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How To Overcome A Financial Setback And Still Have A Great Retirement

Let’s face it, the road to retirement isn’t always straightforward. Even with the best planning, many of us are likely to have to experience at least one financial setback in our life. The older we get, the more stressful if can be.

financial setback can be overcomeA survey conducted by Ameriprise Financialfound that respondents aged between 50 to 70, reported experiencing at least one financial setback. More than 50% said it seriously reduced their retirement savings by an average loss of $117,000.

A financial setback can be out of your control

Unfortunately, there are some events you have no power over. A sudden job loss, divorce, ill health, disability, natural disaster, care needs of an elderly parent or the sudden death of a partner are all difficult to foresee sometimes. That doesn’t mean that you can’t plan for them.  For instance, invest in building an emergency fund to help see you through any unforeseen disasters.

A financial setback can be self-inflicted

Some financial setbacks, however, are due to our own behaviours such as procrastination in saving, overspending, stacking up credit card bills, getting into debt. For instance, due to the high cost of going to university, many parents are overborrowing to pay for their child’s higher education. As a result, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureauhas reported that the number of consumers age 60 and older paying off student loan debt has quadrupled over the last decade.

However daunting it may feel to be suddenly facing a financial crisis, it’s important to remember you are not alone. Others have been through it before and there are always solutions.

Financial difficulties affect most people at some time.

Getting through a setback and bouncing back can actually make us stronger and help us realize what’s really important in life. It can be tempting to dream about improving your finances but not acting till a need arises. A setback can be the motivation you need to finally take some action. Plan, commit and just do it. You can then enter retirement feeling confident that yourself and loved ones will be protected.

Here’s a short guide to help you better understand how to build your own financial resilience whilst ensuring your future retirement is protected.

  1. Save

The biggest threat to the financial security of your future retirement is not saving enough money.  You should be aiming to save around 15% of your monthly income.  Stuart Ritter, vice-presidentof T. Rowe Price Investment Services observes that “not enough people are saving enough, saving 3% for retirement is like going to the gym for 6 minutes.”  According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average amount being paid into private-sector workplace pension schemes in the UK was only 4.7% of a worker’s salary.

  1. Future Health Planning

A  2014 Merrill Lynch studyfound that 70% of couples age 50+ had not discussed the possible cost of  their health care during retirement. Yet, 81% of retirees said that health was more important to them than financial security. There’s no doubt that health is one of the biggest challenges facing retirees.  50% of retirees retired earlierthan they expected, mainly due to health issues. It is vital to calculate health care costs in retirement plans to avoid future crisis.

  1. Don’t Blame Yourself   

When you experience a financial setback, don’t blame yourself. It is far better to focus your mind on solutions rather than regret.

A 2017 study commissioned by theNational Endowment for Financial Educationfound that by the age of 70, a staggering 96% of Americans will experience four or more major life events like redundancy, divorce or illness resulting in a 10% drop in income. The study also reported that 60% of workers will experience a full year without earning a salary, at least once in their life.

Let the past be the past, instead focus on practical steps to overcome your situation. Even if you are saving just a little bit every month, this can go a long way. It can be a first step in nudging you into creating a more robust emergency fund.

  1. Assess your situation

After experiencing a serious setback, you need to quickly assess your financial situation. This will include making an inventory of all your remaining assets, available resources, and any liabilities. Once you have a clear idea of where you are now, you can then start to design a practical plan for the journey ahead. This is a good moment to seek professional advice.

  1.   Develop a recovery plan

It’s important to gather as much information as possible about your situation to help you create a practical plan. Here are some things to include in your list:

  • Inventory of all your remaining assets.
  • Figure showing how much money you owe and what your monthly outgoings are.
  • Total figure showing interest spend on all debts e.g mortgage, credit cards, bar loans
  • Net monthly income
  • All implications of financial setback e.g. healthcare, alimony, insurance
  1. Be Smart

As part of your financial recovery strategy you need to identify what you want to achieve next and what is realistic. A good way to do this is to identify and analyze your financial goals. This should not be a wish list. For instance, if you are heavily in debt or facing bankruptcy, aiming to become a millionaire in the near future seems unrealistic.  Be specific and practical in identifying your goals.  Identify exactly how much income you need a month as a minimum, set deadlines to achieve this, then regularly evaluate your progress.

