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The thing I never see mentioned in this debate is the "utility of money", it's always about the "quantity of money."

I'll try not to make this too convoluted. My father is 92; my mother died a few years ago at age 90, so I have some personal experience with old-ness. Dad is now at an assisted living place after three years of being in an independent living facility. He has a couple million dollars worth of portfolio, which does him absolutely no good, except to pay the $5,500 a month rent on his (very nice) apartment.

In fact, I would say that from the age of 85 onward, their money didn't benefit either Mom or Dad much; their ability to travel was well behind them; it's not as though they were going to fly to Greece to see the ruins, and since both gave up driving they didn't need new cars, new mink coats, or new much of anything wasn't really in the cards either.

I understand the "break-even" age for Social Security is 82, that is, if you start taking the benefit early you will get a smaller amount for longer; if you wait until age 65 you will get a larger amount for a shorter duration, and all things considered, at age 82 you will cross the line to more "quantity of money."

But as I have tried to explain in far foreshortened fashion, at a certain point the "extra" money is pretty well useless, at least if you have prepared yourself for the basic elder-care responsibilities. So if you die before age 82, you "win" with "more quantity", and if you die at age 89 you "lose" with less quantity, but I'd submit that the difference is going to be irrelevant since the extra $300 ($500, whatever) a month isn't going to buy you anything you won't already have and don't already not need at that advanced age.

I am 66. I started taking benefits when I was 62. I could have afforded to wait until age 65, or even, as some suggest, age 70, when the benefits would have been even larger. But to what point? I don't need more money when I'm 90, I find it useful now when I can use it and enjoy it.

Mrs. Goofy and I just spent four days in Manhattan seeing five shows (Matilda, Motown, Glass Menagerie, Kinky Boots, Spiderman, comments welcome) at a cost of $3,000 - not including travel; crazy, but it's how we choose to do it. I know we won't be able to sustain anything like that when we're 87. So the money now has a far greater "utility" than the money later. Other people will have different ways to use it, obviously.

In America we've become obsessed with "how much?" A better metric, at least for us, is "for what?"
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