James McCulloch. *File photo
James McCulloch. *File photo

There are few certainties in this life but we can all be sure of one thing - getting older. That may sound an unattractive prospect, until you consider the alternative. Having recently attained the title of ‘Special Person’ I was given an appropriate identity card to that effect by the kind lady at TCD.

I have accumulated some aches and pains over the years but I nevertheless managed to pass the driving test and I have been building a list of what I have to be grateful for. 

Let’s count our blessings from time to time. That same kind lady at TCD also told me that I will never again need to pay for a driving licence or test, nor to tax my car, nor pay the fare on the ferries or busses, nor pay land tax.

We should also give credit to the former UBP government for drawing up legislation providing for compulsory occupational pensions, and the same to the PLP for implementing it. 

Most workers will by now have a pension fund saved up of about 10 per cent of their annual salary.

That’s not a lot, but it’s a beginning. As the years go by that average saving will increase. That is all part of planning for a time when you are no longer inclined, or no longer able, to work for a living.

Another idea is to save more than the law demands (currently 5 per cent of salary) and give the extra to the insurance company or pension fund. 

You won’t really miss it now and you might be very grateful for the additional saved amount when you come to depend on it.

Speaking from experience I have found other things which help to attain an affordable retirement:

  • Develop or learn a valuable skill which you can practise, gainfully, at almost any age. I chose accountancy and qualified in it only 10 years ago.
  • Don’t fully retire. I greatly value the personal interaction with work colleagues as well as the pay (fees) arising from part-time work. It can also help contain the cost of health insurance premiums.
  • Look hard at your expenses. Do you really need a car and a television? I have neither, and manage perfectly well without them. I sold my house some time ago and now live in rented accommodation. It’s good value for money.
  • Keep physically fit. There’s no need to join a gym. I cycle on my pushbike three or four times a week. It extends enjoyable life and keeps the doctor’s bills down.

James McCulloch is a semi-retired accountant and bank executive. He is co-chairman of the advocacy committee for Age Concern Bermuda, and a member of the Campaign for Successful Ageing.