Money is not a dirty word

Money isn’t a dirty word

Money isn’t a dirty word, although in my family it was considered impolite to bring it up, mention how much something cost, or say how much daddy or mommy earned (and the huge discrepancy between those two earnings).

I came of age in the 60s and valued love, peace, music, and anti-war politics much more than money. The Raccoons, my college cohort, were known to proclaim, “@#%* money; I hate money!”

I was both a Peace Corps volunteer and a VISTA volunteer and lived on $200 a month for years at a time. Yes, I am bragging.

When I started working at my first social service job, at Community Services for the Blind, I began to realize the importance of money. The majority of clients were older women who had lost vision due to age-related causes. If you are a woman, visually impaired, old, poor, and perhaps without a partner, you are in dire straights indeed. Those keeping the wolf from the door owned their own home. I started saving immediately.

Rich people don’t die in nursing homes. If you have money, you can purchase home care and other home-delivered services. You can afford to remodel and have a place to live made comfortable for aging in place because of Universal Design.

Having money makes it easier to get good nutrition, health care, and have access to a good gym, trainer, and exercise classes. Money makes transportation options such as taxis, available.

How much will you need? First of all calculate your income and expenditures. Know exactly how much you earn and how much you spend and what you will have in retirement

Also calculate how long you will live. My favorite is geriatrician Thomas Perls’ site Then do the math. You will probably discover that you will live longer and need more money than you ever thought possible.

Since you are thinking about ‘7 Ways to Ways to Avoid Spending the Last Year of your Life in a Nursing Home’ we might guess that you are thinking of downsizing. A great way to start doing that is frequently buy nothing. I don’t think I’ll live long enough to wear out all my t-shirts. When I see a great shirt and covet it, I think of my crowded shirt drawer. If I get a new one I will need to get rid of an old one. And those that I already have all ‘spark joy’, the criteria of the minimalist guru Marie Kondo.

At least once a week have a ‘buy nothing’ day. If I avoid the supermarket, I find myself making better use of what’s already in the fridge and pantry. Wasting food is a dreadful sin, especially after all the hungry Africans, Chinese, and East Indians I’ve seen in my travels.

Budget thoughtfully, and I would suggest that a thoughtful budget also includes gifts to charitable organizations. No matter how poor you may be, there is great meaning and satisfaction in helping others.

Published by jeannettefranks

Jeannette Franks, PhD, is a passionate gerontologist and for over 20 years has taught ethics, grief and loss, and courses on geriatrics and gerontology for the University of Washington. Franks' most recent book is, To Move or To Stay Put: A Guide for Your Last Decades. Look for it now on the University Bookstore website It is also available at Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge. Franks previously published a definitive guide to independent and assisted living titled Washington Retirement Options, and often speaks on retirement options, disability issues, end-of-life issues and is an advocate for accessibility. She has a goal of making Bainbridge an elder-friendly community and is available to groups and families to discuss these issues. She served for nine years on the Kitsap County Advisory Council on Aging and Long-term Care. She also has the privilege of working in a small way for the past 15 years with the Suquamish tribal elders.

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