Mark Harvey — It’s OK to spend your money on you

Allow me begin where I’m going to end: It’s OK to spend your money on you.

Meaning what? Well, let me talk to older folks, for a few minutes – “older” than who? Well, “older” than the people who are younger than you are, but this could apply to some younger folks, as well (“Younger” than who? Well, younger than people who are older than you are, I guess — but that’s enough of that).

Yes, I’m the one who often goes on and on about this program or that acronym or this benefit that could help folks who don’t have much money, but it’s not unusual for me to meet other folks who do have a few bucks, because they have questions and concerns and families and “long-term care” issues, just like everybody else does.

And there are any number of reasons why these folks do have a few bucks, but usually it’s because they worked like dogs all of their working lives — maybe they still do! And saved and saved and saved.

And asked questions and read and learned and made smart decisions about how to handle the money they made; usually, they made sacrifices and “did without” and planned, and as a result of decades of doing all that, they’re doing OK.

I’m not talking about Donald Trump here. (Besides, what would I possibly say about Donald Trump?) I’m talking about folks who we all know and see in grocery stores and gas stations. They just happen to be doing OK, so, what’s the “problem?”

The “problem” is that, often, older folks who are doing OK feel guilty about doing OK — why? Well, maybe it’s a daughter-in-law who cruises through the house on a regular basis, remarking on all the “nice things” she looks forward to having, when Mom and Dad “go.” Or it might be a son who’d appreciate an interest-free loan for a boat.

Or even friends who’d love to travel, if they could afford it … hmm … Could you help me afford it? Or pretty much anyone who is sufficiently gauche’ or self-enmeshed to ask, “… ooh … How much did that cost?” You get it: The green-eyed monster.

Call it what it is.

The line-of-thought generally goes something like this: You have money/assets/nice things and you’re old, so you’re probably too old to enjoy all that, so why don’t you give some of it to me, who can enjoy it! And, besides, you were “lucky” and I’m not as lucky as you, so why don’t you help me be “lucky…” And, you’re going to die pretty soon, anyway, so…

Or: YOU OWE ME. I’m your son/daughter/son-in-law/daughter-in-law/ nephew/niece/cousin-6-times-removed/brother/sister and I’ve had such a HARD time and you have it so EASY, you SHOULD help me.

Besides, you’re OLD!

Now, families are families, and different families have different “rules.” In some families, the parents (or grandparents or whomever) are the “bank.” Their job is to provide and provide and provide (because they SHOULD). And there’s usually an unspoken assumption that, in return, you will take care of me when I can no longer take care of myself (although, apparently, you’re not that skilled at taking care of yourself).

And certainly there are tragedies and life events and unforeseen circumstances that may well warrant familial, financial intervention. Such is the nature of Planet Earth. But often, it’s just The Green Eyed Monster.

Punish success.

In my view (which is the only view one would anticipate in a column that has my name on it), there is nothing wrong with spending your money on you. You worked hard and you sacrificed, and you EARNED it, so go ahead: Take that cruise, make that visit, put in that hot tub.

Buy that car you always wanted or buy that house you always wanted. Hire some help. Hire some landscapers — change the landscaping! Pay cash!

Nice paintings, nice things, nice appliances and Christmas in a warm place. Pay somebody to do whatever it is that you hate to do or can’t do or it hurts to do or…Or hire somebody else to figure out the damn health insurance!

I’ll be the first to pitch helping somebody who needs help — giving. And, usually, the people who I’m talking about and talking to are not unfamiliar with generosity, but you have a right to reap what you sewed.

Because we all do and we all will, whether we realize it or not — reap what we sew … so …

Don’t let rude, greedy, envious people guilt-trip you.

Enjoy. Be grateful. Be humble and be kind. But don’t be guilty, because you didn’t do anything wrong.

It’s OK to spend your money on you.

Mark Harvey is the director of Information and Assistance for Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He can be reached at or 532-0520 in Aberdeen, (360) 942-2177 in Raymond or (360) 642-3634. FACEBOOK: Olympic Area Agency on Aging-Information &Assistance.


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