Thursday August 26, 2004
It’s been a struggle but today I got the news I’d been waiting for—my state retirement pension has been calculated and is now in payment. Not good news, sadly. The new pension is, as I’d expected, considerably smaller than the disability pension I’ve received up until my sixty-fifth birthday. I didn’t know how very much smaller, though, and now I do. I still have more than enough to live on, and a little spare for recreational things. The only real effect will be that my penny savings jars will fill up rather more slowly than I’ve been used to.
Psychologically, I’m a bit shook up. Not too much, and I know that it’s exaggerated by my tendency to over dramatise. Even so, a significant drop in income is never a pleasant thing to experience and I sat for a while this morning feeling sorry for myself.
Then I gave myself a good shake and started in on the task of getting on top of the problem.
There’s a little-known benefit that may be claimed against council tax, one that I’ve avoided because, while it is not means-tested, it does require filling in a large, complicated form and answering questions that tread perilously close to an invasion of privacy. I’m entitled to it, however, and shall be sure to push the claim through, to include a refund of the tax I’ve over-paid since we came to live here. The form should arrive in the post tomorrow and I shall process it pretty damn quick.
Then I picked up the phone and went round the major insurance companies to see if I couldn’t make a saving on my motor insurance, due for renewal next month. Sure enough, one of the major companies offered me the same cover at a 43% reduction in premium.
My spirits lifted more than a little when I reworked the spreadsheet by which I detail and calculate my budget. These two savings make up for a large part of the drop in income. Tomorrow I shall go over all my outgoings with a fine-tooth comb, looking for other savings. I suspect I’m paying more than necessary for electric power, and could make a saving if I switched companies.
The message is clear. I need to keep a much better eye on outgoings than I have been doing. I also need to shift the bulk of my savings and investments into equally safe but higher-yield accounts. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve needed to think like this. Seems to me that I have a two-way choice of ways to take it. Either I can be positive and work hard at the job of making my income go as far as possible or I can fold my hands and wait for the wolf to hammer at the door. I’ll take the positive route, with enthusiasm.
I don’t think I need apologize for feeling a tad discouraged today, however. I’ll fight back, hard, starting tomorrow. In fact, I’ve already started. Today, though, well, today I feel a little bit flat and rather put upon.