Planning for Retirement – Is it Ever Too Early?

I’m turning 54 this month and my husband just turned 52. While I’ve been thinking of and planning for retirement for years, he still lives in the here and now and hasn’t put any thought into retirement. Part of that is his work mentality – he couldn’t imagine working anywhere else, and can’t see past the next 15 or so years til he retires.

I’ve always been a forward thinker, and an organiser and planner. I like everything organised down to a “t” and I’m not really good at winging it. I think in the big picture and like to consider things from every angle. I don’t always get it right but more often than not my plans are successful. When it comes to retirement, thinking ahead is essential if you don’t want it to take you by surprise. From what I’m reading from people who have retired, the ones that didn’t plan it before-hand found themselves lost and didn’t cope so well when the worker role was at an end.

Are Women more Prepared Than Men for Retirement?

This may affect men more than women perhaps, because mens’ identity is so tied in with their role as a worker, but I suspect that women are catching up now that most of us work compared to past generations. Women have an advantage in that they have strong connections with other women and because a large percentage of us work part-time we have time outside work to express ourselves through other means. This starts from when we took our newborn babies to mother and baby groups, then play group, tuckshop duties and so on. We were able to make connections outside of work with other women in the same stage of life as us.

Part of the difficulty with retiring before you are emotionally ready, is that you are left with time on your hands and feel lost without some purpose to your day. There probably aren’t as many structured social gatherings for people in that age group, like there are for younger women. We need to seek groups where we can find purpose in our lives and develop relationships with other women in our age group.

Looking ahead to retirement in your 50’s is not too early in my opinion. Not only do you need to set yourself up financially, you also need to start creating a life outside of work so that your identity is not solely tied with your employment. This is especially important for men who often don’t belong to clubs, and spend most of their hours at work or home.

Where Can Retirees Find Social Connection?

Some suggestions for places that may help you to connect with other people after retirement are:

  • Mens’ sheds where men can build things and donate them to charity while creating connection with other men
  • Charity groups such as Lions, Meals on Wheels
  • Volunteering, e.g. Red Cross, hospitals, RSPCA
  • Sports clubs e.g. bowls, golf, tennis, swimming
  • Traveling especially organised tours, cruises
  • Retreats and meditation or yoga classes
  • Church groups
  • Craft or other hobby groups
  • Car clubs
  • Clubs such as the RSL, surf clubs, bridge clubs
  • Bingo
  • University of the third age
  • Council-run free programs
  • Library resources and courses
  • Mentoring younger people
  • Meetup which has groups for every type of interest and if there isn’t one you can create one
  • Online – Facebook groups
  • Landcare – caring for the environment
  • Book clubs
  • Local historical society or family history centre
  • Dancing e.g zumba, ballroom
  • Arts, music or museum e.g. Friends of the Museum
  • If you have a chronic illness there are often recovery and support groups e.g. walking groups for heart disease

Isolation and Its Impact on Retirees

Isolation can be particularly distressing for people who have not formed connection with others. It may take time to create these connections but many of the places I have named can give people a sense of purpose to their lives where they can use skills they developed over their lifetime of work. It is important to reach out if isolation and lack of direction is causing emotional issues like depression.

According to this article by VicHealth, loneliness is particularly prevalent amongst elderly people. Loneliness in our society is a growing concern that should not be ignored. We can avoid this by preparing ourselves ahead of time – create connections before you retire. If you are transitioning into retirement by reducing your work hours, use that time wisely. Join groups and find some purpose in your life so that when you eventually stop working you have already begun to structure your time to incorporate time elsewhere.

Planning Ahead for Retirement

As you begin to think of retirement, picture how you want to live. Do you want to live in a retirement village or independently. Start looking at facilities they offer so that when the time comes you already have a plan in place. Do you want to be a grey nomad or a world traveler or would you be happy to spend most of your time at home? Do you want to live close to your family and friends?

I have already started planning ahead for retirement by picturing the life I want to have. I don’t want to live in the rat-race we live in now, and I want a slower, quieter life. However, being close to services such as hospitals will be crucial. We will be downsizing to a smaller house in the next few years, and the place we retire to will be much smaller again. Having less upkeep than we have here will be necessary as we both experience physical problems like chronic back pain and joint issues.

Preparing Financially for Retirement.

Meanwhile, we’ll being to prepare financially by paying down our mortgage and investing in superannuation. Gone are the days when people could leave all their life savings to their children. People are living much longer these days so the money may be gone by the time you pass away. We may need to fund a retirement of 30 or more years! My father retired 30 years before he passed away.

See a financial advisor early on – in your 50’s and start building your nest egg. First pay off any debts, especially ones with high interest rates such as credit cards. Put any extra cash, e.g. tax return, into your superannuation. Interest rates are at an all-time low. Since we bought our house, the interest rates have decreased dramatically but we have deliberately kept our repayments the same. Without changing anything we are paying our mortgage off quicker.

