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Financial Planner Shares Five Secrets to a Sukhi (Comfortable) Retirement

At the August meeting of Club 65, Vijay Shah (second from left) shared his secrets for a comfortable retirement. He posed with Club 65’s executive Committee, (from left) Rahat Kale, Paru McGuire, President; Latafath Hussain and Fateh Ali Chatur.

At the August meeting of Club 65, Vijay Shah (second from left) shared his secrets for a comfortable retirement. He posed with Club 65’s executive Committee, (from left) Rahat Kale, Paru McGuire, President; Latafath Hussain and Fateh Ali Chatur.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: You might think (as most people do) that the most important thing to consider during retirement should be to keep a close watch over your finances and stay within your budget. Then would come all the other worries that people associate with living on a fixed income and a lot of disposable time.  But leave it to a retired financial planner to turn those notions around.

After 30 years in the business, the last 18 with LPL Financial, Vijay Shah could have written a book on the do’s and don’ts of retirement planning. He had worked in the industry for 18 years in Baroda, Gujarat before moving to the US in 1996 to join Morgan Stanley and had counselled many clients in taking care of their assets. But that wasn’t what he was going to tell the room of mostly already retired people who came to the monthly Club 65 meeting held last Saturday morning, August 4 at the Bayland Community Center on the southwest side. His focus was on after retirement.

But first, 89-year-old Taiyab Shipchandler, affectionately known to all as ‘kaka” (Uncle), rose to entertain with two Hindi songs, set to karaoke music on his laptop. Kaka is also known for his fondness to belt out a few numbers at many of the C65 meetings, in English and Hindi, in his strong and trained voice. Bespectacled, hunched with a long white beard and his constant cap, kaka is a native of Surat, Gujarat who worked in Muscat for 21 years in the industrial cleaning business. He came to the US in 2000 to live with his son and daughter and get treatment for his beloved wife Munira who had Parkinson’s and later passed away in 2013.

At the outset, Shah, a soft-spoken man with a deep sense of ease about him, explained that what he was going to tell – mostly in Hindi – the group was not about planning for retirement but rather how to derive the most pleasure from retirement. “The first thought is that you need lots of money,” he said, “though you may only need enough to be comfortable.” He himself has been retired for 18 months and has had  a chance to test out his observations and conclusions. “You think ‘I don’t have to work and have all this free time’ but find you have to spend 8 or 9 hours at home with your wife,” he jested. “That’s a big challenge!”

“I liked my profession as I could help people plan for retirement,” he went on, “but most people don’t want to tell you how much money they have. I told them I didn’t care and just made them feel comfortable and then we could go further.” Shah said that people should plan at age 51 what to do at age 65 and to use whatever government plans are available to them later in retirement.

Shah distilled the secret of a comfortable retirement to five principles: take care of your health and drink plenty of water; walk as much as possible to keep the joints lubricated; take care of your spouse and accompany him or her on the walks; don’t become too independent of the family and lastly, make sure your family has the first rights to your assets by leaving a living will which you can change at any time.

Aside from this, Shah stressed the need to “control your mind, listen to your heart and always be positive”; keep good friends and revive old contacts; give back to society and give knowledge “but don’t ask if they followed your advice” and most of all, after the age of 65, don’t dwell or waste your time on the unforeseen moment of death.

Still, some people persisted and he had to answer questions about wills, power of attorney and trustees, though he said, it was a topic of future and lengthy discussions.

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