How to save money for retirement  

How to save money for retirement in Nigeria

Saving for retirement is a crucial aspect of financial planning that ensures a comfortable and secure financial future. In Nigeria, the importance of retirement savings cannot be overstated, especially considering the current statistics which reveal that the state of retirement savings is not encouraging.   

According to a recent survey, only about 20% of Nigerians have a retirement plan in place (Source: National Pension Commission, 2022). The average Nigerian retires with a savings amount of around ₦500,000, which is grossly inadequate to sustain a comfortable lifestyle in retirement (Source: Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria, 2022). The retirement age in Nigeria is 60, but many Nigerians are not prepared for retirement, with some even continuing to work beyond the age of 70 due to financial necessity (Source: National Bureau of Statistics, 2022). 

Saving for retirement is crucial to ensure that you can maintain your standard of living in your golden years. Without a sufficient retirement nest egg, you may be forced to rely on family or friends for financial support, or worse, live in poverty. The purpose of this blog is to provide actionable tips and strategies for effective retirement savings in Nigeria. We will explore various aspects of retirement savings, including understanding retirement savings options, assessing your retirement needs, creating a retirement savings plan, and maximizing your retirement savings. We will also provide interactive examples and real-life scenarios to help you better understand and apply the concepts to your own life. 

For instance consider the financial situation of  Mrs. Olufunke, a 40-year-old marketing executive who earns #350k per month. She has a family of three and wants to retire comfortably at 60. Using a retirement calculator, she determines that she needs to save at least ₦2 million (approximately $5,200) per year to achieve her retirement goals. What steps can Mrs. Olufunke take to start saving for retirement? How can she maximize her retirement savings?

We will explore these questions and more in the subsequent sections of this blog. By the end of this blog, you will have a better understanding of the importance of retirement savings and practical tips to start building your retirement nest egg. So, let’s get started!

couple happy in retirement

Understanding Retirement Savings in Nigeria

 What is Retirement Savings?

Retirement savings refers to the amount of money set aside during an individual’s working years to provide financial security and comfort during retirement. It is a strategy for long-term saving, investing, and finally withdrawing money you accumulate over time to achieve a financially comfortable life during retirement. 

The purpose of retirement savings is to ensure that individuals can maintain their standard of living in their golden years, without having to rely on family or friends for financial support. In Nigeria, there are several types of retirement savings options available, including Contributory Pension Schemes (CPS), Voluntary Contributions, Retirement Savings Accounts (RSA), Micro Pension Plan, Insurance and Annuities, and Cooperative Societies and Savings Schemes

The Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) 

The Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) is a revolutionary retirement savings scheme that has transformed the pension landscape in Nigeria. Introduced in 2004, the CPS is a mandatory scheme for employees in the public and private sectors, aimed at ensuring a comfortable retirement for workers. The scheme is managed by the National Pension Commission (PenCom), which oversees the entire pension industry in Nigeria.

The CPS has been instrumental in promoting a culture of retirement savings in Nigeria, ensuring that employees have a secure financial future. By understanding how the scheme works and its benefits, employees can make informed decisions about their retirement planning and take advantage of this valuable opportunity. 

How it works:

The CPS operates on a contributory basis, where both employees and employers make monthly contributions to a pension fund. The employer contributes a minimum of 10% of the employee’s monthly salary, while the employee contributes a minimum of 8%. These contributions are invested in a range of assets, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate, to generate returns and grow the pension fund.

The pension fund is managed by a licensed Pension Fund Administrator (PFA), who is responsible for investing the contributions and ensuring the fund’s growth. The PFA also provides regular statements to employees, showing the current balance of their pension account.

Benefits:

The CPS offers several benefits to employees, including:

  • Guaranteed minimum pension: The scheme ensures that employees receive a minimum pension, regardless of the performance of the investments.
  • Tax benefits: Contributions to the CPS are tax-deductible, reducing the employee’s taxable income.
  •  Inflation-indexed pension: The pension is adjusted for inflation, ensuring the employee’s purchasing power is maintained.
  •  Option to withdraw a lump sum: At retirement, employees can withdraw a lump sum from their pension account, in addition to receiving a monthly pension.

