Sunday, February 9, 2020

Retirement and me: How woman with 'low' pension and state pension tops up income by £230

From health conditions to family circumstances, retirement can vary from person to person in a big way. Retirement and me is the series which shines a spotlight on how different people are spending their time and money as they approach and enter this time of life. This week, Jan shared her story exclusively with Express.co.uk.

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Jan, 70, spent much of her life as a teacher – as well as focusing on another of her talents: writing. “I always stayed at my basic pay grade,” she tells Express.co.uk during an exclusive interview.

“A teacher on the ground,” she adds. “I didn’t want to rise to being heads of department or running the school or anything like that.

“I didn’t want to go into management, because I had another life as a writer.

“The two things operated side by side but if I’d gone into management I’d have had to be caught up with targets and finances and managing people. I wouldn’t have managed to have done [the role and her writing career].”

Jan’s flair for writing has seen her publish short stories, as well as write plays. Right now, she’s working on her first novel.

Now 70, she retired and took an actuary reduced teachers’ pension at the age of 56.

“I took early retirement in my late 50s so I could concentrate on writing but in order to top the pensions up, I needed to do other things,” she says.

She’s carried out a number of freelance roles part-time, in order to “top up the pensions”.

Due to when she was born, Jan was in the band of women who were able to get the state pension at the age of 60.

“I claimed it at 60,” she recalls. “I remember being very happy on my 60th birthday, going off to the post office with my ID, getting my freedom pass, and getting my first whack of state pension.”

Jan adds: “I got the state pension at 60 which women can’t do now, but a low teachers’ pension because I didn’t work until 60 – I worked until 56 so the teachers’ pension was on the low side. So I’ve done other things to top that up.”

With a wealth of opportunities ahead of her, Jan made the decision to retiree while knowing she’d need to bridge the gap when it came to her required income and her pension savings.

“I knew it needed topping up,” she says. “I did these other things because they were exciting and I like them.”

Currently, Jan works nine hours per week over three days as a Nanny.

She explains it’s something “which is very joyful, very grounding, and for writers to have a child in their lives is very very nice”.

“My own son was born at 44 – I was a very late mum. So when he left home there was a big space – there was an emotional space and space space,” she said.

Jan decided she needed a role which could “anchor the time”.

“I thought, I’d like a job that anchored me in time for three or four days a week – that I had to be somewhere. So, I recently applied to Koru Kids for nanny work which I just love.”

Jan reflects on her childhood, her education, and her career.

“Growing up as a working class girl in the welfare state of the post-war years – in the late 40s and early 50s – gave me health, education.”

Jan credits it for the “energy and good health” she has now.

Explaining what this time of her life was like, she says: “I could go to college and be on a grant and my parents not have to find the money.

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“There was no stress around healthcare because the NHS was very good. I think it’s mostly education – that you could just get yourself to college, or university, have it all completely funded. My son’s got fees to pay back – I didn’t have that pressure.”

After signing up with Koru Kids, Jan began working as a Nanny in early September last year, working between 3pm and 6pm three days a week.

“The family and I clicked pretty well straight away,” she says. :The little boy I look after is delightful. And as I say, for a writer it’s very good to be with a child because the creative time you spend with them, it’s playful, it’s in the moment, it’s very grounding, and it’s a pleasure.

“I mean it’s hard work – I need energy. I’ve got to always be on the ball and thinking of his needs and what we’re going to do and plan things.”

While the role may have its demands, Jan explains that it’s stimulating at the same time – and there’s no paperwork attached to it.

Jan earns £9.20 an hour, meaning she ends up with around £230-£240 per month for the part-time job.

While the job brings a wealth of benefits which one can’t put a price on, the money provides a well-earned bonus to paying for things in daily life.

“It just makes the difference. It means a bottle of Prosecco rather than a bottle of ale – that kind of thing. Train fares and holidays and things.

“My standard of life was fine but this gives it extra.”

Jan had been looking for part-time job, landing an interview for a highly paid two-day a week job as a project manager.

But, she was aware that the role could likely mean tasks are required to be completed on other days of the week.

Instead, Jan took a Nannying role, via Koru Kids. She says: “I must say they’re a very well organised agency and their training and organisation and communications are very good,”

“Their selective process is quite rigorous. You start with a phone call and if that goes well, there’s an online course, and if that goes well, there’s a days training with trainers.

“Then there’s Paediatric first aid training, they DBS check all their Nannies. They do that, and keep in touch with you. I’m very impressed with them.”

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