Friday, July 30, 2010

Retirement planning!

The Bank sent me a brochure about retirement planning! Just because I have reached a magic number in the computer's data bank -a number related to my age of course -apparently I am now a customer for all sorts of 'financial planning' advice and products.

The truth is, of course, that we all need to think of our financial health into the future.

I am sorry I was so slow to pick up on this in years past. We spent everything we earned. We had no savings, and no plans beyond wishes for a home of our own.

It was some time later that we came around to the need to get smarter about money.

I can remember a system which worked a simple budget out on a Cash Book with columns. We wrote down what we spent, divided it among categories in the book, and when there was a balance we bought something we needed or wanted. We saved up for clothes -a budget of $5 or $10 per week added up to a nice pair of leather shoes which lasted for a lot longer than the pair bought 'on impulse' as we walked by them in the shop window.

The children (as they were then) had columns of their own, and when they were quite young teenagers we gave them full control of their clothes money. They could buy anything they wanted, but there would be no more than what was in the column balance. One bought chain store value, one bought name brands, but both learned the value of money.

I can remember both my husband and I having 'an allowance' - a little bit of our own money to be spent as we chose, without question -just for sanity's sake.

Over the years we have had variants on this system, some more labour intensive than others, but all of it about making informed choices which accorded with the priorities we set together in discussion, each year.

One of the major challenges for us was the purchase of our home. We lived in homes which belonged to others, and went with our employment, for 20 years. We 'lost' those years, in terms of paying off a mortgage, although we gained a lot of other things which money could not buy.

When we finally took out our mortgage we had meagre savings which we supplemented by cashing in the long service leave we were due when leaving one place of work. The early years of the mortgage were very tough, with growing teenagers at private schools and my husband suffering 18 months of unemployment after being retrenched.

So, this week we are celebrating a certain milestone of life, and one which is a significant one on the road to a sustainable life after our retirement age. We paid off the mortgage!

I'm counting my blessings this week! Hope you are too.

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