Sunday, 23 June 2019

Paula




Roughly once a month Paula and I meet for supper and a glass of wine in the White Horse. We book a small table in the pub window which seats two comfortably and four at a squeeze and spend several hours chatting nonstop until we’ve set the world and our small corner of it to rights. Paula has been widowed for several years more than me, she is also a good number of years older and wiser. In spite of her great age she has a permanent twinkle in her eye, she enjoys her life and has no intention of giving in to old age. In our rural world clothes are of little importance really, but Paula always makes an effort, uses make up and has beautifully kept nails. Compared to her I am scruffy.

Provision for old age is high on the agenda in our talk. Both of us own our homes and both receive an old age state pension. We also have additional occupational pensions; maybe Paula’s is worth more than mine as she has been a teacher for many decades and teachers’ pensions in the old days were generous. What I am actually saying is that, things staying as they are, neither of us needs worry about putting food on the table. And yet, we worry.

The funny thing is that Paula worries about the distant future. Her usually so jolly face turns serious. “But what if house prices fall when things get bad with Brexit?" she asks. It seems she has worked out how many years the value of her house would safely see her through the cost of residential care. “So, if in a few years’ time I have to go into a home and my house is worth less than now I could only  afford to have care for five or six years.” Paula sees nothing but penury ahead. Although she spends money on holidays she certainly doesn’t spend freely. Apparently her accountant has asked when she intends to spend a bit more, reminding her that she can’t take it with her. And yet, Paula worries. Paula is in her early 90s and fit mentally and physically so there’s no immediate prospect of her having to go into a care home. (If I could be like her I’d happily live into my early 90s too.) The average lifespan in a care home in the UK is between 1 and 3 years. Therefore, ‘in a few years’ time’ plus several years in residential / nursing care would bring her close to the end 90s. True, none of us knows what lies ahead but I think that her house, pensions and savings will probably see her to her end comfortably. When I tease her and ask how long she plans to go on for she laughs ruefully and admits that she’s both over-ambitious and over-careful.

Here’s a question which exercises me too:

do you splurge or do you hoard ?
do you live every day as if it is your last or do you save your money on the chance you’ll live twenty more years ?


PS: yes, I know this is strictly a first world problem and a very nice one to have. So please don’t remind me of the millions of people who have a hard time putting regular meals on the table and would only be too glad to worry about an old age they may never see. That’s a problem I cannot solve.





36 comments:

  1. I'm 76 and could live another twenty years. I don't have enough money now to travel, but then again I also don't have any desire to. I do think now and then about perhaps needing long-term care, which would be a problem, but I sure don't obsess over it. Paula is older than I think I'll ever be. But who knows, as you point out. I have enough for life unless things get weird. :-)

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  2. I agree with DJan... am 74 (or will be next month), could live another 20 years, but don't expect to, and don't have enough money to travel (except occasionally to visit family) - but have enough to continue to live comfortably. And worrying or obsessing over what the future holds for us in our older years doesn't help. I understand how your friend can be concerned over the possible loss of value of her house as right now we may be in the same boat - but not yet ready to downsize. But if she's in her 90's and enjoying her life as it is, my advice would be for her to continue to do so... and for you, Friko, to continue to meet with her.

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  3. Good food for thought, friend Friko. My husband and I know about growing up with nothing, then studying and working hard in Europe, then doing same thing over in Canada. We raised our kids doing the same for themselves and that's what they decided to do after a few lumps and bumps and slips and slidings and nods and nudgings along the way. My husband and daughter are true penny pinchers, while my son and I are true splurgers. Interesting family dynamics are happening at times because of that … smiles … oh, and I am a hoarder as well as absolutely love hoarding boxes … small, medium and large … nothing in it, so I stack and organize small boxes into medium boxes and them into lager boxes … for just in case … life is good … and weird, but most of all: Life is good … smiles. Love, cat.

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  4. Good question. My mother reminded me the other day that she could live another 'twenty years'. I hope her pension is enough to last her for the duration.

    My husband and I have nixed the idea of house-buying for the moment. It seems a crazy expenditure given how inflated property values are here right now. We also like the idea of having money in the bank for whatever need or want might arise. Given that we live in the states, money saved is often useful for extortionate medical expenses.

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  5. A problem we faced early when Leo became ill and I had to stop working to care for him. He wanted to do all he could while he could, so we travelled when he was well enough on cheap tickets and in some pretty cheap hotels, but otherwise did not throw money about.
    We have calculated what it will cost if we have to have 24 hour care at home for one or both of us - care homes are not common here - and have put money into a fund ringfenced for that purpose. Further than that we cannot look.


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  6. I am careful but not I think/hope obsessional. There are things I would like to do, rather than things I would like to have, but money isn't the issue which stops me.

