Ages and stage of retirement:
What do you need to do and when?
The question we posed to our team was:
“How are you thinking about or planning for retirement?’
We also said, ‘There is no right or wrong response and some of you might not be thinking about it at all – even that response is fine as the perspectives of the person in their 60s will most likely be very different from someone in their 20s.’
We were keen to see how thinking varied according to age groups … and of course it did! Read on to see how members of the Retirement Essentials’ team are thinking (or not) about their retirements – and things they could be doing to ensure they keep their savings growing as steadily as possible.
Katey and Ryley are in their 20s:
Retirement? I’d like a house or apartment first, thanks.
I’m with Ryley on this one! I haven’t thought much about retirement as I’ve only been in the workforce for 10 years (started working at 14) and at this stage it’s looking like I’ll have to choose between buying a house one day or retiring!
Things to think about in your 20s …
…it’s a great age to save, even a tiny amount and to ensure that compound interest is working on your behalf. It is a pity if younger people are needing to choose between a house and saving because housing is much less affordable than it was for previous generations. As most working 20-year-olds should be receiving super, it is also important to keep an eye on your balance, to consolidate your accounts and to consider growth settings as you hopefully have many decades ahead to benefit from a higher growth strategy.
Sophie is in her 30s:
To be completely honest, the idea of planning for my retirement has never crossed my mind. There’s far too much to think about (financially and otherwise!) now and in the short-term for me to consider something which seems so far off. I keep track of my super balance, but that’s about it.
Things to think about in your 30s …
This can be a decade of milestones related to education, career, marriage or partnering and starting families. It’s certainly difficult to imagine a time down the track when you may wish to live off your savings. Good that Sophie is keeping an eye on her super balance, but it might also be useful to check if her fund offers a free advice appointment in which she could discuss asset settings, opt-in or out insurance etc. to ensure that her savings are maximised.
Alper is in his 40s
I like the question though I find it hard to answer. I’m currently 44. Classic story; I have never thought of planning for retirement or the future until I reached about 28, first mortgage, kids and getting older, plus I saw many people who have nothing once they retired who were from the era of non-compulsory super and struggled, never thinking about themselves and living pay check to pay check for their family. So I started planning for retirement at 28. I wish I had started earlier to build my nest egg, i.e. by using the Super Co-Contribution guarantee (it would have built a great nest egg and it would have increased over the years, had I started in 2003).
Things to think about in your 40s …
Alper is onto the fundamentals here. Super is not just about the Super Guarantee (the 10.5% your employer is currently required to contribute to your fund on your behalf). Understanding how you, too, can contribute in the form of salary sacrifice is extremely important, as is understanding government co-contributions. There are many incentives available to encourage Australian workers to save more in super. Knowing how these incentives work and which apply to your savings is better done sooner rather than later.
Sharon is in her 50s:
I’m a few years yet before thinking about retirement (50s), but I’m interested in having the ability to balance my work with lifestyle at this stage of my life. If I can enjoy working in a way that provides income for leisure and travel, my super can continue to accumulate and therefore last longer in retirement, years down the track.
Things to think about in your 50s …
Many individuals in their 50s are facing the same challenges as those in their 40s – educating children, reducing the mortgage, funding family life. So it can feel difficult to put extra away for something that seems remote – your eventual retirement. That said, those working full time in their 50s are probably near the peak of their lifetime earning power, so a full review of your income and your outgoings will be instructive. As with Alper above, knowing all the incentives to save more can be really useful and help your nest egg increase much more quickly. Also looking ahead and understanding when you and/or your partner may wish to step back from full time work can give you’re a more clearly focussed timeline for your saving goals. So no, you are not a few years early to think about life in your 60s and beyond. Start now.
Kaye is in her 60s:
I am supposed to be at the point of heading into retirement but have no interest whatsoever in giving up work. As I work as a commentator and freelance writer, I get to choose my hours so that is a great luxury. I think we are all seeking better work-life balance regardless of age. And being financially comfortable means you have a fighting chance of getting this balance, meaning whether you work or not is up to you. I do think I could have spent less over the years and budgeted far better. Buying ‘stuff’ is such a wasteful thing to do, both financially and for the environment. So my plans now are to live within a much tighter budget, to ensure I am signed up for any support or discounts to which I might be entitled, and to remember to smell those roses much more.
Things to think about in your 60s …
Continuing to work or not beyond your 60s is a big question. For some, it’s not possible due to health or employment issues. For others, it’s not an attractive proposition – they feel they’ve ‘done their time’ and want full time leisure to explore new pursuits and enjoy family connections. Others see it as a luxury to still be employable and vital to their sense of self-esteem and purpose. Again, these answers are neither right nor wrong. In your 60s you are at the pointy end of retirement planning. Hopefully you’ve tacked this question already. But if not, it is vital to have a solid knowledge of the five pillars of retirement (Age Pension, super, private savings, home equity and work income) and how they interact. If you are not up to speed, then maybe the holiday break offers a great time to catch up?
What about you? Did you learn the rules and do your planning early? Or are you coming in a little later? Whichever the answer, it is never too late to be better informed