What you can learn about retirement planning from Monty Python’s Eric Idle

Almost half a century after reminding us to always look on the bright side of life, Eric Idle’s enduring wit and wisdom continue to humour and inspire.

But despite his lasting influence on comedy and culture, the Monty Python star recently made headlines as he took to X (formerly Twitter) to candidly reflect on the fact that he still has to work at the age of 80 for “financial reasons”. He went on to claim that when it comes to money matters, “Python is a disaster.”

While some might debate the necessity of some of Idle’s outgoings and lifestyle choices, his situation shines a light on a wider social trend: how it is increasingly common for people to work longer than they once did.

So, what can you learn about retirement planning from Eric Idle’s experience? And how can a financial planner in Worcester help? Read on to find out.

Eric Idle’s situation speaks to a wider culture of people working for longer

Eric Idle is not alone in working until his later years. As life expectancy continues to rise, more and more people are working for longer, either for financial reasons or for the sociability and purpose that comes with their job.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that, between April and June 2022, the number of people aged 65 and over in employment increased by a record 173,000 to 1.47 million, which is also a record level.

Like Idle, some older people may feel pressured to continue to work due to financial strains. As people are generally living longer and costs rise, retirement funds may have to last for more years as well as keep up with the rising cost of living.

Moreover, Idle was also quick to temper his complaint and say that he is “engaged and writing”, which is the thing he “loves to do most”. Again, this speaks to an important reason why some people choose to stay at work, which is simply that they enjoy it.

Work provides a structure and routine to your life, it can offer a place of community and sociability, and even form an important part of your identity. With more people living into their 90s, the prospect of three decades of retirement begins to raise questions about how individuals will find purpose and fulfilment during this extended period of their lives.

Making a plan can help you prepare for retirement

While enjoying the success of Monty Python’s early work, the young Eric Idle perhaps didn’t consider exactly when he planned to retire and what the outgoings of his 80-year-old self might be.

But planning your retirement means you can budget your current lifestyle with your ideal retirement date and income in mind. And, as with all planning, the earlier you start, the better.

When making a retirement plan, there are two main elements to consider:

  • When you want to retire
  • What you want to do, and how much your retirement is going to cost.

Planning when to retire

Many well-known people work well into their 80s. Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, and Mick Jagger, for example, all continue to dazzle and delight in their later years.

Like them, you may want to continue working in your 80s. However, you don’t want to find yourself having to work until your 80s if you don’t want to.

Of course, planning the ideal retirement date would require knowing exactly how long your retirement is going to last. Although there is no way to know this, current life expectancy averages can give you a rough indication.

You might consider how long you want to be retired and what you want to do with your time while you are still active. There may be things you want to do that could be possible when you’re in your late 60s or early 70s, but that might be a bit harder once you’re a decade older.

So, while working until your 70s or 80s may not sound too bad to you, there could be things that you miss out on by working through your golden years.

On the other hand, it is also worth noting that delaying your retirement by just a few years could significantly boost your pension savings, particularly if your children have left home and you have paid off your mortgage.

By delaying your retirement, you could not only contribute more to your pension fund but also reduce the number of years you will need it to last, so this could make a significant difference.

Planning your retirement costs

Although Idle’s accounts are probably healthier than most, he has likely become accustomed to a certain lifestyle that he wants to continue to enjoy for as long as he can.

Your dream retirement may be more modest or more lavish than Idle’s, but budgeting your costs in preparation could help ensure you achieve the lifestyle you want in retirement.

Consider what your general outgoings will be and roughly how long they may need to last (again, life expectancy averages can offer an estimation). You can then factor in additional costs such as annual holidays, travelling, visiting family, or maybe even starting a new business. Finally, you might also consider the potentially significant costs of care in later life.

Once you have made a rough plan for your retirement costs, you can then check your current saving goals and pension contributions to ensure they are sufficient. Then you can consider whether your current planned retirement age aligns with your saving goals or whether you need to revisit your plans.

How to make the most of your savings while planning for the future

In retrospect, there were perhaps some steps Eric Idle could have taken in his younger years that would have better prepared him for retirement.

So, what are some simple things you could start doing now to help ensure you don’t have to work into your 80s?

Start saving early

Idle said his stage musical Spamalot made money twenty years ago. Having run on both Broadway and the West End for several years, toured the UK and the US, and played in several arenas, the amount of money Spamalot made was likely significant.

Unlike Idle, the chances of you having a hit musical are small. However, if like Idle, you have periods in your life in which you earn more money, or you receive a bonus, inheritance, or any other lump sum, investing that money into your pension savings could significantly boost your retirement fund.

If you have extra money to invest into your pension, you may want to check how much of your Annual Allowance you have used. The Annual Allowance is the maximum amount you can contribute to your pension in a single financial year without facing an additional tax charge. In the 2023/24 tax year, the Annual Allowance is £60,000 or 100% of your earnings, whichever is lower.

Bear in mind that your Annual Allowance may be lower if you are a high earner or have already flexibly accessed your pension.

If you have already used your Annual Allowance and you still have income left over, you might consider making the most of your ISA allowance to ensure maximum tax efficiency. In 2023/24, you can contribute up to £20,000 into ISAs in a single tax year.

Starting to save for your future early ensures that you’re able to contribute as much as possible to your pension, investments, and savings. You’ll also give your invested wealth more time in the market to potentially grow.

Speak to a financial planner

If you’d prefer not to work into your 80s like Eric Idle, then you may want to consider working with a financial planner.

At Britannic Place, we can work with you to create a plan for the future, and help make sure you retire when you want to and get the retirement you deserve.

Email info@britannicplace.co.uk or call 01905 419890 to find out how we can help you plan for your retirement.

Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits.

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