Want to retire early?
Strategic pension planning is keySunday, August 01, 2021
Retiring early does not mean abandoning the world of work in total, at least not according to 54-year-old Charlene (*name changed as requested), who left the demanding role of a job in corporate Jamaica, took a year off from working, and started another job on a part-time basis, which affords her the freedom to enjoy the things she loves.
The 54-year-old who loves plants and landscaping has turned her hobby into a fun way to spend her days after resigning at a pensionable age. Her ability to retire early, Charlene says, was backed by her pension savings, as well as her savings and investments over the years. She explained that at retirement, she received a lump sum payment as well, which she invested wisely.
LaToya Mayhew Kerr, vice-president, Sagicor Group Jamaica, and general manager – Employee Benefits Administrator Limited, Pension Services, indicates that, with strategic planning, anyone can leave full-time work before the age of 60 or 65, or whatever age is mandated for normal retirement.
One of the first things Mayhew Kerr suggests and encourages is for people, once eligible, to start contributing to a pension plan. She advocates for people to start early and contribute the maximum if they are able to.
Pension arrangements might be available from your own workplace, as well as from private fund managers. You can save higher than the recommended contribution if you want to arrive faster at your goal. The maximum allowable contribution from one's annual remuneration is 20%.
On the date of retirement, you are likely to get a lump sum, which can be further invested, followed by monthly pension cheques which are similar to your monthly pay, for the rest of your life.
While a pension arrangement is the best way to save for retirement, there are also other investment options which deliver a lump sum or a stream of income, according to your wish, after a certain age.
The pension administrator also recommends that you begin preparing for retirement by reducing your expenses. Spend less than you earn and invest the remaining amounts to maximise your accumulation of wealth.
Mayhew Kerr shared that retirement also doesn't necessarily equate to doing nothing, but instead, is really about having the freedom to do things at your own pace. In fact, finding some way to continue being of service in the community and even in part-time work is recommended for physical and mental health after retirement.
You may also find that early retirement provides the opportunity to start your own business. According to Mayhew Kerr, you should “explore setting up multiple income streams by monetising your hobbies (for example designing, baking, hairdressing, etc).
Another important step to be taken when thinking of leaving work early, she outlines, is reducing lifestyle creep (otherwise known as lifestyle inflation), which really means budgeting so that you can resist the common urge of “feeling for something nice” and acting on it.
Essentially, be mindful not to spend more because you are earning more; it is always important to keep your expenses/spending down, while your discretionary income increases.
One other suggestion is that you pay off your mortgage and also eliminate other big-ticket items such as car loans before you retire. In this way, your income on retirement can be focused on covering your basic needs as well as enjoying the things you want to.
Charlene, in explaining her decision to exit the world of full-time work before age 60, said, “I had been working a long time and felt burnt out.
“I wanted time to recharge and so I decided to retire and to take a year off from any work. After the year, I started a part-time job. However, I still have plenty of time to do gardening and spend time with family.”
She is glad she had the option to do so. Besides her pension, she had other savings. She also invested the tax-free lump sum received at retirement.
Does she feel that she made a good decision in retiring early? “I have absolutely no regrets,” she says.
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