As a youngster, I was always encouraged to start saving my pocket money if I wanted a new toy or a new book. As I wasn’t born into an affluent family, money was not a common feature in my life. I soon learnt that working hard and saving was important if you wanted to enjoy the good things in life. This way of thinking became serious, when, at the age of twenty I bought my first house while still at university. This encouragement to invest in property so young, came from my father who firmly believed that buying property was a great way to invest for the future.
With many ups and downs in my working life, including early retirement due to ill health, I realised how important it was to have some savings tucked away. Been forced to retire at the age of 43 was a huge shock, but as I had being saving for some years, it was so reassuring to know that my savings would support me at a time when I wasn’t earning.
Of course I also had those unforseen circumstances that we all have, such as my car breaking down, emergency house repairs and urgent family issues that required an input of money. So it was always good to know that my savings helped during these emergencies and saved me from extra stress.
So now at the age of 55 what do I feel about saving for the future ? Well, at the age of 50 I know I reached a dramatic turning point in my life. My beloved father died and my grown up children all started to get married, buy their own home and my first grandson was born in 2015. How did this effect my view on finances and savings ? Well, I suddenly realised that life was short and it became very important to me to grasp opportunities and experiences as much as I could. I felt that I had so much to achieve and experience before I got too old to care ! There was so much I wanted to do, so many places I wanted to visit and so many memories I wanted to create.
Of course, I realised that many of my dreams required money to fulfil them. Sometimes money DOES make the world go around, especially if you want to travel, whether this is in your own country or abroad. I also enjoy going out for meals, theatre and cinema visits and other cultural activities. If you remember my recent post on my fitness campaign, I am also keen on keeping fit and healthy, so my gym membership plays an important role in my life. This all costs money, but for me it is priceless, as health is so important in extending the quality of my life.
So, with all these plans to tick off items on my bucket list, there is only one way to fulfil these dreams and that is by smart saving. I read a recent survey conducted by Leeds Building Society which was really quite thought provoking and made me realise that the age of fifty is when most people start to panic about money and the future. In this survey 42% of full time workers regretted not saving enough money when they were younger. 54% of employees aged 40 and above thought they would have to work longer to live the kind of life that they want in the future. The survey also stated that 25% of 50-60 year olds regretted not saving enough so they could retire early.
So the big question is …. is it ever too late to start saving to fund those dreams that you have ? Quite honestly … no I don’t believe it is EVER too late. In fact you can start today, right now ! The first, most important thing you can do to improve your savings stash is to start putting money away each month at a regular time. If you make saving a habit then you will automatically do it with little thought. Doing it this way means you probably won’t even miss the money. Personally I would look at putting this saved money in a cash savings or instant access account. This means you can access the money easily, should you wish to buy that new car or go on that exotic holiday to Bali !
Many people are unsure just how much they need to save in order to have a full life once they retire. I think the best thing to do is to write down a list of all your annual outgoings. Look at your household bills, car running costs, leisure activities, and of course don’t forget to budget in those dream holidays. By doing this regularly, you should get a clear idea of how much you need to save in order to have a stress free retirement.
One thing to check when saving is the interest rate of the savings account that you are using. I have made this mistake in the past when I never checked the interest rate of other financial institutions for many years. It is easy to become complacent, but if you shop around you may get a more competitive rate which will make your savings go further. Because instant access accounts have a lower interest rate, then you may find it more useful to have a couple of accounts which means spreading your savings. You can therefore have some savings which are easily accessible and also savings in a higher interest account for more long term saving.
So what does all this saving mean for our lives as we get older ? Saving hard is no use if we don’t enjoy our life to the full. I know only too well how easy it is to get stuck in a rut, especially once we retire and withdraw from working life. As we get older I believe it is really important to keep our social life busy and buoyant. It has been proved that been involved in the community improves our mental health. According to a recent survey more people fear loneliness and outliving their savings more than death itself. That is just SO sad. Surely if we make the effort to be more sociable and more involved in our community then loneliness will not be an issue.
So what can we do to help ourselves avoid loneliness and this feeling of isolation as we get older ? Well here are a few tips I have if you feel that feeling of loneliness or boredom creeping in as you get older.
- Buy your local newspaper. All local newspapers have details of events, clubs or classes that you could join. Whether this is a dance class, yoga class, art class or a photography club, there is always something for everybody’s needs and interests.
- If you are female then why not search out for your local Women’s Institute ? Most towns and cities in the UK have a W.I group that you could join. These groups are not all about making jam and singing Jerusalem ! They have many varied activities, days out, and most of all they are about friendship and community. A fabulous way of making new friends and getting out of the house.
- Go to your local library or book shop and enquire about joining the local book club. Book clubs have become very popular recently and it is a great way to make friends AND read some great books.
- Join your local sports club. Do you have an interest in a particular sport such as golf or tennis or perhaps bowls? Sports can be a great way of making new friendships, but also a way of keeping fit and healthy which is so important as we get older.
- Enquire at your local college about adult education classes. Perhaps you want to learn Spanish for your next holiday ? Or are you interested in learning pottery or a similar craft skill ? Perhaps you want to learn a skill that might help you set up a new business working from home ? Do you know that the age of 50 is the most popular age for restarting a new career or business !
- Are you interested in singing as part of a group or choir ? Then why not visit your local church to see if there any opportunities for you to join a group. This is a great way to meet like minded people and can give you a sense of worth and belonging.
- If you are retired and have a lot of spare time then why not look into volunteering ? Many charities are crying out for volunteers and while you are obviously helping them out, this can also be a great way for you to feel part of the community and can give you a sense of self fulfilment.
- If you are retired but miss the feeling of been part of the workforce then why not look for a local part time job. The over 50’s have a great deal to offer employers with their vast work and life experiences. Many companies now welcome this age group with open arms as they realise the advantages of employing the older generation.
Have you experienced loneliness and isolation since you retired ? Do you have any more tips on keeping active and part of the community as you get older ?
Have you any tips on saving for the future, especially if you are over 50 ? What advice would you give to someone who is perhaps panicking about retirement and whether they will have enough money to fulfil their dreams.
I have contributed to a recent article commissioned by Leeds Building Society on this topic so I would love it if you would pop over and have a read. Please click here to be directed to this article.
I hope you have found this topic useful and informative. Please let me know in the comments below what you think.
Until next time dear friends
** This post was sponsored by Leeds Building Society but the words and ideas are solely my own **