Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Living Well in Retirement - 5 Top Planning Tips

'When the student is ready the master appears.' 
Buddhist proverb

Do you believe in fate or karma? I've had plenty of occasions in my life where I've had reason to believe in both - none more so than stumbling across this article as I rummaged through a pile of papers in my office this time last year.

Thoughts of retirement had been running through my head for a while - and John and I had been working on being financially ready for many years. The article 'Going...Going...Gone: Thoughts on Retirement' by Brian Hawkins and Carol Barone published in Educause Quarterly No 4 in 2008 challenged me to think more widely and deeply about my retirement plans.

Like many I had believed that a successful retirement was all about financial planning. Hawkins and Barone suggested otherwise. Their recommendation was for four plans to be in place - a financial plan, an activities plan, a recreation plan and medical plan.

John and I duely considered this - took the advice provided - and, almost one year on, I can share with you how these plans are working for us!

The Activities Plan - what our day, week, month, year, and even next year look like was an essential starting point for us! We felt 'all at sea' until I purchased a Year Planner where we recorded commitments, appointments, visits to family, AFL football games we would attend and the like. We scheduled and planned getaways, visits to our beach house, major tasks and projects around the house - with start and completion dates - and began developing some rhythmns, routines and patterns in our lives. Finally the time has come when we feel have control of  our lives - what we do, and when, why and how we do it! We are making the most of every day, and that that's a great feeling!

The Recreation Plan  - what we 'play at' or do to follow and grow our interests, develop new skills and keep the brain cells firing has been incredibly rewarding for each of us! John's passion is music and he has indulged this interest for several hours daily. He has found a mentor and teacher online and delights in showing off and sharing his new skills and learning at every opportunity. A keen golfer John is planning to make it onto the golf course one day soon! To date there hasn't been time for that!

I had long dreamed of writing a blog - so I now write two - 'The Living Well in Retirement Challenge' and 'Apricot Tart'. I have found participating in the blogging community very rewarding. Given a Canon EOS 650D for my birthday I am a beginning photographer having only ever taken photos with my iphone prior to this. We are both gaining great enjoyment engaging with and pursuing our passions! It truly is one of retirement's great rewards.

The Medical Plan - this is so important! In my retirement finally I have time to think about myself. I've had time to get my health on track - making significant lifestyle changes. These have included getting back into regular exercise, eating a healthy and tasty diet, reducing stress and fatigue and improving my mental health and wellbeing all round. I've lost weight, am fitter, stronger and more flexible - and I'm feeling great! We have also reviewed our medical insurance cover to ensure it reflects and meets our needs as we are getting older, as well as exploring and familiarising ourselves with our entitlements, as older Australians, under Medicare.

The Financial Plan - we have spent time with our financial planner and accountant in order to understand all the elements of our new financial situation. As we are new to retirement we have also set aside time each quarter to sit together to monitor and review our financial position, budgeting and cashflowing the next few months to ensure we are living within our new means. Like many we have been anxious about that old elephant in the room - 'Will we have enough money?'  I am pleased to report that this planned approach is working and we are able to make decisions and adjustments regarding finances that maximise the quality of our lifestyle.

Having enjoyed the lived experience of retirement for almost a year I would add one further plan to those suggested by Hawkins and Barone.

It's the Lifestyle Plan. Lifestyle decisions we have agonised over this year have included short and long term planning about where to live; what type of housing needs we have; vehicles - one or two, what type, would we keep the current cars or purchase new /secondhand vehicles;  where and when do we want to travel - within Australia and overseas; will we stay in motel/hotel accomodation, camp, caravan or motor home it. And always the bottom line - how will all of these big decisions affect our financial situation - short and long term.

But that's not all! There are a myriad of smaller lifestyle decisions to be considered and made. Things as diverse as 'getting to know each other again', what's for lunch, changed wardrobe, hair and beauty needs - the power suits and killer heels have gone - right through to technology needs necessary keep each of us in touch with and engaged with the world. And the list goes on!

Lifestyle planning has been the most complex and emotive of all the planning we have done - but is critically important. We are taking our time with this area. We can only spend our money once - and many of the decisions to be made are potentially expensive ones. We want to get them right for us!

