Longevity – So much more than Old Bones Creaking at Dawn

Like Maurice Chevalier, I believe that old age is not so bad when you consider the alternative. I
am now one of those old fogies who visit their High School with nostalgia. I no longer get upset
when youngsters call me ‘Oom’ (uncle) and I will accept the seat that any younger person
offers me. Just don’t put candles on my birthday cake, unless you have the fire brigade on
standby.

One of the advantages of being older, as I told a young friend recently, is that you tend to
become more truthful. You say it like it is, without caring as much about other people’s
reactions. ‘No, Karen. I really DO hate that hideous tie…

I don’t have many regrets in my life, but time does seem to fly faster as I get older.

Growing old is not for sissies

Enjoying your Golden Years is possible, if you prepare financially for the future. It is, quite
realistically, a scary prospect if you do not. If I could have one wish, it would be that my clients
take getting old more seriously. Though longevity means surviving for longer, it does not imply
that your quality of life will remain the same.

Plain old inflation, not nostalgia

During 1992, a 320i BMW cost R87 000 – by 2017 you would have paid R526 700. In 1960, a
loaf of bread cost 9 cents. Today you will cough up in excess of R13.00. More if you are gluten
intolerant. I remember when petrol cost 8 cents per litre. THAT date seems lost in the mists of
time!
The cold, hard truth (as promised, I no longer sugar coat) is that unless your investments grow
faster than inflation, you are likely to run out of money.

New-fangled technology, banking Apps and scary children

Life does become more baffling as you get older, because the rate of change in the world
seems to speed up exponentially every year. Our grandchildren seem to be born with different
electrical circuits hardwired in their brains that make them respond intuitively to technology.
Ever watched a two-year-old with a smart phone?

Trying to avoid risk by keeping your finances in a savings account very seldom works, though.
Whereas the world has become more complicated, technological advances also afford us
creative solutions and the opportunity to tailor-make solutions to protect your lifestyle. It allows
us to focus on what is important to YOU.

Sometimes, like taking up the seat that is offered by a youngster, we need to claim our age.
Take a seat opposite a financial adviser. Let me explain things in a way that makes sense to
you…I am a financial adviser, not a policy salesperson! At NFS we spend considerable energy
in helping clients plan for the future.

There is so much living to be done! Will your money allow you to enjoy it?

There are a number of urban legends about old people living off dog food. Well, I have met one
such a person. She owned her house and was debt free. However, her disposable income, a
tiny pension of R200 per month, made it impossible to buy anything but dog food. It took a while
for us to make contact with her son in Australia, who could rescue his mom.

Whereas this may be a sad example of communication breakdown in a family and an indictment
of the times – our children grow up and move far away – it also highlights a truth: many people
(even sons!) think that owning property and being without debt is enough. Lack of financial
literacy, assumptions and poor planning is not only the prerogative of the old or feeble minded!

Conquering the world

Medical advances have not only made it possible for many of us to live much longer than any of
our familial predecessors did, we are also able to do so with (most) of our faculties intact. Some
say 60 is the new 40 – in fact, leading human resources journals have published articles on why
there is wisdom in hiring older individuals!

Life-long learning is an attainable goal, with a number of people pursuing a new line of study
after their ‘first’ retirement. It is not unheard of for these same individuals to go on to
establishing a new career or starting and growing a business, before retiring for a ‘second time’.
Some even find THAT boring and take up a part-time or voluntary third stint in the Working
World.

Fit as a fiddle – but your strings may need to be tightened from time to time
Fitness classes for retirees have become big business, but our bones do grow older and we do
not recover as easily or as completely from a fall as we used to when we were 40. No one
should have to live in constant fear that a medical problem will become a financial crisis. Sadly,
for many, this a very real prospect.

Doctors can keep us alive, but the quality of life thereafter depends on having the funds
available to ensure access to the assistance we may require. After all, a room in a comfortable
retirement complex in Rondebosch, Cape Town, costs around R27 000 per month.

Not just breathing, but thriving

There are a number of strategies we can employ to ensure comfort and quality of life as we look
towards the sunset. It isn’t all about the money, but let’s talk about the money first :

  • Settle all your debts before you retire
  • Spread your investments across several asset classes
  • Involve your financial advisor
  • Give yourself as long as possible to plan
  • Realise that you can keep earning well into your 70’s

The other bits that make life worth while

  • Be truthful – phone that son in Australia and tell him that you miss him
  • Stay involved – sing in the church choir, play cards with your friends, join a club
  • Cultivate interests – consider life-long-learning as gymnastics for the brain
  • Spend your time wisely – set goals for yourself and make good on your bucket list
  • Consider how you can give back – your experience is priceless!

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