I thought if I put in the above keywords I would be sure to move up the Google rankings. So here goes.
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.”
Oh dear, Mr Micawber would not predict happiness for us. His famous dictum offers little comfort. Last week I went to see ‘our’ accountant to discuss the challenge of living on a half of what we had when we were working. It’s not proving easy. But obviously it is an issue of some importance. If you google ‘retirement’ websites or even blogs, 95% (as an estimate) of what comes up concerns financial security / planning / getting your finances right, etc. I haven’t written a blog about retirement and money until now. I felt I had little to offer in this area. Now, looking at our monthly outgoings after 5 months of retirement (this has been the first time in our married lives that we have kept a record of everything we’ve spent in a month and it’s not that we were rich or anything, quite stretched at times, in fact), I know for a cast iron fact I have nothing to offer other than look at what we’re doing and don’t do it. So I thought a trip to ‘our’ accountant was called for. A friend said do you really need to pay an accountant to tell you what to do? Isn’t it obvious? Seems like we do and it isn’t, at least not to us.
Monty Python, as I recall, had damning things to say about accountants and accountancy. The words ‘dull’ and ‘boring’ were used on a number of occasions. I had intended to quote from the ‘accountant’ sketch as I remembered it but not only could I not remember it but nor could I find my copy of ‘Monty Python’s Big Blue Book’ to find the sketch. So I went onto Youtube and replayed the sketch that I thought I remembered. Turned out I didn’t remember it all that well because much of the sketch was about an accountant who wanted to be a lion tamer. I’d completely forgotten the lion tamer bit. It was much funnier than I remembered it, so much so that, rather than try and quote from it, I have included in this blog the link to this sketch. The wonders of modern technology.
It must be said that my accountant has never shown any ambition to be a lion tamer. He is nevertheless clearly a man of steel. He told me about revising for his chartered accountancy exams while he had his wisdom teeth removed. Puzzling yes and no small achievement I would say, given my recent experiences in the dentist’s chair. He told me he thought I was probably paying too much tax which was riveting and also about BR coding as opposed to OT coding, I think it was. One was good and the other bad, but I can’t remember which was which as I had lost a little concentration at that point. He also told me he had just celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary by going for a weekend to Whitby and that this was the same place he had gone for his honeymoon. On this basis he is either completely legal or, if he’s bent, he’s not very good at it. As he said he might read the blog I must say, here and now, that I’m sure it is the former.
An article in last week’s Guardian said that, and I quote – young people and typical working families have seen an income drop over the last decade while the average pensioner income has risen by 18%. I, of course, haven’t been retired for a decade but the figures are quite impressive. Our percentage drop would be in triple figures. So that we did not feel completely isolated, the article goes on to quote some expert as saying that pensioners recently have enjoyed ‘a good run’ but that the average pensioner income is still below that of the average working family. I think that’s us then.
All this talk of our (relative to our previous income) poverty is quite depressing. So we cheered ourselves up by booking a weekend away. I’ve just spent one third of our monthly income in one day. And how did you do this, you ask? Well, I’ve booked myself on to another Guardian Masterclass course. This one is about Podcasting. I see it as a possible next step up from blogging (my last Masterclass) which is, of course, my route to fame and, more important, fortune. Yes, one has to speculate to accumulate, so hence the quite large expenditure for a one day course / two day weekend, there’s the cost of course, train fare and hotel for two of us because Mrs Summerhouse will accompany me and she’ll go round the galleries, as is her want, while I work tirelessly to acquire new skills in order to become financially solvent. It’s in line with my ‘learning new skills’ category of retirement and my goal on continued learning of stuff, so it’s got to be right. Hasn’t it?
Alongside the sensible tax advice and the need to rent out our property to make extra income, ‘my’ accountant advised us not to put all spare cash – while we have it – into an ISA but to live the dream and build our cabin in Colorado. Who says accountants are boring. Why if I weren’t retired and I was looking for a new career it would be a difficult choice between lion tamer and accountant.