  1. Don’t Wait, Act now

Forewarned is to be forearmed. Planning ahead how you will cope with a financial setback should be part of your retirement plan. We all know things can go wrong at any time – illness, job loss, natural disaster. Prepare by making sure you have enough money saved that when faced with unexpected events you have a financial buffer. Don’t ignore your debt; instead try to pay it off as quickly as possible. This will reduce the amount of interest you end up paying and free up available cash that you can use in a future crisis.

  1. Invest in happiness

Long-term financial recovery involves rethinking spending priorities. This means making savings and cut back where possible depending on your situation.  Before you start sacrificing your entire budget, observe what things are important to keep you feeling healthy and happy. This is something that will be particularly important if you are going through a difficult situation.

The US Financial Diaries, a study of the money habits of 235 families, found that an occasional financial extravagance actually makes it easier to maintain a disciplined budget longer term. Allowing yourself a few pleasures that remind you of how you want your life to be can help you emotionally recover faster from whatever adversity and financial setback you have experienced.

  1. Home Based Business

Have you considered that a home based business may provide you the combination of extra income, mental stimulation and the opportunity of creating the lifestyle you want?

Laptops, mobile devices and the internet make it possible to create a strong, viable business from the comfort of your own home or wherever you choose to be in the world.  Many baby boomers are rethinking the way they want to live their lives, choosing to create a non-traditional retirement as a entrepreneur, boosting their income and enhancing their lifestyle.

Boomers Surprising Lifestyle Trends

The generation known as Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, have created new trends at every stage of their lives because of the large number of people born in that generation. Of all of the baby boomers surprising lifestyle trends the rise of boomerpreneurs
has perhaps been the most significant of all.

Boomers Surprising Lifestyle Trends - building a Lifestyle business

Have you noticed that many of the baby boomer generation are now choosing to combine their chosen lifestyle and leisure with income producing activities?

I first became aware of the trend towards older people learning about online business when I began to attend internet marketing workshops to help me market my business. When I started this quest to learn about online business, about 12 years ago, there were quite a few people of the 50+ demographic but over time I’ve observed the numbers growing strongly and the success of boomerpreneurs becoming common enough to be considered a definite lifestyle trend.

Perhaps it was that I was so interested in this demographic professionally that I took notice initially.  Perhaps it was that I felt that I may be a little bit weird trying to be a successful entrepreneur when I was at the stage of life that friends were starting to look forward to retirement!

Well, weird I may have been, but I certainly wasn’t alone!  And the longer I’ve been working in this fascinating arena the more people I’ve met who have similarly embraced online business in the second half of their lives.

Now that BoomersNextStep.com offers online business education and support I am hearing so many wonderful stories of people who have become successful entrepreneurs – boomerpreneurs – after leaving the careers that they were known for most of their lives.

Technology gives us so many wonderful opportunities that were not around for previous generations. With the likelihood of living longer than people did just 20 years ago, and with the desire that most people have not to outlive their savings, it is not wonder that so many baby boomers are making their next step towards online business….and as boomers’ surprising lifestyle trends go this is a very financially prudent trend.

Watch this video to find out what one retired school teacher has been doing with the first few years of her retirement!

Early Retirement or Reinvention?

The Late Shift – Insight on SBS Australia

Screen shot from The Late Shift on Insight SBS television

Have you ever considered buying a brothel in an outback mining town at 55 years old? Would you like to still be working at 102? How about becoming a barrister when you have just been sacked as the judge on a top rating television talent show? Or becoming an entrepreneur in your 60s?

These remarkable stories, and many others, were shared on a recent Australian television show. Insight host Jenny Brockie interviewed people who, for many different reasons, are still working at a much older age than normal. She also sensitively dealt with the issue of older people finding it very difficult to find work. You can view this great program by clicking on the image above.

Questioning Traditional Retirement

With the trend of people living longer many people worldwide are questioning the paradigm of retiring at 65 and just living off their investments, doing no more income producing work for the rest of their lives.

The concept of a ‘traditional’ retirement is being challenged by many.

