Retirement lies ahead for all of us: that time of our life to rest, relax, and take stock. And hopefully to enjoy the fruits of a lifetime’s labour.
Or rather, the prospect of retirement lies ahead. But is it an elusive mirage, that creeps forward and out of reach, the closer we get to it?
Well, yes and no. In many countries, the official retirement age moves forward by stealth: last year, the UK government announced that the pension age would move forward to 68 for younger people born after 1970. Similar measures are being adopted across the developed world, a response to the demographic implications of an ageing population set against a shrinking working population–making social programs such as the state pension more difficult to finance.
But there are (at least) four types of people for whom retirement will probably be always out of reach, and for a variety of reasons unrelated to demographics.
The High Achiever
The High Achiever will never retire. Such people are in high professional positions and achieve considerable status. Maybe as a CEO, or a public figure, an author or even a celebrity. In such super-charged creative industries, it is difficult to switch off, and not even desirable. For many such individuals, their expertise is in such demand–and so closely tied to their sense of self– that to retire would be the same as ceasing to be. Even in Art, creativity can be hard to extinguish: Matisse and Picasso were both active in their sixties, and beyond.
The Career Changers
Others yet find new direction later in life. Careers are threads drawn together by a common purpose, or a vision. Often this is informed by the sense of expression of purpose, of what it means to ‘be in the world’. For some people that can be charity work, for others it can be art. And career change is surprisingly common: some estimates say we change career, on average, three to seven times in a lifetime. Similar to the high achievers, it is hard to switch off and sit back when there’s an overwhelming sense of a purpose driving us forward.
This category of non-retiree, unfortunately, is very common and can be tragic at its extreme. There are many people who simply won’t be able to retire. The causes are unsurprising: a failure to invest, to save, and to prepare for the future. Perhaps at the time it was difficult to find the spare money to redirect to an investment, or perhaps it’s a lack of investment knowledge or orientation. After all, financial literacy is not learned in school: it seems to run in families, and some people seem to learn about it from a father at the dinner table. (Did you know, APW has a great eBook aimed at teaching the fundamentals of financial literacy?)
The Successful Investor
The successful investor–the ultimate example of which is Warren Buffett–is the opposite of the non-investor. The successful investor starts early, perhaps with stocks and shares, or properties, or even something as unusual as a plot of land that becomes a Christmas tree farm. As their income grows, tending to the various elements of it becomes their main occupation. When they reach retirement age, they simply maintain their portfolios, and carry out maintenance and repairs on their properties to ensure the continued cultivation of profits. Such tasks are hardly chores, and by that stage it has all become a rather relaxed affair.
To see how you can become a successful investor through property, visit the APW Education Portal to find out all you need to know.