Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Life is good on a pension

Hello. Something someone said about not knowing all of my story which got me thinking. There must be newer readers who haven't read from the beginning, so will not know the background to my frugal journey. I've had a look through my bank statements and found some scribbled notes which will shed a bit of light about how skint I actually was. I can't put actual dates to some of the reasons why my income dropped very low, but it was round about my early to mid fifties when I started reducing my driving hours which reduced my paid income. I was not enjoying the job so I chose to work less hours. 
 Before that I was also running a small businesses, I bought in stock and sold at shows and events. It was a lot of work, making a little bit of money, but it didn't last very long. The recession kicked in and people stopped buying non essential items. I had to close it after three years, because I was starting to lose money.
After that, I started another business, an Introduction Agency/Singles Club. That was also a lot of work while still driving part time. Over three years it just about covered the expenses so I closed it, having made nothing.
A while later I took a short break from driving and bought a new catering trailer, got a pitch for it and started work on an industrial estate. I didn't last long. It was the wrong time to start, middle of winter, business was slow, and I hated the smell of the cooking. I sold the trailer and lost £1000 on it. My bank balance took a hit and was very low, so I had to go back to driving to earn some money. 
When I was 59 I had an operation and took 12 weeks off to recover. I wanted to go back to work, but they announced they were closing the depot so I didn't have a job to go back to. I was a job seeker for the last seven months until I could fully retire at 60. 
I have always meticulously checked my bank statements, keeping a beady eye on that bottom line. Sometimes it plunged perilously low so I had to do some calculations to make sure there was going to be enough to cover the standing orders, and pay the mortgage. If it dropped too low, there was only one thing to do, earn more money. 
Here are some of my scribbles. Note to myself  DON'T SPEND.
Only £547 left in the bank on this statement. I think that was two mortgage payments. There was a lot of juggling going on.

Here the balance didn't look too bad, but when I calculated everything that was going to come out during the month, it dropped dramatically.

This is low but not too bad. Got to get that money in money out balance a bit better though.
Going down again. all my business transactions were going through my current account. I cancelled the business bank account when they started making charges. My accountant advised it was ok to do this as long as the paperwork was all in order.

Oh my gawd, I think that was the lowest.

I was sailing a bit close to the wind at times, but strangely enough I wasn't too bothered. I never dropped below the bottom line, even though it was a challenge to stay afloat. My first state pension payment of £136 was paid on May 18th, I had a balance of £1,400. I felt safe then knowing that this amount would be arriving every week and would never stop. I was also receiving a small amount from a private pension which was £33 every four weeks. Both of these have increased over the years, and are my only income.

So there you are then. I've been down in the basement, now I'm on the way back up again. My mortgage is paid off and I have an emergency fund, so life is good on a pension.

Thanks for popping in. We'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

38 comments:

  1. Bless you, thanks for sharing this with us, I am cutting right back this month and will try to maintain it. No more unnecessary spending, I need to have an emergency fund. Goodnight,kitx

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  2. I agree it is very sensible to keep tabs on spending. Like you I have struggled in the past to the point of having to do two jobs to bring in money to pay bills and a mortgage. Now I am fanatical about spending and do my shopping in lots of different shops to get bargains and cheaper prices. You are an inspiration Ilona and thanks for your brilliant blog x

    Linda

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  3. Inspiringly honest, thank you.

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  4. paying off our mortgage early was the best investment we made. When the rates shot up , we struggled to keep up but did so- then the rates dropped but we kept on paying the same as we had. the building society said we could only pay off £1000 extra at a time. We just ignored them and carried on. Took about 8 years off the time and I don't remember how much but saved us.

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  5. As I say over and again. I know I'm very adoring, but you are my inspiration and make me want to be a better person. Hurray.

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  6. I have been reading your blog for a while now, but have just recently started commenting. I too am a very frugal woman, who watches every nickel and dime that goes in and out of our (hubby & me) bank account. We wouldn't be financially comfortable now, had I let my hubby be in charge of finances!

    You have led a very fascinating life and still do! Love reading your blog.

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  7. I was steps away from the streets and being homeless in 2008, having lost my job in the global economic crash. I knew I wasn't the only one in that position but it was a position that I never ever wanted to find myself in again. Everything changed for me in 2008 and since then, like you, I have built up a good financial safety net. Thank you for sharing :)

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  8. Ilona, this was wonderful to read. I have read short bits and pieces about your life before. You should write a book- honestly!
    I am amazed, particularly, by all the other money making schemes/jobs you had! Just amazing. Best wishes for 2017, JanF

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  9. Very important info Ilona. I think it is for having been there, low and on the edge, that you, and me, took the actions we did to never do that again. Especially not while also working a bad job.

