Is your retirement going in style?

How’s your retirement going? Enjoying a champagne lifestyle? Or is it not quite what you hoped it would be?

Are you living hand-to-mouth, unable to dine out or enjoy the odd treat, as is the case for at least 30 per cent of retirees, according to the most recent YourLifeChoices survey?

Last night, we saw a preview of Going in Style, the latest Hollywood ‘old farts unite’, featuring Michal Caine (Joe), Morgan Freeman (Willie) and Alan Arkin (Albert). And yes, it was cliché-ridden with ‘the old fool is past it’ jokes coming thick and fast.

But this movie has two really good things going for it, and that’s why I’d recommend you go and see it.

First, the combined acting skills of Caine, Freeman and Arkin are formidable. Even when delivering some pretty corny line, these guys can act most other performers right off the screen. The supporting cast is also well chosen – in particular, Ann-Margaret who remains sexy and funny as she entices Alan Arkin with tales of what she can do with an eggplant.

But the second great strength of this movie is both surprising and impressive.

This is no silly heist plot for the sake of it. It’s a universal tale about older workers, who find out their company is not just shutting up shop in their country and taking their jobs offshore; it’s also closing their pension funds, so that their retirement income no longer exists. And the bank that has tripled Joe’s mortgage is the one handling the pension scheme closure.

The three long-time friends are shocked, sad and angry. They have extended family obligations, including helping a granddaughter to get through school and the need for urgent medical care. But suddenly, between them, they can’t even afford a slice of pie. Everyone deserves a piece of pie, they decide. And so they go into training to rob back the million-plus dollars needed to replace their now-defunct pension savings.

To share anymore of the plot would be to spoil a very warm and witty story. But it is worth noting that this movie hits the spot in many ways that the drier statistics about retirement have failed to do.

Across the globe, older people are feeling disenfranchised and hard done by. We hear a lot from angst-ridden millennials about how hard it is to buy a house. Agreed. But these millennials should try buying or re-mortgaging at age 55 when lenders refuse loans on the grounds that income is less than secure.

Housing affordability is only one, albeit stressful, part of the picture. Many older Australians are echoing the sentiments of Joe, Willie and Albert, that everyone does deserve a piece of the pie. For today’s retirees, the risk of retirement has been neatly shifted from government and employers to their own shoulders, before they’ve had a chance to save enough for a dignified lifestyle. They have been made totally responsible for their own income despite market collapses, continually shifting legislative goal posts and an untrustworthy advice industry. And the gap between the haves and have nots continues to widen.

So if you think older people are too polite or conservative to jack up and fight back, be warned. Everyone does deserve a piece of the pie, and politicians who underestimate the voting power of the seniors and boomers do so at their own peril.

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What about you? Is your retirement ‘going in style’? 

Written by Kaye Fallick



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