RETIRING soon without enough super? If you’re worried you will end up sleeping under a bridge, you probably will! You may be stuck on the bad news that you need at least $600,000 in your fund to give you a return equal to the minimum wage; and we all know that’s not nearly enough to pay for rent, utilities, transport, food, clothing, entertainment and medicals.
The good news is this may be the circuit-breaker you have been waiting for: it is possible to have a comfortable and fulfilling “retirement”, if that’s what you wish to call it, without suffering unnecessarily in any way. Just follow these simple rules.
1. Abandon the idea of retirement. If you have a good job, stick with it for as long as you can. Working has so many side benefits it’s likely you will suffer more from lack of work than lack of money. If you can’t keep your job, start a small business – it’s easier these days using technology such as social media and eBay, and will use those skills you have built up over the years; local markets are a lot of fun and will give you much-needed social interaction.
2. Cash up. Take what super you have out; kiss goodbye to the fund, it never was a good idea anyway for anyone but the government and super fund executives, and spend it. This will kick-start your new life with a bang! Don’t leave cash lying around – the government will find out and reduce your benefits.
3. Pay out all debts. This is crucial; you don’t want to be making payments at the end of every month and paying interest for nothing. Get rid of the mortgage; if you own your home you are streets ahead, but if you don’t its cheaper to pay rent than be hobbled by the bank, and you have more freedom. Get rid of the cards, personal debts and car payments; the load off your shoulders will be an immense relief.
4. Have the right attitude. We all know deep inside the urban/consumer culture erodes the wellbeing of our souls. Check out the Dalai Lama and see how all great people through history have been lead by a passion. How would you change the world? Get out and do it; organisations such as Amnesty International, GreenPeace or Landcare will put you in touch with those of a similar mindset, fill your expanding spare time and at the very least will often feed you for free.
5. Buy a reliable, economical car. It may very well be your biggest expense, but will be needed for your new, busy life. Public transport sucks; it’s tolerable in inner suburbia, but a disaster any further out and non-existent in the country.
6. Stock up with a couple of years of good quality, practical, conservative clothing. It’s amazing what a new pair of shoes does for your feeling of wellbeing. You will present well commensurate with your age group, feel comfortable as you go about your daily tasks and link you recognisably with your peers.
7. Reduce your food intake. There’s no need to go jogging or join a gym to lose weight. Eating less will give you the energy to increase your output of fulfilling tasks. Most urban people eat far more than they need, then lie around feeling bloated. Practice by stopping before you feel full for a few meals and you will be surprised how easy moderation is to achieve. By buying less rubbish food you can eat oysters, caviar, smoked salmon, eggs Benedict and other luxuries weekly on a budget. Eating less is the answer to a longer, disease-free life.
8. Abandon artificial stimulants. Get real! You know alcohol, tobacco, drugs and gambling are bad for you. Don’t give away your hard-earned money to criminals, because that’s what they are.
9. Economise. Get a mobile phone and an iPad. Cut the land line and throw out the old computer – it’s bad for your eyes and posture. Keep up with the kids on Skype and use cloud computing at the local library if you need megahertz. Throw out the air-conditioner and open a window. It’s likely your electricity bill will be your biggest regular expense, but a sheet of north-facing glass will heat your home in winter for free.
10. Keep living the dream. You’re a Baby Boomer ; you changed the world back then, you can keep doing it now. Don’t take any crap from Generation Y; there’s lots of us and we vote!
Roger Fryer had a good job, a retirement plan, some superannuation and was paying off a unit. When diagnosed with cancer his whole scheme fell apart: he lost his job; the unit was sold to pay out the mortgage; and the superannuation was largely used up to pay for medical treatment. Now living on Newstart, Roger is looking forward to going on the Age Pension next year, and with a radical realignment of priorities is confident of a comfortable and fulfilling retirement…sort of