“I just want to be a Titas of Manila.” This is what my friends and I often say out loud. We utter this with a sigh as we look fondly at the fabulous ladies dining at one of those posh restaurants, often in the middle of the day as if they have no care in the world. Unlike us, they’re not rushing off to a meeting or stressing about beating a deadline at work. That’s the dream lifestyle – to be one of the Titas of Manila or what’s more often referred to as ladies who lunch. They’re the kind of folks to aspire to be mainly because they have money and are able to live comfortably even without a steady job. I know the term ladies who lunch is actually a mockery of rich, middle aged women who spend most of their time doing nothing meaningful. But I sure wouldn’t mind a life where I can look fab and have money to spend even if I’m not holding a steady job. Now that I’ve paid off my credit card debts, I’ve been setting my sight on a new and bigger goal – retirement planning.

I’m only in my 30s and I enjoy the work I do. I still have about three decades ’til I will really have to retire. Still young but any smart person would know that there’s no time like the present to get started. After all, the Titas of Manila lifestyle is not an easy dream to fulfill. As the saying goes:

A dream without a plan is just a wish

So how will I achieve the Titas of Manila lifestyle? Here are the key steps I’ve been taking to get me closer to making the dream a reality.

Managing my expenses

Step one of smart retirement planning to achieve Titas of Manila lifestyle status, manage my expenses. This means constantly doing a lifestyle check on myself and cutting down on unnecessary expenses. After all, to retire comfortably, I need money in that not so distant future.

Biggest challenge for me is controlling my shopaholic side. I have the tendency to shop on impulse a lot. Another thing is keeping my lifestyle simple and affordable now so that once I retire, I won’t struggle to keep it that way.

Saving for a Rainy Day

Having savings is an important part of retirement planning.

This is a valuable lesson that really stuck with me during the continuous lockdowns brought about by this pandemic. If I didn’t have money saved, I wouldn’t be able to pay off my bills or help my mom with the household expenses especially since we had a pay cut during the height of the lockdowns. Definitely can’t rely on just government pension in the Philippines to live a good life when I’m no longer working.

And so I’ve been making it a habit to save money every payday to put not just towards emergency funds but towards retirement. When I receive a windfall, I also make it a point not to spend it all. I put some towards my savings. I’m using both traditional banks and digital banks. Both have their pros and cons so I transact with both. Of course in order to live the Titas of Manila lifestyle, I can’t just save blindly. I need to set a goal amount to save to set a monthly plan that will help me achieve it. A retirement planning calculator comes in handy for this because it helps me estimate the required savings I would need to withdraw a specific amount each month over the course of my retirement. Strategic withdrawal is important when it comes to living a comfortably good retirement life. I wouldn’t want to overspend now, would I?

Having Investments

As financial experts would tell you, having money stashed away in the bank is good but there’s little growth there. Plus it’s affected by inflation. The value of your Php1,000,000 may not be as high come a few years down the road. Smart retirement planning means having investments together with savings. I know it comes with more risks, meaning I can lose all of my money, but that is why I only invest the money I can afford to lose. The goal is to retire comfortably aka live a Titas of Manila kind of live and to do that, one needs a significant amount of money. Investments will help me grow my money at a faster and bigger rate than savings.

Multiplying Income Streams and Building Passive Income

The Titas of Manila can afford to live a comfortable lifestyle even without a job. And they’re able to do that because they’re not just dependent on one source of income. As I have learned from this pandemic, if you only have one source of income and you lose it, you’re definitely in trouble. I’ve been working on diversifying my income streams and having more passive income.

I use my skills such as writing and take up a side hustle every now and then. I’ve got investments. I’m selling secondhand goods online – shameless plug: visit my Carousell store, and I’m working on my small book business, Reader’s Den MNL, also a shameless plug. My best friend and I are also continuously on the lookout for other possible ways to earn more money. The goal is to establish multiple income streams and passive income so that I will be able to live a good life even when I am no longer working.

With proper and early retirement planning, I can see myself enjoying my free time when I’m old and gray. I’d be able to lounge around a cafe or travel as long as I’m able to just like the Titas of Manila that I am so fond of.