Retirement – Are you Ready?

I cannot believe the #FutureFWD project is coming to an end. I feel emotional about it because the connection I’ve had with Sarah has been amazing. 6 weeks ago we were complete strangers and today we are friends. I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason and you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. This project and having Sarah come into my life was no accident and it’s come at the most perfect time.

At the beginning of the year I did a course with the Abundance Guru, Linda Smith Harvey and signed up for the Abundance Money School webinar. It has really turned my finances around… and just as it came to an end, Glacier by Sanlam approached me with this project of finding 3 influencers and 3 retirees to share a fresh approach on retirement and how most of the younger generation hasn’t even thought about retirement.

I was definitely guilty of that!

Last week Tuesday was the hottest day in Cape Town – it was magnificent actually.

Sarah and I met up with a film team from TinToy Productions on Signal Hill. We were going to go Paragliding! Can you believe it?

Sarah had mentioned on one of our promenade walks, as we watched the paragliders land feet away from us, that she’d love to experience that.

I took her seriously and off we went. The irony was that we had to wait for some wind. Typical. When you want wind in Cape Town, it’s breathless…when you don’t, you’ll be blown away by it’s gale force.

The team had packed us all the essentials – water, sunscreen, wet wipes, moisturiser and snacks.

 I was so impressed with how excited she was. She was quite nervous, but she didn’t really show it. She was so poised. Sarah mentioned that she was expecting to be sick with fear. It was only when they paragliding company did the demo, that she felt the nauseous, uneasy feeling. She wasn’t as scared as she thought she was going to be though.

I went off first… and had a bit of a hilarious start. I couldn’t run – I don’t know what happened but I kind of got pulled along… Definitely one for the bloopers reel. It wasn’t a complete disaster because we were up in the air in no time and it was magical flying above the buildings with the best view of the Atlantic seaboard.

The first thing Sarah said as she got down, her cheeks flushed and the excitement twinkling in her eyes, was: “Again! Again!”

It was awesome.

Click here for the short video.

Sarah likened the paragliding to retirement. At first, I didn’t understand when she said that and then she explained:

“Paragliding is taking a leap of faith as you fly off into the air. It’s a leap of faith you don’t mind taking because you know someone has done all the planning. They’ve checked the wind speed, the harness clips and there is a lot of safety put into place. Retirement is a leap of faith too. If you’ve done all your financial planning then you can trust that it’s a good leap and leap with confidence!”

That evening, we made our way through the traffic and met on Kloof corner, by Table Mountain. It happened to be a crystal clear, hot evening and it was going to be full moon.

What a bonus.

That evening definitely goes into my “Favourite Nights in Cape Town.” My retiree, Sarah and I got to do a mini hike on Table Mountain. We were just in time to watch the sun slip into the ocean…and then on cue, I watched the largest full moon rise from the mountains and illuminate the city below. I just breathed in the fresh air, took in the moment and felt really grateful to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

After a short hike, we made our way back to parking area where we sat down on the warm tarmac and had the most spontaneous picnic. It was just fantastic.

Sarah and I both agreed that it was a highlight thanks to the spontaneity and magic of the evenings heat and full moon.

Click here for the short video.

We got chatting some more and we went through the questions Glacier by Sanlam asked us…

Glacier by Sanlam: What’s the one thing you’re going to change after this experience.

Sarah: It has made me relook at my finances and review what I did 5 years ago. It’s me relook at financial options and questioning: Am I doing the best for my retirement? Could my investment work in a better way? 80% was well planned but there is room for changes. The medical side has taken on a better perspective. Our medical needs are changing. Even though we have already down scaled, we might look to downscale a bit more, in a couple of years. This project has made my husband and I focus forward to the next level. We’ve taken the retirement step but now we’re looking at the next step in retirement.

Bailey: Sarah has absolutely opened my eyes to a world after work. I’m so career focused but I’m also looking forward to that chapter… I’ll only be able to look forward to it, if I plan financially. I don’t want to have to work and work because I didn’t make the right financial decisions. I’ve absolutely stopped spending frivolously and now more than ever, I want to invest wisely and really save properly. I’ve also looked at my health from a fresh perspective. For so long it was about losing weight…but now it’s about being healthy and fit so that I can hopefully do all the things I want to as I get older.

Glacier by Sanlam: What has surprised you the most about meeting your influencer?

Sarah: The most surprising thing was that I felt I had known Bailey for ages and it really felt as if we had had a previous acquaintance. We have so many similarities. My daughter has just got married and you’re planning your wedding for next year. I feel like I’ve gained another daughter. I’m constantly surprised by how much Bailey gets through in a day. She is always enthusiastic and I’ve never seen her be down about anything – even with some of the wedding stress. Bailey is a natural communicator, whereas I am not. This project has forced me to become a communicator. It’s really taken me out of my comfort zone. It’s made me verbalise things that would be easier to write down and I wouldn’t have expressed it as much, but it’s been so easy to talk and share. Bailey, you’ve really caught the essence of what I’m trying to convey. It’s been an amazing project to bridge two different lifestyles. It’s also opened me up to how big the blogosphere is and how much communication goes on. I’d love to give a message to my fellow retiree friends to learn more about blogs, and to really see the way the younger generation is communicating these days beyond print media and radio.

