Can I Treat Myself?
After putting decades of your life, hard work and finance into building a stable retirement package for yourself and, most likely, your loved ones; isn’t it fair that you should allow yourself that treat you’ve always wanted, but never bought?
We all have that item, that one purchase that if we were lucky enough to be in a position to afford, and weren’t so responsible, we’d throw frugality to the wind and buy for ourselves. It could be something relatively small, a snazzy new push bike maybe? Ranging up to something remarkably lavish, like that new convertible your younger, and flashier, colleague drove. All the way up to a globe-spanning super-holiday with your partner.
According to the Office of National Statistics, the second wealthiest age group in the UK is 65-74 year olds, with an average wealth of slightly over £300,000. Reading that you’re either thinking, ‘ha, I wish!’ Or, ‘Ah lovely, I’m above the average.’ Whichever it is, the chances are you’re in a position where you could feasibly afford to treat yourself to a one off indulgence, rather than leaving every penny behind.
But is it a good idea?
We’ve got two quick examples of retirees who’ve decided to go wild, literally in one case, and splash out on that marquee purchase. One couple couldn’t be happier; the other didn’t go quite so well.
Michelle and Jonny Allen – VW Transporter Campervan
After busy and enjoyable careers in Speech Therapy and Teaching, and with the two children both moved away, the house paid for, and some security in the bank. Michelle and Jonny decided to go ahead and purchase a campervan that would allow them to travel throughout the UK and Europe together, walking, cycling and visiting historic sites.
‘It’s the best thing we’ve ever done,’ Jonny tells us, ‘we were worried when we retired that we’d get terribly bored, but the camper means we can travel all over the place really cheaply. There’s a real sense of freedom. We’re thinking of upgrading to a slightly bigger one next year aren’t we?’
Michelle’s silence suggests that may not quite be true as far as she’s concerned, but the enjoyment they get from their purchase is clear and given their relative financial security, their decision to wait until they had paid off their mortgage and the fact their two children are financially independent, it seems far from an irresponsible move. What’s abundantly clear is the real value this purchase will add to their lives, giving them a cost-efficient way of visiting parts of the UK and Europe they have always wanted to see.
Richard Johnson – Round-the-world trip
If you’ve been inspired by the success of Michelle and Jonny’s story, spare a thought for poor old Richard Johnson. Richard retired after a long career working in Engineering and, having spoken to some friends about their recent trip to South East Asia, decided to splurge some of his savings on the ‘trip of a lifetime’ right the way around the World.
With the trip planned to last 6 months, Richard jetted off to the first stop in India, but more looking forward to reaching the indulgent hedonism of South East Asia. Unfortunately things didn’t quite pan out that way. ‘I was mainly excited about getting to places like Thailand and Singapore, but I thought it would be stupid to miss India off the list.’ Richard tells us, now back in the UK.
It was in his first destination city of Mumbai that he was struck down by a particularly nasty case of gastroenteritis and was bed-ridden for long enough to get severely dehydrated. So bad was Richard’s sickness, he had to spend two weeks recovering, and having missed his connecting flight, decided to return home defeated.
Here’s where it gets really unfortunate. Richard had decided against purchasing extended cover for the brief stay he’d planned in India, and as a result was unable to claim back many of the costs incurred and several thousand pounds for the rest of the trip.
Several thousand out of pocket, and without having been round the world, Richard some how manages to be philosophical about the whole ‘experience’. ‘I was the one to blame, and I’ve learnt my lesson. What happened to me shouldn’t put people of my age off doing things for themselves. Life’s too short and I owed it to myself to do something fun.’
Bravo Richard, highly commendable.
It’s important to remember, that whilst it’s nice to speculate about what big-ticket items you’d buy yourself, the fact remains that an increasing amount of retirees in the UK are finding their finances squeezed to the extent they feel they won’t be able to leave an inheritance behind at all.
There are some very basic questions you can ask yourself when considering whether you can treat yourself.
- Do I/we really want it?
- Will we use it?
- Will it hold any residual value, either monetarily or psychologically?
Aviva’s recent Real Retirement Survey found 21% of 55 to 64 year olds questioned said they did not expect to leave behind any inheritance at all. So whilst those aged over 55 are still the demographic with the most disposable income, more and more they’re having to take additional care over their finances.
We’d love to hear from you. Have you decided to treat yourself or your partner during your retirement? Or are you considering it? Let us know your stories below, be they a success – or a disaster!