Spend wisely and retire happy


HAPPY retirement is largely a function of financial wellness at the time you stop working for a living.

Ideally, your working lifetime should be 30 to 35 years. If you go beyond this you may not have saved enough, or misfortune may have intervened, and you need to work some more.

When you retire you start another lifetime – a lifetime supposed to be of leisurely living.

Medical science and informed nutrition have lengthened our average lifespan by 10 years over the last two decades. It means you live longer and you need more money, not only for daily subsistence but for the mounting costs of health care. Where will you get the funds?

Some parents are lucky to have children who provide continuous support to elders who have stopped earning. The rationale is that parents may empty their pockets to get their children good education because, when children finish studies and get employed, the children will repay their debt of gratitude by sending monthly “pensions.”

This is beautiful Filipino culture but it’s losing ground. Many, many years back Filipino families were clustered in barrios and towns, with family members within easy reach of one another. In times of need, there was always a close relative to run to.

Not anymore. Children go abroad, settle and raise families there, learn to be independent, and absorb foreign culture. Family bonding thins out and close ties all but break. Of course, Filipinos are known to be resilient through rough times but they need not suffer, with proper planning and fiscal discipline.

Dependence on relatives for old age financial support has some hidden risks. Your children may be big earners but if their spouses have different ideas of handling money, you may be fomenting domestic discord.

No one else but you is responsible for setting up your own retirement fund. How much do you need? I will not bore you with statistics, I will just cite just one major cost component – education.

If your child is starting pre-school now, he or she will enter college 18 years hence. At that time, tuition fees at the University of San Agustin and Central Philippine University, now at P40,000 -P50,000 a year, are projected to go up to P90,000 – P115,000, maybe more. Add miscellaneous fees, dormitory, meals, transport allowance, uniforms, etc. and you will discover that college education could easily cost P20,000 a month.

The figures are scary, and we’re talking only about children’s education. What about food, health care, leisure?

To drive home my point, I present two imaginary contrasting scenarios of couples in retirement. In one case, a husband in a serious mien says to his wife, “Inday, tani dugang dugangan man sang bata ta ang padala nya karon nga bulan para masadya ang aton Christmas.” In the other, a smiling husband says with bravado, “Pangga, buksi gani ang baul kag magkuha sang isa ka paldo kay malagaw kita sa Boracay.”

Obviously, one couple had a plan, the other had none. While it’s all a matter of focus and discipline, it helps to get a competent advice to implement a retirement strategy now.  Later may be too late.

“Regret is more painful than failure.”/PN


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