You might feel emotionally ready to retire but you’ll want to make sure you’re financially ready too. Here are some of the big points to consider.
Socialising with mates, enjoying leisurely activities and indulging in the odd trip away are all things that have likely crossed your mind when thinking about how you’ll spend retirement.
Beyond that though, have you given much thought to the logistics and what it’ll cost? If you haven’t, there are a number of big points worth considering, which is where this checklist may come in handy.
Do I have to retire by a certain age?
The retirement age in Australia isn’t set in stone. You can retire whenever you want to, but factors that could play a part might include:
- your health
- financial situation
- employment opportunities
- your (and your partner’s) individual preferences
- the age you can access your super.
What’s on my to-do list?
Think about what you may like to do in retirement and what the bigger and smaller priorities may be. Consider things such as:
- your social life and recreation
- staying active and healthy
- different retirement living options, which might include relocating to a new city
- helping the kids, if you have any.
How much money will I need?
According to March 2021 figures from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), individuals and couples, around age 65, who are looking to retire today, would need a certain annual budget to fund a comfortable lifestyle versus a modest one1.
ASFA figures are based on the assumption people own their home outright and are relatively healthy2. Check out the suggested annual budgets below compared to current maximum Age Pension rates being paid by the government3.
|Comfortable lifestyle||Modest lifestyle||Full Age Pension rate|
|Single (annual budget)||$44,412
|Couple (annual budget)||$62,828||$40,829||$37,341|
Where will my money come from?
The money you use to fund your life in retirement will likely come from a range of different sources, such as:
Your super fund
Generally, you can start accessing super when you reach your preservation age, which will be between 55 and 60, depending on when you were born, and retire. Knowing your super balance is a crucial part of planning for retirement, as it's likely to form a substantial part of your savings.
If you’ve got more than one super account, there may also be advantages to rolling your accounts into one, such as paying one set of fees. However, there could be certain features lost in the process, such as insurance, so make sure you’re across everything before you consolidate.
Investments, savings or an inheritance
You may be planning to sell or use income you’re generating from shares or an investment property, or use money you’ve saved in a savings account or term deposit to contribute to your retirement. An inheritance or proceeds from your family’s estate may also help in your later years.
Depending on your circumstances, as well as your income and assets, you may be eligible for a full or part Age Pension from age 65 to 67 onwards (depending on when you were born), or you mightn’t be eligible at all.
Along with your savings, government benefits, such as the Age Pension, as well as Carer’s Allowance and the Disability Support Pension, could be an important part of your retirement income.
Concession cards, which are provided if you receive certain government income support payments, or the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card could also help you access discounts on health care and other things.
How can I withdraw my super?
Depending on how you withdraw your super and at what age, there will be different tax implications worth investigating, which will depend on your individual circumstances.
In the meantime, some of the options you’ll have around withdrawing your super include:
Transition to retirement pension
A transition to retirement pension enables you to access some of your super via regular payments (once you’ve reached your preservation age), whether you continue to work full-time, part-time or casually.
This may provide you with some financial flexibility in the lead up to retirement, but there will be things to consider, including that you’ll generally only be able to access a limited amount each financial year.
If you’d like to receive a regular income when you do retire from the workforce, an account-based pension (also known as an allocated pension) could be a tax-effective option, noting the value of it will be based on the super you’ve saved, so won’t guarantee an income for life.
You also won’t be limited in what you can take out, but each year you’ll need to withdraw a minimum amount. Note, you can only transfer up to $1.7 million in super into this type of pension too.
Another option is an annuity product, which generally provides guaranteed payments over a set number of years, or the rest of your life, depending on whether you opt for a fixed-term or lifetime annuity.
They tend to be a more secure option as they provide a guaranteed income regardless of what might happen in financial markets. However, you’ll be sacrificing some flexibility as you can’t usually make lump sum withdrawals and your life expectancy may also be a consideration.
Taking some or all of your super savings as a lump sum can be tempting, particularly if you want to pay off debt, assist the kids, or go on a holiday. However, it might not be the best option for everyone, as you’ll need to consider how you fund your lifestyle after the money is gone.
While you may be eligible for government entitlements, such as the Age Pension, it might not cover the type of lifestyle you’d like to have after you finish working.
What other matters will I need to address?
When planning retirement, you may want to consider what outstanding debt you have and ways you may be able to reduce it while you’re still earning an income.
Check out these tips to reduce your debts before you retire and remember, if you’re experiencing financial hardship, talk to your providers, as most can assess your situation and help you find alternative payment plans.
You might have personal insurance, possibly tied to your super fund, but it’s worth checking you have the right type and that it’s appropriate for you. After all, what you require in retirement could be quite different to when you’re working.
Investments are part of many retirement planning strategies, and when you’re retiring, it’s worth reviewing your investment style and the options you’ve chosen.
For instance, in retirement, you might consider a more conservative approach with less risk, as when you’re younger you generally have more time to ride out market highs and lows.
Estate planning, including your will
It’s important to think about your estate planning needs. For instance, have you documented how you want your assets to be distributed after you’re gone and how you want to be looked after if you can’t make decisions later in life?
Do I want to make any final super contributions?
The more you can put into super before retiring, the more money you’re likely to have when you retire.
Check out these 10 ways to boost your super, noting there are annual concessional and non-concessional super contribution caps in place and if you exceed them, additional tax and penalties may apply.
You may also be interested to know that when you reach age 65 or over, you can make a voluntary contribution to your super of up to $300,000 using the proceeds from the sale of your main residence.
For couples, both people can take advantage of this opportunity, which means up to $600,000 per couple can be contributed toward super. There are however, downsizer contribution rules you’ll want to be across.
Super rules do start to get a bit trickier as you get older and if you’re keen to know more, check out – super contribution rules when you’re in your 60s and 70s.
Complimentary retirement health check
What is the retirement age in Australia?15 September 2021 | Plan my future The age you retire isn’t set in stone. You can really retire whenever you want to, but a number of factors could play a part. See what they are. Read more
7 ways to stay active and healthy in retirement14 September 2021 | COVID-19 Staying active and connected may have its challenges, depending on where you live, but here are some tips that could help keep your physical and mental wellbeing in check. Read more
Should I take my super as a lump sum?10 September 2021 | Plan my future Taking your super as a lump sum might be tempting, but it won't be the best option for everyone. Check out what to consider. Read more
Any advice and information is provided by AWM Services Pty Ltd ABN 15 139 353 496, AFSL No. 366121 (AWM Services) and is general in nature. It hasn’t taken your financial or personal circumstances into account.
The retirement health check is provided by ipac Securities Limited ABN 30 008 587 595, AFS Licence No. 234656 (IPAC) to eligible members in the Super Directions Fund and is a general advice conversation only. IPAC is a wholly owned subsidiary of AMP. Products in the Super Directions Fund are issued by N.M. Superannuation Proprietary Limited (N.M. Super) ABN 31 008 428 322 (trustee), which is part of the AMP group.
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