Use these 10 easy-to-follow tips to craft a plan that suits your goals, from finances to health and hobbies...

1: Visualise Your Lifestyle

Consider issues such as...

Retirement Age: What's your target?
Standard of Living: What do you require? 
Work: How "retired" will you be? 
Location: Where do you want to call home? 
Travel: Are you a future globetrotter? 

Sketch your vision to make it real. Write it down. Save articles and pictures. Keep it up to date. Anything can happen. But by answering the right questions, you can construct a supple framework of goals.


2: Get Started.

Simple concept, difficult in practice...

While superannuation funds in Australia are common place, surveys suggest that very few actually actually try to figure out how much they need to save for retirement, despite the abundance of free online calculators and commentaries on the topic.

So jump in. And the sooner the better. But even if you've put it off, it's rarely too late to begin investing in your future. This ethos applies to those deep into retirement planning, too. Markets evolve. Lives change. Strategies calcify. 

"Get started" can be a helpful mantra for decades.


3: Get smart.

Make your financial IQ an asset...

You don't have to be an economics virtuoso, but you do want to invest in financial intelligence that suits your situation. 

For some, that means starting with investing basics: security types, market trends, diversification, fees and more. Others may want to pore over apps or study emerging trends such as robo advising. 

And then there's professional guidance. Look for people who: explain financial concepts in language you can understand, avoid promises of quick profits, clearly disclose fees and customise your plan. A recent survey found that lack of knowledge was a major reason people don't invest. Don't let that happen to you.


4: Make A Plan.

Think holistically...

Draft and nurture strategies mapped to the full array of your specific needs and goals. Some examples: 

Debt Management: If you have outstanding high-interest loans, consider paying those off before activating your complete retirement financial plan. 
Budgeting: Do you know how much you save and spend? Run the numbers and adjust to suit your goals. That could mean automating savings. Or developing a second source of income. 
Investments: Establish your risk tolerance. Develop an asset allocation strategy. Be steady but nimble.


5: Track Your Progress.

but don't overdo it...

Just like the markets, your portfolio goes up and down. And, in both cases, volatility is tempered over time. If you check often, you increase the odds of seeing startling fluctuations. 

For many investors, a less frequent check-in schedule can protect against emotional, knee-jerk trades—and the associated transaction fees.  

Try scheduling a regular time to look over how much you’re charged in fees, where your assets are allocated and what your rate of return is. Whether you plan alone, or alongside a financial advisor, make level-headed changes with long-term goals in mind. 


6: Put Education In Context.

your retirement comes first...

Ideally you can save for both, but you can’t borrow to finance retirement. 


7: Find the right location.

Start vetting for homes...

There's a lot to consider.  On the financial side, downsizing can reduce mortgage payments, maintenance costs and free-up retirement capital. 

But there are also many lifestyle preferences to consider. You might want to move close to family, soak up a warm climate or have easy access to health care facilities. City-dwellers might seek tranquility. Suburbanites might crave the city’s amenities. 

Ideally, you can balance financial and lifestyle considerations. The sooner you start, the wider you can cast your net.


8: Cultivate Interests.

Travel. Family. Hobbies. 

There are countless ways to spend your days once you retire. But which will you find fulfilling? 

Consider practicing retirement to find out. 

Cut back work hours to see what you'll do with free time. Spend vacations testing hobbies for long-term compatibility. Increase volunteer hours to see if sustained charity work suits you. And calculate the budget you'll need to support whatever plan you construct.


9: Prioritise Health.

...and that can't start at 65.

Budget time to stay active. Tailor workouts to fit your lifestyle. Research family history and health trends to stay smart. Diversify your approach to stay fresh. Track your progress to spot areas for adjustment. 

Poor or declining health is one reason workers retire before they planned to, and before they’re financially ready. No matter how healthy you are, budget for medical costs in retirement. 


10: Study social Security.

Know your rights...

A Gallup poll earlier this year found that 66 is the average age at which workers expect to retire. What is your number? 

The Age Pension, along with other benefits can significantly improve your retirement when combined with personal savings, like superannuation, annuities etc. But you need to plan ahead, and know whether you're likely to be fully or partially eligible for the Age Pension, and if not, the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (to help reduce some health care costs).

If you're unsure, get professional advice.