For instance, Mr. Ade, a 30-year-old employee earns ₦500,000 per month. His employer contributes 10% of his salary (₦50,000) to the CPS, while Mr. Ade contributes 8% (₦40,000). Over 20 years, their combined contributions amount to ₦12 million. Assuming an average annual return of 10%, the pension fund grows to ₦30 million by the time Mr. Ade retires at 60. He can then withdraw a lump sum of ₦10 million and receive a monthly pension of ₦200,000 for life.

Voluntary Contributions

Voluntary contributions are a vital component of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), allowing employees to take control of their retirement savings and build a more secure financial future. These contributions are made in addition to the mandatory 8% contribution and can be made at any time, providing flexibility and autonomy to employees.

It offers employees a unique opportunity to boost their retirement savings, reduce tax liabilities, and enjoy flexibility in their contributions. By understanding the benefits and rules surrounding voluntary contributions, employees can make informed decisions about their retirement planning and create a more secure financial future.

Benefits:

Voluntary contributions offer several benefits, including:

  • Increased retirement savings: By contributing more to their pension fund, employees can significantly increase their retirement savings, providing a more comfortable retirement.
  • Tax benefits: Voluntary contributions are tax-deductible, reducing the employee’s taxable income and resulting in lower tax liabilities.
  • Flexibility to contribute at any time: Employees can make voluntary contributions at any time, allowing them to take advantage of lump sums or bonuses to boost their retirement savings.

Let’s consider the example of Mrs. Nneka, a 40-year-old employee who earns ₦1 million (approximately $750) per month. She contributes the mandatory 8% (₦80,000) to her pension fund and decides to make additional voluntary contributions of ₦50,000 per month. Over 10 years, her voluntary contributions amount to ₦6 million, which, combined with her mandatory contributions, grows her pension fund to ₦18 million by retirement. This significantly enhances her retirement income and provides a more comfortable lifestyle. 

Tax implications and withdrawal rules:

It’s essential to note that voluntary contributions are tax-deductible, reducing the employee’s taxable income. However, withdrawals from the pension fund are subject to a 10% tax deduction, as per the Pension Reform Act 2014. This tax deduction applies to both mandatory and voluntary contributions.

Retirement Savings Accounts (RSA)

A Retirement Savings Account (RSA) is a vital tool for individuals to take control of their retirement planning, offering a flexible and personalized approach to saving for the future. An RSA is a personal savings account opened with a licensed Pension Fund Administrator (PFA), allowing individuals to contribute a portion of their income to a pension fund, which is then invested in a range of assets.

Opening and managing an RSA

Opening an RSA is a straightforward process, and individuals can follow these steps:

  • Open an RSA with a licensed PFA: Research and select a licensed PFA that meets your needs, and open an RSA account.
  • Contribute a portion of your income to the RSA: Decide on a contribution amount that suits your financial goals and income, and make regular contributions to your RSA.
  • Monitor and adjust your investments as needed: Keep track of your RSA’s performance, and adjust your investment options as needed to ensure your retirement goals are on track.

Role of PFAs and PFCs

PFAs and PFCs play crucial roles in managing and securing your RSA:

  • PFAs manage the RSA and invest the contributions: PFAs are responsible for investing your contributions in a range of assets, aiming to grow your pension fund over time.
  • PFCs (Pension Fund Custodians) hold the assets of the RSA: PFCs act as custodians, holding the assets of your RSA and ensuring their safety and security.

For instance, we can see Mr. Tunde, a 35-year-old self-employed entrepreneur who wants to save for retirement. He opens an RSA with a licensed PFA and contributes ₦50,000 monthly. Over 10 years, his RSA grew to ₦7 million, thanks to the PFA’s investment expertise and the power of compound interest. Mr. Tunde can then use his RSA to purchase an annuity or take a lump sum withdrawal, providing a comfortable retirement income. 

By understanding the benefits and mechanics of RSAs, individuals can take control of their retirement planning and build a secure financial future.

Micro Pension Plan

The Micro Pension Plan is an innovative retirement savings scheme designed specifically for self-employed individuals and those in the informal sector, providing a flexible and accessible way to save for the future. This scheme recognizes the unique challenges faced by this demographic, offering a tailored solution to help them build a secure retirement income.

