In the last post, we posed questions about the economic problems in Greece, Italy and Europe. No one would dispute that most of the world is economically in crisis. Many of us have lost money in the plummeting stock market, through poor financial advice, bankrupt investment companies, etc. In many western countries, we have become accustomed to expecting a lot from our governments, politicians, public services, municipalities, institutions, employers, etc. But, increasingly, it seems that we must take more of the responsibility for ourselves.
Coming from Canada to New Zealand we were confronted with this reality immediately upon our arrival. Here, most employers don’t offer pension and employee group health benefit schemes. Until recently, there have not been personal investment incentives, like RRSPs, 401Ks, etc and there are few deductions for the average taxpayer to lower their personal tax burden.
Doctor visits and all diagnostic procedures (except blood work) for adults are paid by the patient. Although there is a public hospital system, it is seriously overloaded. Initiatives are currently underway to reduce public hospital use and admissions by placing more responsibility for New Zealand’s health at the primary and secondary care levels and keeping people in their homes with community care. Some medications are subsidized, but in our experience, not the more convenient drug delivery methods or more expensive drugs, if a less convenient/cheaper medication is effective. Having said that, the system is excellent in crisis situations.
All this has meant that we must pay for doctor visits, diagnostic procedures, private health insurance and prescriptions. We must save for our own retirement without any tax advantages and there are no deductions to relieve our personal income taxes. We’re having to accomplish this on salaries, which are considerably lower than in Canada, Australia, the US and the UK.
In fact, what we have experienced is an austerity program of sorts and it has been difficult. After reading many books on coping with financial loss and difficulty, there is one opportunity, which has presented itself. To be continued….
Until next time,
Your Boomer Life Partners