At the beginning of this week, I made up my mind that my next three articles would be devoted to retirement planning. So this is the next post on the subject after publishing “The Old Man on My Street.”
As I read the comments made by some of the readers of my last post, I remembered those days (before the birth of PRA 2004) when we used to make various presentations on retirement planning to employees, Management, and members of the board of trustees of various organizations. In my sweet reminiscence, one of our popular slides titled, “The Story Life Tells” came to my mind.
I tried to bring the same slide, the original, into this post but the quality is not good enough. I can understand; the slide is old because it has been quite a long time we produced it. That was the period you would type whatever you wanted to project. You would then insert the “nylon” slide into your printer and, just as if printing on paper, everything would come on the nylon (Can’t remember if it’s actually called nylon or ribbon).
You would leave the output to dry up on the nylon and, thereafter, it would become ready for your presentation. The problem was that if your presentation were 20 pages, you had to produce 20 nylon slides. When making your presentation, you had to keep changing your slides one after the other; and you dared not mistakenly place slide number 10 on your overhead projector when you meant to talk about slide number eight.
Thank God technology has changed all those. You can now project straight from your laptop, ipad or Galaxy Tab onto the screen with the aid of modern multimedia equipment.
So, as I can’t bring that old slide here in its original form, I have tried as much as I can to transcribe the idea into a modern slide. That is what is used as the featured picture above – The Story Life Tells.
Though it is just a single slide, The Story Life Tells actually tells the whole story. It came as a result of a research conducted by one of the leading reinsurance companies in the world. The company, we were told, observed the life of 100 young men aged 25 over a period of 40 years and the result of the study is quite staggering. At the age of 65:
- 36 out of the hundred people had died;
- Only one of them had become rich;
- Four of them were independent;
- Five were still working hard (as employees, I believe); and
- 54 were dependent – on state, children, family etc.
That was then. And that was a very long time ago, indeed. My aim in this article is to provoke your thought by looking at that same slide again. Let’s try and see what the result is likely to be if that research were to be conducted in Nigeria today. As we proceed, we will also be looking at what could make people fall into any of those groups, and the possible consequences. The aim, of course, is to reinforce the need for every one of us – you and me – to plan our future properly.
a. The Dead
As a life insurance man, the bulk of my underwriting decisions rest on actuarial computations. We rely on data: we use mortality tables and respect life expectancy figures. As far as Nigeria is concerned, the United Nations says our life expectancy is 48 in the country. My sister is lucky. She turned 50 last Saturday!
Hmm, that figure of 48 looks scary. But we can take solace in the obituary announcements in our newspapers, and the number of burial ceremonies that take place in Lagos, towns and villages every week. Since it is not in our culture to have “Celebration of Life” burial ceremonies for deceased young people, it means we are still a country where people live long. We still live long despite all the problems around us. Our people may be suffering so much; yet they simply “refuse” to die young! Haha, what a way to console ourselves for that scary life expectancy figure!
The fact is that thousands of young people are dying on a daily basis in the country. Oh, it’s happening everywhere. The same newspapers that announce old people’s obituaries also publish the “Gone too Soon” of many young people!
When we relate all this to The Story Life Tells, I wonder how many of those 100 people would have died in Nigeria before reaching 65! This, to me, sends a clear message to everyone – plan well, protect your family; buy life insurance!
b. The Rich
I’m sure every one of us will like to be the only one rich man among those 100 people. No doubt, this could be a herculean task considering the stiff completion for this position. How come only one man became rich? What magic did he use? If that same study were to be carried out in Nigeria today, could the number of rich people, those who become rich in an honest way, be more than one? Well, maybe; maybe not. But one thing I know is that each of us can become rich if we set our eyes on it. This will be the main focus of my next post titled, “The Three Laws of Prosperity” which I am actually borrowing from one of my great mentors. Watch out for it.
For now, let me simply say that a Rolls Royce car and a beautiful mansion should not be a bad idea for you and me. And it is doable before we get to 65 years of age.
c. The Independent
Being rich actually means that you are independent. But being independent does not mean you are rich. If you earn a good salary (assuming there is anything like that) which can sustain you and your family to the extent that you don’t have to borrow from people; you are independent. If you have a business that gives you a reasonable level of financial comfort; you are independent. As someone who is independent, you have enough to keep you going, but you don’t have up to what can qualify you as a rich man or woman.
