Saturday 24 August 2013

Moving On...

Get yourself a cup of tea or coffee, you might need it, as this is a bit of a rant!

It is amazing how much the death of someone close to you makes those around you, think about their own lives.

That side of things hasn't changed much for us, as at the moment, we have both done everything we can to ensure our executor/s don't get overwhelmed by it all when the time comes. We have both done our wills, still find the money to pay into life insurance and have paid upfront for our funerals - not cheap, but we both felt it necessary. Have you any idea how much it actually costs to get buried or cremated?

We also keep getting rid of 'stuff', the bane of everyone's lives it would seem. If you have been unlucky enough to lose parents and deal with their estate, home and all its contents, twice, you will know what I mean!

We learnt from DB's father who had just paid upfront for their funerals, only a few days before he died. I doubt he really knew he would die unexpectedly only a few days later but who knows. Such foresight saved us both a tremendous amount of hassle and decision making when not in a fit mind to be able to do it! He had also sorted out his everyday bill finance holder and left money in it, for unforeseen circumstances!

B. had been retired (early) just 2 years when she died, almost to the week! The three of us liked to discuss our finances in a reasonable amount of detail - not actual but rather ball parks amounts.  Savings, whether small, medium or large would be moved around regularly to ensure the best interest rates applied. She like us, had made sure her pension plans were in place as best they could be and had even topped hers up. The fact she didn't live to claim it, is neither here nor there when you think about it. That is just bad luck and bad luck happens to us all at times.

Other people we know, are going down the opposite route, of living and spending for today, not saving for their retirement, nor having life insurance etc. Their thinking is "what's the point".

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and as this is my blog I shall give mine but you are free to think and act otherwise. DO NOT BE SO SHORT SIGHTED!

You many not be in a position to afford life insurance or pay into a pension plan, either at work or as an individual. You may believe that should you last that long, the Government will take care of you. Have you seen how much the basic weekly pension is? Some people have just that amount to live on, could you really do it? Do you want to risk it? I would urge you to think long and hard about it.

Reading blogs, it is obvious that some are in that situation but are still living within their means through judicial planning, scrimping and still managing to save. It can be done. They are not the people I am referring to. It is those who live an exorbitant/wasteful life style and seem to think they will be able to still do so later in life!

At the very least, make sure you have paid, if at all able to, enough National Insurance to get your full or almost full, government pension entitlement. It is no good believing the pension and benefit system will still be up and running. The former maybe, the latter, probably not. Governments are struggling to cope with their ageing populations. On top of that are the unemployed, the sick, disabled and in some cases, the just plain lazy.

Have you been watching the programme about being on the dole in 1949 - a right eye opener for some, a complete change of life and attitude for some, and no change at all for others. Same old same old. I thought it interesting that getting any money at all depended on whether or what you had paid in. No paying in, no getting out.  Partial paying in, partial paying out! There was very little top up from anywhere else. Now, wouldn't that be a right eye opener to some in our society. Perhaps that is how we should go now, who knows.

Yeah I know, it is okay for us, we are retired, talking a load of clap trap. Really, really!! DB was lucky to have a job that paid a pension (and didn't lose it as so many did in recent years). Living on only that pension amount per month was a real struggle. We had to live on exactly the same amount for 5 years, after he first retired. When all essential bills were paid, we needed to go on war rations, simply to be able to feed our family. See our war diary at the top. Yes, we could have got a top up from the government, particularly as I was too ill to work but we chose not to. Silly us, fancy not wanting to be a burden to those worse off than ourselves and yes, there were and still are, plenty of those.

Now, he has reached the right age to also get his government pension. Now and only now, are we actually able to live reasonably well, but probably not so in the eyes of others. Provided we are careful, on food and bills, but in particular heating. The Government says you are in fuel poverty if you need to use more than 10% of your total income on fuel, keeping the main room at 21C and the rest of the house at 18C (not sure if they mean all day/all day and night, or not!)

This last autumn, winter and early spring, other than the front room, where the wood burner is, the rest of our house was only at 14C for half an hour in the morning and occasionally the evening. Other than that, it was whatever the temperature fell down to, depending on the temperature outdoors. That is primarily the only way for us to not be fuel poor. Yes, we could have the whole house warm but as we are not in the whole house, all the time, what is the point. Lowering bills as much as possible also helps. Our use of electricity and oil has greatly reduced. Our food bill is being maintained as much as possible in the current constant increases in food. We manage to treat ourselves to a small snack when out on our weekly walks. That really is a treat we look forward to. Neither of us smokes and we rarely drink.

The Government consider electricity to be the main fuel poverty deciding factor but oil, well that isn't even mentioned and that is what we have. With the rise in both electricity and oil charges every year, let alone the rising cost of wood, it isn't difficult to see why people struggle.

I feel pyjama's and dressing gown mode arriving in the next couple of months:)

Not one of us in reasonable health now, knows when we will die. Most of us will probably make it to proper old age and get our pensions or proportional pensions, if we have paid into them. I cannot imagine the shock to you if for whatever reason, you haven't and hope the Government will bail you out. Some of us like B., will not make it, but at least her contributions helped others.

I would urge everyone where possible, to at least think about it long and hard, to see if there is any way at all, to help yourselves now, so you can prepare for and enjoy your old age. Should DB die before me, being the one with the pensions, I would probably have to sell and move but will cross that bridge if it arises!