Target audience

The Micro Pension Plan is ideal for:

  • Self-employed individuals: Freelancers, consultants, and entrepreneurs who want to take control of their retirement planning.
  • Informal sector workers: Market traders, artisans, and others in the informal sector who may not have access to traditional employer-sponsored pension plans.
  • Small business owners: Owners of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who want to provide retirement benefits for themselves and their employees.

Benefits: 

The Micro Pension Plan offers several benefits, including:

  • Flexibility to contribute at any time: Contributors can make payments at any time, allowing them to adapt to changing financial circumstances.
  •  Tax benefits: Contributions are tax-deductible, reducing taxable income and resulting in lower tax liabilities.
  •  Increased retirement savings: The scheme helps individuals build a significant retirement fund, providing a comfortable income in their golden years.

Registration and contribution process

To participate in the Micro Pension Plan, individuals can follow these simple steps:

  • Register with a licensed PFA: Select a licensed Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) and register for the Micro Pension Plan.
  • Contribute a portion of your income: Decide on a contribution amount that suits your financial goals and income and make regular payments to your Micro Pension Plan account.

Insurance and Annuities

Insurance and annuities can play a vital role in ensuring a comfortable retirement, providing a guaranteed income stream to support your golden years. Two types of life insurance policies are particularly suitable for retirement planning:

  •  Whole life insurance policies: These policies offer a death benefit and a cash value component that grows over time, providing a tax-deferred savings element. Whole-life policies can be used to supplement retirement income or leave a legacy for loved ones.
  • Endowment policies: These policies pay a lump sum after a specified period or upon death, providing a guaranteed income stream or a cash payout to support retirement goals.

Understanding annuities:

Annuities offer a guaranteed income stream for life or a set period, providing a predictable income source in retirement. Annuities can be purchased with a lump sum or regular payments, and they typically offer a range of benefits, including:

  • Guaranteed income: Annuities provide a steady income stream, helping to ensure a comfortable retirement.
  • Tax benefits: Annuities grow tax-deferred, reducing tax liabilities and maximizing returns.
  • Risk management: Annuities can help manage investment risk, providing a predictable income source regardless of market fluctuations.

For instance, you are a 50-year-old entrepreneur who wants to ensure a comfortable retirement. You had to purchase a whole life insurance policy with a cash value component, which grows over time. At retirement, you can use the policy’s cash value to purchase an annuity, providing a guaranteed income stream for life. This combination of insurance and annuities helps you achieve your retirement goals and enjoy a secure financial future.

Cooperative Societies and Savings Schemes

Cooperative societies and savings schemes are member-owned organizations that provide financial services to their members, offering a unique approach to retirement planning. These organizations operate on a not-for-profit basis, distributing profits to members in the form of dividends or interest.

Participating and benefits

Members participate by contributing to a savings pool, which earns interest and provides a range of financial services, including:

  • Loans: Members can access loans at competitive interest rates, helping to support their financial goals.
  • Savings: Members earn interest on their contributions, providing a tax-free savings element.
  • Dividends: Profits are distributed to members in the form of dividends, offering a potential long-term income source.

Operation and contribution to retirement planning

Cooperative societies and savings schemes can provide an additional source of retirement income, helping to diversify your retirement portfolio. By contributing a portion of your income to a savings pool, you can:

  • Build a retirement nest egg: Regular contributions can grow over time, providing a significant retirement fund.
  • Supplement retirement income: Interest earned on contributions can provide a tax-free income stream in retirement.
  • Access financial services: Members can access loans and other financial services, helping to support their retirement goals.

Let’s say as a 45-year-old teacher who joins a cooperative society and savings scheme. You will be expected to contribute a portion of your income to the savings pool, earning interest and dividends over time. At retirement, you use your accumulated savings to supplement your pension income, providing a comfortable and secure financial future.

Retirement saving jar box

Assessing Your Retirement Needs

Assessing your retirement needs is a crucial step in planning for a comfortable and secure financial future. This involves determining your retirement goals, estimating your expenses, and calculating how much you need to save. 

In Nigeria, it’s essential to consider factors like inflation, life expectancy, and healthcare costs when planning for retirement. You should also think about your lifestyle choices and how they may impact your retirement expenses. By carefully assessing your retirement needs, you can create a personalized plan that helps you achieve your goals and enjoy a fulfilling retirement.

