Making a plan for your money
Retirement often involves changes to how you spend your time and money.
Having a budget and monitoring it regularly can help keep you and your finances on track while making the most of your retirement years.
Moneysmart lists benefits and concessions, scams to beware of and other tips on managing money in retirement.
Services Australia also offers:
Get financial advice
For confidence and peace of mind that your budget and plan are in the best shape possible, consider getting advice from an independent financial expert.
Use this Financial Planning Association locator tool to find a financial planner.
View a list of concessions, discounts and rebates to help with cost of living expenses in the Get personal, legal and financial help section.
Get the age pension
The aged pension is a government payment that helps people with living costs in retirement.
The amount differs depending on your circumstances:
- couple combined and individually
- couples separated due to illness.
Many factors contribute to eligibility. Community Engagement Officers from Services Australia can help you:
- assess what services you might qualify for
- get supporting documents in order
- how to apply.
When you retire, you'll need to work out how to receive your super, either as a:
- regular income stream
- lump sum
- combination of both.
Any life insurance cover as part of your super could be impacted if:
- you withdraw the balance as a lump sum
- no contributions are made after a set period (conditions vary depending on the policy)
Talk to your fund manager or financial planner to work out which option works best for you.
The Australian Tax Office has information on different options when withdrawing super.
Choosing where to live
Retirement can involve substantial changes to the way people live. How and where you choose to spend retirement means considering things like family, finances, climate, community, hobbies and other factors when making your decision.
Stay in your home
Many people choose to stay in their long-term home in retirement because of existing family and social connections.
But as people grow old, their existing home may not meet the changing demands of aged care living. There are programs that provide money to help pay for modifications to your home like:
- installing grab rails and ramps
- help with your garden and home maintenance
- arranging cleaning services.
For more information, see EnableNSW's Safe and Supported at Home (SASH) initiative.
Sell and downsize
People who retire often realise their existing home is far bigger than they need or it becomes a challenge to clean or maintain.
One option is to sell and downsize to a more manageable home or flat, which can have the added benefit of increasing your retirement savings.
When downsizing to a smaller home, think about how your needs might change over time, including whether the property:
- can be kept clean with minimal effort
- has a garden that can be easily maintained
- is easily accessible from a street or driveway, or can facilitate ramps and grab rails
- includes space for guests.
You might also want to consider how close you are to:
- family and friends
- medical services
- public transport
- hobbies, social and cultural activities
Find a rental property
Social housing is low-cost, secure rental housing for people on low incomes and includes:
- rooms in share homes
- stand alone units or house
- public housing (managed by the Department of Communities and Justice)
- community housing (managed by non-government organisations).
People living in social housing can be with their partners or families, or alone.
There are currently long waiting periods for social housing in NSW. To talk about emergency housing options, contact Link2Home on 1800 152 152.
This is slightly different to social housing. Affordable housing is managed like a private rental property by not for profit community housing providers.
It is intended for very low to moderate income earners. Eligibility is based on income and the property you'd like to rent.
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 a home
For advice to help you understand the rental market and how to secure and maintain a tenancy, see:
- renting a property in NSW and starting a tenancy at NSW Fair Trading
- private rental advice at Family and Community Services
If you need help setting up a private rental or paying rent
Check if you're eligible for rent assistance at Services Australia.
Additionally, the NSW Department of Family and Community Services provides advice and help with:
In NSW, it's 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.
Move to a retirement village
Buying into a retirement village is more than a lifestyle decision, it's also a major financial one too. Make sure you understand all the ongoing costs involved and what any exit fee conditions are.
A retirement village can include accommodation in rooms, apartments, units or homes. You can either rent or buy the property.
Retirement villages are mainly occupied by residents over 55 years of age who've retired from full time employment.
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 includes meals, cleaning and other services
- a mix of self-contained and serviced, allowing people to change if they need to
Some retirement villages also include optional support services, including:
- social groups
- health and fitness classes
- specialised medical staff and equipment
If buying into a retirement village, consumer advocacy group, Choice, explains what to look out for, including:
- types of contracts offered
- entry and ongoing costs
- potential exit fees and conditions
Get personal, financial and legal support
Retirement can mean a big shift in routines and responsibilities when compared to your workplace.
There is a range of personal support and advisory services that can help with any challenges or opportunities that may arise.
