Couch 2 5Km Update 2:

I must admit I struggled with Week 5 – not just my dislike of running but oh, my knees! I felt that the level of activity and length of runs was really a noticeable ‘Step Up’. Although let’s be honest – it is not really running, still just light jogging with Michael Johnson’s verbal encouragement in my ear but, oh it hurt.

I had great plans for Week 6 as I would be in Stockholm, Sweden and the weather forecast was good. The hotel had a gym so I thought I would try that out first – it was small and busy and I felt guilty ‘hogging’ the running machine so the first run of the week did not go to plan. Not to fret, I thought, I would do Run 2 outdoors.

Up early and in the dawn sunshine I set off from the hotel. The paths and roads were surprisingly busy for 7.00am and I did become lost on a few occasions which was distracting. I decided that I really should put the plan ‘on hold’ although I kept the legs moving by doing my own version of running/brisk walking for the rest of the week then re-started Week 6 once back in England. This will delay the actual 5km run.

Who am I kidding – I was never going to maintain the timeline.

Stockholm, in case you have never visited, is a beautiful city. Reminded me of both York and Venice but more of that in a different post.

Back to the task in hand. I re-started the sessions by running/walking along the banks of the river Tees in lovely spring sunshine.

Week 7 was another ‘Step Up – and Oh, my calves! I stretch, I warm up, I cool down and yet this week my calves have letting me know that they do not like running either.  As the Hay Fever season was with us I thought it may be best to move indoors do a session in the gym.

Well, that may have worked except for the guy on the running machine next to me. He started off well then slowed and coughed and wheezed and stopped. Then once settled he would start running again – then the coughing and slowing would start, then settle. I diagnosed Exercise Induced Asthma (can take the girl out of nursing but not nursing out of the girl) although knowing that did not stop the distraction as I was conscious of him all the time.

Run 3 nearly didn’t happen as in the morning I twisted my back and caused it to spasm. I kept changing my mind as to whether it would be best to delay exercise for a day. In the end I decided I was just taking the easy road because running is not my thing so – 400mg of Ibuprofen and off I went (this is not a recommendation, nor advice). I covered 3.8Km in the 35 minutes which was really encouraging and my back felt a lot better.

Week 7 complete and on to Week 8, I’m still in the game.

 

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Jennifer Birdie Shawker on Unsplash (Featured Image)

Photo by Peter Wendt on Unsplash (Stockholm)

Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash (Hayfever)

Photo by Yuki Dog on Unsplash (end photo)

 

Planning for Retirement (Stage 3)

Planning for Retirement (Stage 3)

Staying social-able

A big gap in social interaction occurs very suddenly once you are no longer in the workplace. It is easy to spend the day without speaking to anyone. Whilst, after a hectic and stressful occupation, this may sound idyllic, absence of social stimulus can lower your mental and physical well-being.

Relationships with colleagues often contribute to your social interactions in life. It is simple to calculate how many hours per week you spend in the company of professional colleagues and in differing environments. The absence of this following retirement can create a ‘big hole’ in your life.

Although many relationships formed through work can result in lasting friendships it is also true that these can fall by the wayside as the changes within the workplace occur and the ties that formed the relationship are loosened.

Despite the permanence you consider your relationship to have it can falter and, even if it doesn’t, I would recommend investigating what you can do with yourself now that you are no longer leaving the house daily to go to work.

Alongside supporting mental health and well-being by interacting socially with friends and family it is possible to avoid loneliness which brings with it a host of issues I thought may be better written about in a separate post. (Coming soon)

Do leave the house – but where to go?

You could investigate this both locally and nationally, so below I have briefly done both. Pathways to national information appears very straight forward so I have listed this first.

National Groups and Links

Thanks to web search engines such as Google, Yahoo etc it is easy enough to discover what national bodies are ‘out there’ and keen for you to participate in their activity and/or cause. By inputting key words, relating to your hobbies and interests, into a search engine can lead you to all sorts of information and even more ‘links’ which distract you for hours!

