Friday, 26 March 2010

Make sure you have a steady cash flow when you retire

19 Mar 2010, 0139 hrs IST, Lovaii Navlakhi,

Retirement is the time when you hang up your boots from the hustle-bustle of daily life, relax, do your own thing. As we say, it’s time to say: "Goodbye tension, hello pension!” Suddenly, from the risk of dying too young, you have transformed yourself to the category where the risk of living too long exists.

The last thing you want to do is to have your money run out before you do. Risks have to be taken in a controlled manner, and post-retirement returns are thus assumed at 1% or maximum 2% p.a. over inflation. During one’s retirement days, the key requirement is safety, liquidity and tax-free returns. It is important to analyse the pros and cons of some of the avenues available to generate cash flow.

Rental Income 

Apart from a self-occupied property, all other real estate investments are made with the objective of either capital appreciation — like the purchase of land — or to generate return on investment, as in the case of rental property. 2008 has been a rude awakening, and we must prepare for the time when rentals may drop, and the property may remain vacant for a few months. Depending on rental income for 100% of one’s needs may be a risk that needs to be mitigated before heading into the retirement days.

Dividend Income 

A few weeks ago, a client approached me to plan some additional investments for his mother who was a retired senior citizen. He did not want to take risks with the investment and during the course of our conversation, we realised that nearly a third of her income was being received by way of dividends. So, while she was averse to risk investing, she was equally reluctant to reduce her shareholding because she was thrilled with the quantum of dividend that she would receive year on year. In this case, there is a need to reduce the risks that this client carries in her portfolio.


In all our retirement planning calculations, we assume a life expectancy of 85 years for males and 90 years for females. However, no one can say today whether that is an under-estimation or an overkill. To do away with this risk, one can consider purchasing of annuities which are paid for your lifetime, and on your expiry, to your spouse. Obviously, if one was to use this as the only source of retirement income, the quantum required to be invested would be large, so it’s best that about a third of one’s retirement requirement is met through this route.

Fixed Income Investments 

Returns on fixed income investments are normally taxable. For the purpose of planning, it may be best to consider these — like senior citizen bonds, post office schemes, fixed deposits — first so that the income is within tax exempt limit for senior citizens — Rs 2.40 lakh per year as per the latest Budget proposals. Practical examples abound which ensure income that is tax-free and carries minimalistic risk for the senior citizen.

(The author is the Managing Director and Chief Financial Planner of International Money Matters Pvt Ltd)

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