Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

Retirement is coming up for Gen-Xers

How do you know that you have saved enough for retirement and what can you do if you did not? Keep working or find a side hustle?

Retirement is coming up for Gen-Xers as the oldest members of this generation are about to turn 58, just 7 years away from the traditional time to retire. Globally, a flurry of headlines has started to warn that this generation is miles off from where they must be when it comes to saving enough to retire comfortably.

If you are one of these X-ers, Farzana Botha, segment manager at Sanlam Risk and Savings, suggests assessing your situation to get a solid plan in place.

Recent Sanlam research reveals that South Africans older than 50 seem split into two opposing groups, with 25% of polled plus-50-year-olds saying they plan to stop working completely and 24% that they cannot afford to stop working and will keep going for as long as they can.

Income does not account for this, as 25% of those who claimed they cannot stop working were in the top income bracket.

“This could be because people are afraid to cap their lifestyle or simply have not saved enough. It shows that the retirement journey is highly personal and complex, with challenges for everyone. My suggestion for X-ers is to pause and take stock. Speak to a trusted financial adviser to get a holistic view of your situation and then create a roadmap to reach your goals.”

If you are on track with your retirement savings, Botha says now is the time to make some tough decisions. “Anxiety often brings apathy and inaction. Work with your adviser to move past this. The sooner you act, the better and more in control you will feel.”

ALSO READ: How to navigate retirement in a stormy economic climate

Make tough decisions about retirement

She suggests that you:

  • Get the information as the first step is to know where you stand. You can use the Sanlam calculator to assess whether your current savings are on track for the wind-down years that you envision.
  • Remember this too shall pass. The wind-down years usually come with a specific timeframe and objectives. If you are not on track, that means possibly making sacrifices to reach your goals over a short, specified period. You may need to compromise your current lifestyle to live better later.
  • Look at how you spend your money. Even in tough times, there is usually more you can cut down on and ‘up’ your retirement contributions.
  • Use your money more efficiently. Are you maximising your tax reductions to align with your wind-down goals? Can you ‘skinny up’ your budget and redirect the funds to bolster your contributions? Work with your adviser to make your money work harder for you.
  • Consider agile products that offer some flexibility. Investigate retirement products that offer fixed and variable options for growth and peace of mind.
  • Chat to a life coach. 34% of Sanlam’s total sample said they consider starting a second, gentler career in retirement and of these, 27% were older than 50. Botha says the wind-down years could be an exciting time to pivot and forge a new path. A life coach could help give you direction and clarity on how to personalise the journey and make it your own.
  • Learn from other generations, past and emerging. The generations before embodied stoicism, commitment and loyalty. Those who are up and coming are tech-savvy, with a tendency to seek multiple revenue streams. Gen X has the benefit of hind- and foresight.

Botha says the wind-down years may call for some tough decisions that will pay dividends down the line. “Stay focused on what you want this chapter to embody. Then, work with your adviser to craft a reasonable path to make this happen.“

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