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  7. You must have written this for me :) Married, traveled, the best and then divorced at 42.
    Excellent taste, life changed to real me, a cottage by the woods, gardening and no desire
    for more, have a lot, love beautiful clothes, never changed sizes so I have them but like
    simplicity or rather both elegance and simplicity. Perfect health until 80 and then arthritis set in, heart attack 3 moths ago, but doing well and am now feeling near my age
    not 10 years younger. Happy, but wonder how much longer will I live, want to be like I was
    and now I am not, can no longer garden, bake and do much I loved doing. So at 84 guess
    just one day at a time, I truly have lived several lifestyles, this one is the best
    but wish the non stop energy level was still there - enough shared but you brought up what I think about, how long will I live, do not want to sell my home, never some facility
    questions none of us know.

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  8. I think people should spend if they have a reasonable house and a reasonable amount in savings. Have known too many folks who find that the world turns out different from what they thought it was going to be.

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  9. We are land poor. We own our hundred acre farm with its three houses and manage to pay taxes and live modestly -- good food on the table but no more trips abroad or even restaurant meals. The simple reason is that we hope to pass our land (and the capital that helps to pay the taxes on it) to our boys. We don't mind -- we've done our traveling and it takes a really amazing restaurant to beat the food we have at home. And we've worked for forty some years to make home the place we want to be.

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  10. a little of both. as working artists we never had a large income, barely sufficient would probably be a better description with an occasional abundant year thrown in. all we have is our individual social security checks now that we have retired which we did for health reasons and besides our jobs had dried up to a trickle once we moved out of the city. what we do have is most of the money from the sale of our city house in a neighborhood that became gentrified so we got a good sum that's gaining interest and it's money we try not to spend at this point in our very late 60s. we know how to live frugally and don't go wanting. but for the last 6 years I've traveled during the summer, something I thought I would never be able to do. the husband isn't interested so I go alone or travel with friends.

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  11. I live in the land of extortionate medical and care coats, do not qualify for long term care insurance because I am disabled since birth and now in a chair that cost $11,000 ten years ago.My place of twenty years may face the chopping block and it will be hard to find other housing, adapt it and move, etc. m 60 and have relatives that lived past 100. I hope my finances hold out but worry they won't.

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  12. "In spite of her great age she has a permanent twinkle in her eye, she enjoys her life and has no intention of giving in to old age. In our rural world clothes are of little importance really, but Paula always makes an effort," Fine portrait to emulate, I'd say. I enjoy the security more than the spending. Having said that, I am enjoying the unexpected blessings i enjoy and have ceased to worry over much about tomorrow. Waste not, but enjoy!

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  13. I am about to retire and won't receive a pension for a few years, so I am very conscious about having enough money to last. I now how she feels, but truly, at the age, I don't think she should be too concerned and as my partner says, shrouds don't have pockets.

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  14. We live within our means but do not deprive ourselves of a splurge now and then. I like the idea of a monthly meeting in a window seat enjoying good company, food and the view.

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  15. In thinking about and planning for the future as I age, I follow the happy medium. Some planning but not too much. One thing I live by is to do something each day that makes me happy. Ten years into retirement I am happy with my finances, but who knows what tomorrow holds. I am learning to trust Jesus more.

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  16. Hi Friko - interesting to read your post and everyone's comments. I'm pleased you have a Paula - she sounds ideal for putting the world to rights over some wine and supper. I think I'd put my life as interesting ... but not too financially secure - still wheels are in process, so I hope things will come around. I'm positive and with a ready smile which helps so much. I too have a Paula - though with a different life-style - and she has a huge family ... but we meet when we can - take care and enjoy whatever time you can get in the garden - life will unfold ... it always does - yet we never know what's around the corner. Look after yourself and do what you can and what you want to do when you can. Cheers Hilary

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  17. Well, an interesting conversation that I've had with B and a few others. But we don't dwell on it. (Or at least, I don't.) We mostly hoard, with an occasional splurge. We also have long-term-care insurance which we hope will take care of the ugliness at the end. Anyway, I hope to live another 20 years, but don't really worry about it too much and try to live every day -- not like it's my last, but feeling grateful and blessed that I have another day to live and love and learn. B thinks she'll live another 30 or more (her mother is alive at age 103) and she's a bit more concerned.

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  18. I live in the moment but plan for the future. I treat myself and my family well, but seldom go overboard because I am a practical person. My parents lived long lives and I expect that I will do the same. I want to be independent as long as possible.

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  19. A thought provoking post and interesting comments. I love to splurge here and there . I enjoy traveling but right now I am unable to do so.

