Many books on retirement planning suggest you start thinking about planning your retirement when you start your first job. While it is true that the sooner you put plans in place for the long term the better off you will be, it is unrealistic and impractical to start planning too soon. Let’s face it, when you are a twenty-something, your priorities are to find your way in life and have a good time. For most people of this age, that means doing nothing more about retirement planning than joining KiwiSaver. Later in life, priorities shift to buying a house, paying off the mortgage and ensuring children get the best possible start in life. There is no need to feel guilty during these stages about not saving more for retirement than what you are contributing to KiwiSaver. The priority should be to get rid of all debt in as short a time as possible so as to have enough years left before retirement to build up your savings. If you can do this by around the age of fifty you still have a good fifteen years, which is a long enough time frame to invest in volatile, high return investments. Five years out from retirement is when you need to really accelerate your retirement planning. Start by setting your retirement goals, focussing first on how you wish to spend your time and then quantifying how much money you will need to achieve your goals. Work out a retirement budget for your everyday costs and a budget for one-off costs such as travel, home maintenance and replacement of your car. Aim to live on your everyday retirement budget for at least five years before you retire to give you time to adjust to a lower level of spending while maximising your savings.
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There is a worldwide trend for investors to want to make a positive contribution to the world by investing in companies that are socially and environmentally responsible. If you are passionate about the effects of climate change, the scarcity of food and water, and social or environmental policies in general, then you will no doubt wish to ensure that the companies in which you invest are going about their business in a manner that is consistent with your views.