Get your money on track
You can start planning your retirement at any age. Retirement can look very different from person to person.
When you can retire and how comfortably you can live in retirement will depend on:
- how much money and other assets you have
- how much super you have
- what your living expenses are
- whether you own your own home
You are more likely to meet your goals if you have planned for your retirement in advance.
Understand your current situation
When planning to retire, it helps to know what your current money situation is. To do this, you will need to know your net worth.
Your net worth is all of your assets (what you own) less any debts you have.
You can also work out how much super and age pension you are likely to have when you retire.
Find out how much you need to retire
There are concessions and rebates available once you retire. Learn more about how to lower your cost of living at Get personal and financial support.
How much money you need to retire will depend on:
- your current age
- whether you own your own home
- your other assets
- what your living expenses are
- how much you have in super
Create a budget
Before you start to think about retirement, you should know how much money you have coming in and what you are spending your money on.
Creating a budget will help you manage your money and keep you focused on your money goals.
Any changes you can make now to lower any debt and increase your savings will all help when you're ready to retire.
Health costs and private health insurance
When planning your retirement, it can be helpful to think about how ageing may affect your health in the future.
You may want to factor the cost of health care into your budget.
Private health insurance
If you have private health insurance, you will usually:
- have shorter waiting periods
- get your choice of doctor
When deciding if private health insurance is right for you, think about:
- the cost of private health insurance
- the cost of possible future treatments
- your overall health
- the level of care that you want
Organise your superannuation
Superannuation is a tax effective way to save for your retirement. Your employer will make contributions to your super fund for you.
You can also choose to top up your super with your own money.
Understand your super
Taking some time now to learn how super works can help you get the most out of your super.
Consolidate your super
If you have changed jobs, you may have more than one super account. Moving all your super into one account is known as consolidating.
Consolidating your super will:
- make it easier to keep track of your super
- save you money as you will only pay one set of fees
- reduce paperwork
Grow your super
There are ways to boost your super before you retire:
- compare superannuation fund fees
- think about your super investment options
- top up your super with your own money
If you are topping up your super, remember:
- you will pay less tax if you salary sacrifice from your pay
- low income earners may get a tax-offset or government co-contribution payment
Get financial support
There are concessions, rebates and income support available when you retire to help lower your cost of living, including:
Make changes to your current work
Before you retire, consider if you can make changes to your work to make your transition to retirement easier.
Making changes to your regular job might involve:
- going part time or reducing your hours
- taking a different role in the same company
- taking on an additional role outside your regular hours
Reducing your hours
You may be able to make a gradual transition to retirement by going part time with your job.
Going part time can involve working less, or you can talk to your employer about changing your role or team to better suit flexible work.
Going part time generally involves:
- talking to your employer about options
- talking to your family
- making a financial plan
Increasing your take home pay
If you're taking on new work, it is important to make sure you don't take on too much. Read more about the importance of work-life balance at healthdirect.
You may want to boost your pay before retiring by taking on extra hours at your current work. You could also look for additional work outside of your regular job.
Before taking on extra hours or a second job, consider:
- talking to your work about the options for overtime within your company
- checking your company’s policies
- checking how much tax you will need to pay on any extra income
- if your work offers a superannuation matching program
- if your can ask for a pay rise or increase your salary in other ways
Accessing super while you're working
If you're reducing your work hours but don't want to reduce income, you might be able to access your super while you're working.
A Transition to Retirement pension can be used to top up your employment income if you decide to reduce your work hours.
To access a Transition to Retirement pension you need to:
Decide where you'll live
There are many different types of housing to consider in your retirement.
Where you decide to live will depend on how much money you have and how you like to live.
Staying in a home you own
Many people choose to stay in their long-term home in retirement.
There is some support available for people who want to make their homes easier to live in as they age.
Staying in your home over the long term can involve:
- installing grab rails or ramps
- getting help with your garden
- getting help with cleaning
Some changes to your home and some in-home care options are partially covered by My Aged Care.
Selling and downsizing your home
When retiring, people often sell their home to reflect changes to their life.
When buying a new home, think about how your needs might change over time, including whether the new home:
- can be cleaned easily
- has a garden that can be kept easily
- has room for stairs and supports
- has room for guests
- is easily accessed from the street or driveway
You might also want to consider how close you are to:
- family and friends
- medical services
- outdoor spaces
- hobbies, social and cultural activities
Moving to a retirement village
Retirement villages offer homes that are easily maintained in a private and secure environment with people of a similar age.
