“I don't know what possessed me when I waived my ex-husband's pension”

Published on: 20 June 2022

How do you deal with work and money for now and in the future? Do you live from day to day or are you deliberately planning your financial future? And do you arrange ‘later’ yourself or are you participating in a pension fund?

Nathalie van Dinther started working fewer hours when she became a mother and has therefore not accrued the pension she would have liked.


Nathalie van Dinther (59)

Profession: Management supporter and fitness coach

Weekly works: 28 hours

Income: 1,800 euro net

Savings: More than enough

Pension is arranged? Yes, but not to my full satisfaction


What kind of work do you do exactly?

“I am management supporter at an organization consultancy firm. I also run my own company as a fitness coach, but that's currently on hold because I moved to a different county. I lived in The Hague and have now moved to Zeeland to live closer to my daughter and grandchildren. This means I have to build a new customer base and start all over again. I don't know if I will succeed in doing so. I did start working more hours in paid employment to compensate for that loss of income. I work four days one week and three days the other week. On average I work 28 hours. I work almost entirely from home these days, so it luckily doesn't matter that I live further away from the office. That's one of the positive things we owe to Corona.”


How much do you earn?

“1,800 euro net. And nothing at the moment as a fitness coach.”


Are you satisfied with that income?

“I just about make ends meet. It is enough, in principle, especially since my fixed costs are lower. I pay less mortgage and I no longer have to contribute to an owners’ association, so I can manage. Although it's not all that; I cannot pack my bags and take three weeks’ vacation when I feel like it.”

Including my state pension, I will end up earning 1,500 euro per month. That is not a lot

Don't you have a buffer?

“I have some savings from the excess value of the previous house. That amounted to a total of 350,000 euro which I had to share with my ex-husband. I could have bought my current house without a mortgage loan, but that would mean emptying my buffer and that doesn't feel comfortable. I want to be able to pay for things that may possibly need to be done to the house. I paid part of my new house using the excess value and took out a small mortgage loan. So, I still have quite a bit of money set aside but I must manage those funds extremely economically. Also because I only have a small pension. Including my state pension, I will end up earning 1,500 euro per month. That is not a lot. I think I will be able to only just make ends meet.”


How much do you pay on fixed costs?

“Mortgage, home and car insurances, road tax, municipal taxes and energy together is 495 euro. I pay 58.50 for TV, internet and mobile phone. My health insurance is 140 euro per month, and I also have subscriptions for the gym, yoga, streaming services and the newspaper, together amounting to 100 euro per month. Besides that, I spend 53 euro per month on what I call ‘miscellaneous’. Those expenses include a lottery, a good cause, my funeral insurance and the coffee cups I order. All together my fixed costs are less than 1,000 euro, but my energy contract just ended so it will be a surprise as to how much I will pay on energy in the future.”


What else do you spend much money on?

“I don't spend that much money. There was a great coffee shop just around the corner of my house in The Hague that I visited sometimes to eat cake, or I sometimes had some wine and cheese at the beach. That's something I truly enjoy. But the village I live in now, has absolutely nothing. No shop, no bar… It does save me money though. I also don't spend a lot of money on clothes. If I was to buy what I like, it would be expensive branded clothing, but I cannot afford that.”

The village I live in now, has absolutely nothing. No shop, no bar… It does save me money though

What do you save money on?

“I go to the thrift store to buy clothes and furniture. I don't care about stuff much, so things don't have to be brand-new as far as I'm concerned. Moreover, used goods are sustainable. I also considered getting rid of my car, but I really cannot do without where I live now. I am quite committed to the environment. I don't eat meat and wouldn't easily travel by airplane. I haven't been on vacation in a very long time for that matter. I quickly believe that to be too expensive. When I still lived close to the sea, it didn't seem all that necessary. I've been swimming for years, all year round. Now I do that at the Oosterschelde.


But I have to say I am currently longing to go on holidays again, but I cannot really afford it. That's not a disaster. Vacation to me also means waking up without having to set the alarm and to read the newspaper while drinking a cup of coffee until the late morning still wearing my pajamas.


Do you worry about your pension?

“No, I don't. I don't mind living a sober life. If I can go on vacation every five years, I am happy. I am not very demanding. I feel as if I will be able to make ends meet in the future, there's always a solution. But it is important to manage the savings I have economically.”


How do you envisage your life as a pensioner later on?

“I am not really sure to be honest. I now live close to my grandchildren and I think it's amazing seeing them grow up this closely. But there is a chance they will be moving eventually, maybe even abroad. It would be a pity if they leave any sooner, but I will stay in this house at least until my pension. I don’t know what I'll do next. I´ve never been much of a planner. You just follow a path and choose to take the exits you are faced with on the way or not. You never know, there might be a man in my life again someday. I live by the day and just see what life has in store for me.”


Does money bring happiness?

“Maybe a bit more happiness. A general state of happiness doesn't exist, moments of happiness are the highest attainable. Money does provide for a more carefree life. And I don't have any worries right now. I believe everything will turn out for the best.”