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Do you have a pension?
Thread poster: SusieSmith
SusieSmith
United Kingdom
Dec 29, 2016

What are your thoughts on pensions for self-employed translators? Do you have one?

Personally, I have never actually set one up. Firstly, because I do not 100% trust the pension companies but mainly because I do not really intend to retire. I will keep working as long as I can.

I think my job will help to keep my brain active, I do not need to leave the house so any physical issues in old age will not be a major issue.

If my mental capabilities decline and I am no longer able to translate, I will most likely not be able to enjoy the money from a pension anyway. Then I would just rely on the state (I live in the UK) to look after me while I stare at the TV all day.

I would prefer to spend my money on a larger house for my family, sending my children to good schools, supporting them through university and generally living life to the fullest. Also, my husband has a company pension which will help when he retires.


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Cristiana Coblis  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 13:09
Member (2004)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Better safe than sorry Dec 30, 2016

You are very optimistic, Susie. I used to think along these lines a few years ago. Now, I am more of the opinion that it's better to be safe than sorry I do have several pension plans in fact and I also keep a permanent buffer fund.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 13:09
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
I'm receiving one Dec 30, 2016

Up to age 52 I was a normal employee and now since I turned 60 get my pension every month. When I was young I thought too that I would never get a pension because the system would go bust, but 40 years is a short time.
If I had to choose I would save in fonds and shares (I actually still do). Many save for old age by investing in real estate.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:09
Member
English to French
I hope I'll die before I get old Dec 30, 2016

Courtesy of The Who

You only think this when you're young enough to believe you're immortal. Alas, I'm no longer immortal.

I really can't stand the idea of turning the heating off in winter when I'm old, grumpy and hard-hearing because I can't afford to pay the bill. On the other hand, I certainly don't see myself dying on stage by necessity. A life is long enough to end it peacefully without thinking about your next delivery.

Therefore I don't subscribe to any of your views, and I've been putting money aside (pension funds, life insurances, compulsory state contribution, property to let...) ever since I've earned a living. Or at least since when I started thinking.

Which is why I don't live life "to the fullest": I plan ahead and don't burn all I earn. While I'm nearing a half-century, I have no debt, no expensive wristwatch, and I own my own roof. I also save for my children's future, and I will not rely on anybody for my old age. Thinking of it, relying on the minimal state pension to live on seems to me even more illusory than saving to a private pension fund.

Suggested good resolution for 2017:
Put aside 20% of your nett earnings for the unforeseen and living your old age "to the fullest". Some secured private pension funds are tax-deductible, so the more you put aside, the less income tax you pay. But don't worry, you'll pay it when you get your money back from the fund.

Philippe


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:09
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Both public and private Dec 30, 2016

I am more or less trusting the public pension of our Social Security and am making contributions to it which, in 17 years time, should entitle me to receive a reasonable monthly pension. I have been working for 30 years already (22 of which as a freelance translator), so I trust (or hope) my pension will allow me to cover my expenses reasonably well.

As for a private pension plan, I try to save as much as I can, and have my pension plan split into three different banks just in case. Right now, I daresay the funds I have gathered would allow me to live for about 4-5 years, which is not much. Just a help in case the public pension goes unreasonably low.

I reckon a very good investment you can make for your future is fully paying your home, so that you do not have to pay a mortgage or a rent when you retire and you are free to sell and move to a place which is easier to maintain.

I totally support your idea of investing in your children's education and living a bit, but disagree on trusting your husband's company pension. In today's world, can you be 100% certain that your husband will stay in the same company forever, that you will be sharing a home when you retire, or that both will live by then? I would definitely start a pension plan if you can put aside a certain sum every month. If all goes well, you will be able to afford some nice holidays when you two retire, and if something goes wrong, you will have some financial safety of your own.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:09
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Dementia and physical problems - the tip of the iceberg Dec 30, 2016

It worries me to hear that, to be honest. Now I'm in my sixties I realise that there are very many other reasons for not wanting to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

True, with advanced dementia you won't care what goes on around you. True, you can do this job perfectly well if you're paraplegic but otherwise fit and healthy. But what if you're in constant pain and on medication that affects your concentration? You aren't going to have the same earning capacity then. You'll need something to fall back on so you can take things easier and spare your body and mind for enjoying leisure time - holidays, outings, sitting reading, pottering in the garden - rather than battling with work. There are no end of conditions that can render you unable to work, and even needing to spend out on extras. Arthritis is incredibly common, for a start, and it alone can mean it's difficult to find any degree of comfort and concentration for sustained periods, even using DNS and a fancy desk.

