Keeping retirement planning simple

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Retirement is a life change that can seem complex and daunting. However, the following five questions can help keep it focused and, hopefully, simple.

1. How are your retirement finances?

This is what tends to get the most focus when people think about retirement and that’s understandable. The question here is about knowing and understanding what your income will be when you retire. The big question is, will it be enough?

You may need help to work it out. Get the help you need! It’s important.

Do you understand how complicated retirement finances can be? There’s superannuation; Centrelink rules for the pension (eligibility and amounts); other issues could include tax rules for income in retirement; rental income from an investment property and more.

The more complicated it is, the more help you’ll probably need. Get the help you need.

We, my wife and I, were glad of the help from our financial planner. We had no idea what to do before we talked to her. After she had gone through our details, it was good to hear her say, “You’re going to be all right”.

If we hadn’t been “all right”, we needed to know—to be able to work out what to do.

Get the help you need.

2. Who do you need to talk to?

If you have a partner your retirement needs to be thought about in the plural. What are we going to do? The conversation could go something like: I’m thinking of retiring when I turn 66. What do you think about that? When are you thinking of retiring?

These conversations need to start early enough so you plan together—and to understand where the other is at.

As you get closer to retirement, you will need to talk to your boss. And early if you want to continue to work, but at fewer hours or days.

Want to join a group, become an entrepreneur, take up a sport or hobby? This is the time to research in various ways, including talking to people who are part of it already.

3. How’s your health?

You take your health with you into retirement—good or bad. The aim is to move into retirement in the best all-round health you can.

You will probably know better than anyone else how your health is. It could be helpful to ask your doctor for an assessment. But remember that health is broader than the physical. It’s also about mental and emotional health as well.

The good thing about health is that it doesn’t have to be going to the gym five days a week (do that if you enjoy it), but some fairly simple changes to a sedentary lifestyle can make huge differences.

Look after your health.

4. What’s your big-picture plan?

One of the best suggestions I’ve come across about retirement is to plan your retirement on the basis of 6 months; 12 months; and five years. In other words, what will the first six months look like, then the 12 months, then five years.

At the end of each year you could do the same assessment with the benefit of what you have learned. And, as your situation or interests change, your retirement will change. Allow for it.

Planning can also be helped by asking: What do you want a typical week to look like in your retirement?

Another question that may help is: Who do you want to be in retirement?

5. What will you do in the first six months?

Obviously related to number 4, it’s important to think seriously about the first six months before retiring. What researchers have found is that the first three months are easy. There can be the holiday, renovations, creating a garden or whatever is on your list.

But three months can seem like an extended holiday. Six months is about creating a new life. This also gives you time to experiment and helps bring about some kind of routine. It needs in-depth planning.

These five questions will naturally lead to complexities as you dig deeper into planning your retirement life. And you will want to change what you’re doing during the retirement years. These questions are a good starting point.

 

Bruce Manners is the author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire, and founder of RetireNotes.com

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