Waiting until you arrive at the old age station might want you to throw yourself in front of the life train! That my friends, would be very, very sad.


  1. What a great post, Dc, and thems my sentiments exactly. We led a fairly frugal-ish life even when we were both at work - NHS - but both paid our insurance, our taxes and our pension funds. Every time J had a rise would go into a little pension fund. So we didn't have the new cars and foreign holidays our contempories had, but oh boy, now we are retired and living comfortably (to us!) some of the comments we hear. Because we thought ahead and provided for ourselves, we are sometimes seen as 'having it cushy' and 'nhs pensions are a toll on us tax payers' excuse ME! Iam a tax payer too! We urged our boys to take out pensions and insurances who knows what may happen to the house when we are elderly and needy? It may not come to them the way things are going. So yes, I'm in full agreement with you. And live within your means. Simple, isn't it??

    1. Whilst I appreciate we are not as hard up as some we know (and read about on blogland) just because we have saved up hard to lead our lives now, doesn't mean we can spend, spend, spend and fritter it all away. Yes, we know you can't take it with you but having something to fall back on should dire circumstances arise, helps us sleep better at night. Well, DB anyway, my sleeping is as bed as ever!
      We also get similar comments. A bit like my last post, someone always wants to lead someone else's life instead of their own!

  2. I agree - there are plenty of us out here living within meagre means and choosing not to apply for top-ups by way of housing or council tax benefits despite being 'entitled' to them. There are plenty of us out here who earn beneath the threshold for paying National Insurance but we choose to do so, anyway. I get told by many I'm weird and morbid for even mentioning such things.

    1. We saved to bring my NI contributions up to date and continue to do so in case the goal posts change yet again. I should have received 2 mini work pensions a few years ago but they didn't arrive. Instead I got letters thanking me for being willing to wait another 5 years!!

  3. A very sensible post and I hope one that gets some folks thinking, really thinking about what they have planned and organised for the future.

    I hope we HAVE been sensible, we have life assurance policies, a new policy one that will pay off our new mortgage on the death of either or both of us. Wills in place with instructions for the executors to make things as easy as possible for them and as few belongings as we need.

    If LH goes before me I will continue to receive his Navy pension but at half rate and I hope I have a small pension payment to come from the employers I used to work for. I have always paid National Insurance, taking a break whist the boys were small but making sure that I applied for the credits allowed to cover that period. Of course I pay full contributions now as a full time worker, as I always have.

    Hopefully we have thought of most things to make a hard time slightly easier for either one of us that survives the longest or those around us if we go together.

    It's NOT nice thinking about these things but it IS necessary, and that is why this is such a good post.

    1. I too would hope to receive half of DB's pension but it would not be enough to live on.

  4. You are so right. This is one of the main reasons we have been building the barge to live on. Our mortgage would not have been paid off until we were seventy and neither of us wanted to work that long ( now I also have to wait until I am 66 and 9 months before I get my state pension). The barge (and allotment) has enabled us to bring down our outgoings considerably and bring forward our retirement day xxx

    1. I believe you said your son? or other family was living in your house whilst you live on the boat. Does that mean one day that you hope to sell your house? Sorry for being so nosy.x

  5. A well written post DC and I echo your sentiments entirely. We both have private pensions and have both paid full state pension contributions. We will also have savings and intend to downsize so hopefully will be ok. Holidays are our greatest expense and while we are both working we want to travel and see what we can while we are still fit and able to. It annoys me that so many people choose not to provide for themselves (but could do so) and that so many are happy to sponge off the state as they (in a lot of cases) will have done most of their lives.We are still hoping to retire in about 7 years, fingers crossed!

    1. I am quite a few years away from getting my government pension. Private pensions, at the moment probably £20 per month!, don't pay for another 5 years or so, if then. They keep moving the age up!

  6. Brilliant post - I keep being told overand over that I could die tomorrow, it's more likely that I will live to my mid 70s or longer- we both have work pensions and are working hard to pay off the mortgage and know we will lays have to be frugal. We heat one room only and put the heating on for one hour a day in the winter. We are also topping up our pensions as we'll need more heating when we are older.

  7. DB kept telling me last year, tongue in cheek sometimes, that at his age,the digital read out in the house stated he needed help! I handed him some fingerless gloves and told him to put on another jumper:) Whilst we are still mobile, we can do things to keep us warm. It is when he/we reach 80+ or suffer ill health, that our savings will really be needed to heat the house and feed us. We reckon a bowl of hot porridge for breakfast, warm soup for lunch and again for tea if really necessary, is all anyone really needs to keep body and soul together. My heart really goes out to those who don't know even how to do make these basics. There again though, I taught myself to cook from library books, years before the internet!

  8. A well written post, that's certainly something to think through and keep in mind!
    We are in our early 40s, it's still a while untill our retirements, but we are trying to pay off the house mortgage as quickly as we can.
    We have reisolated the house and installed a wood burner to keep the heating bills down. There's a lot more to think about and plan, and that will follow.

  9. I'm sure your winter weather is far worse than ours but putting in a wood burner has made a huge difference. We live in a bungalow (one storey house) so have no upstairs to benefit but the heat from it in a house would rise to make the bedrooms warm (ish). Also, if a power cut is happening, we can boil a small camping kettle or heat food on it. Not much room above it unfortunately but it can be done! If your government is anything like ours, they keep putting up the retirement age so save hard in case you feel the need to retire earlier than planned.


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