sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

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?

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Patti M

Great Article and thank you for writing it.
I am just pondering those same things.

My mother was from the greatest generation and while she spent money on good clothes and a little travel she was frugal. She left us a small inheritance and none of us felt that great about getting it. We all wished she had had more fun and died broke.

It is hard though because we want our kids to be secure forever. So leaving some inheritance is important.

My husband and I are married 50 years in 2024 and we have decided it will be “the year of us”. We have been generous with our child, her husband and our grandkids who are now going into the teen world. I hope that we can stick to it.

Patsy Trench

Having fun and dying broke – that’s a great ambition for one’s parents, I agree. At the same time the pleasure of being able to help out when your children are buying property, especially in this day and age and in an expensive place like London, is enormous. I hope you and your husband have a truly fabulous ‘year for us’!


Coming from humble means, it is almost inconceivable that I have accumulated the amount of wealth I now have. Finding the balance between keeping enough money “just in case” while sharing my blessing with my family is the challenge. I have helped my daughter, grandson and granddaughter purchase homes by providing a portion of the down payments. Watching them thrive in their homes and knowing they can now also accumulate wealth on their own brings me joy. My husband and I live great lives – not too extravagant but definitely doing everything we want. I count my blessings that I have more than enough to share with those I love.

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.

You Might Also Like