As examples:

Interested in gardens? By entering ‘Gardens to visit near me’ into Google several links to sites offer the opportunity to investigate this further 

https://www.ngs.org.uk/

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/

https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/search-form

 

 

 

Interested in group travel abroad? By entering ‘travelling abroad in groups’ several links appeared leading to companies wishing to whisk me away to unlimited numbers of exotic places 

https://www.explore.co.uk/experiences/holidays-for-solo-travellers

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/uk

http://www.statravel.co.uk/travel-china.htm

 

 

Want to volunteer in Britain or abroad? Entering ‘Volunteering in Britain’ again resulted in many links – in fact I followed many and completely forgot what I was supposed to be doing. I had not realised that so many opportunities were there. The main concern that I would have on reading some of these sites is ‘are they looking for someone young? A student on a gap year?’ Whilst initially this seemed to be the case when reading further into some sites the majority are mainly looking for people with – time, skills, interest – and you are most likely to have those in abundance.

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/jobs-and-work-experience/work-experience-and-internships/volunteering

https://do-it.org/

https://www.environmentjob.co.uk/volunteering

 

Walking along the River Tees last week I noticed this poster advertising for volunteers to assist with maintaining the waterway and its surroundings. Find out more at Canalrivertrust.org.uk or email: customer.services@canalrivertrust.org.uk

 

 

Another national source of information is, of course, newspapers. Especially the weekend supplements, many print articles such as ‘the 20 favourite coastlines’, ‘20 popular pubs’, ‘10 favourite Yorkshire walks’ etc. For many years I would read these, planning on which I would undertake – never to have the time.

A few years back, as a team building exercise, myself and some colleagues were challenged with following a scripted walk around an area of London. It was an area not unfamiliar, or so I thought. What I learnt was that I would be so intent on arriving at a meeting informed and on time that I never actually looked where I was going! It is easy enough (once again thanks to the internet) to obtain information of such walks in your area and create a social event with family and/or friends. There is sometimes a small cost to download the instructions but not always, so arrange a date and off you go.

https://www.ctguides.com/preparedwalks

https://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/the-street-art-walk

https://www.pinns.co.uk/devon/ashclystforest.html

https://www.walkingenglishman.com/daleswensleydale.html

I recently discovered a walk along Regent’s Canal (www.theoutdoorguide.co.uk/britains-favourite-walks) and so will be meeting up with a friend in early summer and following the route. It is described as a ‘country walk’ so I am expecting to see a different side to London.

To stretch your mind, you could also consider day/evening classes at local educational centres – often listed through the LEA websites for example https://sunderlandcollege.ac.uk/19-plus/short-courses/ lists vocational courses available in Sunderland. Another option is to visit the Open University website which offer free courses via the Open Learning page http://www.open.edu/openlearn/

Although I have no up to date experience of the OU I did study for my first degree through their undergraduate programme and found it a very enlightening experience, very efficiently run with a high standard of course materials and support.

Local Activity

Local information, surprisingly, is more difficult to identify. I discovered that some group activities are shared only amongst the people who already know and not all use the internet (and if they do it was frequently out of date). So, the challenge was finding out how to find out.

I discovered that it is common for local interest groups to share information in the buildings where they meet – so I spent some time walking around the village looking at notice boards outside such places as The Parish Hall, the Church Halls and of course – the Post Office (that ancient stalwart of village news and gossip). Local Libraries are another site that will distribute information via its notice board, although commonly those are only open part of the week, so you may have to call more than once to gain access.

One very useful pathway for discovering activity opportunities is a weekly/monthly newsletter which lists the meetings and venues for each month. Where I live we are fortunate to have both – the monthly newsletter is paper-based and delivered to the door. The weekly ‘roundup’ is an electronic newsletter delivered via email – which means you must join a mailing list, which means you have to know about it in the first instance. I only discovered by chance – eavesdropping on a conversation in which it was mentioned, and then I had to confess to my nosiness in order to sign up ?

