Sunday, 30 November 2008

Boomers still saving for the future

More than eight out of ten (83%) people over 50 say they are still saving for their retirement, according to The Savings Outlook Report from Alliance & Leicester Savings*.

Financial security in later life is a real priority for this group and 42% said they are making, or have made, sacrifices to help ensure they enjoy a comfortable retirement. Almost half (48%) say they will have to save for longer because of increased life expectancy. Furthermore, just under half (48%) are concerned that the changing economic climate will have a negative impact on their enjoyment of retirement.

The Alliance & Leicester Savings report found that the majority of people (58%) over 50 do not harbour any illusions of an extravagant retirement lifestyle, but are instead seeking to balance living well now with providing for a secure future.

There is a mixed picture of how those approaching, or already in, retirement feel about the financial decisions they have made in the past. Almost half of these ‘Silver Savers’ (48%) regret not giving enough thought to their finances in years gone by. Only a quarter (26%) of those surveyed say they live for today, spending now, as and when they choose, while the majority are holding back and striving to protect their retirement savings pot.

A third (34%) plan to use savings to fund holidays during retirement and another fifth (18%) intend to upgrade their car. A generous one in ten (13%), want to build an inheritance pot for their family or fund children or grandchildren’s futures (12%).

So - maybe we boomers are a bit more responsible than some press reports suggest.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Grandparent of the year - but be quick

This is the time to drop some hints in the right direction! Age Concern has been running the Grandparent of the Year competition for 18 years. The award is run in association with Specsavers and recognises the valuable contribution grandparents make to society and to the economy. One in four families rely on grandparents to look after children each week and this childcare, provided for free, is worth £3.8million to the UK economy. Grandparents are often mentors in family life, helping to build understanding between generations.

Anyone over the age of 6 can nominate on-line at or by sending a written nomination to Age Concern England. Nomination forms are also available in local Specsavers Stores, the location of the nearest Specsavers store can be found at .

Age Concern & Specsavers will select thirteen regional winners from around the UK. From these five will be chosen to progress to the next stage as National Finalists. The finalists will be invited to London, along with their nominating grandchild, on an all expenses paid trip to take part in the awards ceremony and visit some of the capital’s top attractions. The announcement of the winner of the Grandparent of the Year 2009 will be at a reception at the House of Commons hosted by GMTV presenter, Fiona Phillips.

The Prize
The Grandparent of the Year 2009 will receive £3,000 cash to spend as they wish plus £2,000 in hearing vouchers and £750 in eyecare vouchers, courtesy of Specsavers.


Sunday 5th October – launch date
Sunday 30th November – competition close
January 2009 – Regional Winners announced
February 2009 – National Finalists announced
Wednesday 25th March 2009 – Winner announced

Friday, 21 November 2008

We've had enough and we're off...

The prospect of living through a recession is driving more than 400,000 over 50s Brits to consider packing their bags and leaving the UK for good to improve their financial position, according to new research from RIAS, specialist insurer for the over 50s.

Sounds dramatic doesn't it! There may be some truth in this but as a psychometrician - my first job - I would want to know much more about the survey questions. Asking people if they like the idea of moving abroad is one thing. Asking them if they intend to do so is something else. It is always sensible to be sceptical about surveys - especially those carried out by commercial organisations with something to sell. Having said that this still tells us something about levels of comfort and satisfaction being experienced by the over 50's.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

'Harvest Time .....?'

My Dad left school and started work at 14, seemed to have very few holidays as far as I could see and worked until one week before he died of lung cancer at 59! Watching that happen had a lot to do with my attitude to work and retirement - I was always clear 'I work to live, I do not live to work.' I was lucky and still am (touch wood!). I had a very privileged life, really loved the work I did, the great colleagues I worked with and the times we shared, the clients who gave us great opportunities to make a difference. So, a great working life, but all the time a strong ambition to get to retirement - the time of life that Jon O'Donohue the Irish poet/philospher called 'harvest time' -where we have the opportunity to enjoy the fruit of our labours. In retirement I love the idea that most of one's time is 'chosen' - there need be no deadlines or 'three line whips' if one does not wish them. Within one's resources, there is time to design much the kind of 'portfolio life' one has always wanted, combining activities and experiences that tended to be squeezed out by working-life. What is important I have found is that;
  • one prepares ahead and doesn't come to a 'full stop' but rather a 'tailing-off' of full-time work and a 'moving-on' to a new, thought-out pattern of life;
  • it is a mistake to think of retirement as 'doing nothing', as simply a chance to 'do all that list of jobs one never got round to', a chance to be on 'permanent holiday', a chance to be with one's partner 'all of the time' (not many relationships can survive that!) unless of course any of those 'works for you'!;
  • one needs to be clear about one's 'needs' that were met in full-time work. Working with people who had lost their jobs made it clear to me and them that they were losing more than income. They were losing they said, 'a purpose', a 'place to go every day', a reason to get out of bed', 'status and respect in the eyes of the family and the community'', 'identity', a 'chance to use their skills', a 'chance to go on learning', 'contact with colleagues and customers', 'challenge and support', a chance to 'make a contribution' and 'experience fulfillment', 'motivation';
  • our full-time working life has been a major way of us having a whole range of important 'needs' met. Typically, we will have put the requirement to meet all those needs into the 'one basket' of our job;
  • our full-time work may disappear but 'our needs' do not disappear with it. The challenge is to find new ways to have our important needs met;
  • the challenge in retirement is to design a 'portfolio life' that combines a range of activities, involvements and options that do meet our own unique pattern of needs.

