I’m fifty four, fast approaching fifty five. I’m over the hill and on the scrap heap. No one wants me. Pity party? No, it’s the truth of twenty first century Britain.
So, what’s my story? Similar to many others in their mid fifties, I suspect. In my forties my partner and I had a dream of a prosperous retirement. Taking early retirement we moved to Spain. After 33 years in retail banking I was entitled to take my bank pension at 50. The boat yard where Paul had spent thirty years closed down. He had no company pension and his salary wasn’t sufficient for him to be able to put aside enough retirement.
We talked and planned. Homework was done. We phoned the pension office who gave us our pension forecasts. They confirmed my retirement age as 60. Our bungalow sold for £210,000. There was ten thousand pounds for expenses. Half the remainder was put aside to buy our house in Spain. The other half was banked for our future.
We bought our house when the pound was 1.41€. I based our annual income on the rate at 1.40 down to 1.15. If it ever falls to 1.15 we’ll just about scarp through the year, I joked. Our monetary plans had five year segments. We had five years to go ‘til I was 60 & ten ‘til Paul reaches 65. That’ll do nicely. Life looked rosy.
Eighteen months into our residency the finance world went haywire. The rate went down to almost parity, decreasing our annual income by around 3000€. Bugger. Somehow we survived with keeping our expenditure to the minimum. Sixty was looking better all the time!
My passport needed renewing. Paul was checking the relevant website. He deviated.
“I don’t think this is right,” he said. “It says you aren’t getting your pension until you’re sixty five.”
“It’s definitely sixty. They told me on the telephone before we moved,” I told him.
A phone call confirmed my retirement age as sixty five. Shock, horror.
We have money in the bank but how much dare we touch in the forthcoming years? What if sixty five becomes sixty six becomes sixty seven for both men and women?
Moving back to England was an option. We’d never get a house like this with the amount of land we have back in England for £93,000. Back in good old Blighty we’d never be able to live on the money we do here, no matter how frugal we became. At least here we don’t have to pay water rates or community charges. Car tax is 57€ a year and we can get a drinkable bottle of wine for less than a euro.
Back in England we’d have to get jobs. But when it comes to the crunch, how many people are willing to employ a couple of fifty five year olds? In a recent survey it was discovered that the number of older workers trapped in a spiral of joblessness has soared by fifty percent in a year; the highest in a decade. Older workers have been the biggest victims of a recession panic that saw businesses slash costs by getting rid of long serving and, most significantly, more expensive staff.
There are renewed claims of widespread prejudice against older workers who are unfairly seen as slow and unable to keep up with modern technology. I maybe almost fifty five but I have the outlook of a thirty five year old. Like many ‘golden oldies’ I am totally IT literate. I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m positive with a wealth of experience and a lot of working life left in my body, but no one wants me..
Someone recently remarked that in their twilight years they had more money than they’d ever had. Maybe that was true once upon a time but in this present financial climate I don’t believe there is such a thing as a golden oldie anymore.
What are my hubby going to do? Stay put in Spain. We’ll don our wellies, get out the spade and fork, plant a lot more veggies and open another cheap bottle of Spanish vino!