‘Being a retiree means nothing if you’re struggling to survive’

Apr 25, 2019
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It's tricky being a retiree who lives from pension to pension. (Photograph posed by model) Source: Getty Images

Have you ever stopped to ponder the word retiree and what it means to the over-60s? I was giving it consideration recently and if I’m being honest, I feel it means diddly squat to our generation.

My husband worked tirelessly throughout his life while I stayed home to raise our children. I’m sure he would have liked me to work at some point in our marriage, but I was there for our children, I kept the house clean, I mowed lawns and did the washing. My husband drove a truck and it was my job to ensure meals were on the table.

When our five children grew up and left the house, my husband stopped driving and did casual work building go-karts. He travelled all over the world and visited companies that produced them for sale. When he’d finally had enough, he settled for being a homebody. By that time in our lives, I’d started enjoying bingo. He was content to stay at home. We’ve now paid off the house and are on a pension.

There have been next to no holidays, we don’t have shares or investments of any sort. In fact, we purchased our first car together and still have it 16 years later.

While I know not every person aged over 60 is in the same boat, it does make me wonder how the average ‘oldie’ survives. My husband and I live from pension to pension.

To say you have retired implies, to me at least, that you have put sufficient funds aside for luxuries (such as holidays, new vehicles, investments etc.). What about those of us who don’t own their own house and are unlikely to before they die?

I considered what it might be like if we were to go away. The car wouldn’t be reliable and where exactly are we supposed to pull the money needed for even a short break? I acknowledge that we are better off than a lot of people, but the word retiree means nothing to me.

This year marked our 50th wedding anniversary. Far from having a celebration of epic proportions, we went to our local tavern for lunch. We had a burger, some fish and chips, soft drink and a starter to share, which came to $60 in total. We wouldn’t be able to afford that on a regular basis.

I generally feel that unless you have savings or a nest egg set aside to make your life easier, you struggle.

What does the word retiree mean to you? Is this situation something you can relate to?

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