(“Have another frugal, Moriarty,” is a line I recall from the Goon Show.)
It’s been six years since I retired, and I was thinking recently how much my quality of life has gone up since then. First, some back story. One of the things I did at The Botanics was to introduce an Age 60 Retirement policy, as required by the then Scottish Office (RBGE is a quango sponsored by the Scottish Government). So I developed the process, appeals procedure and all, and then when I turned 60 myself I went gently into that good night with my occupational pension. Naturally the Scottish Government and RBGE has reversed the policy since then in the light of demographics, public finances, and yada yada. But I don’t care – frankly I was glad to get out when I did.
So I found myself with a considerably reduced income, but I’ve found that my expenditure has reduced in proportion, so I don’t feel disadvantaged. In fact life is so much better now that I’m a happier person. These are some of the practical things that have changed:
1. Clothes. I don’t wear a suit and tie any more, except at funerals. I enjoy being able to schlepp around in jeans and T-shirt most of the time. When I do need to buy new clothes I go to cheap outlets, and even then mostly at sale times.
2. Food and drink. We tend to buy wholesome food and dine at home. In supermarkets we make a beeline for the ‘Reduced To Clear’ shelves and stock up with fresh or freezeable yummies. True, we don’t dine out as often as we used to, but I don’t really miss it. And I never was much of a pub person – I enjoy the odd glass of wine with a meal, but not every day.
3. Household. We don’t buy new furniture very often – our suite is more than 20 years old, but it’s clean and serviceable, so why change it? Similarly with carpets. I admit to renewing my PC whenever I think I have to – maybe a 5-year lifespan.
4. Books and music. I buy more books than I used to, but fewer CDs, so that evens out.
5. Lifestyle. Naturally I’ve got more time to write, but I’ve also got more time to walk, to travel to places I like, and to have much more of a social life than I had in Mid Calder.
So I go along with Mr Micawber’s words from David Copperfield:
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.