Start preparing for retirement in your 20s, but not later than your late 30s. The first step in preparing for retirement is acquiring financial education. This is critical. You need to know how to manage your money effectively. To be able to retire in comfort, you need to start saving and investing early. To build a successful business from the ground to something substantial can take 20, 30 years hence the need to begin early.
Sound financial management
There is a real possibility that you might end up living on less money than what you were used to and it is important to avoid getting into debt as you approach retirement. Get out of debt. Do not risk having your retirement benefits retained to pay off your debts.
If you have to do extra work or sell an asset such as a plot or a vehicle in order to pay off debts, do so. The stress of having the bank or sacco calling you endlessly asking for payment can break you down, even push you to a premature death. You could also end up being auctioned.
Do not make a mistake of making financial decisions based on panic and fear. Many people who do that end up investing their money on ventures they are ill equipped for, leading to massive losses.
Building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint. Starting in a rush is not a guarantee that you will be successful. Better delay starting by a few months and do the right thing. Do your research thoroughly before you venture into a new business.
Make deliberate effort to identify needs in that community that you can fill. Would people in the area pay for your goods or services? Start it on a small scale and see if it works or not. Get someone to mentor you or invest in business coaching. One major cause of business failure is the incompetence of the business owner(s). Are you suited for entrepreneurship in terms of your personality, your habits, your networks, etc.?
One thing I always recommend to people who want to transition from employment to entrepreneurship at whatever age is to invest in a high value skill, which means a skill that puts you in a certain level of expertise. A high value skill enables you to raise your fees as you become more experienced and better at what you do.
It is worth it to invest in such a course if your line of work does not give you expertise that you could build a post retirement career around. It is okay to invest in a short course or even a diploma and it is very good if it builds on the work you have already been doing. You could also choose to focus on something you are passionate about but never got to make it a career.
Remember that you can live 20, 30, 40 years after retirement, which is probably the same period of time as the one you spent in a career. You can focus on building the next stage of your career. It is okay to make adequate preparation for the post retirement phase.
Create a retirement budget
Do you already have a retirement home or will you need to construct one? Determine where you want to retire. Do you want to retire in the village? If so, that needs long term plans to build your networks and also develop infrastructure (a house with amenities, water supply such as borehole in case there is no running water, source of power e.g. solar in case there is no electricity in the area, etc.).
One thing you lose when you leave employment is medical cover. It is very important to invest in medical cover at the very least National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover . Many lifestyle diseases are associated with aging so you need to ensure that you can access healthcare.
Your social life
Planning for retirement is not all about money though. You will still need a social life after retirement. It is important to have networks in the area where you plan to settle. The life of a loner is not healthy at all. If you have lived in the city for many years, most likely that is where your networks are; church, chama, sacco, friends, neighbors, etc.
If you are going to relocate, build your networks in the rural area early enough, at least some years before you retire. Visit regularly, relate with people, make friends, develop support systems such as starting a chama in the village and participating in activities e.g. weddings, funerals, fund raisings, etc. Get to know the church where you will worship and make an effort to be worshiping there from time to time. Avoid social isolation and loneliness.
The period after retirement can be difficult and you will need the support of your family. If there are unhandled issues in your marriage, have them resolved in good time. Do not wait to find yourselves as strangers with your spouse especially after the children grow up and leave home.
There are complaints from some men that they end up in extra marital relationships because they are denied conjugal rights, their wives are nagging, etc. All those are symptoms of an unhealthy marital relationship so better solve them in good time than postponing the problem and paying dearly after retirement.
Seek marital therapy if you need to and have your marriage back on course in good time. You cannot afford to make decisions about retirement on your own, without the support and cooperation of your family. You need to involve your family. Where do they want to settle after retirement? Are you all in agreement about that?
Have you encountered cases where a man retires to the village and the wife remains in the city? You do not want to end up with such situations.
Will you live on your own piece of land or ancestral land? How are relationships with others who live on that land? For example, does your wife get along with your parents and siblings if they are going to living in close proximity?
Work on those relationships in good time to avoid future conflicts. If the relationships cannot be salvaged, you are better off settling in a different place even if it means buying a piece of land somewhere else and building there.
A lot is going to change. The routine you have been used to will change. Your circles might change. The money you have to work with might change and so will your networks. Any transition is difficult so prepare for it mentally. Seek professional counseling if possible and also build support systems.
Plan for time. How will you keep yourself occupied? Avoid idleness and boredom. What are your interests and passions? Do you have hobbies that you would like to nurture? How can you pursue them after retirement?
Maybe you are passionate about empowering people, start empowerment groups and forums. Participate in development of schools, churches, etc. Volunteer if you have to. Bring value to the people who will be in your circles for the years to come.
You might be passionate about playing a sport, cooking, baking, writing, drawing, painting, etc. You now have the time to focus on the activities you might not have had time to focus on while you were busy building your career. Choose the kind of life you want for yourself as you age.
Your health and fitness goals
Take care of your health. Eat well. Exercise ( you could take regular walks). Handle stress correctly. Keep your mind engaged maybe by reading something engaging during your free time. Don’t just read the newspaper and the Bible unless you want to end up with dementia. Learning something new such as a new language will keep you mentally fit.
A friend of mine enrolled for Chinese classes after retirement and got busy attending classes and doing homework. She developed new networks among people who were learning Chinese.
Is there something you have always wished that you had done while you were younger? Do you wish that you had pursued a certain career path? The period after retirement is ideal for going after your dreams. Enroll for a course in what you love and start a new career in your 60s or 70s.
Dorothy steel started her acting career at age 88. At age 91, she got her big break in big film acting when she landed the role of the merchant tribal elder who advises Chadwick Boseman in the movie Black Panther. Was age 88 too late to go after her dreams? No.
A British citizen by the name Charles Eugster was the fittest runner at 95, having made a decision to become fitter, his age notwithstanding. He got himself a personal trainer and joined a gym. He was able to win gold medals in Olympics for the over 90 year olds.
He believed that one can start anything new at any age, even transform one’s body by choosing a healthier lifestyle and lived true to those beliefs. You are never too old to set another goal, to do what you have not done before so use the time after retirement to go after your dreams.