This idea is not new. It has always been common for successful business people to transition from full time work to becoming a director of a company with part-time involvement.  Retired professionals often become consultants within their industry and continue to work on a project basis, with blocks of full-time work alternating with blocks of full-time traditional retirement. Writing a book has long been the retirement project of people who felt they still had a contribution to make but wanted to do it in their own time, combining the lifestyle they desired with the challenge of creating a great book.

Seeking Purpose, Challenge and Meaning

People seek purpose, challenge and meaning in their lives, at all stages of their lives.  Why should this change when they hit the magical age of 60 or 65?

For many people this purpose, challenge and meaning comes from the traditional retirement life that they create; perhaps some form of community service, genealogy, pursuing a long-held interest, mastering a physical or art/craft activity or becoming actively involved in the lives of their grandchildren.

For others, this is a time of life when they decide to do the things that they couldn’t do before. How often have you heard someone say “I’ve got a great business idea but I can’t do it now” or “I’d love to work from home”. There is a spark of entrepreneur lurking in the most surprising people, and it is often when people get older that they embrace this aspect of their personality and are in the position to build a business.

Will you outlive your retirement savings?

Outliving your retirement nest egg is a fear of many people as they approach retirement age.  The reality is that living is expensive and that a large proportion of people go into retirement worried that they will not be able to afford the lifestyle that they have dreamed they would be able to live in retirement.

There is no point in worrying about it but there is a lot of point in doing something about it!

Working From Home

Technology has given us the opportunity to run a business from anywhere, with no borders, no need for staff, and no glass ceiling.  There are many people who are earning very good incomes (sometimes extraordinary incomes) working online, all around the world.  Certainly there is learning involved, but that is part of the fun and the challenge.  Just like any business venture there are no guarantees, and it is essential that you trust the right people as there are many sharks online.

Planning to Retire? Five Important Issues

Five Issues to Discuss Before Retirement

This infographic is a summary of the blog post Planning to Retire? Five Issues You Must Discuss With Your Partner previously published on this site.  The issues which are listed are very broad topics and this is just a brief introduction.  Each of the issues will be discussed in more detail in future blog posts on this site and a link posted to our Facebook page, so if you like this content go to our Facebook page and LIKE the page to get more of our posts about living a great retirement lifestyle.

Infographic about the things you need to discuss with your partner if you are planning to retire

Do The Work You Love and Change The World

In this video the late Scott Dinsmore speaks passionately about how important it is to find work that you love and do that work with passion and purpose. His enthusiasm is contagious, and he speaks with the personal insight of having left the corporate world in search of work that would give his life fulfilment.  The video is several minutes long, but well worth the time to consider whether the work you are currently doing is given you what you want and need in your life.

Older Workers

This concept is very appropriate for older workers.  With so many great skills and experience acquired through years of hard work, older workers (defined by the government at being over 45) have all the important qualifications to be very successful doing the work that they love.  This may mean creating their own business or getting a job in a completely different area from their current work.

Are You Prepared For Retirement - Image of two baby boomers looking out to sea

I have had my own business for many years now, working with people making a career transition. All of my career change articles are published on this site and can be accessed under Power Posts and Careers, with several categories for the career posts. If you are looking for a new job I invited you to read these as they will give you a lot of help as you look for a new job.

If you are wondering what to do next in your life I invite you to use our Retirement Checklist available online, which will help you recognise the issues that you may not have yet considered in your retirement planning.

Now that my husband David has retired we decided to go down a different path. My career business continues (for now) but we have created a new business, assisting other baby boomers to access great business and financial education, and through that to start their own business with support and coaching. We are both using our own skills, developed over years of employment and self-employment, but are also living the retirement lifestyle we want at the same time.

Planning to Retire? Five Issues You Must Discuss With Your Partner

Most long term relationships have their share of communication black spots.  You learn to navigate around them, sharing day-to-day life comfortably but avoiding the issues that you suspect are likely to cause conflict or discomfort.

