Cracking Retirement - Batu Caves

Tips on how to Make the Most of Retirement

Having Fun in Retirement is the strapline to this blog, and I believe it is essential that you have fun, to really enjoy a long and happy retirement, and make the most of it. Lets face it sitting in a chair for 30 years might be a tad restricting.

For me, making

the most of retirement has three aspects.

  1. Planning – It wont happen unless you have worked out how you are going to fund it. Picture being age 47, 57, 67 or even 77. You might not have the bank balance to retire. My cousin, a doctor is only considering retiring now. He is 74. Me, I have been retired since I turned 56. So I will have twenty years more than him to enjoy myself, and do the things I want to do.
  2. Health – there’s no point in having the best retirement plan in the world, if you keel over one year in
  3. Outlook – if you have a negative outlook, and see retirement as an option to slow down and watch daytime TV, I have sad news for you. You might have a long retirement but it sure won’t be fun!

So what can you do to change it?

Think ahead.

  1. What age are you now?
  2. What funds have you got set aside?
  3. When does your workplace pension (if any) kick in?
  4. How much do you need to live on?
  5. What do you want to do in retirement?

You need to be try and future-proof your plans. My answer to these question 1&2 in 2005 (aged 50) were pretty positive. Then the bank collapse in 2008/9 gave me a bit of a hit. I had friends who retired in April 2008 (both working for financial institutions). By October 2008 they were taking a few deep breaths, but overall, they had made their financial plans secure enough to ride out the downturn. We also had too many eggs in one basket (bank shares), but overall we were also going to be OK. We had other investments and time to rectify things if needed.

So save money when you can, avoid debt. Put your savings ahead of short term purchases. Do you need those trousers, new chair, car etc. Probably not – save the money instead!

Fast forward to 2010. I was stressed out at work, I was coming up to 55, husband was 62 (pension at 65), so we decided to plan to give up work. July 2011 was the date set for husband, my date was undecided. However, after just a few weeks of my husbands retirement (my 56th birthday!), I decided the time was right for me to go as well. I was working in London through the week, my husband came down to join me one or two weeks a month. He went to the art galleries, museums, exhibitions. I went to work! No contest.

We had a plan!

  • We would take my workplace pension early, and pay the 5%p.a. actuarial discount. We could have lived off our savings, but at the time there were a lot of changes both within my company pension, and also in the UK tax laws. So we did loads of calculations, talked to our financial adviser and decided to bite the bullet. Yes, we would have been better off if I had stayed at work, but you don’t know what is around the corner.
  • In 2 years, my husband’s workplace pension would kick in. we would delay his state pension for a couple of years, because it would grow by approx 10% p.a.
  • In 4 or 5 years we would collect husband’s state pension (As it turned out we took it in 4 years, because we decided the opportunity cost of leaving it was less advantageous than taking it) Note : Personal circumstances differ, this is not financial advice, it is a factual statement – this is what we did.  Talk to a financial adviser and make your own decision.
  • After 10 years, my state pension would kick in. It is pretty small as much of it was contracted out. see my post on Maximising the state pension. So far the news is not great on that front. I was badly advised. I paid £2,500 with no obvious increase in my state pension. I am awaiting a refund, and I am hoping the next few years can help. However it will protect us a little against inflation

How is it going so far? Pretty much according to plan. We save about 50% of our income, which augurs well. Our net worth grew by more than our income last year. I worry a bit about inflation, so all we can do is to save hard…. I keep a close check on things. I recently did a 1st Quarter review


You only get one shot at life. All the stress at work counts against you. Bad living, too much alcohol, drugs, smoking etc are all on the forbidden list. However, daily activity and a sensible diet can go a long way towards keeping you healthy, cut down on alcohol (10-14 units a week, max 2 bottles of wine!), give up smoking, and forget drugs!

Seriously, some form of exercise, be it walking, swimming, cycling or the gym will help. It gets the ‘feel good’ factor working! I’m not an exercise consultant, just as I am not a financial adviser, but I do know that 1 hour walking in the countryside, in the fresh air, makes me feel better!

The other things I would recommend is try and keep your weight reasonable, watch out for the warning signs, blood pressure, breathlessness, chest pains, and seek your doctors help as appropriate. (Chest pains – asap!)

For me losing weight is a key focus this year.

Genes help, but they are no guarantee. I come from a long line of 90 year olds, so I am hoping my genes are good! I do hope I don’t get Dementia. It is so sad to witness the deterioration of someone you love, (My Dad had dementia, so I know how difficult it is both for the person and their family) and I don’t want it to happen to me, or anyone else. Here’s hoping they find a cure in the next 10-20 years…


What is there to say? If you have some aim, desire, goal when you retire, you will be in a better position than if you had none.

I know of people aged under 70, who do virtually nothing. A trip to the shops or a wee coffee at the local cafe, with the odd weekend break at a hotel is a big deal. We are more interested in having great trips several times a year. I am into blogging (that’s pretty obvious). I have started selling my metal work on Folksy. While I don’t need the money (at least at the moment), I still feel the need to do something. I have a real creative instinct, so we’ll see how it goes.

My husband is an engineer, he delights at solving problems. He is to be found at his PC doing serious Maths, unless the sun is shining in which case he is in the garden.

We are still young at heart, enjoy travelling (lots of it) and new adventures. We are always up for a trip somewhere, or doing something new. As I mentioned in Think Ahead – travel is a major part of our retirement, and we are making the most of it! New Zealand, Spain, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, St Lucia, France…. We haven’t worked out where our trip will be this year. September somewhere in Europe sounds good. The picture below was taken on a trip to Kuala Lumpur. We climbed those stairs in 30c heat. Hard work! Fascinating place though.

Cracking Retirement Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves
Murugan Statue, Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

A simple question, when you meet someone in the street – How are You?

Answer 1 – Not so bad, or Answer 2 – Fantastic thanks

Try it and see. Use answer 2, and you immediately feel better! Simple things! I read recently that you are the sum of the 5 people you spend most time with. (Sorry, can’t give a link, I’ve forgotten where I read it. If I find it I will update this…). Surround yourself with positive people and it will have a positive effect on you. Surround yourself with negative people, and your outlook will be more negative. So choose your friends carefully!

An idea from many years ago, was stick post-it notes all over the house with ‘smiley faces’ on them. Every time you see one, you have to smile. Try it out. I bet you will smile far more often. A smile uses more muscles than frowning too.

Do you think Stephen Hawking says in the morning – I don’t feel well, I don’t think I’ll get up today? This is a man who has battled with motor neurone disease since he was a student, who needs people to do everything for him. He records TV sessions that take hours, because he speaks using a single cheek movement. An inspiration if ever there was one.

So get that positive outlook going. You will enjoy your retirement more!

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Cracking Retirement Retirement Tips




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