Are we saving enough for retirement?

Pension-saving

Hello Dear Reader,

Whilst we’re in the middle of our month long fiscal fast we take the time to re-evaluate our long term finances. As retirement in the UK is at 67 year, then our desires to retire at 60 are effectively hoping to take early retirement. We know we’ll have to revisit those desires nearer the time but our aim is to be financially able to put our feet up sooner than most working people. In the meantime, we carry on as if we might have to work until we’re 67 so we’re not disappointed if we can’t.

Currently, we have made the decision to live on a lot less so we are used to having to do with less money. I’m sure it must be a real shock if people lose their job, get made redundant or retire on a small income if they are not used to budgeting at best or in some cases being frugal to make a small income go a long way. We’ve lived this way since 2009 and always take the cheapest low cost route to what ever we hope to achieve so we can put aside as much as we can into savings and investments. We don’t take the ‘we’ve worked for it, so we deserve it’ attitude and keep reminding ourselves that we can have the money now or when we’ve retired but we can’t have both. Whilst we’re young and fit we can chop wood, dismantle pallets, make the physical time and effort to buy second hand or get what we need for free. We may not have the health for that in our seventies so are making the most of the masses of energy we have now.

So, we live with free TV (no Sky package), get the cheapest energy tariffs, reduce our water and energy consumption, only buy what we really need and then supplement that we freecycle, charity shops and gumtree. We mend everything and always shop in the cheapest supermarkets. Every month, we manage to over pay the mortgage, even if it’s only by £75 off the capital and aim most months to over pay another £100. We aim to pay off our mortgage as soon as we can so we can then direct the money we would have previously put into our mortgage into further topping up our pensions. We also add a proportion of our salaries into savings every month and budget judiciously for every penny we spend.

Pensions always look good at the time but as they are a fixed income well into the future, we know however much we’ll have put aside, it’s probably not going to be enough and we’ll have to spend the rest of our lives economising, making do and being as thrifty as possible. So, there’s no use us getting used to wall to wall central heating, deep hot baths and frequent new clothes as we’ll not be able to afford them when we’re retired.

Also, like a lot of people, we didn’t start paying into pensions early enough. Just the same as a lot of people, we didn’t have decent well paid jobs and there were no pensions attached to our jobs that we could pay in to. Now, all employers have to provide a pension service and everyone should pay in although we all know the reality isn’t that great for everyone. If I was going to give advice it would be, if you have spare money that you would choose to spend on a holiday or new car, then it might be better off going into a pension unless you can afford both a ‘treat based’ life style and a pension. It’s probably likely that most people need to make some tough financial decisions that they may not like if they don’t want to live hand to mouth as a pensioner.

If you can, start early at least earlier that I did at 38! The sooner you start then the sooner you can retire as you’ll have a private pension that you’ll have saved into. I’m not counting how long I have until I retire as I don’t want to wish away my days so I’ll take each one as it comes and just keep saving.

In case you’ve arrived here today for the first time, we are not all dull. We lost a very close relative and took some money we inherited (£25K) and bought a second home with it. We didn’t just put the lot into our mortgage as we wanted a life as well as saving. We also spend £1600 a year on ferries and as little as we can on renovating our second home in our holidays. We’ll then rent out our UK property when we retire and add that income towards our pensions. Frugal I can do, penury I can’t.

On balance, we have a bit of fun, spend a bit of money on ten weeks of holidays a year and balance that out with saving the rest and doing what we do as that ideal of retiring at 60 is still a real dream for us. It’s not all dull, I think we’d curl up with boredom if we saved every possible penny every single month and have trips away to look forward to. I know we’re lucky that we can make these decisions but we could choose to live it up every month, have new clothes every month, live in a bigger house, have the central heating on when ever and eat steak at the weekend but we choose to save for the long term instead of spending in the immediate.

Now over to you, share your retirement stories, your retirement plans. Is anyone living really frugally now in necessary preparation so you can afford to retire at all? We all work so hard in this busy modern world, we’ll all need a break sooner or later and there’s a tiny minority who don’t have to make financial sacrifices to afford that.

I always look forward to hearing from you.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

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Renovating in France on a budget 


Hello Dear Reader,

Today, I’ve given the bedroom walls two coats of white emulsion, sanded the skirting boards and given then two coats of eggshell. Scrubbed down the shower room walls and given them the first coat of paint. My thrifted side tables have had a third coat of paint too. We have painting to finish but it’s all just tidying from now onwards.

We want to get all the major jobs done by the end of the day tomorrow so we can get onto the fun easy parts. There’s snagging to do but a massive day of work has made such a difference. We’re also pleased that we’ve kept costs to an absolute minimum.

DB fitted the balustrade today that he’d previously painted. Everything needs a light sand and a final coat of paint. He has lights to fit, doors to hang and we have to move furniture around and tidy. We’ve got to keep going even though I’m fed up of renovations and just want to go out and visit about five places I’ve got on my list. Fortunately, none of them are going anywhere so I can save the for trips in the future. 

When I look at the photo above, I marvel at everything he’s done: cutthe hole in the floor, customised the stairs to fit, built the stairs, built the wall and built the balustrades. DB – you are a star! I am so proud of you xxx

It’s slow going but we are getting there.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Cheap renovation project in France 


Hello Dear Reader,

We’re cracking on with the renovations. It will be finished in a couple of days…….famous last words. I don’t enjoy this bit. It’s noisy, dirty and we get dirty and tired. We try and do as much as we can each day but don’t like to make noise into the evening as this is such a quiet village. I also like to clean thoroughly each evening so it’s not a mess to wake up to.

We take our time, have a lunch break and take the dogs out for plenty of walks. After lunch, we sat and read outside in the sunshine. 