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  20. Except for the international travel deemed necessary, we tend to be frugal. Given the bleak scenario I envisage for the future, I want to try and leave as much as I can to my children. I hope to avoid long-term care (hah!) by vigorously maintaining my physical fitness and have my fingers crossed that no major illnesses spoil my plans. Paula (who sounds like a terrific dinner companion) is not unlike many women who, no matter how comfortable and successful they may be, still worry about ending up as the equivalent of bag ladies. Getting counsel from a good financial planner isn't a bad idea—worrying just puts a damper on the time you've got left.

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  21. The benefit of having survived the hemorrhagic stroke is that I experienced God with me through that.I expect He will be with me whatever lies ahead. Hubby and I are in accord in spending judiciously, enjoying simple pleasures. Travel often is camping, with elder discounts in national parks that give us access to the natural environments we love. Oh, and our "White Horse" for meeting friends is Coffee Fusion.

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  22. I think no matter how much we have, we tend to worry, even a little. I try not to, being very aware of the uselessness of worry, the outcome obsessed about will either happen or not. I have very little for a lifetime of work but recently formed an activist group which will hopefully change what elder women receive in their declining years as many are in poverty due to the non-compensating labour of raising children. This keeps me focused on others far less fortunate than I.

    I have family members who are extraordinarily wealthy but who worry obsessively about all they have and cling tightly to it.

    I live frugally but beat myself up badly even for a tiny bit of extravagance. This month it was a bright red cotton throw which cheers me up immeasurably and cost very little, but did I really, truly need it?

    XO
    WWW

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  23. At 51, I still have quite a few years of my working life ahead. If things keep going as they are now, I won't have to worry much about my finances when I retire, but I won't be rich, either. Ever since I my parents deemed me sensible enough to have pocket money (I remember it was 2 DM a week when I was 12, and less before that; going up a little each year), I was a careful spender.
    So far, the bank still largely owns my flat, but it should be fully paid by the time I retire, so no mortgage then anymore. But...
    ...there is still the idea to buy something bigger, nicer together with O.K.; no proper plans about that yet, still only an idea, but it would mean a very different financial situation.
    I just hope I'll still be reasonably healthy when that time comes around!

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  24. Splurge or hoard? We do both at different times, but our 'splurging' brings us pleasure. We own many things which are not essential to our health though maybe, almost certainly, to our well-being. We are getting older but forget about it until someone (usually one of our offspring) reminds us. Live for the moment!

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  25. I am blessed with a heathy retirement portfolio. We have two pensions and we really made an effort to save before we retired. I also have long-term care insurance that will pay for two years. When my in-laws required care both died within the year and thus we did not have to worry about funds. My parents were able to live at home and later with my brother. I have dodged the bullet, but I do think being frugal and enjoying your waning years are both goals to keep in balance.

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  26. I realize that now I'm on a fixed income I need to be careful that it will last. Even after my main savings goes down, I have two pieces of property. When I retired, I didn't think I'd live that much longer but now I'm doing well and it becomes more of an issue! That said, I don't believe in hoarding every penny. Life is for living, too. Travel and doing things we love. So I try to mix it, maybe a little more aware now of the prudence but a good mix.

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  27. We live within our means and still manage to save a bit for a rainy day so to speak. We are not wealthy. I tend to hoard a bit...the freezer and pantry are full:)

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  28. My mother's dictum - spend some, save some, share some, has stood me well and continues to do so even now that I'm retired. No matter how little one has (or how much), those three Ss give your money purpose.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Pauline, this dictum from your mother seems so wise to me. I'm going to copy it down and post it on my refrigerator. What a wise woman she is (?) or was (?). Her wisdom will always live on. Peace.

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    2. Dear Friko, how wonderful to have a friend in her nineties with whom you spend time, share thoughts and a meal, and are invited to consider a future. A friend of mine--Gennie--who was 97, died in mid-June. We spoke on the phone several times a year, and I so valued her simplicity and wisdom because I so often make things complicated--mountains out of molehills! Peace.

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  29. I have such Paulas as friends and they are wise and wonderful and funny, one of them is above one hundred years old - her mind as clear as always, unbelievable, I am actually often jealous! Have more nice days Friko. :-)

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  30. People can be such downers. Thank you for your last comment.

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  31. I am still working and saving, in 49 months that will change. I can’t take it with me, I better enjoy it.

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  32. As I age I lean more toward the live today than the put it off for tomorrow.

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  33. I will be retiring officially next year. For many americans retirement is a scary topic. I for one am scared that the idiot we have controlling the U.S. will hurt elderly americans further than he has done so far. So much madness these days.
    BTW, I saw your comment you left on my blog today and wanted to welcome you to visit more often. I do hope I can brighten your spirits most times when you visit.

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  34. I suspect there are one of two courses ahead for me - either my cancer will return and I'll be gone within a very few years or it will not and I'll live another 30 years or more. So I try to keep a balance - I definitely am saving for retirement, but also travelling now while I can even though it's expensive because I love it so much.

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