Midlife Thoughts

Is that the size of my pension pot?

Somehow, I am not living the prospect of a retirement dream. You know, the one where you go on cruises in the winter to warm countries and spend summers drinking Pimms in the backyard of your home which is mortgage free? Sadly, that is not going to be me for some, many, years.

Working part-time while bringing up my daughter and missing out on climbing the career ladder, as a result, has left me with a rather small pension pot. So small, in fact, that it resembles a plant pot which one keeps on a narrow window ledge.

Was I sold a myth of the golden retirement or was I dumb enough not to forward plan? Either way I am going to have to work till I drop. Drinking Pimms and cruises will have to be slotted in between working days and, that is if, I can afford it. If there is one thing guaranteed to keep me awake at night, it’s worrying about my pension.

In the New York Times Bestseller book, ‘Why We Can’t Sleep’, on the female midlife crisis a chapter on ‘Money Panic’ may very well have been written by a fly on my wall in my still mortgaged home. The opening lines of the chapter read, ‘Gen X women undergo a bone-deep, almost hallucinatory panic about money. The worst part: it’s a fear based on experience and complicated by a sense that we shouldn’t be having this problem. We are some of the best-educated human beings ever…’

While the book relates to the American women’s experiences, nevertheless it raises interesting aspects of the problems faced by Gen X women who were raised to believe that they could live financially secure lives if they played by the rules of doing well at school, getting a reasonably paid job and being a good diligent worker. It isn’t just an American problem either because there is plenty of evidence that Brits are experiencing the same worries.

A UK based think tank has published a report which states that UK based Gen Xers face financial hardship too because of debt and a savings deficit. (Also note that Baby Boomers aren’t exempt either from the retirement nightmare.)

Nearly one in three Generation X members (those born between 1965 and 1980) face financial hardship in retirement due to having inadequate pension savings and run the risk of only achieving a minimum or lower than minimum standard of living in retirement as a result.’ 

Is there a solution to ensuring a future paved with pound notes? Saving, saving and more savings seems to be the answer to increasing pension sums. Easier said than done but good luck. If you do find a money tree somewhere please let me know immediately and I will help you care for it with my green fingers.

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