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Going back about fifty years, retirement was considered to be the short gap
between receiving a gold watch and the last rights!
Happily today retirement is accepted as the start of a whole new life adventure.
With the likelihood that we will retire with all our faculties intact and
fully functioning and with a good number of years in front of us, we now
need to take a little more time to plan our retirement years to make sure
we get the absolute most out of them.
Whatever your retirement dream - from a home in the sun, a boat on a river,
or simply pottering about in the garden - all of these things are possible
with careful planning.
But have you ever wondered why so many of us constantly push the practicalities
of retirement planning to the back of our minds while rushing through our
lives complaining about the pressures of work and dreaming of the day when
we can finally put our feet up?
What is it that causes this dichotomy in us?
I think that most of us would agree the two main causes are lack of time
And yet each and every one of us knows how important it is to plan and save
for our retirement!
After all we are quite literally bombarded by the media week in week out
with facts about the pension time bomb and the fact that many of us will
apparently struggle for the price of a cup of tea let alone a beautiful villa
in the sun when we get to 65!
So, with all that information taken on board what can we do to make our
retirement a happy one?
Whether youve got a full 40 years to save and plan, or if retirement
is just a few years down the road and youre worried that it may be
a little late to start any radical pension planning, this three part retirement
planning roadmap should save you time, remove your reluctance and cover the
three key aspects of retirement planning namely our physical wellbeing,
our financial wellbeing and our spiritual wellbeing in retirement.
In other words, read on for some practical tips to ensure that you retire
healthy, wealthy and wise.
Healthy - Physical Wellbeing in Retirement
Every single day of our lives we grow, we mature, we develop and we
And when were very young we sometimes view retirement as something
that equates to old age. We have images of old people in rocking chairs with
blankets over withering legs rocking away the last days of their lives! No
need to plan then - just throw me a blanket and I can do the rest myself!
But as we mature and grow older we soon come to appreciate that there can
be a considerable amount of time between finishing our working lives and
needing to settle into that rocking chair - and that that time is ours to
enjoy to the full!
And while it is true that the body ages and that no man can turn back the
tides of time, none of us has to get old unless we choose to do so!
Our bodies may age but we dont have to!
So, there are really two considerations when it comes to the ageing process
and welfare in retirement namely the physical aspect and the emotional
The Physical Aspect
As ill health can smite any one of us at any age, we should consider our
physical wellbeing throughout our lives; both from the point of view of
prevention and the point of view of cure.
When we actively take steps to encourage good health we are far more likely
to enjoy longevity; and in taking such action we could make the difference
between a happy healthy retirement and an old age blighted by failing health.
Keep active. Many of us have sedentary lives; we drive to work, sit in an
office, drive home and then sit down to watch the telly. But keeping active
should really be seen as a mandatory part of our lives, right through and
While busy lives may make it difficult to find time for set exercise, there
are always things we can do to improve our overall fitness. Consider parking
your car two streets away from the office and walking the last ½ mile,
take the dog for long walk (hell love you!), buy a bike, go on a walking
weekend or weed the garden. Simply by adding a little physical activity into
our working lives now, we will be pushing back the years and ensuring that
we are able to fully enjoy the freedom that retirement will afford us when
the time comes.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Enjoy nutritious food, adequate sleep, avoid
nicotine and keep alcohol consumption within sensible limits.
Reduce stress. Everyone suffers from stress sometimes, and we are all well
aware of the long term damage stress can do to our health. So, do everything
within your power to reduce your stress levels. And if it is beyond your
control to remove the stresses affecting your life, never feel embarrassed
or afraid to seek help. If you can identify the primary reason for your stress
maybe you can begin to see what you need to do to fix it. I know this is
so often easier said that done - but please remember it is your health and
your happiness at stake here and that has to be your priority.
Be Proactive. You know your own body better than any one else. Listen to
it, and react accordingly when it is trying to tell you something. Dont
ignore potential symptoms, recognise them and get them treated.
In recent years health care costs have risen between two and three times
faster than inflation and naturally enough health insurance has become more
costly at the same time making it seem altogether too unattractive an option
for some people.
But while the vast majority of us would never dream of driving our car uninsured
or living without household insurance, we do exactly that with our own bodies!
We trust our health to luck and good fortune!
Consider, if you will, the following facts: -
- The British National Health Service is stretched to its limits with up
to a million people on waiting lists at any one time. - Few other countries
in the world offer any form of free medical treatment, if you
are thinking of retiring abroad bear this in mind. - In retirement most people
live on a fixed income which does not allow for exorbitant and ever increasing
health care costs. - As we get older our bodies need more TLC and fine tuning,
and age makes us more susceptible to ill health and increases average recovery
and recuperation times.
