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Don’t Just Retire: Reformat!

Dont’ Retire: Reformat!

The word ‘retirement’ conjures up a range of confusing or even contradictory feelings for people these days. Once upon a time, retirement was a defined day, usually marked by a birthday, after which any form of paid employment ceased immediately. A combination of factors, including the end of compulsory retirement and increased longevity, mean that people are now working well past the age of eligibility for their pension. For some, this means just continuing on with their career as it was, either full time or part time, but an increasing number are seeing retirement as an opportunity to do something completely different in life. What better time in life to experiment, with a modest standard of living guaranteed by pension income, no mortgage payments and no dependent children to worry about?

There are many famous examples of people who have started businesses late in life, including Ray Croc, founder of McDonalds and Colonel Sanders, founder of KFC who had both celebrated their 65th birthdays before they created their global empires. For some, the motivation to try something new is driven by the desire to have a higher income in retirement, while for others, it is all about the excitement of trying new things; perhaps things they have always secretly wanted to do.

There is a great little book called ‘Don’t Just Retire: Reformat’ written for such people by Dr Lynda Falkenstein (Niche Press, 2005), full of ideas for how to reinvent yourself in retirement. Lynda suggests three important questions to ask yourself: If you could, with a wave of a wand, be doing anything you want, what would it be? What is it that gives you the greatest personal joy and fulfillment? What are you doing to ensure ‘it’ is an enduring feature of the rest of your life?

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Guide to Retirement Villages

Retirement Villages

Retirement villages are a great option for people who want a degree of independence in retirement but with the added benefits that come from communal living. There can be significant differences between retirement villages in terms of facilities and costs and it pays to do your homework before signing an agreement so as to avoid making costly mistakes.

There are four basic legal titles commonly used for retirement villages; licence to occupy, unit title, cross lease and lease for life. The type of title will largely determine how much it costs you to buy and live in your retirement unit. There are three types of cost that you will need to consider; the initial cost of buying your unit, the costs of living in your unit and the costs involved with selling your unit.

In many cases, the initial amount you pay gives you the right to live in your unit, but does not buy the unit itself. While you are living in the village, you will need to make regular payments to cover such expenses as rates, gardening, maintenance and healthcare. There are differences between villages as to what these ongoing fees cover. When you sell your unit, you may be required to pay for refurbishment of the unit to a certain standard as well as marketing and selling costs. In some cases, you may have no control over the sale process and when you sell you may not get the benefit of any capital gain on the unit.

Before you purchase, the retirement village must give you certain legal documents which set out your rights, benefits and costs and you are required to get independent legal advice on these before signing an agreement.

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Money Conflicts

Money Conflicts

According to the experts, arguments about money are one of the main causes of conflict in relationships and are also one of the key reasons why relationships end.

Differences between couples over how money is spent, saved or earned arise largely from different attitudes towards money and risk, and different money values. Very often these attitudes and values stem from childhood, but not in a predictable way. For example, someone who endured frugality in childhood may be frugal as an adult or may conversely be keen to ensure their own children have everything they want. The starting point for resolving money conflicts is to explore the differences in values and attitudes.

There are two key questions that should form the basis of discussion:

  • What things were said or taught to you about money in your childhood and how have these affected your attitudes towards money?
  • What is the purpose of money in your life?

Sayings from childhood, such as ‘money is the root of all evil’ can often instil a negative attitude towards money, which is a sure way to avoid attracting it into your life. The purpose of money in your life will depend on what you value. Perhaps security is important to you, or it might be helping your children with education costs. For some, the purpose of money is to be able to have fun and interesting experiences. Having a conversation with your partner about your attitudes and values will help uncover the points of conflict. The next step is to find ways of resolving the differences, which usually requires a logical analysis of the issues and some degree of compromise.

