I have been thinking of ways to start saving money towards my retirement for nearly 5 years now with absolutely no luck. Each time I try and save a dollar or two something comes up and I have to use that money. Saving is hard especially in our current economy where most people, me included are living from hand to mouth. If I am to be very honest with myself with the way things are looking right now chances of having my parents let alone myself in my retirement plans are bleak! Let’s talk about the past, the present and the future of retirement and see where your thoughts fall in.
Many decades ago most parents in Africa where having children by the dozens. If you ask most people they will tell you their parents had 12 or more siblings. Back then most parents believed that the more children they had the better chances of having someone take care of them when they grew old. It seems life was more affordable in those times and everyone managed to go to school and get an education, land a job and start their own life. Some did take care of their parents, others chose to drop out of school and do odd jobs while others stayed at home and never really did make anything of themselves. I suppose having a bunch of children was the hope that at least one of them would do well and never forget his or her parents back home and therefore that child became their retirement plan. I wonder what the plan was if none of their children came through…
In present time most Africans are not educated on making plans for retirement. Most people don’t believe in forecasting and live each day as it comes. A great example is how most Zimbabweans rarely buy advanced tickets because “We don’t know what might come up (insert what if I die or something happens to me) and end up not going”. I was saying…the plan most people know is to go to school, get a job, rent in a nice apartment, buy a car, work, work, work then die. Not many people will tell you about saving for a holiday, saving to buy a house, saving to pay lobola, saving for a rainy day, saving to surprise their parents or siblings with something nice, saving for their child’s college or even saving to spoil themselves at some point…the list is endless. I know that part of the reason this doesn’t happen is because people genuinely don’t have the means to do so. I will be honest, I only manage to save for a rainy day and for my daughters education and it leaves me feeling like I am failing at life. It’s tough; you have to make A LOT of sacrifices. I want to do so much for myself and my parents but each day it seems a lot of things are out of reach. I believe if you work hard and apply yourself things will work out and that is why I am working hard towards growing my Fitness Brand so that years from today I will have enough money to take care of all my needs. I do not want to be a burden to my daughter but have my life sorted out till the day I die. I want to be that cool grandmother who spoils her grandchildren rotten, lives in a beautiful comfortable home in Nyanga, drives a pretty vintage car and when she’s around everyone knows a lot of great stories will be told about the adventure filled life she lived.
I strongly believe that we should teach our children the importance of planning and dreaming big. The earlier you start letting them in on it the better. Teach your child to let their imagination run wild. Let them think of ideas of how they can make extra income from the pocket money you already give them. They can come up with selling muffins, lemonade, selling woolen hats or gloves that they would have knitted themselves. Whatever skill they come up with that will give them extra income should be a starting point for you to then teach them that money should be saved for the future and relying on one form of income will surely send you to an early grave unless you land a very well paying job. However, life is to be lived! Live a little, save, enjoy the finer things in life and then get back to business. I am one parent who will drill this into my daughter’s head because I know she will hopefully grow up and know that she has to make plans for her future if she wants it to be comfortable.
After all is said and done. As it stands, asking me today, right here and right now, I can safely say that my parents are not in my retirement plan. Luckily for them they planned their life to a tee and are enjoying staying at home and not having to work or ask anyone for money. I have a long way to go because I still need to buy myself a car, a house, travel, take my daughter through school, make some investments, establish my fitness business…I want to get to retirement age knowing that I have income from my savings, pension, investments, from the houses I will buy and I do not want donations from my daughter to be one of those streams of income. She will have a life too and will have her own plans. As and when I can I will spoil my parents and that ladies and gentleman is my truth.
Here are some tips you can try out to get financially fit:
- First things first, why do you want to be financially fit? Ask yourself that and then you have a starting point. This will be your driving force, your motivation, your inspiration.
- You need a routine of sort. Do you have a budget? If not you have to get one today, that way you can track your spending habits and cut out unnecessary expenses that are stopping you from saving.
- Be accountable to someone or if you’re like me to yourself. Write down your financial goals so that you are constantly referring to them to see if you are making progress.
- No one but you can push you to be savvy with your money. Make a plan to find additional streams of income so that saving becomes a reality.
- Set small measurable goals. For example you can start with clearing that clothing account and stick to buying with cash only! When that happens then move on to the next goal and before you know it you are doing great at being financially fit!
- RESEARCH! I can not stress this enough. There are entire books on the subject as well as many varying ways to invest your money, big or small. Like everything else in life the more you read the more informed you become.
Making money is good, keeping money is great!
Do you have your parents included in your retirement plans? Have you tried any of the tips to get financially fit? I would love to hear from you and also get additional tips on how we can work towards being financially sound!