These facts show why it is important to consider health care costs when it
comes to retirement planning. And in considering health care costs and
retirement, factor in increasing health insurance premiums if you have insurance.
Factor in health care costs if you are relocating abroad without insurance.
Factor in the potential need for private treatment back home
for serious conditions, and also consider the fact that you or your spouse
may need long term, full time care later in life.
But dont panic!
At this point many people panic and decide to do nothing. (Guilty?) They
can only see a potentially huge cost that they simply cant afford.
But health insurance comes in many forms. Find a reputable company to advise
you, get a second opinion and shop around! And while you may not be able
to afford the platinum 5 star package you may still be able to
afford a little peace of mind and an acceptable level of care should you
The Emotional Aspect.
How come some people seem old at 40, while other people can exude youth,
life and vitality that belies their age?
Presuming good health, I can only assume that mental attitude is at play
So how can we make sure were the ones full of beans in our 80s rather
than the ones on tranquillisers in our 40s?
Learn to love life! Life knocks us all about sometimes - and at times weve
probably all felt like weve gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson. However
take some time to consider the good things about your life. Make an effort
to reflect upon the positive; enjoy lifes simple pleasures and create
a balance that always leans towards the positive and not the negative.
Keep your mind active! Keep learning and developing throughout life. Never
feel that youre too old to learn new skills - its simply not
true that you cant teach old dogs new tricks!
Focus on positive emotions rather than negative ones! Negative emotions bring
mental and physical disharmony and ill health. If you dwell on regrets,
disappointments or resentment you will be weighed down with bitterness and
miss out on life. People who can forgive and love will remain youthful simply
because they will have anticipation and excitement in their lives. And if
you dont love or feel loved youll quickly start to age and feel
Dont stop dreaming and hoping and longing! Stay future focused. You
will find that your motivation, desire and anticipation for the future and
the realisation of your dreams will keep you positive and active and that
your stamina will be boosted, your energy levels heightened and your mental
attitude will stay young.
Wealthy - Financial Wellbeing in Retirement
Financially speaking, the cost of delay in terms of retirement
planning can be illustrated like this - if a 25 year old and a 35 year old
were to start saving today for retirement at age 55 and the 25 year old invested
£300 a month towards retirement, the 35 year old would have to increase
his contributions to £803 a month to achieve the same potential returns!
I know, I know, talking about money especially pensions - is the fastest
way to send anyone to sleep. But seriously, its never too soon to take
charge of the financial aspects of retirement planning!
And if youre still not convinced, according to research out of 100
young people now aged 25, 1 will be rich in retirement, 4 will be financially
independent, 5 will still be working, 12 will be completely broke, 29 will
be dead, and 49 will be dependent on their friends, family and charity. That
means that of those who live to retirement, 93% will be dependant on friends,
relatives and charity!
Scary isnt it? So now that youre ready to start your retirement
financial planning (!) here are some important aspects that you need to consider.
Your own personal circumstances are unique: consider seeking professional
and personalised independent financial advice before taking action
but do so as soon as possible.
Consider joining your employers occupational pension scheme (if one
exists!) or getting yourself a personal pension and the sooner the
Be realistic about how much you should be contributing towards your retirement
based on your age now, the age at which you hope to retire, and the
lifestyle you hope to achieve in retirement.
Increase your contributions as your income increases and pay in as much as
you can afford while youre earning.
If youre on a lower income you may wish to consider alternative savings
vehicles ISAs, National Savings or mutual funds for example. These
can all be accessed prior to retirement if needs be. However, consider the
tax effectiveness of any savings vehicle and remember that pension contributions
generally have a higher rate of tax relief.
If you have a pension plan already in place but are unhappy with it or wish
to change it, know that pension surrender or early encashment are rarely
the best options available to you.
As you get older, consider topping up your pension.
Find out about your State pension entitlements and plan when you want to
start receiving your private pension income. You can access funds from the
age of 50, but of course it goes without saying that the longer you save,
the longer your fund has to mature and the more likely you are to get better
returns on your investment.
Never forget that the value of an investment can go down as well as up!
Think about the long term practical and taxation issues relating to the receiving
of pension income if you choose to retire abroad or if you have been investing
offshore. If you choose to retire in a country not classed as being within
the European Economic Area your State pension (such as it might be) will
not necessarily increase in line with inflation. Seeking professional advice
is the first step in the right direction to finding the right financial solution
it will save you time and money in the long run and reduce your cost
of delay significantly!