Joining up to local groups can be a scary prospect, going anywhere as a stranger is daunting at the best of times. I find doing so in a community where I live can have added concerns. Whilst the first visits are to assess the level of interest, required commitment, cost etc if you then decide not to formally ‘sign up’ the ‘locals’ could take this decision quite personally. So, I decided to develop a strategy whereby I attended the groups that interested me and where I knew there would be people who I already know. Initially attending those I had always had an interest in and would manage to work into conversations that ‘I am just trying out the wide choice of activities over the next 12 months, I had not realised there was such a hive of activity’ (which I hadn’t until I started looking). Then I gradually expanded to attend those where I was interested although didn’t know anyone who went.

These included groups in nearby towns. I have always been a frequent reader and over the years have set myself reading challenges – this year my challenge was to join and participate in a Book Club. For a variety of reasons, I could not join the local ones so decided to investigate others nearby. I took a guess that a Bookshop would have some information so approached Waterstones – and not only did they know of some in the town they also had one that met in their store monthly. Alongside of this group I was also informed of a Writing Group that met regularly on a Sunday morning, again in the store. I have no intention of writing a novel yet am aware my writing experience was mainly of official reports, finance papers and projects – all of which had meant my writing style was formal and instructive, not a style that would be conducive to the ‘Blog’ arena I was planning on being part of.

Joining the groups meant I had to follow my own advice re ‘being comfortable in the company of strangers’.

Joining In

Choosing an event where the participants sit and are expected to listen is, in my experience, a good place to start. If everyone is basically listening, then everyone is ‘on their own’ to a certain degree plus as a ‘first timer’ you would not be expected to contribute – this gives you space to analysis how the group works and what level of contribution is given. Most interest groups are just that – full of interested folk, this is not an exam, people are there because they are sharing an interest and it gives them a reason to leave the house.

This doesn’t mean that you do not make any contact at all – go in the room, introduce yourself to the person at the door (there is always a person at the door), grab a coffee/tea – say hello to the person next to you in the queue and/or the person on the chair next to yours. Introduce yourself, say that it’s your first time – with some luck it will be a chatty individual who gives you some hints as to how the meeting works. If the event interests you go back next time – or review the scheduled topics for future meetings and go to those of interest (I do that as I think it reduces the sense of commitment until I am sure I want to be a regular attender)

It is important to build up connections, even in localities where you have lived some time you may not know the names of the people to who you say ‘Hello’ as you pass them on the paths.

Recognise ‘first time’ nerves – our confidence is often underpinned by our expertise and position. Having retired from the workplace can cause a temporary lack of confidence as we adjust to the new life and altered status. It is important that we understand the normality and commonness of this.

Just think – at one time all the people in the room you are walking into walked into that room for the first time too. Building connections and gaining recognition takes time – something you now have plenty of.

If you are already involved with local activity groups you could offer to extend your commitment. When working it is often difficult to take on roles that maintain the group – now that you are no longer working perhaps doing so is something you can consider. Alongside of ‘helping out’ the extended involvement often results in widening your relationship with others. There is a danger you may feel that once recognised as the ‘Secretary’ means you will be doing the job foreveeer. To prevent this, prepare your exit plan – state how long you will take on the role and stick to it. If all is going well you can always extend the time period, although I never do – I take on roles for a maximum period of 3 years and then even if I am enjoying it I step down.

If interest groups are not your ‘thing’ or the thought of joining is too daunting it is still important for your well being to be outdoors frequently and maintaining even a basic level of social interaction.

Walking outside daily builds face recognition, for yourself and for others to recognise you. Do it often enough and folk start to say ‘Hello’, this initial greeting assists with sense of belonging. Because people have seen you the next time you meet, perhaps in a shop queue, they are likely to start a conversation because there is facial recognition and a sub-conscious acknowledgement they have seen you before.

