START EARLY. Do not put off retirement for another month. It is a lifestyle that requires being built one block at a time, with a lot of patience. A loss in retirement can be so detrimental, especially if you are over 55 years old. Your heart would have taken a lot of shock from work, family, and life. Those who live a comfortable retirement lifestyle have spent years planning and establishing long-term systems. Mind you, retirement, in as much as it is usually marked by a one-time lump sum payment, is not a once-off arrangement but one that will have to be experienced over a period of years.

During my life, I had the opportunity to witness certain retirees receive their respective lump sum payments. Of particular emphasis, I will restrict myself to two of the many. Both had attained the age of 55. This was also at a time when the Zambian Republican Constitution had not been amended to provide for the maintenance on the pay roll up until the full and final payment of the retirement benefits.

Both of the above-mentioned retirees had the perception that the lump sum would solve whatever issues there had. “I will buy three houses, live in one, and get rentals from the other two,” they said. When you start preparing for retirement early, it means that experiments will be done way before reaching retirement age. Failures, challenges, or obstacles faced would cement the concrete, which can handle the storm should it occur. However, with the dynamics of life, the three houses are not enough to sustain a 55-year-old in Zambia, who most of the time will still have kids in high school, family members depending on them, medical bills to settle, and the drama that comes with tenants not paying on time or the house falling vacant for some period within the year. Not to mention spoiled children who would have brought grandchildren or flown back from abroad, drinking excessively and causing one problem after another in the name of having “western world manners.”

One of the retirees I have mentioned above even gave me a tour of his project. At the time, he was a Brigadier General with the Zambia Air Force. “I was a Second Lieutenant when I started investing in real estate, and I am currently working on this project, which I have been working on for the past seven years,” he said. “Young man, start early; you won’t feel the pressure, and especially before you start a family because prices for land will always be on the rise.” The old Brigadier General is comfortable in retirement now. In fact, we later met at one of the graduations at which his grandchild was graduating, as was my sister. Little did he know that my encounter with him had led me to buy my first property at the age of 25. By the way, there are number of housing projects in Zambia now, pick the system that suits your budget. The Patents and Company Registration Agency (PACRA) is user friendly, it is never too late to start a business. Network marketing is trending why not join one and learn the art of selling sand in the Sahara. Not to mention the mobile booths time to be the agent and not the customer. See how the drivers sit feels before reaching retirement.

Retirement will need a good system that should sustain the third and fourth generations. Never believe that a lump sum will solve all of one’s problems. It definitely will not suddenly turn ideas into millions of kwachas in revenue. Remember, even the most successful entrepreneurs had challenges, with lessons drawn from either losses, crooks, or failed attempts. Retirement, like marriage or child bearing, needs proper preparation and planning. Begin while you still have a number of years in employment. More often than not, people do not prepare. Individuals end up asking for contract extensions and holding on to jobs or appointments. Even going so far as to conceal certain information about the operation of equipment or company systems in order to force the employers retain them in their respective capacities.

A 65-year-old should have a thriving economy and be an olive branch that gives life to the youth. They should not be a stumbling block with the excuse that the young are not ready. To achieve such a status, one must begin early in life, putting in place systems that will be rigorously. A wise man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children. Start early, develop a proper system, and by the time you are 65, even your grandchildren will find it easy to take care of you.

The author is a retired officer of the Zambia Airforce and an Advocate. He can be reached via email: [email protected] or Whatsapp: +260 97 9165574