Four key steps to building a secure retirement 

905
Shutterstock

Together considers some positive steps you can take now to put your mind at ease.

The question of how people are planning for retirement is one which is becoming ever more of a burning issue. Increasing numbers of people are living well beyond the official retirement age; and while that is to be welcomed, it does present serious challenges to the public purse and to individuals. Someone who is in good health can be looking at as many as thirty years of retirement. This is not an inconsiderable amount of time and needs to be given serious thought from as early an age as possible. In Belgium, it is estimated that your statutory pension will be around 60% of your last salary.

Most EU states have carried out substantial pension reforms over the last decades given that projected low birth rates and increases in life expectancy will result in a much older population by 2060 halving the ratio of working aged people to those over 60. These reforms have been implemented through a wide-range of measures that have modified the pension system rules which have included increasing retirement age, insisting on compulsory contributions towards a pension and increasing social contributions.  Governments are also trying to find ways to encourage people to invest in their retirement, for example, making some, or all, of the money you set aside for your pension tax deductible. 

“Someone who is in good health can be looking at as many as thirty years of retirement”

Even people who have started saving for retirement have not necessarily thought in detail about how much income they will need for their retirement or whether their current level of saving is adequate. And yes, with so many other costs increasing it is sometimes difficult to think about what may seem like a distant future. When you’re dealing with the day-to-day it may not be easy, but will be worth your while. 

Planning for retirement is not a task to be left until the last minute. Starting early is crucial to ensure financial security and peace of mind. It’s never too early to start thinking of your pension; if you’re in your 30s, now is the perfect time to take charge of your retirement savings. 

Here are the four most important steps you can take today to prepare for retirement from here on in. 

Start investing early: Waiting even a few years before starting to invest can significantly impact your final retirement savings. By starting in your 20s or 30s, you have the advantage of time on your side. Consider investing in diversified portfolios like index funds or mutual funds, which provide growth opportunities while minimizing risk. The key is to consistently contribute to your investment accounts over the years, taking advantage of potential market growth. 

The key is to consistently contribute to your investment accounts over the years”

Maximize contributions to retirement accounts: Alongside investment growth, it’s essential to channel maximum contributions into retirement accounts. Take advantage of employer-sponsored pension schemes. Aim to contribute the maximum allowable amount annually to fully benefit from available tax incentives. 

Adopt a budgeting and saving strategy: Living within your means and saving a portion of your income is pivotal to achieving a financially secure retirement. Develop a budget that outlines your monthly expenses and look for areas where you can reduce expenditure. Cut back on unnecessary expenses and prioritize saving for future financial goals, including retirement. Automate your savings by setting up automatic transfers into a separate savings account. This will ensure consistency and remove the temptation to dip into those funds for non-essential purchases. 

Consider a mix of stocks, bonds, real estate”

Diversify your portfolio: Building a resilient retirement portfolio involves diversifying your investments across various asset classes. Diversification spreads risk and hedges against market volatility. Consider a mix of stocks, bonds, real estate, and other investment vehicles that align with your risk tolerance. One of the most sound investments you can make is in your home, you will always need a roof over your head!

The world of work is changing, more people are working flexibly or are self-employed; working beyond pension age – even if it’s on a part-time basis – is something that you might want to do, for all sorts of reasons. There’s a social element to work, after a lifetime of work you have probably gathered considerable expertise and can maybe share it through consultancy work, for example. Some people have a hobby that they can potentially earn money from. So if you don’t see the immediate possibility of saving considerable sums, think about developing your skills and making them as future-proof as possible.

As you near retirement, you might want to gradually adjust your portfolio to include more conservative investments that focus on capital preservation rather than high growth. With all these steps it’s always important to shop around for the best deal. It’s also a good idea to think about speaking to a regulated adviser. Speak to your bank, speak to your mutual. 

Preparing for retirement may seem daunting, but your future self will be more than grateful that you took the right decisions now to provide for a well-funded and secure retirement. Time is your greatest asset, so make the most of it by taking action today. By implementing these four steps, you can look forward to a worry-free retirement. So start now, and reap the rewards later!

www.mypension.be is a great place to begin to get an overview of the different types of pension.