Then suddenly the concept of retirement looms.  Someone asks you outright “Are you planning to retire soon?” or worse still “So what are your retirement plans?”  Mild panic!  What to respond?  You mutter something generic then go away and find your mind is running riot with thoughts of how you are going to spend the next phase of your life.   Do we have enough money?  Will we travel?  Where will we live? What do we want out of life? And perhaps the biggest (often unspoken) question of all….How can each of us make sure we are choosing a life that will make us content?

Whilst it might be easier to live within your comfort zone, not bringing up these issues for discussion, the reality is that you need to come to some agreement on them.  The sooner you know the direction you are going the sooner you will be able to start taking steps to get to where you want to be.

Have you discussed these important issues?

1.  Finances

retirement nest egg

If you have been working with a financial planner, or already have a strong understanding of your financial situation and the strategies you are using to achieve your financial goals, then this won’t be an issue.

However if you haven’t been communicating about your overall financial situation then it is vital that you do so.  Once you stop your income-producing work your nest-egg suddenly takes on a huge new role in your life.  For some it will be large enough to provide your living costs, but the majority of Australians are going to be challenged to live the life they’d like in retirement.

According to accountancy giant DeloitteAustralian males aged 60 – 65 have, on average, a superannuation balance of $114,000, while women of the same age average $94,000. This is frightening when you consider that for a basic comfortable retirement lifestyle men will need around $340,000 and women $370,000.

What will you need as a couple to live the life you’d like?  Do you need to find a way to improve your finances or to change your expectations?

Unlimited Retirement Breakthrough banner - Chris and Susan Beesley

2. Timing

Do you know when you want to retire?  Do you share goals about this, or is timing going to be an issue?  What impact does the timing of your retirement have on your tax commitments for that year?

If one of you wants to retire earlier than the other, how will you manage the lifestyle changes?  Will your everyday roles and responsibilities change?  This might sound basic but, let’s face it, it is often the little things that get us down.  If one person in the relationship has always been the one who did the grocery shopping or the house cleaning, is that still how it should be?  Habits are hard to change, but we are talking about a major change in your lives now and the beginning of a whole new chapter, so everything is open to new practices.

3.  Housing

houses beside canal

Where you choose to live is closely related to the previous two issues.  Your money will obviously dictate the level of housing you can consider. Your timing will dictate whether you make a move at all, and when it suits you to move.

But beyond those issues are the big questions of how you want to live.  Are you going to stay where you currently live, or will you move to a different town or area?  Do you want a free standing home, an apartment or some other form of housing?  Would you like to live in an “over 55s” complex? How important is it to have family and friends close by?  If you chose to move to be near family and friends, will they still be there in 5 years? Can you really afford the sort of home that you want?

4. Interests

Many couples share interests and that makes planning your retirement activities quite easy.  You can enjoy doing more of the same together.

But what about the many couples who don’t have interests in common?  They can have happily co-existed for years, respectful of the other person’s interests but not remotely keen to be involved.  Time and money are the two problems here.  If someone is passionate about a hobby they are likely to view the time and money spent on that hobby to be perfectly justifiable.  Their partner, who doesn’t share the passion, can easily resent both the time and money.  That’s a BIG conversation!

We have started working together in a hybrid lifestyle retirement business. We want the great lifestyle. But we also don’t want to use up all our savings in the first few years of our ‘retirement’ from our previous work. Both of us love learning new things, meeting new people and challenging ourselves. So we now have this hybrid life of freedom from employment, but we are still working where and when it suits us, building our business. For two people who don’t have a lot of interests in common this is certainly giving us a lot to talk about and the chance to use our completely different but complementary skills.

5.  Travel

Thai market

When people are planning to retire, the first thing they often think about is that they will have free time, the freedom to do the things they have always wanted to do.  For many people this means travel.  Where to go? What to do? How to do it? Travel brings up so many possibilities but if you are travelling together there are likely to be compromises.  Would you both enjoy going on a cruise?  What about being a grey nomad? What level of luxury do you require?  Would you like to travel a lot in less luxury, or just a little but in more comfort?  I hope this is a series of conversations that brings you lots of pleasure.

BoomersNextStep.com will be examining these issues to help you to start planning to retire and to live a truly fulfilling retirement lifestyle that meets the needs of both you and your partner.

