Listen to Troy Theobald’s segment ‘Working Life Versus Retirement Life?’ on 4CRB Radio

If I asked our retirees 10 years into their retirement what they wish they knew/did earlier, the most common answers would be:

  • I wish I retired earlier.
  • I wish I had taken better care of my health.
  • I wish I made saving for retirement a priority sooner.
  • I wish I had spent more time planning better use of my time.  
  • I wish I got advice earlier.

Let’s break this down into a few categories:

  • “Goals for Work” versus “Goals for Life”
  • Property now versus property in retirement
  • “Super” versus “Allocated Pension”
  • “Saving Money” versus “Spending Money”

Workshops to help YOU retire:

We will be running some complementary seminars for the Gold Coast community focussing on retirement fundamentals in our Bundall office.

Session 1: When can I retire and what could it look like?

Date: September 21st at 10:00am with further dates and times TBA

To register simply email the office, or call Mardi to book in.

Goals for Work versus Goals for Life? 

What happens in retirement then when your focus has always been work?

Many people gain a lot of satisfaction from their working life and from achieving professional goals, for some it may be the biggest achievement of their lives.

But what happens in retirement then when the main focus has always been work?

All of a sudden your primary motivating force disappears. Of course, for some this is liberating, but there is a tougher side to retirement that some don’t necessarily expect. We have seen it first hand, some people struggle to step away from the busy working life they’ve become accustomed to.

The key is to change your focus and redirect your energy into personal goals. Believe it or not, retirement takes planning – and I’m not speaking in financial terms. This is where my experience will hopefully help, and I’m going to note a few questions I’ve come to realise are very important to ask yourself during this process.

What places do you want to visit?
Are there places, activities, experiences or hobbies you’ve always wanted to explore?
What does the perfect day look like when you imagine retirement?

What aspects of retirement do you think will replace the satisfaction you received during your career with all of its achievements? This is where a good advice firm can help. We help people transition through this phase successfully every day. There is far more to a successful retirement than fruitfully managing your nest egg. There are personal aspects that require just as much attention and forethought, and we love nothing more than helping our clients holistically through their retirement.

Property Now versus in Retirement

Where to live?

During the middle years, the majority of us need space to accommodate a family. Similarly, many of us envision retirement as a time to downsize the home. But depending on family structures and needs, some retirees require even more space to accommodate the grandchildren. Make sure you’re taking in these wider considerations before jumping to make certain stereotypical changes; do/will you have grandchildren? Will you be taking on a portion of care? Do you live away from your extended family and need to provide accommodation when they come to visit? Ensure you have a deeper think about these future possibilities.

Digging further, I see a lot of people sell the family home and buy the flash new townhouse which is smaller but modern and new. All of a sudden, you have a big flight of stairs – up and down all day. You’re also closer to your neighbours and you do not have the car parking spaces you once had. How will these things affect you in retirement? And if not immediate, how may they affect you in older age?

There is also the option of ‘over-50’s’ communities, golfing communities, lifestyle resorts etc. I have seen many clients absolutely thrive in this environment and it’s certainly an option to consider.

Key Point:

In retirement, you’re going to be home a lot more so consider your surroundings and the practicality of your home carefully. I would recommend removing any stigma you may associate with retirement villages and keep this option open, because I have seen some extremely happy retirees who have chosen this option, and there are some phenomenal facilities available to simply make life easier (not to mention a quiet environment with just 50+ neighbours).

Residential Property Investment

Rental property may have worked well in your working life phase, but will it generate enough income to allow you to achieve your dreams?  Do you have separate funds available if you need to access cash quickly? It may be a case of keeping one or some, and selling off to fund other important retirement plans. In your working life phase you want the property value to grow. In retirement you want the strongest income to help fund your lifestyle (and yes, you still want it to grow as well!).

Beware of the costs of land tax and state and council costs as we see these are eating into the cash flow of our retirees. Again, if you don’t have liquid funds available then over time you may be forced to sell when you’re not ready to free up cash flow. This scenario takes some careful thought and planning.

Superannuation while Working and a Pension in Retirement

Are you saving enough along the way and what are you saving towards? 

In retirement, the questions that should be considered are:

  • Should you start an Allocated Pension?
  • Can you or your partner access some Age Pension, mature age allowance or other Centrelink benefits?
  • Have you set up cash buffers inside your super/pension to get through the tough year(s). 
  • How will you manage your super into retirement to deal with market volatility?

Working life

You may have taken on more risk inside your superannuation account knowing that you had time before you retired.

You may have just left it in the default balanced fund.  A lot of superfunds have increased the asset allocation to growth assets to cater for this, but we would caution you to look carefully at how your funds are actually invested.  Not all balanced funds are the same and some are invested in a more growth allocation than balanced.  You need to know how much risk you are actually taking on.

A lot of superfunds have moved into life-stage defaults to allow the people that are less excited about their super to have this taken care of for them. You can take control of your super with the help of an advice firm to allow you to set some goals and ensure you have enough in the pipeline.  

While you’re working, make the most of having time to invest and the benefit of super contributions being made to top up your super balance.  It’s important though during this time to ensure that your funds are working for you. 


It is about what income you can expect to draw out of your retirement fund over an extended time. In this life phase,  you will need to draw an amount each month just like a pay packet to help cover the cost of living. Seeing money go ‘out’ rather than ‘in’ each week is more of a shock to many than expected.

In retirement, we believe retirees should have cash buffers inside their pension accounts. We believe the portfolio should reweight back to the original investment allocation each quarter based on their individual account. In addition to this, we also believe we should be taking advantage of market volatility in retirement and you should not be taking on as much risk as you did in your working life.

