Stories by Bimbola Oyesola 08033246177
Have you thought of the best time to plan for retirement? You may have been working for five, 10 or 20 years and feel all is well and so might not have considered what could happen after you leave the job. However, experts posit that the best time to start planning for retirement is actually the first day that you started working. Maybe you are among those who believe that the gratuity or pension from your workplace would be sufficient for life after retirement, but the pains, agony and frustration experienced by a large segment of pensioners in Nigeria should serve as a good lesson and warning for present-day workers.
If you hope to get it just right, it is never too early to start planning for your retirement. After all the saving it took to get here, you don’t want to overlook how you will actually spend your time in retirement. It is easier to deal with such issues before you become a full-time retiree. That way, if you discover any potential challenges to the retirement lifestyle you envision, you still have time to fix them.
Usually, retirement comes after a work career of 30 to 35 years, but with present economic challenges in the country, some workers have been forced out of work prematurely either due to the closure of their companies, ill health or some other problems.
This is, perhaps, what informed the recent industrial relations seminar organised by the Chemical and Non-Metallic Senior Staff Association (CANMPSSA), in Ilorin, Kwara State. The industrial relation seminar is an annual event, but this time around the union went a step further to expand the two-day event to a five-day programme, to enable its members get some insight into how they could prepare for retirement.
The president of the union, Mohammed Abdul Gafar, disclosed that some members have been forced into premature retirement and got a substantial amount but frittered away the money.
“You can imagine, some of them got gratuity running into millions and what came to their mind was buying jeep and all those sophisticated vehicles. Somebody that has never used even a small car, all of a sudden, because such a person got so much money, he went berserk and spent the money on irrelevancies. One even called me, asking me the meaning of a particular faulty code in his jeep, and I told him I didn’t know because I didn’t have a jeep,” he said.
The training, the president said, was to guide workers on how to plan their retirement and when to begin. Gafar lamented that workers generally tend to begin preparation for retirement in their fifties.
He stated that, “If I have noticed any trend over the years, it is how few people have done any in-depth planning for the retirement life they hope to live. It seems many people are hoping for the best and optimistically awaiting a future into which they have no real insight. And thoughts of planning, if any, are just now coming to their attention as they inch closer to retirement age while majority have no planning at all.”
When to begin
When contemplating the right time to begin financial preparations for retirement, it is safe to say the sooner the better. It may be hard for a 25-year-old to imagine the distant future when they would retire from the working world. They are caught up in living life now, and 65 seems very faraway age. But if they begin to foster the behaviors that will pay off in the long run, they can hope to find themselves ahead of the game. For example, experts have advised setting aside 10 per cent of earnings each month is a good habit to get into. Hopefully, if you do not see the money, you will not miss it. And that 10 per cent saved consistently over the next 30 or 40 years has the potential to grow significantly. Regardless of what percentage you decide to save, the important thing is getting into the mindset of saving for the future as early as possible.
Along with saving and investing for retirement, it is equally important to plan for the non-financial aspects of retirement. While a 25-year-old might have a difficult time imagining life at 65, the CANMPSSA president noted that, inching towards retirement, one should certainly brainstorm on a good many ideas. Imagine yourself freed from the daily struggle of making ends meet with time on your hands to do whatever you want. There would be no more deadlines, stressful meetings or workplace negotiations. When you envision yourself in retirement, what do you picture yourself doing?
Imagine how wonderful it could be to enter a retirement life where you know what you want to do and are excited about getting to it. Picture a life where not only can you choose to relax and do nothing, but you also have an endless list of interesting things to do.
He said, “With the right preparation, you can hope for a life that is both engaging and relaxed, with more than enough hours in the day to get it all done. You are finally able to reward yourself with a quality lifestyle that you have earned and deserve. If you have taken time to visualise the years ahead and figure out how you can make the best use of the days and months at your disposal, you can hope to gracefully transition into retirement.”
On the other hand, if you just happen into retirement, you are leaving your future to chance. You may get lucky and experience a wonderful second act. But do you really want to risk just going with the flow rather than taking control of your own course? If you make the effort to plan for your newfound freedom, you would enjoy a much smoother transition into retirement.
