First steps to understanding finances for retirement

Busy morning. Middle-aged man using computer in the kitchen of his cosy house

Image: Zinkevych/

Financial advice is important in planning for retirement. But not everyone wants to go to a financial planner without understanding the system. Fortunately, there’s a way of doing that. Thanks to the Australian government.

Ronald Reagan, the former US president, once quipped that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’

In some cases, that sentence is plain scary, but in this case, real help is available. It’s as close as your website and phone. And it’s free.

If this interests you, there are three things you need to know.

1. The information is readily available

Information about retirement income planning can be found at the government’s money smart website. That includes calculators for super and pensions.

Another tool is a booklet entitled Financial decisions at retirement that’s also worth checking out. You’ll find it here.

The Financial Information Service (FIS) helps when you’re looking at pension eligibility and other allowances in retirement. This is where you’ll find a whole raft of information. Take a look around these sites to discover what may be helpful to you.

2. There is someone you can talk to

It isn’t always easy to work through financial issues without help. That’s when you may want to talk to an FIS officer. You can phone on 132 300. If you need to, you can ask for a face-to-face appointment. Free FIS seminars are available in all Australian states.

For more information about this service, go here.

The FIS says they can help you:

  • increase your confidence in dealing with financial issues related to investment
  • understand your own financial affairs
  • understand your options
  • be discerning when choosing experts and know how to use expert information

However, FIS officers are not financial planners and do not:

  • sell or give advice
  • prepare financial plans
  • recommend any particular type of investment
  • tell you how to invest your money
  • purchase investment products
  • make decisions about your pension or calculate the rate at which you can be paid. They have no authority to do this but may be able to estimate what your payments will be.

3. Getting financial advice is recommended

What the FIS will tell you is, ‘Financial advice is recommended when it comes to managing your money in retirement. By planning ahead and staying in control of your finances, you can enjoy a safe and comfortable retirement.’

Check out this FIS YouTube clip about choosing a financial advisor.

Hopefully, this information will help as you take the next step and search out your financial planner.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Finances

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