Glacier by Sanlam: What has the retiree/influencer taught you about yourself and your lifestyle?

Sarah: I’m really enjoying this lifestyle and hope we continue and do more exciting experiences. It really made me take a grateful look at where I am today. I might have got into a stalemate groove or not have taken on new opportunities, but I’m reminded to keep an open mind. Being retired doesn’t exclude you from an active lifestyle. Being fit is about being healthy.

The spontaneity of last nights picnic was just a reminder on how great life is. It will definitely be one of the great memories for me in this project.

Time becomes the most expensive thing. You might have more time in retirement, but it also means that you shouldn’t waste it. I sadly lost friends in their early 60s through illness, and they hardly got to enjoy their retirement.

Glacier by Sanlam: Do you have any advice for your influencer?

Sarah: Be financially aware. Find out what a Retirement Annuity is. Long-term savings are extremely important, so beware of that. Read the financial pages and don’t be scared, they’re written for us to understand.

Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know something. Here is some female-to-female advice too: Look after yourself. My generation always thought that someone else would take care of them. Maybe we learnt financial planning a bit late – but it’s better to know it at a younger age. It might seem daunting now, but it’s far more daunting when you’re close to retirement and you’re not financially prepared. Bailey, your parents seem to have to really instilled good financial and money awareness, so thank them for that and continue to learn. If an opportunity comes your way for up skilling or furthering your studies – do it! Education and opportunities that come your away is never a waste of time!

Glacier by Sanlam: When you look towards your retirement, how as your perception changed?

Bailey: Well, this project is my first time evening thinking about retirement. I’m definitely not being an ostrich anymore and sticking my head in the sand. I have set up a proper savings account that earns better interest. I am looking into RA’s and I’d really love to invest in property. I feel proud of myself for being far more adult about my finances – it’s a great sense of achievement and accomplishment.

I’ve also upped my exercise regime. I’m looking at exercise in a whole new light now. I want to be fit and healthy forever…not just when I’m young.

I’m really excited for retirement – to spend time with my future husband, our future children and even grandchildren – feels surreal to even say that! I’m so career focused right now, which I love, but I do feel that I don’t always have time to do the things I’d love to do – like travel as often or even take up hobbies. I don’t necessarily want to wait for retirement, so it’s definitely making me relook at the balance of my life.

I think the hardest thing to deal with is when your physical ailments slow you down. Sarah reiterated this and said that you just have to cope with that. That’s why the ARMD eye condition was so surprising for Sarah because she’s so fit and healthy. I guess we all think we’re invincible when we’re younger. It’s made me appreciate my body and my health more.

Glacier by Sanlam: What similarities do you see between you and your influencer?

Sarah: We have both learnt to save at a young age.

Bailey: Well, to be fair… you started saving a lot earlier than I did, but better late than never.

Sarah: True! We both have strong family values and we both have strong family commitments. We love to experience life and we have really positive natures. We both have out going personalities. Bailey, you’re a better communicator than I am.

Bailey: It’s so funny for me to hear you say that, because you’ve never struck me as not being a good communicator. I’ve loved how you’ve opened your life and experiences to me and allowed me the honour of sharing your story.

Glacier by Sanlam: What are your future plans?

Sarah: I want to enjoy Cape Town. I really want to travel next year. I’d love to put an active travel trip together…perhaps a skiing trip in Italy would be fantastic. I want to do more cycling trips! I want to spend time with my grandchild and hopefully future grandchildren. I will be re-looking my finances. I definitely want to pursue a creative activity.

Glacier by Sanlam: What’s on your bucket list?

Sarah: I’d love to do a kayak trip out from Mouille point.

· A hiking trip – an active visit to the Far East.

· Learning another language. I can speak French, Italian, English and Afrikaans, but it would be great to learn Mandarin – something very different. German would also be useful.

· I’d like to ball room dance – Salsa, Caribbean and South American dances. It’s a mental and a physical discipline and it could be hilariously fun

· I’d love to go to the Gypsy festival on the Camargue, French. It celebrates the feast of St Sarah and St Mari. Perhaps this could be worked into a cycling trip!

· Cross country skiing in Italy.

This project has been so great in starting new conversations with my husband and my friends – those retired and those who aren’t yet.

When you’re retired, you suddenly spend a lot of time with your partner and some people are scared of that. It’s so important that you marry well, in marrying your best friend. In a marriage/ partnership, you need to work at finding new-shared experiences or enjoy doing experiences alone.

Bailey: Everyone has a story. It’s also made me talk to my mom and dad more. It’s very easy to get sucked into every day life, but when was the last time you asked someone questions about their youth, their experiences, their dreams? I’ve started opening myself up to people’s stories and what makes them tick. When my mom was visiting me in CT, we sat talking over a bottle of wine until 2am and I learned more about my mom and deeper details about where she comes from than ever before.

This project came into my life for a reason and I am certainly richer for it – on every single level, emotionally, financially, mentally, physically and even spiritually. Thank you so much Glacier by Sanlam, King James agency and most importantly Sarah. I’ve gained a new friend through this project. Thank you for allowing me into your life, into your home and giving me the honour of sharing your story! Thank you for teaching me… I’ve gained new insight that is invaluable!

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