What retirement means to you

Retirement and pension plans are now uncertain for workers of all ages around the world following the global financial downturn, and changes in government legislation.

BBC News website readers from around the world have been sharing their retirement stories.

Jose Revello Susliko Pirckhelashvill Wisdom Chitedze Dong Zwewen Huang Yang Dick Weston Lourdes Huicab Boris Kozin Global Pensioners

Jose Revello, Montevideo, Uruguay

Image caption Jose Revello has been retired for eight years

I used to work as a financial director and have been retired for eight years.

In Uruguay there are many types of pension plans, although the system is the same as everywhere - an average salary is calculated and you receive a percentage as pension.

But in 1996, in the middle of a deep economic crisis, pensions were capped. Mine was capped at 15% - which doesn't make any sense, financially or even ethically.

My pension, which I paid into for 35 years, is not enough, yet no-one listens to us. Not everyone has been affected, only the ones who contributed and fulfilled their duties during their whole lives.

Until now, we have been eating our savings, but I don't think they will last. I am sure we will have to go back to work or ask for money, or depend on the support of my family.

Young people are also affected by it. My four children are professionals and they all live abroad. They don't have enough opportunities and the Uruguayan government asks normal citizens for taxes that belong to first world countries. So they go to countries like the US where these matters are handled in a civilised way.

And my situation is one of someone with a good salary and education - I think the situation for the poorer people is worse.

Suliko Pirckhelashvili, Shukhuti, Georgia

Image caption Suliko's pension is not enough to buy medicine

A couple of years ago I used to get my pension with long delays, now it always comes on time and I know I should not complain.

But the money I get is too little, it is not enough to buy medicines.

My health deteriorated because of hard work and now my pension does not even cover basic drugs.

I have spent not just days and months, but years and years working very hard - I've given my life to tea plantations owned by the state.

Wisdom Chitedze, Lilongwe, Malawi

Image caption Wisdom with his wife Elsie

I am 31 and not about to retire, but I want to make sure I am prepared for it.

My wife and I work for international organisations and have two children, Keitaro, five, and Keevan, three.

At my job we have an internally managed pension fund with employees contributing 5% and the company contributing 10%. Pension income is currently taxable at the top rate of 30% but there is a bill that was returned from parliament that proposes to remove the tax on pensions.

I have just started contributing towards a private personal retirement plan.

In Malawi, your retirement depends on where you were employed.

People often return to villages to be surrounded by relatives and friends who may be more willing to help than those in town.

There is no state welfare framework like unemployment benefits or social security.

For me, retirement means still being useful in whatever passions I have or will develop, and having a life that is comfortable for my family to enjoy memorable experiences together. Also, to leave behind an inheritance for them.

Dong Zewen, Hong Kong

Image caption Dong Zewen is living on his savings

I am 80 this year. I was a driving instructor before retirement, and also managed a few taxis.

I don't have a pension or other benefits, and I am living entirely on my savings.

My children sometimes give me some money too, so living is not a big problem.

Our house costs 500,000 Hong Kong dollars ($64,000, £42,000), and we can live here forever, until we die.

So the longer we live, the more worthwhile.

Huang Yang, Hong Kong

Image caption Huang Yang is waiting to get government housing

I am 71 years old now. I delivered goods for an electric appliances shop before retirement.

I was living in a council house before, but because my son was on drugs, I had to vacate it and moved outside.

I don't have much to do. I come to the park every day, buy a meal box in the evening, and then go to bed.

I don't know when I will have the chance to get government housing again.

Dick Weston, Prescott, Arizona, US

Image caption "I am an avid mountain biker with a couple of favourite gnarly trails"

I worked for years in the photographic industry and eventually set up my own company - we did mostly architectural and advertising photography with some website development.

I also sometimes ventured out to generate stock images with two agencies selling my images. I occasionally still receive some royalties.

In 2002, I took an early retirement in order to care for my wife, who eventually passed away from cancer in 2003.

After several years of thrashing about, I've finally settled into a comfortable house with a lovely new companion, here in Prescott, Arizona.

I'm thoroughly enjoying the projects here at home.

