If you’re already over 50 imagine how much simpler life would be if you’d known the following six things years ago. And if you’re not yet 50, look and learn.
1. That you would want/have to work beyond the age of 50?
When you’re 20, 50 seems like a lifetime away. Retire at 60? You? No way, you thought back then, not me. The youngest option for drawing your pension was 50 – ages away – so you plumped for that.
But in reality what happens is before you know it you’re hitting the big five-oh and, guess what, work is still a big part of your life – whether you want to keep working or you simply have to keep working.
Some pension firms do realise that life can change dramatically between the ages of 20 and 50. Some still don’t. So if you’re about to take out a private pension scheme it’s worth looking into how flexible the company is when it comes to your choice as to when to start drawing your pension. Because sometimes, just sometimes, life doesn’t pan out like we thought it would.
2. That it would have been cheaper to buy a Ferrari than have kids
Kids cost, no doubt about it. They run up a tab of between £3,500 and £5,000 in the first year alone and it’s all downhill from there. Private school fees cost thousands a year, then there’s college or university to pay for.
According to a new survey by HSBC, the key event that we most underestimate the cost of is raising our first child. Talk about in denial, we underestimate it by a whopping £92,000.
No surprise then that according to another survey, nearly a quarter of people with children have had to put off retirement just so they can pay their kids’ way through university.
So, if you’re yet to have children – or you’re thinking of creating your own five-a-side football team you might want to do your figures first. Because, if each child costs you over £165,000, it’s probably cheaper to buy a Ferrari.
3. That the NHS could fail you in your hour of need
In 2008 we celebrated 60 years of the NHS. Well, some people did, others would have been wondering where those ideals of an efficient, free health service for the nation went awry.
It’s not the doctors and nurses fault, we all know that. But when it’s not uncommon to hear of people travelling half way round the world for medical treatment they can buy more cheaply and more quickly abroad you have to wonder whether the NHS doesn’t need a little TLC of its own.
That’s why it’s a good idea to look into private medical care.
4. That no one knows what’s best for you better than you do
Yeah, yeah. So you think the ‘experts’ said your with-profits policy would give you a small fortune, the endowment would pay off your mortgage and leave you with enough left over to travel the world and those shares would make you a paper millionaire, but I bet they didn’t.
When it comes to looking after Number One you’ll find that more often than not you’re the best person when it comes to knowing what’s best for you.
I’m not suggesting you forsake the pros and go it alone. Just listen to yourself too. Remember that soar-away stock you had a hunch about? And what about that area you said would be the next property hot spot? It pays to listen to some of your own advice – and do some of your own research, of course.
5. That your pension would fall well below any forecast you’ve ever been given
You don’t have to have been an Equitable Life victim to fit into this category. The fact is that with the stock market in turmoil and the pensions industry in disarray that pot of gold in your twilight years doesn’t come with any guarantees.
6. That your dreams and ambitions don’t fade as you get older
Quite the contrary, in fact. Some 6 million people between the age of 50 and state retirement age are in business – the majority of them in businesses of their own. And the growth of organisations that support ‘midlife entrepreneurs’ is testament to this.
Years of hands-on experience, the realisation that life has its ups and downs and that a winner never quits means the over-50s are ideally placed to make a success of their chosen paths.
Figures given to the International Geographical Congress in Scotland showed that Wales has one of the highest rates of business start-ups among the over 50s, where success rates are at 85% for this age group. So it’s never too late.