It's the biggest, most under-reported adult activity in South Africa; so don't think you're alone if you're playing retirement catch-up. Chances are your neighbours are quietly - perhaps desperately - doing the same.
The good news is that the chances of success could be better than you think.
The positive perspective comes from Absa Investments, an asset manager with a strong base of pension fund clients and a firm often consulted by retail investor-savers looking to beat inflation in preparation for the 'golden years'.
"Most salary-earners over 45 are either playing retirement catch-up or thinking about it," says Johan Gouws, an Absa Investments executive director. "The challenge is so common that well-proven strategies have been developed to help you do it."
One problem is that many financial projections assume an ideal scenario in which a perfect saver invests steadily from the age of 25 for a comfortable retirement.
"In reality people marry, take on debt, buy a house, have kids and spend huge sums on their education," says Gouws. "You might be 55 before your bond is paid and the kids are off your hands.
"Only then do have the money for proper retirement provision. You see the tables and projections, all beginning with the perfect 25-year-old saver and think it's too late. But it's never too late."
Financial service industry statistics indicate a late start is about average (47% of retirees made contributions towards retirement for 15 years or less). Nearly two-thirds of retirees received retirement advice less than 14 years before retiring. So a catch-up strategy is normal.
Projections showing the advantage enjoyed by that mythical 25-year-old are true. He can achieve ideal retirement on just 10% of monthly salary.
For the same outcome, a 45-year-old would have to save 35% of gross
"This takes discipline, but it's possible," says Gouws. "You can save more than a third of your salary once school and varsity fees have been paid, the house is yours and debts have been settled.
"Your income has never been so unencumbered. So start saving. Cut out useless expenditure and play catch-up for real."
To overcome a retirement shortfall, salary-earners:
* Increase their savings rate
* Choose to take more investment risk for greater returns
* Adjust lifestyle and expenses
* Work for longer than originally planned
* Change their retirement income expectations
"Working for longer or taking well rewarded semi-retirement has become a trend," says Gouws. "The option is facilitated by the country's skills shortage.
"Working longer gives your investments longer to grow. Compounding effects drive most wealth creation. Time is a great risk manager, allowing you to take a little more risk, securing higher returns that can then be compounded.
"The key is not to delay any longer. Set your objectives. Seek professional advice from qualified advisers and develop a holistic plan that considers medical cover, income and life cover and estate planning as well as retirement provision. Late starters have to be smart