One question that keeps on coming back to me like a faithful boomerang is on retirement and more specifically retirement planning. Everyone always ends up asking me just how much they should save up for their retirement. How do I put this delicately; there is no one number that I can give everyone. It’s just a personal thing. If I know you better, yes, I can give you a number. But allow me to explain why it’s such a point of personal reference. For some people a Volkswagen Golf GTI is their everyday car and a BMW M3 is a car they’d love to keep in the garage. For some though, the BMW M3 might be their everyday car while they’d love to see a Ferrari 458 Italia in the garage. Perspective; it’s a funny thing.
But how do you save up money like the numbers some people tout? Look, I never said retirement planning is easy; I did say it can be done though with some discipline, dedication and diligence. That’s the only 3D you need.
Just how much do you need to save?
Imagine you plan to work from 20 till you’re 60 (for calculation’s sake). What that means is you have to work for 40 years to get through potentially 20 to 30 years of your life. So your nest egg will be used up for almost as long as you will take to build it up. Now, let’s assume some more things. For one, let’s say your income matches the rate of inflation perfectly. Let’s also assume the same for your investments. Let’s also assume that your lifestyle remains unchanged. If that does happen, you will have to save something like 35% of your income each year. And that’s something not many people do. Most people only save 5-6% per year, so you now see where the problem lies.
Retirement is getting earlier for most
Generations before us saved more and worked for more years than us and yet we want to retire earlier than them despite doing none of these things. We have a very materialistic mind and if you’re banking on your investments getting you to the Promised Land, you could be in serious trouble. Save more, invest better and work longer if you have to. Mind you, it doesn’t have to be a full-time job; even working as a consultant or part-time counts. Once you feel confident about money, you can always stop working and do whatever you want to.
Don’t ask when you can retire. Instead, know what you want to do and start planning towards it, whatever it may be.