At this point I would like to sincerely thank Brian Hawkins and Carol Barone for their insightful article - it has had  a huge impact on our retirement. They really proved to be 'the masters' who appeared as I, the student, was ready. I still have no idea of how that article came to be in my papers! Fate or karma perhaps?

To conclude, I have to say that the time spent on planning has assisted us to cope with the many changes we have faced and greatly reduced stress, anxiety and uncertainty we may have felt about the future.

Strengths of the process of planning have been that it has placed us firmly in control of our new present and future, given us a strong, unified sense of direction and has us feeling excited and optimistic about the possiblities and opportunites our new retirement lifestyle offers.

The first year in retirement is a big year! We're enjoying it!



PS: If you're lurking out there - talk to me! What is helping you to prepare for or manage your retirement? I'd love to hear and learn from your experience.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

In My Retirement ..... October

I'm back! After a break of three months during which I worked my way through some unexpected low times following my retirement - I'm feeling well again! I can't begin to tell you how wonderful that is!

Recently on my food blog Apricot Tart, I participated in a monthly series named 'In My Kitchen' hosted by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. I so enjoyed reading the blog posts of  all the contributing bloggers,and contributing my own. It really got me thinking about the importance and value of sharing with others.

It has inspired me to begin a monthly series here documenting 'In My Retirement' as a way of celebrating the joys of retirement and the many positive changes it has bought to my life. Thanks so much for the inspiration, Celia!

For my inaugral post I have selected a range of diverse and flexible headings to start me on this journey of reflection and appreciation. What else would you add?

Where I live

In my retirement I live in one of the most livable cities in the world - beautiful Adelaide, South Australia. In October the roses everywhere are blooming - making Adelaide the 'Rose capital of Adelaide'. These roses ramble gloriously over our front fence.


In my retirement I'm finding time to spend in the garden. My wonderful husband has built me this raised garden bed in a previously non-productive area of the garden. I've planted thyme, basil, bush beans, capsicum, a chilli bush, an eggplant, silver beet and cucmbers in this small space! I'll let you know how they go!


In my retirement it is a pleasure not be tied to work timetables. We were able to secure really cheap plane flights to and from Melbourne flying off peak and with minimal luggage ie carry on luggage only!

Health and Wellbeing

In my retirement I have the time to really focus on improving my health. I have found personal training to be by far the most effective way to increase my aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility. My personal  trainers Nick and Sarah at InBody Health and Fitness have me work harder each week than I ever believed possible! I love it! It makes me feel alive, strong and young again!!!! Pictured is my current goal written on the goals board in their gym - I've just three kilos to go! I'm doing it!!!

Products and Services

With a less frantic lifestyle, in my retirement I'm going to try tri-focal glasses. I'm hoping I will no longer have to fumble around in my bag for three pairs of glasses - for reading, driving and sunnies.


In my retirement I have time to cook! Yesterday's healthy and tasty lunch was Hamburger with the lot! Served on toasted grainy bread the pork and veal patty I made was topped with bacon, caramelised onions, an egg, grated fresh carrot and beetroot and oakleaf lettuce fresh from the garden. The base was spread with tomato sauce while a dollop of tartare sauce was placed on top. It was so good!


In my retirement I'd like to say I'd been enjoying fine wine but I'm really working hard on losing those last hard to lose kilos - 5 of them! With no fuss at all this simple soda stream turns tap water into instant 'bubbles'! And that keeps me drinking water!!!


The luxury of spending fun filled time with our family is special in my retirement. I recently attended a beautiful brunch at Two Beans and a Farm, Mernda, Victoria. This sign in the carpark had me on high alert! Yes, I'm scared of those things!


In my retirement I'm finding my wardrobe needs are really different! I'm looking to replace the killer heels I wore to work with some stylish sandals!


In my retirement I've found that one of the things I can't go without is my monthly nail appointment. My natural nails crack and split and are just aweful, so it is one special indulgence I will allow myself.

Special Moment

 I loved this playdough person which the grandson who made it said was 'Granny'! I think the sparkling colours truly represent how I'm feeling in my retirement! I'm back to feeling great!

How's your October? I'd love to hear about it!