Saving for retirement is that fuzzy concept that exists in the back-corridors of your mind when you are young. You hear “older” people talk about it; some with fondness and excitement, while others with some fear and trepidation.

As you start your professional career, maybe start a family, and even buy a home, the concept starts to become less fuzzy. But still, its realism and importance do not quite crystalise for years to come.

But then, suddenly, after the “optimum retirement saving years” are in the review mirror, many find themselves with perfectly clear vision in which retirement is now in sharp focus. It’s alarming to realise suddenly that you are over 50, with no retirement savings, and only 144 monthly paychecks left to save or invest for 200 months of retirement.

But beyond the fear and the maths, what about the camouflaged components; what about the things that you should budget for which may have never crossed your mind? For example, budgeting to visit your kids and grandkids overseas. There is a good chance that your grandchildren will not be living in South Africa by the time they grow up. How about the high cost of eating well? Food quality is decreasing, chronic diseases due to poor quality of food are on the increase, and eating well and nutritious foods will become out of reach for many. How about housing expenses, which don’t retire when you do? Having a fully paid-off property is only half of the victory.

The point I want to make is this: it is an interesting exercise to think of buying silver and gold as a supplementary strategy for saving or investing for retirement. My clients have often expressed confidence and delight in the number of ounces of gold and silver they have relative to what they require to retire.

So, how much gold do you need to retire? A sensible and unique way of looking at retirement would be in ounces of gold relative to total income. For example, a family with a monthly income of R38 000 earns around one 1 oz. gold Krugerrand per month. Since they live on this income, the cost of living for a month is the same as the cost of a gold Krugerrand. Someone earning R70 000 per month would thus be earning two gold Krugerrands, and someone who earns R130 000 per month four gold Krugerrands.

What about silver? Currently, an ounce of gold calculated in rands can buy around 60 ounces of silver. If your monthly income is R38 000 per month, this would represent a one-month retirement package of 60 ounces of silver.

Every time an investor acquires even a fractional amount of gold, they have (relative to their earnings and standard of living) bought a few day-unit of retirement. Every time an investor acquires a few ounces of silver, similarly, they have purchased a few days’ worth of retirement. What an interesting and more honest way of keeping track of your future retirement prospects by using sound money!