Key Point:

  • The strategy that you have in your working life should be different from your retirement. In your working life, you are adding each month and in retirement, you are drawing out each month. These are opposite approaches and you need different strategies to manage both to maximise your portfolio.

Saving Money versus Spending Money

Working Life

This is the most fundamental change that you will encounter. While working you are saving inside your superannuation. You are paying down a home loan, covering the cost of living and trying to save as well. That sounds like a lot of hard work.

To achieve your desired outcome, it takes hard work and focus.

There needs to be a focus on an ideal capital amount as a goal. This will allow you to draw the desired amount throughout retirement.  


Retirement is then about drawing an income and spending money – a huge change to both your bank account and your mindset.

Retirees should not underestimate the difference this will have on their outlook and how hard it can be.  Your whole working life has been about saving, saving and saving for retirement and then you suddenly have to reverse this mentality in retirement and start spending everything that you worked hard to put away.  This can be very difficult to adjust to. 

We like to have our retirees checking in each six months to make sure they are OK and on track.  This gives our retired clients peace of mind that they are OK while slowly their saving versus spending mentality changes. There is a totally different feel to watching your pension balance as compared to years of probably not watching your super balance.  

MOST importantly, you need to enjoy your retirement and remember why you worked so hard. If you are not enjoying it you may as well be working…

Key Points:

  • There are polar-opposite approaches (tangibly and mentally) for the working/saving phase and the retirement/spending phase. 
  • The mental load of this change should not be underestimated.
  • Good holistic financial advice supports clients through both types of challenge. It’s not always about the financial aspect, and it’s providing that emotional support and watching clients thrive during these changes that are extremely fulfilling for us.

At RFS advice we help people during their working phase to effectively prepare for retirement. We assure you, it will not happen by accident.  If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail!

Some Tips to help you Transition into Retirement…

You need to retire to something, not from something.

The best retirements are the ones where a goal has been set and it’s being achieved. Saying you want to ‘travel’ is too broad. You need to name your destinations, your timeframes, and the specific details.  

These things help a retirement feel more fulfilling.

When a client says, “I am so busy I do not know how I had time for work”, I know they will be OK. 

  • Tip: Know and understand that it will probably be a scary time for most people and it will be a process to work through this.  We are here to help.
  • Tip: There is no set timeframe for the transition period of retirement, it is going to take you however long you need.
  • Tip: Set a task each day of retirement, big or small, and feel a sense of achievement at the end of that day.
  • Tip: It is OK to do something else for some extra income.  This can be a great way to keep active, meet new people, work on your terms and earn a little extra to help out with the day-to-day costs.

What did Chat GPT have to say on this matter

Working Life vs. Retirement: Contrasts and Transitions

Life is a journey with distinct phases, and one of the most profound transitions individuals face is the shift from a working life to retirement. These two phases, while interconnected, have striking differences that impact not only daily routines but also one’s sense of purpose, identity, and well-being. In this exploration, we will delve into the notable distinctions between working life and retirement.

1. Daily Routine:

In a working life, the routine is structured around employment, often consisting of a 9-to-5 job, meetings, and deadlines. Retirement, on the other hand, offers freedom from this structured schedule. Retirees have the flexibility to choose how they spend their time, allowing for leisurely mornings, pursuing hobbies, and enjoying extended vacations.

2. Financial Independence:

Working life is characterized by earning a regular income, ensuring financial stability, and often providing for dependents. Retirement, conversely, involves a shift from earning to living off savings, pensions, and investments. This transition can bring both relief from financial worries and a need for careful financial planning.

3. Sense of Purpose:

Work often provides individuals with a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and social connections. Retirement can lead to a search for new meaning and activities that provide a similar sense of fulfillment. Many retirees turn to volunteer work, hobbies, or travel to maintain their sense of purpose.

4. Health and Well-being:

The demands of a working life can sometimes result in high levels of stress and limited time for self-care. Retirement offers an opportunity to focus on health and well-being, with more time for exercise, relaxation, and pursuing a balanced lifestyle.

5. Social Connections:

The workplace fosters social interactions, friendships, and a sense of belonging. In retirement, individuals may face a shift in social circles as coworkers retire or move on. Maintaining and building new social connections becomes crucial for combating loneliness and isolation.

6. Time Management:

In working life, time is often a precious commodity, and individuals must carefully allocate it between work, family, and personal pursuits. Retirement provides the luxury of more free time, allowing for greater spontaneity and the pursuit of long-delayed interests.

7. Travel and Exploration:

Retirement often brings the opportunity to travel and explore the world, unburdened by work-related constraints. Travel becomes more than just a vacation; it can become a way to enrich one’s life experiences and create lasting memories.

8. Mental Stimulation:

The challenges and problem-solving demands of a working life keep the mind active. In retirement, it becomes essential to find activities that provide mental stimulation, such as learning new skills, taking up new hobbies, or engaging in intellectual pursuits.

9. Aging and Health Care:

With retirement often comes aging, and individuals may face new health challenges. Access to healthcare becomes a significant consideration, and retirees must navigate the healthcare system, possibly requiring more attention to medical needs.

10. Legacy and Giving Back:

In retirement, individuals may reflect on their legacy and how they want to leave their mark on the world. Many retirees find satisfaction in giving back to their communities or leaving a legacy for future generations through charitable work or estate planning.

In conclusion, the transition from working life to retirement is a significant life event that involves profound changes in routine, finances, purpose, and social connections. While it offers newfound freedom and opportunities for personal growth, it also presents challenges that require adaptation and careful planning. Ultimately, the key to a fulfilling retirement lies in embracing the differences, exploring new horizons, and finding a sense of purpose that aligns with one’s values and aspirations for the later stages of life.

Click here to view my Economic research material for September 2023

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