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  10. A singles agency - now, that's interesting. I'll only get the State pension when I retire. At 54, I definitely don't have the milestones that other people have. When I was at college in the 1980's in Liverpool, I got an emergency payment to help me out. My parents are the same (100) and (96) - their pension is topped up because they are classed as the poorest. We manage well though. Natalie

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    1. Gosh, aren't you lucky ( and one in a million) to have both parents still alive at those ages? I think some of the elderly in the U.K. actually have more money in their old age because of all the help they get. Quite wonderful. JanF

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  11. As of the 1st January we had 33p left in the bank until our wages go in this week, we have food, pets have food, and bills are paid but it does worry you when you hit low in the bank, i will be trying to make extra money this year i used to sell on ebay years ago and used to make good money i just lost the will to do it, the time it takes to do etc but i need to do something so will try, great post as always sammie xx

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    1. Hi. Hope things pick up for you in 2017. Have you got any dogs near you that need walking? Someone round here charges £10 an hour, I believe that is the going rate, probably more if you live down south. I don't charge bye the way, I do it to help friends, and for the exercise.

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    2. Always onwards and upwards, cant let it get you down :D possibly although when im not at work, im sorting the house, shopping,cleaning,cooking, walking the dog or sorting the cats so not sure i could fit in extra dog walking although something to think about im sure ..thanks meanqueen xx

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  12. Most interesting post Ilona. When my husband died 29 years ago I received rather a large sum (to me anyway) from his insurance and this has not been touched it is my emergency money in case the family need it badly -which so far they have not and do not know about it - I to get by on my state pension and a small pension from my husbands firm he worked for. I manage well and like you look around for bargains and make do and mend, I am not materialistic just like to be warm and comfortable. I do a lot of craftwork and give it to the local hospice. Life is good and I make the most of each day. Did a short walk yesterday round the estate.
    Enjoy your day,
    Hazel c uk

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    1. Hi Anonymous. Not sure if this question was addressed to me or Ilona I do not possess a car and travel by public transport escape when my daughter takes me to get heavy shopping once a month or visits to the hospital which is a 2 hour trip one way on buses.
      Hazel

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  13. Sorry if this question is being nosey but I will be going into retirement with just the basic state pension and I was wondering how you have managed to build up savings to replace large items such as your car. I would like to have some savings as back up in case anything major needs replacing, Hazel

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  14. Such a very interesting post Ilona.(Nick)

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  15. Hello Ilona. Thank you for this insight into your finances. Your are an inspiration and you have really helped me to sort my 'wants' from my 'needs' and become more financially secure. Jules x

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  16. Thank you for sharing this. I think it helps that people see how little you got by on. It gives us all hope, i think.

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  17. This isn't meant to be too critical but perhaps your header should read MY good life on a pension. Sadly it isn't good for everybody. You're fortunate that you live on your own with only yourself to think about and you are fit and healthy.

    There are old people who really struggle to manage, who are infirm or not so mobile that they're able to move about and keep warm. Who are not mobile enough to be able to go out and shop for the cut price food bargains. Who don't have a car to be able to drive to the cheapest shops or shop at the cheapest times. A carer who does shopping for an old person doesn't bring home the cheapest produce! Staying home all day and not being as mobile means using more heating, a huge drain on the pension.

    Not everyone has a private pension.

    You write some brilliant posts Ilona but sometimes you ignore the plight of others when you say how well you manage on a pension. It isn't always overspending on not needed things that puts people in poverty. I hope our politicians don't read your posts or they'll think an increase to the state pension isn't needed!

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    1. Hello Alice
      Thought I would just make a comment. You are quite right, having reduced mobility can mean staying at home more and consequently, bigger heating bills. However, there are two things I would like to mention. One, that there is help for (older) people with their energy bills in the form of the cold weather payment, the winter fuel allowance and the warm home discount. If you or anyone you know is of pension age and/or on a low income, they should look into the above schemes as they can make a great deal of difference.
      Also, there is an issue of some older people not getting out and about because they are lonely and isolated, rather than disabled. Loneliness in older people is a huge people and maybe we should all keep an eye on our older friends and neighbours to make sure they are OK?
      Can I also just mention that I believe that Ilonas' pension is quite small? (please correct me if I'm wrong Ilona!)
      Good luck for 2017

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    2. Thank you for your comment Alice. Take another look at the header, it says, 'MY brilliant life on a pension. My blog is about my life.

      You say I am fortunate that I live on my own with only myself to think about. This was always part of my plan. Everyone has choices, I chose not to get married and have a family. Everyone has that choice. I am fit and healthy because I have worked for a long time in a physical job outdoors. I stick to a healthy diet, I have never smoked, I drink very little alcohol, and I move about a lot.

