A catch-22 situation is one from which there are no easy solutions. Any move we make will be associated with significant disadvantages and risk. Such situations are often found in retirement planning. Whether you are a middle-aged employee heading towards retirement or a young earner trying to manage their parents' retirement fund, understanding when a catch-22 can arise is important.

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Given a lump sum, how do we invest it in order to create a reliable income stream that is risk-free and has the ability to keep pace with inflation?

This is the most crucial question that concerns every person who is retired, nearing retirement, or planning for someone else’s retirement (a client or a parent perhaps).  Well, at least it ought to be!

The answer concerns everyone since we all have to answer this question at some point in our life.

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Ever wondered why the retirement corpus we need is so large? Often unbelievably so. Is this a mistake in the math, in the assumptions or in the inputs?

In this post, let us a discuss a simple illustration of a retirement calculation in order to understand why the corpus required is so large.

Any calculation requires inputs. For retirement, we require at least 5 inputs. This can be arranged in the following way.

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I see more and more young earners trying to manage the retirement corpus of their parents. In a way, this is healthy and in a way dangerous.

Let us face it. Most retirement corpuses are not healthy enough. In the sense that one cannot wield them to generate an inflation-protected post-retirement income. This is especially true of our parents generation. Most of them never had any experience with equity or volatile instruments.

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Using a retirement calculator for the first time can be a nightmarish experience. Many users have complained that the low-stress retirement calculator is low-stress before using it and high-stress after!

I would like to think much of this stress is due to a lack of understanding of how a corpus grows over time.  Although investments in volatile asset classes do not compound like a fixed deposit, their growth can be represented as such. As long as we understand that the return assumed is the average considered over the period of investment, and not the one obtained each year, it should be okay.

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