The unknowns in your financial outlook can always shift, especially when you come up to retirement.
One of the best tools for looking at the future is using long-term cash flow planning to project your expenditure and the income you’ll need to meet it. You may not be able or wish to continue working to shore up against future financial challenges, so estimating your likely expenditure before considering your potential sources of income and capital over the coming years is a good place to start.
Balancing this equation becomes even more important as you think about how stopping or reducing work will impact on your lifestyle and spending habits. Housing is a major issue. You may have paid off your mortgage, but you might want to move to another property or even another area or country.
For many people, early retirement is a time for high activity levels in terms of travel, social life and pursuing interests; later this might reduce as they decide to take life easier.
Your expected levels of expenditure will vary as these assumptions change. It helps to define your expenditure as core and essential – such as utility bills which are unavoidable – and what could be dropped if the financial resources were not there to cover it, such as eating out regularly.
Mapping Income Sources
The other side of the picture is assessing the income and capital resources with which to meet your expected outgoings. These could include earnings from work, state and other pensions and rental income, as well as total returns from savings and investments. It makes sense to explore a range of scenarios for investment performance across your different sources of income. Projections can range from the very positive to the more pessimistic.
The actual cash flow projections will map these potential expenditure and income outcomes to show whether you are likely to have a deficit or a surplus over your expected lifetime.
For a surplus, you might want to consider whether to increase your expenditure, which could include making gifts to your family. A deficit forecast may mean you should reconsider your spending plans and see where you can make cost savings. If you have the choice, you might want to rethink your retirement date and focus on additional pension or other saving.
It is hardly surprising that long-term cash flow modelling has grown into one of the most valuable tools for financial planning.
The value of your investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested.
Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.
Investing in shares should be regarded as a long-term investment and should fit with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances.
If you’d like to know more about retirement planning, please get in touch.