There are different types of occupancy and ownership arrangements in retirement villages. You should think about:
- the type of tenure
- the cost
- understanding and comparing the contracts that different villages offer
There are different options for care in retirement villages, including:
- self-contained, for people who are able to live independently
- serviced (or assisted living), which can include meals, cleaning and other services
- a mix of self-contained and serviced, allowing people to change if their needs change
Some retirement villages also include optional support services, including:
- social groups
- health and fitness classes
- specialised medical equipment
- specialised medical staff
Renting a home
In NSW, it is against the law to discriminate against a potential tenant based on certain factors, including age. Learn more about discrimination when renting at NSW Fair Trading.
Social housing is housing for people on low incomes and includes:
- rooms in share homes
- stand alone units or house
- community housing
People living in social housing can live with their partners or families, or alone.
Affordable housing is different to social housing. It is managed more like a private rental property and is for very low to moderate income earners.
Applicants need to meet eligibility criteria based on income thresholds, depending on where they live. Properties are mostly managed by not for profit community housing providers.
You do not have to be eligible for social housing to apply for affordable housing, though people who are eligible for social housing may also be eligible for affordable housing properties.
Renting through an agent or self-managing landlord
If you plan to rent when you retire, there are payments and resources that can help.
You can get help with your rent at:
Learn more about renting:
Get financial and legal advice
When planning your retirement, it can help to get professional advice that is specific to your circumstances.
These services can help you better understand your financial situation and empower you to make informed decisions about your financial future:
It is important that you know your rights and where to get legal advice and support if you need it:
- information on your rights at retirement at the Australian Human Rights Commission
- information, advice and assistance to promote and protect your legal rights at Legal Aid NSW
- advocacy, legal support and advice at Seniors Rights Service
- advice and advocacy if you're in financial stress at Financial Rights Legal Centre
- legal advice for women with a focus on family law, parenting issues, domestic violence, sexual assault and discrimination at Women's Legal Service NSW
Look after your physical health and fitness
Before making health care decisions or undertaking changes to your physical activity, speak to your local doctor.
They can assess your medical history and advise on the best approach to a fit and healthy lifestyle.
It's never too early to start looking after your health.
The benefits of being active include:
- control weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes
- reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers
- maintain and increase joint movement
- prevent muscle loss and reduce risk of osteoporosis
- reduce the risk of dementia
- manage pain
- maintain and increase balance
- improve mental health
Get regular health checks
Regular health checks can help:
- identify early signs of illness or health issues
- assess your risk of future health problems
- keep vaccinations updated
Common health checks include:
- sexually transmitted diseases
During a health check, you doctor will ask you about your medical history, your family history of disease and your lifestyle.
You might need more regular health checks if your doctor thinks you are more at risk of developing a disease. You can be more at risk if you:
- have certain high-risk lifestyle factors
- have a family history of disease
Plan what you’ll do in retirement
When you retire from work, your social routines can be disrupted.
Volunteering, learning new skills and joining a social group can help you keep active and make social and community connections.
Talking to your family about your retirement
Talking to your family when you first start planning for your retirement will help make sure there are no surprises when you do retire.
Whether you want input from family members or simply want to advise them of your plan, topics to talk about include:
- expectations for travel, activities and other plans
- the impact on family members that need emotional, physical and financial support
- where you intend to live
- financial and inheritance plans
Volunteering in retirement
Retiring from a regular job doesn’t always mean you stop working completely.
Volunteering is an opportunity to:
- contribute to your community
- meet people
- learn new skills
- share your expertise
This can be part time, casual, or even full time.
Learning and social groups
You are likely to have more time when you retire to learn a new skill, explore a hobby or join a social group that shares your interests.
There are many places that offer courses and opportunities to learn.
Whether you prefer individual or group-based learning, you can find courses offered online or in classrooms and workshops. This can include:
- sharing knowledge through courses and lectures on different topics right across NSW with the University of the Third Age.
- your local library, which may offer free courses, activities and events
Social groups and activities
Joining a social group or activity is an easy way to meet new people who share your interests: