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Posts Tagged ‘retirement’

Retirement is when you stop living at work and start working at living!

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Retirement is not merely a goal but it’s a journey. There is more to it beyond merely planning for a desired sum as your retirement corpus.

Now that you are retired and you have an accumulated corpus with you, you have to plan wisely in order to sustain the sum till the end.

Expense management

The starting point of your exercise will be to have an expense pattern which you broadly have to stick to. There are many changes which will occur in your expense pattern now that you are retired.

Your retirement expenses will also have phases. Initially in your60s you may see a certain type of expenses going up. For example travel expenses. Now that you have all the time for yourself and your spouse, you may wish to go for multiple vacations –  either domestic or international. Another expense that may increase could be group memberships. You may join a hobby group or a club of your choice. Also it will take some time for your lifestyle to undergo a change so your lifestyle expenses may not change much in the first few years. Later on with age your choices and preferences may change. For instance you may no longer prefer restaurants as often, as you used to prefer at one point in time.

As you move towards your 70s your medical expenses may increase. Your medical costs will go up due to need for regular checkups and dependence on medicines. Health insurance and critical insurance do not cover your costs after a certain age. Even if they do, the cost is very high as the premiums increase with age. Therefore having a health care provision for your retirement is critical.

Plan for a regular and tax efficient stream of income

Another major change is that you will no longer receive any regular salary or business income.

Now that you have an accumulated sum, you have to plan your investments in a manner so that you can have a regular and a tax efficient stream of income. Do not be overly aggressive or overly conservative. Whilst the exact investment strategy may vary from person to person, the focus should be to maintain and grow at least a part of your existing wealth.

On the asset allocation front you have to move a portion of your investments into debt/fixed income instruments, and allocate a limited portion towards equity.

In order to have a regular stream of income you can start a Systematic Withdrawal Plan (SWP) from your existing set of mutual fund investments.  Opting for a dividend payout option could attract Dividend Distribution Tax, especially for non equity oriented funds. Therefore, SWPs can work well. Also dividendscould be irregular at times depending on dividend paying history of the fund but in an SWP you can choose a fix amount that you wish to withdraw.

You can also invest in the senior citizen savings scheme as it provides a better rate of interest amount compared to other small savings scheme options.Do remember that small savings rates have gone down and will be altered on quarterly basis going forward.

You can also look at Bank FDs. These provide an additional 0.25% to 0.50% extra rate to senior citizens which varies from bank to bank. Company FDs can be a slightly riskier option as compared to bank FDs.

If you have a self occupied property which you feel is no more needed since you kids have moved out and it’s only you and your spouse who need to stay, you might consider selling it and buying two smaller properties. One you can use as self occupied and other you can use to let out to avail regular rental income. Do consider the capital gains tax angle to it.

Make a will

It is a very important step. This makes transfer of wealth to your future generation smooth and hassle free.

Also have a nominee attached to all your investments and insurance so that there is succession challenges are reduced. Also make sure that someone knows where all you wealth and investments are lying so that your family does not have to struggle to get what you have left behind for them.

Have a Happy Retirement!

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Just the thought of retirement can cause anxiety and many feel overwhelmed and unprepared. People who have planned their retirement early and saved enough regularly throughout their earning years are comfortable and plan their retirement better. However, in case you have not done so,  here’s how you can plan your retirement when you are in the last decade before your retirement age.

  1. How much money would you need?

The first question one must ask is ‘how much income would I need to maintain my current lifestyle in retirement?’

If the assumption is too high, the goal of retirement may seem absolutely unattainable, and the entire planning process is discouraging.  If the assumption is too low, which is most often the case, the retiree could run into a difficult financial situation later in life and have to make drastic, unwanted changes.

Keep in mind that retirees spend more on travel, entertainment and eating out especially earlier on in retirement, when they have the time and good health to enjoy those activities.

  1. Consider Health care cost:

One of the most overlooked areas of retirement planning is estimating what health care costs could be in retirement, and including this in the calculation of income needs.

Please remember that these could be a combination of recurring and one time costs, and medical inflation tends to be much higher than regular inflation. By overlooking this large potential outlay, retirees could feel strapped for cash in their most vulnerable years.

  1. Choosing the right investment product

It is important to save for retirement, but it is equally important to choose the right investment product. Since the tenure to retirement is in the range of 5 to 10 years, one should look at the mix of growth assets which give inflation beating returns and fixed income instruments which provide stability in returns and liquidity.

 

  1. Estate Planning:

Many people think they don’t need to do any sort of estate planning. Estate planning in necessary to eliminate uncertainties over the administration and inheritance of all your assets and to maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.  Writing a Will and creating a trust if necessary are some form of Estate Planning.

 

Remember that this phase could coincide with some big expenses for your children, but don’t compromise your retirement in the process. Remember there are no retirement loans, so avoid emotional decisions that could create a challenge in your retirement.

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With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowing non-resident Indians (NRIs) to invest in the New Pension Scheme (NPS), one more investment avenue has now opened up for NRIs keen to plan for retirement.

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Challenges of retirement planning

NRIs are possibly as guilty as resident Indians of not saving and investing adequately for retirement. Some of them give priority to other goals like children’s education and marriage or infusing funds into their business, to the detriment of a crucial goal like retirement. Many are not conscious of how inflation and galloping medical expenses will cause their monthly expenses to balloon, and hence underestimate the corpus needed for retirement. With human life span increasing, the risk that one may outlive one’s retirement savings has become very real.

NRIs planning to spend their sunset years in India should also factor in the cost of buying a house here, especially of the kind that they would enjoy with respect to facilities and security. Housing prices have risen exponentially in all the major cities over the past decade. Overwhelming reliance on physical assets like gold and real estate, and aversion to equities are other obstacles that NRIs need to overcome to be able to invest effectively for retirement.

Investment options available

Since retirement would be a long term goal for younger NRIs, their investment portfolios should be tilted heavily towards growth assets like equities. Investing directly in equities may be difficult for NRIs, given the challenges of tracking stocks while living in another country. Equity mutual funds are a more suitable option for them. With India having emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, NRIs can expect their equity investments to fetch them good returns.

The balance portion of an NRI portfolio should be filled with debt instruments like debt mutual funds, fixed maturity plans (FMPs), tax free bonds and bank fixed deposits. A small portion may be allocated to gold exchange traded funds (ETFs) for diversification. To this range of options, NRIs may now add NPS.

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Pros and cons of NPS

What works?

The biggest advantage of NPS is its ultra-low fund management fee. By paying a very low fee, the investor gets the benefit of professional fund management. These low charges will boost the long-term returns from NPS.

The biggest advantage of NPS is its ultra-low fund management fee. By paying a very low fee,

NPS also offers equity exposure, albeit only up to 50%. Long-term returns from equities are likely to be higher than if you invest the same money in debt products, considering past data.

NPS also offers equity exposure, albeit only up to 50%.

NPS also allows investors the flexibility to change their allocation to different asset classes (equities, bonds and G-Secs) and to shift between pension fund managers, based on their track record.

NPS also allows investors the flexibility to change their allocation to different asset classes (equities, bonds and G-Secs) and to shift between pension fund managers, based on their track record.

What does not work?

NPS does come with a few drawbacks too. One, it falls under the EET regime, which means that the final corpus gets taxed at the time of withdrawal. Also, you can’t withdraw your funds before reaching 60. If you do so, you will have to use 80% of the corpus to buy an annuity. And even if you withdraw your corpus at 60, you have to compulsorily use 40% of the corpus to buy annuity. Returns from annuities tend to be lower globally.

The final corpus gets taxed at the time of withdrawal. Also, you can’t withdraw your funds before reaching 60. If you do so, you will have to use 80% of the corpus to buy an annuity. And even if you withdraw your corpus at 60, you have to compulsorily use 40% of the corpus to buy annuity.

Make informed choices

You have the choice of an active option or the auto option. Under the first, you can choose your allocation to equities, bonds and government securities, while under the second your investments are put on auto pilot. Under the auto pilot option, initially, your investment is divided in the following proportion: 50% to equities, 30% to bonds and 20% to G-Secs. This allocation remains unchanged until 35. From age 36, the allocation to equities is reduced by two percentage points every year and to bonds by one percentage points, while the exposure to government securities is increased. Thus, the allocation to safer government securities rises as you approach retirement.

