Travelling to live in different corners of the world may be something many dream of. But, for Gillian Webb, now 86, for eight years, it has been a way of life. Trinidad, New York, LA, Gillian spent many years living in some incredible destinations. Working as a self-employed artist and professional sculptor, she moved to Trinidad for six years, where she owner her own boutique, designed, and sold clothes.
It was during her time there that she was discovered by a talent recruiter, and chosen to move to New York for a year to work as a model.
Gillian then moved to LA for a year, before returning to the UK.
Arriving in England at the age of 46, she continued with her sculpting, as well as buying, restyling, and selling homes.
Her income at the time was fluid, she recalled, adding that it was often dependent on sales at exhibitions, or making a “pretty penny on flipping a house”.
Alongside her hard work, Gillian prepared for her retirement by paying into her pension fund.
But, it was then that she realised a hard-hitting fact.
Having worked abroad for eight years, Gillian was informed that she would not get the full state pension, instead only qualifying for half of the full amount.
“I definitely haven’t made enough pension contributions because I wasn’t able to,” she said.
“I pay all my taxes, I hired an accountant to make sure all my documents were watertight, but working abroad for eight years meant I didn’t qualify for a full state pension.
“I had to opt out in the 60s for a pension whilst I was abroad.
“I guess the laws have changed since my time, but my pension hasn’t.”
Planning for later on in life is something which she is keen to recommend younger generations prioritise.
“If you ask me, I would be telling all the youngsters today not to act on a whim and not to be too impulsive,” she said.
“I always thought with my heart! But maybe if I could do it all again, I would have found out what all of my options were during those times.
“I can’t deny it’s not been easy with my limited pension.”
These days, Gillian lives in Bishopstoke Park retirement village by Anchor Hanover in Hampshire – having moved from a cottage in Teddington, South West London, in the search of a lifestyle change.
She has said she owes a lot of her current comfortable lifestyle to having been self-employed.
“For me the pension age wasn’t too much of a big deal,” she explained.
“I was self-employed and wanted to work for as long as my body would allow. What I was most looking forward to was the bus pass!
“But really, most of the money which I use today is from my savings. That has been my saviour – not my pension.
“Hindsight is a fantastic thing – and though I had an eye for all the pretty things in life, I did not have much of a business sense. I hired an accountant to advise me and I guess this really helped with my savings.”
Travel is something which brings Gillian great enjoyment – and she regularly explores the world by cruise ship.
“It means that I can go on a handful of cruises a year, five or six depending on what’s on offer,” she said of having her savings.
“I love being at sea; I like anything to do with the water! Swimming, sailing, you name it! It’s why I spend my money on cruises. But unfortunately this can’t last forever.
“Travelling at my age, comes with a big insurance cost. Unfortunately I’m over the age where I can get an annual travel insurance scheme, and have to pay out big every time I travel.”
There’s other things to factor into her finances too.
“Other costs I have to consider are the service charges for my house, utilities and everyday necessities,” Gillian explained.
And, while she is taking full advantage of her ability to travel, Gillian is aware that it may not last forever.
“I do my own cooking and spend most of my money on cruises, but when my savings dry up, my half a state pension won’t be able to support my cruising hobby.”
Reflecting on her finances over the years, Gillian added: “I think the best financial decision I made was selling my cottage.
“It gave me quite a bit of leeway and helped make up for what my pension lacks.”
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