Yesterday I had a lovely time catching up with an old friend who retired a three years ago and moved away. We worked together about 10 years ago and became good friends, however this was the first time we'd got together in quite a few years. She had lots of good advice about preparing to retire which I thought I'd share.
Save Save Save!! and use the salary sacrifice to the maximum. Her retirement was unplanned and happened suddenly, about 5 years before she expected to retire. The toxic workplace stress thats is rampant in our organisation meant that she went from taking a week off exhausted to never returning to work again. He health was really bad from years of working under such stress.
Fortunately she had some retirement funds, but wishes she'd saved the max under salary sacrifice to boost her funds more. She initially found it quite difficult to adjust to living on a pension along with needing time to recover from being burnt out. So start saving early in your career for your retirement, you may not be able to work as long as you planned & max out tax advantaged savings.
Get involved & keep busy. My friend is a very smart and active person, very community minded. In her work role she was in contact with many people daily, sat on committees, ran projects, gave talks and organised events. Suddenly it was all gone. Overnight all that mental stimulation and challenge that comes with a career was finished, and her days were empty.
About six months into retirement she sold up, downsized and moved closer to family which also improved her financial position. Then she got busy finding different activities she could get involved in where she could meet people. Book clubs, volunteer tours of the city, genealogy group, singing, doing a writing course, hosting overseas visitors, service clubs and doing airbnb - I am amazed at how much she had packed into her week and as a single woman she has really filled her life up with lots of interesting people and activities.
Keep physically active. Every week day she does some type of exercise tai chi, swimming, aqua-robics, yoga, walking group and weights class. Using a combination of pension discounts and free/low costs groups shes able to go the gym and keep active in lots of different ways. Move or die she told me - you have to keep as physically active as you can.
On weekends there is work in the gardens. She grows veggies and eats very healthy and has even sold some of her cooking and catered some small events. She's done several cooking courses as well to expand her skills & meet new people.
My friend looked so healthy and happy! It was so nice to see her out of the workplace stress and she really inspired me to keep workplace stress in perspective and start now to build a life outside of work. She's a great example of making the most of a bad situation as she retired with far less than planned and not at all in the way she would have liked. I feel like I was given a great example of how good retirement can be and a pep talk about planning properly for a life after work.
My takeaways were that I'm heading in the right direction financially -but I need to seriously up my game in terms of exercise & diet and I need to start building in more activities outside of work.
Don't simply retire from something;
have something to retire to.
-Harry Emerson Fosdick