Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Recession Tips 3 - 8

  • Explore what you want to buy in stores and then buy it on the Internet at home. Use your search engines.
  • Always negotiate in small business owned stores. You can try in the larger stores but the sales people often have no delegated power to negotiate with you.
  • Ask for discounts for cash.
  • Try home exchange schemes instead of renting villas and apartments.
  • Forget designer labels and go to TK Max, Primark, George at Asda, etc.
  • Don’t buy new. You can buy second hand copies of books from Amazon online that are hugely discounted from the price of new ones.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Sandwich Generation feels the pinch

There is much discussion as to the impact of the recession on the over 50's but one of the reasons why this age group may find things more difficult is because of the financial support they are consistently giving to their grown up children and to their ageing parents. This is to the tune of more than £1.5billion a year.

More than 250,000 Britons are currently paying for their grown-up children and at least one ageing parent, according to research by Unbiased.co.uk website, which searches for financial advisors.

Many will spend so much money looking after the young and the old that they are left with very little left for themselves.

Overall people who make up the sandwich generation are spending more than £124million every year supporting their children and parents, more than £1.5billion a year.

The research found that 3.3million parents are currently supporting children aged 21 or over at an average cost of £254 a month.

This works out as a total cost of more than £10.2billion a year.

Meanwhile more than one million people are supporting their aging mothers and fathers at an average cost of £244 a month, or £2.8billion a year.

The survey of more than 2,400 adults worked out that on average 12million people financially support at least one relative. Boomers are often accused of being hedonistic, spending their kids inheritance, and while their is undoubtedly some truth in that let us not forget the value of the support that we still provide for our families.

Over 55's are savvier online shoppers

Online shoppers in the 55+ age bracket are apparently far more likely than 16-24 year-olds to use Web 2.0 resources like blogs and forums in advance of any purchases, according to web hosting firm 1&1 Internet. Its survey found that 70% of older respondents do their research online before committing to purchases, compared to just 53% of the youngsters. So either these ‘silver surfers’ are just more in tune with the Web 2.0 blogosphere – or they’re a lot more careful

Checking for online feedback is now becoming an increasingly common part of online buying decisions. Overall, about two-thirds of those questioned said they regularly check the internet for material about the specific retailer before they make a purchase, while 46% said they tried to read some kind of online review about the particular product. Indeed, we’re increasingly reliant on the feedback that other users leave about previous purchases – around 40% said they routinely rely on websites’ star ratings and rankings. An assiduous 24% even go to the lengths of looking for customer service commitments on the website.

One in three of us is now perfectly happy to leave a review of a site or product after we make a purchase, whereas only one in five can be bothered writing a letter (although statistically, people still prefer the more old-fashioned approach of actually speaking to people about their experiences). And interestingly, this is probably good news for smaller retailers, at a time when they’ve never needed it more: now that it’s so easy for people to get feedback on the most unfamiliar of sellers, they’re more likely to trust them with their money. Well, as long as the feedback’s good.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

50+ women are more irritable in marriage than men

A Saga survey of 800 50+ women and men shows that women are for more annoyed with their men than the other way around.

Four in five women admitted they found certain aspects of their husband's behaviour irritating.

Men are more forgiving, with four in ten (40 per cent) finding nothing irritating about their spouse.

In total, only one in five people (22 per cent) said that nothing irritates them about their spouse.

The survey comes in the run-up to Christmas – one of the few times throughout the year when many couples spend a significant amount of time at home together.

The biggest frustration for men was their wives always wanting to do things their own way (19 per cent) and their wives making arrangements without consulting them (14 per cent).

The survey looks at the common complaints in marriage for the over-50s.

The top five for women include:

*Being taken for granted (26 per cent)

*Having an untidy partner (24 per cent)

*Their husbands insisting on always doing things their own way (24 per cent)

*Their husbands leaving all the housework to them (17 per cent)

*Their husbands undermining them in front of others (13 per cent)

Helping out with the housework shows the widest difference in attitudes with just two per cent of men admitting this was a cause of friction compared to 17 per cent of women.

Despite these findings, the over 50s couples still enjoy being with each other as more than three quarters (83 per cent) believe that spending time together is the most important aspect of marriage.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Recession Tips 1& 2

We are starting a series of tips for the over 50's to help with weathering the growing storm. Most of us have lived through one or more of these before though maybe not so dramatic as this one may turn out to be.

1) Are you paying unnecessary tax on your bank or building society interest?

For the last week or so HMRC have been running a campaign to remind people who are not taxpayers - including many pensioners - that they should register with their bank/building society to get their interest paid without tax deduction. Banks & building societies take 20% tax off before paying their interest to their savers. So someone who is a non-taxpayer then has to claim it back from HMRC or they can register with the bank/building society (with a form R85) and get it paid without tax deduction. You can also get free tax advice from Tax Help for Older People if your household income is less than £15,000 per year and you are a pensioner.

