How to have your cake and eat it too

Solo Expenses offers a free app and advice on how to make yourself a richer pensioner by controlling your spend today to maximise your savings for tomorrow, and to bring you closer to having your cake and eating it too…

A young man in his early twenties and his first job walked through a park, where he saw identical twin brothers sitting on a park bench. One wore highly-polished brogues, expensive trousers and a cashmere sweater. The other had on down at heel chain store trainers, non-branded jeans and a sweater now shapeless through age and wear.

Contrasts and similarities caught his eye as he made a snap judgement about them. They were in their late fifties or early sixties. Correct. One was more comfortably off that the other. Correct. One had enjoyed better life chances than the other. Possibly – or possibly not, as we shall see.

Separated at birth – by life choices
In fact it wasn’t their life chances that separated the brothers; they’d had the same education, grown up in the same area, been talented at the same things, and had similar jobs. Both were married; had never divorced, and had two children, all of whom had been through university and had now left home.

What separated the siblings was life choices. Throughout their lives both had enjoyed similar income levels, but Mr Brogues and Mr Trainers had entirely different views on what to do with the money they earned. Mr Trainers had bought a brand new car every other year, and insisted on two long-haul holidays a year. Mr Brogues had bought second-hand, but low mileage, every fourth or fifth year, and restricted himself to a single annual holiday, UK one year, Europe the next.
The list went on. Essentially, both knew what their spending limit was, but one lived his life with this toes over the edge; the other stepped well back from it, and carefully invested the money he didn’t spend as a result.

Not right; not wrong. Just different
Neither approach is right or wrong. They’re just different, and yield different results. The comparison serves to illustrate that we all have the ability to earn a finite amount of money in our lives, and create the life we choose with it. The choice between fast living and steady saving is ours to make.
But do we have to make the choice; to be Mr Brogues or Mr Trainers? Perhaps not. Following our six top tips will bring you a little closer to having your cake and eating it too, because there is a middle way…

Six top tips for a relaxed retirement

1. Step away from the sale rail. Are you shopping out of necessity, or because you’re an endorphin junkie? Do you need the pullover, handbag or shoes more than the adrenaline rush you feel as you approach the till in the expensive department store? Spending now will leave you paying later by having less money in the future

2. Start early. The sooner you start setting money aside for retirement, the more time you’ll have to build up a worthwhile cash reserve that can be made to work for you

expenses-manager-300x1753. Leave it alone. Once it’s saved, it’s saved. Resist the temptation to take back all of your savings because you think you deserve an upmarket holiday, expensive motorbike or the latest bit of tech wizardry.

4. Seek advice. You don’t know what you don’t know, and the complex world of finance is one of constant change. Work with an Independent Financial Advisor; they’re trained to know what the latest legislation is, and will guide you through the investment maze to deliver the best level of income from what you’ve earned based on how you want to live your later years

5. Be careful. Changes in UK pension legislation have created a whole new financial scam in which unscrupulous people will cold call you and ask: “Would you like to earn 10% from your savings every year?” Go back to Item 4 for advice that won’t cost you all of your savings. Remember the old story about stuff that sounds too good to be true…

6. Measure. The most important tip of all. You can’t make any kind of decision – especially a financial one – without the knowledge of what you have to work with. It’ll be one of the first questions a Financial Advisor will ask. Download the free Solo Expenses app here, and at your fingertips you’ll have the perfect tool to record what you spend, all of it, at work and in your private life. Only then will you see spending patterns emerge. These patterns can form the basis of changes in lifestyle that will give you more money to give to the Financial Advisor to invest safely on your behalf, without you feeling that you’re having to do without now to be better of tomorrow.

So, will it be upmarket brogues or supermarket trainers? For you, the only person who can make that decision is you. And there’s no better time to start than now. Download the app