I was in a local shop in the queue when I recognised the man in front of me. He said ‘Hello’ pleasantly, it was the week before Mother’s Day and I noticed he was buying a card so remarked on this – the queue was moving slowly so we had a good conversation about mothers and thanking them for their efforts etc. He was eventually served and left the shop. The assistant asked me if I know him – ‘I certainly know his face’ I said ‘just cannot think of his name’. She replied ‘He’s Kevin Keegan’ (A world famous International footballer and Premier league manager in his time – just in case you were wondering)

Face recognition – important for human interaction.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Featured Image – Photo by Rhand McCoy on Unsplash

Garden photo – Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

Travel Photo – Photo by Tommaso Pecchioli on Unsplash

Walking photo – Photo by Daniel Frank on Unsplash

Post Box – Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Book Club – Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

People Meeting – Photo by Juri Gianfrancesco on Unsplash

People dancing – Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash

Adore/endure – Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lasting Power of Attorney

Lasting Power of Attorney

Do you have one in place?

Not one to nag, although I could go on for hours as to why you should have this sorted. I think it should be a mandatory process alongside paying tax etc.

My personal experience of what happens when one is not in place was worrying, time consuming, required assistance from outside agencies and financially the bill was not small.

Although I was able to retrieve the monies, I had to part with over £2,000 initially. I am sure my parents never intended to place me in that situation, yet it happened and happened so quickly. Despite help from my parent’s GP and Social Services the process took 7 months via the Office of the Public Guardian/Court of Protection (OPG/COP).

During this time the bills were growing and companies, landlords etc required payment – so I had some interesting conversations with a variety of people. Whilst most were understanding and patient that was not the case with others. This made an unpleasant time for the family even more distressing.

To avoid my children having a similar drama I will have a LPA in place shortly. Only delayed so I could go through the process ‘live’ and highlight the ‘highs and lows’. Allegedly it is easy to do online so here goes.

https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney

Follow the link to the site, there are many sections and I would advise reading them all before starting to input any information. I found it readable and easy to follow.

First you must set up an account with the service – was quick and asked nothing you would not expect.

You are required to have both a witness and a ‘Certificate Provider’ (a person able to confirm you are of sound mind and acting voluntarily) alongside a person/people who have agreed to act as your Power of Attorneys. Once you have completed inputting the basic information online payment is required, (there is then a 40-day time period during which you must obtain the required signatures and post the printed forms to the OPG Office, if you do not make this deadline the payment is returned to your bank account). My understanding is that you can continue and re-pay, although if you think that you may not be able to make this deadline it may be simpler to select the ‘pay by cheque’ method.

To input the required information took me approx. 20 minutes and if I had had the Certificate Provider, Attorneys and witnesses ready and waiting with pens in their hands the whole process could have been completed within an hour.

I choose to only have ‘Property & Finance’ LPA status and that the attorneys could act ‘jointly and severally’ in regard to decision-making. This means that they can act separately or together, the alternative is ‘Together/Jointly’ which means that all attorneys have to agree on the decision. The former suits my circumstances better – my children live in different parts of the world and I felt ‘Jointly’ may prove too restrictive. Again, this is something that you need to consider, dependant on your own circumstances.

Undertaking this process on my own behalf has been much quicker and simpler than when acting on behalf of someone else, so again I would strongly advise you to do this, if only to save a member of your family having to work through the process at a time when there may be other stresses.

Deputyship:

When implementing an LPA is not possible, like myself, you may need to obtain a Deputyship instead.

Although following completion of this the support and guidance I have received from the OPG has been excellent I cannot say the same for the process itself.

I found the communication between myself and the COP Office easy to misunderstand, responses from my queries often took a long time and no matter how quickly I responded to their queries the COP office adhered to the timeline for each procedure. On behalf of my parents I applied for an LPA and a Deputyship at the same time, the LPA took approx. 8 weeks, the Deputyship took 7 months. I maintained regular communication regarding our situation although nothing appeared to encourage them to ‘move the timeline’ at all.

My parent’s financial affairs were in joint accounts so, despite obtaining the LPA on behalf of my father, I could not access anything until the Deputyship process was complete – so also consider your joint accounts and how you would like them to be managed.