I am fortunate enough to know an appreciable number of people who have done just that, who love retirement, who 'wonder how they ever found time to work' (cliched but true for many) and who are vastly enjoying their 'harvest time'. In future postings on this blog I would like to share some of my observations on what they do that makes it work for them. I would also greatly welcome any contributions from any source on 'making retirement work' that we might pool and share for the benefit of each other!

Monday, 17 November 2008

And in the USA......

We know about the contributions being made to our company by the 50+ entrepreneurs so it is interesting to see that the same is happening in the US.

The mature market entrepreneurs are a driving force behind the American economy. Mature Americans, aged 55 to 64, create businesses at the highest rate of any age group — 28% higher than the average (source: Kauffman Foundation).

In response to this mature market wave of entrepreneurs, The U.S. Small Business Administration has unveiled a new website, The new site features interactive information and links to help 50-plus entrepreneurs consider the benefits and rewards of business ownership, and to help them make informed choices about business ownership.

And in Australia

Australians have radically changed their attitude to retirement, abandoning the hope of leaving the workforce at age 55 and opting now for an average of 65.1 years.

That was one of the key findings of research presented today at the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia national conference being held in Auckland, New Zealand.

The research, conducted by McNair Ingenuity, also confirmed that people aged between 50 and 65 were more likely to be using a financial planner.

Consistent with other previous research, the McNair data also revealed that people aged over 50 were far more realistic about their likely retirement incomes.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Oldies are more realistic

From a survey of over 3000 American adults conducted at two time points spaced nine years apart, Margie Lachman and colleagues found that younger and middle-aged people tended to underestimate their past happiness and to overestimate their future happiness - probably because to do so helps motivate them to strive for a better life.

By contrast, older people (aged over 65) were more accurate in recalling their prior and future life satisfaction - in this case, to do so probably reflected their need to accept their life as it had been lived, combined with their greater understanding of our capacity to adjust emotionally to
whatever life throws our way. Indeed, in line with the predictions of the older participants, most people's life satisfaction, in this study and others, actually changes very little through the years (in Western democracies, at least).

Lachman's team also looked out how adaptive it was for people to have either rose-tinted or darkly clouded views of their past and future. The results showed that at whatever age, it is beneficial to have a more realistic view of the past and future. Those participants who more accurately perceived their past and future happiness tended to suffer less depression and enjoy
better health.

The Mature Market Segmentation Model

Well this mouthful is from a site called Millennium a company that specialises in marketing to the over 50's. I was especially interested as they get into the problematic area of what to call us as they segment us for marketing purposes. They call their model the New Majority which they claim incorporates what they have learned about this market in over 12 years of research, analysis and communications.

They define us as – Thrivers (50-59), Seniors (60-69), Elders (70-79) and Survivors (80+). Well I definitely do not like to be called a senior, Mike is not exactly enthusiastic about being titled an elder and we have friends in their 80's who strongly object to being called survivors. "Makes us sound as if we are sitting in death's waiting room".

This nomenclature problem is very difficult indeed. It would be interesting to get some opinions on this.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Flirty fifties again

A new survey of over 2000 people from the Sagazone was reported in an article in the Daily Express.

Apparantly 50+'s are just as likely to be unfaithful as younger people.
One in four has cheated on a partner by having an affair – the same proportion as those under 50. But they are much more likely to be forgiven for the fling than younger people who stray. The older generation were found to be twice as likely to be able to forgive. Just a quarter of them said they would break up with a cheating partner, compared with half of the under-50s. They also have a more relaxed attitude to what constitutes cheating in the first place. Half thought kissing someone other than a partner was being unfaithful, compared with more than three-quarters of the under-50s. A third thought sending suggestive text messages to someone else could be considered cheating, while around half the younger group did. The over-50s said life experience has given them a far more considered attitude towards infidelity.
So now you know!

Nobody likes to be forcibly retired

The Irish Times has just reported a story about a fireman with an “impeccable record” who has brought a High Court action aimed at preventing Drogheda Borough Council retiring him.

Patrick Reilly (58) has been employed as a retained firefighter with the council since 1980 and wants a declaration from the court that an agreement between him and the council means his retirement age is 65. He is also seeking an injunction preventing the council from retiring him until he reaches 65, plus damages.

The council is opposing the action and denies Mr Reilly’s retirement age is 65.

Over in the Uk we are still awaiting the full outcome of the Heyday case in the Hague on this issue and the current goverment are prevaricating until 2010 when presumably they hope that the decision will have been made for them. Watch for many more of these stories.