You don't need a financial planning tool to tell you the best time to start saving for retirement - it's TODAY!
The tip comes from the South African Savings Institute (SASI) as National Savings Month comes to an end, savings awareness ticks higher and South Africans realise they are not saving nearly enough.
The challenge for many people is the lack of long-term savings, specifically for retirement, says SASI chief executive officer Elizabeth Lwanga-Nanziri.
She says some wealth management experts estimate that only 3% of South Africans will be financial independent on retirement - a big concern for the remaining 97%.
Another eye-opener is an estimate that those on an employer-backed pension fund may still need an extra 30% to 70% on top of their retirement pay-out. That is; if they plan to live comfortably after retirement.
The extra can only be provided by personal saving.
Some sophisticated financial planning models have been developed to show what people need to save at what stage in their lives or careers.
But there are three rules of thumb for retirement saving that anyone can apply, says SASI...
1. Start saving today
2. You're never too young to save, and
3. You're never too old to start
Elizabeth Lwanga-Nanziri points out: "Lifestyles differ, objectives are different and circumstances change so rigid formulas are not always appropriate.
"The factors that are always important are a commitment to start, the foresight to develop a savings plan and write down goals and budgets and the determination to see things through.
"Regular, long-term saving is always appropriate and becomes more vital by the day as life expectancy continues to grow for those who stay fit and healthy into their 50s and beyond."
Longer life expectancy is one of several trends affecting retirement planning.
Improved nutrition, better exercise and smart lifestyle choices like non-smoking mean many people stay active well into their 70s and 80s. This enables some seniors to defer retirement.
Another trend is to semi-retirement when active seniors with in-demand skills choose to work part-time or take on consultancy roles.
A less positive development is high healthcare inflation and increased need for prudent provision.
Equity market volatility is also a concern.
"Many factors and trends affect retirement planning," says Elizabeth Lwanga-Nanziri. "But some things don't change - like the need for prudent retirement provision and the advisability of starting today and not putting things off until tomorrow."