How I Manage My Money: A retired teacher living on £2.6k a month from pensions

In our How I Manage My Money series we aim to find out how people in the UK are spending, saving and investing money to meet their costs and achieve their goals.

This week we speak to Mike Collins, a retired teacher aged 69, who lives off his pensions and works part-time at an outdoor education centre.

Regular income per month: £2,600 from pensions

Regular outgoings per month: Rent (including heating, water and community tax) £620; Food and Household Goods £350; Amazon Shopping £100; Fuel £100; Car Service budget £64.69; Meals out £70; Monthly payment for New Ebike £116; Phone £50; AA £28.95; Subscriptions to Conservation Orgs £12; TV licence £13.37; Financial Adviser £47; Pilates video subscription £20 

Total outgoings: £1,592

I started my career as a teacher in primary and special schools and went on to land the role as headteacher at a small rural Primary School. Following that, I worked at the Outdoor Learning Centre full time in the East Midlands and eventually became the manager. I am now 69 and retired from this post a few years ago. 

I am now part of the casual staff and I work as an education ranger at the centre. The role involves taking classes of children, around primary school age, into the woods, streams and fields and teaching them about the countryside through enjoyable practical activities. You can really see the difference when you get these young people in the outdoors exploring and their faces light up.

In terms of my annual salary, it varies a little bit as it depends on how much part-time work I take on. In the spring and summer months, I work generally around two days a week.

For my income, I mainly rely on my teachers’ pension, my state pension and my Outdoor Learning Centre pension. These combined result in an income of £2,600 per month after tax, which is £31,200 per annum.

I do have investments and I invested my teachers’ pension lump sum through ML Financial Associates, a locally based company. My investments are spread over a General Investment Account, ISA stocks and Shares and a personal pension and I am happy with the arrangement I have. I do like to save so I can go on adventure holidays. I love to travel and I love doing big trips, and I have been everywhere from Mongolia to Antarctica.

To save, I put leftover cash in a savings account and an ISA account with a national bank. I use these accounts plus my current account for almost all expenditures and only use savings for adventure holidays. I use my investments to fund the purchase of a second-hand vehicle. I add to my savings accounts if my current account total rises well above normal use.

My current account funds my rent, living expenses, hobbies, social life, and travel in the UK. I used to use cash for transactions but now I make payments almost entirely by debit card, especially since the first lockdown. Spare physical cash often ends up as pocket money for my grandchildren! Looking ahead, I have no financial goal except buying another vehicle when my present car becomes too costly to maintain.

I intend to continue to travel around the UK and abroad as long as my health allows. For some more localised adventures, I am considering purchasing a campervan. My money isn’t only used for mundane things and I do treat myself once in a while. Treats are normally in the form of meals out, books and clothing or equipment for my outdoor hobbies. My favourite activities include mountain biking, natural history, wildlife and landscape photography and walking. I also attend wildlife courses on animal tracks, trails and signs. 

My biggest treats to myself are adventure and/or wildlife holidays both at home and abroad. Lockdown has greatly reduced my ability to travel so I have had more spare cash to play with and concentrated on seeing a bit more of the UK. My relationship with money hasn’t really changed over the years. I’ve always adapted my spending to my income and therefore live more cheaply when income is short in supply.

I never used to invest my money but about 16 years ago I attended a meeting hosted by my present financial adviser who persuaded me to invest when I could afford to. My investment attitude is medium risk and I’ve been happy with this ever since I began investing.My investments act as a cushion in case of emergency and as a legacy for my daughter when I pass away.

Looking back, there is nothing in particular about money that I wish I’d known as a youngster.
My parents always taught me to be careful with money and not spend beyond my means. I was not well off as a child or teenager so I was very conservative with what I did have. My parents steered me in the right direction and I realised early on that if I wanted to do things or buy things then hard work was required.

As I went on to earn money and accrue savings I realized the importance of seeking expert guidance.I have relied on financial advice from my bank (Lloyds) and my Financial Advisor over the years and this has been essential for me being in the comfortable position I am in today. 

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