There are very few times in this life that the Golden Girls don’t have the answers to our most pressing questions – and how to handle getting older is no exception.
On the topic, Sophia Petrelli, the show’s 80-year-old matriarch and all-around legend offers these sage words “No matter how bad things get, remember these words: “you’re old, you sag, get over it!”
It’s true that age is just a state of mind. And whether you intend to be a cool grandparent; always travelling, dining with friends and dressed to the nines or; a wholesome Nonna staying home, tending the garden and knitting your (many) grandchildren’s socks – you’re going to need money, a LOT of money.
It’s a popular misconception that Australians have a built in, one-way ticket to a life of work free, retirement bliss. In fact, the belief that simply hitting 65 and withdrawing your super is the key to a long and prosperous sunset is so widespread in Australia that it’s scary, no, terrifying.
There are few topics in the world less sexy than superannuation. But unless you want to spend your sunset years living on half the minimum wage, where groceries alone eat almost 50% of your weekly income, it’s a very, very important one.
Many Australians are shocked to hear that their retirement fund is not actually designed to provide a long and comfortable retirement. It is, in fact, only designed to provide the most basic level of financial support – ideally in conjunction with homeownership and other forms of passive income, such as a stock portfolio or investment property.
Consider that the average super balance for an Australian aged 60-64 is $324,525. If you were to retire at 65 and reach the average life expectancy of 83, you’d be stretching that cash across 17 years to reach a grand total of $19,089 per year (or $367 per week) for the rest of your life. That’s $21,008 less, or 52% of the current minimum wage – hardly the stuff that dreams are made of.
Even worse, the super funds themselves are a minefield! Consider two hypothetical co-workers. Both work in the same role, both earning 150k and both making the same contributions to their fund. Yet one could easily retire with more than half a million dollars than the other! How? By switching to a fund, they’ve hand selected.
Both pay a 0.85% investment fee, both make a 10% contribution, and both withdraw at 67, but one takes home a 9% return vs the other’s 6% and VOILA, just like that – with a few hours’ research and simple changeover process, one retires more than half a million dollars richer than the other. As you can see, whether you aspire to be a cool, jet setting grandparent or tending a farm in the Tasmanian countryside, there is work to be done. The challenge, of course, is what to do!
The solution, quite surprisingly, is simple. Understand what your superannuation is currently doing. Find out what your annual fees, contributions and returns are. Check the overall performance of your current fund against competitors and switch it out if things aren’t looking good. Finally, seek professional help from a licensed financial adviser if it all becomes a bit too much!