Retirement. Jeez. Just the word is enough to make me want to put my hands over my eyes and rock a little, muttering “No, no, no, no, no, no…”.

But actually, yes.

I’m fortymumble years old. Both my grandmothers lived well into their 90s. One is still trucking. In fact, she’s literally still driving. How’s that for another scary thought. I haven’t got nearly enough bad habits to anticipate I’ll die young(ish) and fabulous. No, I’m going to probably live for a long, looooong time.

Realistically, given our frankly ageist and sexist culture, I’ll be forced out of the working world at some point in my mid-60s. (Can we take a moment to talk about how ridiculous it is that buckets of SA companies STILL have different mandatory retirement ages for men and women – with women having to retire earlier, even though statistically they live longer? What?!)

That means I’ll have to consider potentially funding my life for a further 30 odd years with income I need to make now. Idly chatting to a mate of mine who knows these things, it appears that if I’d like to achieve an inflation-adjusted retirement income of roughly R35k, I need to be putting away R6k a month NOW. In fact, I should have been doing it since I was in my 20s. Which, obviously, I wasn’t. I was buying doc martins on credit in my 20s. I’m not even managing it today, and I’m in the minority amongst my freelance-y peers – I actually have an RA.

Honestly, it makes me want to pull the duvet over my head. You don’t even know what you’re saving for. Dog food a la mode in some dodgy flatlet with a moth-eaten blanket on your arthritic knees, or cruising the med with your boy toy and a penchant for baccarat? I honestly don’t know. Obviously, the latter would be nice, but what are the chances. Will I be riddled with stupid diseases? Will I be mobile? Will I be in relationship, or on my own? Will I need care or not? It’s all too overwhelming for speech.

It scares me witless. Because this is one of those things I just don’t understand. I don’t even really know what an “inflation adjusted income” is. I think I do, if I think hard about it, but I’m not really sure. And don’t even ask me to explain compound interest or tax incentives for retirement or the difference between RAs and other kinds of retirement savings, let alone how the risk portfolios work. And what about all those stories of people who saved, and saved, and saved, only to lose it all in a stock market crash or to the dodgy dealings of a financial advisor? Eeek!

What I do know is that I don’t want my boy child to have to have to take care of me. Or worse, choose my old age home. And I don’t want to have to rely on a state pension or the kindness of aged care non-profits. I want to be one of those old birds who’s full of crazy stories, with pockets filled with sweeties and shelves packed with photographs. Who shocks young ‘uns when she swears or tells them stories about saucy youthful rendezvous. I want to live gently and with love and compassion. I want to enjoy a couple of grandchillens, if they come. And I want to keep my teeth and pay my own way.

So I grit said teeth, and I:

  • Trust the financial advice I’ve received, and act, even though it’s terrifying
  • Squirrel away some cash into the RAs each month.
  • Pay a little more on my bond, in the hopes that I’ll actually pay it off before I retire.
  • Put a little extra away in those RAs when my financial guy tells me to come tax time.
  • Because even if it’s not enough, it’s something.

 

Photo by: OTA Photos, Retirement via Flickr. CC by 2.0

Kate Wolters

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Kate is a freelance marketing & communications consultant. She also dabbles in change management. By day she helps brands speak human to humans. By night she takes care of her small boy child and lurks about on 'the interwebs'. A lot. She has a mixed bag of interesting skills, gathered in a career featuring stints as a cat-herder, fish farmer, assistant zoo keeper and executive P.A. to a mad Frenchman. Find her at www.katewolters.com

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