Spending Your Pennies

I noticed this advert on Twitter this morning and it struck me that there are several leitmotif images about retirement that many companies reach for when trying to attract prospective pensioners with their cash.

Did You Pack the Preparation H?

Two Portaloos Ahoy!

Firstly, there’s the inevitable scene on the beach. After all, that’s where all pensioners want to go. In real life, you tend to see them huddled in their cars at the coast, sitting staring silently out at the horizon instead of running laughing along the sands. They have a flask of tea and a tupperware box with a cheese sandwich in it, instead of just exiting the champagne and seafood bar, as the pictured couple might just have done.

Blue, almost cloudless skies (there have to be some clouds, this is old age and retirement we’re talking about) frame the scene, but it’s difficult to tell if this is Corfu or Cornwall. It’s certainly not Cromarty, where the rain would be lashing in horizontally from the sea. The Blackpool Tower is also noticeable by its absence, so draw your own conclusions and paste your own geographic dreams onto the beach

The second thing that makes me question if this is a typically British retirement couple is that they look quite cheerful. Nay, joyful. You wonder what news they’ve just received? Is it that David Cameron has blown up the Channel Tunnel? Is it that their forty year old son has finally moved out their home? Or perhaps they’ve discovered they won’t have to contribute to their grandchildren’s school fees? Whatever, it’s clearly news that would cheer up a middle class couple who have a private (Charles Stanley) pension to live on. A state pensioner can forget the beach, unless they’re trolling it with a metal detector hoping they might find a pound coin.

In many of these ads, women take predominance, underling the position that old men are basically pretty useless. The pressure seems to be placed more on the woman to make the most of retirement – it’s the globetrotting grannies and the skydiving seventy year old great aunts that we tend to read about in the papers. The woman will take the lead, the man is in the background. Old blokes as pensioner role models? Not in the adverts, unless they’re pottering around the garden or selling constipation relief. I feel that men only have themselves to blame for this and that we need to take a more positive and energetic approach to our retirement instead of seeing Victor Meldrew as an aspirational figure.

Where is the mobility scooter in this picture, you may ask? I did. Last time I was at the coast, I made a mental note to look into which companies built these things so I could invest in their shares. They were everywhere. I’m not sure I can recall seeing an advert for a mobility scooter though. Bad health is a difficult sell and, if you have your pension with Charles Stanley, that’s clearly not going to be YOUR future.

What else is missing? The Portaloo, of course. For an elderly couple to be having this much fun on a beach, there has to be a vacant toilet somewhere just off camera. To paraphrase for a pensioner, if you can see a loo it means you’re about to pee, if you can’t, you’re peeing.

All in all, the above advert is, for me, an absolute incentive to retire as early as possible. The time to be running joyfully along the sands with a big smile on your face is now, while you still can.

11 thoughts on “Spending Your Pennies

  1. In the Netherlands, the magazine of the ANWB, the roadside assistance service company, is littered with advertisements for all things that a retiree may need: mobility scooters, stair lifts, incontinence material and all kinds of joint support braces. My intention is also to not need to buy these things for at least the first thirty years of my retirement 🙂


    • Nice one! Maybe I’m subconsciously avoiding seeing all those adverts aimed at older people. In our heads, none of us really progress past our mid-twenties really, despite what our bodies tell us about the passing years. My mum – 77 – still says she thinks like a twenty year old.


  2. my intention is to never buy any of those things… my grandparents all lived to ripe old ages (apart from one who caught some disease and died in the late 50s) so I’m expected to outlive them all… the last one to die was 100, so I’ve got a while to go yet (in my 30s).

    Love your humour, please do keep it up, LOL



  3. Excellent post! Thanks for the laughs.

    In the states, the underlying theme of many investment ads is “Will you have enough to retire with?” They want to scare you into working longer, saving more and, of course, relying on their (the firm’s) expertise to help you. The old adage about “brokers are 3 things: salespeople, salespeople, salespeople” comes to mind…

    Anyway, you missed a few things in the image. 😉 First, they are wearing conservative colors–perfect for old age … just what the staid Charles Stanley himself would wear. Next, there is a knit sweater…so these folks are obviously not taking their money abroad…(C.S. himself patriotically spends his money at home!)

    Finally, I see a glint in the old man’s eyes. Is that a wink at the cameraman or, possibly, camerawoman? He (and his Viagra) are not too old for action! Also, Notice the jaunty camera angle? (Message: C.S. is a company full of energy!)


  4. I’m never going to be able to look at those ads now without thinking of this post haha!

    Funny how you mention the women taking predominance, when in fact, this is exactly what has happened with my parents in their retirement. My mum organises everything, their holidays, their social life, when they see the grandkids – my dad just….tags along happily haha! Perhaps most women are like this, hence the ads are aimed more at them.

    If the ads were aimed at men, it would show the bloke climbing out of a two-seater sportscar with some young dolly bird and you can bet his pension with Charles Stanley would be in the millions haha!


    • Hi Weenie. We men are totally used to being portrayed as useless by all TV adverts these days! But I was semi-serious that men need better role models for retirement. There is a feeling that post-working life men in their sixties become increasingly irrelevant.


      • Agreed, I think there was a spat of noise/news articles about women on average having lower pension pots and a higher life expectancy, and suddenly it’s as if all the men have vanished. If people can’t see a view of retirement that appeals to them, why would they save for it?

        I’m concerned about any relationship where all the financial planning is down to one person, even more so as the likelihood of death or illness increases. Mid-grief is not the time to be making big financial decisions for the first time.


  5. Classic. Though not all old blokes are totally useless, I hope, as with no in-house female to egg me on at present having jsut this minute retired I risk just sitting in front of the TV waiting for the next rugby world cup to come around. Daughters do help in the getting me off the sofa dept. though, so some female motivation is being supplied in the background. Plus my mum dear old is still around, and probably will be for another 30 years the way she is going… don’t get me started…

    (PS – is is not ‘apoc_A_lypse’ or am I missing some subtle joke…?


  6. Hmm, spelling, never my strong point! I thought about pretending it was a clever joke, but no, my ignorance. Only rivalled by my laziness, so I will correct it at some point. 🙂


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