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State Pension Blog: the end is in sight
In the fifth part of his daily blog, Greg Kingston reveals the extra challenge he set himself, and reflects on what he's learnt from the week.
by Greg Kingston on Jul 06, 2012 at 08:59
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.
I started this challenge with a good deal of confidence. Despite living what I consider to be a very good lifestyle, I also believe that I keep an excellent grasp on my finances. I’m a saver at heart.
Upping the ante
Yesterday I promised you a surprise, and here it is: I quietly set myself a stiffer challenge than the one the organisers set out. All through this week my £67 budget has supported not only me but also, to a large extent, my partner.
Out of that budget we’ve cooked and eaten all our evening meals together, and she’s made her lunches out of the food I bought too. Her only advantage was to be able to add some additional ingredients to spice it up a bit.
So, with planning and discipline – setting out a plan for meals during the week, and sticking to it – I’ve been able to feed one and a half people this week instead of just me. I’ve only bought what’s necessary and cut out snacking, but I've also taken the time to enjoy myself when I thought I could afford it.
By the time you read this I will already have started my last day. I have £7.22 in my pocket – the same amount I had on Wednesday – and that, barring any extraordinary mishaps, will comfortably see me through to the end of tonight, when I can choose whether to enjoy a drink at my colleague’s leaving bash.
Success or failure?
In some respects, the week has been successful. We can argue endlessly about what parameters the challenge should have had, whether the £70 budget was correct and so on: that’s not important. I was given £70 for the week, had it reduced to £67, and if I choose not to go out after work tonight I’d still have more than 10% of my budget remaining.
In the week before this challenge I spent nearly four times at much.
From another perspective, the week has been less successful. I really wanted to end the week with £15 remaining. Saving that much every week, I told myself, would be sufficient to cover things such as new shoes, haircuts and other necessary costs over the longer term. I didn’t manage that, although it would have been possible by cutting out the cinema, popcorn and the bottle of wine I bought at the beginning of the week (which although opened remains unfinished).
Back one last time
I’ll be back at the beginning of next week to complete the comparison of my 'retired' life versus my working life. When I write I will have considerably more respect for those who do get by week after week, month after month on such a low fixed income.
They have many of their choices taken away from them, and for those they have remaining there’s likely to be a queue of people waiting to offer differing opinions on what they should do.
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