Planning well ahead of time for retirement—especially for hoteliers who left their home country to pursue a new life elsewhere—is key to financial freedom in the long run.
As an expatriate hotelier, I have been working for my retirement plan since the beginning of my working career. I realized early on that I would never be part of a traditional pension scheme—like in Europe—I would probably change jobs several times, I would be earning a tax-free salary and the way I invest it will determine the future of my financial freedom.
It was 1995 when I left my country of birth to begin my nomadic life. I only had the equivalent of $1,000 in my pocket, courage and the will to succeed and achieve my dream to travel the world.
With that and a one-way ticket, I went to London to find fortune, and the rest is history.
But I quickly realized that dreaming alone is not enough to pay your bills.
I have been lucky to find the woman of my life, who was actually key to my financial freedom. She was the one who first asked me to open a bank account if I wanted to stay with her. Yes, I did not even have a bank account, and that is how you start a retirement, or at least you know the place where your money is.
Remember, first and foremost, that retirement is your financial freedom. You’ve got to achieve that or the later part of your life can be miserable.
So, as an international hotelier, you are now the sole maker of your life after many years of hard labor and sacrifice.
We know exactly how many hours we work and personal time we give away if we want to be a successful operator of world-class hotels. Let’s begin this crash course in wealth and time management.
Your partner in crime
No, I am not asking to rob a bank to build your own retirement, but yes, it is important that your life partner clearly understands that eventually, one day you will stop working and money will no longer flow in.
Unless you are the one controlling your finances, your partner has the duty to preserve your hard-earned cash and make sure it is properly invested, converted into useful stuff and intelligently spent.
I know too many expatriate hoteliers that live a wonderful lifestyle and waste a lot of their money in travel, food, clothing and frivolous accessories that will only make their bank account meager until it is totally dry. Be careful, you do not want to reach the point where your retirement age is above the 70 mark. Everyone deserves a break, even the most addicted and passionate worker.
Identify alternatives when investing your money
It is essential to find two to three long-term alternatives in how to maximize your investment efforts. Money in the bank just doesn’t work and does not give you the necessary interests to ensure you a good return on investment. Since we are so good at managing a business (at work), then we should be as good to do the same at home. Money should find two to three possible alternative investments. Pension schemes, real estate, commodities, you choose. Just ensure your money is not under the mattress.
Work for companies that provide the best benefits
Salary alone is not the way to guarantee you a good level of income. Look at companies or jobs that provide you with ancillary benefits, which in turn can give you the opportunity to save more at the end of each month.
For example, live-in can assure you that a good part of your salary is saved on rent, bills and food and beverage. Several hotels and resorts offer you the opportunity to live-in. Of course this will have a cost in terms of privacy and actual free time out of work, but hey, some sacrifice has to be done.
Other benefits could be a performance-based bonus, use of company car or even a pension scheme a company can offer you during the time spent with them.
Identify the largest vacuum of your salary
There are generally two parts of your income that are the highest (and fastest) to go out of your bank account: rent and school fees. Ensure the company that will give you employment covers these costs or at least contributes to part of it.
At the end of the day, you chose to leave your own country for several reasons but certainly not to be a poor man or live paycheck to paycheck, right?
Plan for a post-working life job or hobby
After working so hard for 30 or more years, do you really need to continue to work? I guess you do. Hoteliers have a very intense working life with little time for the ‘‘normal’’ duties a ‘’normal’’ job would provide. The amount of intense, high-adrenaline hours can be a killer. So, I suggest you find a few hobbies that will keep you busy, will give you an opportunity to pay back to society and even earn you an extra few bucks.
My plan is to return to my childhood hobby of collecting seashells from around the world, teach in a hotel school to young hoteliers, provide guidance and coaching to people stuck in their career and take care of my family while still traveling and discovering the world. My family sacrificed their time to follow me in so many places around the world and it’s time to reward them.
This is my take on your future financial freedom and happiness. It took time for me to understand, and getting reminders from my wonderful wife has helped me to become a free and happy man. I have been working on my retirement since my mid-20s and I am happy to say that it’s giving me fruits, and soon I will be able to retire. I hope you are on that path, too!
Rocco Bova, an Italian born hotelier, is a passionate, energetic and enthusiastic professional, with experience from classic hotels to cutting edge design, from business city properties to resorts operations and from golf resorts to destination wellness with over 25 years of experience. Currently Mr. Bova is the GM of Chable' Resort & SPA, a luxury wellness resort set in the Yucatan jungle of Mexico.
The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.