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6 Things to consider when planning for your retirement

6 Things to consider when planning for your retirement

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Transitioning into retirement comes with its fair share of challenges alongside moments of sheer excitement and anticipation. There is undoubtedly a lot to look forward to in this new phase of your life, but before Aussie seniors can even embark on this journey, they must first prepare themselves for all that lies ahead.

Preparing for your retirement involves taking time to assess virtually all aspects of your lifestyle, including your daily routine, spending habits, and even your living arrangements. With all that there is to consider, it can be tricky to know what to prioritise, let alone where or when to start.

That's why we'll be outlining six elements that Aussie seniors should consider when planning their transition into retirement living, just to help provide some guidance through this uncharted territory.

1. Assess your lifestyle needs

Even though you may be leaving the workforce, you still deserve to maintain a lifestyle that suits you best. In fact, catering to your lifestyle needs when planning for your retirement is so vital to the process, that we've placed it above organising your finances in our little list.

That being said, your financial circumstances will naturally have some bearing on what retired life looks like for you. For instance, having a firm understanding of what your pension will look like, can help finetune your process of searching for suitable retirement villages.

If you have a rough idea of what your pension or budget is likely to be, then you should use this estimate to create a shortlist of retirement villages and residences, just to ensure that your living situation is all sorted prior to your even leaving the workforce. As this is the largest consideration you'll need to make, getting it out of the way first is naturally going to help you and your loved ones focus on all the other items on this list.

2. Get your finances in order

As we mentioned above, maintaining an awareness of your finances before and during your transition into retirement is key for adapting to all the lifestyle changes that this transition may bring. This isn't to say that you should be prepared to scale back and live frugally.

In fact, if you plan carefully, you should have no issues retaining as much of your former lifestyle as possible, with the added bonus of having plenty of time to fit in all the hobbies and activities you may not have been able to pursue with your work schedule.

The best place to start is by meeting with a financial advisor in order to develop a clear picture of what your retirement income is likely to be. Your retirement income is going to be influenced by a few factors, these being:

  • Assets and liabilities (i.e. house and mortgage)
  • Investments and savings
  • Eligibility for government benefits
  • Your super

There are a few ways to build your retirement income both before and during your retirement years. For instance, many seniors opt to downsize from their larger family home into a more modest residence, putting the profits from selling their house towards their budget for retirement.

Similarly, seniors can opt to reassess their investment portfolios and reorganise their personal financial accounts in order to maximise their passive earning potential. Given the right financial planning, Aussie seniors can live comfortably off savings earned on interest as well as investment income.

3. Apply for government benefits

There are a number of additional payments, concessions, and government support schemes available for citizens who are currently receiving the Age Pension. Payments like the Energy Supplement and Rent Assistance for seniors as well as concession options like the Pensioner Concession Card, can help Aussie seniors bridge the gap between getting by and thriving during their years in retirement.

You can find a full list of all government benefits that you may be eligible for online on the Department of Social Services' website as well as on Services Australia. Your Age Pension can also be claimed through Centrelink in the myGov portal.

4. Organise your transition out of the workforce

Many of us spend the bulk of our week in our work environments and interacting with our colleagues, so it's only natural to have developed strong interpersonal relationships and to have constructed a feeling of belonging and community in and around your professional spaces. For this reason, having to leave your workplace can be perceived as being one of the most difficult challenges that you'll face during your transition into retirement.

It's important to note, however, that this transition doesn't have to herald the end of your working life, especially if you love your job and would like to continue to maintain your professional role in some capacity.

That's precisely why many seniors may opt to semi-retire or perhaps even volunteer in order to continue offering their professional skills to either the organisation they've served for years, or even local not-for-profits that may benefit from their expertise.

Alongside this, seniors should keep in mind that leaving their workforce doesn't necessarily have to mean leaving their beloved colleagues behind. In fact, by reducing your work schedule, you'll actually find that you'll have more time for your friends and loved ones.

Seniors should feel encouraged to make plans and keep in touch with their colleagues and other figures within their professional network. Not only will doing so help seniors maintain a wider social circle in retirement, but this may also help seniors maintain access to professional or volunteer opportunities that they can pursue during their time in retirement.

5. Prepare a personal health plan

Mapping out a personal health plan to support your health and wellbeing during your years in retirement involves more than just picking out a seniors health insurance package. Staying healthy may involve putting together a weekly fitness routine that you can maintain with ease, as well as ensuring that you make regular appointments with your GP, dentist, and any other relevant medical specialists in order to ensure that you stay in peak health during your golden years.

You can prepare your personalised health plan by consulting your GP, as well as other specialists like nutritionists and physiotherapists.

Practising daily exercises like stretches to maintain mobility, and cardio for bolstering your cardiovascular health, are both fantastic elements of a preventative healthcare plan that will help seniors drastically reduce their risks of developing chronic medical conditions or illnesses like arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes, just to name a few.

Staying physical can also play a major role in reducing risks of seniors developing mental illnesses like depression or disorders like dementia.

This is why mind and body practices like yoga, pilates, tai chi, and meditation are also strongly recommended for seniors. Establishing these daily practices as soon as possible can effectively set you up for a long and happy retirement.

6. Expand your social circle

Finally, one thing that you'll absolutely want to consider when preparing for retirement is ensuring that you always prioritise time with your friends and loved ones. It's common for seniors to build their new weekly routines around spending time with their families and fellow peers, as these are all opportunities for social enrichment.

Of course, if your loved ones are occupied during the work week, there are still plenty of opportunities for seniors to stay social. In fact, there are some opportunities that can even be integrated into existing items on your weekly routine.

Let's take staying active as an example here. If you're a senior who's finding it difficult to maintain motivation to stay fit and active, one highly effective way to get you firing on all cylinders is to turn your workouts into opportunities for social interaction.

Taking a stroll through the park every morning with a friend will not only help you stay connected with one another, but may also provide both of you with an added incentive to maintain this daily practice. You may even opt to sign up for senior gym classes with a friend or simply to expand on your own social circle as a new retiree.

Other opportunities you may have for staying social during your years in retirement include joining community groups like arts and crafts circles or perhaps even dance classes. If you're moving into a retirement village, it would definitely be worthwhile reading through their events calendar as well as all the community groups that you can find within your new residence. With a little digging and planning, you'll be sure to find plenty of opportunities to stay social as you transition into retirement living.

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Planning for your retirement can feel like a daunting endeavour when you consider all of these different elements. Thankfully, however, you're not likely to be going through this alone at all.

But even if you're a senior living alone, you'll still have the support of your friends, your family, and the wider community to lean on for support during this transition. With these support pillars at your disposal, alongside access to professionals like medical specialists and financial advisors, chances are your transition into retirement will be more seamless than you may think!