Do you remember the ‘Salusa 45” advertisements of a few years ago? I remember the commercial so well – portraying people of 45 years or older as people who need a tonic for extra energy and nutrients; as people who are nearing their retirement age, and as people who are struggling just a little bit with the daily demands of life. We are still bombarded with idyllic images of “retirees” living in beautiful lifestyle estates, spending their time walking on the beach, watching the sunsets and enjoying a relaxed and tranquil old age.
But is this still relevant in today’s day and age? Do people still actually retire? Do they want to? Can they afford it?
According to South African law, “retirement age” means from the age of 55 years (early retirement), through to 60 years (normal retirement), to 65 years (compulsory retirement). For me, retirement means that you are able to live your unfulfilled dreams in your own time and on your own terms. Many people ask me exactly how much money they need in order to do this. The answer is simple; there is no exact answer to the question on how much you need to save for your retirement. It really depends on what your unfulfilled dreams are and how you would like to spend your retirement years.
The reality is, that very few people feel that they have enough money to retire with. This is mostly because we are not comfortable talking about money. So we avoid the topic, close our eyes, contribute to some fund, and hope for the best. I often wish that I could turn back the clock and help clients by opening up these conversations early on in their lives, motivating them to visualise and plan for their best life possible and then, only after they have their dream life plan, encourage them invest their money to enable their dream lifestyle.
Some people literally just don’t want to retire. They have the misconception that to retire means not to work. And people intrinsically want to add value, to feel that they are contributing to the world in a meaningful way. And for some, a retirement with too much leisure and downtime can often be very disappointing. Consider restructuring your work hours, or spend time working on something or with someone that would make you feel happy and alive. Mentoring is a great option if you feel you have value to add. This is the time to earn a “play-cheque” and not necessarily a “pay-cheque” by fitting work into your ideal life.
From an emotional perspective, retirement can be quite daunting. Some people are filled with excitement at the thought of leaving the routine, the stress and the boredom of an unfulfilled job behind. But for others, leaving behind what they know and entering a new phase of the unknown, can be quite scary. One way to ensure that you look forward to your retirement years is by planning for it. This helps you to formulate a plan of what you are retiring to. Visualise what your retirement would look like if it turned out well and work towards that goal.
If I could summarise the personality traits of people who retire most successfully, I would list a positive attitude right at the top. Your attitude affects how you view retirement, and how you do retirement. Next I would list laughter, humor, creativeness, curiosity and learning.
Don’t let the anxiety of “not having enough to retire” be a stumbling block to living the rest of your life. Hold on to that positive attitude. Consider keeping a gratitude diary for everything that you have achieved, explore options where you can add value and earn an additional income. Make sure that you are on top of your finances, no matter how bad (or good) it is. This will help you keep track of your debt, investments and cash flow and guide your timing from when to start drawing from your investments.
I encourage you to believe in a life that goes beyond the day you retire, prepare for this phase of your life well in advance so that all the money you spent your life earning, can enable you to live this part of your life without regret.