2) Make sure you are not paying national insurance once you have reached state pension age. This is particularly important if you have been or are still self employed.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Over-50s Could Spend Millions More Online

The over-50s hold the key to continued growth in online food and grocery shopping, according to new consumer research from international food and grocery expert IGD. The report, called the Golden Generation predicts that the value of online food and grocery shopping will nearly double in size by 2013 to be worth £6.2bn (up from £3.2bn in 2008). It suggests that older people today remain open to new ideas and experiences and many enjoy shopping online. However, food and grocery is lagging behind certain other categories and there are some barriers to overcome.

The key issues are delivery charges; ease and security of ordering; and product reliability.

In a survey of just over 1,200 older shoppers (50+) conducted in the autumn, 27% said that they would start shopping for food and grocery online in certain circumstances.

  • Nearly half (48%) of those considering online food and grocery shopping would do so if various price issues were dealt with - eg, scale of delivery charges for small orders, guaranteed same prices as in store, and the same promotions available
  • More efficient and secure ordering was mentioned by 46% - including greater security against ID fraud, better view of products on the web site and a quicker ordering process
  • Two fifths (39%) were unsure about the reliability of product quality and delivery - suspecting, for example, that they would receive products with a short shelf life.
The 'Grey Pound' is proving very attractive and the recession is likely to enhance that attractiveness.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Rainbow Years published at last!

Mike and I are delighted to announce that our book has been published this week. In addition to bookshops it can be bought at Amazon.co uk, play.com, and also from www.fiftyforward.co.uk. We should point out that all 3 of these sources offer a guaranteed discount. You will probably also get discounts in bookshops but clearly that is unknown to us.

This feels like an important milestone - but only one. That is why we are continuing with this blog and also to contribute to the learndirect fifyforward website. So do watch this space ...

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Grandmas don't know everything...

Following on from our previous post Mike and I decided that we don't have enough humour in this blog. In fact you don't find much humour in most blogs. My American friends in particular think that this is because of political correctness and a terror of litigious actions.
Well - to hell with that! At our ages we should be able to enjoy some humour so from time to time will share items with you that amused us. Here is one that arrived today.....

Little Tony was 9 years old and was staying with his grandmother for a few days.

He'd been playing outside with the other kids for a while when he came into the house and asked her,

'Grandma, what's that called when two people sleep in the same room and one is on top of the other?'

She was a little taken aback, but she decided to tell him the truth. 'It's called sexual intercourse , darling.'

Little Tony said, 'Oh, OK,' and went back outside to play with the other kids.

A few minutes later he came back in and said angrily,

'Grandma, it isn't called sexual intercourse . It's called Bunk Beds.....

.....And Jimmy's mum wants to talk to you.'

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Grandma puts pension at risk when she stays at home to care for grandkids

The Daily Mail has launched a campaign to highlight the fact that although there are fairer pensions for stay-at-home mums, grandparents who are increasingly playing a major caring role in the family are at risk of being disadvantaged with their pensions. They point out that more than half a million families rely on grandparents to help care for their young children. But in fulfilling this vital family role, which is allowing mums and dads to earn a living, the grandparents are throwing away their chances of a decent state pension.

With the average age of becoming a grandparent just 51 or 52, this means grandmothers are jeopardising their pension prospects.

Unlike registered childminders, they don't qualify under the child-care tax system. Even if the child were looked after by a neighbour, the taxpayer would foot 80 per cent of the childcare costs to a weekly maximum of £175 for one child. The 55-year-old grandmother would not get a penny.

And while from 2010 women who care for older relatives will get an NI credit after 20 hours a week caring - as well as a carer's allowance and a full NI stamp at 35 hours - grandparents are again overlooked.

To qualify for a full state pension of £90.70 a week, women have to build up 39 years of national insurance contributions. This is being reduced to 30 for those retiring after April 6, 2010.

But while stay-at-home mums receive Home Responsibilities Protection to help to replace these missing NI contributions, grandmothers who give up work receive no help from the Government.

Samantha Smethers from Grandparents Plus adds: 'So many grandparents give up work to care for their grandchildren, yet they are being taken for granted.

'Many mothers prefer their children to be looked after by a close family relative rather than entrusting the care of their child to a complete stranger.

'More than 90 per cent of stay-at-home grandmothers do it for nothing. The least we can do for them if they do give up work to care for their grandchildren is to ensure that they don't miss out on the chance to secure that full basic state pension in retirement.'

The Government says that grandparents will benefit from the new rules allowing them to buy back extra years of missing NI contributions.

