Dear Aunt Sue

Should retirement planning be more or less the same for everyone?

Funnily enough, I’ve been asked this question several times lately.

For most of us, it’s about saving enough money so we don’t end up on the poverty line, and yes, it’s true we should be putting some money away to help our retirement. But hey – it’s not just about the money! Imagine what it will be like for you on the day you retire. Assume it is a Friday. The day arrives – you get up and get dressed and head off to work as usual. Your day is filled with laughter, saying goodbye to everyone, maybe a few drinks. Then you get home. The weekend passes, nothing different. And then Monday comes. What do you do? A sleep-in sounds good, maybe a bit of daytime telly, maybe cooking a slap-up dinner now that you have all the time in the world. Sounds fantastic? But then Tuesday comes, then Wednesday then Thursday … and before you know it you have gained 5 kilos, your biggest excitement of the day is the 5.30 game show, and you have nothing to look forward to. So, instead of spending all of your ‘retirement planning energy’ on how much money you can put away, I invite you to consider exploring the activities that will excite and energise you, post-retirement. Bushwalking might have always been an impossible dream, or maybe you’ve dabbled in portrait photography but never had the time or energy to go full throttle – well you’re going to have them both in spades, and the activities you love are the things that will make your retirement satisfying and joyful. Remember too, that a lot of fun activities are low-cost or free – an unhurried coffee out whilst reading the paper; walking in the local reserve; a picnic. Sure you need money – but it should not be the be-all and end-all of our retirement planning.

The need to have millions of dollars to fund our retirement will be correct for some. However, not everyone wants to do a yearly overseas holiday or needs to spend several thousands of dollars on clothing and shoes each year. Maybe Apollo Bay is just what you dream of. Not the dazzling sights of Morocco, London or the Caribbean. My mother, for instance, had an overseas holiday when she retired, but one was enough for her.  As she got older I could see her level of activity slowing, month by month, and she eventually got the most enjoyment out of sitting on her deck doing the cryptic crossword each day and looking forward to the kids coming over for dinner once a week. Sure, some of us will slow down sooner than others and some will have bigger and greater plans than others. But the point is that we are all different, and our desires will also change over the years.

When you are thinking about Your retirement, I suggest you don’t focus so much on the short, sharp trips or adventures, but start by thinking about what you want to do on a daily basis in retirement. For me, playing the sport I love – several times week, with the ability to play either day or night, sounds fantastic. I may do a couple of overseas trips, but nowadays I find that dealing with airports, customs and the whole planning and organising experience more stressful and less exciting than it has been in the past. Things change – the world changes and we change. Oh, and – doing a budget to help you be realistic, helps in your planning – it will enable you to envisage your retirement lifestyle.

So until next time girls and boys, as always keep those questions coming in by visiting our website and using the “contact us” tab.

A final thought: “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. How very true.

Have fun and keep smiling – Aunt Sue