Retirement time travelling

In this blog we are going to do some time travelling.

We are all, of course, already time travellers. The problem is that we all progress only forward and at a, usually, uniform pace. We cannot go back and we can only vary pace by travelling east or west – but the impact is marginal and always reverts on the return journey.

We are going to go beyond that in this blog.

Close your eyes.

Think about your favourite chair. Once you can see it, put yourself in it. Watch yourself sitting down. Now you need to age yourself. Give yourself some grey hairs, take some hair away, and add a few wrinkles and pounds. Change your clothes – you need to be able to keep warm while being more sedentary. This is you in the future. Walk around yourself, looking at the detail, getting used to who you now are.

Now look around you. Is your chair where it is now, or is it in a new home somewhere? What else is in the room? Yes, all of your old stuff, but is there also new stuff? A new TV? New furniture?

We’ve travelled forward quite some time. Look again at what’s around you. Is it the stuff you used to be able to afford on a wage – or is it the stuff you’re able to afford on a pension? Is the carpet a little thinner? Is the sofa a little less bespoke?

There’s a recent photo in a frame on the wall. It’s of you and your partner on holiday. You don’t do the expensive far flung holidays you used to do – it’s too much work and too much money on your retirement budget. Where then is it? Is it a good hotel in a nice resort somewhere warm or is it somewhere more modest? Maybe the photo isn’t of a holiday after all, maybe it’s that warm summer afternoon in the garden in June – because maybe you can’t afford holidays any more.

Your lunch is on the coffee table in front of you. Take a look. Is it the same sort of stuff you used to eat, or have the avocado and smoked salmon given way to ham or cheese? There’s nothing wrong with ham or cheese, of course, it’s just a question of what you can afford now.

Look out of the window at the car on the drive. It’s not, of course, your current car – that went to the scrap heap in the sky many years ago via a second hand dealer and progressively less well-off owners until it spluttered to a halt on the M25. The car on the drive is probably electric. But it also, probably, isn’t a new car, you’re a pensioner after all. Is it two years old? Five years? Maybe ten years? Are you the progressively poorer owner waiting for it to fizzle out?

Who is the person you want to be? Do you have answers to all of the questions this future of you poses? Is retirement maintaining the standard of living you were used to while at work or is it a more scaled back version?

This month the PLSA will launch its Retirement Living Standards. These will plot what three levels of retirement could look like based on baskets of commodities – a minimum level where choice is limited, a moderate level where there is some choice and a comfortable level where there is plenty of choice.

If we can help everyone to do this time travelling, to see their future self sat in their future chair living their future life, they’ll be better armed to make informed decisions. This will mean more pensioners on an adequate income in retirement.

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