I often reflect on that time and the speed at which the COP could finalise the request when informed that my father had died and that now the situation was becoming untenable – Care Home fees and other debts had grown and now there was a funeral. It was all sorted within a week.

In retrospect the speed at which it was all concluded was very frustrating. I am guessing that the documentation was in a tall pile and was swiftly moved to the top.

Although, as stated earlier, the guidance and support from the COP/OPG Case Workers has been very good so – all’s well that ends well.

Have you started your LPA documentation yet?

Photo Acknowledgements:

Line of People – Photo by Levi Jones on Unsplash

Dog – Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Featured Image – Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

 

Couch 2 5Km Update 1:

Having survived to week 4 I thought I would up date you on my progress. Week 1 involved 3 sessions, each of 30 minutes and comprising of 7 sixty second light jogs. These were interspersed with timed episodes of brisk walking all the while Michael Johnson spoke encouragingly in my ear. It all sounds a doddle – it wasn’t.

Although fair to say that by the third day I was looking forward to it, not proud to say it was more to do with ‘getting it over with’ than any anticipation of enjoyment.  At the end of the session Michael J. advises a drink and a snack to ‘replenish and re-energise you’ – so I had a cup of tea and 2 biscuits, not sure that is what he meant ?

In week 2 the length of the light jogs increases in time to 90 seconds. I did find these more difficult although mostly because I had miscounted the number of runs in Session 1 and had not finished when I thought I had ☹. The disappointment stayed with me all week. That said I did notice by the end of the week I was running longer distances in each 90 second jog than I had at the beginning of the week. Now for 2 days off (I don’t do weekends)

Week 3 had a shock – the sessions now included 2 runs of 3 minutes! I had decided to try running on the treadmill at the gym instead of the paths near the house. Previously I have had difficulty even walking fast on treadmills, so anxiety levels were high. All was well, so I now know if there is heavy rain I have no excuse. Is that a good thing?

Week 4 already and is approx. 50% of the way there.

Just some general advice – Be Sensible, whilst offering encouragement by sharing my story I have no idea of your state of health or fitness so can not offer any specific guidance.

If you have never run before or have been inactive for some time I would suggest that you ‘step it down’. Instead of ‘walking briskly’, walk at your usual pace, instead of doing the ‘light jogs’ walk briskly. It may mean that instead of jogging 5Kms in week 9 you walk 3Kms briskly – it is still beneficial and could lead to you then taking up the challenge as originally intended.

Week 4 really stepped it up a gear – there are two 5-minute runs in each session, interspersed with shorter runs and brisk walking. I must admit by the third session and the final 5-minute jog I was struggling. I consoled myself that I had spent the previous two days going up and down a step ladder whilst decorating a bedroom and yet here I was, still on track.

Onto Week 5 Run 1 – I still dislike running.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash (Featured image)

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Planning for retirement (Stage 2)

Planning for retirement (Stage 2)

Thrift and Frugal Living

Very few of us are lucky enough to retain the same level of income once we retire.

Whilst the cost of working could be offset against the reduced income there is often a noticeable difference. For example, my income was reduced by 2/3rds!

This would have been an enormous shock to the system if I had not been aware nor spent two years planning for this change.

Despite the changes in income it is very likely that reductions in some outgoings had already occurred over the final working years such as mortgages finally ‘paid off’, childcare and childrearing no longer a major outgoing (no books on childrearing really present how much that ‘little bundle of joy’ will cost – and go on costing).

The Bank of Mum and Dad will, no doubt, also be coming to an end of its major purchases – University costs, weddings, assistance with house deposits etc hopefully becoming a thing of the past.

What I am attempting to present here is that the need for a large income is reduced, that with planning and a few alterations there can still be sufficient income to maintain your lifestyle and enjoy the future.

Following my parents’ retirement my mother once stated, ‘you have the greatest income when you least need it’. I think she was pointing out that with no dependants and no mortgage any financial outgoings were more constant and therefore manageable.

