Daily Observer (Jamaica)

Enjoy today and plan for the future

- BY GRACE G MCLEAN Grace G Mclean is a financial advisor and retirement specialist at BPM Financial Limited. Contact her at gmclean@bpmfinanci­al or visit the website: www.bpmfinanci­al.com. She is also a podcaster for Living Above Self. E-mail her at livin

Apost on social media last week that addressed the subject of retirement piqued my interest. The author stated that “no one is guaranteed tomorrow”, and encouraged readers to live for now.

The question questioned why should someone work for 50 years and maybe enjoy a few, in reference to the retirement age in the United States as 67 years, and a lifespan of approximat­ely 78 years.

My response to this post is for everyone to enjoy each day. Happiness should not be delayed until retirement. It would be indeed a dilemma if we should work for 40 or 50 years and never enjoy the prime years of productivi­ty or have a life that lacks purpose or fulfilment. Retirement planning requires balancing short-term and long-term goals.

If we fail to plan for the future, then why even work today? Being short-sighted or myopic with financial planning can result in increased debt and much distress if you should live a long life. What if you should lose your job prematurel­y? What happens if the breadwinne­r is no longer able to provide for the family or if the breadwinne­r or a spouse transition­ed early, how will the responsibi­lities of the household be met? Where is the happiness in these scenarios? A retirement plan provides income for the years when you can no longer work and provides financial benefits to beneficiar­ies as well. The “live for now”mindset is a major reason for the retirement crisis that now prevails globally. If you retire in your 60s, you may live upwards of 30 years in retirement.

People are living longer. A 2022 United Nations (UN) report revealed an estimated 593,000 centenaria­ns in the world today. The UN forecasts that by 2050 “there will be 3.7 million centenaria­ns alive”. Experts expect the number of persons living to 100 years old to increase in the future due to improved health, physical activities, genetics, and location.

I recently met with one of my clients who is an entreprene­ur. Her father, who retired in his 90s, is still alive. She said he earned more income during the retirement years than at any time in his life. While retired he worked in a consultanc­y capacity as his wealth of knowledge and experience is needed by the younger generation. He enjoyed all the years of his working life, but his best years financiall­y are his retirement years. This retiree is creating generation­al wealth for his family.

Short-sightednes­s can rob many hard-working employees of planning for retirement. If we are influenced by all the negatives around us, it will be difficult to plan for the future or even enjoy today. We all need a winning mindset. If you die early your beneficiar­ies are helped, and if you live long you will benefit from the fruits of your labour, and not only you but the people and causes that you care about can benefit not just from your finances but your expertise, experience and wisdom.

I had an interestin­g conversati­on recently with one of my clients who went on retirement a few years ago. Her circumstan­ces have changed, and her financial plans need rebalancin­g. She blamed the performanc­e of one of the investment plans as a hindrance to her current situation. I explained that the investment is long term, which was started late. Had she invested much earlier during her working years, it would have been much easier to navigate the current challenges. She agreed. It is easy for us to blame the weather when we are not able to do the things we want at a particular time. But we know that there will be days of sunshine as well as rain, so the onus is on us to plan as we cannot predict with accuracy the weather. It is the same with planning for retirement. We must examine the “what-ifs” and put in place contingent strategies within our financial plans.

There is the story of the Chinese bamboo that tells of the Chinese farmer who planted bamboo as his long-term crop to provide generation­al wealth for himself and his family. But in the first five years of watering the spots where the seeds were sowed, there was no sign of growth. Even his neighbours laughed at him as he watered daily, what seemed a barren ground. He, however, planted short-term crops to take care of his household needs while he continued “to water” his dream. Eventually, after five years of toiling with nothing to show for his effort, bamboo sprouts appeared. Within six weeks the bamboo stood at 90 feet in height. His long-term goal of harvesting bamboo that would provide for his family for generation­s was finally realised as new spouts sprang forth to replace those that were harvested. His years of hard work were over as the network of roots that formed below the soil over five years will provide income for his family for generation­s to come.

The Chinese farmer practised diversific­ation. His short-term crops provided current income for his family’s immediate needs but would not be enough to provide for the future. He patiently and persistent­ly pursued his long-term goal of growing bamboo that would provide for his future, even when there seemed to be no growth from his labour for five years. When we invest in the stock market for the long term we need the mindset of this Chinese bamboo farmer. Keep investing even when the stock market prices are down and build your net worth as more shares are accumulate­d at low prices to provide for your future.

Planning for retirement should begin early in one’s career. Whether you started early or late, do enjoy the journey.

 ?? ?? Happiness should not be delayed until retirement.
Happiness should not be delayed until retirement.

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