 Calculating How Much You Need to Save:

 Calculating how much you need to save for retirement can be challenging, but retirement calculators available in Nigeria can help. The Nigeria Pension Commission recommends that employees contribute 8% of their basic salary, housing allowance, and transport allowance, while employers contribute a minimum of 10% of the same sum.

  •  Factors to Consider: When calculating how much you need to save, you need to consider several factors, including inflation, life expectancy, and interest rates. You should also consider your retirement goals and expenses.
  • Retirement Calculators: Retirement calculators can help you determine how much you need to save for retirement. These calculators take into account your income, expenses, and retirement goals, as well as inflation and interest rates. They can help you determine how much you need to save each month to achieve your retirement goals.


Let’s say you want to retire in 20 years and you want to have a monthly income of ₦500,000. You are currently earning ₦500,000 per month and you contribute 8% of your income to your retirement savings account. Your employer also contributes 10% of your income. Using a retirement calculator, you determine that you need to save ₦200,000 per month to achieve your retirement goal.

Creating a Retirement Savings Plan

Creating a retirement savings plan is a critical step toward achieving a comfortable and secure financial future. This involves setting up a budget, choosing the right retirement accounts, and automating your savings.

Setting Up a Budget

Setting up a budget is the first step in creating a retirement savings plan. This involves analyzing your current spending and identifying saving opportunities. You can start by tracking your income and expenses to understand where your money is going. Make a list of all your expenses, including essential expenses like rent, utilities, and food, as well as non-essential expenses like entertainment and hobbies. Once you have a clear picture of your spending, you can identify areas where you can cut back and allocate more funds towards savings.

Prioritizing savings goals is also crucial. You may have multiple savings goals, such as saving for a down payment on a house, a car, or a vacation. However, retirement savings should be a top priority, as it’s essential for long-term financial security.

Let’s say you earn ₦400,000 per month and currently spend ₦200,000 on essential expenses. You can allocate ₦100,000 towards savings and investments, and ₦100,000 towards non-essential expenses. By prioritizing savings goals, you can adjust your budget to allocate more funds towards retirement savings.

Choosing the Right Retirement Accounts

Choosing the right retirement accounts is critical to achieving your retirement goals. In Nigeria, there are several options available, including the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), Retirement Savings Account (RSA), and other private retirement plans.

The CPS is a mandatory scheme for employees in the public and private sectors, while the RSA is a voluntary scheme for self-employed individuals and those in the informal sector. Employer-sponsored plans, such as the Employee Compensation Scheme, also offer retirement benefits.

When choosing a retirement account, consider factors such as contribution limits, investment options, and withdrawal rules. It’s essential to understand the differences between each option and select the one that best suits your needs

Automating Your Savings

Automating your savings is a simple and effective way to ensure consistent retirement savings. You can set up automatic transfers from your salary account to your retirement account. This way, you’ll ensure that you save a fixed amount regularly, without having to think about it.

Adjusting contributions as income changes is also crucial. As your income increases, you can increase your contributions to your retirement account. This will help you achieve your retirement goals faster and build a more substantial retirement fund.

Let’s say you set up an automatic transfer of ₦50,000 from your salary account to your RSA every month. As your income increases, you can adjust the transfer amount to ₦75,000 or ₦100,000, depending on your financial goals.

Investing Wisely

Investing wisely is critical to growing your retirement savings over time. Diversifying your investment portfolio can help balance risk and reward based on your age and retirement goals.

For example, if you’re nearing retirement, you may want to focus on more conservative investments, such as fixed-income securities, or investing a physical business. . However, if you’re younger and have a longer time horizon, you may consider more aggressive investments, such as stocks or equity funds.

Balancing risk and reward involves considering your:

  • Age and retirement goals: Your age and retirement goals play a significant role in determining your risk tolerance and investment strategy. If you’re younger, you may have a longer time horizon and can afford to take on more risk, as you have time to recover from any potential losses. As you approach retirement, you may want to reduce your risk exposure to protect your savings. Given your age and retirement goals, you may allocate a larger portion of your portfolio to stocks, which have historically provided higher returns over the long term.
  •  Risk tolerance and investment horizon: Your risk tolerance refers to your ability to withstand potential losses in your investments. If you’re risk-averse, you may prefer more conservative investments, such as bonds or fixed-income securities. Your investment horizon, or the length of time you must invest, also impacts your risk tolerance. A longer investment horizon allows you to take on more risk, as you have time to ride out market fluctuations. 
  • Diversification and asset allocation: Diversification involves spreading your investments across different asset classes to reduce risk. Asset allocation involves dividing your investments among these asset classes based on your risk tolerance, investment horizon, and retirement goals. A diversified portfolio with a balanced asset allocation can help you achieve your retirement goals while managing risk. 

