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Monday, August 14, 2006

Aging Family Finances

One of the benefits of having my temporary assignment in NY is the closer proximity to my grandparent's home. Taking advantage of a free weekend, I spent it visiting with my aging grandparents.

While I think my grandparents are amazing people and they have been retired for over 20 years, up until recently I never thought about their finances. When I visit them they always pick up any dining expenses or hand out some money to spend if we pay a visit to a local casino with a proverbial "Don't waste your money", or pick up anything else we might do while visiting. However, recently I have begun to think a bit about their finances and worry about their financial position - probably mostly the result of complaining from them in typical conversations about Medicare, prescriptions, taxes, etc.

Typical routine while visiting my grandparents calls for a run to the local bakery right before lunch to pick up a fresh loaf of french bread for $2.00. This weekend my grandmother pushed a $10 bill at me and asked me to pick up a loaf. I said sure, but I would pay for it, the normal bantering ensued and in the end I was stuck with my grandmother's $10 bill and I went and picked up a loaf of bread.

Without much forethought, when I return back to their house I opened my wallet and gave my grandmother $18 in change. This was a big step for me. I don't know exactly why I did it. I guess I did it because I knew she wouldn't remember how much she gave me and would blindly take what I gave her. I guess I realized this is the way I could help pay for more of my share without my grandparents losing their sense of pride in providing when I visit. Its an insignificant sum, but I think its a symbol of a turning point in the way I think about family finances.


  • Good trick! I have used that one when trying to give money back. Another trick I use is to just leave cash in a coat pocket (go into closet to fetch my coat and slip cash into pocket of hosts coat) or on a kitchen counter before leaving.

    While my grandparents are no longer around, my aging parents and older siblings always [ALWAYS!] treat. It is frustrating since I am 35 years old, make a good living, and more than capable [and generally really want] to pick up a dinner tab or treat them.

    But I understand that the desire for others to always pay is just an extension of their love for me. Sneakily leaving money for them to find later is just my way of showing them that I love them right back :)

    By Anonymous Jane Dough, at 12:38 PM  

  • 2million, good for you! I have tried to think of things to do for my 84 year old grandmother without her knowing but she is one sharp (and stubborn!) cookie! She can even hear people talking at "hushed voice" level in another room, can't get anything by her!

    By Anonymous finance girl, at 8:41 PM  

  • Proud of you for doing that, it is very important to give back something to your parents or grandparents for all the things that they have done for us.

    Surprising property prices are quite firm and not coming down yet must be the inflation in the "stagflation" environment.

    Anonymous Millionaire.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:10 AM  

  • heh. i do that sort of thing to my mother quite frequently. jane mentioned that it's a symptom of the fact that she loves me and always wants to take care of me, and she's absolutely right. but again, as jane mentioned, i make a really good living and want to give back and treat my mom to dinner or groceries sometimes. into the coat pocket it goes, or "no mom, you gave me a twenty, take the change." :-)

    By Blogger ChippingAway, at 8:54 AM  

  • Good for you. You have a good and thoughtful heart!

    By Blogger Chitown, at 3:13 PM  

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