Points to Remember

Ingrid's Planning Initiative

Ingrid Burke-Diaz

Age: 43
Occupation: Psychiatrist

“Preparing for retirement should be everyone’s number one priority. If, like me, you can’t avail yourself of any sort of company pension plan, don’t depend on national insurance or old age pension. You need to open up a personal retirement plan for yourself.

Taking the absolute necessity of investing as a given, I’ll reiterate that not only do you have to ‘pay yourself first’ by considering your salary as what’s left after taxes and investment, but within that investment, pay your retirement plan first.
If you have children, your next priority could be planning for their education even if it’s twenty years in the future. My general advice is to consider the wealth you’re building as generational wealth. Your children should inherit not just the tangible assets you hold but they should accept and adopt the intangible culture and mentality of investing as a way of life. In that way, investing as a habit becomes hereditary.”

FIRSTLINE POINTS TO REMEMBER

RETIREMENT

You will have several long-term goals but your first investment priority is saving for retirement.

Traditional sources of retirement income are as follows:

  • Company Pensions – but not all companies offer these and they are insufficient by themselves to support a retiree
  • Statutory Pensions & Insurance – these offer static levels of income that are rarely sufficient to lead a comfortable retirement.
  • Personal Savings & Investments – this will be your focus and in lieu of company pensions, will take the form of individual retirement accounts.

The best retirement plan will incorporate as many of these channels of retirement income as possible.

THE FLIP SIDE

Retirement is one long, responsibility-free vacation. Right? Or will you still have a mortgage to pay off and grandchildren to help see through school?

You will still have many financial needs to think about during your retirement – the usual ones like the budgeting of everyday expenses and new ones like the mental shift from growing retirement savings to ensuring you don’t outlive them.

Many of us will spend a longer time period in retirement than at work. Retirement should be a restful period in life but given its length and the general poor savings habits of Caribbean people, some retirees need to work well past their retirement age to support themselves.

To avoid this, make planning for retirement your premier investment priority.

UNIVERSITY FUNDING

In 2007, the Central Bank of Trinidad & Tobago reported that the cost of education had increased by 11.5% from the previous year, one of the biggest risers. The Bank stated that the increase was due largely to rising international tuition fees coupled with the value of the TT dollar which continues to weaken along with the US dollar in relation to other currencies such as sterling and the euro.

Issues of the TT dollar’s strength aside, tuition fees will continue to rise and you will have to take this into account when projecting how much you need to save for the future.

GENERATIONAL WEALTH

It is never too early to develop the skills to lead a successful financial life. As a parent, strive to educate your children of all ages about business and finance so that when they reach the age of maturity, investing is already a natural part of life.

This gains importance when you are ready to pass on the wealth you have amassed in your lifetime to future generations. You would want to do so confident that your investment ethics will also pass on.

Things like making budget plans a family initiative as opposed to a parental one; attending financial education seminars with your children; tying in theoretical school subjects such as business, economics and math with the practicalities of finance – all of these are start-up suggestions which aid you in passing on your investment ethics and ensuring protection of generational wealth.