Live Life Your Way – Reinvent Yourself

You’ve probably spent your life thinking that by the time you reach “a certain age” you’ll have it all together.

But sometimes the path you want to follow just gets more confusing…. Where you thought there’d be a pathway in front of you there is just crazy paving!

Time For Change

Life is too short to keep living a life that isn’t right for you anymore.  Maybe you know you need to make a change but life circumstances make it difficult to do anything right now.  But you can use this time to plan your next move so when the time is right you can start living life the way you want to.

It’s easy to think that right now older people who want to work are disadvantaged.  The government says we should expect to work until we are 70, but most people who have tried to find work after they turned 50 would agree that it is not easy.

Yet we live in a time when it is common to reinvent yourself in a new career, and when anyone with the right niche and strategies can build an online business.

But knowing what is the right thing for YOU to do is your burning question.  It’s all good to know that it’s possible…but is it possible for YOU?

David reading Laptop Lifestyle

David and I have reinvented ourselves a few times over our working life. He moved from construction to civil construction over the course of his employment, with a gap in the middle as a property developer. I have transitioned from teacher to school resource centre manager to career counsellor. Along the way we both developed an interest in having a business that would bring in an income in our retirement, while retaining a great retirement lifestyle.

We are now working online assisting people reinvent themselves from their previous profession to business owners, creating lifestyle businesses.

When I mention that we are both working online, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration! I’m currently working at the business while David is sailing around the Whitsunday Islands of the Great Barrier Reef, with plans to be back home by mid November. Is he working while he is away? Not one bit! I think he has a business book to read with him, but that’s really just for interest. I’m joining him on the boat soon for a week or two. Will I be working? Well yes, a little, but I don’t think of writing blog posts as “work”, more “self-expression” that I’d be doing anyway.

Why am I telling you this? Because it is important to know that you also can have a hybrid retirement lifestyle…a bit of work, a lot of lifestyle. It’s just a matter of knowing how you want to live your life, then finding the reliable system that will enable you to do this.

Enjoying Online Business Opportunities

“I’d love to work from home.”

When I work with people changing their careers, or even just chatting socially with people, so many express the desire to work for themselves.  Frequently this is followed by “I’d love to create a business online and work from home.”

This is a career move that is close to my heart, after all I live it every day. But I have, until now, hesitated to recommend it to people because there can be a few speed bumps on the road to online success.  I know because I think I’ve hit every one of them over the last eight or nine years!

Chris and Susan Beesley with Jenni and David Proctor in Sydney Australia

It’s been an interesting journey and along the way I have met some amazing people. Sometimes it is the people you meet that make the most unexpected impact on your life, even years later.

On a cold and dismal day in London in 2010 I arrived at a business workshop after flying into the UK from Australia. I was jet lagged, excited, nervous and not quite sure what I’d let myself in for. I’d gained access to the workshop through a competition online and I think I only won because I said I’d fly from Australia to London to attend. It certainly wasn’t for the quality of the video I’d submitted!

Chris and Susan Beesley

I met an interesting couple almost as soon as I arrived at the venue. Susan Beesley and her husband Chris Beesley were accountants and management consultants but hoped to work from home.  At that time they were just starting to learn about internet marketing, inspired by the success of one of their business clients.

The workshop required quite a lot of “buddy” work, so Susan and I became “buddies” and worked closely together for some of the workshop and the three of us often chatted in the breaks. I enjoyed their company and we kept in touch over the years.

[caption id="attachment_9931" align="alignright" width="300"]Chris & Susan Beesley presenting a workshop at the MOBE Supercharge Summit Chris & Susan Beesley presenting a workshop at the MOBE Supercharge Summit

Online Business Education

Now they are highly regarded internet marketers, keynote speakers at major international internet events providing online business education, and reaping the financial benefits of their hard work, their new skills and their ability to deliver online business education in an interesting and understandable way.

I recently met up with them again after all those years.  We had kept in touch, and in fact I’d been following their work and learning from them for several years.  They traveled to Australia to be the keynote speakers at an internet marketing workshop.

My husband David attended the summit with me and we were both most impressed by their knowledge and their stage style, which is just them being exactly who they are on stage. That is refreshing in an age of youthful success, photoshopping and manufactured images.

