Transitioning to Retirement - Part 1 / Money by Bill Storie
If you’ve never kept track of your money before now, you’re in for a shock.
I know a man who retired about 6 years ago. He has done well in his life, although doesn’t own property yet lives a reasonable, but meagre, lifestyle. He and his wife take good vacations at least twice a year.
“So, Geoffrey”, I asked, “do you know what is in your bank account, or pension fund, or investment portfolio…?”
“I don’t have a clue” he replied.
“So, do you ever fear you might run out one day…?”
I wish I could be like this fellow. I’m not.
I’m not paranoid about money, but I am one station before it.
I recently read some research about asking retirees what their biggest concern was. Health was certainly at the top of the list, but the results indicated that their feelings about Health are dictated by the “It is, what it is” syndrome. Many respondents recognized that if they had it all to do all over again they may have taken better care of themselves, but to some extent they couldn’t alter their health issues at this age. Fair enough.
With that out of the way therefore, Money was by far and away the primary concern.
The Transition from having a regular weekly/monthly wage coming in, to a no-wage income lifestyle is extremely difficult for most people. Of course, the pension income is the safety net, either your company pension or some form of state pension. However, the feeling is that, there may very well be a “run-out” problem in later years. If the pensions have been structured properly of course, this, by and large, should not be an issue - but the research indicated that many people nonetheless have the fear of running out. In fact, there are large numbers of people still in employment who have absolutely no idea what their pension balance is, or what it will pay-out in retirement. More to the point, even when they are reminded that they should know, they shrug their shoulders.
The underlying issue is that if it does run out, there is no way back. You’re stuck.
There are any number of online calculators to tell you “How much you will need in retirement”, and in fairness they mean well. However, they must only be used as a rough indication. Please never base your budgeting and cash flow calculations on them. Everyone has certain unique elements to their lifestyle finances. Moreover, as age creeps along, there may very well be a medical situation arising which knocks the calculations off and could easily drain the pension fund, thus reducing the fund itself, but perhaps more importantly, reduces the income generated from a lower pension fund.
There is also the issue of leaving the inheritance for the kids. Nothing wrong with that, provided you don’t deprive yourself of the basics in life, and even better, some of the indulgences. Just remember, they may be grateful, but on the day they get your money, you won’t be around to hear their thanks !!
Back to budgeting and keeping track.
It is an essential part of retirement living to have a good handle on your finances. You don’t have to be a spreadsheet whizz, but some form of control, on at least a monthly basis, will serve you well. In a later part of this Series, we’ll address the mechanics of setting up Spreadsheet Budgeting for you.
Never underestimate the impact on your life if you have this fear of having no money or worse still you come up short when you are in retirement. It is real. It is a 24/7 worry. It is a health impactor. Everything you can do to alleviate the concern through proper budgeting, finding part-time work, re-positioning your investment portfolio etc., - ahead of retirement - should be given consideration. The anxiety and stress caused by diminishing cash flows, without any means of fixing, must not be ignored. If you won’t have enough money to buy the groceries or pay the rent when you’re retired, the consequences will be enormous.
Then, when you factor in the number of years you will still have to live, the problem compounds itself. The concern is that you may outlive your money.
Lastly, the issue of Money will underpin, many, if not all, of the future articles in this Transitions Series, so we’ll keep coming back to Money Matters as we go forwards.
And remember …
“Clocks don’t run backwards”
“Anyone who lives within their means
suffers from a lack of imagination.”