Your Superannuation fund may have information on their website on saving for retirement. My superannuation fund has a tool to calculate how much superannuation I’ll need when I retire. I can also work out how much my nest will grow if I put extra payments in, which is a good incentive. They have an excellent budget planner as well which is another free tool available to anyone online.

Sources for Superannuation and Pension Information

In Australia the best source of information is the Money Smart website which is free to use and is not just for people planning their retirement. Good money management should start when you are young. When my sons started their first jobs at age 14, I helped them to set up an automatic deduction of $5 per week into their superannuation. It’s not very much, but compound interest will see it grow, and it gets them into the habit of saving for the future at a young age. Now they’re in their 20s and they don’t own a credit card or have a loan, and are pretty good with their money. They don’t have any assets worth mentioning but they have fantastic memories from their travels across the globe.

Look into what pension you may be eligible for, well in advance of retirement. There are Transition to Retirement packages available in some situations. There may be concessions and rebates available to help with the cost of living. In Australia, each state has its own Seniors Card, and there is information online about what you may be eligible for. (These links are to Australian websites only). I’m not an accountant or financial planner, so for individual advice I recommend seeing a professional trained in that field. This is merely some advice on where to start doing your own research.

Start Planning for Retirement

Is it ever too early to plan for retirement? The earlier you start, the more you will have in place so that your transition out of the workforce is a smooth one. By getting financial advice early, you can start building your nest egg through superannuation and other investments. To avoid loneliness and loss of purpose after you retire, social connections should be built prior to then so that you have prepared for a life outside work. I’d love to hear from my readers – how are you preparing for retirement? If you have retired, what advice would you give to someone like me?

If you enjoyed this article, read How to be Self-Sufficient as a Sustainable Future, about our other plans for retirement.

Retirement: How to Prepare for it.  Is it ever too early to plan for retirement?  This article explains why early retirement planning is essential
Retirement: How to Prepare for it. Is it ever too early to plan for retirement? This article explains why early retirement planning is essential

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  1. I’m 66 and still work full time but I’ve been giving retirement a bit of thought lately. I’m more leaning towards semi retirement, possibly working a few hours each week as a transition. I agree with you that planning is important #MLSTL Sharing

    1. Hi Jennifer, I like the idea of semi retirement as well, then it’s an easier transition. I’m lucky I can do that by dropping shifts at work, whereas other people can’t. Thanks for your comment, regards Christina

  2. I’m 58 and retirement came unexpectedly and abruptly. Fortunately for me, I was working part-time and had a lot of other outside interests – my job didn’t define me. I’ve adjusted really well and never feel lonely or at a loss for something to do. I love being home and I enjoy my other weekly commitments.
    I think those who struggle are the ones who work full-time, who see themselves primarily as their job, and who have very little in place to fill the 40+ extra hours they will have each week.
    Your advice to get out of debt before retiring is also a huge factor – being debt free means we need very little to live well, and it helps if you like the person you live with and your home is a haven. I feel very blessed to be retired a decade earlier than I expected to be and often pause to appreciate how happy I am these days.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

    1. Hi Leanne, You actually make me look forward to retirement because of your positive spin on it! I think I will be very fulfilled after retirement because I have so many things I don’t have time for now that I’ll be able to do. Thanks for your comment, regards, Christina

  3. It is never too early to plan for Retirement. I retired early at 57 with no real plan of what life would be like. Most people focus on the financial side of Retirement and making sure they have enough money. However, how we choose to spend our time and ‘fill in’ the hours which were previously filled with our employment is just as important. I’ve not really adjusted that well even after 5 years so yes I agree we all need a plan before we take the step. Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and have a lovely week. x

    1. Hi Sue, I agree – how we choose to spend our time is really important. We need a sense of purpose or our days would just roll into each other without accomplishing anything. Thanks for your feedback, regards Christina

  4. Very good advice, Christina. I am 58 and also planning ahead for retirement. We have been putting as much as possible in our retirement fund, as well as paying down debt. I am also one of the fortunate few who still has a traditional pension. We are building a home in a warmer climate. The one area I need to prepare more is the social aspect. I look forward to a slower pace and more free time, but if I’m honest, I’m also a little worried about losing those social connections I have through work. I found your blog through a comment you left on Sue’s Sizzling Toward Sixty. Nice to “meet” you!

    ~Christie

    1. Hi Christie, nice to “meet”” you too! I think people tend to forget the social aspects. From what I’ve observed in other families it can become a “thing” especially if one person is sociable but the other isn’t. I’m going to heed my own advice because I’m a real homebody so I’ll have to make the effort to mix more and have activities outside the home. Thanks for your comment, regards Christina

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