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Retiring with Grace

Life companies have a vested interest in encouraging us to save more, but is this one of those cases where more may be less?

Eamonn Ryan

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Listening to life companies, you’d think most pensioners are destined to frugal retirements and better get used to the idea now. They berate South Africans for not saving enough money towards retirement, and whenever they get the opportunity, cashing in what little they have saved instead of preserving it. Of course, they have a point. But go onto any social discussion forum and you will see endless complaints from individuals who have done exactly what life companies say they must, yet are disappointed when they see their actual savings after their life company deducted its costs.

What do they offer you in return for the approximately 2% of your capital they siphon off? It is not the capital – you earned that. It is not the return – the JSE or money market delivered that. In fact, these are not the right questions to be asking, says financial adviser Bryan Hirsch. It is all about savings. A country such as Australia has a national savings scheme, and South Africa has been pondering a similar solution, which removes ‘financial products’ from the equation and emphasises compulsory savings.

Sanlam does an annual survey which invariably reveals the need for more saving. Danie van Zyl, head of guaranteed investments at Sanlam Employee Benefits, says that 60% of pensioners say they do not have enough money, and Sanlam’s advice (echoed by the life industry) is that people should start saving earlier. Other revealing statistics are that on leaving a job, two-thirds of people opt to cash in their retirement savings, and worst of all 47% of members say they have “no idea” of what their retirement savings are invested in.

Disconnect between people and retirement

This reveals a disconnect between members (never mind the broader public who are not on a retirement scheme at all) and retirement, says Van Zyl. He says most people only wake up to the issue of retirement when they are about five years from it. The disconnect began 20 years ago when companies shifted from defined benefit to defined contribution. It is therefore not so much that people have lost interest, but when they needed to take an interest they failed to do so, and that is at the heart of the problem, says Hirsch.

Have a plan – and a budget

South Africans rank poorly in financial planning, but Hirsch claims their debt ratio is not as bad as many think – they have disposable income to save, they just don’t know it. “If you do not operate according to a budget, how can you identify costs that could be trimmed to make space for saving? A budget is critically important to calculating how much you can save – and often without even limiting your lifestyle,” he explains. Hirsch also says that retirement is something that has to be confronted: people need to work out exactly what they will need in retirement to live (taking into calculation savings they might have outside the retirement net) and work backwards to what they need to save now. “In particular, you have to pay off all debt including your bond, and make provision for future medical costs.”

The fundamental problem in South Africa is that retirement saving is not compulsory and its preservation not enforced. Current regulations almost encourage people to cash in, as the tax rate charged for it is a low 18%. “I believe even fewer people will consider preserving in the future,” says Hirsch.Van Zyl says there is another area that may soon worsen the savings rate. With the increase in compliance around pension schemes, many smaller funds are opting to join umbrella funds to minimise costs. That’s a good move, he says, but inexplicably Sanlam’s survey also demonstrates that many companies are using the excuse of the shift to reduce their employer contribution. So employees are now saving even less than before. He expects the shift to umbrella schemes to gain momentum.

Save 15% over 35 years

Sanlam claims that each individual needs to save a total of 15% of his income over a period of 35 years, whereas the average among members at the moment is 11,7%. With longer lifespans, even this may not be enough. European governments are currently looking at extending the retirement age to 68 or 70. In South Africa, with our youthful – and unemployed – population the trend is to lower it to 55.

Retirement planning is all about compounding – every month lost becomes harder and harder to make up. Another frightening statistic, says Van Zyl, is that pensioners can no longer bank on living off their own children. Not only are those children struggling to make ends meet, but half of grandparents today have dependents still living with them due to the impact of HIV/Aids. Members may cash in one-third of their benefit on retirement, which is supposed to be a ‘rainy-day reserve’ but a quarter of pensioners spend it intwo years.
Hirsch’s solution is for people to take control of their own finances – budget, quiz your financial adviser on every investment, especially the costs,  and minutely inspect every household bill for potential savings.

Investment opportunities

Supplement with an RA

For the individual in formal employment it is customary for membership of the pension scheme to be compulsory. Danie van Zyl, head of guaranteed investments at Sanlam Employee Benefits, says that if the combination of your employer’s and own contributions is not 15%, then supplement it with a retirement annuity (RA). If you are self-employed, then buy an RA up to 15% of your income. To the cynics who say life companies are making money out of them, and they could do a better job themselves, the life industry argues that people clearly aren’t, because whenever they can, two-thirds cash in their benefit. The benefit of contractual savings over unit trusts or property is that it forces people to save.

