guest column:Emmanuel Zvada

Whenever you are asked whether or not you are ready to retire, you will laugh and say “Of course not”. I have met a lot people who are in their late 50s and still working and whenever l bring up the topic on retirement, they often shudder. In fact, just the mere mention of the word makes their mood shift to “down”. They have acquired many skills and knowledge, but still those nearing 60 years of age feel more than agitated about the mere thought of retirement. I think it’s an old belief that being 60 years of age means being “old and tired”, the reason is that people should retire to something, not just retire from something.

The word retirement essentially means a time when you leave the workforce, but that does not mean becoming inactive, nor does it mean you even stop working. One can retire, but still become active and join other jobs that have less pressure or less demanding or even decide to do their own business. Retirement planning is simply nothing, but spreading your earned money to provide a living after you retire.

What it then means is that when you begin retirement planning now and start saving or investing for the future, you will definitely enjoy the peace of mind when you stop working and the reason for peace of mind is financial independence and security.

Readiness to retire is willingness or a state of being prepared for retirement. It is very possible to be afraid of it. When people reach their 50s, it is not uncommon for them to realise that retirement or whatever they choose to call that phase of life which comes after fulltime work, is no longer such a distant concept. The only problem with them is that they have fear of the known “will it work and how will l survive after?” Once you are in your 50s and the end of fulltime work is no longer a distant concept, it’s a good time to get serious about planning for the next chapter of life. If you are in that age group and have not yet focused on that looming reality, it is a right time to get serious about planning for your retirement.

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Most anticipate retirement negatively. If only they can postpone it, they would. However, as this is inevitable, the only thing to do is to plan. Retirement will only be pleasant if you are prepared emotionally and financially. Preparation of a retirement strategy and plans should commence as early as possible for one to enjoy the future. On the same note, being retired does not necessarily mean your life is simpler, it can change for the worse due to responsibilities that one has to meet.

It might be hard to imagine that retirement is just around the corner in your 50s. But by keeping these ideas in mind, you will put yourself in the best possible position to retire with the financial security you want. The transition to retirement is not easy, most people find it very hard to let go of their professional life.

Start saving

Retirement is all about saving enough to live the retirement you want. Some people never get started with retirement saving. Year after year, they spend their time and resources on their current needs. Then one day they realise that retirement age is approaching fast and they are totally unprepared. Do not let it happen to you! The earlier you start to save, the quicker you will get there. If you are almost ready to retire, but you have nothing saved, you are in a tough spot, but it is never too late. You need to save for the future and saving should start the moment you realise that you have a future.

Investment principles

When we talk of saving many think of depositing money in a savings account in banks, but we can also talk of savings by converting money into tangible assets. Learn about your plan’s investment options and ask questions. Put your savings in different types of investments. By diversifying this way, you are more likely to reduce risk and improve return.

In many cases, buying a home is just one part of a larger, overall retirement strategy. Your investments are likely a stream of income you plan to use in retirement. Besides your portfolio and retirement savings, you should think of other ways to increase your earnings, like getting a side hustle.

Get a side hustle now while at work.

You may consider being an entrepreneur; or starting a side hustle while you are at work, the reason being that you already have experience and it will act as an advantage in putting up your own company. Even a few hundred dollars a month in side hustle income can go a long way. Whether it is to earn a bit of extra cash, the fact is that it is necessary to have a “side hustle” to prepare your hustle into a big business. Whether it is to earn a bit of extra cash, or to keep up a hobby, it’s becoming more and more common for individuals in fulltime employment to take on a “side hustle” to complement their day job.

Get a health plan earlier

Medical treatment is expensive and you must have a plan to cope with its escalating costs, especially way before your retirement. Getting a health insurance will be an option so that you will be covered whenever you need treatment after retirement. The main reason for this is that medical emergencies are very expensive and they are common. If you have the misfortune of undergoing a medical emergency without insurance, it is easy to find yourself with a crippling amount of medical debt, and seemingly no way out of the mess, hence having a health plan will be beneficial even after retirement.

Volunteer for as long as possible

Discover a new purpose as a volunteer during your retirement. By volunteering, you can find meaning and purpose in your retirement. There are diverse organisations that need volunteers to help with their cause and programmes. You can help others. It may be mentoring disaffected young people, helping children to read, or improving the lives of isolated, older people.

Retirement is an opportunity for you to use and develop your skills and talents further than you thought possible. Retirement can be one of the most wonderful times of your life, but deciding what to do during retirement can be difficult. Many retirees choose to start a new hobby or take the time to help out with their loved ones.

Others give back to the community and get involved in local projects that offer voluntary work for pensioners. One of the biggest decisions you will make is when to retire and another is how much to spend in retirement. Your retirement is something that you should have been planning for your whole life. Once you have retired, your income will come solely from your life annuities and any other income producing investments or savings you may have. It’s wise to start your retirement preparation now.

 Emmanuel Zvada is a human capital consultant and an international recruitment expert. He writes in his personal capacity.