How to ensure a great retirement

Towards the end of our lives, we can look back and attest to the fact that we had spent about 75 percent (or more) of it working at some kind of employment or income-generating effort.  Considering that 75 percent is quite a significant chunk of our lives, it is understandable that we would expect an impressive sum to enjoy in the twilight of our days. 

Since we spend so much of our time amassing (or trying to amass) wealth for a later day, then why is it that when we get there, we find so much still lacking?  Well, for one thing, many of us do not count in the many factors that are involved.  All these factors affect the spending power of that final sum, which in turn, will determine whether or not it is “enough”. 

Planning a great retirement does not require great skill or knowledge, just a little planning and steadfastness.  We need planning because we must be able to:
-    Discipline ourselves into setting aside a certain amount to go into our retirement fund. 
-    Know when to spend and when not to, in order to achieve that ultimate goal. 
-    Decide the right times to make meaningful purchases, such as upgrading our car or buying a new home.   

Steadfastness of will is easier said than done.  More often than not, we want to save for our retirement but are distracted by the many temptations around.  Going on a so-called reasonably priced but unscheduled holiday with our friends, for example, is definitely more attractive than setting that money aside for a distant future.  And that holiday entails spending money, which again, will take even more out of the retirement fund. 

Truly, saving towards a great retirement takes a lot of will and focused thinking.  Of course, if we had to continuously remind ourselves every single day of our working life that we are working towards a retirement, it would indeed be a tedious task.  Here are some ways we can do this in a relatively effortless way:
-    Every month, dump 10 percent of our paycheck into the retirement fund.  This should be done before doing any allocation for expenses such as the mortgage, car installments or rent.  Doing this FIRST will deter us from using some of it for so-called necessities. 
-    If doing a manual payment into the fun is too challenging, do it virtually.  This can be done via standing instructions or even through our employers with a direct debit from the paycheck into another account.  Doing us frees us from having to worry that we are spending too much as what we have in hand is the actual amount for our expenses. 
-    Have a money manager.  This person, whoever he or she is, does not have to be a professional money manager with fees to pay for.  He or she is just someone who is helping us with our expenses.  Having someone we trust with our income, such as a sibling or parent, who is firm and disciplined enough themselves, will ensure enough is set aside for necessities and not unduly spent.  In many ways, it is like being back in school and on an allowance – a very extreme measure but an effective one. 
-    Write post-dated cheques to our retirement fund and bank them in just a day before the paycheck comes in.  This is almost like the second method mentioned above, except we do not have any real connection with the money as it is withdrawn from one account and paid into another almost immediately.  Doing the transaction this way means we need to view our retirement fund as another bill that needs to be paid; hence, the post-dated cheque.  Banking in the cheque before the actual paycheck means there will definitely be enough funds to move around and reduces the chances of our own cheque bouncing.

All the methods outlined above are based on the principle of Paying Ourselves First.  This is a simple, yet difficult concept to carry out.  It takes a lot of discipline and focused thought to do this on a daily basis.  All that discipline, however, is worth it at the end of the day when we sit back in our twilight years and enjoy the well-earned rest, knowing that we have enough to last through them.