3 Major Things You Need To Do Just Before You Retire
Retirement has always been about saving and investing, but these are not the only two things we should focus on to prepare ourselves for the finishing line of our career. Sure, saving enough and investing wisely to get our dream retirement is an important part of retirement planning.
However, what’s more important is actually getting your finances in order before you say goodbye to your regular income. After working for more than 30 years just so you could set yourself up financially for your golden years, you shouldn’t let a few loose ends ruin your retirement.
The five to 10 years leading up to retirement are your last chance to put your house in order before you enjoy retirement peacefully.
These are 3 crucial actions you must take in the final decade before you quit working to get the next phase off to a smooth start:
1. Clear your debts before you retire
If you buy your first home at the maximum mortgage tenure of 35 years at the age of 35, you will only be able to clear off this loan when you’re 70 years old. This is assuming that you stick to your mortgage schedule and pay only the set repayment amount every month.
This automatically strikes out the idea of early retirement. In fact, you will have to work for an additional decade from the national retirement age of 60 years old in order to pay off your mortgage, or worse withdraw from your retirement fund to pay off your debt every month.
Sounds bleak? This is a fact of life and to avoid that, try to either purchase your property earlier in life, or try to pay off your mortgage as early as possible.
Retirement should not be burdened by debts – not even investment debts like mortgage, especially if the property is for your own occupation, instead of rental. This applies to car and personal loans, as well as, credit card debts. In fact, especially credit card debts, because of its exorbitant interest rate that will snowball your debt into a monstrous amount.
Start looking at your debts and clearing them off before you hit retirement. Start with your credit card debt as that has the highest interest rate (and is also the most flexible to clear), then personal loans and car loans. These are some of the highest costing ones. Lastly, focus on your home loan. Yes, it’s likely your largest loan but there are ways you can clear it off faster and it doesn’t incur as much negative impact to your finances as the other loans do.
Being debt-free should be a financial objective to achieve before even your dream retirement fund. Without the weight of debt, you can focus on reducing your monthly expenses when you are no longer earning an income.
2. Boost your savings
Though it is compulsory to put away money for our retirement, there are unforeseen circumstances that can affect our nest egg. For example, using that money to fund our child’s education, or worse, to treat an unexpected illness in the family.
This is why it is extremely important for one to start early on their retirement planning, so there is still room to accommodate all these emergencies. Even then, there’s still a huge opportunity for you in your last decade to buffer it more or catch up.
In the last decade of employment, sit down and figure out where you are at that point and where you need to be when you finally hit retirement. You will need to replace two-thirds of your last drawn income by age 60 in order to live a comfortable retirement so you need to plan for that.
If you are not near where you need to be at that point, you’ll need to play catch-up in order to make it to the finish line with what you need.
There are only two options for you. One is to work past your retirement age, while still saving, and the other is to power-save at a larger amount every month. Here’s how it will look like if you want to achieve a retirement fund of RM1.5 million.
|Target retirement fund|
|Average rate of return|
|Current retirement fund|
|Contribution from income|
|Length of time|
|Total retirement fund|
If you want to stick to the national retirement age of 60 years old, you will have to boost your monthly contribution to 53% of your income. This may not be possible if you are also trying hard to clear your debt before your retirement. In that case, if you stick to the usual contributions of 20% of your income, you will only get RM1,139,129.45 when you hit 60 years old.
To still get your dream retirement fund of RM1.5 million so you don’t have to make any sacrifices in your golden years, work additional years to make up for that shortfall is another option. In the example above, you will have to work for an additional four years, and retire at 64 years old if you stick to 20% contribution every month.
3. Test drive your retirement budget
Downsizing or lowering your expenses in retirement is not impossible because some actpenses naturally taper down once you are not working. These expenses could be transportation, food and even things like shopping for clothing (because you won’t be needing more suits in your retirement).
How much it will come down to will depend on your current expenses, and also other adjustments you are willing to make once you leave employment. List down all the expenses you will be making once you stop you working to give yourself an idea of what your actual retirement living expenses will be.
Then try to live on that budget for at least a year before your retirement. After your test drive, you might find that you have to adjust your retirement spending plan.
The trick to an accurate retirement budget is to be brutally honest with yourself about what your spending, and really draw the line between wants and needs. Sometimes it all boils down to compromising or altering their plan to make their retirement fund works for them.
It can be an exciting or a scary time as you inch closer to the retirement finish line because this means you’ll have less room to make any financial mistakes. To ensure that your dream retirement will come into fruition, you will need to ensure you have tied up all your loose ends by taking care of these three major things.