BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
ACCORDING to Active Retirement Ireland, the country’s largest representative body for older people, Christmas – a time of supposedly peacefulness and joy – was for many older people living on the state pension a time of difficult decisions: heating or groceries, gifts for the family or taking part in Christmas social events.
The number of pensioners falling into poverty in 2022 is set to increase as a result of random Government gestures such as the €5 pension increase and the proposed €100 to everyone’s electricity providers on their behalf.
The organisation is encouraging the Government to take action for older people in relation to the rising cost of living. Recently, Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland, said, “Inflation is currently at an all-time high, and Active Retirement Ireland is concerned that many older people who are already having to stretch their pensions just to cover basic living costs will find themselves having to choose between essentials in the coming year.
Active Retirement Ireland repeatedly calls on the Government to triple-lock the state pension as the Budget 2022’s pension increase of a flat €5 per week is grossly inadequate and does not sufficiently address the increased cost of living for older people. Triple lock means guaranteeing either a minimum increase of 2.5% or the rate of inflation in that year, or meet the average earnings growth, whichever is the largest.
The gap between the cost of living and the pension is widening every year, according to Maureen Kavanagh, who said, “By failing to act to protect older people by adequately funding and guaranteeing the state pension to provide income security for a good quality of life, the government continues to show complete disregard for the wellbeing of older people and neglect the core principles of the National Positive Ageing Strategy.”
While we wait for Government to listen and act, what should you be doing to maintain even modest standards of living? Remember when you retire you are getting back at least 50 hours per week in retirement and as you know even when working it’s so easy to spend money when you are bored, tired, anxious or just with nothing much to do.
The Retirement Planning Council of Ireland (RPC) suggest the following:
Get organised today, this day! Start thinking about your finances by establishing new saving and spending habits to overcome common financial mistakes in 2022.
Make a plan. With rising inflation, it’s imperative to keep a close eye on your outgoings. It will allow you to closely monitor income and outgoings to ensure you have a grasp on your financial position.
Budget to the nth degree. Include coffees, lunches, books and clothes.
Use cash during the first weeks of retirement. Real spending instead of tapping a bank card. This will help you to measure and control your spending. (Currently this advice might not be so easy to follow during the pandemic, as most retailers prefer card and contactless payment methods.
File a tax return. In our last column we warned that people leave many tax reliefs unclaimed. By not making regular tax returns you may miss out on the allowances and credits you are entitled, and Revenue will allow you to claim relief for the past four years.
Make monthly instalment payments. Pay for big ticket items over 12 months such as motor and home insurers. Even TV licence fees can also be paid by monthly instalments if you haven’t yet qualified for the Household Benefits package. Open a budget account with the local credit union to help with this.
Shop around and ask for discounts. The “Grey Euro” carries a premium! Make the most of it. Many retailers offer discounts to older people, usually on specified days of the week. “Golden Years” discounts are also available from some theatres and cinemas with gyms offering reduced membership prices for daytime hours when other members are at work.
Are you nearing retirement? Then book a course with RPC. The “Planning for Retirement” course will help people 12 to 24 months from retirement by promoting a holistic approach to retirement planning by supporting, informing, and guiding people through practical courses and seminars that talk through the financial and lifestyle changes retirement can bring and help people prepare for the time ahead. And they provide lifetime support free of charge to people who take part in their courses including access to the Programme Leader and specialist speakers after you have completed a course.