All in all, I think it's short-sighted not to give yourself the chance to retire gracefully if you need to. After all, there will be nothing to stop you working full time if you can. Give the pensions to the local cats!

But I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that things will work out well for you. I don't have too much arthritis in them at the moment (touching wood) .


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 11:09
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I'm receiving one Dec 30, 2016

I started freelancing full-time after retiring from the organization (EU institution) where I worked as an in-house translator for 20 years. I intend to remain active as long as I feel like it and I’ll stop when my health fails. I’ve become very picky about the jobs I accept, as I focus on doing what I enjoy. I also do a lot of pro bono translations (TWB, MdM, MSF, UNV, Equality Now, Humana…). If genes have to be blamed, my father worked as a consultant until the day he died (at 93) and my mother (she is 103) says that the worst decision she ever took was to stop working at 95…

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SusieSmith
United Kingdom
TOPIC STARTER
I might look into getting a pension this year. Dec 30, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

It worries me to hear that, to be honest. Now I'm in my sixties I realise that there are very many other reasons for not wanting to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

True, with advanced dementia you won't care what goes on around you. True, you can do this job perfectly well if you're paraplegic but otherwise fit and healthy. But what if you're in constant pain and on medication that affects your concentration? You aren't going to have the same earning capacity then. You'll need something to fall back on so you can take things easier and spare your body and mind for enjoying leisure time - holidays, outings, sitting reading, pottering in the garden - rather than battling with work. There are no end of conditions that can render you unable to work, and even needing to spend out on extras. Arthritis is incredibly common, for a start, and it alone can mean it's difficult to find any degree of comfort and concentration for sustained periods, even using DNS and a fancy desk.

All in all, I think it's short-sighted not to give yourself the chance to retire gracefully if you need to. After all, there will be nothing to stop you working full time if you can. Give the pensions to the local cats!

But I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that things will work out well for you. I don't have too much arthritis in them at the moment (touching wood) .


Thanks Sheila for the advice. You make a good point about arthritis ... it would be nice to have something to fall back on if typing became painful.

However, I do not work 8 hours a day at the moment. It's about four - five hours, as I have young children to look after too. That earns me a good salary - so if I cut back to two hours a day, I would be earning the same as I would get from a pension (assuming the translation industry is the same in 20 years' time).

We have already paid off the mortgage and might invest in another property to rent once we don't have to pay school fees any more.

I do think it's difficult to get the balance right!

[Edited at 2016-12-30 11:25 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:09
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I am glad I have a pension Dec 30, 2016

From January I will be a part time pensioner.

I live in a country where the taxes are high, but they do go partly to compulsory pension savings and a basic pension. According to a Danish saying, 'You can neither live nor die on it', but you can normally live in a modest flat or house and heat it up, and you can afford basic, healthy food at home. If you need expensive medication, you get a supplement, but the pension does not cover many extras.

Yesterday I visited a couple of old and once very good friends who live on their pensions, and I feel so sad every time. Mostly because they do not really want to solve their problems, so they are very difficult to help, but they both have poor health. You 'don't need to leave the house' - just wait until you can't!!! He finds it a struggle to get out to do the weekly shopping, and she is frustrated because he does not buy things she would like, but she can't get out at all. A little outing would do wonders, but they don't even attempt the free museums or other possibilities they used to like. They sit watching TV, on separate sets if they want different channels, but they are bored to tears!

Our two friends can't even walk 200 yards to a bus stop and get on a bus! My father, also self-employed, did that until he was over 90, and again, enjoyed his freedom, but he went on working when it suited him. He bought a retirement house at 65, AND before that he sent four children to good schools, lived life basically as he wanted to, and took us on holidays to interesting, though not expensive places, on a modest salary. Like many in her generation, my mother did not earn much, but they did save up for pensions, and it made an enormous difference. They enjoyed their old age.

I plan to carry on working part time, until I hit the level where it costs me a lot in tax and pension deductions... Meanwhile there is a life apart from work.

My husband and I do have private pensions, and we can still drive a car, which gives us our freedom. (Public transport is very limited where we live, but shops and social activities are close.) I plan to do more voluntary work and see some of the museums and historic sites across the country, and simply get more fresh air and exercise - I have put on weight in recent years, and would like to lose it, or at least not put on more. We don't walk as much as we used to - arthritis is catching up with us.