      I know there are people who struggle with a lot of things in their life. I cannot speak for them, I am not responsible for them. They could write their own blog if they wanted to.

      I write about my life, how it is for me, what I do and what I think, because it's what I know about.

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    3. Thank you Jules for adding that useful information, we commented at the same time. I am not at the stage of needing any help, so I don't know of the services available.

      My state pension is £169 a week, and a small private pension of £87 every four weeks.

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    4. Alice, sometimes people find themselves in a lonely situation in their later years. Depression among elders is very high--I am 70 and have struggled with it off and on throughout my adult life. I take medication and it works for me. My suggestion is that singles who have an extra room take in a lodger. This can help with expenses and alleviate the loneliness. And, if depression is an issue for anyone reading this, please get help. Antidepressants turned my life around. Oh, yes, two dogs made a big difference, too!

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  18. I have never posted on your blog before but I have been reading for a while. Thank you soooo much. You truly are an inspiration and show how you don't need a lot of money to be content. I wish you the best in the new year. Thank you so much for not plastering adds all over your blog.

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  19. I can also appreciate where you found yourself after having a forced spell of sickness and then losing your job Ilona. At the age of 50 I was forced to leave my current employ after 17 years with a brain tumour diagnoses.Luckily benign but it took it's toll om me and around five years to sort out. So money was obviously an issue from the start with very little income. You cut your cloth and reign back on anything that costs money, it's very hard I know. We had savings which took a hit, it funded some bills & trips to the hospital etc but not a social life, that took a hit too. I'm out the other end with a private & state pension and thankful that I'm still here and catching up a bit just enjoying life. It can be done but it's no fun. Take care Rae x

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  20. Great post. Things inevitably will go wrong for us all at some point in our lives but there is always a way. You are a very resourceful lady.

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  21. Hi Ilona, As usual, a very interesting post. I too had very difficult years when my kids were young. My husband was in school (on the job training) and they gave him what they called "student pay" so it was a lot less than his regular salary. At that time, I wasn't working and we would pay the bills and have nothing left for anything else. I finally got a part time job but found it difficult to find decent child care that I could afford. The child care fees were almost the same as my pay! But eventually, I did go back to work full time and said that I would never be in that situation again. Luckily, I haven't been. Thanks for sharing all your stories and you life with us. Arlene from USA (NJ)

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  22. A really good post, I have started reading from the start again.

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  23. Ha ha, the Troll is back. Hello Troll, commute a bit boring then?

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  24. Thank you for sharing your life with us. It's a privilege to read and is inspirational to many. Happy walking in 2017. I really look forward to your blog pists

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  25. by the 'eck lass, I had to laugh at all them notes and figures, I do just same every month a bank statement comes in. I am 56 and a half, I would love to retire at 60 but it would be very hard as I cannot get a state pension till 67 I believe. I have a stressful job but only part time now, though I enjoy it. This year I am going to see how little I can really live on but not go without essentials, just to see how much I would really need. I admire what you do.

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  26. A friend of mine struggles desperately to reach his monthly mortgage payments because he views it as paying for his security when he is retired. I earn more money than him, but never enough for a deposit or mortgage. My main worry in life is how will I pay rent when I am too old to work? I envy my friend his determination to pay off a mortgage I was denied this chance by the banks.

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  27. Wonderful post Ilona. I so admire the life you have created by being very resourceful with the money you receive. I did have to chuckle when I read about your catering business, that certainly was out of the box but you had the courage and guts to try, that's what is so inspiring about you. Linda xx

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  28. Thanks for sharing I'm in a similar position myself at present. My husband has been finished at work and I only work 5 hrs a week. However I've just landed myself a new job so I feel so relieved as we don't have to claim benefit now x

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  29. Hi Ilona, nice to see you continue to inspire. As you know I have been very fortunate, early retirement and a hobby farm all covered by husband's good pension. However, we are not stupid with our money, things can change with no warning. The fact that at present we are doing very well is certainly more luck than planning. From now on we are planning and saving and this year tightening our belts severely for about 6 months just to see how much we can save, we plan to make a game of it in the hope that it won't feel too much like we're struggling. We have always been very inspired by your example! Go girl!!

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  30. This all shows to me how important it is to have a contingency fund. I am employed and will get both state and company pension so I am lucky. Nevertheless I have to watch every penny right now to get by. I take in lodgers and sell on eBay which also helps. I wish I had started my frugal journey earlier but it's not too late. Blogs like this give me the determination to carry on
    Jane

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