WEDNESDAY, APR. 18: Considering myself to be a smart saver and savvy spender in all areas, except when it comes to shoes, I have always given some thought to the lifestyle I wish to live during retirement and how I plan to achieve it.

However, after attending a “Women and Wealth” seminar hosted by AFL Investments, I found that I had overlooked some of the more important points.

Where do I plan to retire and what is the cost of living there? Do I have enough money to support my desired lifestyle should I live to be 100? Are my plans compatible with those of my husband? 

I suddenly went into retirement panic because, for the very first time, I was forced to put into perspective all the aspects of retirement, and I got a reality check of what the road to retirement truly means. It was clear that my existing plan needed an overhaul if I am to fulfill my goals and dreams regarding retirement.

I also was somewhat disheartened to learn that in order to reach my target retirement sum I would need to either win the lottery, work until I am 90 or work seven days a week at an unrealistic hourly rate for the next 25 years. Even then, who knows what the world economy could bring to derail my perfectly planned nest egg? Dreaming was no longer an option; proper planning was needed.

Fortunately, working at the island’s leading pension provider, I am surrounded by resources that can help me to chart the course to a secure retirement.

First, I took a detailed look at how my long-term finances were spread. I then reached out to AFL Investments, our investment arm, and sought the counsel of one of their very knowledgeable financial advisors to identify the options that were right for me. 

In an effort to ensure which underlying investments matched my goals, I identified any retirement funds or long-term savings accounts that hadn’t gained significant interest with a view to replacing those vehicles with ones that produced better performance. I also educated myself on how to better understand my pension statement.

A recent survey conducted by Argus revealed that half of Bermuda residents do not have a financial goal in place for retirement. In addition, younger residents were less likely to be comfortable with understanding their pension statement.

I took advantage of the recently launched free, online retirement tools such as the Argus Retirement Calculator and the Risk Profile Questionnaire found on the Argus website at: www.argus.bm.

Many of us young, professional women in our 20s and 30s lead very busy lives and can get preoccupied with taking care of the day-to-day tasks. Retirement may seem so far away that we put off planning, but there is no harm in starting early. If I had the knowledge that I have now about retirement and financial planning when I had my first job, I would be farther along in my steps to retirement.

Fabulous

My advice to women is to never assume that things are taken care, even if you are married. You need to take charge of your own finances. You should manage your money as you would any other area of your life.

Set a monthly budget and spend only what you have allocated, making sure that you dedicate $50, $100 or even $200 each month that will go specifically into a long-term financial account that you will not touch for anything — not even for the most fabulous pair of shoes or limited edition handbag that are worth more than you have in savings.

If saving is difficult for you, try enrolling in your office savings plan which will accommodate automatic deductions from your salary.

Ladies, the reality is if you don’t do this for yourself, then who will? What would be the point in retiring completely broke or without enough to live on? Make small sacrifices today so that you can live the life you dream of later. You are never too young to start planning for your future.

Kay-Annie Reid-Young is responsible for planning events sponsored by the Argus Group, including the popular annual Argus Walks the Walk 5K fundraiser, the Argus Healthy Living Expo and the Crime Stoppers 5K Walk and Road Race. www.argus.bm.