With longer life span, the significance of financial independence in old age has increased dramatically. Crossing the age of 85 is quite normal nowadays. But due to the popularity of nuclear family system and migration of younger people for better prospects, a majority of older persons have to live alone, without any family support system. They have to look after all their requirements and if they do not have enough income, their life becomes tougher as they can’t get proper care and support. Hence, at this stage, financial independence matters most. In today’s times, it also seems that the level of sensitization towards needs and rights of older persons among younger generations has declined as a majority of them hardly interact (or get to interact) with their ageing parents and grandparents.
Recently, a study done by Agewell Foundation revealed that older persons, who are financially independent or have high net worth are being looked after well in old age and those who have no financial means often remain deprived of proper care and support. It was also discovered in the study that almost three-fourths of old people (aged 60 years or above) were living alone or living only with their spouse in old age, while only about 37% older persons are financially independent in India. It clearly indicates the significance of financial independence in old age.
To ensure financial independence in old age, one has to plan well in advance for it. Financial planning for old age cannot be planned only after retirement or at the age of 55-60. For better financial planning for old age, one has to prudently start saving and investing money as early as possible without any greed for money. You must opt for long-term pension plans, which secure your principal amount and add value to your investments/savings with every passing day.
Also read: How to help the retired have financial dignity
After retirement, you will need money for the next 30-35 years for yourself/spouse. No one can presume how much money is enough for old age. Your financial needs always remain uncertain, depending on your or your spouse’s health condition, your family responsibilities, social obligations, your life-span, etc. Therefore, you must keep earning money even after retirement, till your health allows. Needless to say, as long as you work, you remain active and healthier. With a second job, you not only earn money but also get respect in your family/society. In today’s times, money is required at every stage of life. Elderly can also take on self-employment activities, like subject-related counseling, shopkeeping, any other business of their interest. Older persons must re-tool themselves with soft skills, modern-day computer/digital technology and keep themselves updated with changing times. It can certainly help them in getting involved in gainful jobs/engagements after retirement.
Also read: How to be money-wise after retirement
Retired persons have rich experience, knowledge, expertise and wisdom that they have earned over the years. Unfortunately, this rich human resources remain untapped. The government should create such opportunities for retired older persons, so that they can be involved in various social developmental activities with capacities like guidance, supervision and monitoring. Such provisions will also strengthen social security of the ever-increasing population of older persons.
In old age, financial independence plays a vital role in ensuring a healthy life and interpersonal relations. It helps the elderly in living with dignity, comfort, peace and harmony.
Himanshu Rath is founder chairman, Agewell Foundation