As you near or enter retirement, the reality of it can be a bit of a shock. There are many questions to answer and decisions to make. What will you do with your time when you finish work? Where will you live? And will you have enough money to pay the bills and fund your lifestyle?
Like so much in life, the key to a successful transition is in the planning. Whether you’re still many years away from finishing work, have a date set that’s fast approaching, or have already retired, it’s never too late to get organised.
So to help you do just that, in this article we’re sharing a retirement planning checklist that will help you plan and prepare for a stress-free retirement.
The Timing of Your Planning
As retirement gets closer, it’s important to be adequately prepared for the financial and lifestyle changes that come with it. Some people will start their planning 20 or more years out, while others may have it on their to-do list for years and leave it to the last minute. The time frames below are a guide – you can use the prompts on the checklist to help you prepare no matter how close or far retirement is for you.
10–20 Years Before You Retire
- Consider what you’d like to spend your days doing in retirement. Have you got a hobby or interest that you can pursue? Would you like to travel? Volunteer? Study or learn a new skill? And who will you spend your time with? Imagine your ideal lifestyle and what it will take to achieve it.
- Think about where you’d like to live during retirement. Is your current home suitable? Can you manage the upkeep? Or are you keen to downsize? Look into the options and start weighing it up.
- Look closely at your current financial commitments. Are you supporting your family or children? Are you debt-free? If you have financial commitments outside your own, look at how you can reduce or eliminate these before you retire to lighten the financial load.
- Put together a clear financial plan that covers both your personal and financial goals in the short and long term. Make sure it’s detailed, achievable and will meet your needs. Seek the help of a financial advisor if needed – good financial advice is well worth the investment.
- Make sure your legal affairs are in order. This includes preparing or revising your will, choosing an executor and organising an enduring power of attorney. It’s a weight off your shoulders when it’s done.
5–10 Years Before You Retire
- Revisit your ideas on how you’d like to spend your time. Have your preferences changed? Have you got some new things to add to the list?
- Check over your financial plan to make sure you are still on track. Do you now have a clear idea of what you will need to retire happily and what you will actually have? How can you close the gap if it comes up short?
- Look into retirement investment options and your superannuation plan. Find out if you are eligible for government assistance. Make sure you are across any tax issues. Seek professional advice if needed.
- Think about when you would like to retire. Will your health, employment or financial situation impact the timing? Discuss it with your partner and family. The date may change, but having some idea makes it easier to plan.
- Consider again where you would like to live in retirement. Have your thoughts or circumstances around this changed? If you wish to downsize, will you move before or after you retire?
1–2 Years Before You Retire
- Now is a great time to try some of the hobbies or activities you may pursue further in retirement. It can be easier to transition into life after work with this part of your life already up and going. Look into what’s on in your area and what you need to do to get started.
- Take a really close look at your financials again. Are you on track? Do you need to tighten the belt or look at other ways to boost your retirement income during the last few years of work to reach your goals?
- Think again about when you will retire. Will you reduce your hours and work part-time for a year or two? Do you have long service leave or holiday pay you can use before you finish up? Are you financially ready to retire?
- Consider if there are any skills you can utilise and develop to earn some extra income in retirement. This could be anything from teaching music to handyman jobs.
- Take another look at your existing home and decide if it’s a good fit for you as you age. Does it need renovations or changes to make it suitable? Can you mange the maintenance? Look into the options seriously and work out what you need to do to get the ball rolling if you feel you’d be better off somewhere else.
3–6 Months Before You Retire
- Review your finances once again. Get your super statements and check for any lost balances. Review your life insurance to make sure it’s suitable. Make sure any investments you have are working for you. Are you eligible for any government payments? You can apply for the Age Pension three months in advance.
- Make a firm date to retire. Discuss it with your partner, family and employer. Be sure you are ready, both financially and mentally.
- Check in with your health and address any areas of concern. Review your health insurance if applicable.
- Revise your will, executor and enduring power of attorney to make sure it’s all up to date. This should be done every five years at least.
Plan + Action = Success
Getting your planning right, then taking action is the key to enjoying a comfortable and happy retirement. If you’re stuck in any areas, don’t be shy about seeking advice. Talk to your family, friends, employer, superannuation fund and Centrelink as you need. Seek financial and legal advice only from those who are qualified to give it. There are also some great online resources that provide free general information including Money Smart and Your Rights at Retirement that can be really useful.
It is daunting but when you’re organised and put in the preparation, planning the retirement you want is definitely doable!
Over to You
Do you have a question about this article? Or would you like to find out more about the retirement living options at the Village? We’re always happy to help! Get in touch with our friendly managers on 03 5174 2384 or post a comment below.