Some young families depend on grandparents for child-minding after school and when parents are at work. Others my age have really aged parents - we have done our share of looking after elderly relatives too. Family commitments are different, but at least as demanding as when you are young.
___________________

Workwise I have stopped proofreading/editing for others. I seem to be able to translate still, but I find it difficult to concentrate on proofreading, and have told my clients to let me know if my standards drop.
I have decided not to join a new project working on SEO with a client - five years ago I would have been keen to give it a go.

You never know what life will bring, but even a small amount for little extras can make life worth living. Presents to grandchildren, going out for a meal, a ticket to the theatre or an exhibition... an outing or a change of scene now and then. If you live life now, you will never be satisfied with just the basics when you are old! But it is perfectly possible to do both.

[Edited at 2016-12-30 12:09 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:09
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Your question is very UK specific Dec 30, 2016

SusieSmith wrote:
Then I would just rely on the state (I live in the UK) to look after me while I stare at the TV all day.


So... you would be getting a pension after all. You'd be getting a state pension instead of a private pension. You should make sure that you get a full state pension, then (and not a partial one). And that means making sure that all your state insurance contributions are up to date and that you have made preparations for any gaps in your state insurance.

I'm no expert in UK state pension details for freelance translators, but here are some interesting URLs: x, x, x, x.

In the UK (correct me if I'm wrong), you get a state pension (currently GBP 155 per week) when you reach retirement age, but only if you have paid class 2 and class 4 national insurance contributions for at least 10 years. For a freelance translator earning about GBP 800 per week, the insurance contributions are about GBP 70 per week. Are you paying this?


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:09
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Very country specific topic Dec 30, 2016

When I retire in 20 years, my UK state pension will reach 50% value of the state pension my mother is getting in Latvia now. She was lucky because during the last qualifying years she had additional income from extra work she did and that increased her pension pot. I, on the other hand, can work my socks off and that will not change anything. The rules for private pension funds change with each new government, so one is never sure that the money paid in will bring any income, witness my brother-in-law who worked from the age of 18 for a company that went bust when he was in his forties - he lost every penny from the pension pot he had been paying into for over 20 years.

The current generation of pensioners in the UK is the last one to enjoy reasonable affluence. They could purchase property in their youth for reasonable prices and worked hard for their pensions. We, on the other hand, have to pay over 70% of our income for housing if we are renting (less if one has a mortgage), which makes home ownership impossible. As a result, there is nothing really left over for any pension plans.

Which is why I intend to work till I drop. But I also happen to have three separate pension plans, two of whom have now left the family home and are heading to universities. As they are quite competitive, they each hope to buy me a house and a Mercedes before the other one can afford it. At least they are thinking big, if nothing else.

Ines


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Isa Harrington  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:09
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Spain-specific query Dec 30, 2016

Sorry to veer off country-wise but I see a few of you are residing in Spain. Would you say paying the maximum social security contribution of 500-600 euros a month is worthwhile even before you are 48 or just better to go for a private pension plan? Or are both a good bet? Many thanks!

[Edited at 2016-12-30 18:29 GMT]


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 12:09
German to English
+ ...
Position in Austria Dec 30, 2016

Actually I'm surprised you can avoid making pension contributions. Here in Austria at least anyone (with possibly a few exceptions) in gainful employment (and that includes self-employed) must make earnings-related, tax-deductible contributions to a pension fund. At the age of 65 was able to retire on a reasonably comfortable pension topped up by any free-lance work I feel like doing (taxed rather heavily, unfortunately). I would go so far to say that a country that allows you to earn a living wihtout making any contributions to a pension fund so that at the age of 65 you have no choice but to work until you drop is beyond the pale in terms of providing a decent life for its citizens. I find it dificult to believe that this is in fact the case in a country that is (still) a member of the EU.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:09
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Start saving early, especially in these low-interest times! Dec 30, 2016

Even a small regular contribution gathers interest over three decades of working life. We could not afford to save much when we were young and interest rates were high - we had to pay off loans for the house, the car and my husband's study loans... We did manage to save up later.

Mobility is everything when you are old - with a scooter or rollator if nothing else. Especially if you suffer from dementia, trips to a day centre or to visit friends pass the time. There are schemes now, improving all the time, but someone has to pay for them, often the users. You owe it to the family and carers who look after you - apart from being happier and less bored themselves, the aged are easier and pleasanter to care for if they have activities they can cope with, and some actually get aggressive otherwise.

Happy New Year, everyone, and many more to come!


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