This room will be a guest room for family and friends and it will be insulated and warm. I’ll go to the charity shops next week to buy furniture that I can upcycle. The weather has been cool today which is perfect DIY weather. I’ve no idea how much money we’ve saved by doing the work ourselves. It’s been great fun doing this together,I hold the board in place and DB secures it. I do the insulating. It doesn’t have to be neat as it’ll be covered by plaster board on either side. It’s another skill we’ve learnt out of money saving necessity.

Tonight, we’ll watch a movie, have a glass of wine and just enjoy the peace.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

My packing is weirder than your packing!

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Hello Dear Reader,

If and when you go somewhere, you pack clean clothes, food, books, amusement, a coat, umbrella and maybe even sunblock. It’s way different for us. When you’re renovating a house on a tiny budget then the roof of my car feels as if it’s loaded like Buckaroo! On the roof of the car this time will be a room size rug we bought for £42 and an oil filled electric radiator we got cheap from freeads for £10 as we work towards every room having a rug and a radiator.

Inside the car will be paint as French paint is five times the price and it’s like painting with skimmed milk so we take at least two pots every time we go. There will also be sand paper, sugar soap, paint brushes and rollers as we move into the next stage of renovation of one of the rooms. Our aim is to get our bedroom finished in a few days, move the furniture and move in to it. I have furniture to paint whilst DB has the walls and door to finish as well as changing the British plugs to French plugs on some lamps we bought ages ago, again really cheaply, from TK Max with a gift voucher. We are still a way off hanging curtains and I don’t think we’ll get to the finished stage until next year. When you work to a budget and stick to it, you  have to be patient and work slowly.

Every time I go, I take something else I’ve found cheap, in a charity shop or totally free and donated or given away. I’m never going to buy new if I can get it ‘recycled as I can’t stand waste, hate the thought of good stuff going to landfill and want to make every pound do the work of a fiver! Yes, I’m tightfisted and proud of it! If I can do my bit to stop waste then I certainly will even if it means my packing is weirder than your packing.

In my defence, I’m not the only one. I really should take photographs of the weird things in the backs of cars, in trailers and on the roof embarking the ferry. I’ve seen trailers full of fruit trees in pots, sewerage systems, hot water tanks, wood stoves, garden fence and double glazed windows. I can also spot the renovators as we’re in our ‘holiday’ clothes of paint spattered jeans and with grout under our fingernails as we’ve worked right up to departure time and worked on the basis of ‘there’s a shower in my cabin and we’ve turned the water off in the house’. Obviously, there are people who might get someone else to do all the work, but they are in disguise are regular tourists.

I’ll keep you up to date with the renovations, the dog walks, the mini week long adventure and my little French village as it warms up in the bank holiday sunshine. We’re aiming to scout round for some second hand furniture to fill up some of the empty rooms and I’ll share some of our forays into charity shops and ‘le bon coin’ as we start making the house more homely.

Who knows, in time, it might be you renting it for one of your holidays.

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Until Saturday,

Love Froogs xxxx

Heaven on earth.

Liskeard has been in chaos today. It’s not helped when incompetent numpties decide to dig up all of the roads on the same day, in the middle of the school holidays when tourists venture into Liskeard to get a bit of shopping. Old Road, is being patched. West St is being patched and the Parade is getting a new water main. So that’s it! Liskeard is officially closed and those of us who live here can’t get out either! It’s a good job then that I actually live in Shangri-la!

We cut back a lot of dead shrubs at the weekend, which means Bobby Dazzler can see next door’s garden and he’s already tried to limbo his tiny frame under the fence. We’ve had to use what we have, a few bits of wire mesh and some floorboards to block his route to freedom. He’s not happy today as I put him on the lead in the garden and he can’t understand why he’s not free to snuffle in the borders as he normally does. Dearly Beloved has fortified the garden tonight and the dogs are free to wander in all they survey.
Everything is growing! Courgettes and Butternut Squash is thriving. I didn’t label them so I can’t tell which is which until/if they grow fruit.
Spuds and blooming with lovely purple flowers and looking promisingly productive………we may get spuds soon!
The currant bushes don’t promise us any fruit this year but they are bushy and beautiful.
The beans in a bag are shinning up their poles and the onions are filling their pots.
The strawberries are growing strawberries…………not that I needed to have bothered. The wild strawberries are all over my garden, the street, the hedges, the park and have spots of tiny red everywhere that I have walked today. Although red, they are not ripe yet.
The carrots are bushy and need thinning again!
The lupins and rhododendrons are just heavenly and I love the colour.
I’ve walked the dogs twice today, I sat in the garden and read and was happy to go no where but my own garden and I really live in heaven on earth.

Stoveside Pottering!

Here is my rhubarb crop! I cut it as new stems seem to want to grow. It’s not much but I only planted it this year. I made a crumble and we ate it with ice cream and it was delicious.
As it was a bank holiday I though we’d treat ourselves to ‘tea’. The cream was half price in the Co-op, the jam was on offer and I made the scones, which did not turn out as well as they normally do……..I didn’t get the oven hot enough before I put them in.
It was all finished off with a chocolate cake. It’s half term and I’m expecting visitors and they’ll be well treated when they get here. I never buy cake and I don’t like ‘shop cake’ which always seems so dry and full of chemicals. Baking is truly one of life’s most wonderful pleasures, so quick and the rewards and wonderful.

It’s been a quiet bank holiday. We’ve gardened and managed to make a dent in the weeding and we’ve caught up on the housework. Mostly we’ve done nothing……..sat on the deck………….watched the clouds………….drunk tea…………eaten chocolate cake………..it’s not a bad life.