What is the price of your freedom?

This’ll make you see red.

The reason everyone drones on, er, the reason there’s so much coverage about, retirement finances is that retirement is a double whammy. Party of the first part: your income drops to whatever you can earn on your savings plus an insultingly low pension. Party of the second part: having nothing to occupy you all day every day, your spending tends to balloon.

The solution is to acknowledge this double bind and do something about it. The chances are that your income is largely beyond your control — subject to taking the advice that Bill Storie is going to offer you about raising the yield on your investments, or finding part-time employment as a lollipop lady or what have you. Your government pension won’t keep up with inflation, so you have to focus on the spending side of the equation.

I hear you whining already. “I need my absurdly expensive mobile/cell phone”, you say. No, you don’t. If you must have such a gadget (and only a surgeon or Minister of War actually needs one), trade in the wildly expensive little number that you have, as soon as the contract you foolishly signed allows you to, and buy a cheap pay-as-you-go number. Landline calls (remember them?) cost a fraction of the price, or can become free if you threaten to leave your current provider for another.

That’s just an example of the attitude you’re going to have to adopt. You don’t have to give up your phone, but if your ends aren’t meeting, you’re going to have to give up something. Pick any (or all) from the following list and eliminate where possible:

● Any cup of coffee or tea that costs more than a dollar (60p). You can make a perfectly good cup for a fraction of that price at home. At home is where your landline is. (See how this works?)

● Whenever possible, walk, don’t drive, and never, ever travel in the rush hour. You don’t need the aggravation; you’re retired.

● Accept all the bus passes, winter fuel allowances, pensions and Gawd knows what else that may be offered to you. You’ve earned them.

● Wear the clothes you own. At your age, no one thinks of you as a fashion plate. Hell, at your age, no one thinks of you full stop.

● Pay off any debt you might have. Interest rates are at historic lows, but your credit card is costing you somewhere between 18 and 30 percent. If you don’t have the dough, don’t buy it.

● Take 24 hours to think about any purchase that costs more than 25 percent of your weekly income. Having thought about it, sometimes you’ll realise it’s a waste of money.

● If you must have a car, make sure that the next one you buy is half the price of the last one you bought, and buy it only when you absolutely have to.

In short, it boils down to this: buy everything you need and think very, very hard about anything you want. Face facts: you’re old and have insufficient money coming in. Act accordingly.

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