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Regular Quest contributor, Steve Bulleyment, director of Lincolnshire-based specialist auto locksmith company Car Key Man, is here with the first in a new series of regular features on how not to leave the Forces. First under the microscope is pensions – undeniably boring, but at the same time vitally important to your future
Lots of you won’t need to read this (if you’re leaving after more than 22 years), and some of you just won’t want to read it (pensions are very boring), but I’m hoping that some of you will – and that you will learn from my mistakes. I made a very bad effort at leaving the Forces. I didn’t follow the resettlement advice and, 13 years on, I so wish I had …
Pensions are dull and you need to put some effort in to understanding them. Why should you worry about retirement when it’s so far away? For me, 13 years after leaving (without completing my 22 years), I’ve only just started to plan my future. I’m 49, totally unprepared for the big birthdays that are rushing towards me, and I want to get hold of my younger, busy self and drag him to a financial advisor.
Why do I tell you all this?
It would be easier not to. I’m embarrassed that, as clever as I am, and as much as I’ve learned about business, I didn’t stop for a while and take time to make a plan. A plan that involved taking the first £200–£300 out of every pay packet and investing it for my old age. Now, I have plenty of good excuses why I didn’t do this, so here goes …
1. I was too busy. That was true back then – I was very busy. I had a son just learning to talk and a daughter who’d just started school. That’s enough running around for a start. Then I had a business I was trying to grow, and on top of that I was a member of the school parents group. So, it’s true. I was busy, but that doesn’t cut it I’m afraid.
2. I couldn’t afford it. Again, kids are expensive. We had a good life then, and any extra money available was used in the business. But, again, another poor excuse.
3. I had plenty of time, I’d do it later. Unfortunately time passes by quickly. Now 13 years have passed and I’m only just doing it.
The truth is a mixture of all these things. I still know nothing about planning for my retirement, but having a business has taught me that I don’t need to know anything about it: there are experts that will help, just like I’m an expert in car keys. The most painful truth – and I’m blushing as I type – is that one reason for not sorting it out sooner was that I’d be embarrassed at what I had in place on leaving the Forces (not much). I also wasn’t prepared to cut down that £200–£300 needed for the future. I so regret that.
So, I’m telling you this in the hope that one person will read it and recognise themselves in the same position. If you are leaving the Forces before qualifying for your full pension, you’ll need to plan. Talk to your partner, and talk to an expert.
It’s so easy to bury your head in the sand, and as motivational speaker Brian Tracy always says, ‘The time is going to pass, whether you do it or not.’
I’ve found that the time will pass so much faster than you think it will, so make a plan. One day you’ll be pleased you did.
Visit the Car Key Man YouTube Channel at: www.youtube.com/channel/UCEyGDGBNdu9qlux2VM8IWLw
P.S. Here’s the good news
If you’re planning on starting a business, build it so that one day someone will pay you good money for it. Fortunately, my business has real value now, so in some ways my gamble has paid off. However, I’ll be investing my profits to play catch-up as I’m some way behind.
So be smart, put this magazine down and make a plan.
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