Before becoming a financial writer and freelance journalist in 1997, Eamonn Ryan was a legal adviser, company secretary and alternate director at listed company Cashbuild Limited from 1988 to 1997. Since becoming a financial writer, he has focused on the business and financial sectors, as well as personal finance, writing for Finweek, The Star Business Report, Sunday Times Business Times, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, Entrepreneur, Corporate Research Foundation (which brings out a series of books each year ranking SA’s best employers and best managers), as well as a host of once-off and annual publications such as ‘Enterprising Women’ and ‘Portfolio of Black Business’. He also writes media releases, inhouse magazines and sustainability or annual financial reports for various South African corporates and financial services groups, including the Ernst & Young annual M&A book.

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Personal Finance

7 Steps To Achieve Financial Freedom

Achieving financial freedom doesn’t necessarily mean becoming filthy rich – not that that hurts.

Brian Tracy

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In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Brian Tracy explains the seven steps you need to take to achieve financial freedom. Now, financial freedom doesn’t mean becoming filthy rich – lottery winners go bankrupt all the time. Instead, financial freedom is about becoming disciplined and using your money in a way that ensures you can live the sort of life you want both now and in the future.

Related: 5 Qualities Of Successful Entrepreneurs

That’s why the first step isn’t about getting a lot of money. Instead, it’s about teaching yourself to think positively about money. That way, you’ll be in the right mindset to move forward.

Click play to learn more.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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4 Ways To Become A Millionaire Even When You Start With Little

It costs nothing to take advantage of the limitless opportunities online.

Timothy Sykes

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The hardest part of becoming successful is getting started to begin with. But despite the challenges ahead of you, there’s a way to become a millionaire when starting with little. I’m going to show you four reasons why you can become a millionaire with just a small investment.

1First focus on learning, not big gain

Education is your greatest weapon. Focus on learning in the beginning. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on making huge gains in the beginning. Learn everything you can because this is how you build the foundations for long-term gains.

They say that if a millionaire goes bankrupt they’ll nearly always be able to get it back. And that’s because they might have lost their money, but they have the knowledge of how to get back to where they need to be.

Related: 21 Choices Millionaires Make That You Aren’t Making But Should Be

2You can learn loads about any topic online

online-learning

I’m grateful for the internet. It’s the single biggest library in the world. You’re reading this article right now and you’re acquiring knowledge you wouldn’t have been able to acquire 40 years ago. Use the internet to its fullest extent, whether that’s through reading books, browsing articles or watching video tutorials.

Set some time aside every day to learn something online. It could be a video series or a favorite blog. When you get into the habit of learning regularly you’ll find that you advance much faster.

3Focus on the niche you love

These days you can learn about anything and target the niche you’re passionate about. This is what I was able to do with penny stocks. I found a gap in the market and provided knowledge to people who wouldn’t have otherwise being able to access this sort of information.

You can do that with absolutely any niche. When you find a niche you’re passionate about and you use the reach of the Internet you start to make huge gains.

4Prove your expertise by creating free content

Your reputation as an authority is the new business card. There’s a reason I created a penny stock guide and made it free for all. You may have already seen ads for it on social media. The way to succeed with little is to create a reputation through your content.

It’s the gateway to success because through free content you start to build relationships with others who value your work. And from there everyone gets richer.

Related: How To Become A Millionaire, Explained In 1 Minute

You can do lots with a little

The days when you needed a huge investment to become successful are long gone. These days you can do so much with just a little. Find what you love, advance your knowledge in that area, and create a product that fulfills a need. Finally, work on building up relationships through portraying yourself as an authority on your subject.

Combine everything together and you can accomplish anything.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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12 Millionaire Habits To Start Making Serious Money Soon And Build Wealth In A Hurry

Get-rich-quick schemes rarely work but doing the right things every day rarely fails.

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There’s a mindset that’s prevalent these days. It’s one of instant gratification in an on-demand society that looks for quick results with very little effort. Entrepreneurs know that life doesn’t work that way. You need to put in the sweat equity if you’re looking to gain serious results.

When it comes to making money, certain good habits push us forward while some bad habits deter us from getting rich or even making any semblance of serious money.

Clearly, many people are making money and some are making lots, but if they mismanage it and pilfer it away on mindless pursuits, building the proverbial empire is going to be far harder.

