Retirement: It’s not all about the money

By Liz Maroney, Westlawn Wealth Adviser
SMSF Specialist Advisor™
25 May 2017

When planning for retirement, all too often the emphasis is solely on building “wealth”. But there are problems with this single-minded monetary approach. Firstly, one person’s idea of wealth will be completely different to the next person’s. Wealth is relative to not only our current lifestyle, but also the lifestyle we hope to lead in retirement. It also ignores a vital component of what makes for a happy, fulfilling retirement – our physical health and emotional wellbeing.

So, rather than focusing only on building wealth in retirement for the sake of becoming “richer”, it’s important for us all to take a more holistic approach to our retirement planning.

What do you really want to do in retirement?

One of the key steps in planning for retirement is determining what kind of lifestyle you realistically want to lead.

If we are to believe the marketing hype, retirement is all about sailing on our yachts, cruising the highways in a convertible, overseas adventures, al fresco dining and long walks along sandy beaches.

While a lavish lifestyle may be the desire of some, it’s certainly not how all of us expect (or want) to spend our retirement years. Some of us may prefer spending more time close to home on simple pleasures with family and friends. Others will want a lifestyle somewhere in between.

What are your short, medium and longer term lifestyle goals in retirement?

This is an important question each of has to spend some time mulling over. Without establishing tangible personal life goals, building wealth for the sake of building wealth is unlikely to provide any real sense of achievement … or lead to a happy, fulfilling retirement.

Eva Bennett’s Secrets to a successful retirement

Eva Bennett is a professional retirement presenter and author with over 25 years of experience in running personal development programs.

Eva’s retirement seminars focus on the physical health and emotional wellbeing side of the retirement planning equation. Her seminars include:

  • The 6 ingredients to cook up a great life in retirement
  • How to avoid the 5 common pitfalls of retirement, and
  • The 5 steps to move on from what was, to what can now be.

She has also written 2 books on life in retirement: As Time Goes By – Dealing With Life’s Changes and So What Do We Do Now? Both books are available on her website here.

“As we get older, using our money for experiences rather than material things becomes more meaningful and adds to our quality of life.”
Eva Bennett: 5 Secrets to a Successful Retirement

In her article 5 Secrets to a Successful Retirement, Eva suggests that, regardless of how well we are prepared financially, many of us are unprepared for the psychological and social changes that occur when we retire.

Making a retirement bucket list is one way to help give you a sense of purpose and “a reason to get up every morning”. Keeping your body fit is a no-brainer and is naturally on Eva’s list of 5 secrets. Keeping fit can even slow the ageing process. Eva suggests a 30 to 40 minute walk each day (unless it’s pouring rain).

Keeping your mind fit should also be a priority. The University of the Third Age (U3A) is a wonderful provider of learning opportunities for seniors, according to Eva. For a small annual membership fee, you can attend a wide variety of courses to learn new skills, have fun and, importantly, meet new people.

For more information, contact your nearest U3A:

For more tips on living life to the fullest in retirement, check out Eva’s website at www.plansretirement.com.au

Volunteering – good for the community, good for you too

As suggested in 5 Secrets to a Successful Retirement, when we leave work for good, it can be common for people to lose their sense of identity and self-worth.

A rewarding remedy to this can be found in volunteering. It is said that over a third of Australians volunteer in some form. The majority donating their time to sport and physical recreation, while 37% of those aged 65 years and over choose to support community and welfare organisations[i].

And the evidence shows that volunteering is not only good for your community – it’s also very good for you too.

Here 5 reasons why you should consider volunteering in retirement:

  1. Satisfaction: In a survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), volunteers[ii] reported higher levels of life satisfaction than non-volunteers. They also valued the sense of purpose that volunteering gave them[iii].
  2. Connection with community: If your workplace was your biggest connection to the community, retirement could lead to a sense of isolation. By volunteering, you mix with others in your community and is an easy way to instantly reconnect with people.
  3. Friendships: As you get older, it’s harder to stay in touch with former work colleagues, while other friends in your close circle may move away. Volunteering provides an opportunity to create new friends – and gives you plenty to talk about when catching up with old friends.
  4. Good mental health: Caring about others and keeping our social networks strong are vital for good mental health[iv]. Volunteering helps keep you mentally active. So, by taking care of others, you’re also taking care of yourself.
  5. Enjoyment: Volunteering allows you to do the things you’re passionate about. You’ll also enjoy feeling needed by bringing your experience to organisations that often struggle to find resources.

To reduce stress, increase happiness try mindfulness

Have you heard of mindfulness? While it has recently become popular in certain circles (many corporations even offer mindfulness programs at work), it may be a term that is foreign to you.

Mindfulness is a practice that can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It also promotes happiness and self-acceptance. And for this reason, it could be the perfect addition to your retirement routine.

Mindfulness advocates believe it provides the tools to better control your emotional response to negative experiences – and enjoy the pleasurable aspects of your life more.

Sound interesting? Want to give it a try? You can enrol in a course with a qualified mindfulness practitioner, or simply download an app to your smartphone or tablet with guided meditations to help you get started.

Try the mindful.org website for the basics of mindfulness.

[i] Australian Bureau of Statistics 4441.0 – Voluntary Work, Australia, 2010

[ii] Australian Bureau of Statistics 4441.0 – Voluntary Work, Australia, 2010

[iii] Volunteering Australia

[iv] Beyondblue

The lucky country for retirees

Here’s some positive news for Aussie retirees:

The 2017 Best Countries survey from US News & World Report, BAV Consulting and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania ranks Australia as the world’s second-best country for a comfortable retirement (New Zealand beat us!).

Survey respondents aged 45 years and up ranked the best countries for retirement on 7 attributes: affordability, favourable tax environment, friendliness, “a place I would live”, pleasant climate, respect for property rights and a well-developed public health system.

And the 2016 Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index, ranked Australia’s retirement-income system third (with a B+) out of 27 countries assessed in terms of adequacy, sustainability and integrity. Denmark came out on top, closely followed by the Netherlands (both receiving A grades).

Start planning your retirement lifestyle today

Are you approaching retirement or already retired? now’s the time to think about what you really want from your retirement and to talk to Liz Maroney about how you can achieve your retirement lifestyle goals. Contact us today:

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Westlawn Wealth Adviser, Liz Maroney is a ...

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