Is it the right time? Is it now? Is it really necessary?

  November 12, 2020

Is it the right time? Is it now? Is it really necessary?

What do you think today’s blog is really about? Is it about action to be taken? Is it about decision to be taken? Or is it about only the time management? Interesting thought, isn’t it? Let’s make it easy for you. Today, we are discussing about finding the right time to start financial planning for your post retirement and “senior citizenship”, if such a word exists! ☺ This blog is going to be all built upon one of the famous stories and adding on top of that our own versions on how the story progresses. We all have heard the story of Ant and the Grasshopper. Isn’t it? And we are going to add a small twist to the tale as well.

Once upon a time there was a grasshopper and a group of ants staying under a large banyan tree. While the ants would keep on working hard throughout the spring and summer months, storing food grains and supplies for the winter coming ahead; the grasshopper was enjoying and singing away merrily during this summer and spring time. As the summer season passed away and it were the grey shades of winter evenings, the grasshopper was now worried. He had little or no food stored and had to endure one of the toughest times to survive through the winter. He managed it with the help of the ants and their generosity. I believe this situation could be very similar and analogical to our lives. When we are strong, able and in the early career stage of our life, we tend to under-estimate the effects of the “Winter” in later stages of our life. When the time comes to face this tough time, we may not be prepared, self-sufficient or in a self-sustainable position. We will have to rely upon the “Generosity” of relatives and children, like the grasshopper had to from the ants. Not a very good situation to be in, wouldn’t you agree?

In fact, let me add a variation and twist to the above story. The grasshopper survived that specific winter and learnt the important lesson. He promised himself to store something for the winter this upcoming season and be in a better position for this year. He planned and estimated for the winter months and the food that he would need for those three months. He continued his merry ways also right after, what he thought was a sufficient food-stock to last him during the three months of the winter. He was all set and ready when the winter came. Oh, but this year the winter was unusually long and severe. The grasshopper used us all the stored goods and still stayed hungry for the last few days. He wasn’t sure what went wrong, as he thought he had done his calculations right. Again, he had to go back to the Ants and borrow some more food for those extra days of winter. Going back and analogically applying the same story to our lives, many times we learn from our own mistakes and also from experiences of others, but over-estimate our ability to know exactly what is needed and what will last us during our retirement days. The finances needed for us to live our lives to the fullest, without having to depend upon and asking for the “borrowing” can be miscalculated, misunderstood or even many times underestimated by many families. The emergency medical expenses, incidental expenses, inflation and cost of living can actually throw a curveball at you. In fact, interestingly enough, if you are blessed with a long life of 80 years and beyond, should you be happy that you are blessed or should you be worried that how will your savings outlast you and not the other way around!

Shouldn’t it be a work of a professional or at least the one who has studied it and understood it better with help of formal training?

Let’s add a one more part to our story now, and I promise you that you will enjoy this too. The grasshopper after first two seasons of winter where he went hungry and in survival mode, did some soul-searching. Was it his miscalculations? Was it his merry ways? What was not working for him? This time he decided to call on the experts. He went to the King of the Ants and said that last two seasons you have saved me from going hungry, which means you had more than you needed. You spared some food for me too. I am sure you could help me to plan my winter better this year and further. The King of the Ants was very happy to share his secrets with the Grasshopper. He said the secret lies into “Think of the best and plan for the worst.” The grasshopper this year decided to follow this advice. He planned his summer days better, too. There was a time for enjoyment but with equal focus and attention on building enough for the winter ahead. There was a thought of also possibly a longer and stronger winter and how it would affect his planning. The grasshopper continued on his plan this year and I think you guessed it right - This year’s winter was such a pleasant season for him. He had enough food and he could also enjoy the snow and all the beauty around instead of worrying about the food. Analogy applied again - How about we all think of our retirement years and “Senior Citizenship” days, like the Grasshopper planned for in the third story?He enjoyed the summer, too but at the same time provided enough attention to the winter days. It was a classic balancing act!

Similarly, we all can either do this financial planning study ourselves,or simply take advise, help and support of professionals to do this job for us. Doesn’t it make a lot of sense! Thought always remains the same though, “Think of the best and plan for the worst!”