When and how you plan for retirement can make a huge difference in when you can ditch your job and how enjoyable life will be when you do. Of course, the ideal route is to start saving as soon as you start working. If you land up with your first job in your early 20s, it can be very helpful to start stashing away cash. Proper retirement planning must be tailored to your current financial situation, as well as your future goals and dreams. Here’s how you can get them both in alignment, no matter what age you are today.
In your 20s
As young adults, we’re often told to start saving for retirement. But with the pressure of making ends meet and the allure of instant gratification, many of us find it difficult to think about our future selves. Although it may be difficult to understand at the time, there are many benefits of early retirement planning that can positively impact the employment and retirement choices you have later in life. Pay off your debts, student/education loan as soon as possible. Work on your emergency savings (three to six months of living expenses) at the same time that you pay off these debts. Save at least 15% of your pre-tax income each year for retirement, which includes any contributions you may get from your employer if you have an EPF account. Try to increase the employer match.
In your 30s
At this age, you may already feel the burden of taking care of aging parents or young dependents. Student loans may linger, but your income is probably reaching new heights. Dump as much money as possible into your EPF account. Remember you get tax benefits also when you save in EPF. The next 1.5 Lacs pa you should plan for opening a PPF account. Beyond this, look at the stock market. You can afford to be riskier—consider medium to high-risk options that can skyrocket your gains over the next 10 to 20 years. Invest in the right portfolio. Sure, Bitcoin sounds sexy, but with a 20-year time horizon, you have to be careful about risks. Big bets can result in big losses that could delay retirement by years. Consider medium-risk investment portfolios: 50 percent to 60 percent as large-cap stocks, and the rest in lesser risky assets like bonds, gold, and other stable commodities.
In your 40s
Track your spending. Your 40s is when keeping up with the Joneses really kicks in. Family vacations ramp up, kids’ expenses double or triple, and you start to feel like you’ve worked hard for the good things in life. The truth is that inflation is making the cost of basic needs very expensive, so you’ll need to be careful about excess spending today that could rob you of your carefree future. Make sure you’re properly insured. As you age, health risks and the cost of health insurance increase. No matter how much you have saved, it can easily be wiped out by a medical expense that isn’t properly covered.
In your 50s
It’s usually the time when the nest becomes empty. Kids are off to college. You may not need the large house/apartment you might have built.Over time, homes can have accumulated a lot of equity that could be better leveraged to move to an appropriately located or better-sized home that wouldn’t cost as much to maintain. Think of how you can use your home to fund your future. Maybe lease out the existing house to have a recurring income. Get your accounts all sorted. Make sure nominees are all in place.
Everyone can retire with dignity. All you have to do is consistently invest 10 percent of whatever you make and forget that it exists until you actually retire.
The bottom line: Start now.