There are various ways to both manage an active retirement on a reduced income and to increase access to funds.

The most obvious that comes to mind is down-sizing the house, yet it can also be the most difficult.

Although I know that many people move home during their lifetime many others, like myself, stay put and build out. As a consequence, there can be an emotional attachment that is difficult to sever.

Plus – children sometimes do not/cannot leave for a variety of reasons so down-sizing to free financial capital and reduce household bills may not be an option.

As my children are still young adults and only one has reached the stage of having a permanent home of her own moving to a smaller house is not an option for us, besides when all 3 arrive along with partners and friends I daydream of ‘elastic walls’. And – do they ever remove their ‘stuff’!

I digress, back on topic now.

Down-sizing, financial investments, savings plans, and pensions could all provide a ‘safety net’ but what of the general ‘day-to-day’ cost of living and ways of reducing casual spending.

Some ways to reduce casual spending occur naturally and were only a result of working. Who know it cost so much to have a job? I had read of the cost of items such as the coffee purchased at train stations and the lunchtime salad/sandwich as you run from one meeting to another but once no longer working I noticed many other things I no longer needed. Smart work clothes, parking fees and petrol are examples. I would fill my petrol tank at least weekly just to travel to the workplace. Now, even though I do a similar number of personal miles, I only need to buy petrol approx. every 2 ½ weeks.

So, whilst some outgoings are reduced naturally, I still thought it would be useful to look around the internet and gather some ideas. Not surprisingly there are many sites relating to Thrift/Frugal Living/Savings advice. Many are similar in what they advise, perhaps with little new information although reading them can act as a catalyst to action – switch off that light, share that car journey etc.

Many that I read are written for those with families, especially those with young children, rather than retirees. Although useful for those with grandchildren I guess.

I have listed examples below of those I thought useful and easy to read. Many suggestions demonstrated will not be new, just sometimes reading a collection of ideas encourages you to apply suggestions to your own personal situations. Possibly even sharing thoughts and joining in the conversation on the website comments page.

http://www.frugal.org.uk/home-and-life/around-the-house/

https://www.thesimpledollar.com/little-steps-100-great-tips-for-saving-money-for-those-just-getting-started/

http://www.shoestringcottage.com/

 

Another that I found useful is http://www.frugalwoods.com  This is a Website/Blog written by a young mother in the USA. Now, you may think that it will have little connection with retirement planning, yet I found it very useful to view some of her categories relating to Thrift, financial planning etc. Her and her husband decided to abandon the city life and move to the country. This took some planning and re-thinking of how they used their income, how to sustain life on a reduced income and how to generate an income by identifying opportunity and utilising transferable skills. Her writing style is friendly and easy to read and often her family-based articles are entertaining (especially when read at my stage of life, brings back memories of toddler training and enhances the joy of being able to read her blog whilst enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee. Which I think is life’s own reward ?) I only ‘follow’ two website/Blogs – and this is one of them.

In general, the common and easy suggestions to follow to reduce spending were:

Electric and Gas Tariffs – check for better deals.

Mobile phone tariffs – check again when contracts are coming to an end. Often identifying a cheaper tariff and showing it to your current supplier results in the company matching it to retain your custom. If not move your contract or consider ‘pay as you go’.

Rail travel – Obtain a Senior Rail Card (save approx. 30% – it will soon pay for itself), book in advance where possible. Check if travelling with specific rail companies is cheaper. This may mean you need to plan your journey more attentively but can result in a substantial saving. For example – using TransPennine Express between Darlington and York can result in approx. 50% less cost than travelling on other services. The journey is slightly longer and the trains less frequent but if that is of no matter than I think the money saved is better in my pocket than the train company’s.

Cinema – Midday showings on week days are often cheaper

Restaurants – Lunch is often a cheaper option than dinner in many eateries

‘Yellow Label’ Food Shopping – the foods are usually only reduced as the Sell By date is imminent, my son introduced me to these and I would recommend looking when you are in the supermarket as once purchased the item can be frozen for using later or used on the day you shopped. Look out for seasonal vegetables etc – another common suggestion for reducing the food bill.

