Michelle McGagh is a freelance financial journalist specialising in pensions, savings and mortgages.
All blogs are the views of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Age.
For young people, the topic of ageing is somewhat taboo. Of course, everyone knows about the physical pressure of getting old, and at 31-years-old I am already trying to banish wrinkles, but there is an even bigger taboo that prevents us from discussing advancing years: we can’t afford to get old.
The plan for most people in their 20s and 30s is to continue working, dragging ourselves to our computer screens in our dotage. The reason for this is we haven’t even thought of saving for a pension yet and despite the government’s best intentions with auto-enrolment those that are saving are unlikely to be saving enough, even when contribution rates are raised to a combined 8% in 2017.
There are plenty of people who are happy to jump to the conclusion that younger people are feckless spendthrifts who are more interested in the latest gadget or spending money on nights out than they are in saving prudently for their future but this isn’t the truth.
Lifestyle patterns have changed in the past 20 years and the cost of living has increased so much that Generation X-ers are forced to make some hard choices. There are lots of people I know who are struggling to put together a deposit for a house despite earning decent money in professional jobs – their disposable income is eaten up in rent and commuting costs.
There are others, myself included, who are weighing up paying into a pension versus overpaying the mortgage. There is also the fundamental question hanging over many of us about whether we can afford to have a family of our own.
These aren’t questions that crossed the mind of people in my parents’ generation.
House prices are of course partly to blame; property is five times the average income compared with a historic three times multiple. And although living costs are increasing, wages haven’t.
This isn’t a bleeding heart sermon; we don’t feel sorry for ourselves, we’re just resigned to the fact that this is how our lives will be and have detached completely from pensions and retirement because it’s something that we feel we may never be able to afford.
There are a generation of people stuck in financial limbo so it is no surprise that the future is a frightening place and we don’t want to get old.
What do you think needs to happen to make the UK the best country to grow older in?
What concerns you most about growing older and why?
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