If I may run the risk of oversimplification, I think the so called “middle class” are independent people. They are not rich, but they are not poor. Clearly, an independent person cannot own a Rolls Royce or a beautiful mansion. But he can command a KIA Picanto car and a three bedroom rented apartment. He may not have savings, but he has some sense of security.
It all depends on our individual mindset. Some people don’t want to be more than independent in their life. It is a matter of choice.
Again, let’s relate The Story Life Tells to our country. The slide says four people became independent at retirement. I doubt if the number would be up to this in Nigeria of today. But with the new Contributory Pension regime, I think this group may begin to swell. My only fears are the recent distasteful news we are hearing about the state of pension management in the country. Just a few days ago, it was reported that a N2 billion pension fraud had just been discovered – pension money meant for our policemen!
As you read this article, you should be thinking of how to first become financially independent, and thereafter upgrade yourself to the class of The Rich. For you, it may be a step after the other. As they say, “Easy does it.” But it must not be too late. Don’t engage yourself in the common self-delusion of “I am rich in Jesus Name.” Yes, I know you are, because I am also a Christian. But take action, my friend!
d. The Workers
I very much agree with The Story Life Tells on this. Many people continue to work through to their 70-75 years of age these days. Some advanced countries have actually had cause to increase the retirement ages for their workers because of the mounting pension liabilities.
I think it is a good thing if you choose to continue to work at age 65+. But it is a bad omen if you are forced to work at that old age. That is the point I tried to make in “The Old Man on My Street.” You should not stay idle in your old age; otherwise you may have to contend with loneliness and depression. But if it becomes a matter of you must work to keep body and soul together; you will surely have a big problem at hand.
Let’s face the fact; many people in paid employment in Nigeria today are much older than they claim. They will tell you they are 55 when they are actually over 60 years of age. They go about falsifying their ages with sworn affidavits. They dye their hairs, clear their moustaches, polish their teeth, and paint their faces; all in the name of looking younger! Why? You may ask. It is very clear: These oldies don’t want to leave. They are scared of their post retirement period. Though the younger employees are not happy about their sit-tight syndrome, they seem not to care. They simply shrug their shoulders and mutter, “You boys should wait for your time.”
The only way you and I can avoid this bad situation is to plan for our retirement. We will be talking about how to do that in subsequent posts on this site.
e. The Dependents
If The Story Life Tells study had been conducted in the advanced country and they were able to come up with 54% rate of dependent people, then we must have a much more bigger issue here in Nigeria – no, in Africa. I’m sure that study must have considered those who depended on the state for one form of benefit or the other at the age of 65. How about this country where we seem not to have a government to depend on? What happens when we factor in the number of old people who depend on their sons and daughters, their churches, and their societies etc for survival? No doubt, this figure cannot be less than 70% here in our country.
What if a 65-year old woman wants to depend on her son but he doesn’t have a job? The son is willing but he’s incapable. Unfortunately, that is a common picture around the country today. Sadly, too, those who have jobs and wish to help out are increasingly finding it hard to make ends meet.
You are 65, you are retired, and you continue to demand for this and that from your married son. Please don’t be surprised if, one day, his wife starts complaining about you. She calls your son – her husband – to a corner and begins to murmur, “Why is mama here this time? Any problem again?” Or, you arrive in their house only last night and this morning the wife has already started asking her husband, “When is mama going back?” That’s when you will begin to realize that you are in a big trouble.
The solution to this form of headache is actually in your hands. And you can prevent the above scenario by start planning for your retirement today. Concrete and conscious retirement planning ensures that you are not a burden – a big bukata – for anyone when you attain the age of 65. At that stage, you won’t have to be like many of our old people around who keep accusing their children and their children’s spouses of being selfish.
How I wish we could continue to talk about the issue of retirement in this single post. But I realize it’s already becoming a lengthy article. You have to pardon me for that. The subject on hand is a passion for me, and I always feel like going on and on non-stop. As I said, the third part of my retirement sermon will be posted in few days’ time. Thereafter, we will take a short break and talk about some other things.
I wish you a very wonderful weekend as you keep thinking about your tomorrow.