Menu Planning – this is an activity I have implemented for decades. My initial reasoning was around organisation of wholesome meals despite working full time with young children, being able to make all meals from scratch was important from both a nutritious stance as well as providing an environment in which the children learnt, sub-consciously, about food and cooking. Whilst helping with the ‘chopping and stirring’ it is surprising how teenagers communicate, and I then learnt about their day etc. The benefit to this is that having a shopping list of only the ingredients required means you only buy what you need – well, if you stick to the list that is.

Gym Membership – Use it or cancel it. If you find that, once no longer working, your attendances are usually week days between 9 – 5 your gym may offer a ‘Off Peak’ membership at a reduced cost – worth thinking about.

Petrol – Plan your trips so that you reduce your mileage and usage of the car. I try to avoid using the car for journeys that I can walk to in less than 30 minutes and when travelling further afield I try to complete several tasks on the day rather than have multiple journeys over the week, each for a single purpose.

Am sure there is nothing new in this although hopefully it has re-awaken some thoughts

Photo Acknowledgements:

Featured Image – Photo by Niels Steeman on Unsplash

House – Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash

Laptop – Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Dog – Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

 

 

Couch 2 5Km

Couch to 5 Km

Firstly, I must admit – I hate running. I can climb on a bike and cycle for hours but running, it’s not for me. I would rather miss that bus and walk to the next stop.

When at work I regularly walked between buildings, returned on foot to the railway station etc. and always wore a pedometer to ensure I was keeping mobile despite hours sitting on trains and at meetings (a day in Sheffield including a walk from the train to the Hallamshire Hospital and back was a journey of 17,000 steps).

Since I no longer work, nor travel as much, I have looked at a variety of ways to maintain fitness – physical health underpins mental health and agility as I am sure you know.

Listening to BBC Breakfast one morning I heard a discussion about a Public Health England App – Couch 2 5Km – and thought ‘now there’s a challenge’

https://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx Follow the link for detailed information, find the downloadable App on the App Store

One You Couch to 5K logo image

Looking at the information on the website there is a 9 week programme which guides the participant through a common sense build up of strength and stamina towards achieving a 5Km run – and you get to choose your trainer, I choose Michael Johnson.

Now, I am still not convinced I will run 5Km, nor that I will enjoy the process although determined to accept the self-imposed challenge.

Updating on a regularly basis, I think, will encourage me to at least be an enthusiastic participant. Starting on Monday 16th April I should be running 5 Km on June 25th. I’ll let you know.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Coen Staal on Unsplash

 

Planning for Retirement (Stage 1)

Planning for Retirement

A hand holding a coffee mug in front of a road, pine trees, and river in Vancouver

How do you do this? Do you do it or just let it happen? Nowadays as we tend to live longer – and be more informed regarding our possible retirement dates/choices/pensions it is most likely that we do some level of planning.

For me there were 2 main areas to consider – finance and activity. As with many women (and now increasingly men) I had career breaks to have children, then worked part-time for several years whilst they were young. For me this was definitely the correct path to take and I enjoyed it tremendously – the best of both worlds.

Although it did impact on my career progression in the long term, I also had opportunities that may not have been open to me if I had followed the normal signposted career pathway.

Aside from the impact on the occupational pension because of working part time there was also the change to the State pension and retirement age. I had started work thinking that I would be retiring at the age of 60. Whilst in my 50’s I was informed by the DWP that my eligibility to draw a state pension was now 66!

Added to this and, again like many others, I had my children in my later years rather than my 20s as was considered the norm. My last child was born when I was 43 and so I had to take his need for support during his ‘Uni’ years into consideration as I wanted to offer him the same level his sisters received.

So, first I needed in-depth information around what my pensions would be and the out-goings we would have. Whilst I acknowledge that as one part of a couple this is easier than as a singleton I am very independent and have always ‘paid my share’ and had no intention for that to change.

