Posts Tagged ‘Retirement’

The retiree, and at times, the precarious finances stretched out over an increasing longevity.

December 14, 2020



Sunk in deep thought, and pensive thinking, we might at times be speculating on how many years we still have ahead of us. Most of us would probably want as many years ahead as possible, and barring ill health in my case I have decided to at least reach ninety years. Australia like some other countries doesn’t have a national pension scheme whereby all adults get a pension regardless of assets or wealth. When with Helvi, and still a couple, our assets were deemed to be below the threshold and were therefore entitled to a small part pension. One has to pass a ‘deeming’ test. All savings and assets, apart from the family home are added up to determine the viability of a pension.  The pension also allows free car registration, electricity and water concessions and hearing aids at a reduced price. Also some interstate train trips.

For some reason which I have now forgotten I had to sort out something at the Government Office. Perhaps it had to do with a concession of one sort or the other. I duly showed my ID in the form of my pension card. The Covid was in full bloom then, and I had to talk to the Government Office woman at the right distance which was marked on the floor by tape. In order to show my ID I had to actually throw the pension card on the counter because my arms don’t have the length of 1.50 Meter. The other option would be to fall towards the counter and hand the pension card. At my age that adroitness has gone and the acute angle of my body would have incurred a possible fracture and need for ambulance.

Much to my surprise the Government Office woman looked at my pension card, turned it around, typed in the number while all the time keeping an eye out on me. And then, just out of the blue and of her own volition she ripped my card up. She looked triumphantly and said: ‘You are not entitled to your pension anymore’. It turned out that the pension was withdrawn because my wife had died. The reason was that the assets now were in one name instead of divided by two. I had transgressed the amount above the pension. That’s how it works. I thought of the Government Office woman act of ripping up my pension. It was so reminiscent of the seventies when my parents also went through the same asset testing at 65 years of dad. At one stage my mother was asked to empty her handbag on the desk. My parents were dumbfounded but decided to return to Holland where their son was living, and which has a generous pension scheme not dependent on assets or wealth. They do pay hefty taxes though!

But back to my own case. I am able to live well and do so by getting an income from rent and share dividends,  and with eating up savings I should be alright till I turn ninety.  The question is, in case the longevity stretches till ninety five, or save the plight, one hundred? What then? Will I still saunter off to the Government Office woman and beg for a reinstatement of my pension? There are so many questions.

Going for Thai lunch.

August 12, 2017


photothighs and toms


We have an arrangement with friends to go at least once a month for lunch. So far we have had three lunches and all have been at different Thai restaurants. In between lunches with friends we sometimes sneak in a lunch just by ourselves. Helvi really likes ‘lunching’ to be kept to a minimal. ‘What’s the point of going often when it will finally end up just as boring as putting on your socks?’ An argument difficult to counter. An oft repeated act always runs the risk of suffering the ennui which we are so keen to avoid.

Some acts oft repeated seem almost unavoidable. One of those involves getting dressed and undressed. I have written about this before. But putting on a different uniform when going to bed always has struck me as a rather futile arrangement. Why not just go to sleep? If we are part of the animal world we certainly don’t follow the pattern of animals by crawling somewhere horizontal and wait for sleep to overcome us. I don’t know of any animal that changes its coat or outer garment, do you? Why do we insist on this ritual of wearing two uniforms during each twenty-four hour episode of our lives? Has it always been like that?

Taking a holiday is also a good circuit breaker in softening the deadening routine of everyday life. In the past I foolishly argued that life ought to be exciting on its own without needing a break. Routine would just not occur if we had the nous to be creative and innovative in arranging the hours between waking and sleeping. A holiday was superfluous. Life was a holiday. But, and this is the dilemma we face in ageing; energy wanes.

I know, some maddening examples are given on Face-Book of people in their late eighties, climbing Mount Everest, swimming in polar regions or tirelessly re-marrying. But these are infuriating examples teasing us to click on a Face-Book advertisement urging us to buy   ‘Go-Ease Stool Softener,’ or worse, ‘Gastro-Stop’ . Modern parlance calls this ‘click-bait.’ Ageing is not without those sewer- entrepreneurs that cunningly exploit the old and try and ease us of our savings. The exposure on TV of the horrors of what happens in Retirement Villages could very well encourage many to hurry, and click-on ‘Delights of Euthanasia.’

I have been poring over ‘Princess” cruises which entice people to go on a large boat across many waters, explore tropical islands, get tempted by locally hand-made baskets or watch iridescent lagoons glow at the setting sun, watched over by waving palms.

When I ‘clicked-on’ the details of what to wear and what to pack in clothing on those cruises I read that they do insist on ‘smart-casual’ dress code and ‘formal’ for some days when they have social events such as ‘Gatsby’ evenings.

The women might like to dress as ‘flappers’ and the men like ‘Crosby’. Cocktail dress or frock for the ladies and black jacket and pants for the ‘boys’.

This was followed by a stern warning that jeans with holes in them would not be allowed on-board in the restaurants. We all know that jeans with holes cost a fortune. In fact the more holes or even complete missing legs are beyond the financial  resources of most people. A curious Princess rule.

When I told Helvi, she now refuses to consider a Princess cruise. She scoffed at ‘Cocktail dress’.

Nothing is easy. Best to stick to the occasional ‘Thai Lunch’.