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aibu to wish my grandmother would never utter the words "heat or eat" again

(40 Posts)
Poweredbypepsi Mon 22-Aug-11 19:42:53

My grandmother and friends are all alone since their husbands all died many years ago (they were all miners who seem to have a pretty short life span).
Today i spent an hour and a quarter holding the phone mumsnetting while my grandmother complained about how poor she is. Of course i just made encouraging noises at the right times but actually i cant understand how she can moan about being so poor unless she lived the life of a multimillionaire before my grandfather died (which i am fairly sure she didnt, granted i was only 9 when he died but still i think i would remember).

They all get basic state pension and pensions credits (i have no idea how much this is i assume not alot). But they have no mortgage or rent, reduced council tax I assume (from living alone) and I dont know if they are stopping it my grandmother has heard they are but last year they got money for winter fuel.
Now fair enough i have sympathy with them i know things are expensive BUT alongside moaning about this and repeatedly saying "its heat or eat isnt it" she told me my diet wasnt good enough because i dont eat meat everyday and described her 5th coach trip of the year, they eat out, they certainly dont lack clothes etc (i know this because i spent my teenage years being dragged around clothes shops with them after my mum died and they "took me under their wings") .

AIBU to think that they are being very overly dramatic claiming they will either starve of freeze to death? am i just heartless? why cant they eat cheaper meals or not go on some many trips? It may be that an hour of listening has just melted my brain but my grandmother actually has more leftover after bills than we do so i dont get it.

LineRunner Mon 22-Aug-11 19:49:05

I am going to be wildly controversial and wear my best 'Hate Me' badge and agree that I do hear some right bollocks from 'pensioners' in the younger age bracket (60-69) about their fears of malnutition and freezing to death when their quality of life is actually a lot better than many younger people's.

However there are property-rich cash-poor older pensioners who are 80+ and in poor health who don't claim what they should, and who are vulnerable, and who deserve massive help.

Your granny just wants a nice old moan. Let her. If she's really struggling, help her. But best find out.

LadyThumb Mon 22-Aug-11 19:52:41

Basic State Pension + top-up Pension Credits is £150 a week. Not an awful lot to live on really, is it?

Poweredbypepsi Mon 22-Aug-11 19:54:05

i do let her moan i would never say anything to her - she is a younger pensioner yes.

Oakmaiden Mon 22-Aug-11 19:57:19

Lady Thumb - no, not a lot, but not much less than my family have after we have paid our mortgage and costs accrued by the fact we need to get to work and have childcare to cover hours after school. And there are 5 of us.

I would have thought you could live reasonably well as a single person with no housing costs on £150 a week. Or at least well enough to be in no danger of starving to death.

Nagoo Mon 22-Aug-11 19:59:24

She has been reading the paper.

I agree she just wants a nice moan.

MIL goes on about money, and lack of, when compared to us, they are minted. hmm
However, it hits people harder when things cost more and they are on fixed income, or reduced if there is no interest on savings etc.

Poweredbypepsi Mon 22-Aug-11 19:59:34

yes thats what i mean of course for pensioners still payign rent etc it would be very tough, but without housing costs thats not too bad to live on for one person surely? after rent (not includint any other bills) thats only £200 a month less than my family live on from what we earn and tbh I dont feel poor there are 6 of us. I have never felt on the verge of starvation.

SquidgyBiscuits Mon 22-Aug-11 20:38:39

That equates to £650 per month. Not really very much at all. Then take away money for council tax, gas, electric, water, insurance, phone, food, TV license etc and it would leave very little.

LRDTheFeministDragon Mon 22-Aug-11 20:43:52

To me, being poor means you don't waste money on a TV license. It's a luxury not a necessity so don't lump it into the 650 pcm.

But maybe that is a generational thing, I don't know.

I do think it is probably her having a moan and not quite realizing how hard it is for you though, rather than her being deliberately nasty. I think a lot of people feel quite scared and nervous about pensions because after all, you don't know how frail you may get and you know you will never work again, so it is a bit different from being a poor 20-something or 40-something, where you can hope to get a job/a better job sometime.

EndoplasmicReticulum Mon 22-Aug-11 20:49:01

My granny-in-law is like this. I think she still expects everything to cost what it did in 1956.

Everything is too expensive.

But - she and grandad-in-law own their own home, he has a good pension from his job, they have just had a new kitchen and bathroom put in, have two holidays a year, go out for meals, they are hardly having to decide between a meal and turning the heating up.

They are older pensioners though, and there is always the worry about what will happen if one of them has to go in a home - that does cost a lot of money.