We also had a great time catching up socially, with lovely dinners and the occasional glass or two of bubbles!  With a common interest in creating a great lifestyle that encompasses lots of travel and embraces some work online to enhance that lifestyle, we had a lot to talk about.

What Your Financial Planner Didn’t Tell You About Retirement

retirement lifestyle planningAs you approach retirement is very important that you have your finances structured appropriately for your needs. If you choose a good Financial Planner they will manage that very well. They have the knowledge and expertise to suggest investment strategies as well as safe havens for your money in turbulent times. They provide an essential service for those of us starting to plan towards our retirement years.

Problem is, most of them presume that you know what you want to do with those retirement years. Faced with the question of “What are your plans?” few of us are going to admit that we don’t actually have any definite plans yet so we fall back on the default settings – the things we always thought we might do.

The trouble with that default position is that you have changed over the years, as have your interests and your lifestyle needs. The beautiful holiday area you always loved to visit may have seemed an ideal retirement location some years ago, but does it still hold the same charms? The area where family and friends lived may have been where you desired to live, but people move, relationships change and the area may no longer attract you in the same way. Similarly your interests and activities will have evolved over the years, and the attraction of having good medical and shopping facilities close to home become more important as you get older.

Retirement Lifestyle Planning

Your ideal retirement lifestyle needs to be carefully designed. If you are in a relationship, you and your partner both have a particular set of needs, wants, dreams, interests, passions, and it would be most unusual if you both needed exactly the same lifestyle to live out your dreams. To ensure that you both achieve the best lifestyle for you some planning is required, planning that requires structure and communication. To settle for anything less robs you of years of fulfilment. If you are on your own there is a whole other set of considerations, depending on whether you desire your living arrangements to provide ready-made companionship.

Making the wrong retirement lifestyle decisions can be expensive and very stressful. You want to get the lifestyle planning right first before you make any financial decisions, so that your planning informs all the other decisions that you make.

Before you see your financial planner

Before you go to see a Financial Planner to discuss planning for your retirement, it is wise to have given lots of thought … and discussion if that is how you make your best decisions…. about what you want and need in your retirement lifestyle and what would make it a “dream retirement lifestyle” for you. If you don’t have the vision of this lifestyle it will be almost impossible to make it happen!

BoomersNextStep.com helps you with your retirement lifestyle planning. Through our blog posts we encourage people of the baby boomer generation to plan a fulfilling retirement lifestyle. We also encourage our readers to use their skills and experience to bring in extra income if that is something that interests them through business training and career strategies .

Boom in number of older entrepreneurs

Older man on laptopIn the last 10 years there has been a huge 140% increase in the number of entrepreneurs aged 65 and older, according to Barclays Business in the UK. In the same period, there was an increase of 63% in the number of businesses owned by those over 55.  Surprisingly younger entrepreneurs lagged significantly behind with only an increase of 23% for the 25 – 34 years population.

Barclays has appointed the founder of a skincare company, Liz Earle, to advise on the ways that banks can better support older entrepreneurs.  In an interview with YourMoney.com she commented

The older generation adds so much value to the workplace in any context – bringing a wealth of experience and industry contacts to the table. I’m not surprised to see so many budding entrepreneurs of my generation, but it’s great to see them taking the plunge in later life, rather than feeling it’s too late.”

She offered ten tips for people starting a business later in life which I have adapted and shared with you here.

  1. Believe in your abilities, skills and experience.  You have a lifetime of experience, skills and knowledge. Understand that you have much to offer and be confident in what you can achieve.
  2. Stay up to date and keep learning.  You must have deep contemporary understanding about the area in which you are working.
  3. Have a clear business strategy. You need to be able to articulate your big idea and how it relates to your business.
  4. Embrace technology.  Without a good understanding of what technology can do for your business and some technology skills you really can’t be in business in the 21st Century.
  5. Make your decisions slowly.  Their impact will be felt for a long time.
  6. Prioritise your health.  There is no point in being unable to enjoy the rewards of your work or being the richest person in the cemetery.
  7. Listen to your instincts.  You are probably right and even if you aren’t you will not be able to proceed smoothly if your instincts tell you something isn’t right for you.
  8. Do something that matters to you.  It may not be that you absolutely love the work you are doing.  It may be that the outcome really matters to you, or that the reason you are doing something is enough to motivate you.  Some lucky people can create a business based on something that they are passionate about. Most others get their motivation through the purpose or the outcome of their business activities and that is enough.
  9. Family comes first.  The people you love, the people who care about you, should always be a top priority. Don’t let your goals drive a wedge between you and your family.
  10. Don’t be too proud to seek help.  Look to trusted business mentors, people in your network and family members to give you some support when you need it.  Get assistance to do the jobs that you don’t enjoy doing or find difficult.

