The Commission’s Competition To Get You Thinking

Do you want the good news or the bad news?
New Zealanders can expect to live longer than ever before, with between 20 - 30 years of leisure time once we finish working.

But we've not been as good as we could be at planning our finances, so that we'll have saved enough money to enjoy, and be comfortable in, our later years.

It's one of the biggest issues facing New Zealand, but it doesn't have to be a scary proposition. There is plenty that can be done to prepare, by starting saving as early as possible and by developing a plan, whatever age you are now.

That plan should take into account how much you need for the different stages of retirement, which can be broken down, loosely, into three:

65 - 75: lifestyle drives spending (having enough for entertainment, travel, leisure).

75 - 85: spending slows as you slow down a bit

85+: spending may go up with increased costs relating to health and well-being. 

The challenge is to make sure you have enough resources to support you through all three stages.

It is important to consider your changing needs, as the decisions you make about spending money in the early stages may impact your capacity to manage challenges brought on by health changes in the later years. 

To make it easier to think about, the Retirement Commissioner ran a competition asking for ways to describe the stages that captured the changes to life, needs and lifestyle as we age.

The entries ranged from the poignant to the humorous:

"Well Years; Swell Years; Farewell Years"

"Regain; Maintain; Sustain"

"Freestyle Skiers; Downhill Skiers; Apres Skiers"

"Go-go; Slow-go; No-go"

Our winner was Erica Whyte, from Lower Hutt, with:

Discovery: the time to have a go at all the things you’ve said you’d get around to ‘some day’.

Endeavour: time to choose the fun things, develop old skills, explore fresh talents and grow new friendships.

Reflection: a time when health and finances limit choice, to accept help graciously, to make the most of all those memories; to keep up with old friends because we hold each other’s history.

Erica is at the ‘discovery’ stage, looking forward to an overseas holiday to celebrate her birthday and enjoying more time to play the piano at sing-alongs and in a classical music group.

She said: “It’s lovely now to have the time to do it and the time to enjoy the arts generally. Living in Wellington, there’s so much to experience.”

There were two runners-up, Nicola Deacon from Auckland, and Liz Hunt, from Waikanae.

Liz came up with Can do; Might do; Used to.

She said: “I thought of my own experience and know that ‘can do’ is how I feel now. I hope that when I am in my 80s I still might be able to do some things.”

And Nicola suggested:

Investors (65-74): because they invest in themselves and others.

Divesters (75-84): because they simplify their lives and concentrate on what matters.

Resters (85+): because they have earned it.


We're making a web series to reflect the different stages, speaking to everyday New Zealanders about their experiences and tapping into their wise words for those who are still working, or haven't even begun yet.