As a single parent with a young family, I was drawn to the prospect of more money in my pocket each month.
Life aged 60 and planning for the future was completely alien to me, so I, like lots of my colleagues, stopped paying into my NHS pension and took out what I 'd already built up as a lump sum.
The long-term consequences of my decision never once crossed my mind - until recently.
Last month I visited a pensions website, to calculate what I was entitled to upon retirement. The results shocked me. Any thoughts I'd had about retirement were immediately put on hold - indefinitely.
I know, more than most, how important a secure pension is, and that's why I am concerned by my Trust's decision to offer higher pay to Band 5 and 6 nursing staff who are not in the NHS Pension Scheme.
I understand there is a recruitment crisis within the Trust, and that something must be done soon to fill over 170 Band 5 vacancies that we currently have. But inviting nursing staff to play Russian roulette with their financial future is simply not the solution.
Working well into old age, for a short-term boost in your salary, is not a price worth paying.
Opting out the NHS pension is my biggest regret, and I want to make sure the RCN members that I represent do not make the same mistake. Always seek independent financial advice, or speak to RCN Direct if you're not sure what to do.