A wine cellar or a hoverboard?Posted to Financial Capability on 04-12-2015
A large wine cellar or a hoverboard and a home brew beer kit? These were some of the quirkier suggestions in our competition to create a retirement survival kit.
We’ve worked our way through 172 entries and, after lengthy and sometimes feisty debate, have whittled them down to our favourite three.
They’re the ones we hope everyone will benefit from reading and, hopefully, find useful in creating a personalised “survival kit” to reach and enjoy retirement in comfortable shape, both financially and from a health and wellbeing perspective.
Our winner was Rosemarie Hawkins, from Christchurch, who captured the spirit of the competition, highlighting aspects around health, wealth, connectivity, advice, family, interests and longevity.
Her cardinal rule is simple but effective: don’t spend more than you earn.
Runners-up were Lauren Weusten and Chris Hill.
David Boyle, the Commission’s Group Manager, Investor Education, said: “We were delighted with the amount of thought that she and others put into their entries.
“And we received great feedback from many who appreciated the nudge it has given them to start thinking seriously about the future and planning in earnest.”
The Commission will now take the themes and ideas from the competition and develop a range of tools and information that will help New Zealanders be better prepared for their next stages of life.
The suggestions we received were diverse and reflected the individual interests and needs of each of the entrants, including Clea, who wants “a fab wardrobe” so she can be “a super glam gran”, and Wendy who wants to amass a large wine cellar, but instead of saving it for special occasions she’ll drink it on Monday nights with fish, chips and friends.
We loved Chrissy’s comment: “I’m not a planner but this was a great exercise that was fun and generated a result I will actually use. What a surprise that was.”
And Marina, who said: “I feel at 45 this is a subject that isn’t really talked about in NZ. I am pleased this competition will lead to a change in the amount of information available and the way people think about their future.”
To that end, there were common themes that came up over and over again and that we all could adopt.
These included the need to write down financial goals and objectives so you know where you are heading, then get good advice to help you reach them.
Aim to be debt-free if you can before retirement and make sure all your paperwork is in place, including wills, enduring powers of attorney and insurance.
Most people factored in health, with plenty of recommendations to have regular check-ups, exercise and try to choose healthy eating options as much as possible.
Mental health was also popular with a focus on nurturing relationships with family and friends, staying connected with your community, volunteering, and generally staying positive and being grateful you’ve got that far.
And of course, there was fun too: indulging your passions, saving money for travel, and having something big on your list, whether that’s writing your memoirs, seeing the world or launching yourself into a completely new challenge.
Cardinal rule: Don't spend more than you earn.
Credit Card: Pay off the total sum owing each month.
House: Get rid of that mortgage asap. If children have left home consider downsizing.
Look at retirement villages with three levels of care. Find out all about how they are managed and staffed. Tell the family your thoughts and discuss the "what ifs"
Reverse Mortgage Annuity: Sounds good but there are costs involved so get very good advice.
KiwiSaver: If around the age of 50 join asap and go into a high risk fund (better returns long term). Over 60 go into a conservative fund.
Bank accounts: Have a couple of term deposits a/c that mature at different times. Have at least one a/c that is on either 30 or 90 days’ notice. In case you need those emergency funds sooner rather than later!
Health: Regular blood pressure and cholesterol check
Every 5 yrs a colonoscopy examination.
Every 2 yrs eyes tested.
Skin examination (melanoma check) sooner rather than later.
Vehicle: Buy a reliable brand i.e. one you won't have to replace any time soon.
Holidays: How much of this beautiful country have you seen? If holidaying overseas plan well in advance and take out good insurance.
Insurance: Health insurance if you can afford it.
Loss of income if under 65 and self-employed.
Home (replacement value) and contents. Both worth reviewing regularly.
Car. Insurance can be cheaper if it is used around town only.
Will: Make sure you have one and that it is reviewed every 2 yrs.
Enduring power of attorney for peace of mind especially if single.
Financial Adviser: Wise to go through the professional body to find one.
Website: Look at sorted.org.nz A good first stop option
The Transition: Think about interests and hobbies before you retire. Will you be able to afford to continue with them and will you be physically able?
Review: your current financial situation - spending versus saving. Sort out your debts. Get your finances in order.
