Woman, 69, fears for her financial future
A pensioner who sold everything to live off her savings now fears that even the bank can’t protect her from the economic recession.
The 69-year-old Warwick resident, who requested not to be identified, told
The Royal Gazette her precarious financial situation mirrored that of many Bermuda seniors.
Saying Bermuda’s high costs had driven her twice — and unsuccessfully — to move elsewhere, she now estimates she has enough saved to survive the next 13 years.
“If everybody in Bermuda went to the bank and said they wanted their money right now, they couldn’t do it,” the woman said.
Alarmed by the recent banking crisis in Cyprus, she said she questioned whether her bank deposit would remain safe from taxation — or available to take out all at once.
“I’ve spoken with my private banker and they can’t guarantee anything,” she said, adding that she had lost any faith in “banks or politicians”.
Single and retired, she said she lives frugally in a small apartment but has combined monthly expenses adding up to $4,500.
“We live in a very expensive place. Those of us in the old school have learned how to brown-bag it. But this is a different age altogether, when people have their money not under the mattress but in the bank.”
In her case, the savings remain from liquidating all her assets, including jewellery and furniture — which she calculates will last her until she’s 82.
“I live as frugally as I can — I haven’t gone to a hair salon or anything like that in years, which is one way I choose to save.”
She is unwilling to subscribe to the FutureCare insurance scheme for seniors, she said, because it lacks the major medical cover available to her privately.
Her current insurance costs her $1,400 a month.
“I do worry about the cost, but what I have is top notch — it’s the best I can get, and I’m happy with what I have. I wouldn’t want to become a burden on my family or my country.”
She said she, along with many seniors, subscribes to the newsletter ‘International Living’, which advertises jurisdictions where the elderly can seek a cheap retirement.
Having tried Canada and France, she said she was contemplating moving to Costa Rica or Belize.
“I’m no young spring chicken with a husband, and the thought of being on my own in a new country is scary,” she conceded.
Unsure of Bermuda’s financial status, she sought reassurance from Finance Minister Bob Richards — who said a Cyprus scenario, in which bank accounts above a certain amount were levied to cover debts, was unthinkable in Bermuda’s case.
“I think we have a tendency to Bermudianise events that are happening overseas,” Mr Richards said.
“Certainly we at not looking at giving people haircuts on their bank accounts — that would totally undermine our reputation, and we would be finished as an international business jurisdiction. That is certainly not in Government's plans, and I can allay anybody's fears that Government might bring in a big tax to turn Bermuda's economy around.
He added: “We cannot turn Bermuda's economy around by punishing savers. The situation in Cyprus is completely different from Bermuda's. We do have problems here. They need to be addressed, and we are addressing them in a manner as effective as we can.
“We can't rush into things — but I can give my personal assurance that those types of measures are in no way plans of Bermuda's government.”