You’re 50 and haven’t saved enough to retire – now what?

You’re over 50, and in many ways, life really is just beginning. Your children are less dependent on you; you may be planning new hobbies and activities for yourself and your career is at its pinnacle.

If you haven’t saved adequately for retirement, don’t panic – writes Danelle van Heerde, head: advice processes and tools at Sanlam.

The most important thing is to take action immediately.

“Knowledge is power, so avoid rash decisions and focus on obtaining an accurate view of your retirement position to understand the potential impact of any remedial actions.

“People who are worried about their retirement provision may be tempted by the promise of high returns in fly-by-night opportunities and end up losing their retirement capital. Don’t let this be you,” van Heerde said.

You may have left things late, but you still have time to create a proper retirement plan.

Review your expenses

Realistically estimate how much money you’ll really need when you retire. Which expenses will continue and what additional expenses could you incur?

Try to free up funds that you can use to increase your retirement savings, van Heerde said. “Review your current expenses to understand where you can cut back. For instance, your life insurance needs change as you get older and you may still have cover for debt which has subsequently reduced, or to provide for children who are no longer dependent on you.”

Consider your medical cover. It is essential as you get older, but bear in mind that you can deduct more medical expenses from your taxable income after the age of 65.

Save whatever you can afford – cut back where you can now to ensure you achieve your ideal retirement lifestyle, said van Heerde. “Use tax-efficient retirement funds, and consider options such as paying off long-term debt to reduce your post-retirement expenses. Above all, don’t incur additional long-term debt.”

Make your money work for you

Are your current savings structured in the most effective way from an investment return, cost and tax point of view?

A tax-free savings account can help to boost your retirement savings, and a solution like Sanlam Wealth Edge Endowment Plan offers an additional allocation of 8% of your net investment amount and an investment guarantee.

Look at any other investments or assets you may have that could be used to generate additional retirement income. Do you have a room you can rent out? Can you draw an income from your unit trust?

Stay active and productive in retirement

“If your retirement age isn’t fixed, consider continuing in your current job a little longer. If you can’t delay your retirement, you may be able to do part-time or contract work. Or, turn a hobby into a profitable venture.

“Look for ways to generate income which don’t require capital and consider the skills you can use to earn an additional income in retirement. By being proactive and making the most of your retirement and your hard-earned funds, you can continue to live a fulfilling life,” van Heerde said.

Read: Pension fund vs provident fund vs retirement annuities in South Africa

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You’re 50 and haven’t saved enough to retire – now what?