BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
Retirement is often seen as a reward for a lifetime of hard work and dedication. All those long hours should lead to years of relaxation and freedom.
We’re living longer. In fact, today’s retirees can look forward to enjoying two to three decades of life after work. We’re also fitter and more active than previous generations. We no longer stop working and put our feet up and so we are working later and living longer. Better yet, retirees are also living what’s now called, their ‘Second Lives’ on their own terms.
Just under a third (31%) expect to retire at age 65 or younger while one in 10 expects to retire at age 70 or older. Therefore, in retirement you will have up to 2,000 extra hours a year to do something you want to do.
According to the 2016 census the population of people aged 65 or over increased by 19.1% since 2011 and the population of those aged 85 or over increased by 15.6%, with over 14,800 volunteers engaged with Volunteer Ireland, clocking up an incredible 490,000 hours of volunteering!
Some studies show that retirement is associated with a decline in health, while other research suggests that your health improves after you retire.
Financial Advisors see their vocation as helping their clients prepare financially for retirement. But you need to realise that money is not the be all and end all of retirement.
We need to think of our health as our real wealth.
Stay physically active. Join a walking group? Take up golf or tennis? Whatever your choice work your way up from, for instance light jogging to travelling the world running marathons! According to one fitness expert: “Suitable weight bearing activities, combined with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D for optimum bone health, will help you stay fit and mobile in your later years.”
Before you take up exercise after maybe a sedentary lifestyle have a medical examination. Work with your doctor to make sure you’re making the right choices to live a healthy lifestyle.
Physical activity also has huge benefits for your peace of mind. There may be times when you feel lonely or a bit lost, which is normal. If ill health or changes in your relationships temporarily scupper your plans, accept that this has happened and get your back-up plan in action and share any concerns with others.
Stay mentally sharp. Mental activity is the other vital component of a rewarding retirement. It’s like keeping any other part of you active – use it or lose it. Brainpower used to do crosswords, to read, to play games of strategy, protects you against Alzheimer’s disease and will help to reduce the risk of dementia.
Before you retire, make goals and plan for the weeks and months ahead. Be pedantic! What time will you get up at? What daily/weekly activities will you commit to that will help you stay occupied and in a good routine? Include your spouse/partner in your decisions.
Make sure you have made a will. Setting up a Power of Attorney in the event a situation arises in which you may not be able to manage your retirement. Seek advice from your solicitor.
Finally, get your finances in order. Organise your money so you can work out what you’ll have to live on. Budget realistically. Is the money you think you’ll need to spend in retirement in line with your projected income?
Reducing your spending in the lead up to retirement will make it easier to adjust. If there’s a shortfall, it’s may not be too late to boost your pension pot. Track down any old pensions, claim your state pension and check what other benefits you can claim. Be proactive and plan ahead.