Get ahead by learning how to save for retirement!
Retirement is something we all tend to daydream about in the middle of a boring work day. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel that makes our entire careers worth it. Just imagine having your days entirely free to do with what you will. You can do whatever you want, where you want, when you want. Hold on, that sounds amazing. Why do we have to wait until we’re old to enjoy retirement? Can’t we just do that now?
However, as much as we like the idea of retirement, it’s not really something that we like the idea of planning. As soon as we give it too much thought, it becomes more of a hassle. Retirement villages, superannuation, investments, retirement pension – all of that’s ages away. Why do we have to think about it now? Surely everything will just work itself out anyway?
If only it were that simple.
The key to having a happy and relaxing retirement (besides being filthy rich) is making yourself as financially secure as possible. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Whether you’ve just started working or you’re well into your career, you can still benefit from thinking about retirement. Here are just some of the ways you can make your money work for you when retirement rolls around.
1. Start saving early.
The best time to start saving is now. No matter what age you are, saving for retirement is a bit of a drag. You could already be semi-retired, and the concept of putting some money away for retirement would still seem like something you could worry about another time.
The truth is that if you’re earning a consistent income, you should always be saving a portion of that return. Now, that doesn’t mean you should be thinking about your retirement as soon as you get your first stable job. There will undoubtedly be a number of things you want to save for throughout your working life. Think of these as practice runs for the big one. You can always keep retirement in mind when you’re debating whether to save or spend. You’ll thank your past self way, way, way down the line.
2. Keeping fit and healthy pays off in the long run
Yeah yeah, exercise sucks. It hurts and it’s boring and you’d rather stay in bed, or do literally anything else for that matter. But consider this: staying fit and healthy by eating right and exercising regularly is a long-term investment.
It’s not going to ensure that you will definitely be 100% healthy for your entire retirement. However, regular exercise and healthy eating throughout your adult life will stave off a wide range of nutrition-related conditions. Remaining active and eating a balanced diet even as you transition out of the workforce will stand you in good stead to make the most out of your retirement. Ensure that you have the necessary health insurance.
3. Consider salary sacrificing to boost your super
If you’re super saving savvy and want to ensure that your money lasts long into your retirement, you can ask your employer about salary sacrificing. Salary sacrificing is “an arrangement between you and your employer where you pay for some items or services straight from your pre-tax salary.” The purpose of salary sacrificing is to reduce your taxable income, allowing you to boost your super fund.
Salary sacrificing for superannuation is a great way to put some extra cash into your retirement fund. Most employers will allow you to salary sacrifice into your super account, but check with yours just to make sure.
4. Decide on your ideal retirement lifestyle
As you get closer to retirement age, your thoughts will shift to what your retirement will look like. Some will want to keep their home base in the same place and wander abroad from time to time. Others might see retirement as an opportunity for a permanent change of scenery. Obviously what most of us would love is to be sipping drinks by the pool all day. However, that’s probably not going to be the reality. So, rather than setting yourself an unrealistic target, devise an ideal but achievable retirement plan. You can tailor it to your situation and finances.
Whatever you decide, it’s best to have an idea of what you want before you enter retirement. This will allow you to work out how much money you’ll need to sustain this lifestyle. Speaking of which…
5. Work out how much you’ll need to sustain your retirement plan
Once you’ve got an idea of what your retirement will look like, it’s time to plan how you’re going to make the ideal lifestyle of your twilight years a reality. This is why it’s important that your retirement plan is realistic. Trying to budget for something you clearly can’t afford is pointless, and will only cause you more stress.
As you get closer to retiring you’ll have a better idea of what your super fund will look like, how much time you have left in the workforce and what assets you will want to keep or sell. These can also contribute to the financial plan behind your ideal retirement lifestyle.
6. Transition into retirement
There is no definitive retirement age Australia, so people will exit the workforce at a variety of different times in their life. If they are in a secure enough financial position, most people will choose to retire once they reach their super ‘preservation’ age. This is the minimum age at which you can access your super fund. If you’re not sure of what your super ‘preservation’ age is, you can use the MoneySmart super and pension age calculator to find out.
At the end of the day, when you retire will depend on your own specific circumstances. If you are in a fortunate enough position to be able to dictate the terms of your retirement, it might be beneficial to wind back your work commitments rather than quitting cold turkey. Going from working to retirement is more like a slow fade than ripping off a band-aid.
This will benefit you in a number of ways. Financially speaking, you will still be earning a semi-consistent income as you scale back your hours, meaning that there’s less of a drain on your super fund. Your body will also thank you for the positive physical effects of slowly reducing the amount of time you spend at work. Psychologically, transitioning into retirement will help you to adjust to your new lifestyle. Going from seeing your co-workers on a full-time basis to having drastically less human contact can be a bit of a shock to the system.
If your situation allows it, making a steady transition from the workforce into retirement could be immensely beneficial.
7. Take advantage of entitlements
Just like the super ‘preservation’ age, your ability to access retirement pension payments will depend on your age, among other factors. The MoneySmart super and pension age calculator is your best friend for determining your eligibility on that front. Of course, there are other eligibility requirements that you must also fulfil.
If you reach your retirement pension age and find that you are eligible to receive some payments from Centrelink, don’t hesitate to claim! You’ve worked hard and it’s time to take advantage of all the benefits of retirement – that includes pension payments. If you’re eligible for retirement pension payments, you should claim as soon a possible.
8. Consider downsizing
As life goes on, your needs change, and so do your living requirements. By the time you reach retirement age, the size of your family will most likely have shrunk quite a bit. At one time you might have had a few kids and some pets running around the house, whereas now it could just be you and your partner. As you reach retirement age, it’s a great time to consider whether you need the extra space. If not, you can shop around for a new home that better suits your living situation.
If you choose to cash in on the family home and move into a more compact space, you could net yourself some sweet investment money. However, this will count towards your assets and could affect your age pension eligibility, so weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision.
9. Diversify your investments
Say that you’ve gone down the path of downsizing, and now you have some financial assets. You also have a wealth of options when it comes to what you do with that money. Do you put it in a savings account, dip your toe in the stock market or perhaps wade into the property game? These are just a few of the investment opportunities that become available once you’ve got a bit of cash in your back pocket.
Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, it pays to put a bit of money into a few areas. In the investment world, this is known as diversification. If done strategically, you can maximise your profits and protect yourself from losing huge amounts of money if one investment doesn’t pan out.
Not sure exactly where you should invest your money to get the best returns? That’s why it pays to…
10. Get financial advice
Working out tax, super and retirement plans can be exhausting. It’s something that no one really wants to think about, which is why we procrastinate so much in the face of it. Even when we decide to face the problem head-on, we often take the view of getting through the process as quickly as possible rather than dealing with it thoroughly. When it comes to your super, retirement and investments, it pays to be informed. But, if you don’t know where to look for this information or don’t have the time, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Accessing financial advice will cost money, but it pays for itself in the weight that it takes off your shoulders. Find a financial advisor who you trust and takes your personal situation and finances as seriously as you do. Make sure you keep an open dialogue with them about the investments they recommend so that you’re aware of what’s going on, and keep your eye on how those assets are doing.
After all, this is your retirement we’re talking about. You want to make sure that it’s as stress-free as possible so you can enjoy every second of it! Maybe try enter a $250 cash prize contest?
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