By Steve Waters
There are a group who rarely get the recognition they deserve. In fact, they’ve become a demographic football that’s been kicked around politically far too often.
The interesting thing is, their numbers are growing and they’re becoming more vocal. If ever there were proof, take a look at the 2019 federal election where an argument about ‘us vs. them’ saw this silent cohort step up and make themselves known.
I’m talking about current and future self-funded retirees.
Now, more than just about any other time in our country’s history, those looking to take control of their financial future are finding a voice – and I, for one, applaud this.
Here’s why I think self-funded retirees have control.
Welcome to 2019
The world has changed a lot in the last decade, and one of the key drivers has been technology.
Whether young, middle age or a bit more advanced in years, aspiration is fuelling ambition – and technology is helping feed those desires.
Society has become far more open about what they want to achieve, and the rise of social media and the e-tech space mean a wider audience for everyone to air their achievements too. We live in a time where you can easily see what treasures are out in the world, and plenty of us are deciding we want a piece of the action.
Secondly, technology means there’s a medium for firing up our entrepreneurial spirit. It can be as simple as combining a great idea with a web presence. You can easily market retail across the oceans or sell your service to a targeted local audience.
It’s within this environment that we’re seeing increasing numbers of people keen to take control of their future.
There’s another reason why self-funding is becoming increasingly mainstream. Health and longevity mean we are living longer and are more robust in our twilight years. We are wanting to prepare for decades, not years, of great living after we retire.
How they have control
There are a number of reasons why taking control of your financial future is an excellent idea, but here are three that seem like winning ideas to me.
Firstly – there’s nothing quite like being the master of your own affairs.
There’s a sense of accomplishment when you make plans, stick to a strategy, work through the steps and track the process all with an eye on the end goals. You get to make decisions on your own terms – not leave it in the hands of others.
Along with this, as a self-funded retiree, you are not at the whim of political movements in welfare. If government decides to cut or change the pension, or if the department of social services starts rigorously testing pensioners on their qualification for payments, it’s of no concern to you. You are independent of all those movements.
Of course, having professional advisors who are knowledgeable about all the elements effecting your investing program is a crucial safety net.
Secondly – those who plan properly for retirement are almost certain to enjoy a better standard of living than pensioners.
You work hard and make sacrifices throughout your employment years. Surely you deserve to enjoy the time after you stop work? The great thing is even those who feel they’re on a relatively small income can still enjoy a very comfortable retirement. The key is starting early and making it a long-term strategy. People don’t want to retire and then have to turn the lights and heating off at 8pm every night because they can’t afford the power bills.
Finally – self-funded retirees are extraordinarily generous contributors to the public purse, because they are not a burden on social services. Australian government estimates say that by years 2020/2021, the annual cost of the age pension to the nation will be $53.8 billion per year. That’s real money that could be going towards health, education or any number of other services.
The more self-funded retiree we get on the books, the less we need to provide financial assistance. Let me be clear – not for one minute do I think pensioners aren’t entitled to put their feet up. They’ve contributed to society for years through both productivity and paying taxes. They’ve earned the right to stop work and have support if needed.
But certainly, a rise in those who’ve had the good fortune to get a decent financial education, and made plans for a comfortable retirement, bodes well for us all. In fact, it’s something we should all be encouraged to pursue.