Retirement tends to roll around a lot sooner than we expect and it’s never too early to start planning for the lifestyle you want after you finish working. When dealing with my clients I often look at the following areas:

What are my retirement options?
Most of us look forward to retirement. It’s a chance to explore new horizons, do all the things we never had time for when we were raising a family or pursuing a career, or just a time to relax and enjoy life at a more leisurely pace. In fact, retirement can be pretty much what you choose it to be. That may mean hanging up your work boots for good. Or you may prefer to gradually ease yourself into retirement by dialling back your working week. It could even be a time to choose your own hours by shifting into a consulting role. It certainly makes retirement a golden stage of your life and that makes it worth planning for.

When would you like to retire?
You may have plans to retire at a certain age, by a set date or following a particular event. However, for some of us, retirement could come around sooner than expected because of ill health, an inability to continue in a physical role or the need to care for a loved one. The key point is that it pays to make plans for your retirement long before you’re ready to leave work; you never know what lies around the corner. You will need to prepare financially but also socially and mentally. Those people who have enjoyed a long working career often find the transition from full time workaholic to cruisy retiree a bit hard to swallow, so it is important you take the time to think about all aspects of retirement.

Enjoying your retirement
Making retirement a truly ‘golden’ period of your life can hinge on making the most of your time. That doesn’t have to mean travelling the world on regular vacations. It can be as simple as joining local community groups, undertaking new studies to broaden your knowledge or spending more time with family and friends. Talk to friends and family members for ideas on how they are spending time in retirement. Remember, these can be some of the most productive years you may ever have enjoyed.

Planning for a change in retirement
You may be thinking about a change of location or even moving overseas for your retirement. While this may be the dream of a lifetime, be sure to think through any major moves – and not just from a financial perspective. Friends and family are very important as we age, and it may not be easy to make new connections outside of a familiar community. If you’re set on the idea of relocating, it can be worth renting for a year or so to be sure the reality lives up to your expectations.

Working out the cost
No matter what your plans for retirement, the reality is that it can involve something many people don’t have enough of – money. Making some plans in advance for how much income you’re likely to have in retirement and how much your preferred lifestyle will cost is a key step in relishing your senior years. A good starting point in planning retirement is determining your financial position. It’s a lot easier than it sounds. You may wish to start thinking about the value of your assets and liabilities.

Will the age pension be enough? Will you be comfortable with ‘comfortable’?
Many Australians aspire to have at least a ‘comfortable’ retirement. But what kind of annual income will you need to enjoy ‘comfortable’ by your standards? And how much does that mean you’ll need at retirement? According to the ASFA Retirement Standard for the June quarter 2017 published by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), in order to enjoy a ‘comfortable’ retirement, singles at retirement (aged 65) will need an annual income of $43,696. Couples at retirement will need an annual income of $60,063. These figures assume the retiree(s) own their own home and do not pay rent or make mortgage payments. By ASFA’s standards, a ‘comfortable’ retirement means you can go on one annual holiday in Australia, you can eat out regularly and afford bottled wine. Visit their website to see what else a comfortable retirement means. Looking at the list, you will see whether your definition of ‘comfortable’ matches with the ASFA’s standards. Planning to rely on the age pension could see your retirement dreams cut short. The pension is designed to support a very basic standard of living.

Plan your retirement out
If you’re considering retirement, it makes perfect sense to discuss it with a financial planner before stepping down permanently from the workforce. The team at HLB Wealth can suggest strategies to give your super savings a last-minute boost as well as advising you on investments to help maximise your retirement income. But don’t leave it too late – early preparation will give you a better retirement outcome and putting in the effort now means you will benefit in retirement.

By Lauren Lockhart, Certified Financial Planner, HLB Wealth in Perth. Phone: (08) 9227 7500 or email: llockhart@hlbwa.com.au

Lauren Lockhart and HLB Wealth Pty Ltd are Corporate Authorised Representatives of Paragem Pty Ltd ABN 16 108 571 875, Australian Financial Services License 297276, Level 15, 115 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000.