FT Next Act: when to home in on downsizing
How one man went from owning three homes, to one, in an effort to become the ultimate downsizer. Claer Barrett, Next Act editor, hears from John Murphy, chairman of barber shop chain Ruffians. FT Money mentor Lindsay Cook shares her tips about talking to your partner about finances in later life
Produced by Jill Martin Wrenn
I'm Claer Barrett, editor of Next Act. Today we're asking should you simplify in later life by selling down your assets. I'm joined by two Next Act writers who were going about this in very different ways. John Murphy, chairman of Ruffians, the male grooming chain, and our Money Mentor columnist Lindsay Cook.
Turning to you John, so you've written an article for Next Act.com, the FT's hub for readers in later life, about a journey that you and your wife started on a couple of years ago where you thought, well, we've got three houses, a holiday home in Tuscany, a house in London, and a place in the country, full of things you've collected over the years. And you just thought we want to simplify our lives and downsize.
We loved buying houses and doing them up. I mean, that was a fantastic hobby. I mean, both the doing up the house, laying it out, deciding what to do, how to configure it. And also putting stuff into it.
And it was just wonderful. Our house in Tuscany, we did about the year 2000. And it took us 11 years, I think.
And it was superb. And we spent quite a few years going there all the time. We didn't go much in the winter. We went at Christmas, because it wasn't that pleasant.
You know, we tend to think that Tuscany is wonderful all year round. It's not so good in February and January usually. So we were spending about 12 weeks of the year there. But they were the 12 best weeks of the summer.
And after a few years we realised that for the previous 10 years, we hadn't been to Venice. We hadn't been to Greece. We hadn't been to Spain. And we wanted to go to all those places. I mean, Europe is the most fantastic place to be.
And we looked at each other and said you know, this is... we're not really getting the same thrill out of a house in Tuscany as we had before. Why don't we sell it? Let somebody else enjoy it. And that's exactly what we did.
Talking about the move as John has done with his wife and sort of aligning our objectives in later life it's something that you've been doing with your husband for slightly different reasons, because you are the person who manages all of the money in your home. Tell us about that.
Well, I think in most couples, one takes to the fore on looking after whether it's tax, whether it's insurance, whatever it is, investments... investments and all those things. And if they're good at it, the other one doesn't really know. And I would say my husband, if you asked him, wouldn't know what we've got in assets at all. And I think that you need to share this. I mean, we probably should've done it earlier, but I'm thinking about later life planning.
And I've started simplifying my pensions as well. And we now have a session once a month where we look at various things. And we sorted out national savings and things last month. And the next lot is pensions.
And I've helped because I had six pensions and now I've only got one, because I put them all together. But it's where you find the folder, what it is, who you talk to. And it's learning all about the different things. And actually, we should both be doing these things together. It shouldn't be left to one.
Well yeah, because the obvious risk is, if the one who knows everything about the money, which in my case, is in my circumstances at home is also me, if I was to be knocked down by a bus on the way to work, then my husband wouldn't have a Scooby-Doo about what's going on.
Exactly. And they may have better ideas than us. They may say why don't we do this? And you know, we do it ourselves. And I think all couples should know. I mean, working out what your financial position is once the first spouse dies, not a nice thing to think about, but which pensions die with a person and which ones don't is worth knowing about.
If you were interested in reading John's piece about being the ultimate downsizer or Lindsay's guide to organising a financial date night, you can do so now for free on FT.com/nextacts, our content hub for readers in later life. And we'll be back next month for the next Next Act video.