Many blokes are scared of the thought of retiring. After all, they have spent most of their life working so what happens when you don’t work anymore? Then of course most of us get a lot of our identity from our work. We see this in subtle ways. In our society when we meet someone for the first time we usually ask early on in our conversation “what do you do for a living?” So our work life is very important to all of us. So what happens when we don’t work anymore?
Having tried retirement a couple of times myself, there are a few things I believe, we need to put in place, so our retirement is easier, and we don’t just become grumpy old men. I might also add this blog uses financial figures in the first paragraph that are specific to Australia. If you don’t live here, read it anyway but take note of the rest of the article because it applies to most retired blokes anyway.
You need to understand your finances. I put this first because it’s the one that’s most talked about, BUT it is not the most important for Aussie men. The reason is, you will as a bottom line, be able to access the age pension which means, if you and your wife are living together and own your own house, you will get around $32000 per year from the government. That may not be the best income you have ever got but, used wisely, it is enough to live on and make ends meet. My in-laws on the pension, managed to travel every couple of years and to save some money to leave to the family when they were gone. It wasn’t much but it covered the cost of the funeral and there was some left over.
Of course, many things effect the amount of pension you get – like assets you own, but $32000 should be the minimum. Of course there is different amount for all different circumstances – home owners/ non home owners/ married / singles etc. So, to help you make sense of your finances, you need to prepare a budget to see where your money currently goes. I know you probably just flinched at the term budget but its really easy to do. So head to MoneySmart (the government ASIC website) and use their budget calculator. Before you begin collect all the bills from the last 12 months and put them into the appropriate places on the webpage. You can save and return if you can’t find one or two bills. You can read about this step right here on retiredblokes.com.
If you have time before you retire do this in the last year as you go. If you do this, you will have an idea of how much you spend, what you spend it on and you can make plans for the future. Be careful of the calculators you find on most other superannuation websites that tell you to save $1 million to retire on. They have no idea how you spend your money and many of them are simply wrong. They ignore assets you own, some ignore the pension component completely and others are so out of date they are not worth anything.
- Have a Break First.
Allow yourself to have a holiday. Give yourself 12 months (or 6 if you are very active) to enjoy your new status. You don’t have to find something to do immediately though many blokes travel or paint the house or take on something they have always wanted to do but never had time for. I spent a couple of years transferring my old slides of the family to the computer making sure I had the right date and place put into the slide exif data. If that doesn’t make sense, Google it.
- Find somewhere where you can make a difference.
Studies on happiness tell us we need to be involved in helping others or serving a higher purpose than ourselves. There are many opportunities to volunteer in Australia and lots of organisations you can get involved with. You can join the local men’s shed and make something for someone else or you can get involved in your local church as well. They are often short of volunteers and getting involved is a great way to help them and yourself at the same time.
- Get into your bucket list.
Most of us have a list of things we’d like to do but we never had time to do. Maybe you want to buy a model aircraft and learn to fly it. Maybe for you turning wood is your thing. If you cant think of anything look up our list of 150 things to do, choose something that takes your fancy and set about doing it.
There are three or four other areas of your life you need to make plans for.
- The first is your body. So schedule a walk every day. It doesn’t cost anything and it gets you out in the fresh air or you can join the gym. Our local PCYC and swimming pool has fitness classes for seniors at really cheap prices.
- The second area is your mind. Find yourself something to stimulate your mind. I found iTunesU early on and threw myself into various university courses that took my fancy. If you can’t find iTunesU Google “moocs.”
- The third is your soul – that usually mean music. Find the music you love and listen to heaps of it or get that old guitar out of the cupboard and relearn to play something.
- The Fourth area is your spirit. You need to find a way to reach out to God and allow him to give you some direction in life. You can do that by brushing the dust off that old bible you have and read some if it. I suggest you start with the New Testament and the book of John. You may find the version you have is the old King James version which uses Shakespearian language and so you may need to go to Biblegateway.com and choose to read a newer version (New International Version is very popular) on your screen. Whatever don’t ignore your spirit because you may need to strengthen yourself for the future.
5. Finally find something you can do on your own! Your wife will quickly get sick of you following her around the house and asking questions or even worse – offering suggestions!
After a while you will discover the thing many of us have already discovered – I don’t know how I ever had time to go to work!