Once I had information relating to my occupational pension (for example https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/nhs-pensions ) and my state pension estimate (https://www.gov.uk/state-pension ) I was able to calculate my income. Then to calculate the out-goings, obviously there was to be a level of guess work involved due to such unknowns as inflation, gas/electric/council tax price rises etc.

Once these are known it should be possible to understand what level of planning is required and enable you to identify a possible retirement date and how to work towards it. Obviously the earlier this is undertaken the better prepared one is.

I know that I had no intention of retiring at 60, I felt fit physically and mentally to undertake my role yet 66 seemed too late to be up at dawn every day. So, I decided I would leave at 62 (in fact I left at 63, but that’s a different story). Having calculated the monthly income of my occupational pension I decided to consider that figure my income for the last two years of my planned employment and save the difference.  Whilst not everyone would be able/wish to do this for me it provided a saving pot which is contributing to a massive renovation of the house and demonstrated that the level of the pension was adequate to cover my outgoings. So far so good.

There are many websites offering much sounder financial and investment advice, some of which I read when planning my financial future, others I have discovered since.

I have listed some below:

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/manage-your-money-in-retirement

https://www.gov.uk/plan-retirement-income/get-financial-advice

http://www.laterlife.com/financial-advice/financial-advice-retirement.htm

https://www.thebalance.com/retirement-blogs-worth-reading-2388632

https://theminimillionaire.com/personal-finance/30-uk-based-personal-finance-blogs-you-need-to-follow/

Another consideration is looking at ways of reducing spending – a different way of managing financial concerns and I am preparing a ‘post’ relating to Thrift/Frugal living as there are so many ideas and hints that I thought it warranted its own space. (coming soon…)

Yet another option – is re-employment. Don’t stop working, change the day job – this could be part time, short term projects, turning an interest into income or simply job-sharing the current job. I have friends who have ‘re-invented’ themselves and I plan to invite them to write their story, hopefully it will give you some enthusiasm to review your skills and consider how they can be utilised in a different way.

When the scenario is not typical.

What I had described had been most likely the average path taken towards retirement in respect of relationships, pensions and mortgages. ‘What about the folk whose ‘normal’ turned out to be different?’ I have been asked.

Divorced, widowed, children late in life can all impact on planning the future. It is also possible that many people re-mortgaged the house to release funds or because of divorce had to start again. In these situations the financial considerations are obviously different and may, in fact, require retirement to be delayed.

An alternative is to consider re-employment in a part time role or a less demanding job. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many employers are keen to employ experienced people on a part time basis – the skills and organisational knowledge is retained. As said earlier I will shortly be uploading an article focused on how to utilise your skills – in similar or different industries than you once worked in.

Each person’s story is individual to their circumstances so all I can offer is a general guide – sit down with pen and paper. Having listed the incoming pension alongside the known and anticipated outgoings you will know if it is manageable. If there is an imbalance – what are your options? Will you be receiving a ‘Lump Sum’ as part of your occupational pension? If so, could that be used to clear some of the outstanding costs? For example – if there is a mortgage would the Lump Sum’ be enough to clear it? Or – if you used some of the money to clear part of the outstanding mortgage would paying the remaining as a monthly payment be a possibility, that way leaving you some funds in the bank in case of emergencies.

It may be that there is no ‘Lump Sum’ or it is insufficient but leaving your job is the decision you have made. Then it is time to look at the alternatives and seek financial guidance. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/getting-financial-advice/  The Citizens Advice Bureau is a good place to start.

Finance is, of course, not the only consideration when planning retirement as the change in your life is much wider than that and so hopefully, again with help from friends, I will be posting articles to give you as wide a view as possible of all the angles and opportunities.

Also – happy to upload your personal experience if you wish to share – send an email, I’ll make contact (perpetually49@gmail.com)

Photo Acknowledgements:

Yoga –  Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash

Coffee Mug – Photo by Matthew Sleeper on Unsplash

Featured Image – Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash