We Brits can be a funny old lot, right? We love queuing, miserable Christmas day soaps, cricket (WHY?) and will happily barbeque in the rain. On the other hand, we’re not good at talking. Sure, we’re happy to gossip with our neighbours over the garden fence or discuss the weather with any old Tom, Dick or Harry but when it comes to the important things, we can’t quite do it.
If you were to say to me, ‘What’s the last thing you’d want to discuss with your parents’, I would tell you sex. I couldn’t think of anything more toe-curlingly cringeworthy than having a chat with mum and dad about the down-and-dirty.
I would have thought most people would be on the same page as me, but weirdly Skipton Building Society’s 2017 Retirement Tracker revealed that we’re much more likely to broach the topic of sex and relationships than retirement and later life.
Only a third (32%) of us have had conversations with tour parents about retirement compared to over half (55%) of us chatting about sex – at least once.
We don’t like talking about money or thinking about the long-term I suppose. When you’re young, retirement feels like (and literally is) a lifetime away. So why talk about or worry about that, when you’re currently worrying about paying the rent, wondering if we’ll ever afford to buy a property and have a big wide world to explore.
Look, I’m not here to tell you to quit it with your avocado toast (it’s bloody delicious), and I’m a big believer in spending your *spare* money in whatever way you want – whether that’s in collectable lightsabers, weekly tubs of Ben and Jerry’s, or unicorn themed make-up that seems to be taking over social media these days.
The problem seems to be that a lot of young people (47%) have never even thought how much they’ll actually need for their retirement. Without knowing what you need – and therefore want to save – you can’t make big-picture financial decisions.
I think us Millennials unfairly get a hard time from the press and sometimes the older generations, but we’re really not reckless. For example, Skipton’s data shows that if we DID know how much we’d need for our retirement, we’d actually take action. 74% of us who are not saving for retirement would considering doing so once they knew how much they needed.
I feel like I’ve done a lot of adulting in the last few years. I’ve gone through lots of situations where I’ve had to make big financial decisions and didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Nobody tells you how to do things like, get a lawyer or an accountant, or whether the flat you’re buying is a good call or not.
Which is a bit odd right? Parents are there to help kids out with their first steps, first day at school – and yeah sex too. I had chats with my mother about protecting myself physically and emotionally when it came to relationships and sex – but not about when I was old.
So here’s what I think – if you have kids, or if you are a kid (even if you’re a big one like me), let’s start talking to each other about retirement.
Because it’s important right? No-one wants to be forced to have to work until the day they die. No-one wants to be so skint they have to choose between eating and heating. And retirement is a really long time these days.
We all want a good retirement and the truth is, the earlier you start to think about it and save what you can (it doesn’t have to be a huge amount – compound interest is your friend!), the better it will be. So get chatting about it.
Ask your parents about what they did (or didn’t do). What would they do differently? What sort of products or investments did they make? Did they plan? Are they comfortable living on what they have or do they wish they had saved up more? What would they recommend? Basically, get nosey. Get the info you need and start to plan things.
A saying I think about often (usually when I’m sat down with a tub of ice-cream and thinking about joining a gym) is ‘a year from now you’ll be thankful you started today’. It’s so easy to put off things while having really good intentions – especially when it takes us out of our comfort zone.
So sit down (with your parents who are ‘living it’ ideally) and have a think about what you’re spending now – are you comfortable? Do you need more? How much do you want to be able to have every year when you’re retired? What kind of life do you want?
Dig a bit deeper, how much will your bills potentially be? What sort of income will you get from government and personal pensions and investments?
Ok – so you have the number you’d think you’d be comfortable living off every year (assuming you don’t want to live like Richard Branson on Necker Island) now times it by 20. Because that’s the amount of time you’re likely to be in retirement. Ouch right?
It’s going to be a big number. I know, I had to stop myself from dramatically collapsing when I saw what I needed to save.
I’m going to say it though – having a goal and working towards it (and you’ll go off path, and you’ll fail at times, and succeed other times) makes it possible. Most people can’t save money without an objective.
And it won’t be horrific. When you’re young and you have sod all to your name, put away what you can – even if it’s just a couple of quid a month. Life is long, and you’ll earn more, and have more opportunities as you get older. Keep in mind the end goal, and you’ll get there (or at the very least you’ll be in a significantly better place than you would have been if you did nothing at all).
So talk to each other. Start thinking about retirement (I see myself being like one of the Golden Girls personally, which means I need loads of money for pearls and gin), and begin to do what you can (no matter how small) to start preparing for it.