You might think you have enough in your super and assets to retire in the next decade or so, but according to Bessie Hassan, Money Expert at finder.com.au, don’t assume that’s the case.
“At 50, many people may have nearly repaid their mortgage, seen their children through school, and create wealth or equity through other investments, but they shouldn’t always assume they’ll have enough to live out their twilight years comfortably,” she says.
“In a low-rate environment, it’s becoming more challenging for people to earn interest on their funds in term deposits, savings accounts, or superannuation funds. This means Australian retirees need to be realistic about whether or not they’ll have sufficient money to retire on once they leave the workforce.”
Nips and tucks to get financially fit
Hassan advises consolidating personal debt to make the most of an interest-free period or consolidating personal loan debt with your mortgage. Extra mortgage overpayments and assessing risks before investing in shares, property or other financial instruments also makes sense.
Former corporate HR high-flier Sandy Hutchison, paid off her mortgage before taking a redundancy to bootstrap her business Career Money Life, on the cusp of turning 50. It’s a career transition and career development platform for employees and employers and now, three years on, she’s earning a “modest income”.
“Being financially fit in your 50s and beyond – a lot is the result of decisions you made in your 30s and 40s to build your savings and assets,” she says.
“The 50 plus group is a target for redundancies and there’s an assumption they can jump back into the same sort of roles with similar benefits, but those roles are being filled by younger people.”
If that’s you, consider reinventing yourself as a consultant, freelancer or work for a startup for less cash, but take equity shares, Sandy suggests.
Alternative income streams
People aged 50 and over are increasingly finding more entrepreneurial ways to sustain themselves by generating ongoing cash flow, says life coach and property-investing mentor Marion Mays, who runs the Thalia Stanley Group.
“In the new economy where individuals can establish income-producing small businesses like never before, we are seeing a trend of people aged 50+ realising that the wealth not only lies in their assets and liabilities sheet, but also their breadth of experience and the years behind them.”
They’re subdividing their residential property, maybe adding a granny flat to their home or perhaps advertising their spare rooms on Airbnb, driving for Uber or using global job platforms to freelance.
“Being creative, with the right support/guidance, means that they can build themselves up financially without having to trade off on lifestyle in the process.”
Seek advice about taking risks
That’s exactly what Sally Arnold did after age 50. The high-performance coach to women aged 40+ struggled with her own business in Byron Bay before finding her place in Melbourne and investing in residential property.
“You have to be able to look at risks and seek advice. I couldn’t get an investment property loan so ended up changing mortgage brokers and accountants because I didn’t feel supported,” says the 66 year old, whose new accountant has “given her confidence” in outlining two scenarios of what her business, Creating Encores, needs to generate so she can keep her properties.
“It’s about self-belief and self-worth if you want to prosper,” says Sally.
Start with the end in mind
Any transformation starts with a goal and dogged pursuit of it. Dr Tony Pennells, a former Australian medic, urges people to stop trading their time for money (aka being a wage slave). Late last year, he co-launched an online global movement to “change the way you think about money”, called MindShift Money. The platform evolved from his business, The Freedom Club, and three books he’s published about finding financial freedom.
“People in their 50s tend to have a perpetual struggle between a calling to make this part of their lives more meaningful, fulfilling, have a sense of contribution, that your life has meant something to people and financial security.”
Can you move your financial pieces around, he suggests, to reduce debt. As an empty nester, could you downsize, leaving you with extra cash to diversify your investments and income streams you can tap into more readily than property?
He says it’s about building an “impenetrable financial wall around you and your family – don’t pay for your past with your future”.
What are the financial challenges you face now you are older?