How can you maintain your lifestyle and standard of living when the cost of everything is increasing?

The first step is to identify how much you think you spend, then calculate how much you actually spend. There is often a disconnect between the two!

Once we know this then we can look at what income is actually available.

There are many different ways to fund your retirement income.  Some of these are:

  • Age Pension or part age pension
  • Income from rental or commercial properties
  • Superannuation and self-funded pensions
  • Income drawdown on an investment portfolio
  • Uber driving
  • Renting out spare rooms through AirBnB
  • Part time work just to cover the cost of living

Tips

You need to set realistic expectations; identify what assets you have and what ongoing income they can generate. Working with an adviser will help achieve this.

Identify goals that you want to achieve within your budget. Then I challenge you to create a plan and make it happen.   

The RFS Advice office features our Dream Board which showcases the achievements of our clients; hundreds of photos of our clients celebrating their goals leading up to and throughout retirement.  We love working with people, helping them to identify their dreams and then celebrating their achievements with them. We would love to add your achievements to our Dream Board as well.

It’s important that you identify the lifestyle that you want in retirement and get a firm grasp on your objectives, before you consider how you will make them a reality.  

There are a few different parts to this:

How much income do we need?

Over the last few years, we have seen this number increase significantly. Retirees should have a good understanding of what the number is for your household and if you’re unsure of how to complete this, seek advice. 

This is the foundation for retirement planning and an important first step to achieve.

What will we do with your time?

You need to know what activities you hope to continue/begin and how much these will cost. It could be golfing memberships, more dining out or a health club membership.  Just because you’ve retired it doesn’t necessarily mean that all the interests that you had pre-retirement need to stop, you just need to budget how to build them in to your everyday costs. 

What do you enjoy doing?

Are there any cost-free activities that you enjoy that you can consciously incorporate into your retirement lifestyle? For example: Beach walks, hikes or bike riding swimming.

Maybe there’s something that you’ve always wanted to try and now you will finally have the time?

In retirement, think about being open to and trying new things. Most retirees now have time to embrace their passions. But get clear on what these are. Allocate some time to identifying what will make you feel fulfilled.

Ask others that seem to have it together, and be brave enough to say something is not working.  Do not worry about what others think, this is your retirement that you’ve worked hard to enjoy the way you want.

Spending habits

Spending habits may need to be adjusted due to cost of living pressures compared to a few years ago.  Following are some simple tips but if you refer to the end of these notes there are a huge number of ideas collected from various sources. 

Here are some tips:

  • Go for coffee instead of lunch or dinner.  Why would you do this?  It is a $20 outing not a $200 outing.  You still receive the social interaction, but you are not spending as much.
  • Discover free, healthy habits. Runner’s clubs, walking groups or sporting groups.  Look at your local city council’s website, many offer activities for seniors which are free and this provides a great way to meet others and stay fit and healthy at the same time.
  • Is it more travel or the luxury travel that is important to you?

Ask yourself what is more important: more trips or business class and luxury accommodation? Several domestic trips or fewer international?  There is no right or wrong and this is a personal preference, but it is an important consideration nonetheless.

  • Have you considered spending a portion of the year in a lower cost country?

We have clients now looking to go for 3-6 months to Vietnam and other places where the cost of living is lower for an adventure.

  • List some experiences that you want to have, then rank them in order of importance. Then you go ahead and work on a plan to afford them, in order of importance. Celebrating when you reach each of your bucket list items is also important!

Housing

A big question for a lot of retirees is where to live. This is another whole show in itself, but some simple points to consider:

Do you have a great support community around you? Is this made up of friends and/or family?

Can you keep up with the maintenance of your current home? Is it cheaper to pay for some help rather than move?

Does where you live fit with your lifestyle or your desired lifestyle in retirement?

Is your current home your forever home?  Will it be an easy home to live in as you start to age, and may not be able to handle the stairs or the upkeep?

Should you consider downsizing or moving to a lifestyle community? For some people, they will love having people around them and the social interaction. However, for others, they may not enjoy the social side and prefer their own company. This change can be confronting for some with the additional noise that comes from complex living. 

How will a downsize change your part age pension if you receive this? If you have more cash, you may have an asset test issue for your Age Pension.

Rental Properties

Rental properties are likely to have increased in value significantly if you have had them for a long period of time. How does the rental income as a net return look compared to cash or other investments?

I can provide an example of a rental property that is worth around $3 million. They are looking to rent it out for $1,500 per week. That $78,000 sounds great BUT you need to take off the following costs: rates, insurance, agents, repairs and possibly even land tax.

That brings this return down to around $55,000. Based on a $3 Million value it is a return or 1.83%. Yes, there hopefully is capital growth over time.

BUT

This show is about cost-of-living pressure. If you were in this position, now could be the time to decide the property has grownsufficiently in value. Perhaps would rather more income and access capital.  That $3 Million at 8% earnings over time is $240,000 and at a more conservative long-term rate of 6% that is $180,000.

That additional income could fund a lot of different lifestyles or adventures.

Where to turn to for help?

There are a lot of people in this position that have never received professional financial advice.

(This is a shoutout to Pauline).

The old days of dodgy financial advisers are behind us with the introduction of strict regulatory bodies. Make sure anyone you seek advice from provides professional advice that complies with the current regulations.

We are also still dealing with generations where the men were the patriarchs of the family and controlled much of the finances. When they start to lose capacity or unfortunately pass it is often women who have a newfound responsibility that they may not feel comfortable with. This is where sound professional advice can be extremely valuable, particularly where a lifetime of family money is concerned.