(Adapted from ‘Huge growth in older entrepreneurs: how you can join them’ by John Fitzsimons published in  Yourmoney.com 21/08/2017)

Living The Retirement Dream

“I have a retirement plan.  I plan on sailing.”

Sailing on Freycinet

Sailing on Freycinet

My husband David retired after a long and satisfying career this year. Everyone – family, friends and work colleagues – knew what his plan was.

On his last day at work he even wore the t-shirt that bore the message “I have a retirement plan. I plan on sailing”, with the same message on his retirement cake.

He has always been a keen sailor since building a dingy with his father during his school holidays when he was about 14. He sailed mainly catamarans for years, then family life took over. As our children grew older he purchased an old trailer sailer which gave him a few more years of sailing. Again family life took over, with elderly parents needing to be visited regularly in Canada, and there were a number of years when sailing was still his passion but there was no boat and no time to enjoy one.

A few years ago our offspring left to pursue their own lives, elderly parents had departed this world and it was time to indulge the passion. He bought a Catalina 309, a lovely yacht in great condition, and had great joy sailing it around the large bay close to home. The sail cruising group, part of the yacht club that we joined, were fantastic people and shared his passion, so friendships were forged and many hours spent talking about …. yes, you guessed it …sailing. During that time he heard of everyone’s nautical adventures and gradually his plans expanded from local sailing in Moreton Bay to adventures further afield. And finally they are on their way.

David reading Laptop Lifestyle

And finally they are on their way….three newly retired men undertaking a true adventure. All have had extensive sailing experience. Initially they are sailing “in company” as part of a group from the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, so there will be many shared dinners, drinks and camaraderie along the way.

They have been gone nearly three days as I write this, have seen many whales and seem to have settled into their shared life on board the yacht. They sailed from Manly to Mooloolaba, moored for the night, then had a very early start to sail to the Wide Bay Bar entrance which can be extremely dangerous. Fortunately the seas were very quiet as they crossed the bar.

Now they moored behind beautiful Fraser Island, and undoubtedly the crews from all the boats will meet up on the beach around 4pm for ‘Sundowners’ before dinner.

I’ll keep you updated as they travel by adding photos and snippets of their adventures to this blog.

P.S.

The three amigos had a fabulous sail north to Airlie Beach and saw many whales on their annual migration.  One of them flew home while the other two spent about 10 more days enjoying the beautiful water, tropical weather, snorkelling on the reef, and tropical islands.  They will all return soon to sail the boat home again, this time spending more time in different islands and inlets.  It truly has been, and will continue to be, an example of living the retirement dream.

Is Retirement Just A Dream, A Concept From Another Age?

In this week’s episode of 60 Minutes Australia Charles Wooley considered the future of retirement from his perspective as a nearly 70 year old journalist.

During the episode he spoke with Peter Costello, who coined the phrase “Work Till You Drop” in 1993 when he was the Australian Treasurer, and he still stands by the view that this will be necessary for many Australians.

Because television has to entice people to view their programs with emotive statements the viewers had all their buttons pushed:

  • “Retirement is just a dream…a word from another age.”
  • “Work till you drop”
  • “Retirement as a concept has been retired”
  • “Grey nomads are an endangered species”

On social media the outcry has been loud. Resentment has boiled, with viewers complaining that working late in life is not feasible for those who have physically demanding jobs. Others have pointed out that they have worked all their lives and feel that they are entitled to stop working and start enjoying the relaxing retirement lifestyle they have always believed they would have.

