Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Marbles and mealtimes

Much is made of ensuring we're provided for financially in our old age. We get swamped with confusing information about pensions; told that we must make sure we have sufficient income to see us through the grey fog between giving up work and giving up living altogether. The government however, seem increasingly keen that nobody is ever going to be allowed to retire and we'll all be carried away from our workplace in a wooden box with the obligatory carriage clock nailed to the top.
I think it's safe to say that most of us would love to retire as soon as we're able to, and as the government don't want to give us back what we've paid into the system because they're already spent it on second homes for all the MPs, we have to make our own arrangements.
But how much income does someone actually need when they've retired? Anyone with an ounce of financial savvy will ensure that they're debt-free by the time they think about giving up the daily grind, with the mortgage paid off and no big outgoings like car loans or credit card payments.
So what does that  leave that needs to be paid for each month? Once the utility bills are taken care of and there's food in the fridge there's not much else that's needed, and surely there's only so much money that can be spent on zip-up tartan slippers and cat food.
I suppose those who are still active and of sound mind and bladder might be keen to spend their twilight years travelling the world, and all power to them. There may be those who see this time as a golden opportunity to buy a top-of-the-range set of golf clubs to throw in the boot of the new Jaguar every day, play eighteen holes, quaff numerous sherries in the clubhouse and weave their way home hoping they don't get spotted by PC plod.
For the many though, I suspect that it becomes a time of getting up late, wandering down to the local shop for milk and a newspaper, watching crap TV and going to bed with a cup of something brown and vaguely offensive like Horlicks, hoping that tomorrow perhaps someone will remember you're still alive and pop round to visit.
This doesn't sound like a scenario that demands ensuring you have a private pension plan that pays out two grand a month or to have taken the precaution of having accumulated vast savings.
No matter how much you contributed to the good of the country during your working life, you'll end up getting sod all back from the government until you've spent all your savings which you'd carefully harvested in the hope of providing an inheritance for your kids after you'd taken that Mediterranean cruise or African safari you'd been promising yourself for all these years.
All this then begs the question of why we spend so much time and worry making sure we provide for a future that for all we know may not even exist.
For those still alive when it comes to pension time, a large proportion will be reluctant to spend their savings because they might need them later. What for exactly? When you're sat in the corner wetting yourself in front of 'Songs of Praise' you're unlikely to be thinking about buying a designer kitchen.
Even if your marbles are still in their rightful place rather than rolling around the floor gathering fluff, you'll have spent so long being used to not spending money that it has become second nature and the thought of actually spending some of what you've accumulated over all those years of scrimping and saving leaves you in need of a stiff brandy and a good lie down to get over the shock.
Nobody knows what's around the corner so why put off living today for the sake of tomorrow? So to hell with it. I'll make sure that the mortgage is going to be paid off by the time I retire which will hopefully be at sixty (if I live that long), and the works pension should be adequate to keep the bills paid and an acceptable stock of beer and Pringles in the house.
I'm not worried about putting away vast savings because by the time I get that far I hope to not need very much and I'd rather enjoy it now thank you very much. All we need come the final big push towards the bright light at the end of the tunnel is food, drink, and company, with plenty of happy memories of what we did when we were younger and fitter, and judging by the popularity of the twice-weekly carvery at the local garden centre's restaurant with the area's cloth-cap-and-Toyota-Verso enthusiasts, my theory isn't too far wide of the mark.