If you are approaching your 60th birthday, the end of your working life is on the horizon. Here are some things to think about to make sure that you aren’t unprepared.
1. Transition to Retirement (TTR)
As your 60th birthday approaches, you may want to consider a transition to retirement (TTR) strategy. You can start this any time after you turn 56, but if you haven’t considered it before, now is the time to look into it. A TTR enables you to draw an income from your superannuation in the form of a pension, while topping up your superannuation with salary sacrifice contributions. As well as giving you the means to potentially work fewer hours or try a different career, a TTR can also have tax benefits. This is especially true once you reach 60 and your payments from superannuation are taxed at 15 per cent. When you can commence such a strategy actually depends on your year of birth. But the sooner you investigate whether it will work for you, the sooner you can implement it when the time is right.
2. Downsizing your home
Approaching your 60th is a good time to consider downsizing the family home or moving to the area where you want to live in retirement. It is often easier to move sooner rather than later – not only are you more physically capable, but it is easier to secure finance as well. It will also give you plenty of time to settle into the area and become part of your new community. Bear in mind that if you are planning to free up the equity in your home to help you live comfortably in retirement, that money will become an asset that could affect your eligibility for the pension, or the amount you are eligible to receive.
3. Making a non-concessional (after tax) super contribution
One way of giving your super a boost, especially as you approach retirement, is to make a large non-concessional contribution. This is often done by those who have proceeds from a property sale or have received a windfall, such as an inheritance. Indeed, the bring forward rule, which allows you to make three years of contributions in any one financial year, can see your super balance jump considerably. The contributions cap is $100,000 a year, but you can only make non-concessional contributions if your super balance is less than $1.6 million.
4. Applying for a Seniors Card
A Seniors Card is a concession card issued by state and territory governments that can save you a considerable amount of money on utilities, public transport, and goods and services provided by local businesses. Each state and territory has slightly different eligibility criteria, so check the relevant Seniors Card office for more information.
5. Getting a pet
If you don’t already have a pet, now could be the perfect time to start thinking about it, particularly if you are looking at winding back your work commitments and spending more time at home. Pet ownership has been found to be significantly correlated with a number of health benefits such as fewer doctor visits, lowered stress and increased social support for individuals. Increasing evidence also suggests that pet ownership can improve cardiovascular health, with dogs in particular acting as a stimulus for exercise.
6. Adopting a healthy diet
Your body starts going through some dramatic changes in your 60s and your diet needs to change accordingly. After a lifetime of counting calories and watching your weight, the focus now shifts to ensuring you are getting all the essential nutrients that your body needs from your diet. Key nutrients for later years include calcium for bone health, iron for energy, fibre for digestion and the essential fats for their positive anti-inflammatory properties. Protein-rich foods such as milk, eggs, meat, seafood and nuts are all nutrient-dense choices.
7. Getting regular health checks
This is something you can start doing much earlier than 60, but if you have only been going to the doctor when something goes wrong, now is the time to change your mindset. The aim of a health check is to help find, prevent or lessen the effect of health issues. A good analogy is getting your car serviced before it breaks down; it is better to avoid disease than to treat it.
8. Becoming fitness conscious
A busy working life often provides an excuse for doing less exercise. As you start winding down from work, you no longer have any excuse. Whether it is walking, swimming, yoga or another form of exercise that makes you happy, now is the time to think about an exercise regime. Not only will frequent exercise make you healthier, it has also been shown to help stave off depression and generally lead to a more positive outlook.
9. Trying some new hobbies
If you have always wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument or learn a new language, you are never too old to start. Learning a new skill helps to keep the brain active and can be a great way to socialise as well. Go out and prove that you can teach an old dog new tricks!
10. Making a travel plan
Travel is a popular post-retirement option for many people. A little bit of forward planning for the places you would like to visit can help you assess whether this is realistic with the money you are going to have available. It can also help to set budgeting goals nice and early, to make sure that regular holidays stay on your radar.