Catch-Up Contributions

Catch-up contributions allow those nearing retirement to boost their savings. If you’re 50 or older, you may be eligible to make catch-up contributions to your retirement account.

Strategies for late starters to boost savings include:

  •  Increasing contributions to maximize catch-up limits: If you’re 50 or older, take advantage of catch-up contributions to your retirement account, such as an additional ₦200,000 to your RSA or pension plan. For example, if your regular contribution limit is ₦500,000, you can contribute an additional ₦200,000, totaling ₦700,000.
  • Prioritizing retirement savings over other financial goals: Focus on retirement savings over other financial goals, such as saving for a down payment on a house or a vacation. 

 Let’s say you’re 55 years old and have a retirement goal of ₦5 million in 10 years. You may consider increasing your contributions to maximize the catch-up limit or exploring other retirement savings options to boost your savings. 

Again, to catch up, you may decide to use the Sycamore NG app to set a retirement savings goal to reach your retirement plan. You can set money aside on your own term, or setup automatic deductions at your chosen interval to ensure you stay on track. 

To catch up, you can also employ these tips below:

Find  Additional Income Streams

Creating additional income streams is a vital strategy for boosting retirement savings. This can be achieved through various means, including side hustles and part-time jobs. By diversifying your income sources, you can reduce your reliance on a single income stream and build a more stable financial foundation for your retirement. 

Passive Income Opportunities

Passive income opportunities provide a steady stream of income without requiring direct involvement. Investing in real estate, stocks, or other assets can generate passive income, as can creating online businesses or royalties. For example:

  • Investing ₦500,000 in a rental property could generate ₦25,000 per month in passive income.
  •  Or purchase a bike or car and have someone use it for public transportation and remit a fee weekly to you. 

Monitoring and Adjusting Your Plan

Monitoring and adjusting your retirement savings plan is crucial to ensure you’re on track to meet your financial goals. Regular reviews and staying informed about retirement savings options can help you make informed decisions and adapt to changes in your financial situation and goals.

Setting up periodic reviews of your retirement savings plan is essential to assess your progress and make adjustments as needed. Consider setting up reviews on a:

  • Monthly basis: Review your budget and spending to ensure you’re on track with your savings goals.
  • Quarterly basis: Assess your investment portfolio and rebalance it if necessary.
  • Yearly basis: Evaluate your overall progress, adjust your plan as needed, and consider seeking advice from a financial advisor.

When reviewing your plan, consider factors such as:

  • Changes in income or expenses: You are considering income and expenses such as a promotion or job loss, which can affect your ability to save.
  • Shifts in financial goals or priorities: Shifts in financial goals or priorities, like a new family member or changed retirement aspirations, may also require adjustments.
  • Market fluctuations and investment performance: You can consider market fluctuations and investment performance, as market downturns or changes in investment returns can impact your savings.
  • Changes in retirement laws and benefits: stay informed about changes in retirement laws and benefits, such as updates to pension plans or tax regulations, to ensure you’re maximizing your savings.

For example, if you’ve received a promotion and your income has increased, you may want to adjust your savings plan to take advantage of the extra funds. Alternatively, if you’ve experienced a financial setback, you may need to reassess your goals and adjust your plan accordingly.

By regularly reviewing your retirement savings plan and staying informed about retirement savings options, you can:

  • Ensure you’re on track to meet your financial goals
  • Adapt to changes in your financial situation and goals
  • Make informed decisions about your retirement savings
  •  Optimize your savings and achieve a secure retirement

There you have it, everything you need to know to start saving money for retirement in Nigeria. Armed with this knowledge, now is the best time to start taking action. 

Sycamore NG Target Contribution offering allows people like you to set diverse savings goal, including for retirement, with features that empower you to hit these goals. You can choose to put money aside for your retirement savings goal at your own schedule or automate the saving deduction process. Get started here.

Share this post:

Related Posts

Skip to content