Access mental health services
Moving from full or part time work into retirement can be a significant lifestyle change.
Depending on your level of planning, retirement can bring a new set of emotional and mental health challenges.
If you feel support is urgent, call Lifeline anytime on 13 11 14. You can also find additional mental health resources at:
- Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511
- Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636
- Looking after yourself and family at Red Cross Australia
- Crisis support at Lifeline – 13 11 14
- MensLine – 1300 789 978
- Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800.
- find a social worker through the Services Australia
- self help resources at the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health
Help with cost-of-living expenses
Even if you don't qualify for the age pension, a Seniors Card provides discounts on travel and some retail services. Other government benefits that could be available include:
- travel concessions
- cheaper medicines
- reduced council and water rates
See Moneysmart for more information about benefits and concessions.
- age pension - how much you can get at Services Australia
- rent assistance at Services Australia
- help renting in the private market at NSW Family and Community Services
- housing and homelessness assistance at NSW Family and Community Services
- Energy Supplement at Services Australia
- seniors energy rebate at Service NSW
- apply for a gas rebate Service NSW
- pensioner's water rebate at Service NSW
- learn about seniors card travel concessions at NSW Transport
- find out about pensioner concession card travel concessions at NSW Transport
- apply for a gold seniors Opal card at Service NSW
- check eligibility for pensioner concessions on vehicle registrations at Service NSW
Pensioner concession cards
- get a pensioner concession card from Services Australia
It is important that you know your rights and where to get legal advice and support if you need it.
- Human Rights Commission and Your Rights at Retirement
- Legal Aid NSW - information to promote and protect the legal rights of older Australians
- Financial Rights Legal Centre - advice and advocacy if you're in financial stress
- a focus on family law, parenting issues, domestic violence, sexual assault and discrimination at Women's Legal Service NSW
- Council on the Ageing (NSW) - advancing the rights, interests and futures of Australians as they age
Volunteering and social activities
With more free time in retirement comes the chance to learn new skills, undertake a hobby or join a volunteer organisation or social group that shares your interests.
Volunteering provides a chance to take on new experiences as well as give something back to the wider community.
Your contribution can be part time, casual, or even full time. Other possible benefits include:
- making new friends and contacts
- improved health and wellbeing
- the chance to rediscover a long-lost passion or hobby
Find a role that's right for you
Not everyone wants to do the same kinds of work in the same kinds of way at the same time of day. Think about whether you want the volunteer role to:
- be ongoing or for a specific period
- teach you new skills or use existing ones
- close to your house or somewhere new
- during the week, weekend; evenings or during the day
An organisation like GoVolunteer has general information, lists of organisations and helps you link up with other volunteers.
The Department of Social Security details how volunteering for approved not-for profit organisations could meet mutual obligation requirements.
Your rights when volunteering
Volunteers have rights and workplace protections like any other job, covering things like:
- occupational health and safety
- hours of work, breaks and rosters
- bullying and harassment
If while volunteering you feel you've experienced workplace discrimination, vilification, victimisation or sexual harassment, speak to the organisation about your experience and concerns, or contact the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board for more information.
Find a hobby
BeConnected is an Australian Government program with a range of free courses and hobbies to help improve your online skills, covering things like:
- how to access the internet
- using digital devices
- keeping in touch with others
For slightly more structured learning, NSW TAFE offers 5 short courses to give you hobby inspiration.
You might also find a range of arts, crafts and hobby activities organised by libraries, meet-up groups and local councils.
Enrol in classes and courses
Whether you're thinking of face-to-face learning or distance study, expanding your interests and goals can help you stay more connected, healthy as well as introduce you to new ideas and skills.
Get more confident with the web
If you need guidance in finding your way around the web, the Tech-Savvy Seniors Program at Telstra Australia provides free courses online and at participating public libraries in NSW designed to help you better use the internet, email and social media.
There are hundreds of short courses and vocational programs provided by universities and community colleges right across the state, with many offering courses specifically for seniors.
Whether your preference is for individual learning or more group based interactions, you'll find courses offered online or held in classrooms and workshops.
There is usually a choice of day, evening and weekend sessions covering topics from business to sports, languages, creative, music, lifestyle and a host of others.
