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Peter Pan Syndrome

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For most of us we have a forever young attitude and in our 20’s and 30’s, perhaps even our early 40’s retirement is a remote thought in our minds. We cannot imagine the mere thought about getting old and gaining experience lines more commonly known as wrinkles. We even spend money on countless amounts of products and procedures to look young and hide tell tale ageing signs. Yet Father Time still seems to beat us in this battle!

So in our quest to remain young, saving for our future seems to be an acknowledgement of our inevitable demise of getting old! The sad truth is that this is something we need to start doing from the day we start our first job! In 2012 Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan stated that 10% of South Africans can manage to ‘retire decently’. In saying that, it means maintaining their current lifestyle given probabilities that inflation does not take a dramatic rise along with taxes, tolls and resource hikes do not take a choke hold on our income. It does not mean we can take those golf holidays or other dreams we planned for days when we are not working will be affordable.

Can we really afford to give into Peter Pan Syndrome and put the mere act of saving for retirement on the back burner? We get our first job which is accompanied by a sense of freedom, power and achievement with that first paycheck; and the desire burns a hole in our pockets to splurge on a night out, clothes and things our parents would not get us. Not one high school or tertiary course has taught us the sense of putting money away for an event that will only happen after 40 years of work. A sad failure in the education system I say. Ultimately we need to save at least 15% of our income from day one to afford to retire ‘decently’. This means for most of us we have left saving too late and are unable to close the gap. Some of us have spent some of our Provident Fund when resigning from jobs to cover debts, or take the ‘well deserved’ holiday.

We often fall prey to the fact that if we have been contributing to a pension or provident fund at work it will be enough. Is it really? Have you checked? Most of the time it is not nearly enough for what we have aspired to do our whole working lives. For some the sad truth is that they will fall under the care of other family members such as children, or sibling or even worse – The State! Without proper planning we will live out our old age playing puzzles, or scrabble stuck in front of a TV set. Or perhaps given technology we will be stuck on Facebook or Pinterest looking at the places we wished we had saved for and talking to friends that we cannot afford to go and see that are spending time at home as costs are so high while our kids tell us what we can and cannot do with the measly allowance we get from them. What a nightmare that would be.

So can we fall prey to Peter Pan Syndrome?

So… how do we prevent ourselves from being victim of Peter Pan syndrome?

  • Educate our youth about the importance of saving for retirement
  • Try putting something away in a suitable vehicle such as a retirement annuity, pension, or provident fund
  • Speak to a financial advisor about proper retirement planning
  • Put a strategy together about the future with an action plan that is easy to adhere to
  • Change our thinking – getting old is not being defeated by time, rather it is a journey with time – enjoy it while being properly prepared.

Do you suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome?

I do hope you have enjoyed reading this and perhaps even benefited from it. I leave you with this:

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” 
― Andy Rooney

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