In the pink, or is that purple?

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
"When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves, And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter."

Jenny Joseph's poem, "Warning", is an iconic piece of verse for many women.

It is also, of course, a challenge to sort out your pension. Failure to do so makes an old age where you can throw caution and convention to the winds less likely.

Many people wince at the mention of pensions. The subject is complex, it involves maths, forward planning, thoughts of grey hair and death - and, worst of all, spending money. This supplement aims, through the voices of experts and ordinary teachers, to encourage you to put pensions in your mental in-tray - now.

It is already in the Government's in-tray. David Blunkett, the new Work and Pensions Secretary, faces the challenge of finding agreement on "modernising" the Teachers' Pensions Scheme. It won't be easy.

Whatever the future holds, teachers must remember that even a good scheme such as theirs does not automatically protect against financial ills. It is essential to check on how your pension is doing, to plan for the retirement you want, and to decide if you need to put more money aside. Part-timers, supply teachers, anyone who has taken a career break, or joined the profession late, must be extra vigilant. Women, in particular, risk an impoverished old age. But men are not immune. So, if you are male and you want, in Joseph's words, to...

"Wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go

Or only eat bread and pickle for a week

And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes...", Start planning now.

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