As an example, at RFS Advice we have 5 main client groups and corresponding areas of service:

  1. The younger ones with mortgages & wealth accumulation plans
  2. The goal-setters and/or pre-retirement planners
  3. Retirees that are using part age-pension and part self-funded
  4. Self- funded and high net worth retirees
  5. Aged care advice

We recognise we have clients that join us at all stages along the way. We want to be there when life throws up it’s challenges.

We also respect some people want to do this themselves and manage their own money online via industry super. That is perfectly OK if that is your approach.

For some people, it’s comforting for them to have come in and know we are here as a Plan B.

Thank-you Pauline for your ideas for this month’s show.

Cost of Living Tips

We’re sure that you have some great methods for saving money.  Following are some additional methods we have thought of amongst the RFS Advice team:

  • Pay your insurances or other costs annually if they offer a discount.
  • Review the costs of insurances and compare options.
  • Go through your bank or credit card statements for the last two months. Look for anything that isn’t essential. This could be things like subscriptions or memberships you don’t use much.
  • Keep an eye on items you want, and wait for them to go on sale mid-year or at the end of the year.
  • Do you really need all those streaming services?
  • Work out an actual budget.
  • Do you need the gardener or pool cleaner to come as often?
  • Try some free activities – the local city council has heaps of activities.  You can take advantage of free days at museums and national parks to save on entertainment costs. Your community might offer free concerts and other in-person or virtual events; check your local calendar before splurging on pricey tickets to private events. You also can ask about discounts for older adults, students, military members and more.
  • The Beach is free, time to get back to old school activities.
  • Consider buying some items in bulk.
  • Turn off the lights when you are not in the room.
  • Shower together.
  • Review your phone plans, internet and energy provider.
  • Consider less expensive wines and craft beers.
  • Buy only what you need for fruit & vegies from the farmers market.
  • Shop catalogue specials for the supermarket.
  • Join and look into different rewards programs and check what ones you currently have as to what your points could be used for.
  • Eat during some of the discount periods for restaurants.
  • Take a plate and do catch-ups at friend’s houses instead of restaurants.
  • Review your gym membership.
  • Sell some of your unwanted goods on marketplace.
  • Do your groceries online and have them delivered or use click and collect as there are then less temptations for impulse buying or make a list of what you need and stick to it.
  • Fuel and parking aps to find the cheapest fuel and parking in your area.
  • Government free handouts – ask your doctor what you are entitled to i.e. free dental, pedicures etc. 
  • Restaurant aps – First Table if you want to eat at 5pm you can find restaurants that provide 50% off meals.
  • If you’re into camping, look for deals through RACQ (or equivalent in other states) for discounts.
  • If you go out for coffee, don’t order the cake as well!
  • If you like reading, go to the library instead of buying books.
  • If you’re looking for items other than groceries, check online first to see where it’s selling it the cheapest. You can save by timing your purchases of appliances, furniture, cars, electronics and more according to annual sale periods, like the end of the financial year or Boxing Day. It’s also worth confirming a deal is actually a deal by tracking prices over time. You can let tools do this step for you; certain browser extensions pull in coupon codes and check for lower prices elsewhere.
  • At restaurants check their website for what nights there might be specials on.
  • Pay all bills on time to avoid paying unnecessary fees and charges.
  • Review your credit cards and their annual fees – are there cheaper options available?
  • Set up a veggie garden and grow fresh fruit, veggies and herbs.
  • Laundry: run your washing machine with a full load. Use cold water in your machine where possible.
  • Delay purchases with the 30-day rule: One way to avoid overspending is to give yourself a cooling-off period between the time an item catches your eye and when you actually make the purchase.
  • If you’re shopping online, consider putting the item in your shopping cart and then walking away until you’ve had more time to consider it. In some cases, you might even get a coupon code when the retailer notices you abandoned the cart. If 30 days seems like too long to wait, you can try shorter periods, like one week or 48 hours.
  • Be creative with gifts: You can save money with affordable gift ideas when you go the do-it-yourself route. Baking cookies, creating art, putting together your own gift hampers or preparing someone dinner can demonstrate that you care just as much as making an expensive purchase, and perhaps even more so. You also can give someone the gift of your time by taking them to a local (free) museum.  Keep an eye out for any specials of things that you know others may like, purchase them and keep them aside. 
  • Picnic rather than restaurants. 
  • Go out on other people’s boats.
  • Borrow a dog now and then rather than owning one. 
  • Consider using local public transport where you can, particularly at the moment with public transport from the 5th August being only 50 cents flat for any trip for 6 months across Queensland.

Search : https://www.qld.gov.au/community/cost-of-living-support/concessions to see if you are eligible for any concessions (mostly for seniors)

According to research, one of the common themes amongst the world’s longest-living populations is they have a strong sense of purpose as they grow older. In many traditional cultures where the role of elders within a community is revered, they are valued sources of advice and counsel. This is not as common in western cultures.

There are also other ways to discover a sense of purpose in later years:

  • Discover and engage in daily practices like exercise, mindfulness and meditation.
  • Find meaningful, creative hobbies to undertake such as art + crafts, writing, music or cooking.
  • Join clubs to angage yourself as a valuable member of a community.
  • Volunteer in a position that brings you happiness and provides a greater sense of purpose.

Click here to view my Economic research material for May 2024

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