By Jenny Holt.
During early childhood, our parents begin to teach us about the value of money. Children are given pocket money and teenagers are encouraged to obtain part-time jobs in order to learn an important lesson about the way the world works. Yet, even those with an excellent foundation in economics often still experience significant financial problems and stress, and end up with smaller budgets to work with than they would have hoped.
The peak age to suffer from financial stress is during your 40s. But older people can sometimes also experience anxiety associated with a lack of money. After the kids have left home and built their own lives, parents still find themselves having to support their families from time to time. Job losses, a reduction in wages and even the cost of divorce can all place an additional burden on the finances of the over-60s in particular.
Living for the Future
The basic principle of living within your means can be used to financially secure yourself later in life. For example, if it costs you £1,500 each month to maintain the lifestyle you’re currently living, then it is vital that you earn exactly £1,500 or more, whether it be from a pension fund or from your personal salary.
This is key to maintaining a sensible mentality of thinking for the future. If possible, it is always a good idea to try and save some money for a rainy day. Ideally, you’ll have built up some life savings over the years, but if not then it’s never too late to start. Always try to put aside at least enough money to live on for a few months in case you find yourself out of work.
Even with careful planning though, sometimes the unexpected can still occur. Typical problems that may crop up and put a burden on your finances include:
Health problems can be a major financial strain on people later in their lives, particularly if you’re unable to work following illness. This may be a particular problem if you are self-employed. It could be that a physical manual labour job has now caught up with your ageing body, or that an illness has caused you to reduce your working hours.
As we get older, naturally it is harder for your body to bounce back as quickly as it did when you were younger. Although the NHS will provide you with medical treatment, sometimes people prefer to take out private medical cover which can be expensive and often involves paying an excess charge. If you are unable to work following an illness, then it may be worth contacting the Citizens Advice Bureau for details of what benefits are available to you.
As lovely as our children are, they often place a financial burden on parents as they are getting older. Even once children have flown the nest, parents can feel they want to help them out with a deposit to get on the housing ladder, or perhaps contribute to the cost of a wedding.
If you plan to help out your family with their own financial issues, then you must make sure that you adjust your lifestyle accordingly whilst also putting aside money for your own future. Once your children have become fully independent, you may have more money to spend on holidays and retirement.
The end of a marriage can be hard in many respects, but the financial strain that it places on both ex-partners is especially nasty. This is why you need to be ready for what it can bring. In the majority of cases, people will usually sell up their property and downsize following a divorce. Even if they invest their money wisely, the financial burden of a divorce is usually greatest during the first year. If you can manage to do so, it might be worth looking into renting out your property, which will help towards the cost of the mortgage and ease the financial strain.
Unfortunately, many people who suffer from financial stress also fall victim to drinking too much alcohol. This can become a vicious cycle, as the cost of an addiction is expensive and places further stress on a person. If you feel that you’re drinking too much to cope with your money problems, then it is worth trying to cut down your alcohol intake initially. Otherwise it would be best to speak to your GP and obtain some proper help in cutting down and talking through your problems.
Retirement is a stage of life that many working people look forward to. It is inevitable that at some point we will all retire from our main source of income, whether out of choice or following a job loss. However, retirement must be planned carefully. It is entirely possible that you might live for another 25 years after retiring from work and therefore you need to work out how you will maintain a comfortable quality of life with no ongoing salary to support you.
You should think about the hobbies you wish to pursue and any travel plans such as round-the-world trips or cruises that you wish to take. Consider where you wish to live, as you may want to downsize from your current property and invest your remaining money into profitable ventures. You may also want to make additional voluntary contributions to a private pension fund in preparation for your retirement.