RETIREMENT – How Prepared are you?
In my capacity as an actuarial officer, I have had diverse encounters with people especially the elderly asking the question; How much will SSNIT pay me when I retire? Normally, these individuals have some years, months or even few weeks to retire.
Upon looking at their contributions and making some estimations as to the amount they are likely to receive, their faces become dazed with expressions of disappointment. How come my pension is so small? They exclaim! From further conversations, I find out that most of these people do not have any other form of retirement plans.
I am writing this to provoke you, both young and old to take deep thoughts and practical actions towards having a happy stress free retirement.
The Holy book states and I quote “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2. And there’s a time to work and a time to retire.
Retirement in lay man’s terms means voluntarily or compulsorily disengaging from active work permanently.
There are several potential sources of income or support during retirement. These sources include:
1. Support from family and friends
2. Support from children
3. Employment after retirement
4. Personal Investment
5. Social support such as pension and Health Insurance.
Let us take a look at each of these sources.
1. Support from family and friends: Our society is becoming westernized by the day. Our extended family culture is soon becoming a thing of the past. Some decades back, family members come together to support the aged within the family. This support ranges from money, clothes, shelter and even meals. But now, in the 21st century, everyone is thinking about their immediate families.
It is therefore obvious that you cannot depend on this system of support in your retirement. In fact, don’t even think about it, because it is suicidal.
2. Support from children: Have you ever heard this, ‘I am taking good care of my children today so that they can also take care of me when I retire’? Well, there is an aorta of truth in that statement. But in this fast-paced world that we live in, with the exigencies of attaining high educational status before getting a good job coupled with high unemployment rates; how sure are you that you will still not be paying school fees even in your retirement? Once they complete school, they begin to have their own financial burdens. The burden of getting a good job, marrying, raising kids of their own, just to mention a few.
I believe your statement can be reframed as, ‘I am taking good care of my children today so they don’t have to depend on me when I retire’.
Don’t get me wrong, it is honourable to honour parents and it is God’s only commandment with a promise. But the same Bible says a good person leaves an inheritance for his childrens’ children. My humble submission is don’t place too much hope on your children because life has got its own twists and turns.
3. Employment after retirement: really? Are you kidding me? Even the young professionals are struggling to get a job!. Unless you intend to run your own business or you are a highly trained skilled professional, your chances of landing a job after retirement is almost zero. You face a lot of stress, anxiety, and fatigue just because you must keep up with the young. But this does not mean you can’t do anything meaningful and rewarding. Ever head of Colonel Sanders? He founded the famous KFC during his retirement years.
4. Personal Investment: People who think about retirement early in their careers make a conscious effort to invest towards their retirement. These types of investments range from the money market, provident funds, equities, stocks and investing in appreciating properties such as land and buildings. Evidence shows that those who are disciplined enough to put some money away on regular basis and invest in appreciating properties are likely to have a stress free retirement.
5. Social security support such as Social Security and National Insurance Trust, Ghana (SSNIT, Ghana) pensions and the other tier pensions systems are designed to give you income support upon retirement. It can only replace a portion of what you were earning while in active employment. Depending on your gross salary and the length of time you have contributed, your benefits can either be high or low. But no matter how pretty your benefit is, it will always be lower than what you were earning prior to retirement. That is the stark truth. No Pension Fund will give you fuel coupon, vehicle maintenance allowance, clothing allowance and……. hehe, entertainment allowance. Did I say that? yes!!!
Before you go consider these tips,
a. Do not make social security pension and the 2nd tier benefit as your only source of income. My manager usually says, if 94.5% of your salary could not help you prepare for retirement, how much more 5.5%.?
b. Consider investing some money on regular basis specifically towards retirement.
c. Take good care of your health, eat well and exercise more. You will realise the dividend when you retire.
d. Engage yourself in seminars on retirement. You will definitely learn more.
e. Make adjustments to your lifestyle so you can save more.
f. Plan, Plan, Plan!!!
Retirement can be a nightmare if you don’t plan well but it can also be a happy stress-free thing if you plan well.
So before you buy that luxurious car, before you go on that expensive vacation, before you buy that expensive phone; think of your retirement. We all deserve a happy retirement.
“In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” Eccl 11:6
May the good Lord guide us in wisdom and prudence even as we work towards having a happy stress free fulfilled life.
By Jones K. Luri, SSNIT, Ghana