We were taught to save for a rainy day. Half crowns, sixpences and the extra special ten shilling note or even a crisp green pound seemed unimaginable riches. So they didn’t burn a hole in my pocket they were squirrelled away into The Post Office. At a brown wooden counter rubbed smooth with use, the pen attached to a metal bobble rope (often missing), the grille behind which a lady in a twin set had a severe rubber stamp and one of those finger things that give you grip when counting the notes. She took my money, wrote by hand in my precious book and banged the stamp with all the force required to make it ‘official’.
And to reinforce the message of thrift and saving another well meaning lady (probably in a stout overcoat and hat) used to come to school once a month and sell us National Savings Stamps. The pleasure of queuing up to pay for the stamp and stick in in the book was simple, but real. On the way out she may have passed the Man from Dr. Barnado who came once a year to give us the talk about finding orphan boys sleeping on the rooftops of London and dispensing the paper mache money boxes to take our coppers.
Anyway, I digress. I’ve always saved a bit ever since. My grandmother, a loving but severe woman who’d had a very hard life, but managed to run an engineering business making die castings for industry, in spite of having an alcoholic for a husband always impressed on us to “keep a little for a rainy day” So I did, and I think I even have a couple of National Saving Certificates squirrelled away to this day.
We saved, got a mortgage, saved a bit and now my husband has retired and some of those savings are coming in handy. Times have changed in personal finance. You worked, paid National Insurance and then you got a State Pension. I’ve found that nothing in life is certain, and the lesson I’ve recently learned is the benefit and now necessity of having an occupational pension, and not relying on the Government. The law can change and your entitlement change with it, and there’s a new movement to call the State Pension ‘a Benefit’. This implies that you only get it if you deserve it, or are means tested, and serves to unsettle those approaching retirement age.
I’ve learned how important it is to encourage our children to save and set up a pension. Its a minefield, and something to talk about another day. Simon Read the Personal Finance Editor of the Independent wrote about this just yesterday. Keep on saving.