The thought of waking up and NOT having to go to work is a comforting one for most of the working population. Retirement should be a lifestyle of your design, affording you the freedom to enjoy every moment.  Like all significant life phases, it helps to plan ahead and set up strategies now so you can carve out a wonderful retirement in years to come. 

Here are some tips and tricks to assist you in preparing for a retirement which is more than just ‘time off work’, but a rewarding and enriching season of life in which you can truly thrive.

Don’t Put Off Till Tomorrow What Can be Done Today

Start planning today!  The sooner you get planning for your retirement the better.  And it’s quite possible, the sooner you plan the sooner you can actually retire!   While retirement might still seem a while away, once you hit your mid-40s, it’s time to start thinking about it more seriously.

Look Ahead

Money affords you the freedom to do things you want and live on the terms you desire.  If you haven’t already spoken with a financial planner about retirement goals and long-term money management, then your mid 40s is a great time to start.  Book in a chat with an expert who can help you set up a strategy for success. 

You should have a number of financial goals to get you comfortably to retirement, including short term savings goals and long-term investment goals.   Set up a retirement account which can slowly build over time with a direct debit set to weekly or monthly contributions, so by the time you retire you have a nice nest egg to enjoy.  According to ASFA (The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia) a single person who owns their own home will need just north of half a million dollars to support a comfortable lifestyle in retirement.

It’s a good idea to do renovations or home repairs while you are still earning a wage.   Take good care of your home and garden before retirement to ensure it grows in value over time and is a pleasant place to hang out in retirement.   Treat your home as a valuable asset so when it does come time to sell, you will get a good return on your investment, adding to your retirement nest egg. 

One of the best ways to look to the future with optimism and excitement is to have goals to work toward.  Set yourself one year, five year and ten year goals and enjoy the benefits of achieving them along the way.  Work toward goals which optimise your health, finances, relationships and personal growth to enjoy long term benefits you can reap come retirement. 

Supercharge Your Super

Now is the time to get savvy with your Super and actively become involved with your superannuation investments.  Keep tabs on fees and charges, your investment portfolio and the risk ratios to ensure your investments are appropriate for your age and retirement goals.  Consider diversifying your super with some assistance from a financial advisor to get the most out of your superannuation.  Use a superannuation calculator to estimate your super balance at retirement.

Top up your super every financial year and take advantage of tax breaks.   Top up your partner’s super if they are earning under the spouse super contribution threshold (under $40,000) for additional super gains and tax benefits.   Any additional contributions you make reduce the tax you pay, especially if you make salary sacrifice contributions. The earlier you build up your super, the more money waiting for you on retirement, which is you should start making contributions as soon as it is financially viable. 

Consolidate Super

If you still have multiple super accounts in your 40s then you are wasting money in fees and not maximising investments.  Now it is easier than ever to rollover funds from one super account to another.  Pop it on your to do list and get it done by the end of the year, your retired self with thank you.   You might not even realise you have some super stashed away in a forgotten account. Find lost super online with a few simple steps.

Divorce Debt

Eliminating debt should also be on your list of priorities as you prepare the soil for a lush and thriving retirement.  Each quarter assess your income, expenses, debt and savings and see how you can fine tune your finances to maximise income and minimise outgoings.  Start with credit cards and personal loans as these usually have a higher interest rate and a lower balance.  Once these are paid off, tackle the larger loans such as your mortgage.  If you have multiple loans and sources of debt, consider consolidating all your loans into your mortgage so you can reduce interest payments and simplify your debt payment strategy by having a single source for repayments. 

Simplify Your Life

By the time you hit your 40s you’ll have routines and a way of life that is relatively secure and comfortable.  Don’t get too comfortable though.  Rather than waiting for retirement to declutter and then downsize, consider how you can simplify your possessions today in order to give you more freedom tomorrow.  Eliminate everything in your home that does not have a purpose or bring joy.  Sell what you can, donate the rest.  Decide to tackle it bit by bit while you are still young and have the energy and strength to do so.  It will make downsizing or moving in the future much easier.

Get Healthy

If you don’t look after yourself now, you’ll be dealing with health issues into your retirement.  ‘Pre-hab’ is better than ‘rehab!’  Aim to move every day to get your body in shape.  Even a 15 min walk around the block is sufficient to boost circulation, lubricate joints and balance hormones.  If you haven’t already, begin to weave in weight bearing exercises a few times a week to strengthen your bones.  Increase protein intake, reduce inflammatory foods and fill your plate with plenty of fresh produce.

Manage Your Stress And Increase Your Sleep

As we age our bodies find it harder to adapt to stress.  Ensure you have daily self-care practices which lower your heart rate and stress levels such as an afternoon nap, gentle daily stretching, meditation or time in nature or a nightly bubble bath. 

Your body heals when it is asleep, but quality sleep can also deteriorate as we age.  Aim for 8 hours sleep a day with a regular bedtime routine to keep your body well rested and strong. 

Don’t wait until you retire to enjoy life! Live each day to its max and seek adventure and variety often.  We can never know for sure how many days we have left on this planet.  Be as present as you can and live fully today!

Alison Gallagher is a freelance writer, resourcefulness expert and entrepreneur. She has been featured in various publications including Stellar Magazine, Australian Health and Fitness Magazine, and Cleo Magazine. Alison is particularly passionate about sharing practical tips on how to live simply, sustainably and seasonally.  

17 November 2023