5 things you should do before retirement

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elderly man preparing for retirement
Financial Advisory
By
John Liston
John Liston
Director | Adviser
October 15, 2021
8
minute read

A step-by-step retirement checklist to ensure you’re financially covered by the time you stop working

5 Things You Should Do Before Retirement | Liston Newton AdvisoryRetirement is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make in your whole life. It signifies a complete change in your life stage.

And while you’re looking to the future, you still need to be mindful that you no longer have the security of your career income. You’re relying on your investments—which means you’re giving up a degree of control over your wealth.

So before you retire, it’s important to plan carefully.

Here are five key things you should do before you retire, so when the time comes, you can truly make the most of it.

At Liston Newton Advisory, we help you plan for your retirement by starting with the end in mind. So if you’re thinking about retirement, contact us to book a free retirement planning strategy session, and make sure you’ve got everything in place before the time comes.

In this retirement checklist, we’ll cover the most important things you need to take care of before you can comfortably think about retirement.

Step 1: Plan the age at which you want to retire

Working out the age at which you’ll retire is probably the most crucial step in your retirement checklist, and there are a number of factors that come into play.

Finances

You need to ensure that you’ll have the right level of finances available to retire comfortably. Too early, and you’ll find yourself running out of funds. It may even be beneficial pushing back retirement a year or two, if it helps to extend the retirement income you can enjoy.

Age and health

In Australia, we’re lucky enough to enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in the world. The average Aussie adult will live 82.8, on average. And that’s just an average; you may continue to enjoy life long into your 90s. So you need to make sure your calculations are right, otherwise you run the risk of depleted funds, as we mentioned above.

But you also need to think about your health. You want to have enough years left when you retire that you can actually enjoy it, and do all the things you planned to do. Too late, and advancing age and health issues may catch up with you.

Your partner

Similarly, it’s important to take into account your partner’s circumstances too. When do they plan to retire? What are their retirement goals, and how long ideally do they plan to be around to make the most of them?

Employment

Another key factor is your current employment. You may be one of those people who receive fulfilment from the role, and are comfortable sticking it out for longer. Conversely, you may already be counting down the days until you can stop working.

In some cases, the decision to finish work may be outside of your control. You could come up against redundancy, face a shortage of appropriate job opportunities, or your health may have taken a turn that cut your working life short.

Ideally, though, the choice to retire will be one that you make yourself, so it’s crucial to get the right advice that takes all these factors into account.

Step 2: Calculate your retirement funds

Planning how much money you need in order to retire all depends on the lifestyle you want to live. You’ve worked hard to get where you are—so what do you want to do now?

To do this, think about what you plan on doing in retirement. You might be looking forward to living without worrying about saving. Or you may be finally ready to buy that dream home you’ve always talked about.

To calculate your retirement funds, the first step is to determine the approximate amount you’ll spend each year once you’re retired.

A modest retirement lifestyle for a couple is considered to be between $40,000-$50,000. A comfortable annual retirement income figure is $60,000+.

As we’ve written before, a good rule of thumb is to budget for approximately 70-80% of what you typically spend during your career. So for example, if your salary is $120,000, you could budget for $96,000 each year to still provide a comfortable retirement budget for you and your partner.

Step 3: Determine where your income will come from

older couple investing

The next step in your retirement checklist is to identify where your income will come from, and how much of it you’ll need.

This is where good financial modelling is critical.

Financial modelling enables you to project how your investments are going to perform, across your desired retirement period. It helps you assess how much tax you’re likely to pay, and determine what you’re able to spend without running out of funds.

Continuing on with the previous example, let’s say you want to retire at 65, and be able to spend $96,000 each year of your retirement.

Financial modelling may tell you that with your current investments, you can safely withdraw $66,000 from your superannuation each year for the next 40 years. You also own an investment property, that generates $30,000 each year, after expenses.

Based on this modelling, you now have a clear picture that you’re indeed able to spend $96,000 per year. This then helps you make those key decisions about your retirement lifestyle, and lets you also look at other options.

For example, you may look to work a little longer, and build up a higher super balance, so you can then draw down more super each year. You may take a part-time consulting role, or a Directorship, to earn an additional boost to your income.

Alternatively, you may even decide to reduce your income needs by a certain amount each year, to stretch your retirement funds further.

This is where financial modelling is so important. It allows you to use your available data to make informed decisions about your future—with confidence.

Step 4: Assess your insurance policies

Life insurance provides you and your family the confidence that they’re taken care of should anything happen to you. But as your super, savings, and investments increase, your insurance needs will naturally decrease.

Insurance acts as a backup, should anything stop you from being able to provide for your family—and there may come a time when you don’t need it anymore. So by keeping careful track of your savings, you’ll ideally be able to slowly reduce your insurance cover each year, with the aim of eliminating it altogether.

Step 5: Review your estate plan

As your personal wealth and investments increase, your affairs become more complex. There’s also any family trusts, investment companies, and even your own business to think about.

A carefully-written estate plan ensures that your accumulated wealth gets distributed exactly how you want it, and to whom—and that it gets there in the most tax-effective way possible. Importantly, it can minimise the instance of any disputes after you pass away.

A well-written estate plan should include:

  • A clear list of beneficiaries to your will. This can include family, other individuals, charities, or organisations;
  • A clear list of your assets, their approximate value, and who should receive each one;
  • A list of any personal items that you want passed on, and to whom;
  • Nomination of a guardian for your children (if relevant);
  • Appointment of an Executor to carry out the final wishes outlined in your Will;
  • Specific instructions for your funeral (if relevant);
  • Details of the financial professionals who helped you draft and review your Will; and
  • Allocation of enduring powers of attorney to someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf.

The more clear and direct you make your estate plan, the more comfort you can take that it will be carried out to your wishes.

The final word

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when making your retirement checklist. At a minimum, you need to think about:

  • The age you wish to retire;
  • The level of retirement funds you want to live on;
  • Where this income is coming from;
  • Managing any relevant insurance; and
  • Ensuring your estate plan takes care of the next steps.

With these all in place, you can start to look forward to your retirement, with the knowledge that you’re able to truly enjoy the next stage in your life.

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