The Zimbabwean economy is a tough playing field. It’s hard enough for those who are young and have a plethora of opportunities. For those who are past their youth and beyond the working age it surely presents more complex difficulties. Planning for retirement is vital and given our challenges it is much more important for the Zimbabwean to plan appropriately for retirement- you simply cannot afford not to.
Twice Zimbabweans savings and investments have lost value. The 2008 economic crisis left life savings and retirement pensions without value. The Zimbabwean dollar was officially demonetized at the rate of US$1 to ZW$3500000000000000000 (quadrillion). A sobering thought to have devalued complete life savings so easily. The 2009 “dollarisation” meant that pension benefits we recalculated
In February 2019 reserve bank Governor John Mangudya’s monetary policy statement and its accompanying legal instruments SI 32 and 33 of 2019 rendered all assets and liabilities denominated in US dollars would now be denominated in RTGS dollars and converted at a rate of USD1 to ZWL1 even though the interbank market would start trading the US dollar at 1:2.5 while the parallel market had already placed the value well over 1:4.
Treacherous as the territory is there are a few tips that can be applied when planning for retirement. Which to choose and use depends on how close you are to retirement and a host of other factors.
Cash is out
Once bitten, twice shy, third time stupid. Savings in any sort of local currency are to be avoided where possible. The fact of the matter is, the second time around the savings were initially in US dollars. So any retirement plan needs to bear this information carefully in mind. Good alternatives will be discussed later in this article but the important thing to note is that exposure should be limited. The susceptibility of such products to policy manipulation means that they make for uncertain futures. While they may be used to supplement plans they certainly cannot be the mainstay.
USD is in
For so long as Zimbabwe is dominated by agriculture and mineral exports the US dollar will continue to be a real value unit. If you have a way to hold money in US dollars or US dollar denominated products then this a good place to have your money. Of course we have just mentioned the fact that people lost US dollar denominated savings and assets but there are still ways that preserve your assets. Over time the US dollar has managed to maintain it’s value in our market. The RTGS dollar may be our unit of account but it’s reasonable to assume that a lot participants ion the economy are still working with a US dollar peg.
Real estate and other assets
The US dollar is a great store of value but there are other assets that can protect your investment. Real estate is a good example of this. Real estate somewhat maintains its standing as a good investment. It always adjusts to the prevailing economic conditions and finds an appropriate value. Speaking specifically to rental income from real estate it will always find its feet in the market. Assets that generate income will also find their way in the market. They are able to find prices in the new order of the day. They are not affected by change of currency or policy for the most part. Commodities such as gold can also be placed in this group.
Passive income businesses
Looking at those who are closer to retirement it may be practical to consider business which can be operated with minimal effort for maximum output. Passive income opportunities vary in nature and can be centered around networks or skills. Developing the networks and the skills beforehand would be a great idea, even if you don’t specifically know what the opportunity will be. Businesses will always reflect the times but a strong well executed business can weather the storm.
Jordan Peterson said it best in 12 rules for life; when times are tough we have to shorten our planning and review cycles. If the events in Zimbabwe around money and investment values have taught us anything it’s that change can hit us and hit us hard. I would’ve loved to go deeper into the investment opportunities but they are likely to see another shock maybe as big as 2008 and 2019 or bigger. These guidelines are the best opportunities to plan for retirement currently available to the ordinary Zimbabwean.