The other day I had a chat with a friend of mine who is near retirement, and he said something that got me thinking. He said if there is any good about the SARS Covid-19 it is the fact that the global pandemic has taught him that he should have been better prepared to retire. Then, the question of how enjoyable retirement will be came to mind. What is your dream retirement like? Do you have what it takes to live your dream retirement stress-free? When is your retirement due or when do you intend to retire? These questions remind me of people who reduce their ages to stay on their jobs longer before retirement, while others seek “contracts and contract extensions”. This is because they dread insecure stressful retirement.
Truth is, everyone dreams of retiring into a more relaxed lifestyle, with plenty of time to enjoy life the way they perceive it. But can everyone be able to achieve their dream retirement? Let’s turn to some notes I took at retirement seminars I attended. I have dug out the notes to see what the experts said, whether those solutions are still relevant or workable to take me to my dream retirement of a relaxed lifestyle devoid of any financial worries.
I came across this statement that though it can be stressful to build up retirement funds late in life it is doable. Another one said that provided you are willing to do what it takes, even if you have not built up any savings yet, you can comfortably retire within a decade. What does it take then to build up the funds to ensure a financially secure retirement? Here are some of the prescriptions from the resource persons. Let’s see if they will lead us to the financial freedom and stress-free retirement we dream of.
Determine How Much You Need for Financial Security on Retirement
This statement is asking us to budget our expenses at retirement. Well said, but how much money will you need at retirement? Who can answer this question accurately? You may be able to control your eating and other lifestyle habits. Hence you may be able to predict how much money you need for such activities. But doesn’t that defeat the idea of wanting to live a comfortable worries free retirement? What about medical expenses? Some say you should take insurance to cover the medicals. That’s brilliant! But does medical insurance cover all ailments? That’s a point to consider.
Cut Down on Your Expenditure
We are advised to cut down on our expenditure. The idea is that we can often do without some of the things we crave. Very often this situation arises whenever we get extra income. So the advice is to put aside any extra income that comes our way. The extra income should only be used for unexpected but vital expenses. That money can be added to what we already put aside towards retirement. Good idea. But this may be easier said than done.
Save Towards Your Retirement
Saving towards our retirement should be a no-brainer. We are told that the ideal case is to save between 10–15% of our gross income for retirement. Those who are starting their working life in their early 20s or younger may choose to start with a low amount, and gradually increase it to the ideal amount, within 5 years of working. This is good to do, but in reality, it is very difficult to implement especially for low-income earners who barely scrape by, from paycheck to paycheck.
Take Up Individual Retirement Accounts
Many countries have pension laws that allow people to sign up with pension fund managers for their personal retirement plans. These pension accounts are known as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA). These IRAs are meant to supplement other retirement savings. In Ghana, as in many other countries, savings into these accounts are tax-deductible. You only pay tax on such monies if you make withdrawals before a certain statutory given time period. The tax saving on this scheme is another good way to save towards your retirement. The question is whether this by itself is adequate, but every drop counts.
Social Security/Employer Retirement Plans
Pension laws in several countries require employers to contribute a certain percentage of their employees’ gross pay, both from the employee and the employer, into state-sponsored social security and private pension funds. These funds are only accessible by the employee upon retirement. As an employee, your duty is to monitor and ensure that your employer is contributing on your behalf.
For the self-employed, however, you will have to make the conscious effort to contribute to such government instituted social security funds. Again, contributions to these funds are tax-deductible in many countries. It is, therefore, in your interest to take advantage of such social security schemes to save towards your retirement. Whether these pension fund contributions are sufficient to secure you a comfortable retirement lifestyle will surely depend on your current earnings.
When to Claim Social Security Benefits
Generally, governments by law set the minimum and compulsory age of retirement when you are entitled to your social security benefits. In Ghana, the compulsory retirement age is 60 years, but one can go on voluntary retirement at 55. When you retire before the compulsory age of 60, you get a reduced pension according to the number of years you have left.
Though the retirement age varies between countries, most countries have a minimum age for voluntary retirement when you qualify for your social security contributions and a compulsory age at which you must retire from service. You can still engage in work, but will not contribute to the social security scheme. Whatever ages are set for retirement, it is advisable to apply for your pension funds only upon attaining the compulsory retirement age. This way, you’re sure to receive your full entitlement.
Work Longer if You Can
One of the points that our resource persons raised was to work longer if you can. The argument they raised was that why retire if your body is still strong enough to work. They contend that you will increase your financial security by working longer since you will not need to fall on your retirement benefits during the time that you are still working. This also implies that you have fewer years to depend on your retirement funds. But does this not defeat the need to retire into a lifestyle of less stress? Why then will you want to continue working in your old age?
Decide Where to Locate Your Retirement Home
Not all places in your country have the same standard and cost of living. As a retiree, you may prefer a quite less stressful environment where you can enjoy nature. Nearness to social amenities and health care will also be paramount. And yes, you are advised to secure your retirement home before you retire. The pension funds should not be used to acquire your retirement home. So whether mortgage, outright purchase, or construction, you shouldn’t use your pension funds to acquire a home. Since the children may be out of the house, it may also be wise to downsize from a large to a smaller less expensive to maintain home.
This makes a ton of sense. But if your dream is to live in a luxurious mansion upon retirement, then that dream will be killed by the above suggestion. How then can you live that dream on your retirement income?
Invest Your Money
Though contributing to pension funds is a form of investment towards your retirement, you should further invest in businesses and other financial instruments. The best thing to do is to obtain professional advice from investment practitioners. Your risk tolerance level will be key in determining what type of investment is good for you. Some financial instruments that you can invest in include, treasury bills, government bonds, mutual funds, stocks among others.
You can equally invest in areas of your expertise or interest. Traditionally, some of such investment opportunities include trading, real estate, agriculture, coaching & consultancy, hospitality, and many more. What if I bring your attention to doing business online?
During our seminar none of our resource persons mentioned online or digital entrepreneurship. Don’t worry, they are just as old school as you and I. But I have seen the light. What if I tell you that all these businesses can be done on the internet, where your market would even be wider and bigger than a physical shop? Yes, you can engage in these businesses online through eCommerce, dropshipping, virtual assistance, on-demand printing, affiliate marketing, software development, coaching, and consultancy. In fact, the list is endless.
I know you are thinking that digital business is for the young millennials who know the ins and outs of the internet. No. You’re wrong. You can also learn it. If I could learn, so can you. To learn more about doing business on the internet, go to The Six Figure Mentors. They will teach you all that you need to know about online business. You will learn how to generate a steady stream of passive income that will give you financial freedom, allowing you to live stress-free in retirement.
Let me go back and try to answer my earlier questions.
- How enjoyable is retirement? I will say retirement is very enjoyable. I see people enjoy their retirement not worrying about the basics of life. But it can also be a nightmare. I have seen others in that situation. It all depends on how well prepared you are for retirement.
- What is your dream retirement like? To live a stress-free lifestyle, be financially independent, and be able to go where I choose for relaxation.
- When is your retirement due or when do you intend to retire? Very soon it will be time for me to proceed with retirement. When my time is up, I will not want to be one of those trying to hang on for fear of losing out.
- Do you have what it takes to live your dream retirement? Not yet. But I have taken steps in that direction. I have determined that I need a steady flow of passive income to retire comfortably. Hence I am investing my time, energy, and skill in online business.
Don’t be left out!
Get Ready, Set, Go …. http://digitalmarketingmentors.com/Anyeyure?pg=ondemand-works&t=Stress-Free-Retirement