retirement, superannuation, finances, financial management, SMSF

There’s no shortage of advice for ways to retire comfortably, yet actually setting yourself up for it can be a different story. For many, the idea of it is pushed to the back of our minds while others a little more prepared. Believe it or not, building wealth to retire financially comfortable is actually simpler than we think. The challenge doesn’t lie in the knowledge – but instead translating that knowledge into results that are meaningful.

Retirement decisions that have an impact on you down the track start early with lifestyle choices that can make your retirement more satisfying. Some want to spend their days playing golf through retirement, relaxing by the pool, traveling around the globe or adventure treks through the mountains. What does a comfortable retirement mean to you? Whether it consists of golf club memberships, living in your dream home or luxury vacations we check out some tips for creating a comfortable retirement.

1. Start thinking about retirement when you start saving

As farfetched as it may sound, it pays to start thinking about your retirement when you get your first start saving. It’s not the easiest thing to do when you’re thinking about your immediate goals but as start to make major financial decisions – a car or home – you should be taking into account how much money you will need for retirement.

Although employees put a percentage away in preparation for this, it’s not always enough for your future needs. The more of your income you set aside for retirement at a young age, the easier it’ll be to retire comfortably. Saving early ensures your retirement benefits from the value of compound interest. Whether you have a pension fund or a self-managed superfund, it does pay to take control of your SMSF investments from the very beginning to ensure your money in growing as quickly as possible. This article from Blueprint Planning provides a great resource about how to manage your super-fund.

2. Have a plan and make goals

The first big mistake people make when it comes to retirement is not having a written plan and retirement strategy for their financial security. The success of your plan results from the small goals and decisions you make each day.

A plan is one thing though – it’s important you create a realistic one with goals that are going to get you there. If you’re currently living a lavish lifestyle drenched in champagne, you’re probably not going to be happy with a beer budget come retirement day.

3. The age you retire matters

How many years do your retirement savings need to provide enough income for? Underestimating life expectancy is another common mistake people can make. Nowadays, it can be safe to assume that at least one spouse will leave to the age of 90 or beyond whereas the life expectancy years twenty years ago was only mid 70’s.

Retirees tend to want to settle down around the age of 62, but there is usually a big difference in the age people say they want to retire to when they actually do.  The decision to retire is sometimes made for superficial reasons, like not being happy in your job. Retiring on impulse isn’t a smart move – it’s much more fulfilling to retire toward a life that excites you rather than running from one that didn’t. Always have an exit strategy before you leave to help you retire comfortably.

4. Make your money hard to reach

When your savings are readily available, it makes it an easy solution to the curve balls life will throw at you. The retirement fund soon becomes an “it’s an emergency fund” and before you know it, there’s not much left for you to rely on. Whilst discipline plays a huge factor in this, even the most self-controlled of us are guilty of digging in to the savings when things get tough.

There’s always going to be a good excuse to do it too. Borrowing from your savings account when you’ve lost your job, just to get you by until you find something else – but, it all adds up. Thus, to be a smart investor (and your retirement fund is an investment) it’s vital to put those dollars into a hard-to-access, tax deferred retirement plan.

5. Don’t forget about insurance

Taking out insurance to protect your retirement plan is about applying risk management principals to your personal finances. Types of insurance that should be considered include life insurance, health insurance and long-term care – and can mean the difference between a comfortable retirement and years of heartache.

Risk management is an essential principal of planning for your retirement to insure away all threats you can’t afford to lose. It can play a major role in estate planning, useful for someone who needs home care and makes a dramatic difference in those retirement years. The alternative is not acceptable – and that’s to put your lifetime of hard work at risk for one mistake, accident or health issue.

6. Get a life – an exciting one

When we think about retirement, most of us think about the money we will need. That’s because all retirement dreams need money – to a degree. But there’s more to a comfortable and happy retirement than just money – what about relationships, health and a life that engages your interest and fulfils you?

Money is the means to a good life, not the end so make sure your plan includes investing time into relationships, your heath and things that nurture and build you. Once your financial goals are in place and your retirement plan filled with motivating interests, you’re bound to be one step closer to a comfortable retirement – in all areas!

By Jayde Ferguson, a freelance writer based in Western Australia. Connect with her on Google+ today.