Is it too late for me?
Some people reading this article will agree with what Ive written so
far and then say - "Great, but Im 55 years old already, is it too late
The simple answer is that its never too late!
You just have to plan differently.
Being realistic is essential - if you dont have a private pension,
if you have little in the bank and have had no great luck on the lottery
recently then it may be wise to shelve the yacht plans.
But taking the popular retirement plan of a house in the sun for example,
that dream may well still be possible.
Consider North Cyprus or France for example - the difference in property
prices between UK and both countries often means that there is a good opportunity
to sell a UK home and buy in North Cyprus or France and put some cash in
Being careful is essential - lets just say that you discover you can
trade your 3 bed semi in for a 5 bed villa with a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi.
Well, maybe a better deal for you would be to trade in a for a 2 bed bungalow,
leaving a surplus of cash in the bank for further retirement enjoyment -
the lower running costs of a 2 bed bungalow versus a 5 bed villa would also
mean that your savings could go a lot further.
Never give up on your retirement aspirations - just massage them to fit your
Wise - Spiritual Wellbeing in Retirement
According to current research around 74% of the British population dream
about retiring abroad.
What with the lure of sunnier climes and the fact that the UK housing market
has boomed in recent years enabling people to consider selling up, retiring
to the sun AND putting some extra cash away in the bank, it is unsurprising
But if you decide to move away from your friends and family in retirement,
or if your friends and family decide to leave you behind, how will you cope?
Loneliness and depression among the over 50 age group is an all too commonly
reported problem nowadays. The death of a much loved partner, divorce, separation
from friends and family or the departure of children from the family home
can affect this age group particularly hard. And loneliness can often come
to those people who do not prepare for their retirement when they suddenly
feel the shock of leaving the day to day routine of a job behind, and miss
the social contact they enjoyed in the work place.
While we cant plan to avoid loneliness and sadness caused by the death
of a loved one, we can make sure we have a good network of friends and family
who are there with us always. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy sharing
your retirement and to help you avoid loneliness in retirement.
Try and build up strong friendships with lots of people while youre
still in your 40s and 50s as it may be harder when youre
in your 60s.
If youre planning a retirement abroad (whether overseas or simply in
another part of your home country) know that it can be fun and exciting but
also a little bewildering!
Think about the friends youll be leaving behind and make sure that
you part on good terms! Make sure your friends are aware that youre
not ending your friendship by moving away, and insist that they visit you
in your new home Im sure they wont object! Also, make
provision and effort for regular contact via email or telephone.
If you move abroad youll probably meet many like minded people whove
decided that retirement to the sun is their dream too. As everyone will be
experiencing similar emotions: from the joy of a beautiful home to the loss
of familiarity and close friends: you will have a tremendous advantage in
that everyone will be as keen and eager to meet and make new friends as you
Retirees abroad often reflect on how much more open the people are in their
new country; the need to be a part of a new community far outweighs any shyness
or reluctance to join in! If you retire abroad, jump in with both feet and
make an effort to meet and enjoy the company of the people in your new community.
Try learning a little of the language of the country you would like to retire
to- the joy of being able to communicate in a foreign language even on the
simplest level can add a new dimension and fullness to life and one of the
best ways to understand any new culture is through language.
Throughout life make sure you keep your family ties strong. Stay in touch
with extended family, get back in touch with long lost relations and remain
close to your immediate family if you possibly can. If a family rift has
occurred consider being the peace maker it takes a better
person and a very strong and mature person to be the first to apologise.
And finally if you do find that you suffer from loneliness there is
no point whatsoever sitting and brooding about it. If you do that you will
never beat it. You have to be proactive, seek out new friends and relationships.
Get out of your house. Join a club, a society, an organisation and meet new
people even if you are not the sort of person who likes to get involved
or join in take a chance, you never know it might just pay off! Surely
anything is worth one try if the result could be the alleviation of your
The start of a new adventure
Retirement isnt something to fear or dread - its the start of
a whole new life with levels of freedom that youve probably never
experienced before! Hopefully this article has covered the key points of
effective retirement planning for you, and you can follow the retirement
planning roadmap and secure yourself a healthy, wealthy and wise future.
Rhiannon Williamson is the publisher of
- the premier online resource promoting low tax living, buying property abroad
and moving overseas.
Shelter Offshore features three main channels - offshore investment, property
investment abroad and overseas lifestyle.
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