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Navigating the Pensioner's Retirement

man hiking

When I think of retirement planning, I think of the great English poet, Thomas Stearns Eliot, who famously said:

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” T. S. Eliot

From my experience, retirement and retirement planning is made up of 2 components:

The first thing is Your Finances.

And the second thing is Defining Your New Relevance And Opportunities

Retirement is not getting off the boat. It is more a case of adjusting your sails.

Let’s take a look at your finances first..

Your Finances

When starting to plan your finances, keep it simple. Don’t let the jargon confuse you. Don’t even think about them at this stage.

Words like “Allocated Pension”, “Deeming”, “Annuities”, “Estate Planning” and “Asset Test Limits” will be bandied about.

Although the jargon is a put off in itself, trying to manoeuvre through the Centrelink quagmire adds another layer of complexity.

The reason I mention Centrelink is because, for a lot of people, the most important part of retirement isn’t about how much money you have saved for retirement. It’s really about how you invest that money and work within the tax and Centrelink structure that counts.

It’s all about maximising your financial opportunities and minimising your stress.

There are three tests that Centrelink use to assess eligibility for Age Pension payments: Age; Income and Assets.

In terms of the asset test, some key things to be aware of is that your family home is currently exempt from the Centrelink Age Pension Assets Test.

If you are renting, you may qualify for rent assistance.

Accessing the Age Pension payment, no matter what amount, will entitle you to the Pensioner Concession Card.

The Pensioner Concession Card will provide many benefits including medical and pharmaceutical.

There are also strategies to increase your Age Pension benefits if your assets are above the thresholds. If you do qualify for the Age Pension benefits you will receive a payment based on the test that pays the lessor pension amount.

To access the full Age Pension you must pass what is called an income and assets test.

The income and asset values which you must come under are listed on the Department of Human Services website.

retiree counting money

There are always conditions attached to each situation. Unless you have a deep understanding of the Centrelink maze, the chances that you will be able to get the best outcome for you may be limited.

Many clients have attempted dealing with the Age Pension application process in the past and they have found it to be very stressful and invasive.

Others have wanted to avoid the process altogether based on what they have heard about their friend’s or relative’s experiences.

A financial adviser is able to manage your interaction with Centrelink on your behalf and eliminate a lot of the financial head aches and stress for you.

Defining Your New Relevance and Opportunities

Just because one gets older it doesn’t mean you are finished with adventure or have become any less valuable. Your many years of knowledge and life experience can be enjoyed in many other new and exciting ways.

When one retires and leaves structured employment you have the opportunity to do the things you never did or didn’t get around to.

Retirement doesn’t necessarily mean to pack your bags and go on a cruise. And it doesn’t necessarily mean to sit around the house and tend the garden either.

Happy retiree

Studies have shown that retirees these days are often active in a variety of areas and may even pursue part- or full-time employment after leaving behind a career of many years. It has been shown retirees benefit from:

Stress Reduction

Jobs are a major source of stress for many people, and retirement may offer relief. By removing the need to perform to a high standard and meet specific targets, or the anxiety that may come from interacting with superiors and customers, retirement can be good for an individuals mental and physical health.

Health Benefits

Because it usually occurs late in life, retirement is often associated with a time of poor or fading health. However, retirees have more time to sleep, exercise and choose or prepare healthful foods--making retirement an opportunity to actually improve overall health. Many retirees take up an athletic hobby, such as golf or walking, which can easily be carried over into later life and promote longevity.

Philanthropy

Many retirees use their new-found free time and accumulated wealth to become involved in philanthropic activities. From making charitable donations to serving on the board of a community foundation, this type of activity provides a chance for retirees to use the skills and experience they developed over the course of a lifetime to meet the needs of the community.

Family Involvement

Retirement offers the advantage of allowing more time and energy to spend with family members. The classic instance of retired grandparents serving as babysitters is only the most common example. Retirees can use their new lifestyle to spend more time with adult children, distant family members, retired siblings and close friends.

A New Lifestyle

Finally, retirement has the advantage of being one of the few times in life when many people can freely rearrange their lifestyle and its priorities. Spending more time on a hobby, following an intellectual pursuit or traveling can define an entirely new way of life, especially if a career dominated much of a person's time commitments prior to retirement.

In my opinion there are 5 key takeaways for pre-retirees and retirees:

  • Seek advice. Invest in yourself
  • Plan the extraction from structured employment
  • Get your financials in order
  • Keep things simple. If you don’t understand seek clarification
  • It is all about you and what you want. Not your children, family or friends

Don’t fear retirement, embrace it and take advantage of the many professionals who can help you achieve what you want.


For more information on assets tests, income tests or age tests, please visit the Department of Human Services

For more information on defining your new relevance and opportunities please visit Career Trend

Guy Saayman

About The Author: Guy Saayman

Guy started his career in providing financial advice in the investment space in 2002. He has since broadened his skill set and has become an expert in helping pre-retirees graduate from employment to retirement.

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