Retirement may still be years away – but it could creep up on you. Find out how to boost your retirement savings and maximise your financial wellbeing, when you’re ready to ease out of the workforce or say goodbye to it completely.
For many people, your 50s are your golden years, a time when you may be at the pinnacle of your career and some of the big expenses you needed in your 20s, 30s and 40s have levelled out. But, while it may be easy to slip into a comfortable pattern of splurging on yourself and your children, this is the final stretch towards reaching your financial goals – a time when you should be maximising your financial know-how. Read on for ways to plan for your retirement in your 50s.
Shift your mindset to your saving goals
You might have a regular income at the moment (in fact, statistics say you’re likely to be earning your highest income between the ages 45 and 541). But how will your life change when you retire and your finances are potentially reduced or more sporadic? What happens when you need to prioritise saving over spending?
An important tip for saving for your retirement in your 50s is to change your mindset early and focus on what’s essential, rather than nice. Now is the time to prioritise your needs over your wants so you can reach your savings goals. The first step is to use a retirement calculator to help get an idea of how much you’re likely to need.
Hold your nerve
If you’re like many Aussies, your retirement savings and other investments might have been hit by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. But according to AMP Capital's Darren Beasley, now is not the time to make any radical changes to your investment strategy. He suggests holding your nerve, particularly if you still have a few years in the workforce ahead of you.
You may, however, need to re-evaluate some of your retirement plans and consider pushing back your retirement by a few years if you can. Remember that you don’t need to make these decisions on your own: it can be helpful to speak to a financial adviser if you need more guidance on your investments.
Transition to retirement
Still keen to exit the workforce sooner rather than later? Another option to consider is transition to retirement, a stepped pathway into full retirement that lets you access some of your super funds while you’re still working2.
This scheme is open to those aged between 55 and 60 who are still working, and comes with a range of options that could help you leave full-time employment behind.
Aim to be debt-free
Your focus for the next decade should be on how you can enter retirement with as little debt as possible. The average mortgage in Australia is $384,7003, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Imagine if you were in a position to retire without having to make monthly repayments on sizable amounts like this? There are numerous strategies for shrinking your mortgage fast, from setting up offset accounts to making lump-sum repayments.
Don’t forget other, smaller debts as well. While your home loan likely comes with an interest rate of between 2.5% and 5%, credit cards and personal loans often have much higher interest rates attached to them. The sooner you get rid of this debt, the sooner you can channel money into your retirement finances to help you build a comfortable retirement income.
Teach your kids to be independent
A recent report4 found that more than 5 million Australians provide support to their adult children, and now is certainly a time that many parents will be thinking about it. If your children were among the 3.1 million people5 who withdrew money under the early super access scheme (as at 23 August 2020), and you’re in a position to be able to help, consider working out a way that you can help them to repay the money over the coming months.
Of course your kids will always come first, but helping those around you shouldn’t put you in a position where you’re unable to retire comfortably. You can always share with your children our tips for people in their 20s or 30s and allow them to set their own course in planning their finances.
1 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018), Employee Earnings and Hours (All employees, average weekly total cash earnings, number of employees - age category, May 2018)
2 Moneysmart.gov.au, Transition to Retirement
3 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2019), Housing Finance
4 Finder.com.au (2018), Bank of Mum and Dad
5 APRA, Covid-19 Early Release Scheme
Hold your nerve in the face of the economic impact of coronavirus, and avoid making radical changes to your investments.
Focus on paying off credit cards, mortgages and other loans now, with the goal of being debt-free before stopping work.
According to the research…
the average age for peak earning potential1
the average mortgage in Australia3
Australians provide support to their adult children4
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