Preparing for retirement: a few thoughts from a ‘fifty-quite-a-lot’
Retirement: when the partner/officer dichotomy is laid to rest; when the British Council salary becomes the British Council pension. When - with a certain amount of luck, a modicum or so of planning and a little help from various friends - a whole new horizon leaps into view. Is there a blueprint for getting it right?
Well no, of course not, but there are a few guidelines. Maybe we should start with a glance at finance.
Years trailing the world have led many of us partners into different forms of employment, some of which we have even been paid for. Probably few if any of these carried a pension, though, which makes getting the state pension right very important. You can find where you stand currently at https://www.gov.uk/state-pension-statement and pick up some advice on how to maximise your eventual entitlement at https://www.gov.uk/voluntary-national-insurance-contributions/why-pay-voluntary-contributions. Sometimes the British Council can help with Class III contributions. Check this out with your partner as soon as you can: many of us didn't and are now rather wishing we had! In effect, it is almost certainly a very good idea to make such voluntary contributions as the benefits will far exceed costs once you start receiving your pension.
Of course, you may have work of your own that you see no reason to stop, for now at least. And maybe your spouse has plans to move into some other paid field. Then again, do you have investments? Are they doing all they ought to? How will retirement affect what you want from them? Will you sell your house and buy a different one? What will you do with any surplus? Like the children's education and care for elderly dependents, it takes a great deal of discussion and research. You might well like to speak to a financial advisor.
So much for the finances. What next?
You might both want to take up voluntary work, or to take a(nother) degree. You might want to visit old and far-flung haunts, or look for new ones. Meanwhile, where are you going to live? Is it time to move, to downsize? Where will your family and friends stay if you do? How far away from them are you happy to be? Considerations for now and later, as you may become less happy to travel around?
Retirement is something that usually comes on us no later than our early sixties, leaving us with twenty, maybe thirty years or more to push back those new horizons. Even the fittest of us may notice a gradual, graceful but undeniable falling off from peak efficiency. So - those things you've talked to each other about doing but never had the time..... not a bad idea to plunge into the most demanding of them first! Maybe starting with the upheaval of any planned move.
And, of course, there are plenty of people who have been there, done that - family and friends; some of whom may be members of the BCFA or BCA. All ideas gratefully received, all questions listened to (and maybe even answered) - it's what BCFA Facebook is for!
Sometimes we dread the idea of retirement. That's a pity. There may not be a blueprint, but there are plenty of opportunities. All it needs is a little help, a lot of thought and a seasoning of good luck.
David Sinclair Jones