New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - THIS WEEK IN... -

The re­al­i­ties of re­tire­ment


The word re­tire­ment fills some peo­ple with fear. The thought of not hav­ing a reg­u­lar in­come is daunt­ing and they’re scared be­ing re­tired is the start of a slip­pery slope down­hill to old age.

For oth­ers, though, it is the light at the end of the tun­nel. After decades of work tak­ing up such a large chunk of their lives, it’s the chance to fi­nally have some “me time”.

The re­al­i­ties of re­tire­ment are dif­fer­ent for ev­ery­one and peo­ple’s per­sonal cir­cum­stances – along with their out­look – can make a dif­fer­ence to whether these re­ally are their golden years or not.

One thing is cer­tain, life won’t be the same once you’ve clocked off for good. And then, as you progress through those re­tire­ment years, it will change yet again.

Diane Maxwell, the Re­tire­ment Com­mis­sioner and head of the Com­mis­sion for Fi­nan­cial Ca­pa­bil­ity, points out that be­cause we’re liv­ing longer, we can be re­tired for 20 or even 30 years and a lot can hap­pen in that time.

“Some peo­ple think you re­tire and that’s it, you’re old. But a lot of 65 and 70, and even 75-year-olds to­day are fit and ac­tive. But then, over the years, their sit­u­a­tion changes, often be­cause of their health. This is some­thing we need to bear in mind and plan for.”

The com­mis­sion has de­fined three dif­fer­ent stages of re­tire­ment and cho­sen names for them from ideas sub­mit­ted in a com­pe­ti­tion. The first stage, called Dis­cov­ery, oc­curs from the age of 65 to about 74, and is the “do­ing” stage.

Newly re­tired peo­ple fi­nally have the time to do those things they’ve been talk­ing about get­ting around to some day, and they are still healthy enough to en­joy activities such as trav­el­ling and spend­ing time on hob­bies. In some cases, these re­tirees feel like they are busier than they were when they worked full-time.

Often this is the most ex­pen­sive phase of re­tire­ment, es­pe­cially if they travel. “You do have to be care­ful not to blow all your sav­ings in these first 10 or so years,” says Diane.

The mid­dle years of re­tire­ment, from ages 75 to 84, have been ti­tled the En­deav­our stage.

Fo­cus tends to shift to more sim­ple things in life, such as spend­ing time with fam­ily. These peo­ple may find life starts fall­ing into a fa­mil­iar and com­fort­able pattern, and that they’re slow­ing down a bit. This may be the time they look at down­siz­ing their home, as main­te­nance may be­come too much, or they may need to re­lease some of the money tied up in their prop­erty. De­clin­ing health may also mean it’s a wise idea to move to a re­tire­ment vil­lage.

The third stage, for those 85 and over, is Re­flec­tion. Health and fi­nances may limit their choices and they are likely to slow down even fur­ther. Their cost of liv­ing can drop be­cause they’re not go­ing out and spend­ing as much money.

But if ill health is an issue and they need full-time care, this can eat into what’s left of their sav­ings and mean they have to sell as­sets to pay for things like a rest home. They may also need to get fi­nan­cial help from the gov­ern­ment or com­mu­nity agen­cies. It will help a lot if they have money in re­serve to meet these costs, says Diane.

“Of course, none of us know how long we are go­ing to live for, so it is hard to know how much we’ll need.

The more you are able to save, or to put into some­thing like Ki­wiSaver, the bet­ter.”

Re­tire­ment Com­mis­sioner Diane cau­tions new re­tirees not to blow their sav­ings in the first decade.

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