How to Retire at 40 – C4’s documentary on the disgruntled middle class

By Niall Christie

Stop whatever you’re doing and head over to All 4 now, because in 25 minutes you too can learn how to retire before you’re 40. But, you know, only if you’re middle class, work in London, are already over 30 and make sacrifices and take risks that could permanently damage your financial solvency.

Hosted by the constantly condescending Anna Richardson, this short but not at all sweet programme did little but highlight that for those of us struggling to make ends meet on a daily business, never mind over a twenty year period, we will more than likely continue to do so.

Set almost solely in the wealthy surroundings of the City of London, anyone north of Birmingham hoping to find anything relatable will be sadly let down. Uninspiringly attempting to woo watchers with its promise of a comfortable life, other than a short two-minute segment with an accountant informing viewers the formula for achieving this wonderful feat, little more than gimmicks, entitlement and unsustainable financial plans featured.

A man with a plan to sell potatoes by working 8 hours a week, former housing investors and a man who supports himself financially by running classes on how to come up with a great idea that could change your life (when clearly his was to start this class and rip people off using a poorly put together PowerPoint presentation). Simply, it went from sublime to ridiculous in record time.

And even then, there were flaws with said accountants description of how to retire at 40, with his calculations based off of 25 year projections clearly not taking into account the fact that for those under 30 we will not see a sniff of a state pension until 70 has long passed us by, assuming that our glorious leaders in Westminster haven’t completely torn down the welfare state by then.

To me, this half hour of my life that I will never get back did nothing but irritate me. It flared up inside me a resentment towards those who can afford to save 75% of their massively inflated post-tax income and down tools before others their age are even earning a living wage. A resentment towards those who told the public throughout the documentary that anyone can retire at 40 if they’re smart enough with their money while the numbers of families relying on foodbanks in the UK continues to rise. And, while I recognise that this anger may be down, in part, to external political factors, I can’t help but feel that these people, who are intelligent enough to rise to the top of their fields and give up the day job before any grey starts to sprout, do not know better.

Quite simply, shame on them, and shame on Channel 4.

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