We are in an area which is surrounded by wonderful hiking and biking trails plus lakes and rivers for kayaking. I am an avid mountain biker with a couple of favourite gnarly (difficult) trails, which I do regularly.

I took retirement seriously and only occasionally play with a new digital camera, which I rather enjoy but only for happy snaps.

Here in Prescott, 47% of people are retired and as we all know old guys rule, so I feel quite at home.

Financially I've been quite fortunate. I have money from my grandparent's and parents' trust fund, and I also have a pension.

Mum passed away this June, she was a month shy of being 95.

I'm 70, healthy, happy, and looking forward to the next 25 years!

Lourdes Huicab, Campeche, Yucatan, Mexico

I worked all my life as a teacher and, although I am only 50, I retired two years ago.

I was able to do this because I started to work very young and here in Mexico if you complete 28 years of service you can retire. I retired with 31 years of service.

Teaching is also a very stressful job so I thought I had finished my cycle.

Being retired is tough because you have to adapt to the fact that you are no longer productive. I miss the light in my pupils' eyes when they discovered something.

I decided to enrol in a dressmaking course and this helped me a lot. I love learning and in my working life I have taken more than 50 courses.

I am now earning half of what I earned when I was working. You have to adapt. And now that we have the time to go on holidays, we don't have the money.

Other countries have more structured activities for retired people. Here there is some cultural activity but not enough.

I still have some problems with my pension paperwork and I'm fighting to get a bonus I should have received. I do fear for the future.

Boris Kozin, Russia

I used to work as a technician and retired in 1988, shortly before the Soviet Union broke up. I am from Siberia but moved to Moscow in 1999. I receive a pension of 11,420 roubles ($370, £240)

So what do I spend my pension on? I installed two meters - for hot and cold water - in my flat, which cost me 3,700 roubles ($120, £78).

The plumber also had to replace the old taps, so I ended up paying a total of 4,500 roubles ($146, £95). This is about one third of my pension.

I went to the market and bought two bundles of radish. When I got back home I found a bill for services had arrived. I live in a one-bed flat, the service charge is 1,912 roubles ($62, £40). So if you add up the meters installation expense, this is 6,792 roubles ($221, £143). I spent half of my pension.

Image caption "If I run out of money, I borrow"

I have a deal with the stall-keeper, who lets me buy peaches that are about to go off at the end of the day at 20 roubles per kilo.

People who live alone and have a small pension get a benefit of 620 roubles ($20, £13) to help them pay utility bills.

There are still a few days before I can get my pension, although I don't get it on a fixed day. When my money has run out, I sometimes go to the bank as early as on the sixth day of the month. But usually I try to wait until the 10th to the 15th.

If I run out of money, I borrow. I have a pensioner friend who is a bit like me - we are on good terms and he often lends me money.

I believe this month I can't avoid getting into debt. I have already spent 9,000 roubles ($292, £190).

Maya Yussifova, Bulgaria

I am 62 years old. I retired when I was 58. I sensed that they would raise the minimum number of years worked as a condition for retirement and I decided to pre-empt those changes.

Image caption Maya Yussifova's pension is worth around $122 per month

I've worked for 34 years. I was trained as a chemical engineer, but I spent most of my working years as a science and technical translator.

The aging population is a problem in almost all European countries and I understand that it is difficult for governments to solve the problem of pensions. But how could a woman work until 65 and be as productive as when she was young?

I couldn't work until 65. My health has deteriorated a lot, I wouldn't be able to put up with public transport every day.

I get a pension of 182 leva ($122) a month. It's a misery. I can only buy some basic foods with it and simple medicine. I can't pay my heating bills in the winter.

I am grateful that my son lives abroad and earns a decent living. He pays my heating bills. Otherwise I would spend the winters in a freezing cold.

I live with my old mother and her health has deteriorated a lot lately. But we can't afford to see doctors. The other day I had to see an eye doctor and his fee plus the amount I paid for the drops was 70 leva. I had been saving for a long time.

Now that I am retired, I try to fill my time with creative work. I write a lot, I write poems. I now have a granddaughter and she has given me new inspiration.

I feel a bit isolated. I have friends, but they have their husbands, so I can't spend too much time with them.

I am sorry I had to tell such sad things, but this is my life.

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