Don't get me wrong. I would never wish to appear in any way ungrateful because, up to now, I've been relatively fortunate. By that I mean, I've never had to endure any great financial hardships. For that, I have largely got my forefathers to thank and I'm hugely grateful to them for the privileges that financial security has afforded over the years.
Despite the perils of an increasingly fragile global financial system threatening all of our wealth, I don't think I could ever betray my forefathers' hard work by wantenly squandering all the security they honed over many generations. I prefer to nurture those legacies and grow them for the sake of my own kids whenever possible. I guess it's a family trait. It's ingrained. Of course, what the next generation eventually chooses to do when I find myself plucking harp strings will be up to them. This kind-of reminds me of one of my Grandmother's favourite adages - "Always drink your finest wines, or your children will drink it for you".
As the years march on and we witness unthinkable scenarios unfold before our very eyes, such as bank failures and people losing all they have almost overnight; I'm beginning to wonder if I've been excessively parsimonious. Back in the day, banks were the absolute safest places to keep our money. After all, that's what they do? Banks were the absolute bedrock of the financial system.
Banks were so revered, it would have been deemed irresponsible or even a bit weird if people didn't entrust their money to one of these highly respected and indeed most sacrosanct of institutions. But nowadays, these places can often appear to be a bit dodgy. They certainly don't look as though they're taking such good care of their customers (and their money) as they perhaps used to back in the day of old men in grey suits. These days, banks seem to be becoming institutionally faceless, aloof and self-serving. And that's a worrying trend. There appears to be little by way of accountability in the system.
Looking back, managing my funds carefully meant that I've enjoyed a few privileges over the years, such as owning some pretty decent cars. I've not only enjoyed driving them but they've also afforded me many freedoms and the ability to travel and explore quite extensively. But, these days, despite having more disposable income than I could have ever dreamt of when I was in my 30's, I just don't enjoy spending it anymore.
I seem to have ticked off most of the things off the old bucket list - so adding anything else now seems superfluous. To me, so many of the "great wonders of the world" have so far proved to be grossly overrated. Today, most have morphed into tourist hell holes, often inhabited by a gaggle of individuals whose sole objective is to take you for every last penny. The great pyramids of Giza are a prime example. All the charm, mystique and magic enjoyed by previous generations has all but vanished.
So the idea of spending my autumn years stuck in an airport lounge listening to a series of tannoy announcements about flight delays caused by French air traffic controllers whilst I'm trying to get away to some sun-scorched desert, only to be ripped off by a camel somehow doesn't appeal. So, you see, money really does have a diminishing number of uses. I don't want anything!
I absolutely loathe the day when I have to replace something, especially if that 'something' has been in my ownership for a lengthy period of time. I'm not a materialistic person, never have been. If proof were needed of that, I despise clutter (which is clearly the antithesis of materialism). I admit that I get pathologically 'attached' to certain personal possessions but that's a case of sentimentality trumping blatant materialism.
I cannot fathom the notion of replacing anything that still works just for the sake of 'upgrading' and getting something new and sparkling. God knows I've traded in a few decent cars in my time, only to end up with the new one being so packed full of gremlins that I've actually considered buying the old one back! Even when I get a juicy payday, I never let the shillings burn a hole in my pocket. I have never gone off and bought myself a whole wardrobe full of new clothes just because I can. In fact, I don't enjoy trying things in shops. I will go as far as saying, I absolutely hate it. Nothing in the shops ever seems to be quite as good as my old stuff, so I tend to make do and mend.
One of my biggest bugbears are new shoes. They almost invariably rub some part of my foot causing painful blisters and sores. So, for the last 25 years, I have worn just one type of shoe, made by Clarks. I can literally step from an old pair into a brand-new pair with hardly any issues. I don't even have to break them in, they're absolutely brilliant. So, you can easily see how I'm not fascinated by the idea of going out to buy new shoes, because my new ones will be absolutely identical to my old ones.
I even keep my cars much longer these days because I REALLY don't want to spend good money buying an electric or a hybrid car. Let's face it, that's what the industry is currently pushing. No matter how I try to cut it, neither a hybrid or an EV would suit our needs out here in the Welsh sticks. Therefore, both our daily cars are currently diesels (as they have been for donkey's years). One of our cars is a spacious Estate (Ford Mondeo MK5) which does over 50 miles to every gallon, the other is an uber-low mileage Mercedes E-Class Saloon from 2009. Despite its powerful 3.0-litre (V6) lump, it still manages to achieve well over 40-mpg. It will probably outlast me, our children and even our great-great grandchildren. It's a Mercedes, so it'll still be providing taxi services somewhere in the world during the next ice age.
A few economists have long peddled the gloom and doom narrative. They've been telling those of us who (miraculously) still have any savings left, at a time when half a dozen free-range eggs cost as much as a full-on package holiday fortnight in Ibiza, to go out and spend it on whatever we fancy before the entire financial system collapses like a house of cards. These economists warn us that hyperinflation will further diminish our already depleted savings so it won't have sufficient buying power to even buy a tin of beans.
So, folks, I shall get my aging carcass over to sunny Portuguese shores again ASAP. I shall spend my savings copiously, but wisely, rather than have my kids hand it over to a bob-topped care-home owner when I'm dotty or the taxman when I'm brown-bread!
Douglas Hughes is a UK-based writer producing general interest articles ranging from travel pieces to classic motoring.