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Retirement Planning Myths

Nov 5, 2015 by Priyanka Chakrabarty | 69 Downloaded
Picture courtesy - PICJUMBO

Ever since you started investing, your financial advisor may have been insisting upon the importance of retirement planning. At a young age it seemed like a faraway prospect. You had more immediate goals to fulfill. So either you ignored your financial advisor completely or reluctantly started investing only a miniscule amount of your earnings. The older you got, the investments increased because retirement started to become a palpable goal than it was twenty years ago. However, there always comes a time when you start thinking, ‘Have I done it right?’ or ‘Am I doing it right?’.

We often believe in myths because they are believable. The myth has been circulated long enough that listeners often fail to sieve the truth from the myth. Hence, myth become as deep rooted as the truth itself. Similarly while you have been planning for your retirement, you may have also believed some of the retirement planning myths. Hence, if you are someone who is about to start planning your retirement, has already started your retirement planning, about to retire or has retired then you should read this. In short, anyone who wants to and plans to retire.

Retirement is a Lifelong Process

Individuals who constitute the workforce imagine retirement to be the solution of the stress they undergo on a daily basis. Retirement has way too many romantic notions attached to it. However, the reality of exiting the workforce and retiring is a different experience altogether. Ohio State University’s Robert Acthley developed a six stage model of retirement. It is a descriptive model which could form the baseline of understanding the transition that occurs during retirement. It is not absolute and personal experiences tend to differ.

Retirement is usually treated as a long holiday which it is not. How can you be on holiday for 20 years of your life? Certain retirees often experience alienation in their retirement after the role of a co worker is over. They do not feel productive and feel disengaged from their lives. Some look for support in their communities or try finding light work to feel productive. Hence, retirement is not a long holiday for the rest of your life. It has various phases and individuals keep thinking of various ways to fill their life and time with productivity.

You Save and Invest when You Earn and Spend when You Retire

It is true that you are encouraged to keep saving and investing for your retirement (Read How much do you need to save). It is simply so that you can be relatively free of financial burdens. Does it imply that you keep spending? Even in your retired life you have a future to consider, bills to pay and expenses to meet. You may have a corpus hefty enough to meet your needs for the next twenty years but can you say you will be able to meet all unplanned expenses? Retiring does not give you the free ticket to go binge spending.

If savings is a habit you have inculcated all your life, there is no reason to stop just now. If you have a substantial retirement corpus, you will not be using the entire corpus at one go. Hence, keep a part of it invested ensuring the funds are not lying idle. If you also generate supplementary income by doing some part time or consulting work or have rented out a property, they are adding to your corpus. Hence, you could keep those invested too. Just because you have stopped working does not mean your money has to. Keep spending with the comfort that your money is working harder than you.

If You do not Have Enough You will Keep Working

It is fatal when people think such thoughts. If you are having these thoughts when you are 30, brimming with energy and working 16 hours a day, I bet you will not be thinking the same when you are 40. You will be eager to cut down your workload by the time you have crossed 50. We are humans and not machines and at some point we have to accept that 60 year olds cannot work like 30 year olds.

With such quick changes in technology many kinds of work have become obsolete. By the time you retire, the work you may have been doing may become obsolete. Hence, to find work suitable to your skill set could be challenging especially when companies are looking to hire young workers. Hence, instead of relying on work, rely on your present income to generate future income. The future might be uncertain, but the present is not. You salary comes in every month; you get a yearly bonus and pay increment as well. Start your savings and investment for retirement. Do not give yourself the illusion that you can be frivolous today and keep working because you do not plan to retire anyway.

Exiting Equity for or after Retirement

One of the biggest myths surrounding retirement planning is the scary stares you get when you announce that your retirement planning corpus is invested in equities or equity oriented mutual funds Read Retirement Planning through Mutual Fund SIPs. The silence seems to convey you might as well have lost the money. There are taboos surrounding equities which have led people to believe equities are unsafe and volatile. Risky is the work you are looking for and definitely not the place where you would invest your retirement corpus or savings.

You could not be more WRONG! Equities or equity oriented mutual funds are the best instrument for long term investments. It is true to a certain extent that short term investment in equities does not yield the best returns but they have been the highest return generators in the long term. The long term period reduces the volatility and also ups the returns. Hence, if you are planning to start investing for your retirement, equities should be your priority as you benefit from the time value of money and power of compounding.

Once you have your retirement corpus ready to use you may be willing to invest it partially. Do not discount equities. You may not want to invest in pure equities but funds that are a mix of equities and debt could be a good choice. Let go off the fear and give equities a chance.

You will Need 80% of Your Pre-Retirement Income to Live

John Rekenthaler, a fund industry researcher is of the opinion that despite the trend where investors are advised to aim for a corpus of 80% of their pre-retirement income, they do not need to so much. You will have to pay less tax, hopefully you do not have loans to repay, you do not have to save for specific life goals, no need to save for your children’s education and so on. All your major life expenses have been taken care of by the time you retire. You only have to bear living costs and for everything you will have your corpus. Read Calculating your needs

This is not to state you should not aim to invest and save the most you can for your retirement. In case you have not managed to create a corpus which is 80% of your pre-retirement income, you do have to worry about not making a living. Everyone has their own set of expenses and lifestyles and nobody can accurately predict the percentage of pre-retirement income that will be sufficient. However, the idea simply is when your major expenses have been taken care then less is more.

You Need to Repay Debt and Education Loan before Retirement Savings

A lot of us tend to believe that since the goal of retirement is far away we can start planning for it much later. This is a costly mistake one makes. If you start early you can start small and it reduces financial burden later on. Lot of investors prioritizes repaying debt and education loan before starting retirement planning. They tend to treat retirement planning as a secondary goal compared to the repayment of debts. As this stage you simply have to remember a person who cannot help himself is no good for others. Hence, break the myth of shall plan for retirement later and start now along with your various debt repayments.

Conclusion

I have often said this but I shall say it again: retirement is that one goal for which you must have a plan. For every other goal you have the option of taking a loan and repaying with your future income. Retirement simply does not allow you that luxury. You have to make the best with what you have saved and invested. Hence, do not fall in to these myths and create a setback in your retirement planning. For best advice you could always consult a financial planner.

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Priyanka Chakrabarty

A literature enthusiast who loves to write. An ardent social worker who dreams of bringing about change and hopes to do so through her writing. A firm believer of the saying pen is mightier than the sword, Priyanka is an English Honours graduate. She also pursed Diploma in Wealth Management Practice from IIFP and is a certified social media expert.

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