A century ago few Australians lived long enough to enjoy a life after work. These days, the average retiree can look forward to almost two decades of travelling, playing with the grand kids and generally enjoying life.
In fact, a baby born today can expect to live to 91 if it is a boy and 93 if it is a girl. According to the latest government figures, the number of Australians aged 65 and over is projected to more than double over the coming decades.
While our increasing longevity is a blessing, it does mean we will all need to consider issues unlikely to have concerned past generations.
Most people understand the need to focus on financial security, and rightly so, but money means little unless you are healthy enough to enjoy it.
It’s not complicated to safeguard your health, although it may require some self-discipline. But you already knew that. If you smoke, stop. Drinking is fine but do it in moderation. And remember, it’s never too late to embrace healthy eating habits or too early to set yourself up for a long and healthy retirement.
Nutritionist, Rosemary Stanton suggests devising a sustainable meal plan that will help you keep your cholesterol and blood sugar level under control. “The most important aspect of any diet is that it should be practical and healthy enough to follow for the rest of your life,” she says.
Gentle but regular exercise is also a must. Whether it’s the result of all those walks or simply the joy of canine companionship, Harvard researchers have found that owning a dog lowers blood pressure, heart rate and levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
As a rule of thumb, to maintain your lifestyle and stay healthy post retirement you’ll need 60-65 per cent of the income you’re accustomed to. So someone making $80,000 a year at the end of their career would need access to $48,000 – $52,000 per year in retirement.
For some people, a life of leisure is not what it’s cracked up to be. You may wish to keep working, possibly on a consultancy basis, as much for the human interaction and feeling of making a contribution as for the money.
Regardless of whether you’re relying on the pension, your super, a part-time wage or a combination of all three, you’ll need to be on top of how much money you’ve got coming in, how much you’ve got going out, and whether that nest egg will last as long as you do.
It is never too early to start planning for a secure financial future. We can help you get the most out of your savings and work out your eligibility for the age pension and other government benefits.
Being healthy and wealthy will take you a long way, but there is another aspect to ageing well. The evidence seems to suggest that the secret to being happy post-retirement is the same as at every other life stage: a strong sense of purpose and having interests to pursue.
You are the person best qualified to decide exactly what will give your life meaning and purpose.
So put some thought into what truly makes you happy and go for it!