You'll find a range of technical, creative and business related courses to suit many interests and skill levels. Choose between:
- short courses to upgrade existing skills, expand knowledge or gain new experience
- taster courses can be completed quickly and give you a taste of what it would be like to study and work in your chosen field
The University of the Third Age
U3A is a member organisation for active retirees who share knowledge and experience through a variety of courses.
It operates in 7 regions across the wider Sydney metropolitan area and throughout regional NSW.
- some members are presenters, others are students, and some are both
- all course presenters are volunteers who share the knowledge of their profession or interests
- find courses and locations at University of the Third Age Network NSW
Expand your social network
Joining a social group, meet-up event or organised activity is an easy way to meet new people, especially if you've moved to a new area, and who share your interests.
Find paid work
Many people choose to earn an income after retiring. But your age, hours worked and specific circumstances can impact your pension or superannuation payments.
You may choose to supplement a pension or other income with paid work after retiring. Apart from extra funds, other benefits include:
- greater social connections
- the chance to try something new
- the chance to pass on existing skills
However, the number of hours worked can impact your age pension and superannuation entitlements. Conditions vary depending on your circumstances and age, so for more information, check with:
Different types of work
With increasing employment options for more casual and flexible working arrangements, there are increasing opportunities to find or create a job after retiring. These roles could be:
- semi or regular part-time hours
- a freelance consultancy based on your past experience
- at call (like special event roles)
- temp, agency or seasonal work
- casual or shift work
Re-entering the workforce
Most roles will be advertised online. There are also specialist recruitment agencies like CoAct, a government funded partnership helping mature-age workers all around Australia to re-enter the job market
You can also look at options closer to your home like job boards, community organisations, word of mouth referrals and simply approaching employers directly.
For more information, JobSearch has a blog and resource centre with hints and tips on:
- searching for roles specific to older employees
- best-practice CV writing
- preparing for an interview, and more
How paid work impacts your pension
For eligible pensioners, the Work Bonus scheme allows you to earn income from working without reducing your pension.
The bonus applies to employment income from:
- working in and outside Australia
- director’s fees
- commissions and fringe benefits
- self-employment that involves active participation
For more detail and information on how the Work Bonus scheme functions, eligibility requirements and reporting obligations, visit:
Dealing with age discrimination
Age discrimination can happen in recruitment and selection processes as well as the actual workplace.
It occurs when a person is treated less favourably, or not given the same opportunities as others in a similar situation, because he or she is considered to be too old or too young.
There are two types of age discrimination:
- Direct - when you've been unfairly treated because of your age, or because you're the relative, friend or colleague of someone of a particular age
- Indirect - when there is a rule or requirement that's the same for everyone but unfairly affects people of a particular age
What to do if you experience age discrimination
It's a good idea to document your experiences, then try speaking to the person or organisation directly to express your concerns.
There may be an official policy, channel or process (like Human Resources) through which your issue can be addressed.
If this is not practical or possible, you can contact:
Starting your own business
Good financial management is critical to the success of any business. It's especially important that people in retirement not risk their lifelong savings or financial independence by starting a small business without proper planning and advice.
With more time and a potential pool of savings at their disposal, a growing number of retirees are taking the opportunity to start their own small business.
There is a range of government support services and advisories to help in what can be a challenging process.
The NSW Government provides a dedicated Business Concierge as part of its free Easy to do Business service, as well as:
- guidance on how to plan, structure and develop a business
- help in resolving set-up and operational issues
- advice and details of workshops and events to help you start or grow a small business
The Federal Government also has a 'Starting a business' checklist.
Understand cash flow
When starting a small business, it's essential to understand and take charge of your business finances.
Being able to effectively manage cash flow is key to the long term survival of any business, but also crucial to your overall retirement plans and finances.
If you need help, consider:
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.
With potentially more free time, retirement could allow you to focus on getting more active and improve your overall health.
Why physical activity is important for older adults
The benefits of being active are well proven, especially as you age. It can help:
- control weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes
- reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers
- manage pain
- maintain and increase joint movement and balance
- improve mental health
It doesn't matter how old you are or what your physical condition is, it’s never too late to get active. Find ways to improve your health and fitness at:
Get regular health checks
From your 50s and onwards, there are recommended screening measures you should consider to address the common health challenges that comes with ageing.
- GetHealthy is a free telephone-based health coaching service that provides support and motivation to help achieve your lifestyle goals.