AfternoonDelight Mon 22-Aug-11 20:49:47

What does "heat or eat" actually mean though?

MumblingRagDoll Mon 22-Aug-11 20:53:20

She probably feels she shouldn't have to worry about budgeting at her age...she may feel that if she wants steak and salmon ever day AND the gas on AND a coach trip every other week then she should have them.

And she's right. Good food, enough heat and a blinking day out isn't a lot to ask if you live in the developed world.

MumblingRagDoll Mon 22-Aug-11 20:54:24

Afternoondelight...it means "Shall I put the heating on or buy nice food?" What else?

AfternoonDelight Mon 22-Aug-11 20:55:02

Oh, nvm, I was being thick blush

mippy Mon 22-Aug-11 20:56:43

A lot of pensioners are certainly not property rich. My mum had to enter an arrangement where her house will be sold after her death to cover debts her husband left when he died. I tell her that she would have more cash if she cancelled her Sky package, but she tells me that as she doesn't drink or smoke, or go out much, or live somewhere where there's much to do, it's her one luxury.

HannahHack Mon 22-Aug-11 20:56:51

Agreed. Plus you do know they get £400 a year for heating bills too? Compare that to what a single income home with kids would have and they are very very lucky.

Sorry to sound bitter but earlier this year had someone who has a £800,000 home with the mortgage paid off and 2x final salary pensions tell me that they !wouldn't claim it unless they really needed it". The fact that they are normally very grateful reasonable people makes my jaw drop even more at the sense of entitlement of their generation. AND THEN THEY GO ON ABOUT MY GENERATION'S SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT!!

LittleWhiteWolf Mon 22-Aug-11 20:56:52

Heat the house or eat. When you're down to your last pennies, I mean.

LittleWhiteWolf Mon 22-Aug-11 20:57:14

Wow, many x posts. Sorry!

Mumcentreplus Mon 22-Aug-11 20:58:02

I think everything is expensive and I'm 39!!

You can travel by coach for £5 if you know where to look...

TBH a pension is a fixed income for someone who will not work again...cut her some slack for moaning , this is the UK after all...it's natural smile

Heat or eat means you keep your home warm or eat well...I presumehmm

aldiwhore Mon 22-Aug-11 20:59:21

I'll be moaning when I'm alone with fuck all to do but moan... its a right of old age, old age sucks. (Not the celebrity old age of 30 plus, more 75 plus)

YANBU to be sick of it, I used to get sick of my Granny's rambling moans too... but if I'm really honest, I'd give anything to listen to one of her better musings again. My Granny was treated like a queen when my Grandad was alive, she wasn't rich, but he always tried to give her what she wanted. Suddenly she was alone (and quite wealthy once she'd sold her home and relocated) with no one to pander to her whims and actually it WAS quite sad to see.

You know what she's like, not rich, not poor but nothing but getting more doddery to look forward to can make a moaner out of practically anyone. Chin up, stay calm, drink tea, humour her... its rather fun actually.

squeakytoy Mon 22-Aug-11 20:59:40

My mum had no mortgage, but by the time she had paid her bills, there really was not a lot left to live on. I dont blame pensioners for being scared at how they may not be able to pay their bills if prices keep on going up.

Oakmaiden Mon 22-Aug-11 21:02:05

I do think, though, that pensioners' "sense of entitlement" is far more justified than that of youths. The pensioners HAVE done their work, and paid their dues and it is not wrong to feel that they are now entitled to have the system support them.

Whether the system can afford to support them in the standard which they feel they deserve is another matter.

reelingintheyears Mon 22-Aug-11 21:04:30

Their husbands all died many years ago?
Probably of some awful lung disease contracted from their occupation as miners.

The wives have spent the remaining years alone as widows.

High unemployment in mining areas perhaps made careers and saving for old age difficult.
Along with bringing up young children.

They have my respect.

EuphemiaMcGonagall Mon 22-Aug-11 21:04:33

YABU: the elderly can moan and grumble as much as they like IMO, they've earned the right.

That generation of women had it tough growing up, none of the options we have, and the thought of anyone suffering financially or feeling alone and scared is dreadful.

Can you imagine how scary it is to see youngsters running the country and making all the decisions?! People 40 and 50 years younger than you?!

If you're ever blessed with GCs, OP, I hope they have a lot more compassion than you do.

reelingintheyears Mon 22-Aug-11 21:07:14

And my Mum buys all her shopping from Aldi/Morrisons and is canny with her money.

She is 86 and grew up in the 30s with two younger DB and a widowed mother who received no benefits at all.

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