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Bruce Manners from retirenotes.com talks to Tracey Spicer about some of the key factors that people need to consider when planning their retirement, the importance of passions, interests and priorities and how to test-drive your own retirement.
Full disclosure, when I started doing this job, I had no idea what a retirement plan was, let alone how to create one. Are you the same or are you a bit more organised than I am? Well, I’m delighted to be joined today by Bruce Manners from retirenotes.com. How are you, Bruce?
I’m well, thank you.
Now, I’ve been reading some stuff on your site about how highly successful retirees rank planning far above anything else when it comes to a positive retirement. What are some of the key factors that people need to plan first up?
Well, they have to think about the money, obviously. Always people think about the money. And it’s important. I mean, retirement, you have to somehow pay for it. And my response to people is, look, go find a financial planner, find a good one, one that fits you. Margie my wife and I went to one put on by our superannuation fund, and this guy got up the front and we nudged each other and said, you know what, we’d never go to him.
And the best way to find one is to ask around your workplace. At the time, I was working on a campus, tertiary campus. And so I just asked people, who did you go see? And this woman kept getting named and we said, okay, let’s go see her. And when we got there, here we are, I was 61 at the time. Far too late to be doing this, by the way.
But we’re sitting down across the desk from this woman, younger than our kids, wondering what does she know about life, death and taxes? You know, she knew a lot about taxes. But as we were talking, she was warm, she was listening to our questions. She seemed to understand us. She knew where we were at. And so we were just sold. So I’d say find a financial planner who can help you. That’s a first good step.
So think about the budget, find an external adviser, financial planner. And then I guess the third thing is timing, because not everyone wants to retire. And some people, of course, simply have to keep working.
Yes. Yes. Well, some people simply don’t want to retire. I wrote a little ebook which is called Refusing to Retire, almost forgot the title. And I interviewed 13 people who just didn’t want to retire.
One was a 90 year old guy who had built up a real estate business. His son had taken it over. But one day a week he would go into the workplace. There was a farmer at the age of 83. He had retired at 60, had a hobby of making banjoes, would you believe. And so at 83 he was still making banjoes.
And there’s a woman in Melbourne where I am and she’s now 86 I think. She has worked as a checkout chick for 50 years for Coles. Think about that. She actually was there when the store opened and at Malvern in Melbourne she’s kind of an icon there. They just didn’t want to stop. So why stop if you don’t want to. Did that answer your question?
They’re wonderful, wonderful stories. Isn’t it great to find a passion like that? You talk about doing a self-analysis. PIP – passions, interests, priorities. Could you extrapolate on that?
Yeah sure. Passions – what are you passionate about? You may be passionate about a cause, for instance. You may be passionate about your garden. You know, it can be anything you’re passionate about that actually captures your imagination.
And your interests are, what are you interested in? You might be interested in golf. You might be interested in joining Men’s Shed. Those kind of things. U3A – University of the Third Age and so on.
And then priorities. Priorities tend to be things like family, your health and those kind of things. Now, if you if you wanted to say, well, look, I’m passionate about golf. Fine, I don’t care. If that’s what you want, as long as it’s on the list of things you’re thinking about. It’s really worthwhile just sitting down and saying, hey, this is what I want to do with my retirement.
And don’t forget your bucket list. A bucket list is a good thing. Make sure you can do what you put on your bucket list. I mean, if you have an ambition to walk the Great Wall of China and you’ve got a dodgy knee, that may not be reality.
Wise words there, is there any way you can test-drive retirement to see whether the plan you’ve chosen is appropriate?
Yeah, actually there is. We have these things called holidays and we have long service leave. One of the things you can do is take a month’s holiday. But don’t go anywhere. Stay at home. What are you going to do? Because staying at home for a month. You can actually test-drive, whatever you want to call it, your retirement, by simply saying, well OK, what am I going to do. What am I going to do for this week, and next week. And you begin to look around and try to work out what you can do.
If you want to be a gardener, OK, spend it gardening a few days each week. And you want to discover what’s in the city. Maybe go to a show. It really is a case of suck it and see what what what can you do in your community? And I think that’s a good way just to test it out. And of course, if you’re a couple, how do you get on with each other when you’re at home all the time.
That’s a test in itself, isn’t it? I love your expression about gifting yourself time in retirement, because often when we’re busily working full time or raising children, we don’t think about that as a gift that we’re willing to give ourselves.
Yeah, yeah. Well, I think the big thing is that when you’re coming up to retirement, if you just sit yourself down and say, well, how many hours do I work. That’s easy to work out, 38 hours or whatever. But how long does it then take you to get to work and back? And then what about the stuff you do at home, you know, the emails or the phone calls you make for work and work that out.
And I think you’d be quite surprised. I mean, some people end up with 60 hours a week. Now, others are back in the 38, 40 hours. But the question is, you are getting yourself this amount of time every week. What are you going to do with it? Sitting on the couch watching television for 40 hours a week is really not an accomplishment.
I agree entirely. So for someone who is watching this interview, what challenge would you put out to them in the next month to take the first step towards planning their retirement if they’re in the age bracket that’s appropriate.
Yeah, yeah. Look, I would suggest they actually sit down, think about their retirement and one of the best ways to think about it that I’ve discovered is to put it into small pieces. Too often we think of retirement as this big thing and who can plan 10, 20, 30 years ahead. That’s a problem. So I would suggest they sit down and say, OK, the first six months of retirement, what will I do? You could holiday for six months, you could do some renovation around the house. Those kind of things. Easy, six months.
But what’s going to happen in the first 12 months? What are you going to do there? And then what, about five years? Now that’s a longer time. Now I suspect most people can’t think five years ahead. I mean, we’re in a situation now where we are saying, you know what, in five years should we downsize in five years? So we do have something you want to do in five years time.
We think we’d like to have an overseas trip in three years. Depends on the budget, but those are the kind of things. And I think if you can get it into bite-sized pieces and then say, what do we want to do. The first 12 months are pretty easy, but what about from there on? That’s a fascinating question.
It’s how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time. Thanks very much for the chat today. Really appreciate it.