Curing the ‘Not Enough to Retire Blues’

The Not Enough to Retire blues –
[1. A terrible disease suffered by pre-retirement and early retirement persons facing life with a smaller income than they had hoped through the latter third of their life.]
[2. A terrifying battle between hopes, dreams and reality]

Your retirement is approaching. You really want it to arrive in just the way you imagined it, complete with a caravan trip around Australia and a few wild jaunts overseas while you’ve got your health in the palm of your hand. You wouldn’t mind downsizing to a smaller house to have these things, but when you add up the dollars and the cents on your home computer, it just doesn’t stack up. There is no way you could ever contemplate taking off to a foreign country, footloose and fancy free like your friends on Facebook, or do a trip like Jenny and Bob in their caravan for four months. The flights are outside your budget, let alone, what it would do if you withdrew from your small and sometimes disappointing-to-acknowledge super balance. So instead you put off thinking about it, hoping that when the time comes, something will change miraculously and your dreams will revive themselves. Better that than admitting that your dreams might not be possible.

The Not Enough to Retire Blues are a very real thing, and something nobody seems to want to talk about, let alone cure. And let’s face it, if you don’t have enough money stashed away to pay for your living costs, it is hard to contemplate how you can have your dream retirement. But how many people have gone to see the right doctor for their depression, and sought to manage the result to its best possible outcome like you would if you were diagnosed with an illness? Are you guilty of suffering The Not Enough to Retire Blues in silence?

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The symptoms of the Not Enough to Retire Blues include not opening your super statement when it arrives on the bench; feeling guilty of taking from your retirement fund every time you buy a $4 coffee; choosing That’s Life Magazine instead of Gourmet Traveller at the news stand so you don’t build up any more hope; standing up and walking away every time your partner tries to discuss your finances and how you could change things. A twitch every time the R word gets mentioned.

Seriously though, the most obvious symptom is a general feeling of terror at the prospect of having to move to a smaller house and live off Centrelink while watching on Facebook as your friends travel.

But according to Chelsea Fletcher, a financial planner who works with AustralianSuper members*, there is still reason for optimism.

You can’t expect to diagnose and treat your own illness, but with the right advice, you can turn your blues into a pragmatic approach to your money in retirement, give yourself a positive outlook and chase the blues away. When it comes to retirement, ignorance is not bliss.

Chelsea says, “The first thing to understand in setting up your retirement is where your expectations sit. Are they achievable? Everyone’s idea of a comfortable retirement is different.”

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Yours might be achievable with less than the average super balance of a 60-year-old today of $198k for a man or $112k for a woman (ABS). A good adviser will look at positive ways to reset your expectations with you and will help you alter your goals and objectives to suit your circumstances so you can still have a retirement dream.

The second thing is to explore how much you will need to meet your goals. Forget your friends on Facebook and their glamorous stories, you are living your own retirement, so it is time to set up expectations of the retirement that you want to live.

Chelsea says, “Working with an adviser, you can set a real tactical plan of things you can do to improve your situation. This might include things like working longer to avoid drawing on your retirement savings as early, or going part-time so you can supplement your super or Centrelink with real income for a few years more.”

The third thing is to explore the entitlements that might make your retirement easier. Fact is, the payments available from Centrelink form an important part of many retirement plans, and when put into perspective with your other assets, your family home and any superannuation, it might paint a very different picture. Often, people don’t think of the age pension as a part of their plans.

According to Chelsea, the most important thing to know, if you find yourself with The Not Enough to Retire Blues, is don’t ignore them. They don’t go away on their own. For most people, the risk of living longer than they expect is greater than their chances of dying young, so taking control of your money is crucial. The way statistics tell it, a 65 year old female has a 50% chance of living beyond 91 whilst a male has 50% chance of living beyond 88… that’s a long time to ignore those super statements.

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* Personal advice is provided by financial planners who are Authorised Representatives of Industry Fund Services Ltd, ABN 54 007 016 195, AFSL No. 232514. Fees may apply to any advice provided by a planner. IFS is responsible for the advice given to you by its Authorised Representative.

This post has been sponsored by AustralianSuper, Australia’s largest industry superannuation fund, managing more than $90 billion of members’ assets on behalf of 2 million Australians and more than 200,000 businesses. It was written as we feel it offers invaluable insights into a topic important to the Starts at 60 community. For more information, please visit the AustralianSuper website.


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