What I wish everyone knew about retirement

What I wish everyone knew about retirement

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“Don’t count the days. Make the days count.”

I’ve always found this quote from Muhammad Ali incredibly powerful – both for its simplicity and message. This quote has taken on even more meaning during COVID-19 where we’ve all had to make significant adjustments to our lives.

And start to look at what is most important to us.

For many, this could be questioning whether now is the right time to finally make that leap into retirement – or at least make drastic lifestyle changes. To focus on living in the now rather than waiting for the when.

I saw first hand how difficult this decision can be, and what the cost is if this decision comes too late.

When is the right time?

One of my Mum’s dreams was to visit her friend in Canada. A friend that she had sustained a pen-pal relationship with over many decades (remember when we used to use pen and paper to write letters). 

The plan was that when Dad retired they would take that first overseas trip together. It would have been one of many, and they could finally, deservedly, start putting themselves first instead of their three children who were all past  twenty.

Devastatingly for all of us, shortly after Dad went into semi-retirement he suffered a major heart attack and passed away at the age of 55. Before they could start this next phase of their lives.

I know it was hard for Mum and Dad to find the right time to take that trip. I know that they had held off these plans until their kids were all safe and secure. And I know they wanted to make sure of their own finances.

These thoughts and priorities are the same for many people trying to decide when is the right time to retire or take their lives in a new direction.

But what I learnt out of our family’s experience is that every moment is precious. And that we need to make every day count.

So is it possible to take that leap of faith into retirement before we think we’re even ready?

The cost of not retiring

Now I’m not saying everyone should throw in their job and move down the coast. I know plenty of people who absolutely love working and never see themselves retiring. And that’s fine.

But I also know others who are ready to make a seismic shift in their life, but are held back by the fear of retiring too early.

So how do you plan for both living for the future and living for today? 

Having been a client of Tribeca’s for many years, I was keen to get their opinion on retirement planning, given that their whole philosophy is built around living your Good Life and financial wellbeing.

“When we look at retirement planning, we’re more interested in life goals rather than accruing wealth. We look at the wellbeing of the person first, and then build a financial plan around that. It’s why right at the very start of our journey with a client that we establish what their goals are in ten years, three years and now,” explains CEO Ryan Watson.

“For many people they are closer to retirement (those who want to retire) than they think. In fact it might be a better option than working full-time, given the never-talked-about cost of going to work. It’s actually really expensive – commuting, work clothes, coffees/drinks/lunches. That all adds up, and may not be a priority anymore. That money could easily be redirected to working on home projects, travel or volunteering. Whatever aligns with what’s important to you to live a Good Life.” 

Valuing the simple things

Another factor that has hit home during COVID-19 is how quickly we can adjust to living within our means. We have all been forced to live leaner, which I know has been a lightbulb moment for not just myself, but many of my friends.

It’s been more about placing a value on the simple things, rather than the next big thing.

“At Tribeca we’ve always believed that most people can live comfortably on half their income. This crisis has forced everyone to take a breath, and a bit of a reset, and maybe proved that it is achievable to live on less,” said Ryan.

More to this point, Tribeca estimates that most people can retire comfortably on as little as $250,000 in savings, depending on circumstances. This can be achieved through a variety of means including property, shares and cash. Again, it’s about matching the person’s goals with their finances. Downsizing the house and lifestyle may be one way of achieving that retirement earlier than you think.

“Of course every person’s situation is different, and some may simply not be able to flick a switch and retire tomorrow. And that’s OK. The important thing is that you look at retirement with an open mind and plan for the life you want to live. There are always choices. That’s what financial wellbeing is all about.”

Take a moment

If you’re like me, these last few months have been a time of reflection. If your moments of reflection have involved making a decision on whether or not to retire, I urge you to do one thing.

And that’s to do something. Whether that’s talking to a financial planner like Tribeca to discuss your options, setting or relooking at your goals and creating a retirement plan, or if you’re ready to take that leap of faith – do it.

And make those days count.   

If you would like to discuss your retirement savings plan or any other financial advice with a financial advisor from Tribeca Financial, please click here.

Richard Foster

Richard Foster

Rick Foster is a client of Tribeca’s and is also a writer and regular contributor to our articles. Recently he also published a picture book called Why Worry Wally?, which aims to help kids talk about and cope with their worries and anxiety.

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