Retirement planning: the financial act of love

For real romance this Valentine’s Day how about planning to put some gold into your Golden Years.

As we approach Valentine’s Day, the urge to ‘spoil’ loved ones has us all rushing out to buy chocolates or book date nights at favourite spots. All the while, most of us ignore an obvious opportunity for real, lasting romance: having a proper long-term financial plan.

Ringmakers, retailers and restauranteurs want us to believe that the more money we spend the more romance we get but, in our hearts, we know there are more meaningful and valuable ways of expressing love than expensive gestures and gifts.

If you want to keep the flames of love burning for the long-term start planning for that long-term. If you intend to have a lasting and happy relationship, have an open and honest chat about money, work out a joint budget and start putting money away for your retirement.

“Setting out financial goals is an amazingly intimate experience and achieving them makes you a much stronger couple,” says Michael Rossouw, senior investment consultant at 10X Investments.

“Of course every relationship is unique, but money ranks high among issues that couples fight about in general. Be it an expensive gaming addiction or fashionable shopping sprees, every couple has their own flavour of money fights. Fast forward into retirement and you find that fighting over money will make you feel even worse.”

Rossouw adds: “Not only is money the biggest issue that couples fight about, it is also the second main cause of divorce (the first being infidelity).”

Love might be blind, but don’t close your eyes to the financial side of growing old together. For too many of us, retirement is just a vague concept looming in the distance, mostly ignored and rarely in focus until suddenly it is upon us.

According to 10X Investment’s 2020 Retirement Reality Report, 49% of South Africans readily admit to not having any retirement savings plan. Lack of planning is a key reason that only 6% of South Africans are on course to retire comfortably.

If you think it is hard to agree on financial matters when you are young, fit, in love and generating an income, imagine what it will be like when you are fighting over a meagre pension. There will be no fussing over fancy dinners or chocolates on Valentines’ Day then.

Of course, chocolates and dinner dates are nice but, to really make your relationship work in the long-term, you will need to think about making more serious investments in your relationship.

Start by talking about the numbers, firstly how much money will the two of you need to have a decent retirement. After all, marriage is about growing old together.

“In a way, a financial plan is much like a relationship in the sense that it is all about balance,” says Rossouw. “Balancing using your hard-earned money in the short term versus putting it away for the long term.”

He adds: “Life presents all sorts of challenges that put a lot of strain on relationships and can really push them to the limit. Don’t add avoidable money problems that could push it over the limit.

“If you are tempted to put the topic of long-term financial planning off for another year or 10, think about how much happier you would both be and how much more peaceful your life would be if you both felt financially secure.”

So, instead of focusing on the red roses and ignoring all the red flags, why not spend a few minutes with your other half crunching your numbers on one of 10X’s retirement calculators? Creating a savings plan that will set you up for your joint forever is surely one of the most romantic things you could do.

Saving for retirement might not seem like the most romantic conversation for Valentine’s Night but, if you want to avoid becoming another statistic (of love and money), it should be on the menu, especially if you are planning to spend the rest of your lives together, happily and with financial peace of mind.

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