riverside cottage Jo Grundy

Jo Grundy

One good thing about retirement is that you get a pension from the government. It’s not much compared to some other European countries, but at least it’s a safety net for most. However it’s very complicated (depending on your national insurance contributions) and of course, many people also get pensions from private companies they retired from.

As of 2024, the state pension is around £203 a week (it’s very important to ensure you are getting any additional benefits and disability benefits) as this could make a huge difference, and you have to apply to receive them. And if you ask, you often get up to 3 months backpay if you were unaware such benefits were available. Billions go unclaimed by vulnerable people, so please do check for others, who have no knowledge or Internet access – often people are entitled to hundreds of pounds more per month, without knowing it. Also read the help our carers tag for more help, if you need care or are a carer in your later years.

You don’t have to stay with the same pension provider. You can switch to an ethical pension so your funds are being invested wisely. Around £3000 per pension holder is invested in fossil fuel companies that is making the climate crisis worse. Why invest in fossil fuels, which could destroy the planet that your grandchildren take over? Make My Money Matter reports that £2 out of every £10 in the UK is invested in companies linked to global deforestation, mining, logging and tobacco. Which collectively chop down 10 million hectares of trees each year. Sign their petitions to make the changes.

need Equity Release? Contact a debt charity

Equity Release is often touted as an option for those on a budget. It enables people to ‘release’ income from owned homes to free up cash, so they can have a better quality of life (the companies then receive the cash back, when you downsize or die). Sounds like a good idea, but be very careful. StepChange (a debt charity that offers free advice for those considering) has the following tips:

  1. Don’t pay for equity release advice (from £500 to £2000) as they can offer it for free, from qualified advisors who have nothing to sell (the charity is funded by industry).
  2. First look at other solutions. Downsizing to a smaller home, selling items no longer needed at auction and living a simpler life may give you all the benefits of a better quality of life, without getting into bed with equity release companies. As listed above, ensure you are claiming all your benefits (which often has knock-on effects to giving you other free stuff like home improvement grants, free travel etc). Combined, all of these may negate the need to free up cash in the first place.
  3. Involve your family and friends. Often people who go to equity release companies don’t tell relatives, who are shocked to find their older relatives have financial problems. By sitting down and explaining the issues, you’ll likely find that most loving relatives will talk you out of it, as they are more interested in you being happy, than inheriting when you die.

Margareta Magnusson was born in Sweden, somewhere between 80 and 100 years ago! She worked for many years as an artist and wrote Döstädning: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning (an encouragement to get rid of unwanted junk before you die, so relatives don’t have the emotional stress of going through mountains of stuff, when you’re gone).

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