4 December 17
After you’ve wrapped gifts for family and friends,
Remember one more for yourself at the end!
It might not be shiny, or come from the store
It’s one you won’t open for months and years more
This present is one that you’ll save
Tucked away for a Christmas many years from today
So think of a time that is yet come to pass
And give a gift to your future, a gift that will last.
The cool thing about Christmas and the holidays – if last year’s were a bit messy financially with a bit more debt than intended – is that they come around again, with a new opportunity to get better at it every year.
"It's Christmas Day!" exclaims Scrooge on Christmas morning. "I haven't missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night.”
This year, there’s someone new to add to the gift list: your future self – for all those Christmases to come. The present can be a lump sum in KiwiSaver or another managed fund, or even a gift of paying off debt you’re carrying, which also puts you in a better place for Christmas into the future.
Often the future versions of ourselves feel like someone else entirely, or even a stranger, so don’t worry if it feels like a gift to another person. This is the time of year for it, after all.
It’s also a way to be generous to all those people we’ll be giving gifts to down the track, after we’ve accumulated a retirement nest egg and start spending it.
Which brings up the concept of “decumulation” – drawing down your retirement funds gradually to make sure the money can cover all those future Christmases. How will we know how much to use for each holiday to come? It will take some solid planning and decisions to get it right.
The stakes for Christmas future will be higher than the present, since we don’t typically get a second chance like Scrooge when it comes to drawing down our funds after retirement. There are usually no practice runs or opportunities to build up funds all over again.
There will be a number of options, strategies and rules of thumb as we decumulate. It helps to run some numbers to get an idea at first, and get quality advice for some support as we make choices and plans to keep Christmas well into the future.
As for Scrooge: “It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!”