How serious are you about your retirement finances?

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Serious intent is important when you think about retirement finances, but it also takes serious action to get things done. Here are five questions that could help you get into action mode.

1. What’s the Big Picture of your retirement?

Retirement is a life change that gives you more control over what you do. If your big picture includes a lot of travel; attempting to be a successful entrepreneur; or a month or so in the sun during winter (or at the snow) there will be costs. What are your estimates of their costs?

What else is in your big picture?

This can be a simple two-step process: Step 1: Work out what you want to do in your retirement. Step 2: Work out what costs you expect to do those things. Be warned, these ‘simple’ steps will have their complexities.

2. Have you estimated your income needs for a comfortable retirement?

This can be tricky, but there are places you can go to get estimates. The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia has quarterly reports estimating how much you need for a modest or comfortable lifestyle.

For a more complex assessment, check out the latest YourLifeChoices’ Retirement Affordability IndexTM on or YourLifeChoices.

3. Who are you talking to about your retirement finances?

If it’s a friend of a friend, check their credentials. If it’s someone with a scheme to make you big bucks in quick time, be wary. If it’s an email from the wife of a recently deceased Nigerian politician offering wealth for help to get gold out of Africa—delete (I’ve had that email).

The best way to make sure about your finances is to see a qualified financial planner. They know options to best grow your money for retirement and, importantly, they’ll know about government policies and how to use them to maximise your financial situation. They can show you options, but you have to make the decisions.

Yes, there is a cost (it’s their job , after all), but it can be worth it if it helps set you up for retirement. Be aware that some financial planners specialise in managing your finances. If you don’t want that there are others who will advise you about what you can do.

4. What’s your housing plan?

Housing can be a major cost in retirement. Unfortunately, more Australian retirees are forced to live in rental properties because they haven’t been able to afford home ownership. How will you fare?

It’s important to make sure you have settled accommodation and understand how it impacts your budget.

5. Have you included health care?

Your mirror will show you that you’re getting older. As we age there can be an increased need for health care—another expense. How will you handle it?

It’s worth doing the homework, starting with what is covered by Medicare,  Australia’s health-care system. The downside of relying on Medicare is that if you need hospital care you’re treated as a public patient, with no choice about the doctor caring for you or when you will be admitted to hospital (in an emergency situation you are admitted immediately).

Having private health gives greater freedoms, but there is a financial cost.

As you go through a process like this you’ll probably find other costs you need to cover in your retirement. That’s a good thing because you become aware of them and can work on them before you actually retire.

Bottom line: Retirement finances are important and should be taken seriously.

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

Category: Finances, Learning, Planning

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