- healthdirect has information on a range of risk factors that can contribute to certain diseases, like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and cancer.
healthdirect also suggests most people in their late 50s and beyond should follow these preventative measures:
- dental check-up
- regular skin cancer checks
- an osteoporosis risk assessment
- an eye test on reaching 65
- consider a flu vaccination every year (over 60)
Every 2 years
- a heart disease risk assessment
- a blood pressure check
- a mammogram (women)
- a check for bowel cancer
- an eye test up to age 65, than annually thereafter
- a blood glucose test (every 3 years)
Every 5 years
- cholesterol and lipids checked
- a cervical screening test (women)
Write or update a will
A will is a legal document that states who should get your assets, money and property after you die.
Writing a will involves writing a document that includes:
- a list of your assets (property, shares, jewellery)
- who you would like to get your assets after you die
A will can also include information about what you want for your funeral or memorial.
A will is the only way for you to make sure your assets are distributed they way you want them to be.
Choose your executor
An executor is named in your will and is responsible for carrying out your wishes after you die.
You can appoint one or more people to execute your will, including either:
- a person, or people, that you know (for example, your spouse, siblings, or children over the age of 18)
- a private organisation or trustee
- a solicitor
- the public trustee (NSW Trustee & Guardian)
Some things to consider when choosing someone as your executor:
- how complicated your estate will be to administer
- how much time the have to administer your estate
- if they are willing to be the executor
- if they are comfortable working with finances or legal processes
- if choosing them will cause conflict within your family
Before you appoint someone as your executor, talk to them about what’s involved, and if they want to take on the responsibility.
How complicated will your estate be to administer?
Complicated estates take more time and effort to administer.
Your estate will be complicated to administer if you:
- have a property where tenants have a legal right to live in the property after you die(eg. a life estate)
- are receiving money as a trustee of a trust
- are leaving an ongoing trust as part of your will
It might also be complicated if you:
- have a self managed superannuation fund
- have an investment property
- have assets in different countries
- have assets in more than one state
- own assets with multiple owners
- are a director of one or more companies
- have debt on an asset that is greater than the value of the asset (eg. a mortgage)
- think there could be a dispute over your estate
If you think your estate will be complicated to administer, you might consider appointing:
These organisations charge a fee to act as your executor. How much they charge will depend on the size and complexity of your estate.
Getting help from a solicitor
To make sure your will is valid, it's best to get a solicitor to help you write it.
You can write a will on your own but if there is a mistake it might not be legally valid.
If your will is not valid your estate will be distributed according to a set formula called ‘rules of intestacy’.
To contact a legal professional, you can either:
There is a cost involved if you use either of these services.
Updating or changing your will
Update your will any time there are big changes in your life.
Situations where you might want to update your will include:
- buying a house
- getting married
- separating or divorcing from your partner
- having a child
- retiring from work
- being diagnosed with a serious illness
It's also important to update your will if someone included in the will dies. This might include:
- an executor
- a beneficiary (someone listed to receive your assets)
Storing your will
Many people store their will at home. If you store your will in your home make sure:
- it's in a secure location
- your executors know where you have stored it
You can also leave your will:
- with your solicitor
- in a safe in a bank
- with NSW Trustee & Guardian
It usually costs to store your will with a lawyer, banks, or NSW Trustee & Guardian. These costs are often charged on a yearly basis, and can also involve a charge to access your documents.
If you don't make a will
If you don't make a will or your will is not legally valid, your assets will be distributed according to a set formula called “rules of intestacy”.
This process will be different depending on:
- If you have living relatives
- If you don't have living relatives
If you don't have living relatives, it's likely that your estate will be passed on to the State.
If you have children under the age of 18
Your will can also state who you would like to look after your dependent children when you die. This person is known as a legal guardian.
If you want to include a legal guardian in your will:
- get legal advice
- speak with the person you want to appoint as legal guardian
Become a carer
To get information about services and support for carers, including financial assistance, in-home services and counselling, contact the Carer Line 1800 242 636.
Many people who've retired often become carers for partners and parents, even children and grandchildren.
There is a range of support options for people caring for others in their home, including:
- financial help
- in home care options
- training and advice
- covering the cost of changes to a home, like ramps and grab rails
Services Australia has information for carers on eligibility, rules, payments and other services.
The Carer Gateway is a Federal Government website dedicated to providing information on support services, financial help options and real-life case studies.