Estimate: how much you need to save for retirement. Calculate how much you need to live on per year, for the lifestyle you wish to have. Use the sorted.org retirement calculator or get help from a Financial Advisor. Figure out how much you already have in savings, KiwiSaver, etc, and therefore how much you have left to save.
Target: Make a plan for the age at which you want to retire, how you will save the money needed and how you will invest your savings. Think about what you want to do when you're retired: lifestyle, hobbies, holidays, volunteer or part-time paid work, mentoring, where you would like to live, etc.
Insurance: Set up the insurance cover you need to ensure no major setbacks in setting up for retirement, e.g. loss of home and contents from fire or natural disaster, loss of income from illness, etc.
Recreation: Develop and expand your hobbies and interests before you stop working; this may expand your social network also. Fun and laughter improve your physical and mental health; studies show that laughter boosts the immune system, reduces levels of stress hormones and releases feel-good endorphins.
Exercise: and eat well in order to maximise your health, so that you can enjoy a long active retirement.
Manage: your finances; stick to your savings plan. Spend less than you earn.
Educate: Improve your financial literacy and skills/capability. Keep your mind active and sharp - continue to learn new skills and knowledge throughout the rest of your life.
Next of Kin: Make certain your spouse/next of kin knows how to pay the bills and manage the finances, in case you become incapacitated or die before they do. Set up enduring power of attorney. Tell your next of kin your wishes in regards to funeral arrangements, organ donation, etc.
Testament: Ensure your last will and testament is up to date and legal.
I begin with an imperative that is easy to say, but hard to do, and that I have not always been consistent in following myself.
1. Make a budget and stick to it! I will get very familiar with my income and expenses. I will start by keeping a 30 day log of all my spending. The very process will enable flexible thinking about how I can increase my income and decrease my expenses: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.” (Dickens: David Copperfield) In my case, the ‘cash is king’ strategy works well, where I have a fixed income and largely fixed predictable expenses, so I pay as many expenses as possible by AP or DD, I save fixed amounts to cover all foreseeable expenses and then whatever is left is withdrawn in cash for food and entertainment. When it is gone, it is gone. This works much better for me than all the financial instruments that encourage debt, such as credit cards, overdrafts and, revolving credit mortgages and that somehow psychologically trick me into living beyond my means.
2. Realise that debt can be my friend or my enemy. I will only go into debt for assets that appreciate in value. Realistically for me that means a tertiary education, an affordable house someday, and possibly a business in the future. Some people also justify including a vehicle as a legitimate debt, which they justify as necessary for work and a social life in New Zealand. But because only very rare expensive vehicles appreciate in value, I advocate starting on a pushbike and buying Nana’s 1990 Corolla only when I can pay her in cash, hopefully with a discount. Then having incurred debt, I will make it an absolute priority to retire debt. If I have different classes of debt, then I prioritise my debts, so I completely pay off all of my highest–interest debt first, and then my next highest interest debt and so on, until I am debt free. The day I become debt free I throw a big party – pot luck of course, because I don’t want to pay for it.
3. Now I can shift my priority to growing my asset base in earnest. So I build a balanced portfolio across all asset classes that starts with minimum KiwiSaver contributions. As soon as possible I purchase an affordable house that meets my needs, which puts me back in category two. Once I am mortgage free, I begin an equities portfolio. The whole point of growing my asset base is to put myself in a position where I am able to increase my ability to bless others – not just my immediate family, but then reaching out to support others in the community.
4. Create value and joy in my work, so I can retire retirement: I will continue being paid to be productive into my 70s and 80s because I derive meaning from what I am doing.
5. Develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’ by listing the most important things in life. Since I have to go a long way down the list before I encounter anything relating to money, I will give back what I been given by paying it forward and finding joy in serving others. My ‘attitude of gratitude’ also allows me to focus on what is truly important and discard the superfluous. The latest iPhone no longer becomes a priority.
6. Put ‘face–time’ into important relationships. Turn the technology off, because it’s really about time for family and friends.
7. Get out of town and encounter Aotearoa, (especially between Labour Weekend and Easter): the people and places; the bush and the beach; the rivers and the mountains.
8. Be creative: write, build a treehouse, or write a family history or learn to dance the tango.
9. Grow a garden. Probably the most therapeutic pastime that there is, but very demanding!
10. Volunteer in your community; there are endless opportunities.
Now for the hard part - doing it!
Next: A train ride conversation about wills