As with most other conflicts in relationships, money conflicts can generally be resolved with good communication and an understanding of each other’s perspective 

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UK Pension Transfers

UK Pension Transfers

Immigrants from the UK and New Zealand residents who have worked in the UK usually find themselves leaving behind their locked-in pension funds when they arrive in New Zealand. This can present a number of difficulties.

Once you become eligible for payments from your fund, you will need to pay tax on those payments as well as bank transfer fees. You will also be exposed to exchange rate changes so that the amount you receive as a pension will fluctuate over time. If you pass away with your money still in a UK scheme, your spouse is likely to receive a pension worth only half of what you would have received, whereas New Zealand retirement schemes pay the whole benefit to your spouse or dependants. UK pension funds are classed as Foreign Investment Funds by Inland Revenue which means that if you are a New Zealand tax resident you may have to pay tax on the investment gains.

UK pensions can be transferred to New Zealand but can only be transferred to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) without incurring tax. Up to 40% of any money you transfer may go into an unlocked fund and can be withdrawn before retirement age without tax liability if withdrawn more than six years after leaving the UK. By contrast, some UK pensions allow you to take 25% of your funds after the age of 55 without paying tax. Being able to withdraw funds can help with changing circumstances such as marriage, birth of a child or change in employment status.

Having your funds in New Zealand means it is easier to obtain information on how your investment is performing. The transfer is best done with the assistance of a financial adviser to avoid unnecessary penalties and to be aware of your options.

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When Retirees Run out of Money

Retirement Blues

One of the biggest financial risks faced by retirees is that they will run out of money before they run out of time.  A pension is only enough for daily living costs and those who have just a small sum saved can run out of money once they have had to replace a car and pay for home maintenance. There are a number of options for retirees who need to supplement their retirement funds.

 First of all, check to ensure all available Government benefits are being received such as accommodation supplements and disability allowances. Check with the local council on eligibility for a rates rebate.

 If a large sum of money is needed, the cheapest option to consider is to borrow from family members. This should be done with the assistance of a solicitor to prevent any problems with gift duty or issues that might arise on death. Unfortunately, children don’t often have money to lend. Borrowing from a bank is a possibility and can usually be done by way of an interest-only loan. While this will help keep repayments small, they still need to made and this can be stressful.

 Selling the family home and buying a cheaper house is another way of getting access to funds. This can be an expensive option once all the costs associated with selling, buying and moving are taken into consideration.

 Home equity release schemes are proving to be very popular as a last resort option. If you need funds for home improvements, such as a new roof or painting, then taking out a loan will enable you to preserve the value of your house. Choosing a home equity release scheme is something that needs to be done with caution and is best done with independent financial and legal advice.

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How to Manage your Money in Retirement

Investing in Retirement

One of the biggest challenges in retirement is how to invest your money to provide an income while still protecting yourself against the eroding effects of inflation and income tax. Investing in fixed interest gives certainty of income but returns will be low and unable to keep up with inflation. The alternative, investing in growth assets such as shares and property, will give a better return over the long term but with increased uncertainty in the short term. For that reason, many retirees are afraid of investing in shares. However, there is a way of structuring your portfolio so you can use both income assets and growth assets to advantage. Here is how you do it.

Divide your portfolio into three amounts. The first amount is a lump sum of cash that is the equivalent of 6-12 months worth of income. For example, if you need $1,000 per month to top up your income, set aside $6-12,000 in cash. This amount should be placed in a high interest on-call account.

The second amount of money should be the equivalent of 1-3 years income, so in our example you would set aside $12-$36,000. This should be invested in fixed interest investments which are of good quality.

The third amount to be invested is whatever is remaining after setting aside the first two amounts. These funds should be invested mostly in growth assets with a small amount of fixed interest.

The way this strategy works is that over a three or more year time period the gain from your growth portfolio can be cashed up and put into your income portfolio to keep both portfolios constant. The interest from your income portfolio can be put into your on-call account to keep it topped up, along with proceeds from investment maturities as required.

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