Gong Xi Fa Cai! The phrase wishing you happy Chinese New Year literally means ‘May you enlarge your wealth’. It couldn’t be a better fit for this Lunar New Year: the Year of the Rat.
Chinese or Lunar New Year is celebrated by billions of people annually, and celebrations include daily servings of dumplings, fireworks, family dinners and the distribution of 'red packets' filled with money. Although the holiday lasts 15 days, celebrations start on New Year's Eve, which falls on Saturday 25 January this year.
Rats are excellent savers
In Chinese culture, the Rat is the first of all zodiac animals and is seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. People born in the Year of the Rat are believed to be shrewd, have sound financial judgment and are reputed to be great at saving money — even to the extent of being considered penny-pinching by some!
If you are keen to start saving for the future in the Year of the Rat, Aegon's Five Fundamentals for Retirement Readiness can be a good start. The Fundamentals relate to various aspects of saving, planning, and preparing for older age. All five are important to help ensure that you are better prepared to achieve a financially secure retirement.
1. Start saving early and regularly
The best route to retirement readiness is starting to save as early as possible and becoming a "habitual saver" who always saves for retirement. Only 39 percent of people questioned for Aegon's latest Retirement Readiness research * say they are habitual savers.
2. Develop a written retirement strategy
Only 16 percent of people surveyed have a written plan for retirement. Fewer than half are currently factoring future healthcare expenses into their retirement savings needs.
3. Create a backup plan for unforeseen events
Unforeseen circumstances can have a catastrophic impact on your household finances. Globally, only 35 percent say they have a backup plan to provide income if they are unable to work before reaching retirement age. Have you given this some thought?
4. Adopt a healthy lifestyle
Living healthily can help you to stay fit for longer and avoid the costs associated with ill health. This includes regular exercise, healthy eating and avoiding smoking and excessive drinking.
5. Continue to learn
It is critical that you continue to learn and master new skills, to stay relevant in your job and continue to make informed choices for your retirement planning. Financial literacy is a compelling example of where improvement is needed.