Successful retirement: Money is only part of the equation

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Money is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think about their retirement. But money is only part of the equation. Of course, we need money for the basics and a few luxuries in retirement, but the amount required is as unique as individuals.

So, what’s the other part of the equation? That’s being prepared for the next 30 years of retirement.

Too many are so focused on getting out of the ‘work’ or ‘career trap’ that they really seem to care little about what will happen when they leave their jobs.

That’s a shame—and a missed opportunity. It’s as if they think retirement will take care of itself when, actually, the opposite is generally true.

Quite often, more time is spent planning a two-week holiday than planning for a 30-year retirement. Think of it this way: Would anyone take a two-week holiday without planning how to get to their destination, where they’re staying and what activities they might do? Of course not.

Why then would anybody embark on a 30-year (1560 week) adventure of retirement with the sole concern being financial, nothing more?

Lack of readiness or preparedness for retirement is more common than you’d think. And, unfortunately, it isn’t a priority for many pre-retirees.

It’s true that the ‘I’ll retire when I’m 58’ plan is often a priority, but beyond that, there’s not a lot of planning.

Too often, in discussing retirement with individuals, I’ve discovered this lack of planning and thought about retirement. Usually, it’s due to fear of the unknown and lack of imagination and vision.

What does your retirement look like?

If you were asked, ‘What does your retirement look like to you?’ how would you respond? With an enthusiastic, well thought out plan? Or a blank stare? Will your retirement keep you interested, engaged and energetic?

After you’ve retired and had your well-deserved holiday, finished the odd jobs around the house and committed to looking after the grandchildren, will you feel satisfied and valued? Is it enough to keep you going for the next 10 years, let alone the next 30 years?

If not, I’m not sure there’ll be a back-up job waiting for you at Bunnings hardware store.

So, just as important as saving for the future is having some sort of vision of what your future will be.

It’s also important to remember that your retirement will be totally different from your parents’ and you are responsible for its success or failure.

Pathway to success

To help you become a retirement success here are four ideas to consider: 

  1. Vision: successful retirees retire to something; failed retirees retire from something.
  2. Balance: successful retirees find a balance between vocation and vacation; failed retirees swing from being consumed by work to being consumed with leisure. 
  3. Work: successful retirees keep themselves involved with meaningful activities; failed retirees drift into boredom and lack of purpose.
  4. Well-being and ageing: successful retirees focus on growing and their well-being; failed retirees just take what comes.

By focusing on retirement success and taking conscious action, you will retire with purpose and on purpose.

As George Eliot said, ‘It’s never too late to be what you might have been.’

Anne Graham is a financial planner and CEO of Story Wealth Management. In December of 2018 she was named one of Australia’s 50 most influential financial planners. For more, go to

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Category: Planning, Purpose

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