Preparing For Retirement

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There are loads of guides around offering advice on preparing for retirement - many suggesting how you can occupy all that spare time you're going to have.  However, I've never found that a problem!  My principle concern is having enough money to do the things that I haven't had the time or freedom to do and to do them whilst I'm still in good health.

So I've already taken a few steps:-

Checked my State pension Forecast - having spent quite a few years overseas I knew I would be missing some years of contributions.  In fact most of the time I was abroad I paid voluntary Class 3 contributions - in fact overpaid because the rules changed from 44 years to 30 years - so I paid a bit too much - but then the rules changed again to 35 years to obtain maximum state pension.  So I've been catching up. Then I read the article by Steve Webb the ex Pensions Minister  (topping-up-your-state-pension-guide.pdf) and found I could gain a bit more pension by contributing a couple of more years - it works out at about £762 to buy £244p.a. pension - a pretty good deal as an annuity would cost around £8000 to obtain the same income. 

Invested to Reduce Energy Costs - I hate the cold and with energy costs rising all the time I know that utilities are going to take a big chunk of my retirement income if I'm not going to be shivering in front of the TV.  I've always invested in good insulation - but a few weeks ago I installed a solar water heater - it certainly won't meet all my needs but I reckon the payback time is 5 years or so - where else can you get a 20% return on your investment.  The next big buy will be solar pv panels - maybe a 10+ year payback (10% return not so bad) and if electric cars and batteries fall in price I may even be able to eliminate my petrol purchases.

Built a House with Retirement in Mind - not something that everyone can do or would wish to do but architecture and construction has always been a keen interest of mine.  So I embarked upon an 18 month project - which like most building adventures actually took 3 years and came in 25% over budget.  But I've ended up with a home designed for easy retirement living - single level in anticipation of reduced mobility in later life,  spare bedroom and bathroom in case we need a live in carer, a low maintenance garden and a self contained guest area with independent access so that if I ever want a bit more  income I can use Airbn pretty much tax free under the government rent-a-room scheme.

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