Who will be paying for your old age?

happy retirement

Shrivastava uncle is 72 and his wife, Manjula aunty is 68. They are my next door neighbours. Extremely sweet and affectionate, they love to talk. They have three kids – all married and employed. Uncle himself was a tax consultant till a few years back. As he grew older, his ability to work 8 hours a day and scout for new clients declined. His existing client base who was also largely retired did not need his services anymore. Aunty is a quintessential homemaker, devoted to the family ever since she was married to uncle. To me, they are a classic representation of the vast majority of our retired parental generation in India.

Last Sunday we met over tea and aunty made some delicious pakodas. As I noted down her recipe, uncle advised me to go slow on fried food. Two reasons – rising oil prices and rising healthcare costs. He said, the joy of fried food is “not worth it”.

Uncle and aunty had always lived a middle class lifestyle. Moderate income with significant monetary commitments towards their children. They wanted their children to get the best of education. But they had not fathomed the kind of money they would need to shell out just for schooling and tuitions, let apart the cost of higher education. So every child ended up taking a loan for pursuing their masters / post – graduation. They bought a home early in life and the EMIs continued till after their second child got married. And for all of his working 35 years, uncle’s sole intention was to save enough for getting his three kids married off in style. But with rising costs of the pomp and show of marriage, his fixed deposits were not enough. So he ended up withdrawing his PF and PPF – because it is so much more fulfilling to walk your chin up in the society than leading a comfortable retired life. So now, they have a handful of savings, minimal passive income and no monthly inflows. They definitely do not live the way they would have liked to.

I sometimes asked them why their children could not send him a monthly cheque so that they did not have to cut down on their lifestyle. They never really answered but I knew that like most parents of their generation, they always wanted to be a giver to their children. It was a matter of self – esteem to not depend on the ones you have raised. Sometimes, uncle used to say that his children need to save for their own retirement, not his. I have met his children – they are very nice people. They visit their parents often and want to help them. But they do not help because they cannot see their father feel dejected at the reality of having to depend on children.

This predicament is not unusual in our current social fabric. Some children don’t care about their parents. For those that do, the parents don’t want to be termed as dependents. It is an eternal sense of insecurity that lingers once the monthly inflow stops. The eventualities are something no one really plans for. Cost of living rises in ways we don’t visualize well in advance. We need to outsource daily chores more than we have ever had to and healthcare constitutes a big chunk of monthly expenses. Since there is so much more free time in a day, the desire to have a social life also increases. The costs of upkeep of that social life varies from household to household.

In India, we do focus on saving for our child’s marriage and may be also education. But retirement was and still is missing from the list of priority financial objectives. To our generation who has just started out on their long careers, retirement seems just too far off. And we hate to look that ahead in time. Some of my friends jokingly retort – who knows if we will be living till then. Well, the mortality rates have definitely gone up.

Some people believe that purchasing a house is all that they need for retirement. But what about the daily cash-flows? The salaries you need to pay to the domestic helpers, the driver and the newspaper man. The rising expenses on milk and flour. The medicines. The gifts that you want to give to your grand- children. We hardly plan for a life which is perhaps going to be so different from what we are currently living. And by the time we do, it is usually too late.

Let us therefore awaken and become more responsible, starting with ourselves. Next time, before you start planning for your child’s graduation expenditure, do set aside a sum for your happy retirement. It is alarmingly more important than you think it is.

About the author:

Shruti is a financial planning enthusiast and spends substantial amount of her free time in helping out her friends and relatives sorting out their finances. Currently working with Mahindra & Mahindra, she is one of our esteemed guest writers. She is an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and a CFA (CFA Institute, USA). 

About CAGRfunds:

We are a bunch of financial experts who help people manage and grow their wealth. We focus on making our clients financially independent by educating them and guiding them throughout their financial journey. If you think you need help with your money, reach out to us on +91 97693 56440.

4 Ways To Kickstart Your Retirement Savings in Your 20s

If you are fresh out of college with a job, you are one of the lucky ones who has finally “made” it. You have a salary that is expected to pay for all your dreams. But somewhere, there is a risk of losing sight of one favor that you ought to do to yourself – your retirement planning. Kickstarting retirement savings in your 20s is probably the best decision you would take in your life. But even though it is such an important step, most of us graduate quite unprepared for this. We, at CashGyan and CAGRfunds, have always advocated Personal Finance as a mandatory subject that should be taught in colleges but it is not. Fear not! We have listed out three ways you can kickstart your retirement savings in your 20s.

Save 10% of your salary

When you are just starting out, you start out pretty much with a clean slate. Except maybe an educational loan. You are at a stage where you have the luxury of planning for your life’s oncoming big expenses like higher education and wedding. This means you can better plan now for how much you want to save for retirement. It is recommended that you save 10% of your salary exclusively for retirement. Set up auto-transfers to ensure that you don’t forget moving the money every month. This could be a monthly SIP that could earn you higher interest rates or just plain transfer to another account.

Save For Emergency

Apart from retirement, ensure that you are saving separately for an emergency. If you are not saving for an emergency, you are bound to dig into your other savings. Oftentimes, we don’t have exclusive savings for an emergency. It is important that you separate it out to avoid dipping into it for expenses. It is recommended that emergency savings should be three to six months of your salary. Goal-based investing is a smart way to get this started and if you go for short-term plans, the money is accessible immediately when needed.

Invest Now

As it goes in life, the 20s is the best time for taking bigger financial risks as well. So, go ahead and get yourself educated in the fundamentals of investing in the right way. There is also a steadier, lesser risk option of investing in Mutual Funds. Instead of your money lying around in bank accounts earning minimal interest rates, make it work for you. Investing in mutual fund is now convenient, seamless and technology friendly with companies like CAGRfunds. More importantly, it guarantees returns, in the long run, making consistent investment an attractive form of retirement savings.

Start an NPS account

According to pfrda.org, an NPS is an easily accessible, low cost, tax-efficient, flexible and portable retirement savings account. Starting with a minimum annual contribution of INR 6000, the funds contributed by you are safely invested as per the PFRDA investment guidelines by the PFRDA registered Pension Fund Managers (PFM’s). Utmost care is taken to ensure that contributions are not affected by the market fluctuations and the amount is protected. These contributions are locked up until the age of 60 years. Even better, NPS under Section 80CCD (1b) provides a further deduction of INR 50,000 for tax saving purposes.

Achieving financial independence is a remarkable milestone that is worth celebrating. But true financial independence is achieved when you do not have to worry about times when you may not have a steady income. Retirement comes at a delicate age where you would have more than one financial obligations and medical expenses don’t make it any easier. Also, life expectancy has been increasing along with the desire to retire early. This means one is expected to live for 20-30 years without a source of income. So, think out of the box and kickstart your retirement savings in your 20s. Your older self would thank you!