Making money is one thing, but creating wealth is an entirely different thing. Obviously, most people can quickly make an extra $100 by selling used items or doing a small gig on a site like Fiverr, but if you’re looking for the kind of cash that can make a significant difference in your life, embrace these 12 millionaire habits. They are sure to drive you in the right direction. You’ll find ways to create real wealth by beckoning financial opportunity and potential windfalls through a positive mindset and a sound emotional, spiritual and mental state. That is quite literally the most powerful mixture of habits that exists for entrepreneurs.

1Always add value

Value makes the world go round. Everyone wants to get value out of an exchange. The most successful entrepreneurs in the world know that if you’re going to make lots of money, then you need to always be adding value. Always seek to add more value to whatever services, information or products you’re selling.

Related: 13 Habits Of Self-Made Millionaires You Could Adopt Today

2Wake up early

The early morning hours are replete with quiet solitude. It’s when you can refine your thoughts and implement your plans before all the distractions of the day. If you are constantly dealing with interruptions throughout your day, find your happy place in the morning. Wake up early so you can plan whatever will advance you toward your goals.

3Exercise

exercise-good-life

Making money isn’t just about implementing good career or business habits. You need to be fit emotionally and physically to fire on all pistons. Exercise in the morning, even if briefly. Exercising gets the blood flowing and oxygenation to the cells, helping you to think clearly and be laser-focused. This habit is implemented by some of the world’s richest entrepreneurs.

4Daily goal setting

You have your long-term goals in place but, if you’re looking to make serious money and quickly, you have to set goals every single day. These are milestones on your way to your biggest and most outlandish goals. Do this when you wake up, first thing in the morning, so that you stay on track and on target. Decide what will move you closer to those financial goals by the end of the day, then go out there and do it.

5Effective time management

Everyone in this world has the same amount of time. The 24 hours of each day is life’s greatest equaliser. It doesn’t matter what we do, where we’re from or how much money we have, we all have the same amount of time.

Effective time management is a must for those looking to get ahead. Whether your goal is to earn a lot of money over time or you just need to earn a little bit of extra cash quickly, properly managing your finite time is what makes it possible to succeed.

Related: 4 Bad Money Habits That Have Left Millionaires Broke

6Networking

Networking is one of the most important habits to have in life. The sayings go, your network is your net worth, and if you lie down with dogs, you’ll definitely come up with fleas. Reach out to others and find out what you can do to add value to their world.

Don’t ask for anything in return, especially not right away. Just insert yourself into the mix, and eventually the opportunities will find you.

7Innercising

John Assaraf

John Assaraf

John Assaraf, who built up a billion-dollar real estate business and is featured in the movie The Secret, preaches the importance of “innercising” in his NeuroGym system. Innercising is mental exercise to reprogram subliminal conditioning deeply embedded in our subconscious. The goal is to frame the mind with a positive financial outlook which attracts money and opportunities to our lives, rather than pushing them away.

8Healthy diet

Will eating healthier help you to attract more wealth or make more money in the interim? You can bet it will. Sound body, sound mind. To have the precision thinking and focus of a highly-trained athlete, you need to eat healthily. Our bodies spend a large amount of their energy on processing foods. Unhealthy eating leaves us with less energy for achieving our goals, whatever they are.

9Saving and investing

Obviously, saving and investing is fundamental to building wealth. It won’t happen as fast as you’d like, but the larger component at play is having moment-of-the-opportunity cash to invest when something requires your attention immediately. When you have capital and are no longer living paycheck-to-paycheck, you’re ready to earn more money when the opportunity presents.

Related: 20 Habits Holding Me Back From Being A Millionaire

10Mindfulness

If you play a cutthroat game and walk all over people, few opportunities will come your way. Being mindful and respectful of others attracts opportunities that you can eventually convert into cash. Be mindful about how you act and what you say so it doesn’t come back to bite you in the butt.

11Work with a mentor

Mentors are great for helping you to earn extra income, whether small or large. A mentor who’s achieved outlandish goals in your industry will offer guidance to help you get where you’re looking to go.

Find a mentor and work with them daily. Ask for their help and guidance as you navigate the choppy waters towards success.

12Contribute to others

Contribution is born from an abundant mindset. When you are sated and have enough for yourself, look to contribute. You can trick your mind into an abundant mindset by simply contributing your time to others. You don’t have to give money. Only time. It’s a subconscious mind trick that moves you away from scarcity to attract more money and opportunities into your life.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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