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State Pension Blog: I let Spiderman swipe my cash!
In the third part of Greg Kingston's daily blog, a trip to the cinema gets him thinking about the tough choices faced by those trying to survive on the state pension.
by Greg Kingston on Jul 04, 2012 at 09:51
Greg Kingston (pictured), along with 100 of his colleagues at pension provider Suffolk Life, has accepted a challenge from his employer to live off £70 a week. That's how much charity AgeUK says a typical pensioner has left after bills, council tax etc. Here's yesterday's blog in case you missed it.
It’s 11pm and I’m settling down to write my latest diary entry before I go to bed. The truth is I feel a little guilty.
I can be quite inward-looking at times, and tonight, after a little banter with some of my friends on Facebook about my the day's exploits, I’ve only now realised the implications that my spending decisions today might have.
Splashing out on Spiderman
Until tonight I’d had a good few days; I hadn’t really spent anything other than my shop for food, toiletries and cleaning products. But tonight I went to see the new Spiderman film – £5.13 for a ticket, affordable and planned for.
However, I also decided to splash out and spend £7.95 on a large popcorn and drink to enjoy during the film. Two and a half hours later I emerged from the cinema having enjoyed a film that just about met my expectations, but with only £10.22 remaining to last until Saturday morning.
Has Spiderman got a pension? He’s certainly taken mine this week!
My colleague Rob leaves his job on Friday to take a year’s sabbatical and go travelling around the world with his wife. I’ve promised to go out with him for a few drinks on Friday night to see him on his way, but now my budget is more limited and may not stretch.
Tight budgets, tough decisions
That really got me thinking – what if I really were retired on this low, fixed income, and I made the same decisions I made today? Rob is a little younger than me, but what if Friday were his retirement do? Could my decision to have popcorn and a drink at the cinema mean that I couldn’t say goodbye to one of my friends?
These aren’t decisions that I want to be forced to make. So what would I do if it were real? Would I make an excuse for my lack of money, and perhaps say that something had come up? Or would I turn up and drink tap water all night, with the taste of overpriced popcorn long departed? I don’t know.
Maybe I'm being dramatic, but if I were living like this, week to week with no savings, I’d need to make exactly these decisions. The thought makes me quite miserable, and it's compounded by my partner’s offer to lend me £10. If I accepted and this project lasted more than a week that would just mean I’d start next week with £10 less.
No wonder pensioners sometimes feel pressure to turn to pay-day loans for an instant fix, and less wonder still that they find themselves even more trapped as a result.
This is far from the retirement I want. I apologise for what some will undoubtedly read as manufactured gloominess, but even with the end in sight on Saturday, I realise that, despite a conscious effort to go out and enjoy myself, all I’m left with at the end of the night is worry and regret.
More about this:
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- State Pension Blog: day two of £70 a week
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