Getting Smart about Retirement Planning (and Why It Matters)

Retirement planning seems to have a bad reputation among the majority of Australians between the ages of 45 and 65 years old. When it comes to addressing the issue of planning for retirement, it seems many of us more “mature” Aussies enjoy the bliss of living in a world of complete denial, which obviously makes matters worse for us as our “golden years” rapidly creep up on us.

What is the real reason many of us are living in complete denial? Perhaps it has more to do with how our retirement years are often portrayed or what we believe they will be like. For example, loss of youth, having a full head of grey hair, losing independence, and possibly dying. While we know that aging is a normal part of life, in fact it’s unavoidable, and many of us pretend that those years will never come, so it is okay to start planning for our retirement years at a later time.

Many of us might be enjoying our lives and good health today, but what will our quality life be like at age 60 and beyond? This question alone should help bring us back down to the reality that we are not getting any younger. Additionally, as each year passes by, so do our prime earning years, especially if we do not start taking advantage of them before it is literally too late. The sooner we all start planning; the better, so it’s time to get smart about retirement before we end up eating ramen noodles while locked up in our matchbox-sized flat afraid to leave because we cannot afford to do much else.

Planning for Your Next Life Stage

Now that we’ve cleared up the denial issue, it really is time to get smart and real about planning for your next life stage. Rather than dreading the unavoidable aging process and retirement years, it is best to start by changing your attitude or outlook on your next stage of life. Positive planning could help you realize that leaving the employment world is actually a great opportunity to enter a new and rewarding stage in life.

It is possible that many people feel or believe that life suddenly ends when they hit those once-before coveted retirement years, but those who truly enjoy and make the most of this life stage instead see it more as a beginning of something new. This is where positive planning comes into play, if we see it as a beginning rather than an end, it could help more of us approach the planning part from an entirely different perspective, which in turn could cause us to be much more proactive.

Yes, It is about The Money

While it would be nice to think that planning for retirement is not about the money, it actually has everything to do with money. To further clarify, your quality of life at this stage will have every bit to do with how much planning you put into it in earlier years. Those who have a clear sense of direction typically make the most of their earning years so that they can enjoy leaving the workforce with minimal amounts of stress in comparison to those who may feel that they have not planned enough.

The old saying, “If you fail to plan; you plan to fail” definitely holds true when it comes to retirement planning, and most of us know that planning is an essential part of pretty much any major decision and life stage. Of course, not everything goes exactly as planned because life does happen and tends to get in our way, but always having a proactive plan in place will help us better cope with those unexpected curve balls life has a tendency to throw in our direction.

In short, money has everything to do with our quality of life in retirement years. When planning for this time, we need to factor in everything such as: where we would like to live and how much it will cost, if we want to travel and how often, if we want to pursue other interests and what those might cost, if we want to buy one-ply or three-ply bathroom tissue, if we want to eat fresh foods or unhealthy packaged foods, and if we want to drink our coffee at Starbuck’s or not. Point being, we need to consider everything that matters to us and our quality of life, and how much that lifestyle will end up costing us in our later years.

To help you get started on your plan, it is important to first get clear about your goals and any issues you may have. Next, evaluate your current position and see how it measures up to your goals and your timeline. Take your goals and convert them into a plan of action and finally, break down your plan into achievable steps. Often, people tend to bite off more than they can chew which tends to make them feel overwhelmed to a point where they may abandon retirement planning all together. It’s important to just keep it simple and attainable using the means and resources you have to the best of your ability.

What Will I Do with All that Spare Time?

Depending on which life stage you are currently at today, you may be feeling like you’re on the edge of that stage and are about to jump into retirement, or would possibly like to see yourself retire from your 50-hour per week career so you can pursue your goals and dreams.

If you’ve been working for 20-30 years and are used to having a full schedule and a regular salary, the thought of retirement (no matter the retirement circumstances) may frighten you to death and may seem impossible for you to feel comfortable with the thought of this very big life change.

For those who feel this way, it again reiterates the importance of planning for this life stage and to not put it off or live in denial any longer. As part of your retirement plan, it is necessary to factor in what you would like to see yourself doing. Some people retire and start their own small business while others pursue hobbies and interests, spend more time with family, or many people end up traveling the world. Therefore, positive planning is so important and helps remove the common obstacle of the fear of the unknown, causing many people to sweep planning for the future under the rug.

What you want to do during these years must be factored into your plan of action. Other things to help you transition could also include slowly scaling back your hours (if possible) until you are ready to walk out the door and never look back. Whatever it is, all things must be considered since even scaling back from five working days to three to help you transition better will change the amount of money you will earn during this period of time as well.

Why Getting Smart Ultimately Matters

As extensively covered in this post, getting smart about retirement is not just about putting money aside for a “rainy” day, rather, it has a lot more to do with how we approach retirement and what we would like to be doing during this time in our lives. Getting real with the fact that we will age no matter what and that we may reach a point where we can no longer work, is a key part about retirement planning.

Too many of us often make the mistake of denying old age and enjoy living it up in the here and the now, however, these types of mindsets could end up backfiring big time when we reach age 65. Planning doesn’t necessarily mean the fun has to end, but will possibly dictate how much the price of our lifestyles will change.

With focused financial goals, the choice between drinking a Starbuck’s coffee every single day compared to brewing our own coffee at home will be a much easier one because we will have a clear vision of where we want to be in 20 or 30 years down the road, making the here and the now not as important as the way we want to live in the future.

Conclusion

Whether it comes to personal goals or financial planning, not everyone is a master at making plans and sticking with them, which is why we need professionals who know how to help us plan by taking a look at our personal and financial situations and goals.

Getting smart and getting started on a retirement plan that suits your needs and your goals, is a step in the right direction. If you feel overwhelmed with the task and are not really sure where to begin or how to put your plan in place, you may want to find a financial planner in your area to help get you get started on the right path to retirement right away.