There are few greater pleasures in my work than when a client tells me of a life changing moment. Sometimes, it’s when the penny drops that retirement is finally in sight. Sometimes, it’s when there is enough money to make a significant gift to their children, and sometimes, like last week, it’s when a long-standing client sends me an email and tells me a story. This one stopped me in my tracks. These are Tony’s words:
“Your health is your wealth”, so I was told many years ago, at a time when I didn’t really appreciate the meaning.
When we’re in our 20s or even 30s, most believe we are invincible and that primarily, money is our wealth, along with our happiness. We believe that if we work hard and save hard, we will have a happier and more prosperous life in our later years.
In some cases this is true, but many now believe they cannot retire and enjoy life fully, until well into their 50s or 60s, and in many cases their 70s! With State Pension ages continuing to rise, younger people’s views on retirement will change. With this in mind, I believe we all need to think more specifically about our health. The case may be that statistically we are living longer, but how well are we living in our later years? What quality of life do we assume we will have?
I recently had to go to hospital for minor surgery to remove my appendix. At 45, I wasn’t expecting this and although the hospital and all its staff were fantastic, I hadn’t required this level of hospital treatment since I was 6 years old. Lucky me, I hear you say. Lucky for me yes, but this actually isn’t about my surgery.
Whilst in hospital I met some very nice people, also being looked after by our excellent NHS. There were two people in particular who further confirmed in different ways the above maxim.
The first man I met was probably in his mid to late 70s. He was of average build and looked like a healthy person to my unqualified eye. We got talking and the most commonly asked question was raised; “so what are you in for?”
He explained that he had a recurring bout of Pneumonia, which we all know can be quite serious but if caught in time, is more commonly remedied these days. What did surprise me was that he had originally been brought in two days after Christmas with the same condition and didn’t leave hospital until the end of May! I was pretty shocked to say the least and now he was in again just over two months later. I couldn’t imagine being a patient for this amount of time (regardless of the level of care). This is when I again reminded myself about how important my health is, which has become more poignant to me as the years continue to fly by at an ever accelerating pace!
My next chance encounter was with a lovely man named Ray, aged 82. He was brought in following a nasty fall and required assistance whilst recovering. Ray is married with 3 children. He had served in the RAF for around 30 years and had travelled the world. He relished the opportunity of telling me lots of very interesting stories of his fascinating life. We spent the whole day talking. He went on to explain that he was sad that he could no longer continue to share these memories with his beloved wife.
Unfortunately, several years ago, his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and is now in a care home which costs him £1000 per month contributing to her care, and an additional £38 to visit her once a week. Ray lives in a warden assisted flat having had to sell their family home to help cater for their health requirements. He also suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and had to have a double knee replacement at the age of 75. The operations effectively took two years of continual physio and recovery.
Even with all of this, he still had a smile on his face and was keen to be able to walk without assistance, in time to get home in two days for his daughter’s visit from Norfolk. He also had the fortune to have one son living locally to him, but I could see he didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.
Having experienced just two examples of different lives and illnesses, it resonated with me that although we are living longer we don’t know how much ‘quality’ time we will have as we get older, and ultimately in our retirement.
We can’t plan these health issues but we can plan our life goals and potential financial requirements. The key to this is to try and bring some of our goals to fruition sooner rather than later as none of us really know what may be around the corner.
I was lucky enough to have met a man many years ago who helped me plan for my future and two years ago, at the age of 43, I was able to achieve my first real goal – to retire from the rat race!
No, I’m not rich in monetary terms by any means, but through continual thorough planning and advice over the years from Gary and the team at Blue Sky, they and I, together, ensured this was achieved. YAY!
The planning and advice wasn’t just about savings and investments, but understanding what I wanted out of life and mapping out these goals and dreams. Obviously as time moves on, so do our financial requirements, dreams and goals, all of which were managed year in, year out, adjusting my life plan at every turn and providing me with a level of confidence in what I did and continue to do, moving forward.
To this day, Gary and his entire team at Blue Sky have provided me with well-being in the greater sense, something I would wish for all to experience and obtain.
I may not know what my future health holds, but Blue Sky have allowed me the freedom and time to achieve my own personal goals. I’m now able to recover from my minor op in my own time with no worries about rushing back to the grindstone. Daytime TV however, is encouraging me to recover a lot faster!
If you are to take anything from this, I would encourage you all to start planning your wants and needs as early as possible, and to seek advice and guidance from people that can really help.