Most working Australians dream of the day they can finally retire. That long-awaited time when you have the financial freedom to make work optional and spend more time on the things you love the most.
However, a trend has developed that has the potential to reshape the way we have traditionally planned for retirement.
The average Australian is now living even longer. A recent comparison by the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated our life expectancy at birth as 83.15 years, which puts us higher on a global scale than countries such as New Zealand, the UK and the USA.
We are also healthier and remain active for longer than previous generations thanks to improved health services, advancements in medical technology, and a better understanding of the impact of diet and exercise.
But a longer lifespan comes at a cost – literally.
As our ages increase, so too will the number of years that our retirement savings will be required to cover.
For example, a male/female couple aged 67 today has a 50% chance that at least one of the couple will reach 90, and a 5% chance that one of them makes it to the grand old age of 99.
Some people may delay retirement and continue to work while they are still able, but many others will prefer to have a choice over how they spend their time during their later years.
And while I am confident there will always be an Age Pension (or equivalent government benefit) to fall back on, there is some uncertainty, and no guarantee, as to what this may look like in 20 or 30 years as the population continues to age and demand for social security increases.
With this in mind, planning for a multi-decade retirement is a sensible strategy.
Rather than leaving things to chance, each of us should have a plan that considers the income needed to fund our vision of the future, and the investments / savings required to generate that income.
These figures will be dependent on your own needs and aspirations. A trusted financial planner can assist you consider your options and help make your vision a reality.
The plan also needs to take into account changes in the cost of living in Australia, which during the last 30 years (to 30 June 2018) has increased on average 2.8% per annum.
This means that not only do we need to accumulate enough assets over our working lives to fund a lengthy retirement, we also need to make sure our savings maintain their purchasing power. The cost of living has increased by about 2.2 times in the past three decades, which means that $100 spent in 1988 is approximately the same as $229 spent in 2018.
While it is impossible to predict what might happen in the future, this should be considered a reasonable guide on what we can expect.
All of us have our own version of how we would like our financial future to be. That movie that we play in our heads where we think ‘wouldn’t it be nice – maybe one day …’.
Having a clear vision of your ideal lifestyle and understanding the financial options and strategies available to bridge the gap to where you want to be is a good place to start, because when it comes to your financial future, there are two possible outcomes: either you will outlive your money, or your money will outlive you. Wouldn’t you prefer to make the most of good health and a long life, rather than spending your time trying to make every last cent go that little bit further?
The earlier you start to plan for the future, the more likely that plan will have a chance to become a reality.
With two weeks until Christmas, now might not be the ideal time to start taking stock of your savings. But when you sit down on December 31 and think about your resolutions for the coming year, why not put sorting out your superannuation on your list of things to achieve in 2019?
There’s no better way to ensure you have plenty of very merry Christmases to come, now and throughout your retirement – however long that may be.
Do you want to make the most of your money but aren't sure where to start?
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