Archive | Pension RSS feed for this section

Pension – by Justyna

1 Jan

I did not have to think too hard or for too long about the word pension. In fact if I could meet you all face to face you I would go into a massive spaz about the Polish inept pension and social security system. It actually makes me mad. And aggressive. If I cave into this mood about this topic, this post might result in extreme violent sentence structures and would therefore have to be censored. So I won’t go into it that much. Let me just leave you with this image of what is in store for me if I adhere to the premiums and monthly expectations of my national superannuation and pension fund system – over the course of my working life, some seventy per cent of my paid premiums will get ‘lost in the system’ meaning once I retire I will have a lot less owing to me than I otherwise should receive per month, I will be on a measly monthly retirement payment that I will never be able to withdraw as a lump sum if the need arises (similarly if I kick the bucket early all that accumulated money will not be available for my inheritors) and if I am in actual receipt of this pension, it will be just enough to cover my monthly food bill, some vitamins and maybe a bit of heating in the winter time. So really my working life is spent on supporting one of the largest bureaucratic and inefficient government institutions in Poland – ZUS, the Polish Social Security System, which, in Krakow alone has an impressive amount of seven grand buildings in a city that does not even have a million inhabitants. In summary, I cannot rely on the Polish government to manage my pension fund. If I want a dignified and retired golden age, I must take things into my own hands and I must do it five years ago.

Both Michal and I are self-employed and we are obliged to pay our monthly social insurance premiums that are managed by the state and regardless of our earning power we pay a monthly flat rate. Meaning if you’re a successful city multi-million entrepreneur technically you are paying the same premiums as a local self-employed seamstress in a tiny provincial town. From the onset this makes life unfair. And many small business owners quickly enter what is colloquially known in Poland as the ‘grey sphere’, where your business still functions, you still make a liveable wage, but you declare nothing and in return are not medically covered. And you have no retirement fund to dream of. The asking premium is just under 1000 zl per month, which for your understanding roughly constitutes half of the average earnings of an average Pole. Meaning it’s not actually worth your while to even be self-employed (workers on full time contracts have their pension premiums paid for by their employer on top of their wages). So those seamstresses or builders or foreign language teachers work but never invoice and never pay their premiums. But they can only function normally if they are married and their spouse has full social security insurance (under social security law in Poland if your spouse has full social security cover, he/she also covers his/her entire immediate family). But you have to be married. De facto relationships are not legally recognised in Poland, not in tax, not in inheritance, not in property law (and yes, that includes gay couples). Welcome to 2012. Happy New Year by the way.

So not being able to rely on our wonderful state in any way or form Michal and I decided a while ago that we have to rely on ourselves. We are hoping to be relatively secure in our old age as we have bought some investment property, some land and Michal dabbles a bit in the stock exchange. These moves have seriously been made in an attempt to ‘secure our future’ knowing full well that if we did not make ‘adult’ moves now and if we continued to live here, we would really be up shit’s creek.

My dream though is to own at small studio apartment in Sydney so that I or my family can escape to the land of sanity and rationality whenever we feel like it, or just to avoid a prolonged Polish winter. Like Karen I want the freedom to travel, but I also want not to worry about hip replacement surgery if something happens to pop out uninvited.


Pension – by Karen

30 Dec

With Tabitha seeming a little tardy and some time on my hands this morning, I thought I’d jump right in and post. Of course, I haven’t thought of something to actually write about on this week’s particularly baffling subject, “pension”. My first thought, of course, was probably one shared by many flighty dabblers on the cusp of Gens X and Y – oh my god I still haven’t done anything about my super.

You see, I have about eight superannuation accounts, some of which have substantial funds in them, none of which have my current address on file. I did once make an attempt to consolidate them into one randomly selected fund, laboriously compiling all my account numbers onto a form which I submitted with a huge sigh of relief. A couple of weeks later, the forms were returned to my Hong Kong address, with the addition of a stamp saying “received”, and no further clarification. I emailed the fund in perplexity and was told, “There was an error. Please resubmit the form.”

You can guess what happened next (if you’re any decent kind of flighty dabbler on the cusp of Gens X and Y). I lost the forms and forgot about the whole thing.

(Before anyone helpfully informs me, I do realise there is a website where you can track lost super. Last I checked, one of my funds has ended up there.)

Beth’s interpretation of the theme as “future plans” is a sensible one. I guess pension particularly refers to plans for the last quarter or so of your life. I haven’t given a huge deal of thought to this part of my life, but in the spirit of honesty, I will share that I had always thought it would be the best time to experiment with recreational opiates. Right towards the end though.

I’ve given a little bit more time to thoughts of what I want to do when my kids are grown up (probably I’ll be about 50 then, not quite ready to go out on opiates) and most of my thoughts have been travel related. I think that would be a  good stage of  life to split your time between two continents. To have a fairly stable home in two very different parts of the world, with relatively few immediate responsibilities grounding you to either. I’d also like to spend a fairly substantial amount of time in India, which I consider not the most child-friendly destination for a long holiday.

My final thought on “pension” is about “pension” as a form of accommodation. This term always confused me as a child when I saw it in books. I thought it must be a kind of hostel for old people, but kind of wondered what Lucy Honeychurch types were doing there.

Future plans by Beth

27 Dec

Karen says the topic is “pension” and my eyes immediately glazed over. I’m not really up with the whole future planning thing. We own a house already, and Jeff has made it pretty clear that they’ll be carrying him out of here in a box, so we’re not looking to move anytime soon. I would like to go and live in NZ again at some point, but that’s a way-off in the distance can’t even see how it would work thing. We hope to drop another sprog, but we don’t have any particular plan in mind for that. I put money into my super for the first time last year, so now it’s got $4.11 in it (give or take).We want to run a shop one day. That’s a bit of joint dream but we’re not doing anything to make that happen. Career-wise I don’t have a grand plan or even a mud map I might need gumboots for… So we have some vague dreams, but no dot points.

Do all of you have future plans?