Start saving for the future

WE HAVE so many financial obligations in our "living-for-today" lifestyle that we find it difficult to save.

WE HAVE so many financial obligations in our "living-for-today" lifestyle that we find it difficult to save.

So many of us - even those who are earning salaries and are able to pay their monthly bills - are still living beyond our means.

Is it any wonder we find it hard to think about the future?

Who hasn't heard someone say: "I'm in my 30s. I have plenty of time to save. It's not an immediate priority."

But before one knows it retirement is around the corner and there you are with insufficient time to save to sustain your current lifestyle after retirement.

Did you know that 41percent of formally employed South Africans have no form of retirement savings?

The Old Mutual Savings Monitor research has shown that only two out of five South African households enjoy pension or provident fund membership, and only a quarter have retirement annuities.

Upper-income households are three times more likely to have a pension fund than low-income households and men are more likely to be saving for retirement than women.

The government is aware of the crisis and is considering options to encourage retirement savings and to help South Africans enjoy an income in retirement. These changes will take time to implement. Most of us will still need to supplement our retirement savings if we want to maintain our current lifestyle after retirement.

"It's all a matter of priorities," says Ralph Mupita, managing director of Retail Affluent at Old Mutual, "many people do not consider the impact of their 'living-for-today' lifestyle in terms of retirement income. There are two issues - living beyond our means, and spending our money on items that are not necessities.

"If we make use of the tax breaks, we would have so much more income to finance our retirement savings."

With the end of the tax year looming, now is the perfect opportunity to make the most of the tax concessions given to South Africans as an added incentive to save for retirement.

Although the local economy is back in positive growth territory, the recovery will be slow.

So what does this mean for retirement savings?

"Consumers enjoyed excellent returns during the bull run in the so-called noughties. But slower economic growth and lower returns mean South African investors should be prepared to save more than they saved in the past if they want to secure the same financial future. This is another good reason to make the most of the available tax concessions and save as much as you possibly can," says Mupita.

"The secret of a comfortable retirement is planning and saving. Make the most of your retirement savings and speak to your financial adviser to ensure that you do not get caught off guard. A financial adviser will help you with a holistic financial plan to meet your financial needs now and in the future in the most tax efficient way."

The maximum deductible amount for current pension fund contributions is limited to the greater of:

l 7,5percent of retirement funding income; or R1750.

The maximum deductible amount for current retirement annuity fund contributions is limited to the greater of:

l 15percent of taxable non-retirement funding income (including investment income); or

l R3500 less the deductible current pension fund contributions; or R1750. - Lisette Lombard