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Planning Retirement Online

Retirement Planning Seminars

by Jeanne Davis

Jeanne Davis.jpg (7321 bytes) Jeanne is the author of “How to Plan Your Successful Retirement” and has published numerous features on midlife and ageing issues in The Guardian, Woman’s Realm and other national publications. For many years, she was a director of AARP (The American Association of Retired Persons) a membership organisation with 33 million members that represents the interests of people 50 and over.    


  Are they worth it?



We would not have made it past the third question on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?  There were twelve of us, in our late fifties and early sixties, each a year or less away from retirement, attending a pre retirement planning seminar sponsored by the Pre-Retirement Planning Association of Great Britain and Ireland.

The true or false questions were on the subject of state pensions and eligibility criteria.  Our scores were abysmal.


Find out more about availability of  Retirement Courses and Seminars around the UK here on or visit our separate Retirement Courses site.

Question: “All women when they reach age 60 and men when they reach age 65 are eligible for State Pension.  True or false?”  Answer:  FALSE!  They must be fully credited and this involves some very complex  combinations of age and years of contribution.  It may even be too late to collect a state pension when you retire if you’ve not paid attention to the requirements.

What did we learn in the two days?  Plenty. To get us thinking,  the two leaders/tutors, professionally trained with degrees in midlife and pre-retirement planning, led the group discussion “What does retirement mean to you?”  One forthright gentleman shouted joyfully,  “I won’t have to go to the office any more.” A very decisive woman said “At last, I can get the house straightened out.”  By the end of the two days, Ted had discovered he was going back to work, perhaps in  his own business because he was going to need the money, and Patricia had discarded the house cleaning and planned to design websites on her computer and make crafts from home.

For a good retirement what do you need?

        good physical and emotional health

        adequate income (beyond subsistence level)

        suitable accommodation

        congenial associates and neighbours

        one or more absorbing interests

        a positive personal philosophy of life (do not underestimate this)

Most of us will have twenty, even thirty years in retirement.  Are we going to travel for thirty years?  Look after the grandchildren long after they’ve grown up?

Current research shows that on average men will live into their late 70s and women into their early 80s. People need to plan for this new life stage.  “Think of it like this,” said Pat, one of the tutors. “You are now self-employed and you have choices. You decide your duties and responsibilities.  Your plan will need review and change as you discover new needs.”  Once a year is suggested for this rethink.  

There are, as we were reminded, stages of retirement. What you are at 60 years and what you decide you want will differ from your needs at 70 and at 80. 

Perhaps the most important benefit of such seminars is that they start you thinking about those next years of your life.  And there’s the group interaction, the chance to hear what other people in the same situation are thinking.

Pens and pencils came out  and flew over notebooks when we got to the sessions on personal finances. There was a pent-up thirst for financial information. What to do with the lump sum from a pension or redundancy payment, from the sale of a house or a legacy? 

Into the maze of investments and savings vehicles we plunged - specialist funds, managed funds, with-profits schemes, distributions from bonds, Tessas, Isas, bank and building society savings, discussing which were high risk, medium, low/medium and low.   Your investment  portfolio could include some or all of these instruments in order to balance income with growth. Look at the portfolio every year to adjust it to your needs.

Most important, get professional advice, preferably from an independent financial adviser. “We try to equip you with enough information so you know the questions to ask,“ said tutor Barbara.

A less taxing discussion was about housing accommodation.  Pencils idled as participants talked about their ideal homes.  “I’m going to the countryside, 17 miles from the nearest traffic lights,” said one man, with a happy smile on his face.  “I’ll never move,” stated a woman.  “I’m in the house I grew up in, married in, and will live in until I am six feet under.”

The group offered some thoughts.  Had the urban dweller thought about the snows of winter, the months of being isolated, the spring mud, the lack of transport when he reached his late retirement?  And had the lady who would never leave her rambling childhood home, thought about the money eaten up to repair the increasing deterioration, or about her physical abilities changing?

What was the overwhelming reason for wanting to move?  This being England everyone said loudly, CLIMATE!  Some said they would like to retire to foreign parts. Had they thought about being away from friends and family, tax implications, health services and the year-round weather changes in their dream location?

Then there were thoughts about emotional  health.  Remaining socially active and involved with people is critical to avoid depression and illness.  A positive view of life keeps you going longer. For some people emotional health involves spiritual faith.  For others it is being in a circle of friends or part of a large family.

Do what you want to do now is a constant exhortation.  Travel now when you are still able.  Paint if you want to. Work, yes.  But have some fun, too. 

At the close of the course, the tutors laid out a collection of postcards and greeting cards, running the gamut of pictures of country cottages, fascinating cities  to visit and scenes from classic films.  We were each asked to pick one or two that showed a retirement possibility.  I found myself selecting a photo of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire twirling in a lively dance number.  Yes, I thought,  I never did learn all the ballroom dances.  I’ll take ballroom dancing lessons. 

I am also, being widowed, alone and would like to have a male partner, which I had  mentioned during the course.   One participant when he saw my choice said, “Oh, that will be a good way to meet a partner, too.  Ballroom dancing attracts very nice gentlemen.”

It would be nice to combine the two, and you never know…   But when I say I’d like to learn to dance, that’s precisely what I mean.  One of the things you learn with age is to reduce the dream to manageable possibilities and let the rest follow.



Good (non) Retirement Guide 2000,

by Rosemary Brown, 

Enterprise Dynamics Ltd.  





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