The crowd I hung out with in my early twenties affectionately tolerated a guy called Pete, who, unlike the rest of us, owned a car but was too tight to replace the dodgy windscreen wiper on the passenger side. He also had a habit of disappearing whenever it was his round. Funnier still, he had not only one pension scheme, but two, at the age of 23. How we laughed.
Cut to 10 years later: two small children and hard times, my junior teacher's salary barely getting me through mortgage and nursery fees. And in a nod to my mental wellbeing, I've just left a secure teaching job to do supply. For the first time, I'm a bit frightened for the future, and I admit as much to my dad over a beer. How the hell, I wonder, am I ever going to be able to send my kids to college?
True to form, he's philosophical about matters financial. Don't worry about all that, he tells me, there are always loans, and it's a long way off.
Then, in a life-changing moment, he picks through the change on the bar, turns serious and says: "Just don't bugger up your pension. It really bloody creeps up on you."
Damn. I had the man from the Pru round shortly afterwards to sort out some AVCs. Now on my third career, and, how I laugh, I've got three pensions, so far. And even funnier? When my dear, financially feckless friends in their thirties are beginning to wonder about their approaching middle age, what are my words of wisdom? "Just don't forget your pension."
I hope I never have to admit as much to penny-pinching Pete.
Fiona Flynn works at The TES