You have the choice of an active option or the auto option. Under the first, you can choose your allocation to equities, bonds and government securities, while under the second your investments are put on auto pilot.

NRIs with some knowledge of investing and having a modicum of risk appetite should opt for the Active Choice option. As it is, NPS limits your exposure to equities to just 50%. By adopting the Auto Choice option, you will reduce your exposure to equities even further. Having such low exposure to equities in a long-term goal like retirement is uncalled for, and will affect the size of your final corpus adversely.

If you decide to go with the Active Choice option, the next question is how much you should allocate to equities, bonds and government securities. In our view, given the long-term investment horizon, you should invest in equities up to the maximum permissible limit of 50%. Divide the balance between bonds and government securities. Start reducing your allocation to equities about five years prior to retirement.

If you decide to go with the Active Choice option, the next question is how much you should allocate to equities, bonds and government securities. In our view, given the long-term investment horizon, you should invest in equities up to the maximum permissible limit of 50%. Divide the balance between bonds and government securities. Start reducing your allocation to equities about five years prior to retirement.

Next, how do you go about selecting the fund manager? You are permitted to select only one fund manager for managing all three assets: equities, bonds and government securities. So choose one with a reasonably good track record across all three categories, and review annually.

The opening up of NPS to NRI investment is a welcome development. NRIs should take full advantage of this product while planning their finances for retirement.

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A very good graph showing 10 steps to start investing  by UTI Mutual Fund house.

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Independence Day normally involves a short holiday, hosting gatherings or planning outings with friends and family. I’m sure a lot of you are also targeting your own financial independence ? In fact, a very large number of investors whom we work with, when asked about their financial goals, indicate that they would like to achieve financial freedom. When we ask them what financial freedom means to them, their answer is: ‘When we do not have to work for the money and can actively decide how, when, and with whom we choose to associate in our professional life.’

Financial freedom can mean different things to different people. Financial planning allows them to be financially free i.e. decide how they wish to lead their lives. Over my years of running a practice, here are two examples of people we work with, who we believe financial planning has helped achieve the freedom to do what matters most to them.

Dr. Kumar (name changed) is a cardiologist and runs a hospital in suburban Mumbai. Irregular and long work hours mean that there is very little time to spend with his two young kids and his wife. What he really looks forward to, is spending time with his family and enjoying the kids’ growing up and continuing to stay connected with his wife. Booking and planning his holidays each year – one long international holiday, another week to ten day long domestic holiday and some weekend breaks are what he absolutely loves. The finances for these holidays are a part of his financial plan. Whilst there are clearly earmarked long term investment strategies for his longer term goals like retirement and education for the children, there are also separately defined strategies for shorter term holiday goals through the use of financial instruments that can give him the most optimal returns for these goals, on a post tax basis.

Sanjay and Rashmi (names changed) are currently 41 and 39 respectively and they have a young daughter. Sanjay runs a small sized family business and Rashmi works with a chartered accountancy firm. When most couples are just about beginning to save for their financial goals, and are looking to save for their retirement and childrens’ future, both Sanjay and Rashmi have already achieved their financial goals i.e. even if they do not save any monies from here onwards, and let their existing portfolio grow, they should be achieve their financial goals. This has been possible through a combination of a conservative lifestyle with controlled expenses, a savings rate in excess of 40% of total income, controlled use of leverage on a home loan that has been prepaid aggressively, and a diversified portfolio across equities, fixed income, real estate and gold, that is rebalanced regularly.

Just like India has had many historic events which finally helped us achieve freedom, your path to achieving your financial freedom will be a long-term process, wherein there will be struggles

and various factors which you will be unable to control. However, staying on the path to financial freedom for yourself and your family is the key to pursue your dreams.

Happy Independence Day!

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Want to get the most from this budget? Individuals and families can get the most benefit from the union budget only if they have made their own budget first – says Vishal Dhawan in India Today. Read on to know why it is critical to prepare a household budget.

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