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Last month I wrote that time, money and health become important with age. This month I want to return to money for another perspective; that is, how to spend our money and how to leave our assets.

Perhaps for some these decisions are easy. After all, if you have children and grandchildren, you know how to spend your money on their needs and wants, and you have ready-made recipients of the wealth you have accumulated.

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Obviously there is much that we can spend our money on: that new car we've been eyeing, another new gadget that promises to be better than the one we now have, and a myriad of other items that tempt us, to say nothing of the essentials we must have or the replacement of broken items. In fact, we have all taken a little money from the bank or made sure we have our trusty credit/debit cards with us because we might see something on our next shopping trip that we can't live without. While all of those things are part of our way of life, I'm really thinking about how to spend our money wisely as we age.

But "wisely" by what standards? Jesus once said, in the Sermon on the Mount, that where our treasure is - on earth where it will be corrupted or in heaven where it is safe - our heart will be also. Of course, Jesus wisely understood that we place a great deal of emphasis on our treasure, as we should, and therefore put that first in the equation. I was wondering, however, whether we could turn those words around to get a new perspective on spending wisely; that is, where our heart is our treasure will be also.

If we center our lives on others, including our families, and love our neighbors as ourselves, we will find ways to help with our treasures, by giving our time and money and ourselves.

Certainly there are enough legitimate charities, secular and religious, that can use our money to help those in need. My sister-in-law wisely says that when we buy something new for ourselves - a pair of slacks, a sweater, a dress, a new pair of shoes - that we should put something wearable from our closet in a bag or box for the North East Social Action Program, Goodwill, Mission Store or Purple Heart, for example, and that way help the less fortunate.

There are also a multitude of organizations that can use our volunteer efforts to minister to the less fortunate. And what better time of life than in our retirement years when we have the time and treasure to make a difference in the lives of others.

Let's suppose, too, that, after we have spent wisely from our treasure, we have assets to leave behind. How shall we distribute them wisely? If we have centered our lives on others, including our families, and have loved our neighbors as ourselves, we will find ways, even in death, to be role models to the generations that come after us. We will continue to care for our families and yet give to those in need as well. And not just a token gift, but a gift that demonstrates where our heart is.

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