So, experts insist that workers should do what they can now to enable them make the most of the years ahead.
Oftentimes, many workers that fail to plan for retirement are pre-disposed to untimely death, a few years after retirement due to frustration and inactivity, compared to when they were fully engaged at the workplace.
However, there are steps that can help workers in their retirement plan, moreover, studies have shown that just 25 per cent of workers have a back-up plan for retirement income, if they are unable to work sooner than their planned retirement.
1. Update your skills and network
Perhaps you are an expert and you may have a plan to have a business of your own after retirement, hence you need to be hyper-vigilant about updating your skills in order to avoid getting left behind. Take advantage of your employer’s training offers, consider taking a class or some other form of continuing education, pursue volunteer opportunities, and scope out the job marketplace. These steps can help you find a new job or set you up for freelance work, if your current employment situation comes to an end before your expected retirement age. Be aware of backup “bridge jobs” that you might be able to find quickly, if your employment is interrupted. At the CANMPSSA training, workers were exposed to various opportunities they could pursue before and after retirement. These include farming, in crop and animal husbandry, event planning and others.
2. Plan your finance
Create and maintain a financial plan so you know exactly where you stand in the event that you need to retire sooner than expected. A good strategy should assess whether the retirement savings is okay and should also estimate the expected living expenses and sources of income in retirement. Identify the living expenses you could quickly reduce, if necessary, due to a loss of earnings.
3. Insurance coverage
Medical, life, disability, and long-term care insurance can help cover expenses and/or lost income to help you avoid the depletion of savings. Research the options that are available through your employer and in the marketplace to determine what makes sense for your situation.
4. Discuss with dependants
It is equally important to start an open dialogue about your retirement plans and any potential expectations regarding financial support, both for yourself or for others whom you currently help. For instance, some family members may be relying on you for financial support and an unexpected retirement could mean you may no longer be able to provide that support. Sharing a common understanding now, before you retire sooner than planned, would help avoid unpleasant surprises in the middle of a crisis, when emotions are running high and there is little time to make thoughtful decisions.
Health is wealth, so it is important to make conscientious commitment to your health, eating right, exercising, getting plenty of sleep, managing stress and getting regular health screening, can help you stay healthy and possibly avoid medical conditions that could force you into retirement or increase your costs in retirement. Many employers now offer workplace wellness programmes; take the time to learn what is offered and whether they’re right for you.
As it is often said, failing to plan is planning to fail. This could not be more true than when it comes to retirement. Simply put, planning increases the chances that you will have a successful retirement. And planning is much better than taking unnecessary risk, which many people have done with their unavoidable retirement age.
NLC warns Finance Minister over unpaid salary of judicial workers
Organised Labour has warned that the efforts of the current administration to cleanse the polity of the scourge of corruption may be futile, if it continues to owe workers salary.
Speaking on the backdrop of the Federal Government’s failure to pay the December salary of judicial workers in the federal civil service, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said efforts to curb corruption would be impaired when those on the frontline that should make all the difference in the campaign are inelegantly treated.
NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, in a letter addressed to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, titled “Need to urgently address non-payment of federal judicial workers,” said, given the sensitive nature of the work of judicial officers and staff, and as a separate arm of government, one cannot stress enough the importance of the judiciary in the present dispensation and the efforts of the President to bring about change in national life and root out corruption from the society.
He said, “Madam Honourable Minister, we need not point to the current economic hardship occasioned by the recession to show the importance workers attach to their wage payment as and when due.
“It is even more critical in this season during which workers are expected by their family members to pick not just bills of the festivities, but even more the payment of other important bills such as the school fees of their children, etc.”
Wabba said it was in the light of those compelling responsibilities that the NLC was calling on the minister to urgently approve the payment of the withheld salary of federal judicial workers.
He said, “Given the commendable role played by Mr. President in defraying part of the backlog of salaries owed by many state governments, it will be unfortunate if this ugly trend of non-payment of salaries to public officers, is allowed to manifest at the federal level.”