Numbers
Let’s examine this issue from the perspective of numbers. When the aged pension was introduced in Australia it was available at 65 years old, but the average life expectancy was then 55. At that time there were 5 taxpayers for every person eligible for the pension, but Australia now has just over 2 taxpayers for every person over pension age.

So let’s assume that it won’t take too long before the government can no longer afford to assist us in our retirement.

The average superannuation balance of Australians is $155,000, far from enough savings to fund a long and comfortable retired life. So let’s also recognise that there is a proportion of our community who have worked hard, saved and still will be unable to fund a decent lifestyle in their retirement.

Earning something to live on, or to protect dwindling savings, will become a big issue for many people.

Older Workers
The employment of older workers becomes important at this point. Many mature age workers find themselves unemployed and virtually unemployable at a time when they thought they’d still be earning and saving for their retirement. Their financial concerns are compounded by understandable resentment and negativity about the future.
Others who have always worked and retired voluntarily may experience difficulty finding work, facing the obstacle of being considered an older worker and perhaps being overlooked, despite their many skills, much experience and great work ethic.

The identity of many adults rests strongly on what they do for a living and when that job is no longer part of their lives they feel a great loss of identity, importance and a sense of who they are in the world.

Are Enjoyment, Purpose and Identity the key to living a successful life, whether in work or retirement?

Enjoyment: Two people who were interviewed, a 72 year old fitness instructor and a businessman/inventor who was well into his 90s, spoke of loving the work they were doing.

Purpose: John Williamson, the country singer, said “You have got to have something to get you out of bed in the morning and if you haven’t got that you’re buggered.”

Identity: “Relevance deprivation” was discussed in the 60 minutes video, with the period of adjustment to retirement sometimes causing serious psychological issues for some.

If everyone could find enjoyment, purpose and identity within their career they may not feel as resentful that they need to keep working longer than they anticipated. In fact they may choose to work well past the traditional retirement age.

Enjoyment
The people who were happily working beyond retirement years were all doing things they loved doing and didn’t consider it work.

Every person responds differently to the life experience of work, and some are never fortunate enough to find work that truly suits them and that they can enjoy. Their attitude towards retirement is therefore going to be a longing for the pleasure that they imagine they will have in retirement.

Even those who have enjoyed their career usually get to the point where they sincerely look forward to finishing their working life so they can enjoy the freedom to pursue their interests and do the things they haven’t had time to do.

Purpose
Another constant among the people who enjoyed their work was purpose, bringing pleasure, better health or physical assistance to others.

Not everyone finds purpose in their work, and they are often the people who are disconnected, dissatisfied and in need of career assistance. Perhaps that is something that we, as a society, should be looking at carefully so that people do feel that their work matters and makes a contribution.

Of course many retirees find purpose by being involved in the many voluntary organisations that contribute so much to our society. Many others find their purpose through involvement with their grandchildren, with over 900,000 children cared for by grandparents as a normal part of their week.

Identity
“What do you do?” is the first question many people ask when they first meet someone. “I’m retired” speaks of life now, not of the team player, the influencer, the valued colleague that you have enjoyed being. Developing and identifying a new identity can take some time and adjusting to a different way of living can be uncomfortable.

Challenge
There is another issue that really wasn’t considered in this 60 minutes program. Challenge is the issue that most concerns me about my retirement. I get bored and discontent if I’m not challenged in some way, learning to do new things, being exposed to new ideas, meeting my own self-imposed goals.

Some people probably think I’m crazy to still be thinking about this at a time when I “should” be thinking about retiring. But that isn’t who I am. Perhaps this is about identity, but I like the idea of living life a bit differently and creating a business and retirement lifestyle that combines enjoyment, purpose, identity and challenge but also contributes to the financial needs of living. That’s just my personal solution to the issue.

What’s your retirement plan?

Have your plans been adapted to meet your financial needs, or your desire for enjoyment, purpose, identity and challenge? Do you plan on living a traditional retirement? Are you going to work till you drop? Or are you planning on living an untraditional retirement lifestyle, no longer working as you did in the past but merging some form of income producing work and the lifestyle you have chosen to live.

We’d love to hear your 2017 version of a retirement plan. Our retirement plan is summarised in this ebook and video

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