But Baroness Hollis says most grandparents will find this impossible if they are not earning: 'Stay at-home grandparents give the best possible care and love for the child. Giving them more financial help would strengthen family bonds and might mean a greater willingness 20 years down the line for the granny, in turn, to be cared for by her family.'

This seems to us a campaign that needs supporting.

Blueberries 'reverse memory loss'

Eating blueberries can reverse memory loss and may have implications in the treatment of diseases like Alzheimer's, University of Reading scientists claim.

Scientists found adding foods like blueberries to a regular diet, resulted in improvements in memory.The foods, known as flavonoids, were historically believed to act as antioxidants in human bodies.But the study indicates they also activate the part of the brain which controls learning and memory.

Dr Jeremy Spencer, from the department of food biosciences at the university, said: "Scientists have known of the potential health benefits of diets rich in fresh fruits for a long time.

"Our research provides scientific evidence to show that blueberries are good for you and supports the idea that a diet-based approach could potentially be used to increase memory capacity.

"We will be taking these findings to the next level by investigating the effects of diets rich in flavonoids on individuals suffering from cognitive impairment and possibly Alzheimer's disease."

The research has been published in the Free Radical Biology and Medicine journal. And the cost of blueberries in the winter credit crunch - but maybe its worth it!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Prime and Bank of America combine to encourage entrepreneurship

A new £2 million three-year partnership has been set up between the Prince of Wales' charity Prime (The Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise) and the Bank of America Charitable Foundation tolhelp the older unemployed get back into business. Start-ups will be offered encouragement, mentoring and investment under the scheme, which is supported by the Government.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said: "There is no age limit on entrepreneurial spirit. During the current economic climate it is even more vital that older people have the confidence to make their business ideas a reality."

Research carried out by the bank on behalf of Prime found 16% of those aged 55 to 64 have considered, but not realised, their ambition of establishing their own business. Some 53% of over 50s feel they are at a disadvantage to younger people in the job market. And 81% say it is the attitude of employers to age that puts them at this disadvantage

The survey of 1,000 adults, including 472 over 50s, also found 54% of older people looking for work think the credit crunch will dent their employment prospects.

The charity said there are 3.6 million unemployed UK people aged 50-65, with the over 50s suffering the highest long-term unemployment rate.

Businesses launched by people over 50 now account for 15% of all start-ups in England and Wales. And whereas companies started by older people have a 70% chance of surviving the first five years, companies started by younger people have just a 28% survival rate.

According to Prime, if 1% of out of work over 50s became self-employed, 25,000 jobs would be created and £175 million would be saved in benefit payments.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Happy retirement roadmap

A most valuable expanding resource is the great deal of evidence that is emerging from the world of Positive Psychology as to the elements of a ‘happy’ life. The chief proponents are offering us new insights into what sages, philosophers, gurus and grandparents have always told us, that happiness does not come from wealth or possessions, but from how we live our life. In his latest book Professor Ed Diener introduces the concept of ‘psychological wealth’. He defines happiness as ‘a subjective well-being’, an individual sense that one’s life is ‘good’. He goes on to establish that this sense of well-being, this ‘happy’ life, is not an end-state, not a destination we arrive and remain at, not a ‘place’, but rather a process of living with some key components in balance in our life. If we can live like this we are ‘psychologically wealthy’ and distinctly richer and happier than someone who is simply ‘financially wealthy’. Single component wealth does not result in a ‘happy’ life
So what are the components of ‘psychological wealth’ and the resulting happiness? Ed Diener’s extensive research suggests these are our positive attitudes towards life and the world around us, the quality of our relationships with family and friends, our health, our involvement in work that we find meaningful and aligned with our values, our spiritual development that commits us to causes that are greater than ourselves, our adequate material resources, a focus on the happiness of ‘now’ (‘smelling the roses’, seeing the positives now rather than aiming at some future happiness). Diener calls this happy state ‘having a balanced portfolio’ and he reminds us that ‘happiness takes work’.
The possibility of combining this awareness with the natural wisdom that comes with ageing gives the 50+'s a great platform for building happy, holistic, portfolio retirements.

Sex the number one leisure activity for credit crunch days

As the credit crunch bites, Britons may be turning to sex as a cheap way to pass the time, a charity says.

A YouGov survey of 2,000 adults found sex was the most popular free activity, ahead of window shopping and gossiping.

The Scots were most amorous with 43% choosing sex over other pastimes, compared with 35% in South England.

Aids charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, which published the survey, also welcomed recent figures showing an increase in condom sales.

Around one in 10 respondents to the survey, carried in November, said their favourite free activity was window shopping and 6% chose going to a museum as the cheapest way to pass the time.

But the sexes differed on their priorities, with women preferring to gossip with friends while men had sex firmly at the top of their list.

And of course we have already quoted previous research to the effect that the over 50's, 60's and 70's are getting more than their fair share of this!