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You'll be dancing to a different tune if you don't plan for retirement

Learning to dance is a popular activity people want to do when they retire

DAME Vera Lynn turned 100 on March 20. Those of us over 40 will know the name, but for the benefit of those lucky enough to be under 40, here is what Vera Lynn's most famous tweet might have been: ‘There'll be bluebirds over ... the white cliffs of Dover'.

That's a line from a song that has been woven into the fabric of 20th century history. And Dame Vera's centenary is a timely reminder to us all that we are living much longer than our forefathers did.

Back in 1900, average life expectancy was just 60. Today it is 86. We are an aging population, and our increasing longevity is growing in importance, both as a social phenomenon and, at a personal level, as a challenge to our financial planning.

While ‘1900 Man', with his 60-year life expectancy, had a relatively short retirement, ‘2017 Man' could have a retirement of 20 years - or even longer, if you have taken care of yourself.

Who'd have thought, when you were stocking up on all those healthy fruits and vegetables for your ‘five-a-day', that you'd end up paying for them twice, because they'd help you live longer?

This is why it may be worthwhile seriously considering a chat with your financial adviser, to plan ahead. By setting up a personal pension, for instance, you'd be making your own provision for an income in old age.

You'd also be reducing your dependence on the state pension. While government may tamper with the value of the state pension in the future, your personal pension would give you more control over your financial destiny.

There's an old saying often heard among young socialites in Northern Ireland, usually just before payday: “No mons, no funs”. This means that you can't afford to hit the town until your pay comes in.

Well, the same could apply to our retirement - if we fail to plan. When you finally give up work, having no money is definitely not funny.

And just to prove it, Merck Consumer Health's WE100 division has done a survey asking people to make a “bucket list” of the new experiences they'd like to try when, finally, they rinse out their coffee mug and leave the office for the last time.

The list makes entertaining reading, but also reminds us that while “Money can't buy you love”, as Lennon and McCartney put it, it does come in handy to fulfil your ambitions, when you retire.

Funnily enough, the ‘world cruise', almost a cliché among retirement goals, was only third on the list.

Here, listed by popularity, is what we're all hoping to do when we retire.

:: One - Learn a new language, with Spanish the most popular choice. Particularly relevant, I suppose, for those who have the option to retire to Spain.

:: Two - bungee jumping! This was a surprise, but certainly proves there's life in the old dog yet.

:: Three - international travel, with taking a cruise the most popular option.

:: Four - learning to fly a plane or a helicopter.

:: Five - learning to dance.

Those were the most popular choices. At the other end of the scale, the more unusual bucket list items were also a testimony to our vigour and zest for new life experiences.

Courtesy of our personal pension we want to take a shark cage dive, learn falconry, go to a restaurant for ‘squid ink risotto', learn sign language, or even learn to drive a horse-drawn carriage!

WE100 (they have a Facebook page) say that two thirds of older British people are missing out on new experiences, which could benefit them as they age. Many feel they are too old, too set in their routine, or simply too scared to give new things a go.

For others, money is certainly an issue and clearly, some of the choices above would be out of our reach, if we were strapped for cash in old age.

Well, in this office, we don't speak Spanish or know sign language, but we can provide quality, independent financial advice to ensure you'll be able to afford that cruise, when you retire!

:: Michael Kennedy is an independent financial adviser and pensions specialist, and can be contacted on 028 71886005 (Facebook: Kennedy Independent Financial Advice Ltd).

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