Source/Contribution by : NJ Publications
Retirement period is considered to be a new beginning for an individual. It is the time to unwind and pursue hobbies which you were not able to pursue due to lack of time during your working life.
Your post retirement period can be the most relaxing period of life after long working years, but also on the other hand, it will be a period when fresh income will stop and you will have to manage with whatever retirement corpus and/or pension you receive. With higher life expectancy, increasing cost of medical treatment and double digit inflation, life looks more challenging for a retired individual.
With urban Indian, the biggest challenge of retirement life is perhaps increasing life expectancy with advancement of medical treatment but coupled with rising medical costs and with private employment & lesser possibility of employer sponsored pension, we all may need to fund around 25 years of retired life from our own savings if we consider retirement age at 60 and life expectancy of around 85.
Interest earnings from debt / small savings have been the traditional source of income for retired individuals. Looking at the bigger picture, we find that typically, interest rates are high in underdeveloped and developing economies but in developed economies, they are relatively very low. Prudent economics encourage the government to bring interest rates down or aligned with market rates for government sponsored saving schemes like PPF, Postal Schemes etc. We have already seen a declining trend over the past decade in such products. With falling interest rate scenario, only debt retirement portfolio will not generate return sufficient to meet rising expenses during retirement period of 20-25 years. This leaves very little option for a retired individual to look for in terms of investment instruments which can generate inflation beating return.
Inflation: The crux of the problem
During working life, the inflation effect more or less get nullified as your income grows faster or in line with inflation rate but during retirement, inflation eats into your savings as you stop generating additional income. With stagnant and/or slow moving pension, inflation greatly increases the gap between expenses and cash inflow during retirement. This becomes very critical when we consider extended periods of retirement of over 20-25 years. So it becomes imperative that your portfolio fulfills either of the 2 conditions in face of rising expenses and falling interest rates:
Your retirement corpus or any post retirement portfolio be of such huge size that all future expenses can be managed by earnings and withdrawals.
Your planning focuses on both current earnings and also future growth of portfolio. Here you would need to generate inflation beating returns.
Every individual who is retired or is approaching retirement, would seek a steady income flow post retirement to meet expenses. With expected long retirement years, it becomes a challenge and hence the traditional way of thinking has to be changed and an active portfolio management with focus on both safety and future needs has to be considered. There is now less risk that can be taken compared to the accumulation phase to provide a greater sense of certainty that assets will continue to support a comfortable retirement. However, at the same time, there has to be some capital preservation and growth over the time, to ensure that income streams keep pace with the rising cost of living. Such objectives can be conflicting, with higher levels and a trade-off between returns and risk has to be made. The Bucket concept is nothing but a simplistic representation of building a smart portfolio post retirement.
After years of working hard we should all not shy away from retirement but accept it as a fact of life and the dawn of the golden years of your life with immense possibilities. One can seek many pursuits in life and be more socially, politically or spiritually active in life. In this phase of life, money carries less significance in life but even then it forms a critical aspect as one has to meet the basic needs and be self reliant in leading a dignified life. Irrespective of what age one is, retirement planning is very critical and the early you begin, the more comfortable and peaceful your retired life can be. We wish and sincerely hope that every one of us enjoys a healthy and peaceful retirement.
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