I'll be the first to admit finance and numbers aren't my strong suit.
My savings style is "out of sight, out of mind". Automatic payments go into a bank account I barely touch, and barely remember. Before I realise it, those small fortnightly transfers add up into a respectable nest egg I can rely on in emergencies. It's something I've done since I was a teenager with $5 a week, even when I was living off cheap pasta and ketchup for dinner, and it continues to serve me well now all these years later.
In many ways, the KiwiSaver scheme that arrived in 2007 works the same. I couldn't believe how much I had saved through KiwiSaver when it came to buying a house. Now, that fund is purely going towards my eventual retirement. And I'm grateful for it.
But has saving become a privilege no longer available to everyone?
Unfortunately, as reported in Money on Saturday, there are growing concerns at the number of people retiring while in debt. The problem is superannuation works on the assumption people have paid off their mortgage. The reality in the Bay of Plenty is many have not.
Most of the retirees receiving help from budget services were single and lived with adult children and/or grandchildren. Yet so many of them were too proud to ask for help.
I understand our seniors' reluctance. We're talking of a proud generation who have faced tougher times such as war. This is where those children and grandchildren sharing that same roof need to take notice and step up, in my view.
Times are tough and the Covid-19 pandemic appears to have created a greater divide between the haves and the have-nots. People have lost their jobs, business owners have been forced to shut up shop, but others are buying property like never before and car and spa sales are through the roof.
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Regardless, we all need to be there for our seniors while also ensuring we don't end up in the same situation in years to come. Their plight serves as a cautionary tale.
Personally, I'd much rather save now while I'm fit and able than try to play catch-up years down the track when working hard simply isn't an option anymore. As for my mortgage, forgoing a few nice-to-haves in order to pay more on it now means savings of tens of thousands in interest down the track. It's a lesson every single homeowner needs to learn, in my view.
In an age where we appear to have become a society of immediacy – wanting things now and getting them now- we need to remember to think ahead. Even if it's a measly $5 a week, it all adds up.
We all deserve a happy retirement but it's up to each of us to achieve that goal.