Are you at or above 50 years old and now feel anxious about your retirement? Your head is filled with questions, for examples “Are my irregular contributions enough for me to retire at 60 years old?”, “My two kids are so young! Can I afford their tertiary education?”, or “What amount do I need for my retirement?”. Here’s how to banish your worries.
You knew about these retirement-related questions during your forties or even thirties. But you ignored them. You knew you need to address these but somehow you never get around to it. I know, life gets in the way.
But, the most important question to ask yourself is “Will I have enough savings for my retirement years?”
For different reasons, some individuals take for granted to save for retirement. But, when they reached age 50, retirement thoughts come pouring. They realized retirement is near but the funds are far behind.
Why do many people suffer from inadequate savings for retirement? The most prevalent reason is the non-existence of a retirement plan. Many view retirement as a target rather than an adventure. If you have overlooked or ignored saving for your retirement, don’t panic. You are not facing a death sentence. But, it means you need to take actions right now. Put some serious thinking to come out with a quick retirement plan. It’s not too late because even at age 50, there is still a solid 10 years’ time to carry out and fulfill a retirement plan.
By carrying out a few strategies, you can still pile up a comfortable retirement nest egg. Be focused, show commitment, and discipline.
1. Conquer Your Panic, Fear or Worry
Get your frame of mind in order.
Condemning yourself and showing regret are typical reactions and understandable. Some individuals will turn this fear as a motivation to straighten it out. Find a solution. Some will instead be consumed by the panic and fear. The self-blame and the regret won’t disappear. The fear overwhelms them. As a result, they fear savings failure, their minds freeze, and they are stuck.
Dwelling over the past is a waste of time. You can’t change the past but you can influence the future. Think powerful and empowering views. Such as “Any savings is better than nothing”, and “Take actions… NOW!”.
Once you get over the worry, the next action is to find out your retirement needs.
2. Estimate How Much You Need for Retirement
How much the retirement money you need depends on:
- Your intended lifestyle
- The place you plan to settle down during retirement
- Your earning power
Follow these 3 steps to get the estimate:
1. Figure out the yearly money needed to sustain your intended lifestyle. It’s the amount you spend and not what you make. Do you wish to maintain the current lifestyle or a much-simplified version? This includes:
- residing in a low cost of living neighborhood,
- travelling less,
- selling your home and moving to a house that is less expensive to maintain and/or
- having a working retirement instead of a full retirement.
2. To get the sum of total fund needed, multiply the figure in step 1 above by 20.
3. Adopt moderation in the estimation. Don’t be too optimistic. Today less risky investments give low yields. Multiply by 20 represents a 5% interest; multiply by 10 suggests a 10% interest.
Alternatively, you could refer to a retirement calculator.
Maintaining a simple life in your retirement years is cautious and wise. The less you need, the better. Keep things simple to have an easier and healthy life.
3. Prolonging Your Working Life
Consider working beyond the statutory retirement age. But only when:
- Your physical condition (refer strategy 8) is good.
- You can find a flexible work arrangement.
- You love what you are doing.
By extending your working life:
- You’ll have more time to build your retirement fund. Delaying retirement boosts your nest egg.
- You also maintain your daily routines which promote good health. (people who work longer generally live longer) .
- You earned money to cover present expenditure. Otherwise, it will deplete your retirement accounts.
The difference between how much you have saved to retire at 60 and the amount if you delay until you’re 65 can be huge. Sometimes, it can mean you have to give up less of your lifestyle in favor of savings.
Other benefits include:
- Use of your abilities and ability to pass on your skills and knowledge
- If you are without a partner, sitting at home alone can be dreary
4. Get Tough in…
Controlling your expenses
Retirement years should be to be easy going and comfortable. Is your existing regular savings enough to place you in a cozy retirement? If not, then decrease your expenditures to boost your retirement savings.
- Sell your house and settle down somewhere with a lower cost of living
- Trade-in your car for a smaller and cheaper car, or give it up
- Cancelling paid memberships or subscriptions you’re not using
- Eating more at home and cut down dining out
Be willing to cut your expenses, drastically.
Searching for means to bring about more income
Consider getting a second job, a side hustle and/or investing your earning. For example, if you have an income-generating skill, start your own business. But keep your regular day job.
If you can bring about enough revenue to add RM20,000 a year to a retirement plan, the savings could be large.
5. Build an Emergency Savings Account
We live in a world full of uncertainties and the unexpected. To protect yourself from unforeseen situations, build an emergency savings account. This account is cash saved to pay for large, unexpected expenses such as an emergency medical bill, major car repair, and unemployment.
As a rule of thumb, this account needs adequate money to cover at least six months of daily living expenses.
Cash on hand is significant for saving money. If an unexpected event arises, you will not need to get into investment accounts. Otherwise, you will incur early withdrawal fees, penalties, or heavy tax liabilities.
Some individuals believe an emergency fund is a pointless exercise. On paper, it may look bad for a load of cash sitting around earning so little. But it helps to create a huge breathing space in times of emergency.
6. Settle or Reduce High-interest Debts
Avoid going into retirement carrying high-interest rate debt such as credit card. Any unpaid balance continues to attract high-interest charges. These charges could be part of your retirement savings. So, if you have extra cash dump it to pay down these high-interest rate loan. Once they’re paid off, resolve to pay the balance in full each month. Don’t pay the least amount, one of the worst financial mistakes you can make.
Another big debt hurdle you may have left to clear is your housing loan. Going into retirement without carrying heavy debts burden is a big load off your shoulder. You will have a much more peaceful retirement.
7. Get Expert Help
When planning for retirement, it can feel daunting, navigating the options available. This applies to workers who did not save before the age of 50. Consider talking to a reputable financial advisor. He or she could help you to set realistic goals including developing an investment program that balances risk and returns.
High-risk investments can offer you a high return. This return reduces the number of years you need to save for retirement. But, the risk of ending without your savings is too great. A consultant can assist you to better understand the individual retirement arrangement.
8. Stay Fit and Healthy
Retirement planning is not all about money. Another critical area to watch is your health.
It is important to incorporate health and fitness into your retirement plan. Without good health, your retirement years may not be as fulfilling as you foresee it should be. Life during retirement is a lot smoother when you are in good physical condition. Imagine yourself going for a holiday tour. Do you need to stop to catch your breath every 50 steps? Or now and then to check your blood glucose level?
Set fitness and health goals side by side with the financial goals. Reach your financial goals but make sure you have a healthy body to used to reap the rewards.
The best day to start retirement planning is today.
It’s important not to allow a late start to prevent you from going into savings and retirement planning. Your retirement goals are achievable if you put your mind into it and with the help of the above strategies.
Starting savings for retirement at age 50 is not ideal. You will need extraordinary willpower than a person who began much earlier. Setting aside money will be a priority with much more seriousness.
Develop a retirement plan to make your golden years what you dreamed it should be.
Your retirement plan is waiting for you. What are you waiting for?
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He has 25 years working experience in different finance-related jobs. He is now a consultant, and personal finance and business writer. His main goal is to help and educate non-finance professionals to understand and solve their personal finances problems. He believes everyone should be financially literate because everything we do has money implications!
Eric currently resides in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with his wife and two young children.
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