that this has changed my perspective about life and money.
I too, have enough clothes and luxury items for the rest of my life.
I live in a dull little town, not much going on here! Rather boring if I am honest.
I stay home alone most of the time.
I enjoy gardening, so I will spend money on it.
And I enjoy arts and crafts. Painting and drawing what I see.
I’m a loner, because I haven’t any friends, only acquaintances.
I’m not in the best of health, and am afraid of illness and or injury, because I don’t have anyone to physically take care of me.

So my reality is that I am content staying home with my dogs and my hobbies and my garden flowers and plants.
I go out to shop for food and necessary items to meet my needs and desires.

I’m a generous person. Enjoygiving gifts to some friends,but they are not close by.

So life is blah. I am greatful to God for what he has given me. But I guess I am just waiting for my time to be up.

Cindy C

Hi there! I understand a bit about where you are in life. I’m also in a small town that can only offer so much in entertainment, and am older with no children in the house and friends who live far away. I’d like to offer one way in which I found friends and a spark of joy, locally. For reasons too long to write out, I started volunteering at our local animal shelter once a week for a few hours. It’s very satisfying to be a help to those truly in need. However, a side benefit I didn’t expect was finding a group of really nice people who I now consider to be my friends. When you think about it, it makes sense. It’s an all-volunteer group who volunteers to take care of the 4-legged ones in need. Who else would do this but kind, warm-hearted people? I’m glad I felt compelled to offer my help. Win-win!

Patsy Trench

Fantastic Cindy, as you say it’s a win-win. You are doing something for the community and getting a lot of enjoyment and company in return. Good on you, as they say!


I will help you. Contact me

Patsy Trench

I think one thing we can allow ourselves as we get older is to live our lives how we want. If staying home and enjoying your gardening and painting gives you pleasure, which it obviously does, then hooray for you. In a sense we are all waiting for our time to be up, you could say. Enjoy!

Sally Crawford

My mother used to tell us, “I’m spending your inheritance “, and she did. However, one of those expenditures was a beach front condo, which we all enjoyed using 28 years. My husband and I were not good financial planners. What I learned is that my children EXPECTED us to leave them an inheritance. So when my husband passed away, & I decided to sell our home of 50 years & remarry, I was told I’d “better leave something to the grandchildren!” Ummm… nope. I’m 73 , bought an RV and a teardrop camper and we travel everywhere. They have good jobs and his name is on the deed to my lake cabin. That is all he will get. My 1st husband wouldn’t travel ANYWHERE. I worked 37 years in education, earning 3 degrees. But his money was spent on hunting and our other son was a heroin addict.
I’ve learned you don’t OWE your children an inheritance, especially if you are doing without things you want.

Patsy Trench

Absolutely Sally. I am happy to say neither of my children expect anything from me, but it does give me pleasure to be able to help them out. Your life now sounds highly enjoyable!


I saved all my life and I am 71 years old and no kids. I don’t know how to spend money. I’m still bargain hunter and don’t treat myself. I want to, but can’t bring myself to do it. My brother will have no problem spending my money when I’m gone. How do I spend money o me?

Patsy Trench

I guess we are what we are Irene. Bargain hunting is an embedded habit, I am like you, preferring to shop in second hand shops rather than swanky stores. I just thank my lucky stars I don’t immediately have to worry about day to day spending, not yet at least.

Rosamund Sheppard

I hope that the IVF was successful and had a happy outcome.

Patsy Trench

Thank you Rosamund, that’s very kind.

The Author

Patsy Trench has been an actress, scriptwriter, theatre tour organiser and theatre teacher and lecturer. She now writes books about her family history in colonial Australia and novels featuring enterprising women breaking boundaries in Edwardian and 1920s England. She lives in London.

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