I could put it off no longer. So this week I sat down and tried to make some sense of my pension. The result? A few days of minor panic as I realised that I too will be working when I am 64 - and for a hell of a lot longer than that, probably.
The whole thing is just far too scary and complex, isn't it? Google the word 'pension' and you'll find 18,200,000 references, none of which make any sense. As my efforts to understand the gobbledygook came to nowt, I started browsing some of the sites and ended up reading the government's recent report on pensions. Not many jokes in it, I can tell you. But I did stumble across one useful nugget: In 1950, a man aged 65 would live to 76. Today, he can expect to live to 85 and by 2050 to 89. Women will live into their nineties.
Anyway, it got me thinking. We are in the midst of a pensions crisis because, as the government's report says, we are living longer. So why is everybody from health ministers, to the FSA, to lobby groups making such a crisis out of food and health? In particular, why are they telling us, somewhat hysterically, that our children are going to die young because they are all too fat and their hearts will give out when they are 21? For the first time ever, they have been warning us, children can expect to die before their parents.
But it's just not true. I rang a very helpful man in the Government Actuary's Department, who seemed to think that we were living longer, and he put me onto a very nice lady in the Office for National Statistics, who agreed and explained that my son can expect to live 2.5 years longer than me. Lucky guy!
I don't understand pensions. But I can understand that we are facing a pensions crisis because we are living longer. Better still, despite what we are being told, our kids are still expected to live longer than us.